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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:

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...art-26676.html

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!
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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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Hi,


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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Old 06-12-2018, 06:28 PM   #11
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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 : )

If you're on a budget, you can get two A-IPower 2000 watt inverter generators from Costco for right at $1000....total. As in $499.99 each. They are powered by the Yamaha MZ80 engine and have a 3 prong twist lock outlet, like the Honda Companion, a 30 amp RV adapter that fits in the twist lock outlet, parallel wires, tool kit and oil funnel. You only need to run one when you don't need A/C. And they are light enough to where you can easily pick one up. Those two Hondas and a parallel wire kit will set you back over $2300.
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Old 06-12-2018, 06:50 PM   #12
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{snip}...Those two Hondas and a parallel wire kit will set you back over $2300.
Yup! The EU2200 and EU3000 are great gennys, but I need to keep my costs down. I'd rather spend <$1000 on a genny and put the rest of the money into the batteries/monitor.

My back is in pretty good shape, so I can schlepp a 100# genny into the truck without needing a whole lot of help. Of course, in a few years when I turn 70, we'll see if I need a chain-fall...

Thanks!
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Old 06-12-2018, 07:31 PM   #13
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When we go boondocking I use dish pans instead of my sink and dump the water outside not down into the grey tank. Also we have used a shower tent beside the trailer by the outside shower. Works great. We found it easier to refill the water tank, than move the camper or pump to a portable blk water container. The state park we love is Jerico in Berlin nh. It just put in a bath house last year. Hope it has the dump station by this year.
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Old 06-24-2018, 05:07 PM   #14
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All of our camping is considered boondocking to others. We have a large piece of property in the mountains about 80 miles from us with no utilities. Last year we were able to stay there a total of 43 nights from March til October. Weekends and extended weekends.
We have an out house for when you need #2 and use or toilet in the camper for #1 and we don't put the tissue down the toilet. If we need to shower we use the outdoor shower. And I haul water to top off the tank each time we go up, or to the lake to fish. Not lake water from the water spiquit.
We only use the lights and tv when it's bed time or bad weather. I wish I knew more about the batteries when I bought the camper since I purchased a second battery at the time we picked up the camper. They are not the greatest and would have gone to 6 volt, but I will run these into the ground before I purchase new ones. We don't use fridge water heater microwave or ac what so ever. But do use the furnace when it's freezing outside. So not a lot of battery draw. A generator is probably the least effective to charge the batteries. I've ran the generator for hours and haven't reached full charge at times. I've just purchased the furion portable solar panel last week. After debating on hard wiring or a portable that plugs into or port on the side of the camper I went portable. For only being 95watts it will bring my batteries to 100% in an hour. When I get up in the morning at 6 I plug in the panels and by the time coffee is done so are the batteries. By far the best purchase no hauling gas starting generators or the noise. Solar is way quieter than the quietest generator. Plus it has a 25' cord so I could find sun easily.
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Old 06-24-2018, 06:28 PM   #15
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I installed an electric fuel pump in my TV so I can fill the genny from the TV tank = no gas cans.
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Old 06-24-2018, 06:35 PM   #16
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Iím certainly learning a lot here! Thank you for all the great ideas.
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Old 06-24-2018, 10:46 PM   #17
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...

...

Any suggestions for improvements to these strategies? ...
...

I think your strategy is on-target. As you already recognize: water, energy, and waste management is critical during extended outings. By way of explanation: We regularly do one-week outings with much the same basic set-up as you. We have a 25-foot Prism on a Sprinter chassis. Different is that we have added 200-watts of solar on the roof to augment battery charging (two parallel 12-volt batteries). The additional solar is a huge benefit for power management. Our fresh water is 50-gallon and our waste tanks are 25-gallon each; our LPG is 20-gallons. We prefer boondocking. We bring Mr. Heater and an extra tank if we're expecting cold nights (teens). As others suggested, we also toss grey-water outside when possible; this saves greatly on grey-water space. We usually bring a couple of cases of bottled-water for drinking, coffee & such. We try to do our black-water duties outside the Mobile Palace as often as possible. We usually carry extra "baby-wipes" to augment various cleanliness needs (always trash Ė never in the waste tank); this helps reduce showering needs and some house-keeping. Showers from our on-board supply tend to be quick "bivouac" style; we splurge the night before a dump and refill. We added a Bogart Engineering TriMetric TM-2030 to monitor the batteries. The TriMetric is an important instrument allowing me to easy monitoring of battery conditions. I installed a power inverter for temporary (non-generator) 120-volt needs, but seldom use it. We watch very little television, but both wife & I have laptop computers; We usually download videos & such before a trip for viewing on the laptops. Recharging laptop takes very little energy. We seldom use our generator (LPG); mostly for powering the microwave, occasionally the air conditioner; mostly simply because we need to run it for its own good. We did need it for charging batteries once during a period of extended overcast. Our setup also includes a WiFi booster and a Cell booster, neither of which offer much where we tend to boondock, but are usually very useful during various points of a trip.
Never dump outside an actual dump site, not even your grey-water. I've seen a few remote places where some ***** brain dumped ... it's never good and it's likely a place where another boondocker might wish to camp. Also, keep some grey-water for rinsing the hose after you dump black water.
In summary, we can boondock a week without thinking much; I think two weeks is possible with some serious conservation ... fresh water being our primary limitation. We simply don't have the water storage or waste storage space to comfortably push it beyond two weeks.
Applying this to your thoughts: I think your one-week plan is a perfect target. Your augmentation with a "30-gal bladder" and a "blue boy" waste transfer significantly extends your boondock time so that even a two-week outing should be very comfortable. Your generator more than handles the power needs; adding solar allows you to be a bit more passive for charging batteries, but solar will never run air conditioning or a microwave. Just my opinion, but I think your plan is perfectly on-target for your desired outings. Wish you the best of enjoyment.
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Old 06-24-2018, 11:23 PM   #18
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I've only camped twice in campgrounds and all of my other camping has been in the back country with no hookups or designated sites.

Increased battery capacity should be your first upgrade. A single Group 24 or Group 27 battery is practically worthless. At a minimum two Sam's Club EGC2 batteries which have 220 amp hours of battery capacity verssus the cheaper GC2 batteries they and Costco also sell and have 200 amp-hours of capacity.

Trimetric or Victron battery monitor a must to help you figure out your power usage.

Solar is nice but expensive if done correctly. Our solar system and battery bank would have cost us $6500 if installed by a "pro". I have about $4000 in mine and a lot of sweat equity. I very rarely worry about power and usually camp with a small 800 watt 2 stroke generator as a backup unless I know I will be using air conditioning which requires me to haul my 3kw inverter generator.

A small 2000 watt inverter generator is plenty of charge your batteries via your converter.

If you are serious about dry camping, upgrading to Progressive Dynamics converter and moving it within 4 feet of the batteries is paramount to get as fast of a recharge on your batteries as possible. Most converters are of poor quality and located too far back wtih too thin wire to get sufficient voltage to the battery(ies) to reach a bulk charge rate. My last several campers had this issue even with a PD converter, almost 1/2 volt voltage drop from 25-30 foot run to batteries.

Solar is a nice feature but expense is not worth if for 99% of folks. For years we had upgraded battery capacity (4 golf cart batteries) and a quiet inverter generator to top them off each day.

An inverter is a good investment but only if you have increased battery capacity. Research inverters carefully and get the one sized for your needs that has the lowest standby (idle) power draw. Some inverters draw an amp/hour in standby.

30 lb propane tanks a must, run fridge and hot water heater on propane of course but remember that they are controlled by "motherboards" that run on 12 volts DC power.

I am one that has no issue dumping gray water in the wild but do follow park rules. We do not camp at parks where high density dumping of grey water can be an issue. Our grey water is fairly clean and free of food particles as we DO NOT DO DISHES. We use disposable cups/dishes to save on water. Frying pans and pots are cleaned with wet paper towels.

Be wary of water station water quality for your bladder tank. Suggest you add a little chlorine sanitizer to ensure this water is safer to use in your camper.

Quick showers a must. Our rule is that a shower should not require more than a minute of water pump usage. A 1/2-1 gallon container is used to capture water when you are getting the correct water temperature. After correct water temp setting is achieved shut off water at shower head (2nd upgrade is to get a shower head that has an on/off switch). Use the captured water to lather up with a wash cloth and body wash from head to toe. Once lathered up, dump rest of captured water over you and then use shower head to do a quick rinse. At 2.5 gallons of water usage/minute, we use about 3 gallons of water max per shower. A little chlorine sanitizer in the fresh water holding tank helps us stay fresh longer and not require daily shores-almost same concentration as a swimming pool.

Extreme water saving, use grey water to fill and rinse your toilet bowl. Easy way to do it is to drain a little grey water into a bucket. Some people hard plumb their water line to toilet from grey water tank.

We use wet wipes purchased in bulk for washing hands, wiping face, and personal hygiene to save on water. I often ATV and get a lot of dust on my face and exposed body parts. Wipes do a great job cleaning this dust off. After I use a wipe for hands, I do a quick water rinse if i handle food to be safe.

Cups by sink a must for brushing teeth. Easy to waste a lot of water brushing teeth if you don't have a cup to rinse with and use your hands.
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Old 06-24-2018, 11:55 PM   #19
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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...

Funny how I use to do the same thing.
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Old 06-25-2018, 12:54 AM   #20
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I've just purchased the furion portable solar panel last week. After debating on hard wiring or a portable that plugs into or port on the side of the camper I went portable. For only being 95watts it will bring my batteries to 100% in an hour.
A 95W panel will put out 5A if aimed perfectly. Your battery must not be drawn down very much if you think your battery is back up to 100%.
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