The freedom and self-reliance an RV offers is part of the attraction for many people that have joined the RV lifestyle. You can go where you want when you want, and take care of your own needs along the way.
Self-reliant RVers have no problem camping without hookups. Many enjoy the benefits and a bit of pride conquering the challenges that come with surviving off-the-grid. However, the perfect RV has yet to be created, and things can (and sometimes do) go awry.
Whether you’re boondocking in the desert, dry camping at a remote forest service campground, or spending a night in a Walmart parking lot, you’ll want to have a backup plan when something in the RV fails to function.
Let’s take a look at some of the more critical systems:
- Water: What if your water pump fails? How will you extract water from your water tank? Install a faucet or petcock on your freshwater tank drain and let gravity do the work. You can use a bucket of water to flush the toilet, heat water on the stove, put water in a basin for washing, etc. For safety, capture your drinking/cooking water in a container suitable for potable water, such as a pitcher.
- Power: If you lose the 12-volt battery supply in almost any RV, you are done camping. In most cases, power from your batteries is required to power your furnace, refrigerator circuits, water heater ignition, water pump, and overhead lights. Needless to say, if you lose all of these functions, you might as well be camping in a tent! However, with a backup plan, you can continue to utilize your RV until repairs can be made. Here are a few places where you can tap 12 volts when needed:
- From the alternator of your motorhome or tow vehicle. If in doubt on how to get power from one to the other internally, use jumper cables from battery to battery, just like jumping a car. Make sure to not deplete the starting battery on your tow vehicle or motorhome. Doing so will create a new set of problems for you.
- Most generators are equipped with a 12-volt outlet. Know in advance if yours has this feature and if you have the required cables to use it.
- Many RVers travel with their off-road toys (ATV, motorcycle, etc.) and most operate via a 12-volt electrical system. In a pinch, these can be used as a poor man’s generator. I’ve equipped my ATV with a 12-volt outlet to power a handlebar mounted GPS navigational unit. This outlet could also serve as an easy secondary power source to the RV.
- Heat: If your furnace fails due to running out of propane or component failure, do you have a backup plan for heat? A small electric heater powered by a generator or better yet, an approved indoor-use catalytic heater (like this one from Camco) can get you through a chilly night when the furnace goes defunct.
If you are properly prepared and have a backup plan, a self-reliant RVer can handle just about any system failure, anytime, anywhere. Surviving system failures in your RV—just another adventure in RVing!