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Old 12-02-2021, 02:46 PM   #1
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Budget Boondocking

I could have put this in boondocking but decided to put it here because the budget is the main reason for the post.

So far Iíve booked KOA campgrounds for four nights and then boondock for three and then repeat the four and three night schedule. My definition for boondocking is to be without power and water and Iíll be staying at rest stops and truck stops so itís not like Iím out in the middle of nowhere. Iím doing this so I can keep moving and save money.

My question is when I have shore power can I freeze several one gallon jugs of water and then put them in the refrigerator and use it like an ice chest when I donít have shore power. Has anyone tried this? Is this practical or am I way off base?

Any and all tips and suggestions is appreciated.
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Old 12-02-2021, 02:55 PM   #2
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It seems unlikely, but it depends on your refrigerator, how often you open it, what you plan to keep in it, and how cold it needs to be kept. A refrigerator isn't designed to work like a cooler. The insulation is different and the door opens to the side, which will exchange air faster than a top opening cooler. Have you thought about just getting a well-insulated cooler? Seems like you could do what you're trying without involving the refrigerator and frozen water, but you'll need to experiment some. Some of the newer coolers are fantastic for a couple of days, but it just depends on what you want to keep in it and for how long and how cool it needs to be kept.


Try just putting a gallon of frozen water in your refrigerator and turn it off. My guess would be that the water would be completely thawed overnight.
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Old 12-02-2021, 03:38 PM   #3
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The fridge won't run forever on one tank but it will run a long time, just let it go to LP when you unplug.
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Old 12-03-2021, 12:38 AM   #4
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The fridge won't run forever on one tank but it will run a long time, just let it go to LP when you unplug.
Thanks. I think Iíll do just that. Currently Iím in chilly weather and I think my idea might last longer than in the summer.
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Old 12-03-2021, 12:58 AM   #5
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When my 8 cuft dometic died I used 2 one gallon frozen jugs of water I got at a convenience store to keep the temp down in the fridge. It lasted almost 3 days with minimal openings. It didn't really keep meat and such at a safe temp but it keep my medication cold and bottled and canned beverages at a tolerable temp to drink.

I wouldn't count on that method.

But I've run that fridge in the summer for 4 days straight on LP and barely used any.

I do have a $200 igloo rotomolded cooler that has gone 7 days in the heat and keep safe temps. That I'd trust, but the gas consumption for these fridges is tiny so just put it on auto more if you can
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Old 12-03-2021, 02:01 AM   #6
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My 8 cu ft Dometic has been on since probably June mostly on propane. I loaded on a total of 19 gallons of propane all season and have over 3/4 tank of propane now. That is all the propane we have used for cooking, hot water, the fridge and a fair amount of time on the furnace. We are over 7000 ft in the Eastern Sierra spring to early fall, and we froze in Oregon in October, here at home I keep it set at 45 so nothing freezes and we've been in the low 30's at night for a month. The fridge uses practically nothing, the burner is an overgrown pilot light.
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Old 12-03-2021, 05:22 AM   #7
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Would save that much with a monthly rental in some places.
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Old 02-25-2022, 12:58 PM   #8
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I'm a bit puzzled over the combination of "KOA" and "budget". We're budget-minded (savvy?) and we were shocked to find what KOA charges.

Many NPS-campgrounds offer hookups at half the cost of KOA. State Parks cost a little more than NPS, but tend to be nicer.
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Old 05-05-2022, 09:45 PM   #9
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You're not boondocking, you are just camping. Campers are made to be unhooked. Yes, the fridge will run a month on a 20lb tank of propane, less when combined with stove and stuff. You prob have two tanks anyway, and since you are not technically boondocking just refill the propane at the next stop when one goes empty.
Learn to use water as a camper, not as a California house dweller, make the water last.
In the last 25 years I stayed in one campground one night, and that was not primarily for reasons related to camping. I logged many nights camping.
Boondocking is all about how long your provisions/gas/water can last, mostly water is the killer.
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Old 07-12-2022, 10:24 PM   #10
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Water doesn't retain a lot of heat or cold . Buy freezer packs and you'll do much better
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Old 07-12-2022, 11:12 PM   #11
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The last comment prompted some thoughts that I always find interesting. A btu, that we measure the output of A/c's and heaters with, is the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. But the fascinating part is that to make a phase change in the water takes a lot more heat. To change a pound of 32 degree ice into a pound of 32 degree water you need to add 143 btu. So a pound of 32 degree ice will cool off 4.5 pounds of your favorite beverage (a six pack) roughly 30 degrees, just in the melting process. But once the ice is melted into water it will only cool off that same six pack about two tenths of a degree for every degree that the water warms up. Pretty cool.
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Old 09-14-2022, 09:25 AM   #12
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Interested

I am interested in options like that, but not for Oregon. I live in Florida and need to go off grid for 2-3 days in a row. Discreet van conversion without house batteries. In the winter I can manage to sleep with portable fans, in the summer I find a hookup at friends/family house. I am doing the water jugs/bottles trick in my cooler. But it is not enough for safe conservation of meat.
Does anyone have info about the efficiency of gallon jugs vs pint bottles? Any info about cooler efficiency by brand or material?
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Old 09-14-2022, 09:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black-Bear View Post
I'm a bit puzzled over the combination of "KOA" and "budget". We're budget-minded (savvy?) and we were shocked to find what KOA charges.

Many NPS-campgrounds offer hookups at half the cost of KOA. State Parks cost a little more than NPS, but tend to be nicer.
I agree with Black Bear; KOA's have gone out of sight, they aren't campgrounds anymore, they are RV Parks. First they want you to be a member so you can get a smitten of a discount on their extravagant fees. We love NP and State parks, roomier, less expensive and have all the facilities one needs (maybe not wants for some). As for the fridge. My first RV was a truck camper and back in those days they did not have all the facilities, no electricity, hand water pump, no toilet or shower, propane gas lights, and an ice box that held a 50LB block of ice. It always amazed me how well that block of ice kept things cold AND how long it lasted, but then it was designed to do that. I agree with those that suggested a good cooler instead of trying to keep that fridge cold enough for things like meat.
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Old 09-14-2022, 01:05 PM   #14
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Budget Boondocking

Quote:
Originally Posted by shootist View Post
Water doesn't retain a lot of heat or cold . Buy freezer packs and you'll do much better

We use Nordic Ice freezer packs that we got with shipments of insulin instead of ice for our coolers. We keep quite a few in the freezer and sometimes move some to the refrigerator when dry camping. (residential fridge) And turn power off to the fridge over night.

I put 2 or 3 freezer packs in my little lunch cooler for work and they stay frozen for 2 days.
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