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Hello everyone - do any caravans avoid the dreaded damp??


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Hi everyone I’m Ruby.  I caravanned as a child and loved it, I now want to give my boys aged 5 and 11 the same experiences.  We are seasoned campers but last year something switched and I just feel as though I’m getting too old for canvas and I want solid walls around me and perhaps a comfy bed lol.

I’ve been looking for a caravan for a year but the more I read the more it seems there is hardly a caravan unaffected by the dreaded damp!  Even new ones! 
me and my partner are pretty handy - he is a joiner and we have renovated several houses.  I wouldn’t really mind renovating a caravan however the issue is that our caravan needs to be in storage not on our drive and I don’t know if it’s possible to get power etc to renovate when on a Storage site? Also - I would be annoyed if I paid good money for a supposedly sound caravan which I then had to strip back.  
I am thinking that buying new would be best but that goes against my general thinking that it’s a total waste of money buying brand new, I usually stick to the rule of buying a car that’s three years old, almost new but 10k or more cheaper!  But at least with most new caravans it seems you get 10 years water ingress.

 

any advice as to the least damp caravan brands would be appreciated.

 

I would quite like a lightweight 6 berth - my fave over the past year in my search has been the Xplore 586 x

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Only way to avoid damp is to get a van that has no wood in it. Freedoms are Fibreglass but small and as single skin hard to heat.

 

Adria have about a good a reputation for damp as possible. We are on our second. Both 2nd hand. They have some quirky layouts compared to the conventional UK brands.

 

You may get 100 different answers to this one. The answer is of course to not buy a Friday afternoon van from any brand!!

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I think the damp issue is very exaggerated.

There are hundreds of thousands of vans out there, and the vast, vast majority have no damp worth worrying about.

 

Only those folks who have a damp problem post about it.

 

Those who don't have a damp problem (like me and many, many thousands of others) don't post "I don't have damp in my van." 

 

It's exactly the same as any other product, only the faulty ones get the publicity. Why is it publicity? Because it's not common.

In a similar vein, how many times have you read in the paper "Man wakes up, has his breakfast, kisses his wife and kids goodbye, goes to work all day where he works well to his bosses satisfaction, comes home, spends a happy evening with his family and then they all go happily to bed"?  - Never.

But 1 person breaks a law and it's headline news.

 

Understand what I'm saying?

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6 minutes ago, daveat92 said:

I think the damp issue is very exaggerated.

There are hundreds of thousands of vans out there, and the vast, vast majority have no damp worth worrying about.

 

Only those folks who have a damp problem post about it.

 

Those who don't have a damp problem (like me and many, many thousands of others) don't post "I don't have damp in my van." 

 

It's exactly the same as any other product, only the faulty ones get the publicity. Why is it publicity? Because it's not common.

In a similar vein, how many times have you read in the paper "Man wakes up, has his breakfast, kisses his wife and kids goodbye, goes to work all day where he works well to his bosses satisfaction, comes home, spends a happy evening with his family and then they all go happily to bed"?  - Never.

But 1 person breaks a law and it's headline news.

 

Understand what I'm saying?

Equally anecdotal. What we need is empirical data from repairers, dealers  and warranty claims.

 

My anecdote is: We have had five caravans since 1992 all had damp at some point in their lives, some within 2  years from new. Same brand.

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It would be easy to build caravans to be much more damp resistant, the trouble is that they would either be heavy or expensive or both!

Both of the big two manufacturers now mainly use construction materials that are not significantly affected by damp so the problem is much less than it was 15 years ago.

Remember that it is not actually the damp that is the problem, rather the rot and mould it causes.

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Every caravan is dry until it becomes damp!

Any make of caravan can get damp issues but in most cases any damp is minor and if picked up on an annual service, can be repaired before it gets too bad. Occasionally vans can get severe and serious damp issues but thankfully they are rarer.

The reality is that forums like this hear about damp vans but very few  people report about dry vans, which is probably a good thing because the Forum would be clogged up if everyone posted to say theirs was dry.

Ideally, if you are not buying a brand new van with the peace of mind of a 10 year water ingress warranty, then it would be adviseable to get a full damp test and report before buying.

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The prevalence of damp in caravans is to some extent understandable if you examine the facts. Most caravan manufacturers build caravans to be as light as practically possible to maximise tow car capability, and within a budget to ensure market competitiveness and breadth. Hence massive structural integrity and longevity are not absolutely top of their priorities.

Much typical use of a caravan does not help. They are given a good shaking being dragged around our pot holed roads for a few weeks of the year and then largely abandoned for months on end to the ravages of our weather with fluctuating temperatures and precipitation doing their worst.

It is possible for a caravan to survive this difficult life without suffering the ravages of damp but it usually requires sensitive ownership. That means regular maintenance, servicing, examination and prompt action to address any issues arising. Considered winter storage is massively important. The merits or otherwise of covers will rage forever, but I personally believe a quality, good fitting breathable cover to protect against the ravages of winter is one of the best investments a caravan owner can make. 

Buying right in the first place, if not new (and possibly even then!), is obviously a necessity. Avoiding damp is more difficult if a van is already susceptible. 

Buy right, maintain and use considerately and damp is not inevitable. 

Life is not a rehearsal . . .:)

Porsche Cayenne S Diesel & Knaus StarClass 695. Previously Audi S4 Avant & Elddis Super Sirocco

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You might find that a new caravan does not cost much more than one a couple of years old but you get a longer warranty and everything has not been used by somebody else. We found the cost difference to be low enough so our 2 caravans were bought new. Cars drop in price a lot more than caravans so are not a good comparison.

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I think damp can be a misnomer, the question should be are there any caravans that don't succumb to water ingress due to faulty materials, incorrect materials, poor assembly, poor design which in the main are the culprits most often seen.

 

In this day and age there are no excuses for bonded windows falling out ( seen this week ), wrong sealant on critical joints, cracks in body panels, wrong screws fitted, the list goes on.

 

Though water ingress causes the more serious problems with timber in a van, ingress will still cause problems in one without timber.

 

I can think of no other item costing  £25,000  to £45,000 and upwards, where such problems are not only known but are expected, with the added insult in the time taken to get repairs done, even then with no guarantee that the problem won't re-occur.

 

Yes, we in the main only hear about the faulty ones as with any manufactured item, but on CT there are uncomfortably too many, bearing in mind that there will be  many thousands more  with leaks out in the wild belonging to folk who don't go on any caravan forums.

 

There is the technology, expertise, design, materials and manpower out there to all but prevent this happening, the clue is that some manufacturers rarely have these problems, others not so!

 

 

Common sense isn't a gift, it's a punishment because you have to deal with everyone who doesn't have it.  :rolleyes:

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1 hour ago, baddon said:

Only way to avoid damp is to get a van that has no wood in it. Freedoms are Fibreglass but small and as single skin hard to heat.

 

Adria have about a good a reputation for damp as possible. We are on our second. Both 2nd hand. They have some quirky layouts compared to the conventional UK brands.

 

You may get 100 different answers to this one. The answer is of course to not buy a Friday afternoon van from any brand!!

 

I like adria but does it cause an issue if the door is on the wrong side?

And yes I don’t want a Friday afternoon caravan!

1 hour ago, daveat92 said:

I think the damp issue is very exaggerated.

There are hundreds of thousands of vans out there, and the vast, vast majority have no damp worth worrying about.

 

Only those folks who have a damp problem post about it.

 

Those who don't have a damp problem (like me and many, many thousands of others) don't post "I don't have damp in my van." 

 

It's exactly the same as any other product, only the faulty ones get the publicity. Why is it publicity? Because it's not common.

In a similar vein, how many times have you read in the paper "Man wakes up, has his breakfast, kisses his wife and kids goodbye, goes to work all day where he works well to his bosses satisfaction, comes home, spends a happy evening with his family and then they all go happily to bed"?  - Never.

But 1 person breaks a law and it's headline news.

 

Understand what I'm saying?

Yes totally - to be fair I don’t recall damp being an issue in my childhood caravans however I’m not sure my parents even checked for it? My dad did have a damp swift but I was found early and rectified.

1 hour ago, Fenester said:

Equally anecdotal. What we need is empirical data from repairers, dealers  and warranty claims.

 

My anecdote is: We have had five caravans since 1992 all had damp at some point in their lives, some within 2  years from new. Same brand.

Oh no! Can you say what brand or is that not allowed?

1 hour ago, Stevan said:

It would be easy to build caravans to be much more damp resistant, the trouble is that they would either be heavy or expensive or both!

Both of the big two manufacturers now mainly use construction materials that are not significantly affected by damp so the problem is much less than it was 15 years ago.

Remember that it is not actually the damp that is the problem, rather the rot and mould it causes.

Yes and the rot is more down to lack of maintenance?

58 minutes ago, hp100425ev said:

Every caravan is dry until it becomes damp!

Any make of caravan can get damp issues but in most cases any damp is minor and if picked up on an annual service, can be repaired before it gets too bad. Occasionally vans can get severe and serious damp issues but thankfully they are rarer.

The reality is that forums like this hear about damp vans but very few  people report about dry vans, which is probably a good thing because the Forum would be clogged up if everyone posted to say theirs was dry.

Ideally, if you are not buying a brand new van with the peace of mind of a 10 year water ingress warranty, then it would be adviseable to get a full damp test and report before buying.

Yes that’s pushing me to consider more a new van, then I can monitor and fix anything that goes wrong, possibly under warranty.

56 minutes ago, KnausCol said:

The prevalence of damp in caravans is to some extent understandable if you examine the facts. Most caravan manufacturers build caravans to be as light as practically possible to maximise tow car capability, and within a budget to ensure market competitiveness and breadth. Hence massive structural integrity and longevity are not absolutely top of their priorities.

Much typical use of a caravan does not help. They are given a good shaking being dragged around our pot holed roads for a few weeks of the year and then largely abandoned for months on end to the ravages of our weather with fluctuating temperatures and precipitation doing their worst.

It is possible for a caravan to survive this difficult life without suffering the ravages of damp but it usually requires sensitive ownership. That means regular maintenance, servicing, examination and prompt action to address any issues arising. Considered winter storage is massively important. The merits or otherwise of covers will rage forever, but I personally believe a quality, good fitting breathable cover to protect against the ravages of winter is one of the best investments a caravan owner can make. 

Buying right in the first place, if not new (and possibly even then!), is obviously a necessity. Avoiding damp is more difficult if a van is already susceptible. 

Buy right, maintain and use considerately and damp is not inevitable. 


I will definitely look after our van - I’m thinking as we want a van to last the children’s childhood, it may be better to buy new and then properly care for it from the start?

13 minutes ago, Paul1957 said:

You might find that a new caravan does not cost much more than one a couple of years old but you get a longer warranty and everything has not been used by somebody else. We found the cost difference to be low enough so our 2 caravans were bought new. Cars drop in price a lot more than caravans so are not a good comparison.


that’s a really good point -. I’m not bothered about having something ‘new’ so I am happy to save the 10k or so on a 3 year old car - however if a caravan doesn’t depreciate then perhaps buying new is actually quite sensible?

6 minutes ago, Silversurf said:

I think damp can be a misnomer, the question should be are there any caravans that don't succumb to water ingress due to faulty materials, incorrect materials, poor assembly, poor design which in the main are the culprits most often seen.

 

In this day and age there are no excuses for bonded windows falling out ( seen this week ), wrong sealant on critical joints, cracks in body panels, wrong screws fitted, the list goes on.

 

Though water ingress causes the more serious problems with timber in a van, ingress will still cause problems in one without timber.

 

I can think of no other item costing  £25,000  to £45,000 and upwards, where such problems are not only known but are expected, with the added insult in the time taken to get repairs done, even then with no guarantee that the problem won't re-occur.

 

Yes, we in the main only hear about the faulty ones as with any manufactured item, but on CT there are uncomfortably too many, bearing in mind that there will be  many thousands more  with leaks out in the wild belonging to folk who don't go on any caravan forums.

 

There is the technology, expertise, design, materials and manpower out there to all but prevent this happening, the clue is that some manufacturers rarely have these problems, others not so!

 

 


 

13 minutes ago, Silversurf said:

I think damp can be a misnomer, the question should be are there any caravans that don't succumb to water ingress due to faulty materials, incorrect materials, poor assembly, poor design which in the main are the culprits most often seen.

 

In this day and age there are no excuses for bonded windows falling out ( seen this week ), wrong sealant on critical joints, cracks in body panels, wrong screws fitted, the list goes on.

 

Though water ingress causes the more serious problems with timber in a van, ingress will still cause problems in one without timber.

 

I can think of no other item costing  £25,000  to £45,000 and upwards, where such problems are not only known but are expected, with the added insult in the time taken to get repairs done, even then with no guarantee that the problem won't re-occur.

 

Yes, we in the main only hear about the faulty ones as with any manufactured item, but on CT there are uncomfortably too many, bearing in mind that there will be  many thousands more  with leaks out in the wild belonging to folk who don't go on any caravan forums.

 

There is the technology, expertise, design, materials and manpower out there to all but prevent this happening, the clue is that some manufacturers rarely have these problems, others not so!

 

 


That’s the scariest and most worrying think - spending 25k for it to be damp and gross!

Just wanted to say thanks so much for all the helpful replies! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my query.

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Please don’t think that a new caravan wont depreciate - it will.

However, generally they don't depreciate as fast as cars do, but remember that they loose value by the amount of the vat as soon as you tow them off the forecourt.

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It’s a big financial commitment owning a caravan! 
Sometimes I wonder if it’s better to just put the money into a couple of nice holidays renting somewhere or in a hotel.  However I have such fond memories of the freedom and fresh air of camp/caravan sites and I’m keen to provide that for my own kids.  Plus I like that you know where you are staying and don’t have to worry about booking into a bad hotel etc.

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37 minutes ago, Silversurf said:

I think damp can be a misnomer, the question should be are there any caravans that don't succumb to water ingress due to faulty materials, incorrect materials, poor assembly, poor design which in the main are the culprits most often seen.

 

In this day and age there are no excuses for bonded windows falling out ( seen this week ), wrong sealant on critical joints, cracks in body panels, wrong screws fitted, the list goes on.

 

Though water ingress causes the more serious problems with timber in a van, ingress will still cause problems in one without timber.

 

I can think of no other item costing  £25,000  to £45,000 and upwards, where such problems are not only known but are expected, with the added insult in the time taken to get repairs done, even then with no guarantee that the problem won't re-occur.

 

Yes, we in the main only hear about the faulty ones as with any manufactured item, but on CT there are uncomfortably too many, bearing in mind that there will be  many thousands more  with leaks out in the wild belonging to folk who don't go on any caravan forums.

 

There is the technology, expertise, design, materials and manpower out there to all but prevent this happening, the clue is that some manufacturers rarely have these problems, others not so!

 

 

Water ingress is the starting point. Damp is when that water soaks into the structure of the van. Cars have loads of points of water ingress, such as heater intakes and openable windows, but these are all fitted with drains to let the water out again!

Caravans are all primarily hand built, £45,000 (your figure!) will not buy you a hand built car or boat (with sleeping accommodation), and either would be considerably heavier than a typical caravan.

Yes, there is "technology, expertise, design, materials and manpower out there to all but prevent this", but at the cost of weight and/or money!

All caravan manufacturers have the same issues to a greater or lesser extent, and each makes it's own choices on priorities. e.g. The little fibreglass Freedoms are very waterproof but are very heavy for their size, a Freedom van weighs well over half the weight of a conventional van that has three times the space inside. If the build of a Freedom were to be applied to a full sized van it would be a true heavyweight, use exotic materials to get the weight down and the costs would skyrocket.

Airstream vans use an all aluminium construction and end up both heavy and expensive!

13 minutes ago, RubyWednesday said:

It’s a big financial commitment owning a caravan! 
Sometimes I wonder if it’s better to just put the money into a couple of nice holidays renting somewhere or in a hotel.  However I have such fond memories of the freedom and fresh air of camp/caravan sites and I’m keen to provide that for my own kids.  Plus I like that you know where you are staying and don’t have to worry about booking into a bad hotel etc.

Only a couple of holidays? How many can you get in a caravan each year, we expect four or five every year!

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1 hour ago, RubyWednesday said:

It’s a big financial commitment owning a caravan! 
Sometimes I wonder if it’s better to just put the money into a couple of nice holidays renting somewhere or in a hotel.  However I have such fond memories of the freedom and fresh air of camp/caravan sites and I’m keen to provide that for my own kids.  Plus I like that you know where you are staying and don’t have to worry about booking into a bad hotel etc.

With a caravan all the money is not lost after a couple of holidays, the caravan can be sold and a lot of the money got back. When we got our first caravan we went from 2 weeks away rented to 5 weeks away for the same cost but still had a caravan.

 

Looking at Fenester's profile the damp caravans may have all been Lunars as he says he keeps getting the same make and the current profile says Lunar. You may not want to get a Lunar anyway since they went out of business last year and I am not sure what is happening with them now.

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I am afraid any make can leak and there are no statistics to say which are worst.

Practical Caravan do a customer survey every year and Adria and Coachman tend to come out on top for customer satisfaction, although the order varies. Basically this would suggest they have least faults but both tend to be heavy, although that might suggest better build and why they do better. Swift and Bailey take the middle positions most years. Elddis were bottom except for last year when Lunar were. Difficult to be sure but it has been suggested that Elddis have improved under new ownership. 

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Thanks everyone - that’s the aim to have more holidays but I’m hoping I won’t find it such a faff to tow and set up that we don’t use the caravan much - hopefully the set up will become second nature and I would also be interested in trying a seasonal pitch somewhere one year too.

 

Elddiss are now owned by hyper aren’t they? I’ve read that hymer seems to make good quality caravans ?

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2 hours ago, RubyWednesday said:

Thanks everyone - that’s the aim to have more holidays but I’m hoping I won’t find it such a faff to tow and set up that we don’t use the caravan much - hopefully the set up will become second nature.

Don't be put off by any frustrations suffered in your early adventures. No doubt setting up gets easier and quicker with experience so persevere :). The main thing to remember initially is take your time and don't get stressed. No one is judging you and more likely than not if you are struggling with anything friendly help will be at hand.

Life is not a rehearsal . . .:)

Porsche Cayenne S Diesel & Knaus StarClass 695. Previously Audi S4 Avant & Elddis Super Sirocco

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3 hours ago, KnausCol said:

Don't be put off by any frustrations suffered in your early adventures. No doubt setting up gets easier and quicker with experience so persevere :). The main thing to remember initially is take your time and don't get stressed. No one is judging you and more likely than not if you are struggling with anything friendly help will be at hand.

Thank you -  I get the impression that caravanners are a knowledgeable and helpful group of people.

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Adria sell UK spec caravans with the door on "our side" so its not a problem. This also means they tend to have better cooking facilities as our European counterparts dont seem to bother with grills, microwaves. Also another point to watch on older ones is the lack of electric heating (often gas only on the Altea range)

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Yes and they're looking better inside these days-but you still don't get an electric ring on the hob-important factor for us. (just 3 gas burners)/ Adrias are still made the traditional way ie wood frame. 

Edited by Jezzerb
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Yes Elddis are now owned by Hymer who are now owned by an American group. The original Elddis management remained, though so it is not clear what if any improvements Hymer have made, although generally people seem to think the newer models are showing improvements.

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I now have a new Swift, which doesn't have damp but I left it out of my tale as it is only a year old. This is van 6.

 

I did not declare the brand as blame and shame is against forum protocol.

 

As I said in five vans all had damp at some stage and required repairs. The first 2 were second hand and the damp was discovered on regular trade ins which the dealer absorbed on both occasions.

Van 3 had a patch by the toilet door easily sorted by an engineer.

Van 4 was within 12 months and repaired under warranty probably the most disappointing.

 

Van five had a rear corner leak in year five requiring  a substantial DIY repair as it was well out of warranty and the quote was very high due to labour costs. This was a lot of wallboard replacement and at the time quite gutting; then another leak at  year 12 around the fire chimney. We kept van 5 for 14 years as I had fell in love with my carpentry.

 

Q: You may ask "Why did we have 5 of the same brand  in a row"? 

 

A: The dealer principal is honorable and straight and they were the main dealer for the brand in the area.He now sells Bailey and Swift. So it was about dealer loyalty. Winchester Caravans previously Chichester Caravans Winchester - nice to post a positive is it not?

 

To be honest, prior to non wood systems, it seemed that all brands were as bad as each other. 

Edited by Fenester
typo
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On 21/03/2021 at 11:48, baddon said:

Adria sell UK spec caravans with the door on "our side" so its not a problem. This also means they tend to have better cooking facilities as our European counterparts dont seem to bother with grills, microwaves. Also another point to watch on older ones is the lack of electric heating (often gas only on the Altea range)

I have been looking (online) at an Altea Severn 542 dk- it looks nice - what would the issue with gas only heating be? More expensive?

22 hours ago, Jezzerb said:

Yes and they're looking better inside these days-but you still don't get an electric ring on the hob-important factor for us. (just 3 gas burners)/ Adrias are still made the traditional way ie wood frame. 

Again - is this an issue as gas is more costly?

5 hours ago, Wildwood said:

Yes Elddis are now owned by Hymer who are now owned by an American group. The original Elddis management remained, though so it is not clear what if any improvements Hymer have made, although generally people seem to think the newer models are showing improvements.

Thank you for your reply 

3 hours ago, Fenester said:

I now have a new Swift, which doesn't have damp but I left it out of my tale as it is only a year old. This is van 6.

 

I did not declare the brand as blame and shame is against forum protocol.

 

As I said in five vans all had damp at some stage and required repairs. The first 2 were second hand and the damp was discovered on regular trade ins which the dealer absorbed on both occasions.

Van 3 had a patch by the toilet door easily sorted by an engineer.

Van 4 was within 12 months and repaired under warranty probably the most disappointing.

 

Van five had a rear corner leak in year five requiring  a substantial DIY repair as it was well out of warranty and the quote was very high due to labour costs. This was a lot of wallboard replacement and at the time quite gutting; then another leak at  year 12 around the fire chimney. We kept van 5 for 14 years as I had fell in love with my carpentry.

 

Q: You may ask "Why did we have 5 of the same brand  in a row"? 

 

A: The dealer principal is honorable and straight and they were the main dealer for the brand in the area.He now sells Bailey and Swift. So it was about dealer loyalty. Winchester Caravans previously Chichester Caravans Winchester - nice to post a positive is it not?

 

To be honest, prior to non wood systems, it seemed that all brands were as bad as each other. 

Oh no you must have been gutted to have to do a major damp repair at only 5 years old! 
Nice to hear a positive recommendation - unfortunately Winchester is a bit far for us though.

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40 minutes ago, RubyWednesday said:

I have been looking (online) at an Altea Severn 542 dk- it looks nice - what would the issue with gas only heating be? More expensive?

They use the “gas fire” type of heating. The heaters are generally very reliable, and may be fitted with the blown air system (I think it’s called ultra vent ). The heat distribution is poor, so you can have noticeable hot and cold areas. 
Yes, bottled gas is expensive, but the consumption is dependent on how cold it is outside, and how warm you want inside. 
 

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23 hours ago, Lost in the wilderness said:

They use the “gas fire” type of heating. The heaters are generally very reliable, and may be fitted with the blown air system (I think it’s called ultra vent ). The heat distribution is poor, so you can have noticeable hot and cold areas. 
Yes, bottled gas is expensive, but the consumption is dependent on how cold it is outside, and how warm you want inside. 
 

Very warm ideally if it’s cold outside!

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