Desert Messenger

January 15, 2014

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January 15, 2014 First-timer's Guide to Boondocking & Quartzsite By Melanie Cullen, Blue Sky Energy, Inc. The open road and the big sky are what inspire a lot of people to make their first RV trip. They ease into RVing by visiting a nearby (and beautiful) campground where they can hook up to water, waste and electrical systems. Having this umbilical cord makes RVing easier but it also can make you feel tied down. As you get more comfortable with your RV adventures the desire to go further off the beaten path and fully off-grid will inspire you to think about boondocking. Boondocking, or RVing in a remote spot without connections to water, power, or a sewer, can be a little scary when you are first venturing out. It is just you and your RV alone in the world. It is so peaceful, beautiful, and refreshing to be out there away from it all. There is almost nothing better when things go smoothly and there is almost nothing worse when things go wrong. The best first step to ease into boondocking is to go to The Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show in Quartzsite, Arizona, January 18-26, 2014. Quartzsite (or Q) is the biggest show in the country for boondockers, dry campers and RVers, and attracts over 150,000 attendees. It's in Arizona just off Interstate 10 right by the California border, and it's free. The show is heaven on earth for RVers. It's a ton of fun with hundreds of exhibits, live shows, bargain products and fellow RV enthusiasts. The fact that the desert is gorgeous and the temperature will be in the 70's in mid-January doesn't hurt either! Boondocking at Quartzsite is as easy as boondocking gets because you'll be surrounded by thousands of boondocking experts, vendors, and RV tinkerers. There is even an installation & service area on the show grounds. Even as you enjoy your time at Q, you can prepare for your next boondocking trip by getting tips on techniques and hotspots from all the new friends you'll make. Plus with so many RV experts around if something does go wrong, help is just a short walk away. And if that doesn't work out, there are myriad campgrounds nearby (and even some motels). When you boondock, all you have is what you bring, and you have to bring all of that back with you. To prepare for your first boondocking adventure you should focus on three things: water, waste, and power. These three elements comprise the main difference between boondocking and using traditional campgrounds. When planning what to bring, keep in mind any tradeoffs you might make between these three pillars of boondocking. While boondocking is a little more rigorous than staying at a campground, if you plan ahead you will be fine! Having enough water is essential to everything. FEMA recommends storing at least a gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation, and more if the temperature is hot. But you should bring a lot more than that since you aren't preparing for a disaster – you are there for a fun trip! The key to keeping your waste under control on your trip is to plan ahead. When you're shopping, consider the packing materials that contain what you are buying. Food and bathroom supplies are big sources of packing material waste so either shop wisely or unwrap whatever you can at home and then repackage everything in bulk containers. When you're in the middle of the great outdoors enjoying the tranquil- ity that going off-grid brings, the last thing you want is a noisy, smelly generator buzzing around your camp. Installing a solar array to charge your RV house battery gets you power wherever you are and it's easier than ever due to technology improvements and a huge drop in solar panel prices. The tricky thing about a solar and battery storage system is that batteries can't capture all the electricity an array produces because the battery and array operate at different voltages. This voltage difference can cause up to 30% of the electricity to be lost in translation. Savvy RV technicians like those at Quartzsite who are experienced in putting solar arrays on RVs know the key to fixing this: an MPPT charge controller. An MPPT charge controller helps you get up to 30% more power from your solar system by regulating that voltage between the batteries and the solar panels. That way your batteries will receive all the power being harvested from the solar panels. And like any purchase you make for your RV, make sure you pick an MPPT charge control- 51 ler that is as rugged as the places you go boondocking. Bring plenty of water, keep an eye on your trash, and solarize your RV with an MPPT charge controller, and you will have a blast when you come boondocking at Quartzsite in January. When you leave Quartzsite, you will of course take everything you brought with you. But you'll also leave with new friends and boondocking expertise so you can finally go as far off-grid as you've been dreaming. Can't wait to see you there! Blue Sky Energy is the trusted, offgrid solar solutions provider with manufacturing operations in the U.S. They offer the largest collection of small, Military Standard-certified MPPT charge controllers, pairing dynamic solutions with unsurpassed quality and reliability. Fifteen years after introducing the first MPPT product to the clean energy community, Blue Sky Energy maintains its commitment to excellence in personalized customer service, philanthropy, and international relations with distribution to over 33 countries worldwide. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. Visit us online at Readership of free community papers is now higher than paid daily papers and continues to grow. And more than 70 percent of readers make their buying decisions from free paper advertising and editorial. Your free community paper, promoting connections at a local level – right under your nose. 928-916-4235 Email:

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