What To Consider When Building Your Off-Grid RV
We can all universally agree that the United States features beautiful natural monuments. Between the Grand Canyon, El Capitan, Mount...
We can all universally agree that the United States features beautiful natural monuments. Between the Grand Canyon, El Capitan, Mount Washington, and even the Everglades, the rich diversity of the country’s outdoors is undeniable and it’s the primary reason why off-grid RVs exist. People don’t want to park next to nature, they want to park inside of nature.
For the uninitiated, off-grid living sounds like a Discovery Channel special where a bunch of bearded people head off to Dinosaur, Colorado and live off the land. The reality is a bit different. Off-grid simply implies you aren’t directly connected to gas, water, or electric and you can visit those wonderful places in the comfort of an RV. Building one isn’t too difficult either, as Car Bibles’ outdoorsy editors will prove.
What Is an Off-Grid RV?
An off-grid RV is an RV set up to handle not only the rigors of going semi off-road, but also one that doesn’t need the traditional hookups, such as water, power, and waste, to function and live. Simply put, an off-grid RV is one you can take away from civilization while maintaining living conditions a few steps up from the Stone Age.
Why Would Someone Want an Off-Grid RV?
The world isn’t exactly a bastion of peace and decency right now, especially in the big cities. If you had access to millions of acres of National Park, wouldn’t the possibility of living in them entice you?
What’s the Difference Between an Off-Grid RV and Van Living?
Not much. The biggest difference is space. Off-grid RVs have a lot more space than those who choose van life, but the basic premise of living out in the world is the same. They run into many of the same issues as each other as well.
How Do You Build an Off-Grid RV?
Take an RV, go off-grid. Congrats, you’ve built an off-grid RV. Just kidding!
Building your own off-grid RV starts with selecting an RV that fits your needs and budget. You’ll also want to consider the cost of retrofitting it with items necessary for off-grid living, i.e. solar panels, water reclamation units, power inverters, and bed and living space. Once you have a budget, break it down into sections for the cost of purchasing an RV/renting, absolute necessities, and wants. You can then proceed from there.
If you don’t want to do any of that, there are a number of RV companies that offer models that come pre-built for off-grid living. For those that want to build something themselves, you’ll want to consider a handful of factors. Let’s get into those.
Off-Grid Considerations You Should Know
RVs aren’t the cheapest vehicles and neither is setting them up for off-grid use. Know your budget, then act within your means.
- Waste Disposal
Your refuse has to go somewhere, and, you’ll most likely be the one sending it off to the waste filtration plant. So if you’re squeamish or completely grossed out by your body’s natural response to digestion, well…
- Energy Output and Consumption
How much energy you need to produce in order to keep up with your consumption will also be a factor. Are you going to be working from your off-grid RV? Do you need lights, laptops, or other electronics to do your work? Is solar the best thing for you?
Make an energy checklist ahead of time and figure out what resource, i.e. solar, generators, or extra batteries, is best for your needs.
- National Park and BLM Fees
Some national parks and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land charge fees for usage. Do your research ahead of time so you aren’t caught off guard trying to get into a park at the end of a long day.
Car Bible’s Off-Grid RV Glossary
Welcome to Bible school!
Another term for off-grid RVing.
- Auxiliary Battery
An auxiliary battery is a secondary power source meant for accessories. This battery doesn’t draw electricity from the battery that keeps the RV’s engine moving.
- Black Water Capacity
Black water is contaminated water from refuse and your RV’s toilets. The capacity refers to how much you can store until needing to dispose of it.
- Gray Water Capacity
Gray water is contaminated water from the sinks and can be reused for certain applications. The capacity refers to how much you can store until needing to dispose of it.
GAWR stands for “gross axles weight rating” and refers to the laden weight a vehicle’s axle can withstand before suffering damage.
Your Questions, Our Answers on Off-Grid RVs
Car Bibles’ answers all your burning questions!
Q: Is It Illegal To Live In an RV In the US?
A: Some towns and cities have restrictions on sleeping in your vehicle. Always be sure to check with the local laws for where you’re staying.
Q: How Long Can You Live In an RV?
A: That’s entirely up to you and how well you’ve set up your off-grid RV. If you’ve got the stamina, as well as the fortitude to live in such confined spaces with your significant others, then the sky’s the limit.
Q: Is Boondocking Safe?
A: It can be! As with everything, take the proper safety precautions and you’ll be fine. Forget to do so, or chose not to, and you can end up in some unsafe conditions.
Q: Can You Off-Grid RV Without a Generator?
A: You can, you’ll just have limited access to power generation and won’t be able to run as many electrical devices without turning off the RV’s engine.
Video on Off-Grid RVing
Car Bibles’ editors understand that not everyone is a text-based learner. For those kinesthetic people out there, we have your back with a video showing you exactly what off-grid RVing entails and what to expect. We pulled it from one of our favorite, and most trusted, sources and it’s a great additional resource.
Car Bible’s Favored Off-Grid RV Related Products
You can buy off-grid RV tools and accessories at almost every auto parts and home improvement store. As well as online stores like Amazon. You have a sea of options to select from. The ones we suggest you check out are these RV Solar Panels, Portable Water Heaters, and Portable Fire Pits.
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