Conserving Power While Boondocking in Our RV
While parking lots and other areas may not be officially considered boondocking, we still need to conserve power as much as when we are in remote locations and wonderful woods.
Our DIY solar system consists of 4 6V Crown batteries, and 2 110 watt solar panels but, with power conservation, that setup provides us with plenty of power. So, here’s a few quick ways we keep our power usage down.
Our Inverters, and Their Lack of Use
Most of your small devices run off of DC. When an inverter is used, you are taking your DC power from your batteries, and converting it to AC power. Then your device plugs in and converts it back to DC for its use. Inverters themselves draw power by simply being on. The larger the inverter, the more power is needed for it to function.
We have two inverters in our camper, which we have eliminated most needs for. One Sunforce 1000 watt pure sine wave, and one standard, generic 400 watt. The only time our 1000 watt is used, is when we need to print on our laser printer. The smaller powers our networking equipment, only used when we need to connect to public WiFi.
When the inverters are not in use, they are off so as not to be blasting through our power.
DC Power Everywhere
The largest challenge, was having DC power where we needed it. Unlike AC power, DC does not like long wires. Simply put, the longer the wire, the less power you have at the device’s end. This is resolved with using larger wire, which means more expense, and more weight.
Our batteries and bedroom are on one end of the camper, and our factory converter/fuse panel is on the other. To allow DC power in the bedroom, we have a marine style fuse panel in our pass-though to power an LP detector and DC power plugs on each side of the bedroom.
Our office areas are wired with the same type of marine DC power plugs, running the wire through the walls and floors, to the factory fuse panel. Wiring power into the slide for Laurie’s office proved to be a bit challenging, but we managed to do it.
Powering Our Devices
With the DC power plugs in place, our cell phones can be charged in the bedroom using any standard micro USB cable and 12V USB plug.
For our laptops, which were our main power drain, we purchased very inexpensive Universal DC power plugs. There are various types of 12V plugs to choose from. Some people believe these do not make a difference, as the voltage has to be “stepped up” to power the laptop, but we have found our power usage has dropped significantly since switching to these chargers.
Lower Powered Devices
For some items, you can replace your existing with a low power alternative, which was the case with our water pump. We already use low flow shower and faucet heads, so switching to a smaller water pump cut our power usage down for running water.
We Really Don’t Need Them
Throughout our adventures, we have found more and more things we can do without, that can be replaced by something we already have, or something more efficient.
- TV – Yes, they make 12V TVs, and if you need a TV, I would suggest this as your solution. We, however, watch almost everything on my laptop already. Losing the TV was the easiest solution for us, and gave us a new cabinet in the process.
- Coffee Pot – For us, making coffee in a percolator is no more time consuming than using an electric coffee pot. And, I feel like it tastes better. That eliminates the power draw of making coffee, and passes it off to pretty inexpensive propane.
As we continue in our adventures, we’ll update this post with all the new ways we learn to conserve our power.
What tips do you have? Share them in the comments!