Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We invested in a whole solar array on our 5th wheel. We then invested in all new LED bulbs, 12v appliances and small inverters for charging our computers and cameras. With all this investment we seldom need or want electric service.
In many cases we are forced to pay for it anyway as many private, state and federal parks do not offer a choice of dry camping. In the good ole days you couldn't find hook-ups and now it is just the opposite. Are we just getting too old for our own good? We want simple and cheap, yet the RV industry is going complicated and expensive.
--Sunny side up in Sedona
Part of learning the RV lifestyle is understanding all the subtle nuances of finding what you are looking for. 1st, question everything. Many times things are not as they seem. For example: A park website may not offer dry camping, when in reality it is available. You just have to ask.
As more and more people are investing in solar, park managers realize there is a demand for sites not offering and charging for electricity. In many cases, management will give you a regular site and padlock the electric box. It can mean a substantial savings.
Many parks are now going to ala carte electric service. In that case you have the option of using it or not. Many state parks have found an extra income stream in offering overflow camping instead of turning people away. This usually entails camping in a parking lot with no utilities. Being solarized can come in very handy when this situation arises.
Depending on how you travel, a solar investment can pay for itself very quickly. The beauty of it is not having to give up any creature comforts if you are conservative with power usage.
With enough mileage under your belt you eventually understand the various management styles of various state run parks. They all have different fee schedules, annual passes, senior discounts, etc. Many Federal parks are going to concessions and things change every year.
You will find a treasure trove of information online and from fellow travelers, but always check ahead of time with management for current information. When in doubt, ask. The worst thing that can happen is you will find you have no option in the matter. When it is cold or hot and you need heat or air conditioning, that A/C might look pretty good.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink