Last week we looked how to conserve potable water in the boondocks. This week we will look at how to conserve battery power.
For the purpose of this week’s entry, we are talking about the 12 volt system of the average RV with a couple of deep cycle batteries. Buses with all electric systems and RVs with large battery banks are a whole different animal.
The first obvious item is keep non essential 12 volt items turned off. Do you really need to play the stereo, have the porch light on all night or run the exhaust fan?
Next look for parasitic loads on your 12 volt system. Possible sources:
– Indicator Lights
– Gas detector
– Monitor panel
– TV antenna booster
Then ask yourself, can these be eliminated or used intermittently while boondocking?
The next step is to minimize the use of essential items.
Furnace: If you are camping in cool weather, the number one item that will draw down your batteries is your forced air furnace. Several options to consider:
– Install an alternate heating system like a catalytic safety heater that requires little or no 12 volt power.
– Wear warmer clothes and turn the furnace thermostat down a few degrees.
– Put more blankets of the bed and turn the furnace off at night.
The next biggest power draw are the ceiling lights. Several things you can do to keep your use of ceiling lights from drawing down the batteries are:
– Install LED or fluorescent lights in place of the factory incandescent lights.
– Are there activities that you normally partake in at night that could be performed during daylight hours using sunshine for your light source instead of your RV lighting?
(Example: Shower in the morning letting the sunlight streaming through your RVs bath skylight provide the illumination).
– Do you and your spouse enjoy different evening activities at opposite ends of the RV?
Find a spot in the RV where you can share the light source and still enjoy your separate activities.
If you learn to minimize the use of your furnace and lights, power savings from other sources let you extend your stay in the boondocks that much longer.
Next week we will look at ways to recharge your batteries.
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.