Sunday, October 2, 2022


Alternative power and gadget suggestions when hookups are not available

By Dave Helgeson
Are you a free spirit that likes to travel without advance reservations? Do you just show up at an RV park or campground and take your chances that they have a space available? What if the available spaces don’t have electrical service? Will you head down the road in the hopes of finding an RV space with electrical service or will you make do for the night?

With the demand for campsites at an all-time high due to hordes of those discovering that RVing is the safest way to travel during a pandemic, you might be more inclined to take what is available these days and tough out a night without shore power.

If you find yourself toughing it out more often these days, you might find one or more of the following items a useful alternative to using the comparable 120-volt appliance, saving you from using your generator or inverter.

  • Use a 12 volt USB adapter to charge your cell phones and other electronics
  • Use a stove top toaster on your gas stove instead of an electric toaster
  • Consider using solar yard lights around your campsite when you don’t have 120 volts available to run your patio lights.

  • Use a Whirley-Pop Popcorn Popper to pop popcorn instead of popping it in your microwave oven. Don’t have the space in your RV to store a Whirley-Pop? Go old school and bring some Jiffy Pop popcorn and amaze the grandkids!
  • Use a stove top coffee maker or espresso maker for your morning caffeine fix in place of the electric version. The AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker is the coffee maker of choice for many RVers.
  • Consider carrying a 12-volt box fan to circulate air in your RV on stuffy days. Fan-Tastic Vent makes a nice one.
  • If you are a CPAP user, purchase a 12-volt adapter for your machine. It is a good idea to carry one anyway in the event of a power outage during a stay at a full-service RV park.
  • Finally, if you end up where it is unbearably hot, consider installing a SoftStartRV air conditioner management device on your RV’s air conditioner(s). Your generator won’t have to work as hard to get the air conditioner started, resulting in less noise from your generator surging and less noise inside your RV from your air conditioners compressor. The author recently installed one and is very impressed.

A few of these items are not “new” – many were how our grandparents “toughed it out” back in the days before there were full-hookup RV spaces, microwaves, espresso machines, etc.



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Mary Jane Woodford
2 years ago

Presto 02835 MyJo Single Cup Coffee Maker, Black

This is an awesome non-electric k-cup coffee maker. We have been using it for several years because we mostly boondock. It makes coffee consistently and the best part is not having coffee grounds to wash out of a filter thus wasting water and have grounds go into our gray water.

2 years ago

I have one of these as well, it works great. I have found the best results by pushing a little water through the k-cup. Waiting a bit for the grounds to become good and saturated and then finishing the process. But, I do like my coffee a bit in the stronger side.

Mitzi Agnew Giles
2 years ago

We just bought the GoSun portable cooler/freezer with solar batttery and right now are using the AC option on it. If anyone remembers the old Colman coolers/freezers with AC/DC options it’s a wee bit larger than that. For a week the freezer has maintained a 9 *F setting and no problems with what I pull out to cook, this was originally for hurricane prep but it cost about $300 less than the DC Truckfridge and I enjoy having the larger freezer space. I also try to use the 36 ounce electric kettle for coffee and other hotwater applications. Can’t use a misting fan in FL or you will die in the 101% humidity 😉 However I did finally break down and buy myself a cooling vest off Amazon – I have heat induced asthma- and the 4 freezer paks it came with are fairly small and fit very well in the GoSun solar freezer along with the food.

I also got myself a BlendJet (?Jetblend?) but haven’t been able to line up the base well enough to actually get it to work. It charges on a USB port no ac/dc opti

Montgomery D. Bonner
2 years ago

On way to make coffee, is a stove top coffee maker. You can find corning wear stove top coffee makers on eBay or in antique stores, we have three of them. A small one, which we do keep in RV, and a couple of the larger ones in case power goes out and I need to use the grill to make coffee. Tip: once it starts to perk, I let it go for 5 minutes, turning down the heat so it just perks but does not boil over, that seems to be about the correct amount of time for my coffee, it’s not weak, and not so strong you can float a horseshoe in it. Takes some experimenting to get it correct. Try to stay away from the old aluminum stove top units, the acids in the coffee leach the metal into the coffee, some studies have shown higher aluminum levels as a contributing factor to mental decline in old folks. Using the item shown, means I have to keep 5 different parts clean, sorted out, with the old kind, filters and the innards/pot. simple to store and keep together.

Deborah Mason
2 years ago

Because we sometimes wind up “dry camping”, I try to have as many non-electric options as possible. I have a couple of hand press coffee makers (one can use K-cups, one uses finely ground coffee & one is a French press). We gotta have our morning coffee. But I also look for alternatives so we can enjoy life outdoors without giving up too much. The hardest, though, is cooling. Any RV will get hot; even a tent gets hot in the summer, no matter how many windows & vents you open. While we can’t use it inside, we did recently pick up a Ryobi misting fan and a couple of spare, larger batteries. It does make the area in front of it wet, but it cools the air by 20+ degrees. We haven’t been out with it yet, but have used it on our log house porch to test it out. Cooling is a critical item for us. We have a couple of dogs that need to be comfortable; they don’t have the ability to “adjust the mental thermostat” like humans can.

Sink Jaxon
2 years ago

You mean there’s people that don’t know these things? LOL!

Kaeleen Buckingham
2 years ago

We have the 12 volt adapters for our CPAPs and did fine with those until…my husband was put on oxygen at night. Where we have a 12 volt adapter for it, there is not enough battery power to run it all night.

2 years ago

It’s funny to me when people feel lost without hookups — I was canoe-camping with a tent for 30 years before I decided hard walls and drive-up were easier with young kids and dogs. As a result, I have ALL my old camping gear inside my RV (most of seldom used, I admit). If shore power were out, I have all those rechargable/battery powered things right there, and enough 12V to go a week with conservative use. Plus solar. Plus a generator or three depending on “backup” or “expected.”

One funny note, and it’s a choice, I do NOT let kids use my 12V rechargers — once their tablet/phone/game dies during a trip, it stays dead. This lets them have a “little” electronics but not spend the whole day on them when we’re in a gorgeous location. As for my own addiction, I keep 2 phones charged for safety, but “try” not to touch them. 😀

Tommy Molnar
2 years ago

I wonder how long it will be before “Big Chief RV and Cabin Resort” will be told they must change their name. It’s an ad that shows up when I peruse the rv travel newsletter, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Wayne Caldwell
2 years ago

When camping, we frequently use our stove top percolator for morning coffee. It just seems to taste better. We’ve replaced all of our interior incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs with LEDs and already have the 12v chargers. I’ll have to check out the other great suggestions.

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