Why Generator-Free Dry Camping is Smart
Having an RV generator to keep your electricity on while dry camping is an amazing thing. This one simple upgrade allows you to do all kinds of things you wouldn’t be able to do when running purely on battery power. You can keep cool with the air conditioning, heat up leftovers in the microwave, or even make coffee using your favorite coffee machine rather than boiling water on the stove.
All that said, running the generator does require fuel, and running it adds pollution to the environment. On top of that, you don’t want to put too many hours on your RV generator and kill it off prematurely. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to find ways to cut back on your generator usage, especially if you plan to do a lot of dry camping.
Top 5 Ways to Minimize RV Generator Usage
Fortunately, there are ways to go about this. Below we’ve listed our top 5 tips that will allow you to run your RV generator less often while still staying nice and comfortable in your home-on-wheels.
1. Keep the fridge cold
Keeping your food cold is important. That said, running the fridge can eat through your power in no time. This is especially true if you’re running your fridge on electricity, but even the propane option will run your battery down.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to find ways to keep the fridge as cold as possible in order to prevent it from kicking on too often. Adding frozen ice packs or a bag of ice to the refrigerator can really help stretch the amount of time your fridge stays cold between run cycles.
Additionally, keeping the refrigerator door closed will ensure the cold air stays inside, keeping the fridge cold, preventing the fridge from kicking on as often, and cutting back on how often your RV generator runs.
2. Keep the A/C from running
Keeping an RV cool during the warm months can be extremely difficult. The ability to run the RV generator in order to run the air conditioner does help, but that doesn’t mean you want to run those things all the time.
In order to stay as cool as possible without the use of the A/C or generator, make sure you park your RV in as much shade as possible. This will reduce the temperature of the RV by more than you might think, meaning less air conditioner usage and less RV generator usage.
Other ways to cut back on how often the A/C needs to come on include:
- Putting Reflectix in the windows in order to reflect sunlight away from the rig.
- Running vent fans with windows open in order to push out hot stuffy air and pull in fresh air from outside.
- Putting out your awning to create extra shade.
- Avoiding any indoors cooking and heading out to the grill instead.
3. Use propane appliances
The ability to use the microwave, coffee maker, and other electric appliances is convenient, and there isn’t anything wrong with using them once in a while. That said, these things are huge electricity hogs, meaning they will require the generator to be running the whole time they’re in use.
For this reason, we recommend limiting your electric appliance usage and turning instead to propane appliances or an outdoor grill. Most RVs come equipped with a propane stove and many include a propane oven, so this should be pretty easy to do.
Simply save the Instant Pot recipes for later and plan for stovetop meals—or if it’s really hot, bring meats and veggies that can be thrown on the grill in order to keep the indoors cool as mentioned above.
4. Invest in a Mr. Buddy Heater
Speaking of propane appliances, most people think their propane furnace is the perfect way to keep warm while camping without an electric hookup. While this option does work, it should be noted that it will eat through your battery more quickly than you might imagine. This is because the furnace uses a fan to push hot air through the ductwork.
If you will need to run a heater while dry camping, you might consider investing in a Mr. Buddy propane heater instead of running the RV furnace. These heaters are more efficient than the big furnaces. They use less propane, don’t require electricity, and a single heater will heat most average-sized RVs.
The only downside is that a nearby window must be cracked when this heater is running in order to ensure there is enough ventilation.
5. Turn to RV solar power
Our final piece of advice is to look into some sort of solar setup. While it is possible to create a setup that will run the whole rig, even just a panel or two along with some extra batteries can go a long way.
In fact, if you play your cards right, you might even find that you rarely run the RV generator and can camp in comfort with only your solar panels, your battery bank, and the great outdoors.
Also check out this video on the cost of an RV solar installation from You, Me & The RV:
Using these tips should help you save your RV generator hours as well as fuel. This will make boondocking an even more budget-friendly and eco-friendly experience, and will help make your dry camping trips comfortable and less noisy.
You may also like these 5 Reasons You Should Use Solar Power Instead Of A Generator
Chelsea Gonzales is a full-time RVer, freelance writer, and roadschooling mama who loves sharing her expertise about RVing with kids, roadschooling, and full-time RVing. The entrepreneurial and free-spirited author is also artistic director of the Aistear Mobile Irish Dance Academy, and currently travels with her family in a 27-foot travel trailer. Chelsea’s informational articles about full-time RVing, raising children on the road, camping, and destination features appear on her blog, Wonder Wherever We Wander. throughout the RV LIFE network, and in RV industry media outlets such as Outdoorsy, Coach-Net, and RV Share.