People are drawn to RVing by a desire for freedom and adventure, but there’s a common misconception that full-time RV life will be straightforward and inexpensive. In reality, making a success of it takes planning, preparation, research, and trial and error. Luckily, there are plenty of guides and forums to help new RVers move away from the sticks-and bricks lifestyle! More experienced RVers will be familiar with two key principles. Firstly, with enough planning, RVing doesn’t have to be expensive—it’s possible to live a very frugal lifestyle while touring the country in your mobile home. Secondly, DIY is your best friend and a favourite pastime of much of the RV community. Bringing these two ideas together, here are five DIY tips to make your RV more cost- and energy-efficient.
RV Window Shades
RVs are not naturally heat-efficient and quite a lot of your battery power will go on temperature control. By installing custom RV window shades, you can reduce the amount of power you need for the HVAC system. This is especially true of blackout shades, which trap heat inside the RV in winter to keep out cold drafts!
RV window shades are equally valuable for snowbirds who go south in the winter. As the name suggests, they create much-needed shade when you’re camping in an exposed spot in summer. If you don’t want to rise with the sun, RV window shades keep your mobile home cool and dark, preventing excess heat and light from waking you before you’re ready. This saves you money by reducing your reliance on the A/C and allowing you to conserve battery power. By preventing the sun from heating the RV’s interior, window shades also keep your mobile home cooler while you’re out hiking, exploring, or visiting the local town.
As well as an energy-saving measure, RV window shades prevent strangers from seeing into your home. This is extremely valuable in places with limited privacy, like public car parks, trucking rest stops, and busy campsites. RV window shades create privacy when you’re in the RV, and extra security when you aren’t!
LED RV Lighting
For longer-term RV residents, small power savings quickly mount up! LED lighting is a popular energy-saving method in sticks-and-bricks homes, but is also very effective in RVs. By switching to high-efficiency bulbs, you can reduce power wastage. This lets your house battery bank last longer between charges, empowering you to spend more time boondocking, dry camping, and exploring free, undeveloped campsites without Shore Power.
It isn’t just interior lights that you can switch to LED—to optimize savings, try upgrading your exterior RV lights and even your trailer brake lights! You can get LED lights in a range of colours, from cozy and warm to cool and sophisticated. This makes it easy to find the right lighting for your home.
Shore Power is an essential part of RV life, whether you regularly stay in long-term RV parks, or prefer to hunt out secluded spots in national and regional parks. Shore Power allows you to charge your house battery bank while stationary, without idling or starting your engine. However, in large campsites and RV parks, the level of current can be unreliable. A surge in power could cause expensive damage to your electronics. To avoid this, it’s best to install a surge protector to shield your devices against electrical overload and prevent circuit overuse in your RV. A more advanced surge protector will also be able to detect the status of the power source. These superior surge protectors often include a polarity tester as well.
Lithium RV Batteries
A house battery bank is a key RV feature if you don’t want to be limited to camping spots with Shore Power. From adventurous RVers boondocking in remote beauty spots, to frugal RVers wallydocking or moochdocking in a friend’s driveway, reliable batteries are a must-have.
Lead-acid batteries make good starter batteries, but we recommend using lithium house batteries to power your electronics and kitchen appliances when your engine’s off. Lithium RV batteries like our LightningVolt™ run twice as long between charges due to greater depth of discharge. They’re built for repeated deep discharge, so their overall lifetime is also 10× longer—in the time you’d replace 10 lead-acid batteries, you only need 1 LightningVolt™. Discover why we think LightningVolt™ are the best lithium RV batteries here, or head to our RV page for purchase options!
Installing RV solar panels isn’t just eco-friendly, it also saves you lots of money! By generating your own power, you reduce the fuel needed to charge your house batteries. As an added bonus, this means you can travel to more remote spots without your batteries running down. If you have the right DIY skills, you can save even more money by installing your own panels. There are lots of forums and videos online to guide you through the process and recommend the best panels.
Disclaimer: If you don’t have the electrical and technical knowledge to install solar panels, you can have it done professionally. We’d only advise carrying out electrical upgrades yourself if you have the relevant skills and experience.