There's no need to be clairvoyant to forecast the latest trends in new gadgets for motorhomes – they were on display at Germany's enormous annual late-summer trade show, the Caravan Salon 2015. Now in its 54th year, the show had 202,000 visitors. We've already reported Düsseldorf's displays of new show-stopping motorhomes. So, which were the best new techno products revealed at the Düsseldorf show for 2016?
Domes are a satellite TV essential
For motorhome owners, using the ‘dome’ has become de rigeur for those satellite TV users who don’t want the bother of winding down an aerial before driving away. Camos was probably the first maker on the scene and now several technology outlets offer alternatives – although most, unlike Camos, which was initially designed for coaches, are not designed to operate on the move. At the 2015 Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, Oyster showed a transparent version, which explained how this satellite TV aerial works.
Fit a new intruder alert
An intruder alert is one of those little items that is easy to walk past but the detail of how it works is interesting. One small sensor is mounted near your entrance door, and a bright LED light unit, the same size as the sensor, is set up close by. These two connect to a box of tricks and your 12V supply.
Turn the system on and it senses any object passing close to the door. Anything that keeps moving, the intruder alert ignores. But anything that loiters in front of your door will, after a few seconds’ delay, cause the light unit to give six bright warning flashes. This should deter most with evil intent, however, should they continue to loiter then the internal alarm activates.
Use electric bikes to get around
Electric scooters were seen frequently around the Düsseldorf show, and they'd be great to use for short trips while touring in your motorhome. The two-wheeler pictured claims to have a range of 50 kilometres and a top speed of 36kph. The high-technology batteries mean they are not cheap – this model costs €1999.
The three-wheeler is a folding device that reduces to the size of a beer crate. It also has a 36kph top speed but a smaller range, at 35 kilometres. This portability and that extra wheel and steering geometry push the price up to €4500.
New battery-to-battery chargers
Sterling was the first to bring battery-to-battery chargers into the UK and then CTEK came in with a small version. Buttner Elektronic offered a range of chargers, inverters and power supplies, including this medium-sized battery-to-battery charger. The starter battery connects to one end and the leisure battery to the other. Not to be outdone, Votronic combines all the charging features in one unit – from the mains, the starter battery when driving and your solar panel.
Batteries are getting better
Lithium-Ion batteries used in mobile phones and the like are current leaders in new technology batteries, although there can be safety implications if they are not charged or discharged correctly. So when they get big the ramifications can be alarming, should things go wrong.
Step forward the new Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFeP04) technology battery, which has four cells of LiFePo4 (Lithium Ferrous) providing the same voltage as six cells of lead-acid technology. Several firms, such as Mastervolt, Victron Energy and Super B have these on offer. All require some power electronics to look after them and the Super B, pictured with its outer case removed, shows this.
The latest Lithium Ferrous battery, the EZA from France, has been packaged for the motorhome user with separate plug-in connectors for the vehicle alternator input, the solar panel direct input, and the output to the leisure circuits. The batteries can be charged speedily by the vehicle alternator, enabling a lot of ampere hours to be put in very quickly. Roadpro in Daventry is the UK dealer.
Versatile new power pack is unleashed
EFOY has updated its portable power pack 6 with a couple of USB charging outlets, a mains 230V AC outlet and a 12V outlet. Charging inputs come from EFOY, a 12V supply from the host vehicle or a mains adapter. A 20Ah Lithium Ferrous battery is the basis of this unit. That should help you keep all your gadgets fully charged during motorhome tours.