Looking to go off-grid camping or at least use your RV solar system more to produce power. Here are five reasons when to get a generator with your RV Solar system for boondocking. While these are not the only reasons to purchase a generator, they do encompass many of the common request we field from customers.
If you want to run air conditioning, there is a great chance your system will not always meet your needs. There will be days when your batteries will need to be charged and there is not enough sun. Air Conditioners are huge loads that sometimes require a generator. Pair your system with a good onboard generator if running AC is in your requirements.
Residential refrigerators are coming in so many RVs today. These units are power-hungry and on hot days even more so. There are times when there will be inclement weather and poor solar charging for days. Your refrigerator will not care about how much power you produce from the panels, it still needs to run. This is when having an onboard generator is super useful. A few hours of generator run time can often be all that is required for another day or two of run time.
If you have shading on your panels, there will certainly be times when you will need some other form of power whether it be wind, hydro, or generator. The extra power produced by the generator can keep your RV power system in balance.
If you are looking to purchase and RV solar system or generator to reduce your electric bill. Neither is probably the right solution. Usually, there are better ways to achieve saving money on power bills like Insulating, More Efficient Appliances, LED lights, and reducing overall usage.
Large Long Term Loads
If you are looking at running loads continually that are over 500 watts in your RV, you will probably need a generator. During the day it may be easier to use your RV solar system, but during the nights, consistent high loads will drain your battery bank quickly. We see many people wanting to make coffee shops and blender bars out of older RVs like Airstreams, this can be ok during the day, but at night, extra power from a generator may be necessary.
A video discussing when a generator might be right for your RV’s system
Real World Tips
Generators can be loud and annoying when you are trying to getaway. Many RVers try to reduce loads to minimize their run times. They also require fuel which can sometimes be harder to find in remote areas. Here are 4 tips for minimizing the requirements for needing a generator.
Camp in cooler weather
So we’ve learned a lot of things on the road when it came to camping without power. one of the first things when boondocking we try to do is determine what the weather is going to be where we want to go camping. We use a philosophy called Chase in the 60s. The reason why we like to call a Chase in the 60s is we will very quickly change our camping plans and our agenda and itinerary based on where the weather is 60 degrees. This reduces almost all of the power loads that we have for camping. It makes our refrigerator run less and we don’t require air conditioning but can have a very comfortable camping experience with only a simple fan that draws about 1:00 amp at 12 volts.
have enough solar Power for your refrigerator
The most important consideration we take into account when off-grid boondocking is that our food stays refrigerated and cooled to the proper safe temperature. This is a hard must for my family as our food supply is at stake. So whenever we set out to boondock we monitor our battery bank and solar system so that we do not use too much power where our refrigerator is not able to operate. Know once we follow some of the suggestions below that is usually pretty simple. But it is paramount that keeping your food cold and safe be your primary electrical load.
led lights and efficent appliances Save Power
Another great tip for boondocking is to check that your RV be as efficient as electrically as possible. LED lights are a must for any off-grid RV, the reason is they change the entire power profile of lighting. You can take your RV from using approximately 30 amps for just lighting down to under 2:00 amps for the entire RV. There are also other areas where you can use items that are more efficient like DVD players and TVs. I recently purchased a DVD player for our van that is now USB-powered. This reduced the load on my batteries by about 10 times. Small savings like this add up for off-grid camping success and reducing generator run time.
Set a boondocking power plan
One of the first things we do when going off-grid to boondock is that we set a power usage strategy called out “Boondocking Power Plan”. By having this plan in place there is a clear understanding by everyone camping with us about what loads are the most important. There is also a consideration by anyone who wants to use power as to whether there will be extra power available to complete their load. Sometimes we even go as far as scheduling TV time as a family group even on inclement weather days because of the limited power production that we receive. That is not such a bad thing because really you’re not going camping to watch TV. That’s just my enter Dad speaking.
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