We are driveway camping at my cousin’s house in Traverse City for a few days, so we’re adjusting to living with less. Less, in terms of electrical power. Yes, you can live on just 20 amps, even if you have a big old diesel pusher that is set up for 50 amp service! We’ve done it many times.
In this case, not only are we on 20 amp electric, but the outlet we plug into requires us to run a series of electrical cords about 100 feet. The further the electricity has to travel to reach the RV, the more power you lose in the process. But, again, it can be done, and since it was over 90 degrees yesterday, we even ran our air conditioner!
So how can we live comfortably on limited power? The first step, in my opinion, is to have a good electrical management system (EMS). In our case, we have a Progressive Industries EMS that we got from my pal Daryl Lawrence at Lawrence RV Accessories. Besides protecting us from voltage spikes, open grounds, and a lot of other nasty things that can happen, the EMS will also cut power to our motorhome if it drops below safe levels. In case you are not aware of it, low power will harm your components as fast, or faster, than high power will.
We turn off all non-essential power loads; such as TVs, DVR, etc. No only do we turn them off, we keep them plugged into power strips, so we can kill all power going to them. This reduces phantom loads, that can be a real problem on limited power. We also switched our refrigerator and water heater to LP, and turned down the charge rate on our inverter control panel. This way, our house battery bank charges much slower, but since we’re not going anywhere, we have plenty of time to recharge.
We also make sure not to use too many things at once. When you’re on limited power, you can’t use your air conditioner, washer/dryer, microwave, coffee maker, and hair dryer all at once. You have to shut some things down to use others. Yesterday, we ran the basement air conditioner all day long, as well as both my desktop and Terry’s laptop computers, and our Cradlepoint wireless router. We kept a close eye on the EMS monitor, to be sure we were not creeping up too high in our power draw.
We kept the window blinds turned down to reduce the light (and heat) coming in, and have our window awnings out to help shield them from the sun. Would we prefer to be in a full hookup 50 amp RV site, where we could use every piece of equipment we have at the same time and not give a thought to power consumption? Sure, who wouldn’t? But my point is that we can do it, and you can, too! And you should learn how to.
You may not plan on doing any driveway camping, but things happen we don’t always expect. You may find yourself broken down and parked beside a garage for a few days waiting for parts to come in. You may be in an RV park where everybody is running their air conditioners and the power level drops, or the power goes off completely. You may be at an RV rally at a fairgrounds, with limited power. Whatever the reason, you don’t have to freak out and run for the hills, or the nearest Holiday Inn. Just manage your power use sensibly, and you’ll be fine.
On another note, as Thousand Trails members, we’re sad to lose our Resorts of Distinction (ROD) membership, now that Thousand Trials and ROD have severed ties. Each outfit blames the other one for the problem, kind of like the Democrats and Republicans do for the mess the country is in. No matter whose idea it was, Thousand Trails or ROD, the outcome is the same – the members are the ones losing out. If you are an ROD member through Thousand Trails, NACO, or Leisure Time Resorts (LTR), ROD will honor your membership until it expires, but you will not be allowed to renew unless you join another membership campground affiliated with ROD.
Thought For The Day – Lord give me patience, because if you give me strength I may beat someone to death.