Benjamin Davies

See other Advice articles filed in ‘Base vehicle matters’ written by Benjamin Davies
   
You don’t need electric hook-up to enjoy a good holiday. In fact, equipping your van to survive without it gives you greater freedom and access to ‘hideaway’ sites.

Get a good leisure battery

With no mains, it’s essential to have a good battery. Car batteries are not really suitable, so choose a good leisure battery. Most are rated at 85 Amps per hour (Ah), but you’d be better with a 120Ah version. This will add another 420 Watt hours (Wh) to your load – another six hours of TV time.

You don’t need electric hook-up to enjoy a good holiday. In fact, equipping your van to survive without it gives you greater freedom and access to ‘hideaway’ sites.

 

Get a good leisure battery

With no mains, it’s essential to have a good battery. Car batteries are not really suitable, so choose a good leisure battery. Most are rated at 85 Amps per hour (Ah), but you’d be better with a 120Ah version. This will add another 420 Watt hours (Wh) to your load – another six hours of TV time.

 

Keeping your battery charged


There are four main ways to keep your battery charged:

 


1.    Generators
Many modern generators are almost silent, but all produce some fumes. High fuel costs mean that they can be dear to run, and they’re all expensive to buy, but they do provide reliable power for as long as they have fuel. Although many are rated at 1600-2000W, we’d recommend a 400W rating to get an optimum output.

 


2.    Fuel Cells
These are increasingly common, especially in motorhomes. A fuel cell cartridge will cost around £22 and last, at full running, for about seven and a half days. EFOY is the main manufacturer – see the website www.efoy.de. A 600W model costs £1499 plus £100 for fitting.

 

3.    Solar panels

These are a good, ‘green’, free way of topping up your battery. How much power you get depends on the size and type of panel – the more you spend, the more you get.

The main problem with solar panels is that the amount of power you can use in a day depends on the level of sunlight. On average, the UK gets about three hours’ uninterrupted sunshine a day, so a 100W panel will generate 300W. If you tour the UK during spring and autumn, or abroad, solar power is useful.

 

4.    Engine charging
For motorhomes, a battery-to-battery charger is an option. It works by allowing the engine battery to charge up to its required voltage, and then takes power from there to the leisure battery (while the alternator keeps the engine battery topped up).

 

 

Mains power away from hook-up points
To use mains power when there’s no hook-up, you’ll need an inverter. Essentially, these convert 12V DC (direct current) battery power to 240V AC (alternating current) mains power.

All inverters have a maximum output, so you can’t power items that use more Watts than this output. Good examples are the 75W Ring MP75 Mininverter (£20, 0113 213 7390, www.ringautomotive.co.uk) and the 150W Laser 4190 (£43, 01926 815 000, www.lasertools.co.uk).

There are many other good, affordable examples out there, too.

 

More information

 

Generators
Generators.co.uk; www.generators.co.uk; 01794 521 355
Honda; www.honda.co.uk/power/generators; 0845 200 8000
Just Generators; www.justgenerators.co.uk; 01263 82 020

Solar panels and inverters (retailers)
Conrad Anderson; www.conrad-anderson.co.uk; 0121 247 0619
Detroit Solar; www.detroitsolar.com; 01773 860 030
RoadPro; www.roadpro.co.uk; 01327 31 223

 

Share with friends

Follow us on

Most recent motorhome reviews

The Practical Motorhome Marquis Majestic 196 review – 1 - Fitting six berths and six travel seats into a 3500kg motorhome is no mean feat – does it work? (© Phil Russell/Practical Motorhome)
The Practical Motorhome Swift Bessacarr 597 review – 1 - The ’van tested has an MTPLM of 3850kg, but there is a version with a 3500kg MTPLM (and a lower payload) – read more in our Swift Bessacarr 597 review (© Peter Baber/Practical Motorhome)

Rapido 8094dF

£70,600OTR

The Practical Motorhome Rapido 8094dF review – 1 - You get a lot in this 3500kg MTPLM motorhome, but 3700kg and 4.4-tonne chassis upgrades are available (© Sarah Wakely/Practical Motorhome)
The Practical Motorhome 2018 Auto-Trail Tracker LB Lo-Line review – 1 - The Auto-Trail Tracker LB is available in Lo-Line (as pictured) or Hi-Line form (© Peter Baber/Practical Motorhome)
The Practical Motorhome 2018 Elddis Accordo 105 review – 1 - The Elddis Accordo 105's Azure Blue aluminium sidewalls are new for the 2018 touring season (© Practical Motorhome)
The Practical Motorhome Chausson Flash 716 review – 1 - Priced from £49,500, this new five-berth low-profile from Chausson has a licence-friendly MTPLM of 3500kg (© Practical Motorhome)