Friday, December 2, 2022


How important is an electric hookup when you camp?


Are you a boondocker who uses solar or wind power to generate your electricity? Or do you just keep your electric usage to a minimum and depend on your deep cycle batteries? 

Most RV parks and other campgrounds charge extra for electricity. Do you prefer to go without and save a few dollars?

How important is an electric hookup to you?

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5 years ago

I boondock all the time, 4 months now and I have 1 agm battery with an inteligent charger and need to run the generator 3 to 4 hrs a day to charge the battery and to use microwave/convec oven, toaster and other small appliances during the day. Works fine for now, thinking to add solar to keep the battery full. How much solar panel power would I need to do that?

5 years ago

I prefer all the above but cannot do without electric and remember hauling water while tent camping. Even though I have a water tank I would rather not deal with that. Although I will eventually. Full hook up I much prefer but can do without if need be.

5 years ago

Can do without water and septic for a week but just a night or two without electricity. I know – we’re spoiled!

Tom Gutzke
5 years ago

We both have sleep apnea and even a dual 12-volt battery will not supply enough power for two CPAP machines. Electrical hookup is a must for us.

Sherry Dawson
5 years ago
Reply to  Tom Gutzke

Tom, I’m not full-time yet, but I plan to buy a CPAP with a rechargeable battery to use while boondocking. You might want to look into that if you’d like to get out into the boonies. There are less expensive alternatives (check with your current supplier or online), but this is the one I like best:

Al & Sharon
5 years ago

The only time we care about having elect hookups is when we need to run the air conditioner. We boondock a lot and have lots of solar and lithium batteries so never need elect hookups. I prefer to not run the generator for hours on end for air conditioning.

Joel & Betty
5 years ago

We never boondock so power is always necessary. TV and air and microwave we cannot do without. The generator is OK but noisy and disturbing to neighbors. (and us).
We need our creature comforts in our late senior years.

Debbie Mason
5 years ago

We travel with a dog and need to be sure he will be safely cool when we leave for places we can’t take him with us. Of course, we like to be cool, too, but there’s no way we’d leave our dog without temperature control, if we have to leave him.

5 years ago
Reply to  Debbie Mason

Debbie Mason: You’re a good “Dog Mom” — thank you for remembering that leaving your dog in your trailer is just as bad as in a car. I too travel with dogs, and NEVER leave them in my trailer without shore-power and A/C on.

Leanne Hopkins
5 years ago

My husband has a c-pap machine. It, theoretically, works with an inverter but not well. He’s getting a new one next month so we’ll see if that one is better without hookups. We use hookups about 50% of the time. We’ve found when we camp with friends they prefer total hookups.

5 years ago
Reply to  Leanne Hopkins

(Oh Gawd, he’s rambling again…)

Leanne: Actually, so do I (have a CPAP) — My ResMed A10 draws up to 90W at full pressure/heat/humidity/yankee doodle whistling and obscene mask-noise making. That’s actually already a lot of power to pull from your batteries for 8+ hours a night (90W = 7.5A, X8 hours = 60Ah of your 100Ah battery), but it gets much worse when running on inverter:.. Short summary: generally DON’T.

First, your inverter isn’t 100% efficient. Many are down at 50% for part of the load curve… so you’d pull at least 2X the power from your battery you actually use. Mine claims 90%, but I’ve NEVER seen it do that well (I meter both DC and AC, so I actually KNOW it’s lying…)

Second, most inverters “scale” power very poorly — similar to running your 4KW generator to charge a cellphone, the inverter can’t produce as “little” power as you request efficiently, so it may be drawing a significant portion of it’s maximum output. My 4KW inverter draws about 300W DC with NOTHING drawing AC from it. That’s why you should only turn on the inverter while you are really using most of it’s power. A CPAP while you’re sleeping is about the opposite of that. The $15 150W inverters “look” like the right size, but have TERRIBLE sine-wave approximation and voltages (I have one factory-labelled “cell charging only” that puts out a *square* wave at *600V*… Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? It’s a little complicated why this does work for cellphone charging, but you can imagine it’s BAD for anything else).

Then, there’s the AC-to-DC losses… You’re turning 12V DC into (probably “modified sine”) 120V AC so you can turn it back into 24V DC… Because the CPAP’s wall adapter is a laptop-type “switching adapter,” the internal electronics REALLY hate power with sharp steps (“Modified sine” looks like a staircase going up and down, not a wave). Even on a pure sine, there’s going to be some lossiness, but MSW causes the voltage regulator ICs to work insanely hard, to the point this can damage the power supply if done for long…

The “better” solution for your CPAP is to use a 12V DC to 24V DC adapter — ResMed et al will sell you one for the insane price of $90-150 (which may be worth it if you don’t want to damage your $1000 CPAP and can’t find other options…). But, “their” adapter is a total medical-scam ripoff — the voltage booster electronics are nothing special, and in fact some people have had luck using a 12V adapter meant for a Dell laptop, but my A10 knew the difference (A snarky screen message saying “Unapproved 24V adapter in use, shutting down” or something like that). Since I “do” electronics, I figured out the simple signalling their wall adapter does and made a working adapter for a total of $5 in parts including 12V plug and CPAP cable. I keep meaning to make a video of that as well… *sigh*

Al & Sharon
5 years ago
Reply to  Wolfe

My wife uses a Resperonics (sp??). She leaves the humidifier heater off (the heater helps put more humidity in the air) and it pulls less than 1 amp of 12V DC. The sticker on the machine says it uses 12V and they sell a 12V auto adapter cord. I just wired the 12V cord into a 12V light at the head of the bed. You should be able to do the same with a 12V to 24V converter as long as you leave the heater off. On her machine if she turns the heater on it pulls up to 5-6amps of 12V DC.

5 years ago

As Buzz mentioned above, don’t forget that for some of us, power is no longer a luxury.

I’m super efficient using my large batteries (I can boondock on battery power over a week without extreme power scrimping), but have a recent heart condition REQUIRING A/C as needed. I try reserving power sites when heat is expected, and having a 4KW generator, I shouldn’t worry about surprises, but lately there are too many generator Gestapo sites that prohibit running it medically enough even on freakish hot days. One park ranger outright said “its not his problem if campers die in the heat”, so I should just go home. I travel long distance where I can’t just go home when weather goes crazy, and powered sites are often just not available in areas I have to travel through. I’ve actually spent days idling my 500HP truck just for the AC (yeah, because THAT is really quieter or better fuel than my little Genny?). I think as more of us are not optionally able to “go home,” and campsites (esp. with power) get scarcer, we may need some sort of medical override for shortsighted policy enforcers.

5 years ago

We prefer to have full hookups, but spend a couple of months a year without. Not really boondocking, we use our onboard 8KW generator to keep the batteries charged and occasionally run the A/C or microwave, with everything else running off the inverter. Using cost as an indicator of impact, running the generator 4 to 8 hours a day costs $6 to $12 (mostly maintenance cost) which is less than a full hookup campsite and probably comparable to the cost of solar if we put in enough to support the same loads.

Dr4Film ----- Richard
5 years ago

The only times it makes sense to have access to shore power is when the outside temos are in the high 90’s to over 100F where the air conditioners need to run 24/7. Don’t want to run the generator AND the A/C’s 24/7 too

5 years ago

I have 200 watts of solar …

Bob Burton
5 years ago

We have 800 watts of solar with 6 AGM batteries and a 3000 watt inverter. Makes us pretty independent.

Tommy Molnar
5 years ago

We don’t really care. We boondock most of the time anyway. Electricity is a luxury when we have it, but our solar array handles our needs 95% of the time.

5 years ago

My wife has MS and needs to stay cool. So we do prefer power.

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