Do you enjoy camping in rustic forest service campsites without hookups? Maybe you like your campsites even more primitive and secluded and opt for dispersed camping, also known by RVers as boondocking. If you are camping without hookups either in a campground or in the boondocks then you are “dry camping”. Dry camping is typically defined as camping without hooking up the RV to a water spigot, electrical service or a sewer system.

One great thing about dry camping is you can enjoy all the creature comforts of home without the need for shore power (120 volt electrical outlet).  RVers can do it all with the 12 volts supplied by their batteries,  powering lights, TV, heater fan, radio, water pump, exhaust fans and the electronics that keep our refrigerator and water heater operating.

In fact, a dry camper could lose their entire 120 volt system in their RV and get along just fine. On the other hand, lose your 12 volt system and you are surrendering your idyllic campsite for a distant RV repair shop. However, if you have some basic tools and knowledge of the 12 volt system you can relax and stay put. 12 volts is one of the most important systems in your RV and one of the most likely to need repair. Fortunately, it is also the most field repairable in terms of parts, diagnostics, tools and repair time.

A basic 12 volt repair kit can be assembled with the following items:


Various Crimp Connectors, Fuses & Wire:            
For parts you will need a selection of 12 volt fuses compatible to your RV, some crimp connectors of various sizes and styles and a short length of 14 gauge wire or two. Sorry you MacGyver types, foil gum wrappers has no place in your 12 volt repair kit


kit 1

At the minimum, your kit should include a pair of lineman pliers, electrical tape and a 12 volt test light. If you want the “full monty”, you can add an inexpensive volt ohm meter and a pair of wire crimps/strippers. Either way, you will spend less than $25 on your 12 volt tool kit. If you are wondering where to find inexpensive tools, fuses and tape to stock your kit try Harbor Freight Tools.

For diagnostics and repair you will need some basic low voltage electrical knowledge and assurance. 12 volt repair is easier than you think and you need not be fearful. Many of the problems you are likely to encounter will be easy to solve, such as open circuits in the form of blown fuses or loose connections. Concerning safety, under normal circumstances, 12 volts will not deliver a shock and is highly unlikely to cause harm to your body as shore power can.

To gain head knowledge you should camp with a friend that is a seasoned RV owner asking them to share their 12 volt knowledge and experiences.  Next, attend a seminar or two by leading experts like "The RV Doctor" Gary Bunzer.  Gary is scheduled to speak at the 2017 Seattle RV Show February 9th – 12th and Puyallup RV Show May 4th – 7th.

Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.

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