Conserving RV Energy Is All About Knowledge

The biggest difference between taking your RV to a commercial campground and camping in the wilderness – also known as boondocking – can be encapsulated in a single word: power. An RV not hooked up to shore power relies on a combination of battery power and propane to power its systems. An extended boondocking stay requires extra energy capacity unless you are willing to use your RV more like a tent.

So how do you conserve RV energy? Knowledge is the key. It starts with knowing and understanding your RV’s systems. You need to know what runs on electricity as opposed to propane. You need to know what types of electrical devices require 12V power as opposed to 110V. Finally, you need a bit of knowledge that will enable you to do things without using either electricity or propane.

RV Electrical Systems

Your typical RV has an electrical system capable of powering both 12V and 110V devices. Because an RVs system is 12V by default, there is also the inverter to think of. Did you know that an inverter draws electricity from RV batteries even when no 110V devices are being used? One of the easiest things you can do to conserve battery energy is to turn the inverter off when you don’t need it.

RV battery systems generally aren’t capable of powering high-draw devices like air conditioning units. So if you want to use the air conditioner when you are boondocking, your best bet is to get yourself a gas-powered generator. Depending on the size of the unit, you might be able to power other electrical devices with it at the same time.

Solar Power Systems

It is becoming increasingly more common for new RVs to be built with a solar system is already installed. Solar collection panels can power everything from induction cook tops to small televisions. A solar system can keep batteries topped off during the daylight hours. However, it is not much help once the sun goes down.

If you’re looking to implement solar renewable energy at your home, Reliant Energy plans are perfect since they are affordable and will drastically lower your power bill.

With that in mind, cooking meals before nightfall is a good idea. Furthermore, cooking large meals that can be divided into smaller portions and reheated later saves energy. Reheating uses less energy than cooking every meal from scratch.

Alternatives to Electricity

As long as we are talking about cooking, there are ways to do it without using an electric cook top or propane oven or grill. At the top of the list is learning how to cook over an open fire. As long as you are boondocking, you might just as well learn the skill. It is really not difficult. For most campers, the hardest part is learning to build and maintain a proper cooking fire.

Likewise, you can save energy on hot water by heating it over a fire. Why run the propane water tank when you have a flame ready to do the job for you? You can use fire-heated water to do your dishes, bathe in, and even wash your clothes. Just don’t use it for cooking unless you have properly boiled it first.

Invest in RV Skirting

If your boondocking involves camping from mid-fall through the end of spring, consider investing in RV skirting. A good skirting product, like the inflatable skirting made by AirSkirts, does two things. First, it protects against frozen pipes. Second, it will help keep your RV a lot warmer when temperatures start to drop. You will use less propane running the furnace.

Knowledge is the key to conserving RV energy. Whether you are talking battery power or propane, you can save energy by learning new ways to do things.


Rachel Martin: Rachel, an adventure travel blogger, shares her experiences of hiking, climbing, and trekking around the world. Her blog includes detailed guides, safety tips, and inspiring stories to encourage others to embark on their own adventures.