How to get the Most out of Off-Grid Camping

It may seem intimidating at first, but with a little bit of planning it can open up a whole new world to you

Imagine having an entire campsite all to yourself - no crowds, no noise, just the freedom to enjoy a lake, river, or beach with your family. Off-grid camping makes this dream a reality. However, before you dive into this adventure, there are a few essential steps to take. One is to select a location that's easily accessible and nearby, especially if you're new to motorhoming off-grid. Avoid choosing a spot that's too far away or too challenging to navigate.

Traditional campsites often provide motorhome hook-ups to allow guests to enjoy modern amenities in a natural outdoor environment. They typically feature gravel pitches and convenient entrances that make parking and setting up camp a breeze. However, when exploring areas without these conveniences, navigating off-road can be challenging and finding a level spot to park your motorhome can be tricky.

To avoid such issues, it's advisable to research areas that are beginner-friendly and easily accessible. Starting with a familiar area that's not too far away can also be helpful, as you'll be accustomed to the terrain, wildlife, and any relevant local regulations.

A critical factor for a successful off-grid adventure is to have a reliable and fully charged leisure battery. Use a voltmeter to verify the battery's condition, but make sure to turn off all 12V appliances before taking a reading for better accuracy. Refer to the table below to determine the battery's charge state.

To enhance your power supply and keep your leisure battery charged, you can install a solar panel and a charge controller. Some modern caravans already have a solar panel installed, but if yours is not built-in, you can mount it on the roof. Keep in mind that battery performance can decline as it ages, and colder weather conditions can also increase its workload.

Voltmeter reading                 Charge state (approx)

12.7–12.8V                             100%

12.5V                                     75%

12.4V                                     50%

12.2V                                     25%

An inverter connected to a 12V battery can convert its DC input into an AC output of 230V, which can be handy. Even a low-rated 100W inverter can power a laptop using a 12V battery. However, the more devices you run through the inverter, the quicker your leisure battery will drain. Some travelers bring a backup leisure battery on their trips, but batteries are heavy and can reduce your payload allowance, so plan accordingly. While not cheap, lithium-ion batteries are the best option for off-grid touring

Gas for Your Campervan

Gas is an essential item to consider before your outing. It can be inconvenient to swap a partially filled cylinder for a full one with your Calor distributor, so it may be worthwhile investing in a second gas cylinder to ensure you always have a full one on hand. Alternatively, you can opt for a self-refill system like Safefill or Gaslow, allowing you to top up your cylinder at any time and at a lower cost. For instance, Calor gas may cost around €2 per liter, while Autogas is only 60c per liter. Additionally, if you can find a domestic gas supplier, you can remove the VAT from the cost.

campervan gas system

When it comes to bottled gas, there are two options to choose from: butane and propane. While one liter of butane contains 12% more energy than one liter of propane, the crucial difference for motorcaravanners is the minimum temperature at which they vaporize. Butane can vaporize at temperatures as low as minus 2°C, whereas propane can vaporize as low as minus 42°C. If you're touring in a typical Irish winter, a butane-powered system may stop working due to the low temperatures, while a propane system can function even in much colder conditions, unless you're visiting Siberia.

Water for Your Off-Grid Adventure

Water is essential for survival, and as a motorhome owner, it's important to plan your water situation carefully. Keep in mind that water is used for many things, including showers, washing up in the kitchen, and cooking. To estimate how much water you'll need to take, a good rule of thumb is to plan for 10 liters of water per person per day. This should be enough to cover all your water needs while on your trip.

Use Wisely

If you do decide to use your caravan’s shower, consider investing in a showerhead with a low flow rate or installing a water-saving device. You can also turn the water off while you’re lathering up and only turn it back on to rinse. Another way to conserve water is to use biodegradable soap for washing dishes and avoid leaving the tap running while you wash them. Lastly, always carry spare water with you just in case you run out, especially if you plan to venture off the beaten path.

Plan On How To Refill

It's also important to research where you can refill your water tank along your route. Many campsites have water filling stations, as well as petrol stations and public water sources. Some areas may have restrictions on water usage or a lack of available sources, so make sure to plan ahead and bring enough water with you if needed. It's also a good idea to bring purification tablets or a water filter in case you need to use non-potable water for washing or other uses.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are a great way to keep your leisure battery charged when off-grid. Portable metal frames are particularly useful if you don't want to permanently fix solar panels to your vehicle's roof. Another thing to keep in mind is that solar panels are more efficient when they are angled towards the sun, so adjusting the angle of the panel during the day can increase its effectiveness.

camper solar panels

When purchasing solar panels for your off-grid camping adventure, it's important to invest in a good brand from a reputable dealer that offers a solid warranty. Look for panels that display the international IEC 61215 quality certification. For example, Solar Technology International offers a 20-year performance warranty. Keep in mind that the angle of your panel can significantly affect its performance. You can find the best angles for your location and time of year by checking online resources such as If you're using panels that are over 18W, it's recommended to buy a voltage regulator or controller. Maximum Power Point Tracking charge controllers are a slightly more expensive option, but they can extract 20% more power from your system.

When selecting a solar panel for your off-grid camping setup, it's important to choose one that can adequately charge your system. Typically, a 100-200W setup will suffice. To determine the maximum charging rate, multiply the wattage of the panel by the hours of useful light. For example, a 150W panel receiving five hours of strong light will produce a maximum of 750W. Keep in mind that different devices will consume varying amounts of power. For instance, watching TV for three hours might use 105Wh, while LEDs may consume 25Wh. Water pumps and heating fans require more power, so it's important to keep track of how much power you're using. While it may be tempting to purchase a cheap solar panel online, it's recommended to buy from a recognized UK supplier to ensure quality, power output, longevity, and aftercare.

When using a solar panel to charge your leisure battery, an AGM-type battery is recommended due to its high efficiency.

Food for Your Campervan Trip

Finding fresh food items like milk and bread can be a challenge when camping off the grid in remote locations. It can be difficult to determine how much food to bring and how long it will last, especially when travelling with a family.

How To Store It

A spare fridge can be incredibly helpful when camping off the grid, especially if you're traveling with a family. By storing it in the back of your car, you can take day trips and store more food for your adventure. Most modern caravans come equipped with fridges, which are typically 2-way or 3-way. A 2-way fridge runs solely on 12/24-volt electricity, just like a standard home fridge. If you have this type of fridge, it's essential to ensure that you have enough solar or battery power to keep it running. A 3-way fridge, on the other hand, can run on 12/24-volt and 240-volt electricity, as well as LPG gas. This type of fridge uses a gas flow heat exchange to remove heat from the unit, unlike the 2-way fridge.

Plan Meals

To make the most out of your limited fridge and pantry space, it is important to plan your meals ahead of time when camping off-grid for extended periods. This helps to ensure that you are cost-efficient and can save space, as well as reduce stress levels when it comes to cooking and feeding your family. By planning your meals and snacks for the week, you can make the most out of your shopping and be prepared with the necessary ingredients for each meal. This also helps to avoid wastage and ensure that you have enough food to sustain you throughout your trip.

Save Power

Reducing your power usage can be an effective way to conserve energy when camping off the grid. Switching to LED lighting instead of traditional tungsten bulbs can significantly reduce the power consumed in your caravan or motorhome. Converting to LED lighting is a straightforward task that can be done by the enthusiastic DIYer. In addition, modern LED TVs use less power than other TV types, which is something to consider when choosing appliances for your off-grid setup. To save water, consider carrying a bottle of hand sanitiser to avoid using your water pump every time you need to wash your hands.

During hot summer days, it's common to experience cool evenings, which may make you feel the need to turn on the heating. Instead of doing so, consider packing some "unseasonal" clothing, such as bed socks, to keep you warm indoors. Additionally, you could bring a firepit along if the campsite permits it, and enjoy sitting outside with your family in the evening. Try to shower in the morning to allow the battery to recharge throughout the day using solar power.

Rent a campervan from us at Rambling Rover and get exploring in luxury!