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Old 06-11-2018, 12:40 PM   #1
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Newbie's Boondocking Strategy?

We live in a region where most of the State Parks do not have hookups. However, they are beautiful, forested, inexpensive and all have potable water and a dump station. We are going to be buying a hybrid trailer and have some initial ideas about a strategy to handle the lack of hookups during our anticipated 1 - 1.5 week stays. Please let us know if we are on the right track toward addressing our water, gray/black tanks and electricity needs...
  • Fresh Water (43-gal): Obviously we would fill up upon arrival. To replenish, we would use a 30-gal bladder in the bed of the truck and fill at the water station. Upon our return to the site, we'd use a transfer pump to move water from the bladder to the RV tank.
  • Gray & Black Water (30 + 30-gal): Tanks would be pumped into a "blue boy" on the bed of the truck using a macerator and then the blue boy would be dumped/rinsed at the dump station.
  • Electricity (30-amp): A 3400 or 3100 genny (Champion?) to charge batteries and to run the (rarely needed) 15K A/C with the Micro-Air EasyStart 364 Soft Starter.
Any suggestions for improvements to these strategies? Being newbies, we have done a bunch of researching but would love to hear from experienced folks employing these strategies or from those who have found even better alternatives.

Thanks in advance for helping us with this part of the camping puzzle!

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Old 06-11-2018, 12:52 PM   #2
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Electricity tends to be bigger hurtle when dealing with boondocking. Blue boys and water tanks can easily accommodate the other needs.

As a caveat, I haven't boondocked myself, this is all just second hand information based on years reading stuff on these forums. With that said:

1) The dealer provided batteries tend to not be up to snuff for boondocking. You'll want to upgrade those. Lots of choices in this department.

2) You want to mitigate your electric usage. If you have incandescent bulbs, replace with LED. You'll also want to read this sticky in our electrical forum:

Battery gone in 36h, where to start?

Basically, depending on your fridge, there's a possible huge parasitic draw you'll want to address.

3) Buy a good battery monitor. Again, lots of suggestions on these forums.

4) Have Fun!

There's no use crying over spilt milk... unless it's on your keyboard.
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Old 06-11-2018, 12:55 PM   #3
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I haven't done it myself but lots of people suggest adding solar panels and in inverter .

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Old 06-11-2018, 01:08 PM   #4
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I've boondocked using your strategy many times. It will work fine.

The frequency in which you fill/dump/run the genny is entirely proportional to how conservative you are with your resources.
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Old 06-11-2018, 01:13 PM   #5
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For regular boondocking, more and better batteries, plus solar, are probably the direction to guide your thinking.

As to relying on a generator, it is worth noting that there are places -- some national parks and states like Wisconsin, for instance -- where generators are not allowed. Just something to think about as you strategize...

Hope this helps.

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Old 06-11-2018, 01:14 PM   #6
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Most of our camping is done about the same as you are envisioning. We have water totes and a 12v pump for fresh water, also carry a blue tote and 3200w generator. The only thing I would suggest is to upgrade your batteries to dual 6v deep cycle, and depending on your converter, carry a good portable battery charger.
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Old 06-11-2018, 02:04 PM   #7
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And don't forget to fill the propane tank if your generator runs on that. Old MH used propane and the new on MH gas. I ran out of propane once and it was a propane in the @#$.
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Old 06-11-2018, 02:25 PM   #8
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You sound like you have a great strategy. The only thing I would do is make sure you have 2 batteries. Either 2 12 volts or 2 6 volts. Dealers generally provide a cheap group 24 12 volt which would work but have 2 batteries gives you extra comfort without having to be as careful. Just monitor their levels and put a charge into them everyday and you will have plenty of power unless you get ridiculous.

I have 2 6 volts and we were running a laptop, charging all sorts of phones and a couple of tablets, running the lights (all LED of course), running the sound system, and had the furnace kicking on a few times a night to take the chill off, and had not problems. Well, not until the day it was cloudy and my solar couldn't recharge. I was still at around 75% by voltmeter, so we were a bit more careful the next night. Still, we were just fine. With a generator, you will be fine too. As for your batteries, don't rely on the the little lights in the camper to tell you their level. Get a better meter to install in the camper or at the least buy a $15 volt meter at your hardware/home improvement store.

It is the grey water tank that will fill. We filled ours by the end of the third day or the beginning of the 4th. As far as the black tank, we tried to use the campground toilets during the day and the camper toilet at night. We were no where close to filling that. Using that strategy probably could have gone at least a week if not more.

My suggestion is to go out on a shorter trip, 4 days or so, and go nuts. Use electricity and your other resources like you want in order to be very comfortable and monitor your usage of everything closely. Then make adjustments from there. Batteries seem to be the real limit, but with 2 batteries and generator you should be very comfortable in your little palace. People seem to scrimp too much when it comes to boondocking. Using flashlights, no heat, etc in order to save resources. Set your camper up right, and you can live like Kardashians. Well, not quite, but you can be more than comfortable.
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Old 06-12-2018, 07:59 AM   #9
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Wow! Thank you so much for all the excellent suggestions!
  • Duneit - I had completely forgot about the propane! The RV will have 2-20# tanks. Using one at a time will allow me to hoist the empty tank into the truck to refill it while running on the second tank. I think that should be fairly easy to handle.
  • Kaadk - I know that I will need to improve the battery situation. The RV will come with a 12V "dual purpose" battery but I will switchover to 2-12V/100 ah or 2-6V/200 ah batteries for a useable 100 ah. We also have our eyes on a Victron BMV-712 battery monitor and will install it as one of the first priorities after delivery of the RV (along with disabling the fridge heating element).
  • timfromma - I suspect that you are aware of the SP campsites in New England. Most are wooded and I fear that solar battery charging will be a struggle at most campsites. However, we'll see how it goes and maybe add-on a portable unit at some time.
  • Richp - Your comment prompted me to look at the policies for the SPs in the NE. Whew! All allow generators during non-quiet hours.
  • joeuncool - Yes! We will use CG showers/toilets when possible to extend gray/black tank availability and limit fresh water usage. Besides, my S.O. is not a navy-shower aficionado!

I spent a lot of time backpacking in my teens and twenties and self-righteously looked down upon those who would camp in a box! However, during the last 45-years, the ground seems to have gotten more uncomfortable to sleep on, the weather colder and the need for night time bio-breaks have increased. Perhaps it is this perspective with which I now accept (and embrace) camping in a box...

Please keep the great ideas coming!
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Old 06-12-2018, 08:13 AM   #10
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I would add this:
two Honda EU2000 generators will suit you ‘better’, in light of your description, as one provides battery charging from it’s 12v output directly to your battery bank, as well as additional 120v 15a outlets to your rv.
The second generator is the ‘companion’ model and provides for a parallel connection with the primary generator, and offers a 30a RV outlet, when you really need your Air Conditioner(and you will!).

This gives you very ‘quiet’ normal generator runs with only the single unit, but the ability to use both when needed.

and they are much easier to handle, carry, and store : )


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boondocking, newbie

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