Life on the road in an RV can be a great way to see the country by traveling from campsite to campsite, while still enjoying many of the comforts of home within your cozy vehicle. Yet for outdoor enthusiasts who seek an adventure that is a bit more on the wild side, RV camping can offer a thrilling alternative to the traditional experience of staying at campgrounds.
But before setting a course for uncharted territory, there are a few things you should be aware of. In this article we'll explain why RV camping is an experience worth considering, along with the many challenges that come without access to power in remote locations – and how bringing a solar generator along for the ride can help you overcome them.
What Is RV Camping?
RV camping (also known as "boondocking", dry camping, or dispersed camping) is the ultimate form of camping for RVers who seek freedom and adventure off the beaten path and into some remarkable and lesser-known places. Away from the modern amenities of traditional campgrounds, it is a chance to gain independence and find balance in nature, while relying solely on your own self-sufficiency to survive off the grid.
There are many ways to boondock; you can find a remote spot to park your rig, stake out a space in an undeveloped area of the wilderness, or even stay on someone’s private land. At its core, boondocking is a state of mind. It’s about getting back to basics and (re)learning what truly matters in life: spending quality time with yourself and the people you love in the great outdoors.
Why Go RV Camping?
Nothing can beat the sense of joy and inner peace that comes from waking up to the sounds of nature, a gentle breeze across a secluded lake, or a stunning view of mountains free from any signs of civilization. RV camping is an experience that simply cannot be replicated at traditional (and crowded) campsites.
Here in the wilderness, you have an opportunity to connect with yourself in a way that is deeply satisfying and refreshing, while exploring places few people ever get to experience firsthand. This is a chance to fill your spirit with the awe and wonder of nature in its purest form. For outdoor enthusiasts, boondocking offers unforgettable rewards.
Not to mention, you'll also save loads of cash by skipping the overnight fees of hotels or commercial campgrounds!
Be Aware of the Challenges
Yet for all the freedom RV camping allows you to experience, it can also have its challenges that you should consider before setting out on your adventure.
Above all: Know your limits! Part of the thrill of RV camping is venturing outside your comfort zone—but make sure you have the skills, gear, and knowledge to stay safe in any terrain. Don't push yourself (or your vehicle) beyond your capabilities.
When camping in remote areas, having access to communications and Wi-Fi is essential. Whether you want to talk with family or friends, or need to make calls for help in case of an emergency, it’s important that you have a reliable way of staying connected when away from home. Check your carrier for coverage maps ahead of time, or try researching newer technologies like Starlink for a way to stay in touch on your travels.
RV campers must also remember that most remote campsites don't have access to running water or sewage systems—so be sure to bring enough drinking water for the duration of your stay. Additionally, any wastewater created through activities such as cooking or bathing must be disposed of properly and safely.
While safety should be your top priority, the next major roadblock facing RVers is finding reliable access to power. Let's look into these challenges in more detail.
Power Struggles of RV Camping
From keeping the lights on and powering personal devices to running the air conditioning or your refrigerator, having access to power can make all the difference between an unforgettable adventure or a flat-out nightmare.
Drawbacks of Electrical Power Systems
RVs typically run off a combination of power sources, the most common being a component-based electrical system that consists of a converter, an inverter, and a battery. The converter is responsible for converting the AC power from a generator or campsite hookup to DC power, which is used to charge the battery. The inverter is responsible for converting the DC power from the battery to AC power, which is used to power the appliances and devices in the RV.
This is the tried-and-true way of staying charged on the road, but it does have its shortcomings when going off-grid.
Limited Power Sources
RVs do not come equipped with their own way to generate power onboard, meaning they must rely solely on "shore power" provided by campgrounds. Unfortunately, it also means that these necessary RV hookups are nearly impossible to find out in remote locations, making it difficult to stay powered while boondocking.
The 30-amp RV hookup at campsites allows RVers to run their essential appliances, lights, TV, and mini-split A/C unit when stationed for a period of time. Without one nearby, you're going to have a hard time keeping food fresh, seeing in the dark, or staying comfortable during the summer.
Perhaps part of the allure of boondocking is to "unplug" and get away from modern living. But if you intend to make this an extended trip that's safe and enjoyable, you will most likely need to find an alternative source of power. (More on that solution in a bit.)
High Energy Consumption
RVers often run multiple appliances and gadgets simultaneously, which can quickly drain their vehicle's power supply. This makes it difficult to sustain a steady energy source for long stints away from the grid when they don't have access to recharge it. Again, an alternative source of power is needed that can either serve as a backup or a supplement to the strained power system.
The sheer cost of installing a component-based power system can be prohibitively expensive for many RVers. Although it depends on the specific RV type, and whether the current electrical system needs to be completely rewired, a basic setup can easily cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 including hardware and installation fees.
Shortcomings of Propane
The propane gas system in most RVs consists of a propane tank and a regulator, which is responsible for controlling the flow of propane gas to the appliances.
Propane is commonly used in RVs for cooking and heating water as it is easy to store and transport compared to other fuel sources like gasoline or diesel fuel. However, propane tanks have limited capacity and will need to be refilled often, which can be inconvenient when traveling long distances away from civilization. Additionally, propane isn't suitable for powering electronics since it doesn't produce the appropriate voltage or amperage required by devices such as laptops and cell phones.
Even worse, there are potential safety risks you should consider when traveling on the road with propane before you decide if this is a solution worth relying on.
Disadvantages of Gas Generators
Gas generators are one of the most popular ways for RVers to gain access to power on the go. Generators use fuel (gasoline or diesel) that is converted into AC power, which can then be used by appliances like televisions and microwaves.
Sizes vary depending on the specific needs and preferences of the RVer, but a typical 2,000–3,000 watt generator can handle basic needs like lights, a refrigerator, and a small TV for generally an entire day.
Generators may seem convenient because they provide an easy way to generate electricity on demand, but their many disadvantages make them impractical for most use cases.
- The amount of fuel they consume if left running constantly can quickly drain resources, making daily use a very expensive endeavor.
- The toxic fumes they emit are not only unpleasant to be around, but it makes gas generators a no-go for indoor use.
- The noise pollution generated by these machines is a major nuisance to both you and any potential neighbors around, making it difficult to find any small measure of peace out in the wilderness.
Challenges with RV Solar Panels
Solar panels certainly offer a more sustainable option than traditional fossil fuels—but they also come with their own set of challenges. Installing RV solar panels is a complicated process, and several factors need to be carefully considered:
Not all RV rooftops have enough space nor can they support the weight of solar panels. This alone may prevent any type of installation, as many RVs simply aren't designed for solar energy.
As the panels are constantly exposed to outdoor elements, protective weatherproofing measures should be taken into account like UV-resistant coatings and sealants, which can require further time and effort dedicated to the installation.
The cost of solar panel installation can also be high, and the cost of maintenance and repairs can be significant, so RVers should carefully consider the investment and long-term benefits before deciding if it's worth it for their vehicle.
Benefits of RV Camping with Solar Generators
Despite all the challenges and shortcomings listed above, there is still a viable solution for RVers looking to stay powered during their off-grid camping trips: solar generators.
Solar generators combine the massive battery capacity of a portable power station with the sustainable and regenerative benefits of portable solar panels. When used together, this mobile power solution offers greater freedom and capability for your adventures – without fuel refills or specialized installations. All you need is sunlight, and your RV travels can be powered indefinitely no matter how far off-grid you go!
Here are some of the benefits a solar generator can add to your RV camping experience:
As a truly "plug-and-play" solution, solar generators are the simplest way to power your RV with clean, renewable energy. Requiring zero installation or complicated setups, their ease of use rivals that of even gas generators—particularly when you consider the many extra features offered by these all-in-one devices.
In addition to AC outlets, solar generators feature multiple USB ports that can keep devices like phones, tablets, laptops, and cameras efficiently charged, as well as a 12V car outlet that's perfect for outdoor gear like portable fridges. Essentially, every device or appliance that you travel with can be powered by a single source that is always within close reach!
Need to recharge? Where other RVers will struggle to get expensive solar panels installed on their roofs, all you will have to do is lay out a few portable solar panels at your campsite, sit back, and enjoy the benefits of easy renewable energy.
Built-In 30-Amp RV Plug
Some portable power stations, like the Anker PowerHouse 767, feature an integrated TT-30R that supplies power directly to your RV, just like a shore power hookup would operate.
This means that, with the convenience of a single outlet that you can take anywhere, you no longer have to rely on finding campsites that offer these RV hookups. This opens up a new realm of freedom and independence when it comes to staying powered on your RV adventures!
Given the high installation and hardware costs of a component-based system and the pricey demands of keeping up with a gas generator, the much lower one-time cost of a solar generator is undoubtedly a better bang-for-your-buck investment.
And those campsites mentioned above that are equipped with RV hookups? They can cost as much as $75 per night. If you're staying at sites like these frequently, that can add up to practically the cost of rent! But with a solar generator that's equipped with your own personal 30-amp outlet, you'll have all the power that you need and with none of the fees.
Clean Renewable Energy
As mentioned throughout this article, solar generators are the key to unlocking energy independence when exploring off-grid locations. Without the need for fossil fuels or being tied to an RV hookup, the endlessly renewable energy from the sun is all you need to keep your home on wheels powered wherever you go.
No potentially dangerous electrical installations. No hazards that are associated with using propane while driving. And unlike gas-powered generators, you won't need to fill up using dangerous flammable substances; instead, you can recharge by using clean, renewable power from the sun.
Additionally, the LFP batteries found within an Anker PowerHouse are designed with advanced safety features that prevent unstable temperatures, short-circuiting or overcharging. It's truly the safest source of power you can have when on the road!
Solar generators provide reliable power even when far off-grid, making them a dependable choice for emergency backup power that doesn't require fuel or other resources.
They can work in remote locations where traditional generators may not be practical, as well as being able to work safely indoors. Because of the stable and long-lasting LFP batteries, a solar generator's lifespan will far exceed traditional generators—as much as 10 years or more of everyday use. Plus, a PowerHouse's unibody structure is tough enough for outdoor adventuring without requiring maintenance costs.
Solar generators are not only a sustainable power source, but they also don't contribute to climate change or carbon emissions. Plus, they don’t produce any noise pollution like traditional gas-powered generators do.
Space-Saving and Portable
Solar Generators take up very little space in an RV, which is limited as it is, and can be moved around inside or outside the vehicle as needed for powering devices or recharging purposes.
Anker solar panels easily fold up like a briefcase for easy transport to your next destination. And along with the ergonomic grab handles built into every Anker portable power station, the PowerHouse 767 sports a suitcase design with wheels and a telescopic handle for enhanced mobility that goes anywhere you need it.
Choosing the Right Solar Generator for Your Needs
Deciding on the right solar generator for your RV comes down to determining what your particular power needs are on a daily basis.
Add up the wattage of all the appliances and devices that you regularly use in your RV, and calculate how long each one runs daily. (You will find that, although certain appliances like a microwave may consume up to 1000W of power when in use, it will only be running for a few minutes at a time.) This combined total will be measured in watt-hours (Wh).
Then, you can use this information to determine the solar generator that's best for you, based on its rated battery capacity. For reference, this article shows what a typical RV needs to stay powered based on moderate usage—and how the Anker PowerHouse 767 directly competes with a component-based electrical system.
Best Solar Generator Choices for RVs
RVs are power-hungry vehicles to be sure, and not every solar generator on the market is up to the task. While smaller power stations can be a convenient on-the-go supplement to your existing power system, you will need a much higher battery capacity if you intend to keep your rig fully operational for more than just a few hours.
Here are our top choices that will satisfy most RVers:
Anker Solar Generator 757 (PowerHouse 1229Wh with 3*100W Solar Panels)
For those with smaller RVs, travel trailers, or pop-up campers, the 1229Wh capacity of the Anker Solar Generator 757 should be enough daily power for personal devices, a mini-fridge, small TV, and cooking appliances like an instant pot. Bundled with three of Anker's 100W solar panels, a recharge to 80% capacity is possible in just 3.6 hours under direct sunlight.
Anker Solar Generator 767 (PowerHouse 2048Wh with 2*200W Solar Panels)
Stepping up to the Anker Solar Generator 767 gives your RV enough power that's comparable to a much more costly electrical system installation, allowing you to keep larger appliances continuously charged. An obvious benefit is the built-in 30-amp outlet for RV connection, as well as its easy portability for wheeling across any terrain.
A full recharge using solar power will take 5.7 hours using the two 200W panels, which means you can come back to a replenished battery after spending the afternoon exploring the outdoors. If you need faster speeds, then up to five of the Anker 531 Solar Panels can be connected to the PowerHouse 767 simultaneously for a 100% recharge in 2.5 hours.
Resources for Your Next RV Camping Adventure
Finding the perfect RV camping site can be a challenge in itself, but luckily there are plenty of resources available to help you find the ideal location.
There are several apps that make it easy to search for and book campsites on the go. For example, AllStays Camp & RV is one of the most comprehensive apps out there, with over 40,000 listings in North America alone. It includes detailed information about each location, as well as guides geared specifically for boondocking.
For a more complete list of options, check out this article for some of our favorite apps that will help make your next camping trip unforgettable.
Forums and Memberships
Online forums like Reddit offer great advice from experienced RVers when it comes to finding campsites in specific areas or along certain routes. There's no better way to learn than to hear it from people who have been there before and can pass on knowledge!
Escapees RV Club is a dedicated community of RVers who share their knowledge and passion for living on the road. Membership includes discounts, invitations to RV events, and a vast network of guides and resources to help make your adventure safe and fun.
A membership to Harvest Hosts, Passport America, or Boondockers Welcome will also help you find the ultimate RV camping site – many of them in unique locations you won't find elsewhere.
FreeCampsites.net offers up-to-date information on free public lands where you can camp without having to pay any fees or reservations required. It even features interactive maps so you can easily locate these sites near your destination of choice!
ReserveAmerica is a great resource to search for campsites by state parks and national forests across the country, making it easy to book your next destination and find plenty of outdoor activities in the surrounding area.
RV camping can be the outdoor adventure of a lifetime – but without a reliable source of power, it can quickly become a harrowing experience.
Far more convenient and less expensive than traditional RV electrical systems, Anker Solar Generators provide portable, accessible power so you can boondock in comfort and with peace of mind anywhere. So get out there and explore what the country has to offer beyond the conventional campgrounds!
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