Is an electric hook up worth it? Small electric appliances?

Discussion in 'First Time & New Camper Owners' started by jasba, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. jasba

    jasba Member

    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    We recently bought our first popup after extensive tent camping over the years. We have always been very well organized and prepared. Now I am wondering which items we could change in our system now that we have a camper that can use electric hookups.

    Are hookups worth paying extra for with a popup [?]

    So far I see a benefit in charging our phones/tablets, using bunk-end fans, and maybe using a toaster and coffeemaker. I am not sure if these items are worth paying for an electrical hookup though. Can the battery power them [?] We will probably be doing most of our cooking outside with our Coleman stove or the campfire.

    If we do pay for hookups is it worth picking up a small microwave [?]

    If we aren't using the hookup perks was it really worth upgrading to a popup [?]

    I would love your thoughts.
     
  2. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

    Messages:
    2,079
    Likes Received:
    9
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Sorry but most of those are personal preference questions that you are best suited to answer for yourself.

    We'll share our opinions but take them for that, our own opinions.

    Having spent 15 years tent camping only, I understand the root of the question. We never used electric sites when camping with a tent.

    Life can be different in a PUP, especially depending on where and when you camp. We spend much of our camping in the southern states in the summer, so 30 amp electric service is a requirement for us so we can use the air conditioner.

    In the cooler months, I like electric as we can run a couple of electric heaters at night to keep the PUP above 60 degrees without using any propane or battery for the LP furnace.

    I still do much of the cooking outside over the trusty ole Coleman stove with the lantern going next to it, etc. I push the kids out the door more often than not to get them into the outdoors more. It's all in how you adjust and change as time goes by as to whether or not you'll use electric.

    It is nice to have a microwave. I threw one into the first PUP we had and it served well. It's fun making coffee mug brownies in the microwave. S'mores done in the microwave...total bust. Don't even try it. Not when there's a handy fire ring nearby.

    To answer some of your other questions, the onboard battery can power most of the things you mentioned. It cannot power 120v AC appliances like a toaster and coffee maker. You first have to have a power INVERTER (different from the power CONVERTER in your PUP) and THEN you have to have LOTS of battery reserve as those resistance-based heating appliances will suck a 12v DC battery dead in under an hour, then you're stuck. It is simply not feasible to run microwaves, coffee makers and other 120v AC appliances from battery.

    You can get the cigarette lighter 12v DC to 5v DC USB adapter/chargers as well as a cigarette lighter outlet for inside your PUP that you tie into the 12v system. This is very common so that you just bring along or keep in the PUP the USB charging cords.

    There are also 120v AC outlets with embedded USB charging ports that you can replace existing outlets. Those are nice. You just pick up an extra long Amazon Basic USB charging cable for cheap and charge away.
     
  3. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,100
    Likes Received:
    538
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2013
    Location:
    Mass
    Most non tent sites have electric and water. I am not sure how much you would save not having electricity. I have a coffee maker, microwave, phone chargers and two TV sets. I could do without the electricity and the popup is still a world of difference from tent camping.
     
  4. Kettlebelle

    Kettlebelle Member

    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    7
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2014
    I've only had an electric site one weekend in my life, and it was because we were tent camping in cold weather with a baby and wanted to use a space heater. Usually we camp in state or national parks with no electric option, so we are outfitted for dry camping in our popup. Which is definitely still worth it, yes! SO much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground and our camping gear is permanently packed! The furnace, fans, fridge etc. all run on propane and/or the 12 volt battery. We take along a fully charged battery pack for recharging our phones, kindles, etc., cook on a Coleman propane stove or backpacking butane stove, use a pour-over drip coffee device or a Presto MyJo, and have a folding Coleman "oven" that can sit atop the propane stove. I don't use a microwave much at home, just for thawing meat if I'm short on time, so I haven't missed it.
     
  5. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,827
    Likes Received:
    901
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    As others have stated, using power appliances is personal preference. We were ground campers for two decades, and the majority of our camping is still in dry campgrounds (no power or other hook-ups). However, we have found some things that are handy, and make use of them when we do have power.
    Some of the state and national parks we use here in the West (counting Colorado in that too) have started to add power to some sites. A few USFS campgrounds have it too, but that's pretty much an exception. Private campgrounds often have sites available with power and other hookups, and we do now use them as appropriate to our stop.
    The pop-ups extended our season, so being able to plug in a space heater (sole heat in our first pup, supplemental in our second one and TT) when the temps headed below freezing was great. We have also used electric mattress pads or blankets in cold weather.
    Small appliances we've tried have included electric skillet, toaster oven, microwave, laptops, chargers for the phone, Kindles, etc. Skillet went on one trip, toaster oven the same; I may try a smaller toaster oven this year, on a long solo back east. The microwave was installed in the TT, otherwise I doubt we'd spend the space. Both of our pups were small (6' and 8') so we didn't have much space for things like small appliances. (We removed the sink in both pups, to give us a tad more counter space.)
    We tend to cook mostly outside on the Coleman stove or inside on the LP stove (we were surprised how much we've used the inside stove - but not having to cook outside in a blowing gale is nice). If we have power, we take advantage of it to use the microwave, that and the actual 'fridge/freezer have added a lot of luxury to our camping and traveling.
    We have a solar panel, so we can recharge the battery, but we still conserve energy and don't run laptops, charge iPads or use and inverter.
     
  6. jasba

    jasba Member

    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Thanks for your replies so far. I realize a lot of it will be personal opinion but I really like to hear the thoughts of those who have gone through the switch before.
    I suspected as much as far as what a battery would be capable of powering. We do a lot of camping in Wisconsin State Parks which have a difference of about $10 per night for electric and water vs. not. Since we don't have an AC unit at this point so I don't know if I can really justify paying $20 extra over a weekend just to use a toaster and coffeemaker. I would love to find an alternative way to power them if possible, especially the coffeemaker. I am the only one who drinks coffee and using a stove is not nearly as convenient so I usually end up regretfully skipping my cup when camping.
    Kettlebelle, you said that your fans run off the battery. Is that correct? Our Jayco came with bunkend fans but I wasn't sure if we would really be able to use them without electricity.
     
  7. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

    Messages:
    2,079
    Likes Received:
    9
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    The fans that plug into the ceiling jacks for the bunk ends are fan/light combos and run from 12v DC, therefore your battery will power them.

    An alternative for decent coffee is the Starbucks Via packets that just go straight into hot water, or even the Folgers/Maxwell House tea bag style coffee packets. Individually wrapped and again only need a cup of hot water.
     
  8. Kettlebelle

    Kettlebelle Member

    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    7
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2014
    Yes, we have a Fan-tastic Vent Fan that can operate *only* on 12V, and two bunkend fans (and lights) that plug into 12volt jacks in the light fixtures. You'll have to try it out and see!

    If you like toast, let me tell you toast is much tastier when fried in bacon grease over the fire or stove. :)

    There are some coffee-specific threads on another board. I've used a Coleman Propane Coffee Maker, which worked well but is better for large crowds - and usually it's just me and DH. Then we switched to the GSI Ultralight Java Drip which works great and takes no space. I just picked up a MyJo on clearance at Walmart and we'll be giving that a try since we often have a bunch of k-cup type pods on hand and will be good for hotel travel since it can be microwaved.
     
  9. WingShot

    WingShot New Member

    Messages:
    632
    Likes Received:
    14
    Joined:
    May 14, 2014
    Our PU has never been plugged in at a campground...sure hope we haven't wasted all those great times without electricity! [;)]

    The battery powers our lights, bunk fans (yes, yours are 12V), water pump, radio, and furnace fan. Then we run a quiet, little Yamaha inverter/generator for a few hours during the day to keep it charged up. Hot water, fridge, and heat are all on propane.

    Portable devices are generally charged inside the tow vehicle when not in use. But we recently got a portable power bank from Cisco, that will come in handy as well.

    For coffee, I use a camping style French Press (http://www.gsioutdoors.com/personal-javapress-blue.html) and boil water on the propane stove. Doesn't take too long and it's one of my morning rituals that I enjoy.
     
  10. Scotia 55

    Scotia 55 Member

    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    I agree with Kettlebelle! Lots of posts here about coffee. As K. mentioned the Coleman Propane is a good choice. If you have boiling water you can go for the GSI Java Drip or any number of " French Press " style coffee makers.

    If coffee is your main concern for going to a hydro site then you have lots of options.

    We generally do the electric sites as DW is happy with hydro. Enough said!
     
  11. Adirondack PUP

    Adirondack PUP Active Member

    Messages:
    323
    Likes Received:
    33
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Upstate New York
    I use a Jet Boil with a French Press kit or an AeroPress for first coffee. Usually made before leaving the pop up. Then a percolator goes on the stove or fire for more coffee once we/I are up and cooking breakfast.
     
  12. Redbird

    Redbird Member

    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2016
    Location:
    West Michigan, USA
    We won't change too much about our camping style even with a PUP. A PUP to me is pretty much still a tent, but lifted off the ground, with a few more electrical outlets. We will still do the vast majority of our cooking outdoors, but sleeping will be far more comfortable than in a tent, especially for those we sometimes bring along with us (such as my parents, who are in their 60s). The extra storage and being basically ready to head out on a trip "on the fly" with most of the gear already stowed and organized is another huge bonus.

    If you have a PUP and choose a site with electricity, you don't *have* to bring a microwave, a toaster, a coffee maker, your laptop, etc. It depends on what makes you comfortable and what defines "camping" to you. What I can live without others might see as a priority. (Plenty of people like to take their PUPs boondocking, too...there's no hookups out in the middle of nowhere, either :) ).
     
  13. lonewolf465

    lonewolf465 Member

    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    9
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    We are old backpackers and tenters. We now have an a-frame. I pulled out the microwave for extra storage last year. Because we never used electric hookups. This winter I pulled out the heat pump for the same reasons. We still have a propane furnance for heat. To each, their own. I have a small inverter to charge camera batteries. [ALPU] [PUT]
     
  14. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,563
    Likes Received:
    562
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Location:
    Santa Clarita, California
    I usually camp at hook up sites... comfortable and easy to cook breakfast with my electric griddle. I used electric hot water kettle to boil water for coffee with Starbucks packs. I love to use LED rope at nights when crowd comes to my popup for a card game.
     
  15. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,827
    Likes Received:
    901
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
  16. Zephyr

    Zephyr Active Member

    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    53
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2013
    Location:
    central Oregon
    We were tent campers in a little car for 30 years and we still camp with much of the same cooking gear. In general, we won't pay extra for an electric hookup unless the weather is bad (furnace fan running a lot and no chance of recharging with the solar panel). No electric appliances for us, because they take up too much space. DH makes coffee with a pour over funnel thing (when dry camping) or an IKEA stove-top expresso maker (it's messier to clean, so only when campground water is available).

    But you have to decide what works for you at the places you camp. Your gear needs/wants may vary with each trip.
     
  17. cdn_tbird

    cdn_tbird Member

    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2013
    We've always booked an electrical site even with tents. We love being as close to the lake as possible so being able to run an electric heater to deal with the dampness and coolness at night is nice. Another nice bonus is that the electrical site tend to be a bit bigger where we camp so the extra space for the kids is great. Cooking has always been either over the camp fire or our trusty Coleman.
     
  18. West Coast Canuck

    West Coast Canuck Jumped to the dark side ......

    Messages:
    1,637
    Likes Received:
    56
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
    It is handy for the heater if you have one...the blower draws a fair amount of juice which could drain the battery in just a few hours. I never used a power site until we got our TT. We pretty much have all the creature comforts of home. But we still camp at non powered sites a majority of the time. We have a inverter generator for topping the battery.
     
  19. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,100
    Likes Received:
    538
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2013
    Location:
    Mass
    Having water is nice. Being able to brush your teeth and wash your hands in the camper is worth $20 for the weekend.
     
  20. redneckgearhead

    redneckgearhead New Member

    Messages:
    376
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2015
    The only electronic device I have to have is a fan. I can't sleep without it, it helps drown out the noise of my fellow campers so I'm not waking to every noise.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.