Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Boondocking Survival

I survived my days of boondocking, and have convinced myself that it can be done easily. The first 24 hours I only lost .04 of my battery power - of course I have LED lights and the only other thing I used was the water pump. The second 24 hours, I used .13 from my battery. I did take a shower and I'm assuming that the water pump drew the extra power, as well as charging my phone with the 12 volt outlet.

I discovered that my water heater comes up to temperature much faster on propane than it does with electric. I tried to get my Honda generator running so I could turn on the furnace for a little while, but it kept stalling. So, I also discovered that I will survive if the room temperature isn't a nice toasty temperature. It's not fun stepping out of the shower into a cold room, but it's fun being clean! I do believe my fridge runs more efficiently on propane than on electric. It does seem that my drinks are colder, but I need to take temperatures to confirm my theory.

On my third full day (I arrived about noon on the first day, so I'm not counting that), I decided to play with the generator a bit more and I got it started and it kept running! I was so excited that I just plugged into the RV and turned on the breakers and the furnace because it was overcast and chilly that day. As soon as I did that, I realized that I had not gotten a reading on the battery. It was only a couple minutes after I plugged in and started things that I got the reading. I found that it was only barely under 12 volts. Obviously, I'm not used to scientific experiments and exact protocols.

I had planned on leaving on my third day, but decided to stay an extra day since I had no firm plans. Since I had only planned for a couple days, I only filled the fresh water tank with what I thought I needed for a couple days.   Just on schedule, I ran out of water. I still stayed the day since I had a jug full of water I could use in the bathroom and enough drinking water. Next time, I'll fill the tank with more water than I think I need.

During all this, I'd been talking to a very nice Canadian couple who have 3 solar panels that provide power for almost everything - when the sun shines. We had a couple days of overcast weather and he was running his little generator. Nevertheless, I was really envious of their panels since I had them on my cruising sailboat and know how much power they generate. It's a wonderful thing!

This experiment certainly was not very scientific and everyone's rig will be different. I have all LED lights, so they use very little power. Of course, there was no TV, stereo or microwave going during these days. The stereo would work, but the TV or microwave would require power from the generator. I'll be trying this again, with more water on board, as well as a generator that will cooperate. There are some nice areas in Arizona to camp out in the wilderness. 
A good amount of the land available is under control of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)  Some national parks have campsites that are not developed, so that would also be boondocking.  The campground I used was BLM.



  1. It is very interesting reading your adventure. where is it that you boondocked? Is that by Tucson?

    1. It is on the SW area of Tucson - corner of Ajo (86) and San Joaquin - if you drive by, you can see the rigs (if there's anyone there). It was a great site for the first try - located within a few miles of stores, restaurants, etc.