Since the last post was mostly about what we did while we were boondocking, this will be about how the RV handled boondocking. We started off our time in Quartzsite in an RV park. This gave us a chance to visit friends in the park and start our 5 days of boondocking with a full fresh water tank, 50 gallons, and empty black and grey tanks. On our camper, we have 3 waste tanks. The black tank for the toilet. A grey for the galley and a separate grey for the bathroom shower and sink. All totalled we have about 120 or so gallons of waste water capacity, so that wasn’t the limiting factor. The fresh water was the limit in my books.
Our electricity comes from a single group 24 12-volt battery with about 80 amp hours, or only 40 AH if we stick to the 50% rule. I know, kinda piddly for boondocking, but it is all we have. We also have 2 2000-watt Champion inverter generators that we can run in parallel and plug the RV into and get close to a 30-amp hookup. The sustained output of the generators is 25 Amps with a peak output of 33.3 Amps. We can live on a 30 amp hookup in a campground in the winter, so we figured we could manage with running the generators in the morning when we got up and in the evening before we went to bed.
The battery was the limiting factor. Since the evenings were cool, high 30’s to low 40’s, we had the furnace on overnight. If you know anything about RV furnaces, you know they use a lot of propane and draw a lot of 12-volt power to run the blower. Well, it did. It drew the battery down from a full charge in the evening, to 1/3 full or even empty, according to the idiot lights we have on our panel.
No, we don’t have a battery monitor that tells us what the volts is in the battery. Yes, I know we need one to really know if the battery is full or not. That is one of the next things we are going to get. I wish we had it for this adventure, but we have to make do with what we have. I did use my voltmeter to check the voltage a few times, both with it “full” and with it 1/3-empty. The next purchase we need to make, after the battery monitor, of course, is a proper converter/charger. One that is a 3-stage charger so that it will charge the batteries to the maximum. What we have not, is fine for the occasional Wal-mart overnight, but is not doing our battery any favours when we are using it for extended periods of time.
Now for the water. Typically our black tank lasts us well over 2 weeks and usually closer to 3 weeks. So that was a non-issue for 5 days in my books. Our galley grey tank tends to last about 6-7 days. Again, not really a huge issue, since we decided to use paper plates and use the BBQ for most of the cooking to reduce our dish use. Our bathroom grey lasts about 4 days when we are on full hookups and shower everyday. So if we cut back on the showers to every other day, then the bathroom grey shouldn’t be an issue either. The fresh water is what I was really concerned with. The 50 gallons of fresh water typically lasts 3-4 days when we have full hookups. Yes, we do use the fresh water tank when we have full hookups. It’s saved us a few times when the park has had to shut the water off.
With being conscious of the water we were using, we managed to last 5 days in the Arizona desert with water to spare. We even had to dump the remaining fresh water when we left. I try not to travel with water in the tanks. Why haul the extra weight around when you don’t have to.
What did we learn? A few things:
- 50 gallons of water can last us more than 5 days if we are careful.
- We need to get a proper battery monitor. the idiot lights that come with RVs just don’t cut it when you are really using the battery.
- We need to get a good converter/3-stage charger for the battery to ensure that the battery lasts as long as possible.
Will we boondock again? Yes, we are boondocking in Florida as I finish up this post. We’ve been boondocking now for 6 or 7 days in 2 different locations with different lessons learned, but that is a post for another day. 🙂