Where can we go with our new solar panels and batteries?
We all have seen the vast landscapes with RVs in the middle of nowhere boondocking and running off solar panels and batteries. The first thing that may come to mind is, that must be located on the west coast. When we start to think about locations for boondocking, the west coast will always win with your immediate thoughts. What if I told you even travelling on the east coast you can find ample opportunities for boondocking, thus needing solar panels and batteries. Our combo empowers our outdoor adventures. With the right solar and Dakota Lithium Battery Bank, possibilities are endless!
You may be surprised to find out that there are endless opportunities to use your solar energy not involving those “picture worthy” camping locations. For example, quick one night stop overs, the ability to run your fridge while moving your RV from destination to destination and one that you may not think of, a longer RV stay where you pay for electric on a monthly basis.
You have your solar panels which is great! Now you need to ensure that you have batteries to support those panels to bank the power and keep your tiny home on wheels running. We absolutely love our Dakota Lithium batteries. In fact, by using a superior set of batteries, we have been able to extend our boondocking stays from 1 evening to 3-5 evenings by just changing batteries and not even changing or upgrading solar panels.
Now you are ready to go, where you choose to stay to take advantage of solar panels will vastly change based on your location. What may surprise you is, even if it is not a picture-perfect long range mountain view location, you can and will have so many opportunities to save money while boondocking from the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between.
Finding the stays that are right for you and right for your solar panel set-up will be key. When we are travelling along any area is the US and looking for quick overnight stays our solar panels always help us to not only save money by not needing a campsite location, but it also allows us to be a bit nimble in our schedule and flexible to stopping in locations that you cannot take advantage of without solar panels. It is important to point out that many locations do not allow the use of generators so having your solar panels and batteries ready to go is a must.
Where are some of the locations you may need to use your solar panels and batteries? I want to start with some locations that may not be top of mind. Places like a Walmart parking lot, Bass Pro Shop and Cracker Barrell, Casinos and even rest stops. Yes, you read that correctly! You can spend an evening in one of these parking lots while travelling the US. The times you would use a resource like this may seem few and far between but in fact once you are on the road, you never know when these locations may come in handy.
Take some advice from an RV’er who swore she would never stay in a parking lot until one day we arrived at a camping location that was pre-booked and only to find out it was completely flooded and there was no other campground open because it was 9pm and the clock was ticking, and it was getting late. Through this terrible situation we were forced into our first “parking lot” over night! I can honestly say the fact that we had solar panels and batteries helped so much.
Parking lot over nights may not sound like fun but sometimes when being an RVer you may be swayed to certain decisions based on location, availability, weather, and a whole list of uncontrollable variables. Being prepared is always key. Which parking lot you choose is up to you! We personally always enjoy Bass Pro Shop, there is always something for our children to go inside and see, most locations have a restaurant. Most importantly, you are required to register with the store upon arrival. This is done, in case of an emergency, to inform the emergency professionals in the area that there are campers on the property.
Moving from a less obvious place to perhaps a name you have heard of along your travels. Harvest Host, this is one of those perks of RVing that has opened our eyes to so many small towns, local business and a world of new friends and destinations that we would not typically be able to see. Harvest Host is designed with RV travelers in mind. Itsis an RV membership program that allows RVrs to overnight at unique locations around the country including farms, wineries, museums, breweries and more! You can check them out here.
We have covered the not so common stays let’s look at those stays that we are all longing for. Boondocking! Boondocking in an RV is self-sufficient camping, meaning having no access to water, sewer, or electrical hookups. As we covered above this can mean pulling over to spend the night at a rest stop, a parking lot or parking your RV in the backcountry!
The back country is where it is at, this country is unbelievably stunning and the opportunities that you have with solar panels and batteries are truly endless.
Many national forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands across the United States offer primitive campsites with no amenities. Typically, you can camp anywhere in a national forest if there is no signage noting otherwise. This makes boondocking a great option for RVers looking to visit the various National Parks. Follow forest access roads to find spots where you can park and “camp” for free.
If you have a larger RV, some forest access roads might be difficult to access. They are often narrow and unpaved and can be hard to navigate. Check with a local ranger station on where you might be able to park for the night.
BLM land can prove to be a bit more remote and could be a bit tricker to get to. Before navigating your RV all the way to it to your newly found spot, I highly recommend, walking to the exact location or if you have a drone putting that to use as your eyes to ensure that you have the proper amount of room to navigate your RV.
The USDA provides guidelines on how and where to camp in National Forests and BLM land. The US Public Lands app is also a great resource for finding public lands with free campsites. Just be sure to do the research prior venturing deep into the woods, as you’ll likely lose cell coverage.
No matter where you find yourself, having the right batteries and solar panels is what powers your life when once you get there.