If you want to boondock with even a modest amount of comfort you're going to need electricity. Some people need very little while other people need the same amount they had at home, but whatever amount it is you're going to need some. Your at least are going to want to have a fan to cool the area off, a way to charge your cell phone and your camera battery, a way to keep your food and drinks cool, and an electric pump so you can have running water would be nice.
Now I know that you can do some of these things with your car battery, but if you're going to depend on running your engine to charge your battery up that's going to get real expensive real quick. Which brings us to the reason for this post which is “how to get electricity while Boondocking”.
The two most common ways to get electricity if you don't have hookups are, a generator, or a battery bank..... I'll bet you thought I was going to say solar panels, but actually the solar panels are just the way that you charge up your battery bank, your power comes from your battery bank. Now I know that some people use the wind generators, and that is another way of generating electricity. but my experience has been that I don't see many of them out in the desert, some but not many. There kind of difficult to deal with since you have to put them up on a tall pole, and the ones that I've been around make a very annoying noise that will probably bother your neighbors as much as a generator does. But I've never owned one myself and I've only talked to a couple of people that have, so I don't have much of anything useful that I can say about them.
As with everything in life there is good and bad with both of these ways of getting electricity. With the generator it's usually at least somewhat noisy, it burns fuel, it needs maintenance, oh and did I mention that it's noisy, and some of your neighbors will hate you. Okay maybe the word hate is a little strong, but people boondock for a variety of reasons and a couple of those reasons are PEACE, and QUIET.
There are a few good things about them, but not many. They are relatively cheap to buy, [ but the cheaper they are the noiser they are ]. And the bigger ones will run your air conditioner, [ but the bigger they are the noisier they are].And they work when the sun was not shining.I know that sounds like faint praise but that's about the best I can come up with.
The other most common way of generating electricity, is a battery bank charged by solar panels and it may not be perfect but at least it doesn't make noise all night long.
The downside of a battery bank and solar panels is, it's kind of expensive to set it all up, but you can save a bundle if you do-it-yourself. And your batteries won't last very long if you don't take care of them properly. Lead acid batteries with the proper care can last 8 to 12 years before they have to be replaced. The only other downside I can think of is that a normal battery bank won't run the air conditioner, or electric heaters. I've seen a battery bank in a bus that could run the air conditioner, but most RVs could not carry that much weight.
The upside is there silent, very very silent, and a system thats set up properly requires that you do almost nothing to it, for me that means about once a month I put some water in the batteries and that's all the maintenance I do. Now that I've gotten used to my system I don't think much about the electricity anymore. I just use what I want whenever I want, and the solar panels charge up the battery bank the next morning.
There are changes coming that will revolutionize future battery power for RVs that you can actually buy right now but it's very expensive. And it's called Lithium Iron Phosphate, AKA... LiFePO . When this type of battery becomes more affordable it will be the best thing to happen to Boondocking since solar panels.
There's all kinds of great things about them, the batteries are much lighter than lead batteries, they charge quicker, they last longer, there smaller in size, and a whole lot more, but they're very expensive. A normal RV 500 amp battery bank cost in the neighborhood of $3000. But when mass production brings this cost down a bit they will definitely be the way to go.
My favorite way of generating electricity for Boondocking is obviously a battery bank charged by solar panels. I studied the various ways before I put my solar panels on, and it seemed like for my lifestyle that was going to be the best way to go. When I decided to live in the Arctic Fox full-time one of the goals I had was to simplify my life, and I believed then and I still believe now that a battery bank charged by solar panels is the simplest most worry free way to get electricity while your Boondocking.