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Gordon

Understanding Caravan And Towcar Electrics

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This links to a free download on our own Caravan Talk website:-

 

Beginners-Guide-To-Electrics (1).pdf

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A very well written, presented, and informative article. Well done Flying Tog :)

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Great article, well written.

 

The table on the last page is easily the most straightforward I've seen yet.

 

Well done and thanks.

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Brilliant, thanks 😊

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Hi, can anyone advise me if hooking up the caravan to a car for towing uses a standard plug or if an adaptor would be required? Many Thanks.

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Hi, can anyone advise me if hooking up the caravan to a car for towing uses a standard plug or if an adaptor would be required? Many Thanks.

There is no such thing as a standard plug. There are 12N/12S plugs and there are now 13 pin plugs which have been fitted to caravans for about the past five years. If the car and the caravan are the same then you don't need an adaptor. If they are different then you need an adaptor or better still convert the one that is 12N/12S to 13 pin.

Brian

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I see where Tower16 is coming from; if you've an older caravan or a trailer, and a new car, you might have a 13 pin car and two (or one) 7 pin on the trailer.

 

One can get 13 to 7 adaptors from any caravan dealers, about £5 or so- my trailer has 7 pin, the caravans 13.

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Thank you very much for your replies. As it turned out I didn't need one but I bought the adaptor anyway as the person selling me the caravan was unsure which connection I'd need.

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On 02/05/2015 at 13:52, Gordon said:

This links to a free download on our own Caravan Talk website:-

 

Beginners-Guide-To-Electrics (1).pdf 1.04 MB · 13 downloads

thanks gordon good pdf im not an electrician but its good reading, got lost towards the end but really informative

 

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An informative article but it is now out of date and needs an appendix explaining the  effect of Euro 6 plus vehicle charging systems. Many of these tow vehicles do not produce sufficient voltage when in “cruise” or “acceleration” modes. Charging of the vehicle starter battery only being done on overrun, with the vehicle battery sitting at 12.2 volts. This is causing many issues with the caravan system. I.E. fridge not working when towing, leisure battery too low to power the mover. After a recent 7 hour journey my fridge was warmer at the destination than it was at the start and the leisure battery only just managed to move the van I to position. One solution is to fit a Sterling Wildside battery 2 battery charger but this is not working on a friends Adria. 

Edited by BigT Radioman

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I have a 'smart' alternator in my tug and the voltmeter only rises when the the car is on overrun ie. foot off the accelerator.

When I connect the caravan this feature is disabled and the voltage remains at 14 to 15 volts. So plenty enough for running the fridge and leisure battery. Both the tug and the van have AGM batteries.

I think it depends on how the car's ECU has been configured -  mine can be told about detecting a trailer via menu options on the main screen..

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It may be out of date because it was posted by Gordon some 4.1/2 years ago. I'm sure he would welcome a member to write an updated version.

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1 hour ago, BigT Radioman said:

An informative article but it is now out of date and needs an appendix explaining the  effect of Euro 6 plus vehicle charging systems. Many of these tow vehicles do not produce sufficient voltage when in “cruise” or “acceleration” modes. Charging of the vehicle starter battery only being done on overrun, with the vehicle battery sitting at 12.2 volts. This is causing many issues with the caravan system. I.E. fridge not working when towing, leisure battery too low to power the mover. After a recent 7 hour journey my fridge was warmer at the destination than it was at the start and the leisure battery only just managed to move the van I to position. One solution is to fit a Sterling Wildside battery 2 battery charger but this is not working on a friends Adria. 

 

Smart alternators have been around for over a decade on most cars, nearly two decades for some - it's not a new problem for Euro 6 - the problem is towbar experts! wiring cars the way they always have and not keeping up-to-date with modern trends.

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I realise this topic is six months old, but as a total novice to the mystical world of canbus electrics and 13 pin witchcraft plugs and sockets. I have spent most of the day going through the search function here and yet to find a post or person able to demystify the situation

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2 minutes ago, hedgerowpete said:

I realise this topic is six months old, but as a total novice to the mystical world of canbus electrics and 13 pin witchcraft plugs and sockets. I have spent most of the day going through the search function here and yet to find a post or person able to demystify the situation

What situation ? - :unsure:. Ask a question with as much detail as you can and hopefully someone will help you

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Canbus is no mystery, it is just a term used generically for the bulb failure devices fired to modern cars.

There is no single standard and therefore no universal answers.

Also no witchcraft about 13 pin plugs, they are just more reliable than the old twin 7 pin, they just require care to avoid the core getting mis-aligned with the sleeve, and a tool to re-align if need be.

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Canbus is straight forwards really, imagine a housing estate road, the road being the 'bus' each house having a number on the road these are the items on the bus such as indicator lights, brake lights etc. The canbus system reduces considerably the wiring involved in a car. Power cables feed the items in the car, can bus then tells the item when to work etc. Using the left indicator for example a message will be sent down the can bus to item number 11 (a little bit like a house number) the left hand rear indicator control module receives the message and switches on the lamp, another message will go out straight after addressing the front indicator lamp and ditto the side repeater lamp. The modules will send a message back confirming correct operation of the relevant lamp. A second later another set of messages will go out switching off the lamps. The same system applies all around the vehicle for most electrical items. Most modern manufacturers have a canbus adapter for the trailer wiring or it's an integral part of the standard control modules. This allows for a whole manner of 'clever' things to happen such as rear fog lights on the car not operating when a trailer is attached, modifying the gearbox shift points etc.

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20 minutes ago, Stevan said:

Canbus is no mystery, it is just a term used generically for the bulb failure devices fired to modern cars.

There is no single standard and therefore no universal answers.

Also no witchcraft about 13 pin plugs, they are just more reliable than the old twin 7 pin, they just require care to avoid the core getting mis-aligned with the sleeve, and a tool to re-align if need be.

 

CANbus is a lot more than that

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

A Controller Area Network (CAN bus) is a robust vehicle bus standard designed to allow microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other's applications without a host computer. It is a message-based protocol, designed originally for multiplex electrical wiring within automobiles to save on copper, but can also be used in many other contexts. For each device the data in a frame is transmitted sequentially but in such a way that if more than one device transmits at the same time the highest priority device is able to continue while the others back off. Frames are received by all devices, including by the transmitting device.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN_bus

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29 minutes ago, Black Grouse said:

 

CANbus is a lot more than that

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

A Controller Area Network (CAN bus) is a robust vehicle bus standard designed to allow microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other's applications without a host computer. It is a message-based protocol, designed originally for multiplex electrical wiring within automobiles to save on copper, but can also be used in many other contexts. For each device the data in a frame is transmitted sequentially but in such a way that if more than one device transmits at the same time the highest priority device is able to continue while the others back off. Frames are received by all devices, including by the transmitting device.

 

 

Yes, but all the average caravaner needs to know is that it's "just a term used generically for the bulb failure devices fitted to modern cars."

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Posted (edited)

It also communicates with the towing module if you've got a proper kit fitted so that the car know's the van has been plugged, it checks the van lighting and makes sure the reversing lights and sensor on the car are shut off when the van is connected. In some cases it also adjusts the automatic gearbox, activates the trailer sway control (if you've got one) and sometimes adjusts the charging and stop/start so the van battery can be charged and fridge can be operated.

 

That's why some people have problems when they fit a bodging box or even an aftermarket kit because the car is unaware that the trailer is connected and those functions dont get activated.

 

Generally you dont need to know anything about its operation, but some cars have to be programmed when a trailer module is fitted and the old practice of scotchlocking wires to the existing loom can cause havoc.

Edited by matelodave

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