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RV Living Off the Grid - Cheap Camping in Quartzsite, Arizona
Thousands Camp Cheaply in Quartzsite
RV Living Off the Grid
Styles of RV living range from luxury motor homes in RV resorts to living off the grid in modest RVs in wilderness areas. Like pioneers in their covered wagons, thousands of RVers head to Quartzsite Arizona to spend their winters RVing off the grid. While they may live in more luxury than their predecessors, RVers who stake out a little temporary home in the desert around Quartzsite are still pioneers in their own way.
They come to the Arizona desert to set up camp in dispersed camping areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and often live off the grid (known as boondocking) without hookups to utilities, water or sewer for three to six months. A six month permit costs less than a week at a moderate private campground.
RV Camping at Quartzsite With Solar Power
Why Camp Off the Grid?
Camping off the grid on Arizona BLM land is one of the best bargains around. The 14 day areas are free while the long term camping areas offer an unbelievably low seasonal rate of $180 for six months. Compared to camping in one of the many private campgrounds that’s an incredible bargain.
Thousands of RV snowbirds come to Quartzsite prepared to live without water, electric or sewer hookups. For a first time off-the-grid RVers, this might look like a daunting undertaking. If you are now wondering why the heck anybody would want to do this, then you might also have a lot of questions about how it’s done.
Why Camp Off-the-Grid?
- It's really cheap!
- It's good for the environment.
- It feels good to be self-sufficient!
- It saves energy.
- It uses readily available solar and wind power as power sources.
- It allows campers to camp in more private areas untethered by power cords and cables.
Some RVers Boondock Off Grid At Quartzsite For 3 to 6 Months
Livng off the grid for three to six months is a very long time to go without electricity or modern conveniences. How do they do it? Well, most RVers have figured out some way to have their cake and eat it too.
They come prepared with solar panels, windmills, generators, propane heaters and battery operated electronics. They’ve also learned to conserve energy, using their backup electrical systems only when necessary.
The Sun Shines Bright On Quartzsite
Living off the Grid With Solar Power
The best things in life are free! And free sunshine is plentiful in southern Arizona. RVers living off the grid often use the solar panels to generate electricity they need for some of the modern conveniences like lights, TV and powering their battery operated electronics. Recently, more solar powered gadgets are available that just need to be set out in the sun to work for several hours at a time. Solar powered lanterns, weather radios and battery chargers for cell phones and small electronics are well suited to this lifestyle.
Diehard boondockers, the RVers who love to camp in the wide open spaces of the desert seek out public lands where they can live off the grid. They save their money to spend on fascinating pastimes and exciting explorations rather than expensive campgrounds. Some of their solar set-ups are complex and expensive, while others manage with a simple configuration and one or two solar panels.
RV Camping Off the Grid - Making Solar Power With Two Solar Roof Panels
Living Off Grid
How Many Solar Panels Will You Need?
The answer to this is complicated because needs and expectations are different for different people. Someone in a 40 ft. motor home will need/want more panels than the couple in a 25-foot rig. Those who want to run their microwave and TV will require more power than people who just want lights at night.
Start With One or Two Solar Panels
The good thing is that you can start with one or two panels and add more later. We purchased two used 80 watt solar panels two years ago along with an inverter and a controller/booster. We use four 6 volt golf cart batteries to store the electricity. By pacing our usage, this set-up will run the lights in the motor home all evening, charge up one of our computers and usually run our TV for a couple of hours. After some trial and error, we learned how to use our stored power to best advantage.
Solar panels, like other technology, is becoming more affordable all the time. Now, four years after purchasing our first used solar panels, we can purchase a new one from Amazon for about half the price.
If you are thinking of buying solar panels, go to a reputable dealer and get someone who knows what they're talking about to help you figure out what you need. Or, talk to some of the old hands who have been camping around Quartzsite for years– some of these guys know more than the “experts” who sell the stuff!
Camping on Public Lands
Windmills Are Another Great Source of Free Power
Like the sunshine, wind is free. Although not as popular as solar panels, portable windmills are also a common sight on the BLM campgrounds around Quartzsite. Some people hedge their bets with both solar and wind power. If the sun doesn’t shine, it’s likely that the wind will blow anyway! Again, it’s a good idea to have someone experienced help you get started if you’re considering a wind mill for generating electricity.
Solar Vs. Wind
RVers often choose solar power over wind power for these reasons: a) Solar panels will generate power in minimal sunlight while windmills need a certain amount of wind, not too weak and not too strong, in order to work properly, and b) Solar panels are easier to put up and down and often they will store right on the roof. Windmills, especially the larger ones, need a good anchor and guide wires to keep them stable.
Living Off Grid In an RV
Would you live in an RV in the desert without electricity for 3 to 6 months?
Other Sources of Power
There are many who live off the grid without either solar or wind power. They usually bring generators to power their microwaves and lights, and sometimes TVs and other appliances. The drawback to generators is that they are noisy, and they cost money to operate. The high price of gas is making people think twice about using their generators more than very short periods of time.
Purists might tell you that you don’t need any of that stuff. You can see by the light of the lantern, you can sit around the campfire at night rather than watch TV. Get an extra blanket or sleeping bag for warmth! You don’t need any of those fancy electronics when you have the sun in the morning and the moon at night!
Copyright ©2011 Stephanie Henkel
Solar Oven - Cook With the Sun!
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