Firstly, if you are only planning on camping in caravan parks and paying for a powered site you will not need solar power for your trip. (if you have access to 240 volt to plug into you do not need solar power).
Without access to 240 volt power to plug into, so if you love National Park and free camping (like us) you can stand with your van parked for between 1 and 3 days without using solar power or starting your van. The factors that will decide how long you can stand are as follows:
- The outside temperature: the hotter it is, the harder the fridge has to work and the shorter the time frame you will be able to run your fridge and lights without a connection to power or solar.
- How full your fridge is, how it is stacked and how often you open it: if your fridge is full it will stay cooler longer.
- How often you charge your appliances ie laptop and phone: charging these items sucks a lot of juice and will quickly run down your leisure battery.
- Utilising the lights in the van will not affect the leisure battery life as they are all LED and very energy efficient.
When using solar it must obviously be placed in the sun. How quickly it will recharge your leisure battery will depend on the weather (how sunny it is) and how flat your battery is. If you wake up in the morning and your leisure battery is completely flat we’d recommend idling your van for 20-30 minutes to get the battery up to a good charge. You can then plug in your solar and let it do the rest.
And what do we do? As we love National Park camping we do like to take solar with us however I would like to point out that we have travelled for years in campervans without solar or 240 volt power and never had a problem as even if we were camping in the same spot for weeks on end we were always happy to go for a little drive every couple of days to recharge the leisure battery and at the same time buy the paper, some bread, ice creams etc etc.
Keep in mind that if your leisure battery is very flat you will need to go for a drive for 3-5 hours to fully recharge it.
For more information on the leisure battery and 240 volt in your van see the following blog: