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Old 05-03-2014, 01:55 AM   #1
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How to dry-camp forever (almost) and a few other tips....

Thought I'd share with everyone here some dry-camping solutions which have become vital for us in our 19' Bambi International. A few are more for convenience and a few others really let us be out dry-camping for an almost indefinite amount of time. Now, instead of worrying about our grey-tank filling up or worrying about power and having to run our generator, these few things we have done have alleviated a lot of that "stress", so to speak.



1) SOLAR: this is by far one of the best investments we could have made. We had the option of going with one 100-watt plus a 2nd 60-watt panel (160 total), but went with two 60-watt panels (120 total). The 100 watt panel, in my opinion, would have stuck out too far off the sides and for our needs I figured the two 60-watt panels would be enough. With this setup so far our batteries have never run lower than 5/8 and if we are in full sun we are topped off by noon to 1 o'clock.

In full sun we typically get a charge like this:


2) TONGUE-JACK RELOCATE: I have this 2nd on here because it's important for us. It may not mean anything to you. We haul or motorcycles she we travel and to do this we have to have the truck-bed gate down. The lack of clearance would make turning a bit of a problem, so we had the dealer move the propane tanks back (they welded a bracket over the battery box) and turn the tongue-jack sideways. Not a problem for me since this only means that the light mounted on the jack now faces to the left instead of forward. I never use it so no big deal. Anyway, this, along with what I believe is the longest hitch that "equalizer" (distribution hitch) makes, allows us to tow the bikes AND the Airstream with no problem.






3) DINETTE LIGHT SWITCH INSTALL: something that drove me crazy from day one was how we had to have FIVE lights on in order to use the ONE light that is above the dinette table. Easy fix.....asked the dealer to put it on its own switch. The easiest place to put it was right next to the stereo (see pic below). Problem solved. We typically use this light, the one over the sink and the one in the back, under the storage cabinet. As you can imagine, these 3 LED lights use minimal power.




4) WATER PUMP & BUCKET(S): if you're like us and actually like to shower every day, you'll find that the grey tank fills up pretty quick when you do. This along with dish-washing and you're looking for a dump station before you know it. The solutions for us are....

A) Shower: plug the drain, then use this (see picture below) to drain the water into a bucket allowing you to dispose of the water outside. I'm all for being environmentally friendly, but seriously, no different than a tent camper showering outside with a solar shower. (Bought on amazon: Amazon.com : Attwood WaterBuster Portable Pump : Boating Bilge Pumps : Sports & Outdoors)

B) Kitchen sink: we found that camco makes this bin that fits perfectly into the kitchen sink. Again, same as the shower. This water never makes it down the drain. That sink is so small anyway that sometimes it easier to wash things outside. Towards the end of a trip, once we know we're heading home, we'll let a few showers go down the drain so we have something the flush our hose withe when we dump. (bought on amazon: Amazon.com: Camco 43516 Mini Dish Pan: Automotive)






5) 7-gallon water containers and funnel: We keep a couple of 7-gallon water containers in the back of the truck, along with a hose and a hose-filter. If we need water, we fill these and use the funnel to re0-fill the camper. Pretty simple.

7-Gallon water container: At REI. Link HERE

Funnel: Amazon.com: Lumax LX-1613 Black 1-1/2 Quart Multi-Purpose Combination Funnel with Flex Spout: Automotive


6) LED Motion-sensing Light - We typically camp in remote places and having some lights come on when someone or someTHING walks around our camper is pretty nice. I set out 5 of these lights around our camper when we setup and just turn them off when I go outside in the morning. They're magnetic and attach easily to the left and right side of the A-frame as well as the left and right side of the rear bumper. They also have a hook that folds out. I hang one on the awning arm right by the door. As soon as I open the door, the light comes on.

These are the ones I bought:
Amazon.com: Ivation 6 LED Automatic Motion-sensing Night Light - Battery Powered Hallway Light with a Built in Motion and Light Sensor -With Adjustable Brightness and Adjustable Light Timer (20/60/90 Seconds): Kitchen & Dining

Here you can see the lights on just before dark:









7) SUBWOOFER DELETE: We use a wireless (Jawbone Jambox) Bluetooth speaker instead of the stereo that camp with our camper. For me it's just easier to use with iTunes/iPhone (yes I know the factory stereo has Bluetooth). It's not worth the power it uses either. Subsequently, the subwoofer taking up space under the dinette seat (behind the drawer by the door) was something we could definitely do without as well. If we do ever want to use the stereo, we still can. So, out with the subwoofer. We had a small canvas storage cube that fit perfectly. I use it to bring things back and forth to the camper (binoculars, lenses, rechargeable batteries, etc).




8) Low voltage hair dryer: I know what you ladies are thinking. "All this talk of power...how do you expect me to dry my hair without that generator??". Below is the solution I came up with for my wife. Don't let the title scare you. It's a hair dryer like any other one AND it works perfectly with our 750 watt inverter:

Andis Gentle Dry 650 Low Watt Pet Dryer
Amazon.com: Andis Gentle Dry 650 Low Watt Pet Dryer: Pet Supplies
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Old 05-03-2014, 02:20 AM   #2
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What a fantastic write up. Thanks
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Old 05-03-2014, 05:23 AM   #3
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Some great ideas here! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-03-2014, 05:41 AM   #4
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This is really great information. We like the 16 Bambi a lot. But my big concern is not the size, it's water management and power. I think we could manage to add or do all of these things and that would really put to rest all of our concerns.

Can you give more info on the bilge pump and the shower? How large (gallons) a bucket do you drain into? Does the pump run continuously when switched on? I think with the 4 feet of head, and the "doggie door" to the outdoor shower pass through on the bambi 16, that one person could be using the shower, and the second could be outside tending the pump and bucket.
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Old 05-03-2014, 05:59 AM   #5
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How often do the motion sensor lights need battery replacement?

And, being nearly bald, I have little experience with hair dryers, but have you had any luck with the 12 volt variety? Not having to run an inverter for the 120 volt one should result in a power saving, but I wouldn't know how well they work
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Old 05-03-2014, 07:13 AM   #6
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Thanks for the air dryer suggestion. I have looked and looked but I didn't find any like the one you suggested. I did not think to look in the Pet Section. If anyone finds a 12V one that would be even better.

The next electrical appliance I need to look for is a toaster. We have a metal contraption that fits over the propane burner, but we don't really like the toast that comes out. Does anyone have a toaster they like, either for the stove top or a low voltage electric one?
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Old 05-03-2014, 07:28 AM   #7
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I'm not poo-pooing your grey water management, we dump "clean" grey water when we have to, but if you are going to dump it on the ground, why go through all the elaborate hardware?

Just attach a garden hose to the existing tank dump plumbing and direct the waste water somewhere out of the way.


On edit: It occurred to me after posting that your trailer may have only one holding tank. If that is the case, please forgive me.

Nice solar setup, thanks for that info.


Regards,


JD
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Old 05-03-2014, 07:33 AM   #8
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great ideas especially about the showers and lights
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Old 05-03-2014, 07:57 AM   #9
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If you're camping out of the way, then this book gives good advice on how to dispose of waste:

How to **** in the Woods, 3rd Edition: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art: Kathleen Meyer: 9781580083638: Amazon.com: Books
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Old 05-03-2014, 10:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAH View Post
The next electrical appliance I need to look for is a toaster. We have a metal contraption that fits over the propane burner, but we don't really like the toast that comes out. Does anyone have a toaster they like, either for the stove top or a low voltage electric one?
If you have a 2014 the standard inverter option is now a 1000 watt sine wave inverter. (About a $700 extra). I have found a regular small 120 volt toaster, rated in the range of 800 to 900 watts, works fine on mine. Just look on the bottom for the watt rating, virtually all of them state it.

The inverter will draw about 90 amps when making toast, but for a brief period. Lets say it is 3 minutes. That is 1/20 of an hour, and at 90 amps / 20 = 4.5 amp hours for toast. If you have two 75 amp hour batteries each, that is not a very serious energy demand. On a solar recharge, depending on the panel size, half hour to an hour to put it back.

I like "real" toast from an electric toaster....lol.
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Old 05-03-2014, 11:21 AM   #11
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Thanks GP1152!

Those are all great ideas!

I'm especially liking the light switch for the dinette light. That light situation has made me nuts since day one. I'm going to look into adding a switch for ours, thanks to you.

We also have solar on ours (thank you AMSolar!) and I agree, it's the best thing ever.

Thanks again for the great write-up.

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Old 05-03-2014, 12:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piggy Bank View Post
This is really great information. We like the 16 Bambi a lot. But my big concern is not the size, it's water management and power. I think we could manage to add or do all of these things and that would really put to rest all of our concerns.

Can you give more info on the bilge pump and the shower? How large (gallons) a bucket do you drain into? Does the pump run continuously when switched on? I think with the 4 feet of head, and the "doggie door" to the outdoor shower pass through on the bambi 16, that one person could be using the shower, and the second could be outside tending the pump and bucket.
We (briefly) had a 16 and some of these ideas came from our experience with it. These will work great for you, no problem. We can be out camping for a week, check the grey-tank and it'll still read 1/8 or so. As I mentioned before, the only thing you'll be worrying about is the "black" part of the tank in your 16 bambi.

To answer your question about the water pump.....I personally wouldn't go through the trouble of using a hose and making it a 2-person job. The pump and the bucket is MUCH easier if you ask me (even with the doggy door). The pump is meant to be placed IN the water. So what you'd do is plug the shower drain, shower, then when done grab the bucket and the pump. Place the pump on the shower floor, hold the self contained hose into the bucket and turn on the pump. The bucket is about 2 gallons, and is about what a decent shower will be. The pump stays on when you hit the power button (you don't have to hold it down) and it'll take you about 45 seconds to drain those 2 gallons. It runs on D-batteries. We've had the pump for over a year and have yet to change the batteries. To give you an idea as to the use we've given it, we've camped over 120 days in the last year and have yet to change the batteries.
Hope this helps

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
How often do the motion sensor lights need battery replacement?

And, being nearly bald, I have little experience with hair dryers, but have you had any luck with the 12 volt variety? Not having to run an inverter for the 120 volt one should result in a power saving, but I wouldn't know how well they work
I bought rechargeable batteries for them and typically just pull them out and take them home to charge after each trip or every couple of trips (depending how long we're gone).

Quote:
Originally Posted by RAH View Post
Thanks for the air dryer suggestion. I have looked and looked but I didn't find any like the one you suggested. I did not think to look in the Pet Section. If anyone finds a 12V one that would be even better.
My wife is something of a hairdryer snob and is pretty picky about what she uses (I have heard a lot about ceramic this and that when it comes to hairdryers). She says this is a good compromise so I'm assuming it works pretty damn well for her.
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Old 05-03-2014, 12:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
I'm not poo-pooing your grey water management, we dump "clean" grey water when we have to, but if you are going to dump it on the ground, why go through all the elaborate hardware?

Just attach a garden hose to the existing tank dump plumbing and direct the waste water somewhere out of the way.


On edit: It occurred to me after posting that your trailer may have only one holding tank. If that is the case, please forgive me.

Nice solar setup, thanks for that info.


Regards,


JD
Hi JD. That's a legitimate point and solution, but here are a few reasons why we don't do that:

1) Although I'm not dumping anything toxic or anything that will do any damage to what's around us, I still wouldn't want to dump it all in one concentrated area. Not trying to be funny when I say this, but I try and give the bucket a pretty good heave when I dump it. This way at least it's spread out and will stay on the surface and evaporate quicker/easier.

2) This really, to me, is a much cleaner solution. I'd rather not have to carry an extra hose, then, since it will likely be running along a dirt or gravel camp area, also have to clean the hose before storing it.

3) The perception of a hose running straight out of our camper likely won't sit well with other campers.

(We do have 2 separate tanks)
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Old 05-03-2014, 12:51 PM   #14
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Love the motion detection light idea, have to get me some of them.
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