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Charging A Leisure Battery In The Winter Without Ehu ?


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Well hello all, this is my first every carvan post seeing as this is the first time I have owned a caravan.

 

Anyway, I purchased a carvan for my son who's contracting down near Slough so we are using this as his temporary accommmodation rather than doing a flat share etc (he likes his own private space) - we found a lovely pub campsite which is fantastic apart from the fact there is no ehu (electrical hook up) facility at all; not even the occassional rolling out of an extension lead.

 

How then can I maintain the charge in the leisure battery while there is no chance of ehu? And at the Weekends when he comes home he's not bringing the caravan home with him so he can't charge it here at our home either (luckily the campsite allows for longer term pitching, saves dragging the carvan home at the Weekends - and anyway we don't have a tow bar on any of our vehicles - we bought it and had it delivered to site).

 

I understand we could use a generator - but they are somewhat noisy so disturb the peace; and there's the option of solar panels - but this time of year I guess they won't be very effective - however the leisure battery will only be used for the internal lights while he occupies it Mon - Fri early morning before work and in the evenings after work.

 

Thanks for you help!

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Why can't he bring battery home at weekend and charge at home?

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Welcome to the forum! :welcome: The only other alternative is to bring the battery home each

time, and charge it at home.

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Perhaps he could arrange with the site owner for it to be charged on site each weekend whilst he is at home.

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Just connect to his car ( a standard car 12volt cigarette lighter type connector ) and charge whenever he goes out in his car ( I assume he has a car as he "comes home at the weekend)

 

Also you could make up a lead from the car ( same type connector) with two crocodile clips at the end which clip to the leisure battery and use the car battery to augment the caravan's 12volt (not good if you flatten the car battery though)

 

In days past we used to have two caravan batteries and left one in the caravan and one always in the car which was on charge whenever the car was running.

 

Just an idea

 

jim

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Why can't he bring battery home at weekend and charge at home?

 

Yes I feel this is best in this situation - although he has this innatve fear of touching the battery terminals when unscrewing the connections which he must get over.

 

Welcome to the forum! :welcome: The only other alternative is to bring the battery home each

time, and charge it at home.

 

Thanks for the welcome, and, as above. .

 

Perhaps he could arrange with the site owner for it to be charged on site each weekend whilst he is at home.

 

I don't think that's going to happen.

 

hi you might get your self a solar panel that keeps the battery charged cheers . tom

 

Yes now this would seem like another good option and it's silent - however I wonder if a solar panel (an affordable one that is without being the size of a small field) - would work well in the Winter. Perhaps it will if only topping up the leisure battery for the internal lights - has anyohe got any experience here?

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If he uses his car every day, he could get a second car battery and swap batteries between car an van daily. That way he will have a new battery every day.

 

John

Volvo V70 D3 SE (was Peugeot 4007, SsangYong Korando), Pulling a Lunar Clubman SI 2015. If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

 

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First thing I'd look at would be the bulbs and what you can swap for LED, that will reduce usage. If lucky some might be G4 fittings and you can get replacements of the LED variety from eBay.

A 100w mono panel and a decent controller will have a battery topped up in no time, with the benefit of charging at weekends etc.

I built my own 40w system to keep my battery replenished from mover usage and it's more than adequate.

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As you can see there are many options. Years ago I fitted split charging into my sisters car and a strap to retain the battery which was inside a plastic bread bin to ensure no contact with anything the acid could damage. Second car battery was same size as caravan one so it was a simple swap when caravan one was going flat.

 

There is a balance using smaller batteries means easier to swap and larger ones last longer. Today we have the VRLA battery (stands of valve regulated lead acid) these come in two types but the main point is they are sealed so can't spill acid unless smashed. They are used in mobility scooters, golfing trolleys, stair lifts, house alarms and come in a range of sizes.

 

Larger ones have a long life up to 12 years but the smaller ones seem to only last about 2 years. If you want to make sure he never connects it wrong then use a non reversible plug and socket. I used Buggin plug and socket for sister copied from the propriety one made by Lucas.

 

So to the charging. This depends on car, distance travelled (more down to travelling time), and amount of power used. Using a battery to battery charger one can charge a battery quite quickly but these are expensive, using a charge relay a flat 40 Ah battery could take 200 miles to charge even then it would not be fully charged. Since home at weekend you can charge each weekend and so you have to consider if really any point in charging in the car.

 

A 22 AH golf trolley battery costs around £35 and weigh around 6kg as you go up in size clearly weight also goes up. A 60 AH is more like 20kg and price jumps to around the £120 mark. i. e. you could get three 22AH batteries for price of one 60AH it's all down to how many are sold 22 AH is popular for a golf trolley and wheel chairs and mobility scooters so price is lower.

 

However the 60 AH should last 12 years the 22 AH more like 4 years so there is a balance.

 

These batteries need charging with special chargers designed not to over charge the C-Tek seems to be favourite but Lidi and Aldi also do chargers from time to time at a fraction of the cost.

 

It is a balancing act deciding size of battery clearly needs to last the week but price and weight also need considering. Again the car, it may be a 22AH will fit in engine bay and larger ones need the boot.

 

Since only one person using the caravan does the caravan need a battery? Or can the car have a second battery and he plugs caravan in when he gets to it? We has S type sockets on cars without tow hitch to allow plugging in this was OK if whole family went out but if one member stayed behind then no power. But with second battery in car it was always charged and no chance of having main battery flat.

 

If second battery fixed in car then no need for VRLA you can use a cheap car battery.

 

Personally I would not stop in a caravan without electric hook up. I lived in a touring caravan for 4 years during the build of Sizewell B power station. I had to have a heated pad for the water carrier to sit on to stop water freezing, the gas bottle when running just the fridge would only last 3 weeks, so mains supply to fridge saved a lot of gas. Same with cooking a microwave and ready meals is far easier than a gas cooker. In the summer gas cooking made caravan too hot, in winter it made it too damp. You have to use a balanced flue heater or electric or caravan is too wet.

 

So no electric will cost £20 a week in gas, maybe more in heart of winter, so really answer is find a site with electric, can't really run a generator 24/7 and no eclectic means using gas, you can get gas to electric units but cost of gas would be silly.

 

Believe me I lived in a caravan for 4 years he needs electric.

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First thing I'd look at would be the bulbs and what you can swap for LED, that will reduce usage. If lucky some might be G4 fittings and you can get replacements of the LED variety from eBay.

A 100w mono panel and a decent controller will have a battery topped up in no time, with the benefit of charging at weekends etc.

I built my own 40w system to keep my battery replenished from mover usage and it's more than adequate.

 

Where we bought the caravan from they renewed the lights and it looks light low energy flourescent fixings which should be efficient albeit not as good as LEDs.

 

It's very encouraging to know that a solar panel will keep the battery topped up - I guess this is the hopeful answer i was looking for - I've even more happy that of course this can be achieved this time of year too - even on days like this (have you taken a look outside today?).

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Personally I would not stop in a caravan without electric hook up. I lived in a touring caravan for 4 years during the build of Sizewell B power station. I had to have a heated pad for the water carrier to sit on to stop water freezing, the gas bottle when running just the fridge would only last 3 weeks, so mains supply to fridge saved a lot of gas. Same with cooking a microwave and ready meals is far easier than a gas cooker. In the summer gas cooking made caravan too hot, in winter it made it too damp. You have to use a balanced flue heater or electric or caravan is too wet.

 

So no electric will cost £20 a week in gas, maybe more in heart of winter, so really answer is find a site with electric, can't really run a generator 24/7 and no eclectic means using gas, you can get gas to electric units but cost of gas would be silly.

 

Believe me I lived in a caravan for 4 years he needs electric.

 

This time of year it was very difficult finding a camping site open around the Slough area; we did find one for £150 per Week with ehu - however that means over £600 per Month so, right now, that's a no go (although it looks like a beautiful site - 5 stars). Then we spotted a registered campsite charging £80 per week including ehu - sounded like a good deal - but it was a dump with caravans and campervans on top of each other - seriously bad! The back of a nice country pub was far better in every other way apart from ehu, with no site fees apart from the request to have a meal or drink at the pub every so often - there are compromises to be had it would seem.

Edited by cdgeorge
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Not much more to add to the excellent advice already supplied but one option not mentioned would be a fuel cell product (efoy etc). They are entirely silent, run off a non-combustible liquid fuel and could easily support battery charging, in fact, such devices could easily support using an inverter to run mains in the caravan. They exhaust only water vapour.

 

Don't get your hopes up about these being cheap, though.

 

edit: just to clarify, the battery supplies the inverter, the fuel cell recharges the battery.

Edited by tictag
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OK let's see what happens over time - week one done and dusted - let's see how the weeks progress with use of both gas and leccy.

 

He's enjoying his stay, he seems to have plenty of comfort and convenience so that's good; I got the low down from him today as he is home in Norfolk. He did however say he left the fridge on (gas of course) - but his own research seems to suggest that gas can last quite a while even with the fridge on (lowest setting 1 is cold enough).

 

His own personal thoughts are generator and back up gas cylinder. He's not put the heating on because it's naturally quite warm in there at the moment - must be well insulated - hopefully Elddis is a good make.

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If your son is worried ref the terminals, just get quick release connectors fitted. Takes seconds and they are colour coded.

Agree, it makes sense for the battery to be charged at weekends.

What is the plan for gas, as if using it goes into the fullness of winter I can see him going through a fair bit

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If your son is worried ref the terminals, just get quick release connectors fitted. Takes seconds and they are colour coded.

Agree, it makes sense for the battery to be charged at weekends.

What is the plan for gas, as if using it goes into the fullness of winter I can see him going through a fair bit

 

I didn't know there were such things - thanks. Not only does this remove the worry this also means a far quicker change-over! Does anyone have any thoughts about moving a battery back and forth in a car? Will the acid spill over in the even that the car jarrs as a result of hard braking? Or are there sealed batteries I should be considering?

 

And on the plans for using gas - well this is a bit of a suck it and see (you chaps have the most experience tbh). Sam (just to put a name to my son here) will be returning later after the gym (where he showers saves messing about in the caravan) and will no doubt see how much gas is left after running the fridge over the Weekend - this will be interesting to see.

 

My brother works for Jewsons and it seems that Jewsons do some good gas deals (according to some of you). I assume it's calor gas that a caravan needs? We also have to find out what size gas cylinder will fit in his small 2-berth caravan, will a larger than 6kg bottle fit? Should be get a spare to swap over? Or simply get a much larger one (if it will fit) and keep an eye on the guage?

 

The best option would be to change the battery terminals for quick release ones like this http://www. halfords. com/motoring/bulbs-blades-batteries/car-battery-chargers/halfords-battery-terminals-quick-release?cm_mmc=Google+PLA-_-Bulbs,+Blades+and+Batteries-_-Car+Battery+Chargers-_-184377&_$ja=tsid:60494%7Ccgn:GoogleShopping%7Ckw:184377&istCompanyId=b8708c57-7a02-4cf6-b2c0-dc36b54a327e&istItemId=wpirmwp&istBid=tzpi&_$ja=tsid:35522|cid:356615884|agid:24765759724|tid:kwd-47424918608|crid:86548694284|nw:g|rnd:15536718768080871129|dvc:c|adp:1o1&gclid=CjwKEAjw8NaxBRDhiafR-uvkpywSJAAxcl6fIH8Orx4Np_4TYlBEYmbW6-895WyIEz-In5zlsF2N0RoCL2Dw_wcB and either bring the battery home at weekends to recharge it or get a second battery and swap them every week or two. To comfortably recharge a battery over the weekend you'd ideally need a smart charger that could put out at least 5 amps

 

Thanks for the link to the quick release terminals - have you a similar link to a cost effective charger you mention?

Edited by cdgeorge
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Oh and slightly off-topic, can anyone recommend decent caravan insurance? I did try the AA caravan insurance and they will only insure for leisure use and not for use as primary accommodation during the Week; then I found another company that would insure him based on his circumstances for £65 per year. However some of you might have a better source.

 

Also my opinion but I don't think a hitchlock is enough to keep the caravan safe while unattended - which let's face it - is a lot of the time in his case. I am considering buying a wheel clamp or similar to further enhance security - what do you think?

 

Anyway, please still give me feedback on the gas and battery questions - but the above popped in my mind while it was wandering.

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If hes carrying the battery in the car he should get a battery box and strap it down, the last thing he want in an accident is a battery flying around.

 

If he has a battery box in the boot he can wire a charging circuit from the caravans relay in the boot. A spare battery could then be charged while he's driving to work and back.

 

201719.jpgbattery boxes are about £20

Paul B

. .......Mondeo Estate & Elddis Avanté 505 (Tobago)

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If hes carrying the battery in the car he should get a battery box and strap it down, the last thing he want in an accident is a battery flying around.

 

If he has a battery box in the boot he can wire a charging circuit from the caravans relay in the boot. A spare battery could then be charged while he's driving to work and back.

 

201719.jpgbattery boxes are about £20

Definitely get a battery box. I spilt some acid in my car recently and it wrote it off!

Quick release connectors will make your life easier

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A battery box would be recommended but not essential - the far more important advice would be to ensure it is very well secured. A battery's case is pretty solid and they have to be faulty or be being overcharged for any acid to leak (they are sealed) but having 30KG of lead flying around in accident is very, very bad news.

 

RE gas - SafeFill will be significantly cheaper than Calor. Check out the Gas forum.

 

RE charger - lots on here swear by Lidl smart chargers because they apparently work well and are very cheap. I prefer the CTEK range, my charger of choice is the CTEK MSX7 but I've also heard good things about the slightly cheaper MSX5

 

RE security - whilst neither hitch or wheel locks will protect you from a determined thief, hitch locks can be bypassed very quickly and simply with a chain around the A-frame. A wheel lock would be better. Personally, I have both. I would recommend Alko because, assuming you have an Alko chassis, they integrate well but there are many options on the market.

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£65 for insurance is good I doubt you'd get cheaper.

Gas wise as long as you are running propane that is fine, butane will freeze. Get it from the cheapest source you can it doesn't matter which supplier you use.

As some have suggested a refillable might be a good option, I use an Alugas other brands are safefill, Gasit and Gaslow.

There are varying sizes in cylinder, the Safeill outlet is also the fill point where as with the other brands the bayonet filling adapter screws onto the filling inlet and the pigtail or regulator screw into the bottle outlet.

 

The initial outlay will be high but my 6kg cost about £6. 50 to fill from empty from memory. Resale is good if it wasn't going to be used post this winter. I would check the safefill website for known filling point that are near to home or work site.

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As said I did not use much gas, I would try to live on electric only, but Calor Gas does not actually freeze it just boils less vigorously as the temperature drops, so fridge would work, but a gas ring was like a toc H candle. The bigger the bottle the less of a problem and as already said using the red cylinders instead of blue did work better.

 

The problem is as you use gas that cools the cylinder down so insulating does not help. I have seen guys pouring hot water over cylinders to get them working but trace elements in the hot water can cause it to smell?

 

I paid a fortune for the site I was on in Sizewell, Bristol was far better caravan hidden with 9 others inside a barn. Many sites only have a 10 month licence finding any site open in December or January is hard. It is to stop people living on the sites they are only for holidays. At Sizewell the site had a temporary licence for the building of Sizewell B and once the power station was completed the licence for all year around was revoked.

 

All year around licences are had to get and caravan site owners will often shop one another when they find the rules are being broken by other sites. Often they can have caravan on the site but they can't be used. As an away worker I know this has caused problems where people have needed to move the caravan at a moments notice.

 

It however worked well for me. When I was doing it we had the pole tax. Since I only spend one weekend in four at home local council said I should not be paying them pole tax. Hotels and caravan sites had to pay the council rates biased on the pole tax there residents would pay so the site I was on paid extra rates to cover the pole tax due from the extra 25 people living all year around, however there were more like 75 people living on the site so we got away without paying pole tax.

 

I say this as now no pole tax councils maybe are not as worried about caravan users not paying their council tax. But you should be ready in case it needs moving in a hurry.

 

Living without EHU can be done, and many do it, but it's not a cheap option I am sure the cost of solar panels, generators, fuel cells, split charging, gas, and other fuel, and of course deprecation on the caravan is far more expensive than sharing a student house. However I would not want to live in a student house and would be willing to pay the extra to sleep in my own bed. My wife takes the caravan away and pays more on site fees than I spent on B&B without including extra fuel or food. But we still do it. It's not a cheap options it's a live style option. We could sell a car if we didn't use the caravan.

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A battery box would be recommended but not essential - the far more important advice would be to ensure it is very well secured. A battery's case is pretty solid and they have to be faulty or be being overcharged for any acid to leak (they are sealed) but having 30KG of lead flying around in accident is very, very bad news.

 

RE gas - SafeFill will be significantly cheaper than Calor. Check out the Gas forum.

 

RE charger - lots on here swear by Lidl smart chargers because they apparently work well and are very cheap. I prefer the CTEK range, my charger of choice is the CTEK MSX7 but I've also heard good things about the slightly cheaper MSX5

 

RE security - whilst neither hitch or wheel locks will protect you from a determined thief, hitch locks can be bypassed very quickly and simply with a chain around the A-frame. A wheel lock would be better. Personally, I have both. I would recommend Alko because, assuming you have an Alko chassis, they integrate well but there are many options on the market.

 

RE SafeFill, sounds like a good plan - and according to Elite Caravans where we purchased the van only a 6kg bottle will neatly fit inside, other than that I would need a bottle that would stand outside with a longer hose.

 

RE charger - great info there.

 

RE security - again according to Elite, this older van without alloys will not, without significant expense, support the Alko wheel lock - therefore a Milenco wheel lock was recommended instead which seems like a cost effective solution. I know that the determined thief will not be deterred, but at least this would make life harder.

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I've got the Aldi charger and it gets used on car, motorbike and leisure, the lidl looks the same. It charges up to and just over 14v and charged my 105ah without issue albeit in a couple of days. It appears a good piece of kit.

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