Running AC while Boondocking

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Apr 29, 2006
Forgive the first question - I have information overload and I think I am getting a few things confused.

I have been reading a lot about boondocking but I have a question regarding this as I think I am getting mixed info from different sources.

As far as running electrical items while boondocking, what is the best method for this if you plan on doing it often?  by often i mean possibly a few times a week over the course of say 4-6 months.

solar panel? - would this work?

one of my concerns is traveling during the summer months, having to BD and needing to run the AC due to the heat.  I read somewhere running the generator for say 5 hours a night could cost upwards of $10 in fuel.  I guess I would be looking for the most economical way to do this.



Jan 13, 2005
The non-propane items in your RV (such as TV, coffee pot) could be run from an inverter powered by batteries. However, the batteries will need to be recharged periodically, probably daily.

It's unlikely you could run a/c for very long on a battery-powered inverter. Even if you could, you'd need to run the generator to recharge the batteries.

A generator capable of running a couple of a/c units will likely use between half a gallon and a gallon of fuel an hour.


Moderator Emeritus
Mar 3, 2005
Elkhart Lake, WI for the summer. Work at Road Amer
In addition to what Tom said, solar panels are VERY expensive, and you would need a lot of them to come anywhere close to the power even a small generator can put out. You're dependent on the sun being out most of the time and you need several batteries to store the power. Then you need to stow them and re-erect them every time you move. Not a good alternative.

Depending on where you stay, running a generator 5 hours a night is not always an option. Many places have strict 'quiet times' where running generators after 10 or 11 p.m. is verbotten. Even if it's not, you might find a potato stuck in your exhaust pipe!

Nights in the desert are usually pretty cool anyway, but try to keep it reasonably cool during the daytime, and use a fan or two at night. It's surprising how much a little air movement can make you feel comfortable. The newer 'tower' fans with several squirrel-cage blowers mounted vertically are amazingly quiet and effective. 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Feb 2, 2005
West Palm Beach, FL
Solar is a battery charging source, not a direct power supply. Whether solar is practical for recharging your bateries depends a lot of where you camp, i.e. how much sun is available each day in the region and how much reaches your particular campsite. A solar panel in the shade is just extra weight.

You need to consider how much power you will use when boondocking. Until you spend time in an Rv (even when on shore power), you probably don't even think about your power consumption habits. Some people are natural power hogs and others naturally turn things off when not in immediate use. Some folks need the tv on hours per day and others little or no time. Do you like to have hot coffee avalable throughout thre day or are you a 1 cup a day person?  Etc. Etc. Etc.

So think about your "power budget", how many wat t-hours of power you will need to get through a typical day. Then you can plan on how to supply that much - or maybe change your usage habits.

As for runing the a/c, you will need a good sized generator to be practical.  Use of inverters and batteries to power an a/c requires a lot of batteries, more than most people could afford or carry. I recently came across a used motorhome equipped for extensive time off the power grid in a hot climate. It had two, 2500 watt inverters and six size 8D batteries (a single 8D battery is about the size of 4 "car" batteries), built into a special cradle under the chassis.

Mike in Texas

Well-known member
May 15, 2006
New Braunfels, TX
A comment on the advice on using fans. In the TV room in our house, which is all glass on one side, we need to keep the thermostat set on 72 for what we consider comfortable. But if we run our tower-type floor fan and ceiling fan, we are comfortable with the room temperature at 77 or 78. We have purchased a tower fan for our new motor home, especially for those times when we have only 30 amp power available, allowing only one A/C to be operated.
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