Instant Pot Boondocking

DougHDougH Member Posts: 949
edited January 10 in Camping & Travel
...Is Possible!

I've been playing with a Duo Plus Mini three quart Instant Pot (IP) lately. Sadly not the cute new Baby Yoda model, but the plain silver 700W version.  Working with the 6qt or larger IPs may be too large a draw on many inverters and battery banks, but the tiny 3qt not only fits better in the [email protected] but uses far less power.  And smaller food or water volumes also results in faster food prep times... and thus even less energy.

It only uses 1W when not heating (but with the display on). And many common recipes involve a heat cycle of 4-10 minutes to come up to pressure, then just a few minutes at pressure, after which you can turn it off or leave the 1W timer running until it naturally loses pressure over 10-20 minutes. Or you can just turn it off and wait for the pressure indicator to drop (if the recipe doesn't call for a quick release and all that sudden rush of steam and potential condensation in the camper).

If you have a 400 BD battery bank with solar, or have added a couple batteries to your 320, and in either case added a 2-3 roof or suitcase panels to your rig... you have plenty of juice for the IP.

The following three measurements were made using cold water.

Example 1.  Frozen Mixed Vegetables. 8 oz of frozen veggies in a steamer basket. Enough water below for steaming. 3 minute steam cycle. 2 minute rest then quick release. 100Wh of energy used.

Example 2.  Steel Cut Oats. 4 oz oats, 12 oz water. Pressure for 6m, natural pressure release. Also 100Wh.

Example 3.  Beans n Rice. Can of rinsed chili beans, handful of corn, 1 cup of mixed rice, 1.2 cups of water, capful of fajita marinating sauce, dry spices. Pressure for 4m, natural release. 120Wh. (bigger quantity of food)

To put those numbers in perspective, the battery bank in the [email protected] that is kind enough to host me has 2,800Wh of usable energy. And it has 300W of solar panels on the roof, which on a good day yields 1000Wh. In winter, or in clouds, it's half that or less.  So my setup is slightly above bone stock average, but not unusually so. And typically one IP session a day is only 10-25% of the available juice.

Everyone has to do their own power budget for their rig based on how much fridge power, fans, or laptops they use.  But even the tiny 3qt cooker makes enough food in 20 minutes to last two or three days for a solo traveler.

And one way to lower the electricity some recipes need by half is to pre-boil the water.  If you have propane, it only takes a couple minutes to bring a cup of water to boil on the stove. Add that to the IP with the dry ingredients and the energy on some dishes drops to 60Wh.
2014 328d diesel wagon, 2017 [email protected] S Max, Austin TX


  • dragonsdoflydragonsdofly Member Posts: 1,420
    edited January 10
    @DougH, great info. Use the same pot about 1 or 2 times a week, but only with shore power, in between boondocking stints. This offers another option. However, I find I use my Weber Q more often. -Denise
    2017 [email protected] sofitel([email protected])TV 2015 Silverado 2500hd(Behemoth). Wyandotte, Michigan.
    Draco dormiens numquam titilandus.
  • pthomas745pthomas745 Member Posts: 1,684
    When I used my 3qt Instant Pot, it took 700 watts to come to pressure.  There was no way to make that work with an inverter inside the trailer attached to a USB port.  I attached a 1200 watt inverter directly to my battery with the alligator clamps and used the Instant Pot on that.   The 700 watts comes out to about 1 amp per minute, and took 12 minutes to come to pressure for the pot roast I made.  (700watts divided by 12v= 58amps, plus the loss from the use of the, one amp a minute)  So, it used 12 amp hours from my 40 available amp hours from my stock battery.  I would only use it if I had plenty of sun available.
    I agree some setups may have plenty of battery capacity, but what did you use to power it in the trailer?
    2017 Outback
    Towed by 2014 Touareg TDi
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 2,177
    A pot roast would probably be the longest cooking meal in an Instant Pot, so,average might be closer to 30 amp hours, either way, this seems doable in a TaB400 with 200 amp battery and solar charging available.  Something to think about...
    2018 TaB400 Boondock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • DougHDougH Member Posts: 949
    edited January 10
    @pthomas745 A 1500W inverter.  I have a 300W one I can use for most stuff, but have to use the 1500W for coffee stuff and the instant pot. But you're correct, with one 85Ah battery, and limited solar I wouldn't suggest it either... and would only use the IP on shore power.
    2014 328d diesel wagon, 2017 [email protected] S Max, Austin TX

  • pthomas745pthomas745 Member Posts: 1,684
    @DougH Your 1500w inverter is hard wired inside your camper?
    I've used a Kill-a_Watt to measure the power use of my Instant Pot, and after the Pot is up to pressure the watt use is almost zero, cycling for just a few seconds every minute or so to maintain the heat/pressure.
    I have a Victron now, I might have to run this test again and see what power usage I get.  I'll do something simple in the  next day or so.
    If I had larger battery capacity (and good sun), I wouldn't hesitate to use the Pot.
    2017 Outback
    Towed by 2014 Touareg TDi
  • DougHDougH Member Posts: 949
    @pthomas745 Yes, hard wired. 2 AGMs in the back storage with inverter and Victron charger, and a third AGM in the front tub connected by thick cable to the ones in back.
    2014 328d diesel wagon, 2017 [email protected] S Max, Austin TX

  • N7SHG_HamN7SHG_Ham Member Posts: 1,019
    An insta pot at it's core is a pressure cooker which has been around in basic form for years. For boondocking, I think I would be inclined to use an old school pressure cooker on the stovetop and save the instapot for 120v hookups.
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
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