Ultimate Guide to Living Off Grid In A Motorhome

Make the move with these tips

Ultimate Guide to Living Off Grid In A Motorhome

If you’ve ever considered selling up the house, buying a motorhome, and living off-grid, you’re not alone. You get to enjoy the benefits of being rent- or mortgage-free, travel the country, and meet interesting new people. Talk about living the dream! And for increasing numbers of motorhome owners, it really is a dream come true. But before you stick a ‘for sale’ sign on the front lawn or hand your landlord your notice, it’s worth delving into the nitty gritty of off-grid living.

In this helpful guide, we’ll share practical tips about how to live off the grid, including:




Firstly, what does ‘living off the grid’ mean?


Living off-grid in a motorhome means that you’re not physically connected to the grid of utilities, in particular electricity. Rather than staying in a powered campsite in a campervan park with all the utilities at your fingertips, living off-grid is when you partake in ‘free camping’ on public land. That also usually means having no direct freshwater line. In other words, you rely completely on your own supply of power and water.


What are the benefits of living off-grid in Australia?


There are many benefits to living off-grid in your motorhome. Let’s take a look at just a few:


  • You’ll feel a great sense of independence and freedom

This is probably one of the main reasons why many motorhomers choose to live off-grid. Being fully independent is a pretty amazing feeling. Not only can you forget about power and water bills, but you can also forget about battling traffic on the way to work each day.

  • You could save money over time

When you live off-grid in a motorhome, you won’t have to worry about rent or mortgage payments, rates, and home maintenance costs. Although running a motorhome will have costs associated, these are likely to be less over time.

  • It is more sustainable

Living off-grid means you generate your own power through a solar set-up or generator. And because of the nature of off-grid living, you’re also likely to use less water and generate less waste.

  • You can drastically reduce your energy waste

Living in a motorhome means you’re naturally a lot more efficient with your energy use.

  • You’ll have the flexibility to live wherever and move around as you please

One of the biggest decisions to make when you live off-grid is around which views you want to wake up to. Feel like heading to the snow in winter? Always wanted to explore our national parks? Want to watch the sunset from your bedroom? It’s all possible!


How do you live off-grid in a motorhome?


There are a few considerations to take into account when you’re planning to live off-grid. The main ones are having your own source of electricity and water, and your own system for dealing with waste. You’ll also need to make sure you know where you can and can’t park, and that you’re taking steps to stay safe. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.


Find an approved place to park up 


lifestyle checking

Australia offers one incredible landscape after another. And it may be tempting to park up for the night in one that takes your fancy. But it pays to know that you can’t park just anywhere in your motorhome. There are different parking regulations for each state. So it’s important you familiarise yourself with the free camping rules to ensure you are complying no matter where you choose to adventure.

This is also a consideration for longer-term parking. If your vehicle is within the size requirements, you can park your motorhome in residential areas indefinitely in some states. But, again, it is worthwhile to do your research and understand the local regulations around parking a motorhome.

To help, we recommend you download the thl Roadtrip app. This handy app features holiday park campsites, free campgrounds, and national park sites. You can use the app to find the nearest sites along your journey. You can also use the app to find public toilets, dump sites, gas stations, and just about anything else.



Choose an alternative energy source 


When you’re living off-grid, you won’t be plugged into a power source. Two good alternatives are:


Generators produce both 240V AC and 12V DC power. A generator plugs into your RV and acts the same as shore power does. They are a good solution for power-hungry appliances. Although not quite as powerful, it’s very effective at charging your 12V battery and running most appliances. The downsides are that sometimes an external generator can be quite loud. They can also be quite heavy and require fuel that you’ll need to carry with you. Bear this in mind if you have a minimal payload.


Harness the sun’s free power:

Solar panels work by converting sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. An inverter then converts the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity to be used from your RV’s power points.

The size of your solar power system is measured in watts: the higher the wattage, the more energy it will produce (depending on the amount and intensity of sunlight received). Solar panels are particularly efficient as they are always charging when the sun is out. And in Australia, the chances of that are usually pretty good.


Try and limit the power you use 


Whether you use solar or a generator for power, it’s helpful to try and be as efficient with your power as possible. Some ways to do this include:

  • Use LED lights rather than tungsten bulbs.
  • Angle/move portable solar panels with the sun as it changes throughout the day.
  • Make sure your motorhome is well insulated for winter, so you won’t need as much heating. Having double-glazed windows is also helpful.
  • Use appliances that are as energy efficient as possible. Some appliances use much more power than others. As a general rule, appliances that generate heat or cold (plug-in heaters, hair dryers, fridges, and air conditioning units) all use a fair chunk of power.
  • Charge your devices as you drive.



Find an alternative way to access the internet 


Whether you work from your motorhome, or you just want to stay in touch with friends and family as you travel, having good internet access is a must. Although you will often be able to hook up to free Wi-Fi in places like cafes and libraries, you may prefer to set up your motorhome with internet capability.

There are a couple of options to do this. One is to use a portable Wi-Fi device which has a pre-paid SIM card such as Telstra’s Nighthawk M2. The other option is to use a portable Wi-Fi modem that can be fitted to your RV. There are several providers available – some include their own data plans, or you can choose your own provider.



Get an extra freshwater storage tank 


If you are living off-grid, especially if you’re travelling remotely, you won’t want to run out of fresh water. How much water you will need will depend on the number of travellers, and how often you use it. You’ll need to factor in the various uses for fresh water each day including:


  • Drinking
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning teeth
  • Washing hands
  • Flushing the toilet
  • Washing dishes
  • Showering


TOP TIP: Read our helpful guide on everything you need to know about putting water in your RV.



Determine your showering method 


There’s nothing quite as luxurious as having a hot shower after a day of exploring. Some motorhomes have hot water systems installed. Others may not have a shower system at all. If not, you may have to find alternative ways to have a shower. A few ideas include:

  • Use a portable solar shower.
  • Use public facilities at beaches.
  • Get a membership to a nationwide gym or recreation centre where you can use the showers (and work out!).
  • Use the thl Roadtrip app to locate the nearest shower facility.



Make sure you have a waste storage tank 


Disposing of your waste responsibly is an important aspect of living off-grid. Dumping waste inappropriately can be harmful to our precious environment, and to human health. We encourage free campers to Leave No Trace. You should check your campsite before you leave and always respect cultural heritage sites.

Not all freedom camping spots will have waste disposal areas. This means you’ll have to keep a record of when you need to empty your waste and plan a trip to a dump site. If you are unsure of how to do this, do some research on how to dispose of RV waste responsibly. You can search out the nearest dump site to your location using the thl Roadtrip app.



Tips for staying safe when living off the grid


It’s important to think about personal safety when you’re living off-grid. Here are a few tips:

    • Regularly service your campervan. The last thing you want when you’re travelling is an unexpected breakdown.
    • Store your valuables safely. Don’t tempt opportunistic thieves by leaving valuables in sight when you’re away from your motorhome. Remember to pack away your gear each night.
    • Avoid poorly lit, remote areas. Where possible, take advantage of designated free camping areas which are generally safe.
    • Park your campervan to face the exit. This way, it’s easier to leave during the night if you feel unsafe.
    • Pack a first aid kit and fire safety equipment such as fire alarms and an extinguisher.
    • Stay in contact with friends or family so they know where you are.
    • Check the weather forecast regularly so that you can hunker down somewhere safe if needed.



Go off-grid with KEA 


Now that you’ve got the low down on going off-grid, it could be time to take the first step and start looking at motorhomes for sale. And one of the best places to look is at KEA ex-rental campervans for sale.

KEA’s RVs are made especially for Australia’s unique road conditions. From two-person Toyota Hiace campervans for couples and singles to six-berth motorhomes for travelling with family and friends, KEA has an RV for every traveller.

Need more information or advice? Our helpful team of experts is always available to answer your questions so please do contact us for a friendly chat. We are always happy to help!

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