Boondocking (or “dispersed camping”) – How To Boondock in an RV!

RV Boondocking is free, fun and easy to do.

Boondocking is free, fun and easy to do!

Boondocking is easy and fun if you have the right RV setup and an adventurous spirit.  Here we are boondocked in Flaming Gorge Utah

Overnight at a scenic lookout in Flaming Gorge, Utah

When you boondock you might be miles from anyone, like we are in this pic from Death Valley National Park.

Boondocking near Death

Valley, CA.  The moutains are

over 5 miles from the rig.

It is easy and legal to boondock your RV at many rest areas like this one at Washington Pass.

Overnight at a scenic lookou at Washington Pass in the

North Cascades

This is a boondocker's guide for RVers.

Boondocked in Dixie National

Forest, Utah

We found a spot to boondock outside Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Overnight at a rest area north of Cheyenne, Wyoming

In this shot we are in a beautiful boondocking spot in Kaibab National Forest

Heaven in the Kaibab National Forest, Arizona.

Dispersed camping on the gorgeous public lands of the US National Forests and BLM.

Big Wood River

Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho.

With the Escapees Boondockers in Quartzsite, Arizona

Boondocked in Quartzsite, Arizona

Dixie National Forest is great for dispersed camping.

Boondocked in Dixie National Forest, Utah

We boondocked at this amazing spot near Kanab, Utah.

Near Kanab, Utah.

The Sawtooths National Forest around Sun Valley has tons of great RV camping locations.

Outside Sun Valley, Idaho.

This guide explains how to manage your water storage when you boondock your RV.

Pouring water into the Hitchhiker

can be a balancing act.

We haul 36 gallons of water in the back of our pickup to supplement our 70 gallon tanks in our trailer.

36 gallons of trailer water in the truck, along

with 14 gallons of drinking water.

Getting drinking water for dry camping

Decanting the drinking water into one-gallon

containers

You have to manage your holding tanks (fresh water, grey water and black water).

Checking the holding tanks

When we drycamp or boondock, many of our power needs are met by propane

Two 30 lb. / 7 gallon propane tanks

Drip coffee helps conserve electricity when dry camping.

Making drip coffee with a Melitta filter

LED Lightbulbs are a good energy efficient replacement for incandescent bulbs if you are going to dry camp in your RV.

LED bulbs for 110 volt AC

lamps.

If you are short on solar power, you may need to replace your incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs in your RV.

Old incandescent bulb and

new LED bulb.

Boondocking

How to Boondock in an RV!!

There is nothing like the feeling of freedom when you set up camp

in an ideal, secluded, picturesque spot out in the hinterlands

somewhere.  Not in a campground, and not in an RV park, but

somewhere on the gorgeous public lands that have been set aside

by the government for recreational purposes.  "Boondocking" refers

to this kind of camping (also known as "dispersed" camping), and it

is our favorite way to go.  This page describes some of our

boondocking hints and tips, in particular:

• Locating boondocking sites

• Living without electrical or water hookups

• Managing the holding tanks

• Tips for conserving electricity and water

For further ideas and tips about living independently full-time in an

RV, see the Full-time RVing page and Tips & Tricks page.

We first discovered boondocking outside Death Valley National

Park in California.  As we drove into the valley from the east we

saw all these rigs parked on the left side of the road.  They

appeared to be camping, but it wasn't a campground.

We got down to the valley and

discovered we'd arrived just

before the start of a parade to

celebrate the 49ers' trek

through Death Valley 148 years earlier.  Not only were the roads lined with people sitting in camp

chairs waving flags (and looking in our direction expectantly for the parade to arrive), but there

wasn't a site to be found in any of the campgrounds.  The ranger recommended that we go back

up the hill to the "slabs," where we had seen all those RVs, and camp there.

Once we got set up, we discovered that we were in the middle of an Escapees Boondockers

Rendez-vous.  Each rig was perched next to a large cement slab that used to be a mobile home

foundation.  The area had been a little mining camp at one time.  The mine had closed, the

mobile homes had been towed away, and all that remained were the cement slabs, which now

made ideal patios for RVs.  We stayed for 12 days with the club members and learned a lot about

how boondocking works.  We have been hooked ever since.  Now, whenever we see a rig

camped in a spot that isn't a campground, we figure that they have probably found a really cool

little place to spend a few days, and we make a note on the map for future reference!

HOW TO LOCATE BOONDOCKING SITES

The US National Forest Service, the Bureau of Land

Management and the National Park Service all manage vast

tracts of land.  Each agency oversees its land with a different

mission and reports to different government branches.  Maps are

available from each agency, but we've found that the Delorme

state map books are excellent and they are our primary

mapping resource (Amazon does not seem to carry the most

recent editions).  The map books clearly show where the public

lands are, and although it is sometimes hard to see the detail of

the forest roads in these books, once you are on them with your

bike or truck it's easy to decide what is passable with an RV and

what isn't.  Benchmark also sells an excellent series of

topographical atlases.

It is relatively easy to locate beautiful places to camp.  It just

takes a little time.  If we don't have information on boondocking sites in an area, we sometimes stop at the ranger's office for the

agency that manages the land.  They often have maps and suggestions of places to go.  If we can't find the ranger's office

(sometimes they are in a distant town), we will set up camp for a quickie overnight somewhere nearby and then explore the area

on our bikes or with the truck.  It's a lot easier to decide whether the rig will fit into a particular site when we don't have it with us.

And there's nothing worse than going down a narrow dirt road with the rig -- only to find there is nowhere to turn around.

Day's End Directory

A lot of times we will hear about places by talking to other travelers.

But the best source of information we've found for boondocking sites

is the Day's End Directory available to members of the Escapees

RV Club.  This is, without doubt, the most comprehensive list of

boondocking sites available, and is an incredible value for the

money.  In 2009 it filled two one-inch 3-ring binders and has

expanded dramtically since then.  We use the Day's End Directory

as our only travel guide, rather than relying on any campground

books, Lonely Planet guidebooks or anything else.  Annual

membership in Escapees is about $70, and an annual subscription

to the Day's End Directory is about $10.

Day's End is a fantastic resource and lives on in the spirit of true

sharing among people with like interests.   It is the precious property

of all the people who have kindly submitted sites they have found

over the last two decades as well as of its caretakers who have

spent countless hours editing and assembling the information.  Bob and Viva Lee Ed masterminded its early years and Guy Gipson

has done a phenomenal job more recently to make it available in a myriad of electronic formats.

After subscribing to Day's End, please do not post the listings online or distribute the list to friends.

Both the NFS and the BLM maintain campgrounds on their lands as well, and both have rules and regulations

regarding boondocking.  Usually you can't stay longer than 14 days, and they ask you to "pack it in and pack it

out," meaning: don't leave the place a mess.  Generally an RV won't leave a footprint behind, but sometimes we

arrive at a site and end up filling several grocery bags with trash, some of it 20 years old or more (rusted tin cans

with flip tops!).  I'd rather pack out someone else's trash than leave that legacy for our great-grandchildren to find

when they come with their RVs in 80 years.

My feeling is that if I get to stay for free for two

weeks on a gorgeous piece of property, surrounded

by hundreds of acres of natural beauty, with a multi-

million dollar view out my front door, it's no problem

for me to pick up a little trash so the place is nice for

the next visitor.  I'd also like to keep the NFS, BLM

and NPS happy with RVers so they continue to allow

boondocking.  Florida's Ocala National Forest

doesn't allow RVs to boondock any more because

for years the winter visitors trashed the forest.  What

a shame that those thoughtless people ruined it for

the rest of us.

Some boondocking spots are "destination locations" where we'll stay

for the entire time limit allowed.  Other spots are good just for a brief

overnight while traveling from one location to another.  When we're

in transit to a distant location we'll look for a quiet rest area or scenic

lookout on a quiet road for an overnight.

Many roads that are marked as "scenic" on the map have pullout

areas where drivers can rest and enjoy the view during the day.  At

night no one stops at these places, and they can be ideal for

sleeping.  If we can't find a rest area or pullout, we'll look for a

parking lot that might not object to an overnight visitor.

Walmart is famous for being very RV-friendly, however they are not always in control

of their land.  We learned that it's best to get an "okay" from security before staying the

night.  In Buckeye, Arizona, after we got permission to stay, we found out that the

permission wasn't really theirs to give.  We watched, horrified, as the police arrived

and ticketed every 18-wheeler and RV in the parking lot (except ours, not sure why!).

The store was built on leased land and the town did not want RVs or trucks in the lot.

They are situated right on the interstate, so it is only natural that trucks stop there.

Sadly, we watched the police ticket a truck that had just pulled in for an hour.  The

driver went into Walmart to exchange an item and to get a bite to eat McDonalds.

When he found his truck ticketed, he went ballistic.  The store manager and store

security came out to the parking lot and confronted the police, but the ticket was

written and the police would not budge.  Needless to say, the manager and security

were extremely upset and the driver vowed that he would never stop at a Walmart

again.  The store manager kept saying "Sam Walton would not like this at all.  We're

trained on this stuff.  This isn't the way he wanted customers treated!"

In places where boondocking is

allowed, we try to keep a low profile,

usually remaining hitched to the

truck and often not even putting the

slides out.  We watched in

amazement one time as a family set

up camp in a Walmart parking lot, complete with camp chairs, patio mat,

barbecue and cocktails.  They proceeded to play a football game between the

parked cars, narrowly missing our truck with a bad throw at one point.  According

to their license plates they were 2,000 miles from home, and they had apparently

forgotten to bring their decency and respect for others with them.

Besides the Day's End list from Escapees described above, there are other resources we rely on.  Walmart sells a Rand McNally

road map book that has several pages listing the address of every Walmart in the US and its interstate exit number if it is near one.

This is a handy reference.  Cracker Barrel also allows overnighting at most of their locations, and they have a map that lists the

addresses of their stores.

Camping World allows overnighting in some of their parking lots.  We

haven't found a printed listing, so we look for them online.  Many Indian

casinos allow overnighting in their parking lots, and Casino Camper is a

terrific website that reviews the casinos and and indicates whether the

casino allows overnighting or has its own RV park.  A couple has created

a website that is a study of all the National Forest Campgrounds in the

US, and they list valuable information about all the campgrounds,

including the date of their last personal visit, the size of the sites, whether

there is a dump or water, etc., and the cost (usually within a few dollars

of the actual cost when you get there).  This is handy if you want to stay

a night or two in a campground while you scout out boondocking

locations.

There is also an online listing at freecampgrounds.com that we have

used on occasion.  This is particularly helpful because some places you

would expect to be free may no longer be free or may no longer be

legal to park in, and this website's reviews give the current status.  If

you have a GPS you can use the GPS coordinate database at

boondocking.org.  Lastly, Don Wright had two books of free

campgrounds ("free" being $12 or less) for the Eastern and Western

states, both sadly out of print.  Most listings cost money, and most of

those are $12 or less only if you carry a National Senior Access Pass,

for which you have to be 62 years old.  Some of the listings have

incorrect or inadequate directions to the campground, but we have

used the books successfully a few times.  The Army Corps of

Engineers also has a book for inexpensive campgrounds

predominantly in the eastern state (sadly out of print).

BOONDOCKING TIPS - ELECTRICAL POWER

In order to boondock efficiently, you need to equip your rig to supply its own electrical power for extended periods.  A generator is

okay if your stay is going to be just a few days or even a week or two once in a while.  However, generators require fuel, and it

won't take long to run up a big fuel bill.  They are also smelly, they require you to be home while you run them, and they are loud.

A far better alternative, and one which has the same initial cost as comparably sized generators, is to install:

• a good quality battery bank

• solar panel(s)

• a charge controller to protect the batteries from being overcharged

by the panels

These three items work together to charge the batteries whenever

there is daylight.  Separately, you need:

• one or more inverter(s) for AC power

This (these) items allow you to run AC appliances on battery power,

regardless of how you charge your batteries

Here is a more detailed description of the solar setups we installed on both our Lynx travel trailer and Hitchhiker fifth wheel.  The

Lynx had a modest setup with 220 amp-hours of battery capacity, 130 watts of solar power, and several small inverters.  This

worked well if we were conservative with our electricity use.  The Hitchhiker has a luxury setup (that allows us never to think about

conserving electrcial power) with 440 amp-hours of battery capacity, 490 watts of solar power, an 1100 watt pure sine wave

inverter and several smaller inverters.

BOONDOCKING TIPS - WATER

Our Lynx travel trailer could hold 40 gallons of fresh water, including the 6-

gallon hot water heater, and the Hitchhiker fifth wheel can hold 70 gallons,

including the 10-gallon hot water heater.  We have never had trouble finding

fresh water spigots to fill the tanks, except in Flagstaff, Arizona where water is

extremely scarce, and parts of inland northern California where many

campground spigots have become contaminated with bacteria.

The trick is getting the water from the spigot into the trailer's tanks.  When you

have the trailer with you, it's easy enough to pull up to the spigot, get out your

hose and fill the tanks.  However, when you are camped you need to get water

in jerry jugs.  For a long time we carried six

6-gallon jugs (green plastic ones we got at

Walmart for about $10 each) in the back of our pickup.  This enabled us to get 36 gallons of

water at one shot in town somewhere and then bring it back to the trailer.  These containers

deteriorated in the sun over time, so we have replaced them several times and now carry just

four.

It is easy to locate a spigot and run a hose from the spigot to fill the jugs.  The only hard part is

maneuvering these ungainly jugs to the water tank intake on the side of the trailer.  The intake

was located at a nice low point on the Lynx.  The Hitchhiker has it located at shoulder level, so it

is a good workout for either of us to hoist 50 lbs of water onto our shoulders and hold the thing

steady while pouring it into the tank.  When camped in one spot for a long time, we typically put

two jugs of water into the trailer everyday, so it is just a five minute job instead of a long ordeal.

Some people get a huge 40-gallon or larger tank that they keep in the bed of the pickup and they use an electric pump to pump the

water through the hose into the water intake on the trailer.  So far we don't mind getting a bit of an upper body workout using our

individual jerry jugs and manual pouring system!

For a few years we also carried two 7-gallon blue plastic water jugs (from Walmart) for filtered drinking water in the bed of the truck

as well as 8 individual gallon containers of drinking water in the kitchen cabinets under the sink.  Eventually we stopped using the 7-

gallong containers and just settled on keeping 14 or so 1-gallon jugs of drinking water under the kitchen sink.

We use about two gallons of drinking water per day (I cook with it too) and we

like to have it taste pure, so we typically pay 15 to 40 cents a gallon to fill up at

the reverse osmosis filtered water stations found outside (or occasionally inside)

Walmart and other supermarkets.  When we are in areas that don't have these

filtered water stations, we use an inline water filter to filter the water at a regular

water spigot.  We learned the hard way that it is best to use a flow-reduction

device so you don't blow out the filter, and it is best to keep the filter refrigerated

between uses so it doesn't grow bacteria.

Some people install a water filtration system at the kitchen sink, and others use

a two-stage filter system to filter all the water going into the trailer.  We haven't

found either of those things necessary -- yet.

We prefer to keep all our water resources topped off, and arrive at a new

location with everything full so we don't have to go looking for water for a while.  So we tow our trailer with 70 gallons in the tank, 24

gallons in the green jerry jugs in the truck bed, and 14 1-gallon jugs of drinking water under the kitchen sink in the trailer.  That is a

total of 108 gallons of water.  At 8.3 lbs per gallon, that is about 900 lbs of water -- quite a drag on our gas mileage!  But that is one

of the trade-offs we are happy to make, as it means we can always unwind for a few days in our new location before we have to

start searching for water sources.

The popup held just 26 gallons of fresh water, including the 6-gallon hot water heater.  So we had to conserve quite a bit with that

trailer unless we wanted to spend all our time searching for water.  The shower was outside the trailer, and we both showered

standing on rubber mats from Home Depot while wearing out bathing suits.  This worked extremely well!  Though I have to say it

was a little embarrassing and kinda funny the one time I was in Yavapai Campground outside Prescott, Arizona, and the ranger

came by to talk to us while I was all soaped up.  She didn't say anything or even raise an eyebrow, and I just kept scrubbing away

as we talked.

With the popup we typically used 6 gallons of water per day.  With the Lynx it increased to 8-10 gallons of water per day.  With the

Hitchhiker we've gotten sloppy and we use 10-12 gallons per day.  Some of this is because the tanks, both fresh water and holding

tanks, were progressively bigger with each rig, and some of this is because we have gotten soft and decided not to "rough it" any

more.

BOONDOCKING TIPS - HOLDING TANKS

Our Lynx held 40 gallons of grey water and 40 gallons of black water.  The

Hitchhiker fifth wheel holds 78 gallons of grey water and 50 gallons of black

water.  The popup didn't have a toilet and it just had a water outlet for the grey

water (you needed to place a bucket below the outlet to catch the grey water).

RV dumps are generally easy to locate.  Any campground that provides spaces

for RVs will typically have one, or the host knows where there is one nearby.

Many states provide them in rest areas.  Flying J and TA Travel truck stops offer

them for free, and you can pick up a pamphlet showing the locations of all their

truck stops at any of their locations.  Private RV parks will often charge $5-10 for

the use of their RV dump, and some larger gas stations, especially ones situated

on or near interstates, will have ones you can use for free.

Oddly, most RV dumps are built so that the trailer is cantilevered away from the drain while it is parked there, and many have the

drain slightly raised.  All of this defies gravity and makes it hard to fully drain the tanks and the sewage hose.  So if we have the

time and there isn't a line at the dump, we take the time to put down boards beneath the trailer tires on one side to get the trailer

tipped towards the drain as much as possible.  Black water first, then kitchen grey, then shower grey (we

have two separate grey tanks).  This gets the worst stuff out first and cleans the sewer hose and adjoining

hoses upstream below the tanks as we go along.  Mark has thick rubber gloves and he has installed a paper

towel holder and disinfecting hand soap in the storage compartment near the dump equipment on our

trailer.

There are a ton of holding tank chemicals on the market designed to control odors.  Many of them use

formaldehyde, which is very effective at preserving things (like the fetal pigs we dissected in high school!).

Unfortunately formaldehyde is so hard on the environment -- and on RV dumps -- that we learned some RV

dumps in California have had to close.  We really like a product called RV-Digest It that we found in RV

stores around Arizona.  This product is basically just enzymes and bacteria that like to munch on the stuff in

the tank.  Presumably this product will keep the tank level sensors from getting clogged too, because the

little critters climb the walls and chow down the stuff on the sensors.  After a year and a half of using this

product in our new fifth wheel all the holding tank sensors are still 100% accurate.

BOONDOCKING TIPS - PROPANE

Both the Lynx travel trailer and the Hitchhiker fifth wheel have two 30 lb. / 7 gallon propane tanks (the popup had one 20 lb. / 5

gallon propane tank).  On the Lynx (and popup) the tanks were mounted on the hitch tongue and on the Hitchhiker they are

mounted in a side compartment near the hitch king pin, accessed by a door.  Both units have a valve connecting the two tanks that

automatically switches tanks when one tank is empty.  When both tanks are full the valve collar is green.  When one tank is empty

the collar turns brown and you manually throw a switch so that when that tank goes empty as well the system will switch to the

other tank.  The idea is to fill the one empty tank before the second one goes

empty.

This is a really nifty system.  In the spring, summer and fall, when we aren't using

propane to heat the rig, we empty one tank in about 18 days.  In the winter one

tank lasts about 12-14 days.  It usually takes us 3 or 4 days to get to a propane

filling station to fill the tank.  Usually, we take the empty tank off of its mounting

brackets on the trailer and haul it in the truck to get it filled.  Occasionally we are

towing the trailer when we need to get propane, so we take the tank off its mount

right there at the filling station (most stations won't fill the tank if it is mounted on

the trailer).

We use propane in the buggy to run quite a few appliances:  the hot water heater,

the stove, the oven, the refrigerator and the furnace.  It is critical to have at least a little propane in one tank at all times, as the

fridge runs on propane continually.  So propane is the one utility that we purchase for our home.  At 2008 prices, it costs about

$40-$60/month.  Some RVers travel with the propane switched off so no gas can flow while driving.  This is a very safe way to go

and we have heard of trailers essentially blowing up while being towed because something went wrong in the gas lines and a spark

ignited an instantaneous fire.  However, we always keeps our propane on so things in the freezer don't melt.

BOONDOCKING TIPS - CONSERVING WATER & ELECTRICITY

When boondocking, or drycamping, it is necessary be conservative with our various resources.  If we get crazy running all our

appliances all the time we will run out of water or propane or even battery power sooner rather than later, and resupplying each of

those things takes some effort.  We have learned little tricks from friends and from our own experience for keeping our usage to a

minimum.

Conserving Electricity

-Use lights only where you need them.  Each standard bulb that is installed in an RV draws about 1.5 amps.  Some lights have two

bulbs, drawing 3.0 amps.  Flourescent lights typically draw 1.5-2.0 amps.  The more lights running, the more amps are being

drawn.

-Run your laptop from its battery and charge it when it is turned off, rather than plugging it into power when you use it.  Our 13"

Macbook laptop uses 1.6 amps when it is turned off and charging.  It uses 4-6 amps when it is turned on and running.  It can run

for 2-3 hours without being charged, and it takes the same length of time to charge as the amount of time it is used.  So, if it runs

on battery power for 3 hours and is charged later, it uses 4.8 amps.  If it is run while plugged in for 3 hours (leaving it fully charged

when finished), it uses 15 amps.  Also, if you are using a portable modified sine wave inverter there is no chance for software to get

corrupted when the computer is turned off.  So if you don't trust your inverter, it is less likely to damage your computer if the

computer is not booted up.  Wacky inverter power will not likely damage the hardware components of your computer when it is

turned off and charging.  However, a brownout while it is booted up, with the operating system and data files open, may corrupt the

files.  That being said, we have used a $17 inverter purchased at Walmart for hundreds of hours to charge our Mac, and it has

never had a problem.  My understanding is that if you have a lump (transformer) somewhere along the charging cable of the

device you are charging, that transformer will protect the device.  Our laptop has a lump in its charging cable.  The Sonicare

toothbrush, electric razor, cordless drill and camera battery chargers do not.  Still, none of those devices has ever had a problem

with the cheap inverter.

-Rather than using a coffee maker, which can draw 1,000 watts or more, I use a

plastic Melitta coffee filter and pour my own drip coffee.  There is no mess and it

is very easy and quick.  Mark doesn't drink coffee, so this one-cup-at-a-time

method works great for me.  When I lived on a sailboat and wanted to make pots

of coffee I used a French Press.  This method has the advantage of preserving

the bean oils in the coffee.  The only difficulty for an RV lifestyle is that you have

to dispose of the grounds before washing the French Press so they don't go

down the drain, and that can be messy.  On a boat you can just rinse the

grounds out of the press in the ocean off the swim platform.

-Charge things while you drive.  When we lived in the Lynx with its small 130-

watt solar charging capacity, we kept our cheap Walmart inverter in the truck

glove box, and we brought Mac (and sometimes the toothbrush and camera battery chargers) into the truck to charge them as we

drove.  This isn't necessary now that we have the huge solar charging system on our fifth wheel, but we used to do it daily, even

if driving just 5 miles to the store.

-Use oil hurricane lamps for light at night.  These can be found at Walmart for $5.  Get the better quality "no smoke" lamp oil ($8 for

a big bottle).  In the Lynx travel trailer we usually used two oil lamps at night when we sat around chatting or making music in the

evening.  It wasn't quite enough to read by, but cast a nice romantic glow in the trailer.  When we watched TV we lit just one oil

lamp.  We purchased some metal hooks and hung the lamps on the hooks from the lip on the big slide.  In the morning we just put

the lamps and hooks away in a cabinet.  Hurricane lamps are also terrific as outside lights, so you can find your trailer in the dark,

or as picnic table lamps.  Again, this is not necessary with our large 490-watt solar power array.

-Use small inverters, as they draw fewer amps to run.  Our Walmart 150 watt inverter draws 0.4 amps when it is turned on.  Our

Radio Shack 150/350 watt inverter draws 0.6 amps.  The 800 watt inverter draws 1.0 amps.  Our 1100 watt true sine wave inverter

draws 2.0 amps.  This "No Load Draw" is an important spec to consider when you are buying an inverter.

-Charge more than one item when you turn the inverter on.  Since inverters use battery power just to run, you might as well charge

a few things at once.  Our toothbrush takes 2-6 hours to charge, so we would also charge up the cordless drill or camera batteries

or computer at the same time.  With the toothbrush and computer (turned off) charging at once, our draw was:  0.6 amps for the

inverter, 0.1 for the toothbrush, and 1.6 for the computer, or 2.3 amps total.

-Keep the volume down on the TV/DVD and stereo.  We measured a difference of 1.5-2.0 amps on our 19" LCD TV if we turned

the volume way up.

-Switch to LED bulbs.  We did this with a lot of lights on our boat,

and a great resource for bulbs is www.superbrightleds.com.  We

have not made the switch in our trailer.  However, Hitchhiker

installed two 40 watt 110 volt AC bulbs in each of the sconce lamps

next to our recliners and sofa.  These drew so much electricity (8

amps DC per sconce lamp!) that we never used them.  Then we

found some LED bulbs at Walmart.  These drew 0.15 amps per

bulb, well worth the $5 or so that each bulb cost.  Sadly, we have

never seen these bulbs at Walmart again, and I suspect they were

being test-marketed and failed for some reason.  They were rated

as good for replacing 40 watt bulbs, but in reality they cast what

feels like about 15 watts of light and the light is a bit harsh.  They

are perfect for background lighting when we watch TV.

Conserving Water

-Turn the water off when you soap up in the shower.  Some shower heads have a button on the handle to make this easy.

-When you turn on the hot water faucet, use a container to catch the cold water that comes out first.  We collect just enough to fill a

large drinking glass when we shower.  We keep that glass on the bathroom sink and use the water during the course of the day

each time we brush our teeth.

-If the water supply is really scarce, collect dirty dishes all day and wash them all at once.  Or, fill the sink with soapy water and

keep using that water to wash dishes during the day until the water is too dirty.

Conserving Propane

-Run the hot water heater just once a day.  There is a debate whether keeping the hot water heater on and allowing it to "warm up"

the water throughout the day and night uses more propane than simply heating the water once a day.  We have experimented and

have found that it takes about 20-30 minutes for the hot water heater to heat up our 10 gallon tank.  If we keep it on, the heater will

come on again within two hours and run for another 10 minutes.  If it does this for 24 hours it will use a lot more propane.

-Cover the hot water tank with a few fiberglass insulation blankets.  We put two blankets on ours, for a total R-factor of R-12.  We

also put insulation on all the hot water pipes throughout the rig.  I first wrapped each pipe with aluminum foil coated insulating tape

(R-2) and then put a foam insulating tube on top (R-2) for a total R-factor of R-4 on the pipes.  I couldn't reach all the pipes (if you

are ordering a new rig, ask the factory to insulate all the pipes).  However, the difference is amazing.  We heat our water each

afternoon before we shower.  The water is still hot the next morning to wash our breakfast dishes.  Also, once the hot water has run

through the pipes to the kitchen sink and shower, it stays warm in the pipes a lot longer.

For more hints and suggestions of little ways we've come up with to make this independent full-time RV lifestyle a little easier,

check out our RV Tips and Tricks page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New to this site?  Check out the RVing Lifestyle and Tech Tips menu items at the top of the page for detailed info about installing solar power, installing a vent-free propane heater, the full-time RV lifestyle, the costs of full-time RVing and more.


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