Whether you’re going on a weekend jaunt or a 6-month excursion, RV trips are one of the easiest and most adventurous ways to live. RVs contain everything you need to blend indoor and outdoor life harmoniously. At Mystic Quarry, we fully support the sustainable lifestyle, but a large majority of RV users rely heavily on hookups and connections to provide water and electricity. Our RV sites do provide hookups and ample space to enjoy the outdoors.
But when you want to truly unplug, we found some pretty good sustainable ways to live “off the grid” and really live off the land.
The true definition of “off-grid” means you are not using any public utilities, electricity in particular. There is no direct water line and no waste disposal. In the RV world, this is known as boondocking, free camping, or dry camping.
These tips and tricks are good for boondocking on public lands for those times when all of the campgrounds in the area are full.
So grow those beards, let that armpit hair grow, and let’s get ready for an adventure!
Solar Energy is IN, Baby
Solar is the primary add-on for an off-grid lifestyle, but it’s by no means the only thing to consider. One solar panel typically generates about 100 watts, so the number of solar panels you need will depend on your battery capacity, what appliances you plan to use, how much you rely on creature comforts, and how long you will be off the grid.
This RV solar calculator from GoPower will give you several prompts to determine how many solar panels you’ll need for your RV. Expect to spend between $500-$2,500 for an entire solar system, not including labor or installation.
Water and Waste Storage Tanks
Gathering and carrying clean water is hugely important, as you’ll use it for cooking, drinking, and for the toilet and shower. You can gather water from anywhere (rainwater, lake and river water) and purify it as long as you have a good water purification system in your RV.
Similarly, your waste storage tank can only take so much before you have to dump it. If you’re going off-grid, know how much waste your RV can store and how close you are to the nearest dump site.
Unless you are truly going to unplug and spend time out in the boonies, you’ll still need electricity when you’re camping. Truly unplugging means no devices, no appliances, no lights…nothing that you need an electrical outlet for.
But when you do need electricity, your two best options for getting it without a plug are gasoline and/or the sun.
- Gas generator. This is an older method that is a bit more involved than using solar power. Generators are typically large, bulky, loud, and require gas refills, so they’re not ideal for traveling, or for sustainability. Truth be told, it sort of defeats the purpose of why you’re living off the grid in the first place. The moment your turn on that gas generator, the peacefulness of nature will disappear.
- Now, this is more like it. As described above, your solar system depends a lot on the availability of the sun. It uses panels to capture sunlight and convert it into energy, which is then stored in a battery pack. The number of panels you’ll need for your RV will depend on what creature comforts you require for daily life. You can use portable solar units or systems integrated into your RV.
Tips for Maximizing Your Energy Off-Grid
- Angle and move your portable solar panels with the sun throughout the day
- Camp in mild climates
- Use LED lighting
- No AC or heating
- Use high-efficiency appliances
- Do things manually as much as possible
- Only charge devices when not in use