I want to sleep in my car: How to run the AC with engine off

I had asked VW whether I could run the aircon from a solar-powered battery when the engine is off.

BHPian vox_alienus recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Because of Covid and also cost issues, I have been thinking of sleeping in my Polo during my travels. For several months of the year, this will be impossible without the aircon running. I had asked VW whether I could run the aircon from a solar-powered battery when the engine is off. They said the aircon does not turn on when the engine is off. I am guessing this is because the compressor is run mechanically by the engine and not by an electric motor. Is there a workaround? Will appreciate help with this.

Here’s what BHPian Rahul Bhalgat had to say on the matter:

If you want to sleep in the car, It is better to keep the engine running to switch on the AC than to go for any modifications. At idling, a small car with 1.2 lit engine would consume around 0.6 to 0.8 liters of petrol per hour.

This translates to around Rs. 60 to 80 per hour. One doesn’t (and can’t) sleep in the car for 8 hours. It will be for 5 to 6 hours, so it shall cost Rs. 300 to 500.

I have tried sleeping in the car a few times; it has another problem. For safety against possible AC gas leak, one needs to keep the windows slightly open. This invites mosquitoes as well as the other insects inside the car.

Instead of having 4 – 5 hours of sleep in the car at Rs. 300 to 500 and that too in an uncomfortable position, it is better to roam around and find out a cheap hotel. You will spend a few hundred more but you will have good 7 – 8 hours of sleep, you can use the toilet and have a bath too. To take care of covid, you can sanitize all surfaces where you need to touch, like buttons, door handles etc.

Here’s what GTO had to say on the matter:

Sleeping in the car comes with way too many issues, dude! India is a crime-infested country, especially at night. God forbid something happens to you or your family. Then, you might also suffer health issues from sleeping in the car several nights. As Rahul said, just check into a cheap hotel if budget is a problem and be comfortable. You could also have a barter with friends where you stay at their place out of town, and offer them a bed in your home when they are visiting your home city.

Don’t know where you are thinking of travelling, but outside of the big cities, there are dirt cheap hotel options available.

Here’s what BHPian ruzbehxyz had to say on the matter:

Pros and cons for sleeping in the car:


  • Avoiding hotel stay, prevention for Covid.
  • Saving on some money.


  • You have to keep the car running and there is a chance for CO poisoning. See various articles online and YouTube videos.
  • Major security issue. This can tempt someone to rob you.
  • It is uncomfortable to sleep in the car, even with seats full down. With few hours of disturbed sleep, you will be anyway lethargic after you restart driving. 8 hours of sleeping in the car vs 5/6 hours of sleeping in a decent hotel is quite different.
  • For safety, you will have to keep the windows slightly down, which can attract mosquitoes and other insects. And once they are inside, it will get very irritating.
  • Stationary car at a irregular location with engine on and out of state number plate can attract cops at night, who are on their rounds. There will be unnecessary questioning which may lead to nothing but “chai-pani” in the end.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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