Camper Mode

6 June 2020

After watching Electric Vehicle Man's Nissan Camper-LEAF video I thought I'd try it myself.

Attach:Leaf-camper-interior2.jpg Δ Interior space with camper platforms in place

I've made two plywood platforms; one to cover the boot space and the other to cover the space between the front and rear seats.

The only real difference between our approaches is I've removed the rear seat bench (the bit you sit on) so that the rear seat back can fold down perfectly flat. The advantage with this arrangement is the whole sleeping platform is completely level.

Attach:Leaf-camper-rear.jpg Δ View from the rear, with cheap air mattress in place (it's a bit too wide and a bit too thick)

Attach:Leaf-camper-side2.jpg Δ Adam giving it a first test.

The space available is 1.27 m wide by 1.8 m long (from rear catch to front seat backs in fully-forward position). The air mattress we have is 22 cm high - ideally we'd have one less than 10 cm thick like this. A thinner mattress will provide more head room.


  • I can drive, park and sleep
  • It has heating, lighting and phone charger
  • Can camp at a powered campsite for heating and charging


  • The rear seat bench should be left at home whilst on a camping trip - so the car becomes a two person only camper.
  • The overall length of the camping platform (with the front seats and seat-backs all the way forward) is only 1.8 meters (5 foot, 11 inches). I'm 1.8 m tall so I'll have to scrunch up a bit to avoid my feet touching the rear window (which will probably be cold).
  • If I want the heater on then the dash is all lit up too - maybe I need a black blanket to cover the dash lights?
  • If charging at night the blinking blue charge lights are really bright - I'll need something to cover them too

Design plans

Attach:Leaf-camper-design-plan-v03.jpg Δ Δ

Here's a PDF of my design Δ. If I were to do it again I'd probably opt for 9 mm plywood instead of the 7 mm I used.

How to charge and heat the car at the same time

In my Gen 1 (2012) Leaf their is one sequence that lets you heat the car and charge at the same time:

  1. Plug the charger in (standard J1772 Level 1 or 2 - not to a DC fast charger).
  2. Press the "Charge Timer Off" to disable the car's charge timer. The car should start charging.
  3. Turn on the car - with your foot OFF the brake. This turns on the car's systems without engaging the drive system.
  4. Turn the heater on to your designed temp.
  5. Wind the rear windows down a wee bit to allow for some airflow.

Does it work?

I've camped in it once so far - in the back yard. The outside temp was 4 degrees C so I had the heat going full blast set to 22 degrees C.

I jumped in the car at 9 pm, plugged it in to my 240 VAC 16 Amp charger, and set the heater to 22.5 degrees C. The main battery was at 8.9 kWh (roughly 75% SOC on my car). By 10 am the next morning - when it was still only 4 degrees outside. The battery capacity was down to 6.1 kWh (roughly 50% SOC) - even though it was set to do a full 100% charge. I'm assuming the charger stopped when it reached 100% then the heater ran it back down to 6.1 kWh.

I wonder what the energy consumption would be like in summer with the cooler on all night?

The lights on the dash didn't bother me. The platforms were nice and level. The air mattress worked OK (apart from being too thick). I slept in a sleeping bag with a comfy pillow.


  • get a thinner air mattress
  • cover the windows to add some privacy (curtains?)
  • redesign the platforms to fit in the boot/trunk?
  • Can the rear seat bench (which I'm forced to remove) fit over the dash - so I don't have to leave it behind during a camping trip?

Cheers, Paul

Page last modified on June 21, 2020, at 08:46 am
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