When dry camping, it’s not always desirable to run the generator. Having solar panels is a convenient way to get a steady stream of power and charge your batteries throughout the day. If you don't dry camp often, it may not be worth the price tag to get solar. If that is the case for you, the best compromise is to save power where you can in order to minimize generator usage. The following are some tips we use to minimize our power usage while off the grid.
Charge electronics when the generator or engine is running.
We all have phones, tablets, laptops and other electronics that need to be charged. Instead of plugging them in and charging them off the battery, charge them only when the generator is on or when your engine is on. It is counterproductive to charge your house batteries only to drain them into another battery.
Related Read: Finding Power On the Go
We like to run our generator only twice a day, usually in the morning and in the evening. We will normally run it for about an hour each time. Generally this is long enough to charge the batteries as well as any electronics we use throughout the day or night.
Get battery charging packs.
If you must use your phone or tablet throughout the day while dry camping, invest in some charging packs. You can pick them up for about $10 each. They are a little larger than a lipstick tube and can be charged while the generator is running. Having a few of these will keep your small devices like tablets and phones charged even with constant usage.
Switch to LED lights.
A typical RV bulb uses about 1.6 amps, while a LED light uses about 0.12 amps. That is 13 times less power consumption. In other words, you could most likely light your whole rig with LED bulbs and that would take up as much power as about one or two regular bulbs. LED bulbs are more expensive, but less power drain means less charging time and money saved on gas.
Related Read: The Benefits of LED Lighting for Your Coach
Take showers when the generator is running.
The water pump requires power. Showering as well as doing dishes pulls power from the battery. It is more efficient to shower or do the dishes while the generator is running. If you ever tried to do the dishes and shower at the same time, you may have noticed two extreme water temperatures, one receiving cold water and the other warm. This means it is not practical to do both at the same time. We solve this issue by doing the dishes in the morning generator run and showering during the evening generator run.
Most of these tips amount to small gains in battery time. On their own, they would not provide much increase. Together they add up. When you start finding small ways to save power and combine them, you will have to charge your batteries less often and may enjoy shorter charging times as well. This also means you can dry camp in the quiet outdoors, and they will stay the “quiet” outdoors more often.
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