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Old 10-01-2016, 10:29 AM   #1
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Experience of dry camping

I'm posting this in the general discussion area since it is aimed at folks who are not boondockers.
I convinced my wife to give dry camping a shot so we could visit and camp in The Great Smokey Mountains National Park. We spent 5 days at Smokemont CG on the N.C. side near Cherokee. I told her to do pretty much everything she would normally do with the exception of letting faucets run. We had no TV, FM radio or cell reception. Our satellite radio was it.
We washed dishes once a day (after breakfast), took a total of four showers and left with water in our 37 gal. tank. We didn't use the camp's rest rooms/wash sink except for washing a couple of large pans (which I would have done if we had hookups).
Our dual Gr. 24 batteries didn't drop to 12.6V until the second morning. We ran our Yamaha a total of 5 hrs. over the next 3 days to keep the charge at 12.5 or higher. I disconnected the reefers anti-frost heating strip and pulled the fuse for the wardrobe slide during the 5 days to prevent unwanted draw on the batteries. We ran our exhaust fans and range hood as needed.
Bottom line is Penny enjoyed her trip to Smokemont and enjoyed being able to live pretty much the same way in her trailer as we do with hook ups. So if you've been curious or reluctant to go on a boondocking trip, have at it. Our trailers were built to be self-sufficient and they deliver a comfortable experience.
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Old 12-02-2016, 07:01 PM   #2
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2604 WS Wannabe

Good Evening, just registered to forum. Retiring next year. Looking at 2017 Rockwood Ultra Lite 2604WS... (trying to convince my wife). Need lots of advice. Do you have solar panel, inverter,transfer switch, 6 volt batteries? I've been researching portable solar kits...don't know what size...100 watt, 200 watt...what size inverter?? Any advice would be appreciated. This stuff is all new to me.

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Old 12-02-2016, 07:05 PM   #3
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Old 12-02-2016, 07:07 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by TEXAS 1951 View Post
Good Evening, just registered to forum. Retiring next year. Looking at 2017 Rockwood Ultra Lite 2604WS... (trying to convince my wife). Need lots of advice. Do you have solar panel, inverter,transfer switch, 6 volt batteries? I've been researching portable solar kits...don't know what size...100 watt, 200 watt...what size inverter?? Any advice would be appreciated. This stuff is all new to me.

Texas 1951
At the top of each page is a search field. You can search for solar, batteries, etc.

Also at the top of the page is a Library tab. That will take you to a lot of good stuff, too.

If you have a specific question, you can start your own thread to ask it. (Our advice is free and usually worth the price - )

Seriously, we usually bend over backwards to get you good information.
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Old 12-02-2016, 07:11 PM   #5
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Since we dry camp 90% of the time, we're setup for it.

Honda 2000i, dual 12v deep cycle batteries, 400w inverter for tv/dvd/electronic devices, 15 gallon tote tank for gray water, 6 gallon FW jug.
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Old 12-03-2016, 12:35 AM   #6
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Our setup which we use for 100% dry camping includes:

No dish washing-paper plates for everything which we burn in the campfire

50 gallons of fresh water and we bring another 28 to 42 gallons of water in 7 gallons jugs available from Walmart. I have a 12 volt water pump with quick disconnects that I used to pump the water into the fresh tank-VERY EASY.

400 watts of solar feeding 696 amp hours worth of batteries

1500 watt inverter wired into main power so every outlet has power.

100% LED lighting

3000 watt inverter generator which we rarely use.

700 watt micro generator as emergency backup. Used mainly to power our air compressor to fill tires.

Future plans:

Add another 200 to 300 watts of solar panels.
Finish wiring a 12 volt exterior power outlet which is located nextto fresh water fill tube.

Install TurboKool RV Swamp Cooler- Amp draw at 12 volts : High: 4.6 amps Med: 3.2 amps Low: 2.2 amps draw
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Old 12-03-2016, 08:56 AM   #7
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Sounds like someone is set to be off grid for a while! Nice set up- but how many batteries do you have for 696 amp hours? 6 6v batteries?


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Old 12-04-2016, 10:14 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Skyliner View Post
Our setup which we use for 100% dry camping includes:

No dish washing-paper plates for everything which we burn in the campfire

50 gallons of fresh water and we bring another 28 to 42 gallons of water in 7 gallons jugs available from Walmart. I have a 12 volt water pump with quick disconnects that I used to pump the water into the fresh tank-VERY EASY.

400 watts of solar feeding 696 amp hours worth of batteries

1500 watt inverter wired into main power so every outlet has power.

100% LED lighting

3000 watt inverter generator which we rarely use.

700 watt micro generator as emergency backup. Used mainly to power our air compressor to fill tires.

Future plans:

Add another 200 to 300 watts of solar panels.
Finish wiring a 12 volt exterior power outlet which is located nextto fresh water fill tube.

Install TurboKool RV Swamp Cooler- Amp draw at 12 volts : High: 4.6 amps Med: 3.2 amps Low: 2.2 amps draw
Hi Skyliner...How difficult was installing 1500 watt inverter wired into main power so every outlet has power. Is it a DIY job? Do you shut off the converter, or did you install a transfer kit? Is your rig a TT or fifth wheel? I want to be able to dry camp occasionally in TT. I'm considering a Briggs/Stratton 3000 inverter/gen to run air conditioner when remote dry camping...but also want a solar hookup, possibly 200 watt portable suitcase kit to keep 2 6volt Trojans well maintained, and 1500 watt inverter for running TV, microwave,etc one at a time. My thinking was to install inverter close to batteries and run one designed line to a separate outlet and avoid connecting to main electric system. Also I would put remote cutoff switch inside for inverter. When inverter is in use ,I would shut off converter,Thanks .


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Old 12-06-2016, 10:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TEXAS 1951 View Post
Hi Skyliner...How difficult was installing 1500 watt inverter wired into main power so every outlet has power. Is it a DIY job? Do you shut off the converter, or did you install a transfer kit? Is your rig a TT or fifth wheel? I want to be able to dry camp occasionally in TT. I'm considering a Briggs/Stratton 3000 inverter/gen to run air conditioner when remote dry camping...but also want a solar hookup, possibly 200 watt portable suitcase kit to keep 2 6volt Trojans well maintained, and 1500 watt inverter for running TV, microwave,etc one at a time. My thinking was to install inverter close to batteries and run one designed line to a separate outlet and avoid connecting to main electric system. Also I would put remote cutoff switch inside for inverter. When inverter is in use ,I would shut off converter,Thanks .


Texas 1951
It is not hard to do so but is time consuming. Here is how I did it in all of my campers to date-bumper pull and 5th wheels

Both my inverter and converter are wired next to the batteries up front. You do not want the converter charging the batteries from AC power provided by the inverter. I used an auto transfer switch near the power panel to prevent this from happening and provide AC inverter power to the entire camper.

Transfer switch:
a. Generator/campground 30 amp plug power takes precedence over inverter power so i don't have to worry about manually unswitching stuff.
b. Converter only powered by 30 amp generator power. In addition, you may want to make sure that the same applies to the fridge and AC portion of your hot water heater. I never use electricity for hot water and I unplugged it from the AC and I only run my fridge on propane but do have the option of using AC from inverter to run the fridge if needed.

Hardest part of job is running two runs of Romex wire from front of camper to rear of camper. One romex goes from inverter to auto-transfer switch and other romex goes from a fused tap into the 30 amp plug to the converter.

Wiring often involves removing the coroplast liner under the camper and lying on your back to run the wires thru tight spots. It is a pain in the donkey to do so but the rewards are worth it. While you are under the camper, reinforce the brackets for all of your water tanks so they don't fall out, add additional insulation everywhere, and inspect and improve your brake wiring.

Difficult? Nope! Time consuming which most people tend to associate with difficult, YEP!


I strongly recommend you use 4 golf cart batteries if you wish to use a 1500 watt inverter. A full inverter load on the batteries may cause them to drop voltage too quick under load causing inverter to disconnect automatically from the low voltage. A general rule of thumb is that I size my batteries at least 50% greater than what is needed to extend battery life.

Solar is reasonably priced if you do it yourself. 400 watts of panels and 4 golf cart batteries initially allowed me to only need generator to run air conditioning which is rare because I camp at 10,000 feet ASL and higher most of the time.

I am thinking of upgrading to a RV swamp cooler which should run off of solar without any issues.
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Old 12-06-2016, 10:50 AM   #10
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Spent 40 years camping in tents of all shapes and sizes and taking baths in the river/ streams etc.. With my camper I have a few outings planned at our "secret place" where I will not be using water / electricity etc.. and I dont feel like dealing with the freshwater tank, so Ill take a few gallons of wally world water, and clean up in the river when Im grungy.. basically taking the camper so I can lock the door so the daughter feels a little bit better about it or I would simply tent it.
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