We have all seen the headlines for all-electric RVs: “Explosive growth in everything electric,” “All-electric Lightship RV coming this spring,” “All-electric RVs are here,” and many more.
Some feel this will be a utopia: “Imagine driving to your next RV park plugging your RV in for your stay, and never having to fill up on fuel. We always have to plug our RV in anyway, so why not charge it up to drive?” per Mortons on the Move.
All-electric RVs: Boon or bane for boondockers?
However, what about those of us that prefer dry camping in the boondocks far from RV parks where you can plug in? Will all-electric RVs spell an end to those that enjoy camping off the grid … or will it make boondocking easier than ever?
Most of the articles you read concerning all-electric RVs focus on the range, recharge time, etc. What is more concerning to me is how long can an all-electric RV stay camped in the boondocks before running out of energy? If there is only one battery supplying power to the drivetrain and house portion of the RV, will there be enough power to camp for the night after arriving at your destination? What about two or three nights? What happens when you deplete your battery while dry camping? With a depleted battery, how would you get an all-electric RV back to a charging station?
With portable fuel generators being phased out in many states, the options to recharge batteries in the boondocks are limited. Many say solar is the answer, and maybe it will be. But with current technology, is there enough room on the roof of an RV to supply the huge charging capacity required? What about boondockers in northern climates that like to camp in the winter when RV energy demands are high but days are short and often cloudy?
All-electric Winnebago eRV2
Winnebago has provided a sneak peek at what all-electric RVs might be capable of with their prototype unveiled at the Florida RV SuperShow. Featuring a drivetrain battery and a house battery, this RV is reported to have a range of 108 miles and is able to stay off-grid for 7 days . The house battery contains 15,000 usable watt-hours aided by 900 watts of solar capacity.
Author’s observation: If the battery can only sustain seven days of boondocking, then the electrical needs of the RV must be close to 3-kilowatt hours per day. 15,000 watt-hours / 7 days = 2,100-watt hours per day plus 900-watt hours of solar per day = 3,000 watt-hours per day or 3-kilowatt hours per day.
Some soon-to-be all-electric RV manufacturers are proposing batteries with reserve capacities exceeding 100-kilowatt hours! Any boondocker would love to have a battery bank of this capacity. With a capacity of this size, an RVer could dry camp for days enjoying all the features of their RV just like when hooked to shore power. If they conserved power, as most boondockers currently do, they could potentially stay camped out for weeks. Using the author’s observation/calculations above, the Winnebago using 3-kilowatt hours per day could survive in the boondocks for more than a month on 100-kilowatt hours! Fresh water and holding tank capacity would be the limiting factors long before reserve battery power would. Add a stout solar package and available electrical power would no longer be an issue for most.
All-electric RVs – Expense
Currently, all-electric RVs don’t come cheap. According to this article, the least expensive all-electric RV to hit the market is German-made and retails for $188,000. In the same article, Winnebago states their all-electric RV will retail for “well over” $100,000. The cost savings of not having to utilize expensive fossil fuels to propel an RV to its destination is very appealing. However, if the destination is in the boondocks with no way to recharge or in excess of the range of one charge, then not so appealing. Then there is the attractive cost savings of utilizing free boondocking sites rather than staying in expensive and often crowded campgrounds. It would be interesting to know how often one would need to use an all-electric RV to recoup the extra expense of owning one. Anyone reading this willing to run the numbers?
Boon or bane? My thoughts
Many states, including my own (Washington), are banning the sales of internal combustion engines in the near future.
“Today, nearly a quarter of Americans live in a state where sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles are set to be phased out.” Per this article.
Bane – Where does this leave RVers that like to drive beyond the range of current all-electric RVs, arriving in the boondocks to set up camp, spending days camping while supplementing their power needs via a gas generator? Will this looming ban put an end to boondocking for me and thousands of other RVers?
Boon – Will all-electric RV batteries become so efficient and cost-effective that everyone wants one? What happens once everyone owns an all-electric RV that allows them to boondock for weeks without sacrificing the comforts shore power currently provides? Will all-electric RV owners then shun expensive RV parks and their hookups, choosing the freedom of the boondocks instead?
Bane – More RVs in the boondocks will invariably lead to overcrowding and land closures.
All-electric RVs: boon or bane. Your thoughts?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to know what you think.
If the goal is EV a cross the board and buy in to this as a reality, try this on for size.
1,500,000 trucks on the road. An average of 20 pumps at the truck stops, 30 minutes to fill it up and get 1,000 more miles of commodities delivered in 24 hours. How well does our economy move with a 24 hour charge to move a truck 200 miles (maybe). 5 days if driving and 5 days if charging for a delivery that currently takes 2 days tops.
Now, use that hypothetical and figure every pump handles 50 fill ups per day. You will now need 50 charging stations per existing pump so 1000 charging stations per truck stop should cover it based on an average of 20 pumps per Pilot or Loves. A little more land needed for that business model. Plus you now need truck stops every 100 miles instead of every 300 or so.
Let me know how your utopian dreams are working out. Now you could just get a team of unicorns pulling wagons or a fleet of flying carpets delivering merchandise across America.
I’ve been thinking in similar terms, especially the new demand for real estate. How many acres is your typical truck stop today? 4 or 5? Now how many more acres are going to be required to be paved over to make the room necessary to accommodate all of those trucks needing to park for hours at all those charging stations? Never mind the electrical infrastructure that will have to be build to accommodate “fast charging” at these stops. Just one stop with a dozen or more chargers drawing over 100 amps at 480 volts will be demanding more power off the local grid than most neighboring communities have available as it is.
Some environmentalists are just now coming to grips with the vast amounts of real estate that will be paved over for windmills and solar panels to provide all of this green energy. I don’t think they’ve yet come to terms with all of the parking spaces that will be required on the other end of the chain.
At 10 rigs per acre, a typical truck stop would have to be around 100 acres on top if the 5-10 they currently have. About the size of a typical 18 hole executive golf course would be my guess.
Its crazy town brother. How do truckers we keep a refer cold for 20 day trip across the country including charging stops. What kind if battery do you need to blow 20 degree air into semi trailer for 20 days. Just curious.
I’m not against it, I’m just saying it’s 100 years out and $50 plus Trillion of infrastructure.
p.s. The electricity still has to be generated at a power plant burning gas/coal or whatever. Ridiculous for all travelers to be tied to a power plant and proprietary charging stations when gas and diesel are portable fuels ideal for traveling vehicles.
There is no free lunch. Let’s have hybrids, yes, let’s have optional electric. Mandated power for all vehicles, from central power plants, are you serious?
Well stated, CancelProof!
“Many say solar is the answer, and maybe it will be.”
My back-of-the-envelope math suggests that it would take acres of solar panels to recharge anything bigger than a go-cart in a tolerable amount of time. And that’s assuming you are boondocking at a reliably sunny locale.
And if Washington State goes ahead with it’s no-ICE vehicle plan, I expect the multiple square miles of RV dealerships outside Spokane to move a few miles east into Idaho.
Perhaps in 20-30 years EV RVs might be possible after advances in solar production and battery storage. But the technology and infrastructure simply isn’t there today. States like CA are very short sighted. There isn’t enough electricity production to supply the existing demand and no additional fossil fuel type electricity production is authorized. So they are moving forward to either a train wreck or backing off of their goals. Only time will tell.
First – The “Climate Crisis” is a fabricated device designed to make money and control the populace. Thousands of scientists have signed onto white papers stating this(MSM won’t tell you). NASA wrote papers decades ago saying climate changes have to do with orbit fluctuations, not mankind. Short distance EVs, along with the latest “Solution”, 15 minute cities, are about keeping people concentrated for better control.
Second – Current technology only supports “Hobby” levels of EVs. Batteries aren’t sufficient. Power grids aren’t sufficient, and failing. EVs are self igniting everywhere. Fleets of highly expensive government EVs, having been forced upon the taxpayers, are being parked because they don’t work.
EVs are powered by carbon fuels. “Renewables” are a tiny fraction and filthy.
It’s all smoke and mirrors for money/power.
Which is exactly why the climate alarmists go silent when it comes time to explain why the climate on Venus mirrors our own on earth. I’m pretty sure my Cummins isn’t affecting the temps on Venus but hey, if you sleep better signaling virtue have at it.
Many intelligent and knowledgeable comments regarding eventual replacement of fossil fueled transportation-including RV’s-with a solar/wind/hydrogen et.al.powered electric grid. I observe that we are laser-focused on the ability to move distances small or great, to see and experience beauty somewhere else, and have an expectation of technology/governing bodies to provide/allow for this freedom. Without a willingness to make changes now, small or great, how much time do we have before most of our choices (Class A or 5th wheel) no longer exist?
I really love where you went with this Bill and I completely agree with you that forced compliance is the goal by the governing bodies. It would be such a loss to limit the movement of freedom loving people. To limit the ability of our fellow Americans in the future from seeing experiencing the beauty that our/my generation and the previous generations have shared would be criminal.
By criminal, I mean the governing bodies do not now nor ever have they allowed us to move freely. It is a God given right specifically listed in the constitution. Legally, they cannot but they will likely try this ILLEGAL workaround to negate a constitutional right.
Emerging technology will get better over time, particularly as demand and competition ramp up. Looking forward to owning one someday.
The power needs of the motorhome itself don’t bother me. We easily live off grid in our without ever plugging on or firing up the generator on a mis sized solar battery solution. I would need to double up the solar to run AC, but the days we need it are few and far between, so not a priority
The biggest challenge now is moving days. I’m thinking a hybrid solution for smaller units and class Bs might be a viable transitional solution. As the technology develops and infrastructure builds out, all electrics are certainly within a decade away. Class As and other large units are a bigger challenge. But, with hydrogen and battery/charging getting lots of R&D, undoubtedly solutions will emerge.
With the will and vision, I predict alternative energy will see the same rapid development as we have with microchips
The electric vehicle movement is a nice idea, but the infrastructure is not there, and may not be for the foreseeable future. People need to understand “how things work”. Electricity is great, and is created by turning a generator or through solar panels. Generators have been around for a long time and are turned by water (hydroelectric dams), wind farms, and most commonly by steam. Steam has to be created by heating water using a variety of fuels – coal, natural gas, nuclear, etc. Once its generated, electricity has to be distributed through “the grid” to be usable. The windmills in Texas and the Midwest have to send their product to be distributed across a vast area. People advocating for wind energy generally don’t want to look at the windmills, as demonstrated by the Martha’s Vineyard residents that opposed an off shore wind farm that would be visible to them. It’s the NIMBY approach, “ it’s great, but Not In My Back Yard!” We are still far from being able to support this movement.
Good points but I still see our government making us believe in fairy tales and ignoring (and hiding) the true environmental damage caused in the manufacturing, the very real lack of ability of the foreseeable power grid to support 150-200 million EV’s charging every day. Wind and solar technologies due to environmental damage caused in manufacturing them are still hurting mother earth more than saving it. The world has skipped right over a cleaner solution of hydrogen power, ignored nuclear power generation in favor of the political easy answer. I am simply not buying into the idea that America has technology and infrastructure to support the all EV solution to a problem that could be solved in simpler and less lucrative ways. Follow the money..
You might consider seeking VALID sources of information instead of relying on propaganda based conspiracy theories. 🤔
Kimberly, Respectfully… What Are Your VALID Sources?
I join B N S in his request of you to state your sources and data. You are asking others share their own sources and data for a well thought out post that provided valid opinions based on reality but can you provide what you ask another to provide? Your voice, if not, is then the voice of the true propagandists.
Yes Sir! completely Agree!
I’m 67 years old, and welcome the electrification of travel. I hope to live long enough to see it past the tipping point, which is a few decades away, but my 3 kids and 3 grandkids will.
Those who decry the move to all-electric vehicles are the ones who are short-sighted. Your ICE vehicles will have aged out and been recycled before any mandated elimination of hydrocarbons. State and Federal governments have nudged the markets, which have greatly expanded to meet the growing demand. The technology is moving fast — and forget hydrogen as a realistic alternative, Given its intrinsically explosive nature and requirements to safely move, store and dispense it, the challenges are greater than those we face with battery storage and grid modernization.
We are in the transition phase, perhaps where we were at the advent of the 20th century, when wainwrights, saddlers, hay farmers and stable owners worried of their future.
Change is happening, folks.
You may be hopeful but a realist you are not. Head in the sand.
Fortunately at 79 I will be pushing up dandelions long before all the short sighted electricity wannabes have to wake up and smell the coffee. The world is full of entrepreneurs who are willing to take your money on half witted ideas about everything being electrified in this decade. No one is thinking about where that electricity is coming from, far to many are like our leader who says “everyone knows electricity comes out of the wall”. Well I’ve got some bad news, yes you plug your EV into the wall each night, but how did it get into your outlet? It’s generated by fossil fuel, solar and wind can’t generate enough power to keep the lights on in CA, they ask people not to charge their cars because their short sightedness didn’t bother to study the feasibility of shutting down their fossil fueled power plants. Think about it!
True that most of the electric power is generated by fossil fuel, but it’s 61% in 2021 per eia.gov and decreasing each year. I’m also pretty sure there were skeptics about the half-witted idea of gas powered Model T’s as well.
You reckon the coal and gas is going to be replaced by hydro power, during decades of drought? Good luck with that.
Our thoughts exactly, there are wind generators all over the the Columbia River basin, not as many as California, and very few of are able to even operate at the same time. I not saying power shouldn’t change, but technically we are not “there” yet.
Well Said, Bob P !!
I wouldn’t have one even if they were giving them away.
I agree with Bob p. Earlier in this article people were talking about light pollution. What I haven’t heard much about yet is the noise pollution from electric (EV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). We have two hybrid vehicles and they both have noisy backup alarms. All electric and hybrid vehicles will have backup alarms. Plus they both sound like spaceships landing in the electric mode. Could you imagine everyone having EV’s and HEV’s pulling in and out of campgrounds at all hours, especially when your trying to sleep. For those for EV’s if you don’t have electricity to run your A/C in the hot summer or it’s pouring rain or freezing outside and your EV needs charging. I don’t feel sorry for you. Most politicians, our government and environmentalist are your enemies now. Americans are too divided over present situations. But it can still be changed if the right people are voted in office. I don’t have to worry about it since I have a better chance of pushing up dandelion
Sounds like Bob M must have a deep hatred of diesel engines and generators if EVs are too noisy and lack power for A/C.
An appealing concept, perhaps slightly more practical than the “flying car” and “Mars colonies” predicted by Popular Science in my 1960’s childhood. Practical electric transportation, barring a radical improvement in battery technology, is more likely to come from hydrogen-powered fuel cells. 108 mile range, really??? How will that work for a trip through the American West? The electric vehicle rush is fueled by those who can make enormous profits off of the limited availability of essential components of those batteries, such as cobalt and lithium. Environmentalism is the excuse accepted by the vast majority of shallow thinkers, so that governmental subsidies spur the push. In the 1930’s, a secret cabal of transportation companies conspired and succeeded in replacing trollies with busses, in the name of “progress”, and to make ginormous profits. To make sure there was no going back, they ripped up the trolley tracks, then billed the municipalities for the expense!
Great idea that simply won’t work in reality for any heavy vehicles , RV’s, tractors, large trucks etc.
For those, hydrogen will be the choice of the future.
Electric vehicles will only work well in inter city travel or in milder climates, unless battery technology changes drastically.
The advantage with hydrogen, the basic ICE engine doesn’t have to be altered a whole lot, therefore vehicles do not have to be altered a great deal either.
Fuel storage is the biggest concern right now.
With Cummins and other companies working on this option, it won’t take long to see this a reality
Cummins already has replacement engines up and going. The hydrogen distribution network is the next step. There are hydrogen fueled vehicles running around California right now with a distribution network.
Any electric vehicle is an appealing concept to me. One part that is often not discussed is the environmental impact of building one. Because of the battery that impact is much higher than building a traditional petroleum vehicle. And at the end of the battery’s life there is nothing there to reuse, yet. Maybe someone can create a battery using empty plastic drink bottles and Walmart bags, and then recycle them into something else useful.
So excited to have an electric RV some day…but probably 5-10 years off from reality. But coming soon. Such a great step forward to the capabilities that can exist on the road – driving & camping. We’re one step closer with solar powering everything while not driving. Now we just need to get rid of the legacy engine. Infrastructure & range needed.
Dave, you must live in a climate that doesn’t get very cold. During winter in many northern states lithium won’t even charge outside and the cold makes charged lithium drain much faster. So please think a little outside your own box before supporting a rush to rid the planet of something that works and cannot yet be replaced with the new technology. I’m not anti-electric, but am against being forced, for political expediency, into a “solution” that won’t have equivalent or even workable function for some time.
You can have one now and satiate that excitement. Surely it can get you through the next 5-10 years with its 108 miles of range while you’re waiting for the utopian dream of solar powered transportation. If you get low on charge just have Jack lower an extension cord down the beanstock for you.
Other than the tow vehicle to get there, my trailer with a good solar setup is essentially all “electric” anyway. All electric motorhomes and tow vehicles still don’t produce enough range between “charge ups”, especially when towing, nor does the existing infrastructure support extended RV travel. Maybe in another decade but now it’s still appears to be more of a fad. Until electric becomes more function than form, will it really hit the mainstream.
Outstanding article. Getting rid of an Internal combustion generator with the ability to recharge your electric RV or any other electric vehicle in a pinch is crazy town. Mentioned it to my friend Sven last week in fact.
It may seem like the simple solution or workaround is purchasing your traditional fuel RV in a State that allows it and taking it to CA. or WA. (Or various others States) on a camping trip but once those states are enforcing the ban and punishing people with a workaround, they will be doubling or tripling the price of gas or diesel in the form of a tax in order to force compliance and punish non conformity. It will however crush tourism in those states, whether it is RV vacations or the family sedan. Shortsighted as always.