Monday, December 4, 2023


The readers write: Gray water, night lights, and more


Edited by Russ and Tiña De Maris

Here’s our semi-monthly digest of reader commentary. Keep ’em coming!

Keeping that gray water valve closed

Most RVers keep their black water locked up until their tank is almost full. Doug Swarts from, our doo-doo specialist, recommended the same be true for the gray water, too. We got plenty of feedback on this sloshy subject.

Some liked the suggestion. Here’s Tommy’s take on the matter: “Prior to watching this video, I’d never given much thought to this. We generally leave our grey tank open – UNTIL NOW. This makes perfect sense to me.”

On the other hand, Dave was quick to explain why he didn’t like the idea. “I used to do my gray tank the way he recommends in the video. After overflowing the grey tank and getting water damage in five out of my seven RVs over 32 years, I started leaving my grey tank open. One overflow is a big problem, and anything I can do to avoid another one is worth putting up with a few minor problems.”

More than one way to deal with it, responds Doug: “You should have put an alarm in your shower pan as that is where gray water will overflow from your Gray tank first. I would think the simple solution would be to dump your Gray water every 2 days or so to insure you don’t overfill your gray tank. A simple 24 hour timer at your entrance door would also help serve as a reminder.”

Leave your porch light on?

Our resident boondock enthusiast, Bob Diffley, took a dim view of leaving an RV porch light on for “security” reasons. Apparently this thinking was a light-bulb moment for several readers.

For those who find a light can ruin their night vision, here’s a thought from Einar. ” My wife and I like star gazing at night. So we keep the out side lights off most of the time. But I have put a red lens over our outside light to help with night vision when it is on. I learned that trick on my father in laws sailboat. Works out great. We do keep small flashlight on us or pen lights.”

Lorna had another thought, keeping light for your own use, but keeping it away from the neighbors: “I use solar ‘step’ lights. They are somewhat directional. I glued magnets to the holders so I can stick them on the sides of the bus (steel sides) about waist high. I can also grab one to use as a flashlight when needed. During the summers they tend to be able to stay lit all night. In the winter or on cloudy days, the lights do not last much past midnight. I bought mine in a 4 pack from Home Depot for $20. These are what I have

Or how about another kind of light? Lorna suggests, “I like to use solar powered, motion-detector lights when boondocking and at home. The only time I see lights go on is when someone approaches the rig. Having them on both sides, attached to my truck and the back of the rig gives me a little extra peace of mind, especially in unfamiliar areas. Those approaching are startled, and would-be thieves will take off running.”

And just where do you find such a critter, some asked. Deana & Christle shared their experience with them. “We bought ours on Amazon. There are several different brands and prices but they aren’t expensive. Ours also have a small pin hole where you can insert a paper clip to turn them off if you don’t want them to work. Only drawback has been they are dim or don’t work if there are consecutive days of limited or no sun. Everywhere we go, people ask about them and we’ve seen numerous people buy them after seeing how ours work. Also recommended these to some people who were concerned about theft and vandalism in an area hit by tornadoes where there was no electricity and they were either living in or trying to salvage things from damaged homes.”

Recalcitrant to retire?

Our resident RV psychologist, Dr. Shrink, took on the question of what to do if one-half an RV couple is ready to hit the road, but their significant other isn’t ready to retire. Here are some alternative therapy suggestions.

Take the bull by the horns, says Lou. “My friend leaves her husband, the guy said we’ll travel after you retire and now decided he doesn’t want to, at home. She hooks up the 5th wheel and goes without him. She can drive and park that as well as anyone. Doesn’t take muscle to hookup/drive/park a camper.

Ron offers a kinder, gentler suggestion. “Often people, especially males, are afraid of not having anything to do. You can only look at the cactus outside your door at Quartzsite for so many days  Potential retirees may find Habitat for Humanity a good option which gives flexibility in terms of places, costs, and timing. It may also teach some new skills to non-builders (as it did me).”

And a related thought from Judy. “There are various Workamping positions available all over the country. While these positions do not include salaries, most do include a site and full hook ups in exchange for services.”


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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J. French (@guest_4665)
6 years ago

Thanks for the advice on both black & grey water tanks. Retired 3 years ago at age 60 after drilling oil wells internationally for 40 years & had never previously camped since a tent & sleeping bags when I was under 12.
Definitely appreciate all tips & tricks, many of us are newbies or fairly inexperienced.
Since I travel mostly in the South, we changed every outside light to Bug Lights due to we love lots of light but not mosquito’s.
We also bought numerous outdoor lightweight mats as recommended & setup 2 canopy’s wall off 1 side against the sun.

Wolfe (@guest_4485)
6 years ago

Unfortunately, my response to Lorna / Deana & Crystal didn’t make this compilation… The solar motion sensor lights ARE great, but many have exactly the shortcoming D&C commented on -dim, die too fast, and don’t recharge if overcast. Not even having a switch is a sure sign that they are using Dollar Store garden lights. The problem is the (1.2V x 800mah) 1 Wh NiCd battery and tiny solar cell. I use “Arilux SL02” 20-LED PIR lights that have (4.2 x 2400mah) *10Wh* 18650-LiPo batteries, and big enough solar on top to charge in 8hrs of good sun. With 10X the power, they NEVER die in a single night even locked on “max brightness until dead” mode. On (selectable) dim or motion modes, these easily run a WEEK without any sun (I sometimes use them inside as a guest light). Ultimately, they would die in polar Alaska (no sun for months), but a couple days without ideal sun doesnt dim them at all, and they’ll recharge when the sun returns. The giant 62LED SL06 version uses 2 cells (20Wh) and legitimately earns being called a floodlight – its BRIGHT on maximum.

Get ARrilux SL02 from AliExpress, $13 delivered… SL06 is $23 delivered. They may be available locally as well, but beware non -lipo cheaters.

Steve (@guest_4461)
6 years ago

I viewed your video regarding gray water tank draining and appreciate so much the content and wisdom.
My question is this; I let my gray tank fill up before draining, never leaving it open. However when I dump the gray it does emit a very strong odor. How can I eliminate the strong odor from the gray tank.

Debbie Wilson (@guest_4453)
6 years ago

Wow, the comment from Deana & Christle really hit home because it’s almost word for word what I wrote on another site. And it’s true. We were 1/4 mile from the tornado that hit Rowlett on 12/26/15 and there were obvious and unexpected security concerns. I recommended the solar powered, motion activated lights to several people there as they attempted to live in damaged homes and salvage what they could in areas with no electricity. And everywhere we go, people ask us about ours. Right now where we are workamping, there are three other people who now have these lights at our recommendation.

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