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Old 04-10-2023, 07:26 AM   #1
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Big change of plans. Boondocking is the way

Since my last post where I asked some help to start planning a long trip from Florida to the West(3 months) my frustration increased a 50%

Almost every state park or national park is booked. Most of the nice private parks are so expensive that I could rent a nice hotel and still save money.
Al this linked to the gas prices, toll roads , stupid expensive insurance and maintenance costs are making mid class Rving almost impossible

So the next step is to invest in solar panels to plan for 70% boondocking and 30% parks
I know nothing about this system
But looks like in a few years it's going to be the only way

My only concern, If you are boondocking how do you survive in Summer without Ac .
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Old 04-10-2023, 07:45 AM   #2
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I don't know what rig you're running but I think a mix of solar and generator is a perfectly good way to go. Many generators are quite efficient.

Currently I'm running 800 AH of battery and use my generator to top them off/keep cool. Works very well.

Still muuuuuch less expensive per day than a park in most cases unless it's 100 out.
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Old 04-10-2023, 08:09 AM   #3
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I am a boondocker and have been for years. I have 140 watts of solar and a 2000 watt generator. What makes you think you need a large solar package? If i get hot, I fire up the genny an turn on the AC. I have a mini split.
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Old 04-10-2023, 08:48 AM   #4
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Booking last minute, you can’t be as choosy with the quality of the parks. ANY site with electric is going to be cheaper than running your generator if you need air conditioning for most of the day or night.

Out west in the summer, you need to be camping at 7000 feet above sea level to have cooler temperatures if you want to try to make it without air conditioning.

How big (and what type) is your battery bank? This many times is more important than the solar, since the solar power has to have some place to go…..if you only have 2 lead/acid batteries consider upgrading them to lithium. The lithium batteries will charge much faster on generator and you can draw them down to almost zero state of charge without a problem (they will have a BMS to protect them)
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Old 04-10-2023, 09:01 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Intsell View Post
My only concern, If you are boondocking how do you survive in Summer without Ac .
We move to a region where the summer temperatures do not get too hot. If the forecast indicates higher than average summers temps, we might find a place to plug in for a few days. Otherwise, we're completely off-grid about 80% of the time with 1520 watts of solar on the roof.

Originally Posted by pasdad1 View Post
Out west in the summer, you need to be camping at 7000 feet above sea level to have cooler temperatures if you want to try to make it without air conditioning.
There's lots of places on the west coast from north of San Francisco to the Olympic peninsula and into British Columbia to camp off-grid, well below 7000 feet
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Old 04-10-2023, 09:12 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Intsell View Post

My only concern, If you are boondocking how do you survive in Summer without Ac .
Short answer..Go North, then find the highest elevations You can.. (ie Mount Hood is 11,000' and Mount Rainier is over 14,000 feet, middle of Wyoming is over 8,000 feet, Mountains in Colorado are well over 6 to 12,000'+.
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Old 04-10-2023, 11:12 AM   #7
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We've been avid boondockers/dry campers for many many years, rarely ever booked into a campground, even long before these crazy prices and demand times. We just don't enjoy the restrictions placed on us by having bookings and the check in/check out processes. YMMV.

We have a large battery/solar array with residential fridge that we never draw down much at all and we boil a kettle almost every couple hours for tea. "if" on odd days we've needed A/C we fire up the generator. "If" in a really hot spell unbearably so then we would book into a cheap CG or get hook ups from somebody (pay a fee) for a long term/overnight need of A/C.
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Old 04-10-2023, 11:39 AM   #8
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I love our 7500 quiet diesel generator.
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Old 04-10-2023, 11:47 AM   #9
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When we traveled out west last July, we had good luck finding KOA campgrounds at the last minute for quick overnight stops while traveling. We boondocked a couple nights, and stayed in a hotel while going through Texas with 120 degree temps! But most often we found a KOA near our travel route and they always had room. Most were very "no frills", but all we needed was electricity!
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Old 04-10-2023, 11:59 AM   #10
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We boondock about 80% of the time. Our favorite getaway is in the Gila National Forest in NM, about 6500'. Even there, you will need a/c in the summer. We use 2 EU2000Is. One at a time usually, 2 for a/c.
We have a 200watt solar suitcase to help with keeping our 2 series 27 batteries charged. But we really rely on the generator for that. We usually run the generators about 5 hours a day, which keeps them charged up nicely, even in the winter. A couple of hours during the morning for coffee and her news programs, and a couple of hours in the evening for tv or whatever.
Rving has never been about saving money. And currently, it is definitely more expensive than in the past. I don't see that changing anytime soon.
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Old 04-10-2023, 12:04 PM   #11
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You need to decide is money or convenience more important to you.

More money makes for more convenience. More panels, bigger battery bank, bigger inverter(s). Super convenient to just turn on your A/C when needed and not worry about power in general. But there is the issue of losing cargo capacity and space when adding all the components. Overnights/rest stops are nice as I can run my A/C just long enough to cool the trailer in the evening when I park for the night. When it's stupid hot out I try to find a cheap place with power for the one night, or if boondocking run the generator.

But you can save a lot of money with a generator that fits your RV's needs. The drawbacks include dragging the generator in/out of the trailer or tow vehicle and securing it (unless your trailer has a spot to permanently mount it), maintaining the genset (oil, battery, filters, etc), still running the shore power cord if not built-in, noise and vibrations, carrying extra fuel or even a different fuel (my genset is LP/gas but my truck is diesel so I only run it on LP). It's so much cheaper though.
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Old 04-10-2023, 02:00 PM   #12
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Big change of plans. Boondocking is the way

Having a bathroom and full kitchen going down the road is worth a lot of money to me. The DW will say it’s the bathroom and closet full of clothes and shoes that makes it worth it for her. I absolutely hate lugging suitcases and a cooler in and out of motel rooms. Plus there’s potentially bed bugs and who knows what else lurking in a room, and your car sits in a parking lot waiting to get door dings, broken into, or stolen.
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Old 04-10-2023, 02:53 PM   #13
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OP: It appears you have a motorhome so you, most likely, already have a generator. Add about 600w of solar and you're set to go.

If boondocking on public land you can run the generator for AC as much as you want.... but be aware of close neighbors. We try to park off to ourselves.

If using actual campgrounds in national forests, national parks, etc. there will usually have generator hours. So hopefully, you will have a campsite with some sun that will allow your panels to generate power. That said, we once spent 7 nights in Glacier Nat'l Park in Apgar campground which is fully shaded. We had 7 days of rain! Even then, our solar was in a clearing that got some light on those rainy, cloudy days and we survived... only because we don't need that much power to be comfortable.

As far as RV parks costs go, perhaps just lowering your expectations and look into staying at very basic ones.

We full-timed 16 years and I would guess we did without hookups 90% of our time. We only had 300w of solar which was plenty for us but I'm sure many out there couldn't do it on that little of solar. We had a gas refrigerator; nowadays RVs have a standard electric which takes a lot more energy to run. We are not TV watchers; the outside is our entertainment. We don't need appliances to cook like a plug-in coffee pot or toaster. We had an awesome stovetop coffee perculator and made our toast in a frypan. We didn't have a washer/dryer. All those types of things need the maximum amount of solar that you can fit on your roof, including a generator. So get set up for solar according to YOUR way of RVing. Everyone is different.

As others have stated, elevation is the key to staying comfortable without running the AC. Also, the west coast is comfortable at sea level. You're in Florida so staying cool there would be impossible. We love the West so getting up to elevation is easy and fast. Even in Arizona there are places that are very comfortable in summer without AC.

Good luck to you! Solar definitely frees you and gives you more options!
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Old 04-11-2023, 01:04 PM   #14
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Thanks for the info
And emotional support on Cg prices 🤣
I feel better now knowing that many of us stay dry camping and uses just solar or Gen

I own a Tiffin 36UA which comes with a 8000Onan . Not too noisy , not sure how economic since we don't use it a lot

The Battery bank is probably the Oem, 4 6v batteries , still working but old which are ready for a replacement
I test it during 24hr with light consumption and they only were about 35% depleted ( if I remember correctly)
Got then full charged fairly quickly with the Generator

Could anyone point to the right direction for Solar .
brands , batteries , etc
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