Newsflash - Electricity is Not Free 

Looks like we're in for a hot summer. Luckily many Boondockers Welcome hosts generously offer electric hookups so travellers can run their AC.

 

Wait - that's not exactly true. 

 

Yes, they offer electricity. But it's not free. Someone has to pay for it! If not the traveling RVer, then the host is paying. And running your air conditioning off their generously offered electric hookup is often beyond what they had intended.

 

We named the web site "Boondockers Welcome" for a reason. We ask hosts to offer free boondocking - camping without hookups. We never expected any of them to offer free electricity. And we certainly don't expect them to be out-of-pocket when they welcome guests.

 

Accepting Generosity or Exploiting it?

There's more than a fine line between the two. 

 

Ninety nine percent of our traveling members are gracious guests.  But this year's early heat wave triggered a few complaints about guests who were obviously not - hence this newsletter topic.

 

Many hosts don't request payment for electric hookups. In most areas of North America, RV power consumption to operate a TV, lights, charge a laptop, or make a pot of coffee may add a dollar or two to an electric bill. Most hosts don't seem too bothered by that. Running air conditioning or heating is, however, a different story. The added cost can be $5 to $10 per day or possibly even more.

 

Regardless of whether a host requests compensation, guests who take advantage of electric hookups to run AC or heaters and don't offer to compensate the host are being presumptuous, and possibly even rude.

 

BW hosts are extremely generous but they are not operating a charity. If they think their generosity is being exploited, they may decide to remove their offer of electric or cancel their listing altogether.  And who can blame them?

 

Guidelines for Compensation of Costs

While we still believe in the common courtesy approach and that the onus should be on guests to donate, pay, or otherwise ensure they compensate hosts for any costs incurred, some hosts as well as guests have requested guidance. So this is for them. 

 

Guidelines for Hosts  

 

If it's important to you, put it in writing! 

 

Option 1: Edit your host location profile. The best place to include a request for compensation and ensure it won't be missed is in your House Rules section.


Option 2: Add a note with your acceptance of a stay request. At that point you'll know the size and model of the guest's rig, length of stay they want, and the weather forecast.

 

How much? We know it's not easy to estimate; there are so many variables including regional electric rates. As a rule of thumb, if the guest runs AC or a heater, $5 to $10 per night is not unreasonable. If not, $3 to $5 per night will probably suffice.

 

We know you're not in this for profit and may want to include electric use in most cases. Even if you've requested payment, you can always decide to decline it once you get a sense of your guests. 

 

Donation Guidelines for Guests

If a host hasn't requested payment and you've used AC or heating,  offer $5 to $10 per night (depending on the size of your rig). Offer $3 to $5 per night - especially if you stayed more than one night - if your electric use was minimal. 

 

Please Complain!

If you feel your hospitality has been exploited, we want to know about it.

 

If a guest ran up your electric bill without any seeming concern for the cost, I can't resist calling it "Abuse of Power" (a silly pun) and invite you to provide us the names of the culprits.


If, indeed, we're in for a hot summer, we want to nip this in the bud. Here's what happens when you send us a complaint:

Our Complaint Policy

 

We take all complaints seriously and will cancel website privileges, if necessary. Our policy is: first complaint, we'll make a note; second complaint, issue a warning; and third complaint, revoke guest privileges. This policy is intended to protect the identity of the complainant. We reserve the right to cancel privileges without disclosing the exact details of the complaint or reveal who initiated it.


We may adapt that policy depending on severity and circumstances or at the request of the complainant.

 

Every incident doesn't warrant an official complaint, of course, or cause us to enact our policy. But we'll add the member to a watch list so we're ready to act if the issue persists.

 

Yes, complaints against hosts are welcome, too. But when resolving disputes we will always keep in mind that hosts are the ones generously offering their property with no expectation of anything in return. Previous and subsequent reviews are also considered.

 

Please know that 99% of stays through our site are positive experiences for both the host and the guest. In the month of May 2018, members left each other 719 recommendations for stays that occurred. Of those, 714 were "positive" and 5 were "neutral". None were marked as "negative". Let's make sure to keep the experience overwhelmingly positive for everyone!

 

Related Newsflash (Call me Captain Obvious) - Electricity Can be Dangerous

Q. Can I operate my AC on a 15 amp hookup?
A. Maybe. But don't risk it.

 

Some small camper vans or tiny trailers may not draw more than 15 amps to operate the AC or heater. But, unless you know (and have tested it at your own home), don't try it on a host's 15 amp outlet.

 

You will most likely blow the circuit breaker. Now you may be thinking, "Not a big deal, we'll just reset it". Circuit breakers exist for a reason. If you blow a breaker, that is a signal that you are overloading the circuit. Continuing to do so is dangerous, not just for your rig and the electric appliances connected in it, but also for the host. Overloaded circuits can cause fires. That's why the circuit breaker was invented. If you've blown a breaker, DO NOT reset it until you've figured out what's drawing too much power (probably your AC) and turned it off.

 

Not to mention - what if a breaker blows when the host is not available?  They may have other vital appliances in their home on the same circuit. You don't want to be responsible for taking those down. And you'll be without any power yourself to boot until they can reset it.


We expect guests to know their RV and what amperage is required for various operations. If unsure, check the owner's manual.  


Hosts aren't electricians. Some aren't RVers either. We don't expect them to know anything of the ins and outs of electrical hookups and certainly nothing about the demands your particular rig will put on their electrical system.

 

The onus and responsibility for safety is on the RVer.

 

Q. What if a host's outlet is improperly wired? Can my RV's electrical system be damaged?


A.Yes. Again the onus to check before plugging in is on the RVer, not the host.

 

As this RVShare.com article points out, RVers should take precautions before plugging in anywhere, even including in paid campgrounds. Check the outlet with a multi meter, use a surge protector, and turn off all RV appliances before plugging in.


An improperly wired or non-grounded outlet can indeed damage your RV, or can even cause a fire or worse - electrocution. 

 

At this point, the conversation often turns to another question...

 

 Am I liable if someone hurts themselves or their RV on my property? What if they sue me?

Liability is a local issue. Depending on the state or country where you live, as a property owner, you may be liable if someone gets hurt or suffers damage of any kind while on your property - period, no matter who it is or the reason they are there.

 

A property owner is always open for civil suits by both invited and non-invited parties. Even posting a "no trespassing" sign won't necessarily protect you if an intruder is hurt or his property is damaged. Most home insurance policies, however, include a clause to cover you for this. 

 

How or where you're introduced to your guest or host should not play a role. If you're concerned, please ask your insurer. 

Featured FAQs

Q. How often do I have to offer parking to qualify for host membership?

 

A. As long as you actually have a parking space available some of the time, even if it's limited to a small class B (camper van) or truck camper, there's no requirement to host more frequently than is convenient for you.

 

One year, you may be able to welcome guests several months in a row and, the next year, you may be travelling yourself and unavailable for an extended period.

 

By listing unavailable dates on your host dashboard, you won't receive requests for those dates.

 

 

Q. Can I choose who I prefer to host?

 

A. The intent of the web site is to introduce you to RVers with similar interests to yours. It's totally up to you who you wish to host. When you get a request, click through to view the member's profile and decide if they meet your criteria. 

 

You can add house rules that guests must agree to in order to send you a request. Update and change your rules and permissions as often as you wish. 


-- Have other questions? See all our FAQ on the site. --

 

Our Featured Member is Mike n Penny

When Mike n Penny asked if they could play some music during the happy hour we hosted at RVillage Rally One, we thought they might arrive with a usb device, not musical instruments! Their beautiful harmonies entertained the crowd for hours!

And if that wasn't enough, the next day, when one of our key seminar participants had to cancel for personal reasons, Mike n Penny stepped in again, telling their stories of being both BW hosts and guests. 

A Few Last Reminders...

Connect With Us on RVillage...

Want to make sure you don't miss any of our updates? Once you've joined RVillage, find and join the Boondockers Welcome Group (not to be confused with the groups that is called simply, "Boondockers") You'll see our latest posts whenever you go to that group feed.

... And on Facebook

If you prefer Facebook, once you've liked our Facebook page, click on the drop-down next to the "Liked" button, and choose "Posts in News Feed", then change the selected option to "See First".


If we've posted something new, you'll see it first the next time you log on to Facebook!

... And on Twitter, Instagram and more!

We're also active on Twitter @boondockerswelc, and Instagram @boondockers.welcome - be sure to tag us with pictures of your amazing stays with hosts, and we'll share them with the world!

We also have a YouTube Channel where we include some amazing (unsolicited!) testimonials from our members.

Is Your Profile Info Up to Date?

Perhaps your profile was created some time ago - is all the information on it still correct? What about the availability dates you listed if you're a host? Please take a moment to review and update your profile occasionally.

 

Until Next Time...

Happy trails,

 

Best wishes,

 

Anna & Marianne

The Boondockers Welcome Team

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