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After being away this weekend off grid, I’m now wondering if my setup is suitable.

i g he are a 2012 Sterling Solitaire.

I gave an 85amp battery fitted. But thinking a second battery would give me more capacity. 
but I gave 2 questions.

where to put it? Can place it in a battery box in the front locker next to the gas cylinders?

or am I better off upgrading my solar panel? Not sure how big it is but it’s factory fit. 

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A second battery will give you more “reserve” but eat into your payload by 25-30kg 

What makes you think you want/need a second battery? Did you run out of 12v electrical power? 

 

An ‘85ah battery is a bit on the weedy side if going off grid. If you are having concerns then maybe a new, higher capacity battery might be your best bet? A huge solar panel is of little use if the battery it’s feeding cannot accommodate what it’s pushing out. 

Edited by Mr Plodd

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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19 minutes ago, mark-w said:

 

or am I better off upgrading my solar panel? Not sure how big it is but it’s factory fit. 

Back then likely to be just a 20W solar panel 

Cheers, Martin

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You cannot put battery in gas locker.  It’s simply unsafe. 
As mr Pold said, second battery will really  eat payload. 
Also, battery needs to be sealed from habitation area, so dedicated enclosure. 
Why not consider a bigger capacity battery 

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Posted (edited)

I didn’t run out of power but was paranoid that I would. 
Upgrading the solar panel would be good then. 20w is not much use.

as for fitting a battery in front locker, I don’t see the issue.

if it’s fitted inside a battery box it’s then sealed in so no issues. 
there should be no reason to keep playing with the battery and on the odd occasion I need to play with it. It only takes 5 mins to remove the gas cylinder . 
 

as for eating payload, that’s not much of a concern, weight isn’t an issue as I have plenty of space inside the prime mover. Which will either be a Defender or Range Rover. 

Edited by mark-w
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I would check carefully just what output your solar panel is before replacing it (or fitting a second to supplement the existing one) 

Dont lose sight of the fact that on a cloudy day a solar panel doesn’t produce very much, so you still need as much battery “capacity” as possible. 

 

I have solar panels at home, yesterday with clear sun all day they produced over 25Kwh, but last month, on a particularly cloudy day, only a fraction over 3Kwh 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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3 minutes ago, Mr Plodd said:

I would check carefully just what output your solar panel is before replacing it (or fitting a second to supplement the existing one) 

Dont lose sight of the fact that on a cloudy day a solar panel doesn’t produce very much, so you still need as much battery “capacity” as possible. 

 

I have solar panels at home, yesterday with clear sun all day they produced over 25Kwh, but last month, on a particularly cloudy day, only a fraction over 3Kwh 

When I cleaned the van before going away I finally saw the size of the panel. It’s not much bigger than an A4 sheet of paper. So I think it was more a fit a small panel to tick the solar panel box

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It’s clearly of very little value and, like you said, a “box tick” item. 

 

I cannot stress enough that no matter how big a solar panel you fit you still need a decent sized battery and a lot of sunshine! Look at tge figures I quoted for my home solar panels, and they are angled at about 35° to the sun.  A caravan roof is horizontal (and might be shaded by trees etc) 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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10 minutes ago, Mr Plodd said:

It’s clearly of very little value and, like you said, a “box tick” item. 

 

I cannot stress enough that no matter how big a solar panel you fit you still need a decent sized battery and a lot of sunshine! Look at tge figures I quoted for my home solar panels, and they are angled at about 35° to the sun.  A caravan roof is horizontal (and might be shaded by trees etc) 

Will have a google and see what modern vans are fitting 

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A couple or 5 and a bit points:

1. The solar panel fitted by Swift at that time was only intended to support security equipment in storage. Replacing it with a 100W panel will add a few Kgs and cost quite a bit if a decent controller is installed so that maximum benefit is achieved.

2. Interior lights in Swifts of that era were not LED. Has the caravan been converted to LED?  This provides a huge reduction in the most common 12v consumption, apart from TV. 

3. The 85ah battery can be replaced with a dimensionally same 120ah, and a thorough charge with a decent charger prior to any off grid trip would probably be the biggest" bang for buck."

4. A battery or any electrical equipment in the gas housing is illegal and potentially dangerous. An extra battery of suitable spec'can be located safely in the habitation area. Thousands of motor caravans are made this way.

5. Why not dump the motor mover saving a lot of weight, and Kw. For off grid work you can reverse it into place:D

5 and a bit. Oh! Why not dump the microwave oven too. Another useless heavy gadget.

Edited by Ern
More to say!

Ern

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Ern said:

A couple or 5 points:

1. The solar panel fitted by Swift at that time was only intended to support security equipment in storage. Replacing it with a 100W panel will add a few Kgs and cost quite a bit if a decent controller is installed so that maximum benefit is achieved.

2. Interior lights in Swifts of that era were not LED. Has the caravan been converted to LED?  This provides a huge reduction in the most common 12v consumption, apart from TV. 

3. The 85ah battery can be replaced with a dimensionally same 120ah, and a thorough charge with a decent charger prior to any off grid trip would probably be the biggest" bang for buck."

4. A battery or any electrical equipment in the gas housing is illegal and potentially dangerous. An extra battery of suitable spec'can be located safely in the habitation area. Thousands of motor caravans are made this way.

5. Why not dump the motor mover saving a lot of weight, and Kwh. For off grid work you can reverse it into place:D

1, good to know

2, not that I know of

3, that’s my first option 

4, any link to the law? Or just a caravan myth?

5, we have a favourite site in the new forest where it’s just pitch up in the woods. But we do visit proper sites where a motor mover just makes life easy

Edited by mark-w
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1 hour ago, mark-w said:

Will have a google and see what modern vans are fitting 

 

Most modern caravans are fitted with a 100w solar panel from new, along with sophisticated charge controllers and, although caravans don’t come with batteries, most owners will fit a minimum of 100-110 ah ones. 

 

 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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14 minutes ago, Mr Plodd said:

 

Most modern caravans are fitted with a 100w solar panel from new, along with sophisticated charge controllers and, although caravans don’t come with batteries, most owners will fit a minimum of 100-110 ah ones. 

 

 

Good to know. I’ll have to read through the build specs for my van.

surprised the dealer fitted such a small battery then.

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1 hour ago, mark-w said:

4, any link to the law? Or just a caravan myth?

Gas Installation and Use Regulations, Electrical installation regulations.

It is NOT permitted by law to have a battery, or any other electrical equipment,  in the same compartment as the gas cylinders, even in a battery box.

It is no use trying to do things that would put you and others at risk just because you "think" it is OK.

Edited by Brecon
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55 minutes ago, mark-w said:

 

 

 

4, any link to the law? Or just a caravan myth?

 

As I typed that post, I thought I might be asked about this :rolleyes:  I am fairly certain that we are bound by law on this one, but really can't remember the particular legislation. I think you will find it in Schedule E of the electrical legislation which does apply to touring caravans as well as other leisure vehicles and of course Building Reg's.

Ern

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You don't need to be Einstein to work out that putting any electrical item that may produce a spark if a fault were to develop alongside a cylinder of gas that may develop a leak is a really stupid idea. I can't believe this is even being questioned. You don't need the exact legislation, it's common sense. :angry:

John 

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6 minutes ago, johntog said:

You don't need to be Einstein to work out that putting any electrical item that may produce a spark if a fault were to develop alongside a cylinder of gas that may develop a leak is a really stupid idea. I can't believe this is even being questioned. You don't need the exact legislation, it's common sense. :angry:

John 

 

Exactly, but some folk seem to think they know best.

 

Gas + Spark (from any switch or battery terminal within the gas locker) = very big bang, no caravan left and probably no owner left alive, or anyone near them.

Edited by Brecon
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22 minutes ago, Brecon said:

Gas Installation and Use Regulations, Electrical installation regulations.

It is NOT permitted by law to have a battery, or any other electrical equipment,  in the same compartment as the gas cylinders, even in a battery box.

It is no use trying to do things that would put you and others at risk just because you "think" it is OK.

Can I just point out that Section 2(5) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 states:

(5) Nothing in these Regulations shall apply in relation to the supply of gas to, or anything done in respect of a gas fitting on—

(a) a self-propelled vehicle except when such a vehicle is—

(i) hired out in the course of a business; or

(ii) made available to members of the public in the course of a business carried on from that vehicle;

(b) a sea-going ship;

(c) a vessel not requiring a national or international load line certificate except when such vessel is—

(i) hired out in the course of a business;

(ii) made available to members of the public in the course of a business carried out from that vessel; or

(iii) used primarily for domestic or residential purposes;

(d) a hovercraft; or

(e) a caravan used for touring otherwise than when hired out in the course of a business.

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And can I point out as a caravan engineer of over 20 years that whilst the regulations do not apply strictly to the touring caravan, ALL gas installations are done to the same level of compliance and are strictly adhered to by caravan engineers for the safety of owners and others.

Edited by Brecon
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3 minutes ago, Brecon said:

And can I point out as a caravan engineer of over 20 years that whilst the regulations do not apply strictly to the touring caravan, ALL gas installations are done to the same level of compliance and are strictly adhered to by caravan engineers for the safety of owners and others.

I'm not disputing the standards applied by responsible contractors and fitters but your assertion that the legislation applies is incorrect.

 

In addition the IET wiring regulations are not legislation but an industry standard.  The NICEIC states:

 

Industry Standards are voluntary codes of rules written by the industry to which they apply and approved by a nationally recognised body.  They are aimed at simplifying the terminology, processes and procedures used within that particular industry.

 

Standards (whether International, European or British) do not form part of law, nor are they legally enforceable, except where they form part of a contract.  In a contract, the relevant standards will normally be stated as the standard of work required to fulfil the contract.

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4 minutes ago, Legal Eagle said:

I'm not disputing the standards applied by responsible contractors and fitters but your assertion that the legislation applies is incorrect.

 

In addition the IET wiring regulations are not legislation but an industry standard.  The NICEIC states:

 

Industry Standards are voluntary codes of rules written by the industry to which they apply and approved by a nationally recognised body.  They are aimed at simplifying the terminology, processes and procedures used within that particular industry.

 

Standards (whether International, European or British) do not form part of law, nor are they legally enforceable, except where they form part of a contract.  In a contract, the relevant standards will normally be stated as the standard of work required to fulfil the contract.

So, what you are advocating is that anyone can do anything they want and have no regard for safety, of themselves or others.......well done !!!!

 

I despair !

Edited by Brecon
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20 minutes ago, Brecon said:

So, what you are advocating is that anyone can do anything they want and have no regard for safety, of themselves or others.......well done !!!!

You stated, "Gas Installation and Use Regulations, Electrical installation regulations.

It is NOT permitted by law to have a battery, or any other electrical equipment,  in the same compartment as the gas cylinders, even in a battery box."

That is incorrect information. It's all in the public domain.

 

How does correcting your error advocate anyone being able to do anything they want and with no regard for safety, of themselves or others?

 

I despair too. The major issue is that safety matters that should be subject to legislation aren't. Even Part P of the building regs. is wishy washy and doesn't go far enough.

Edited by Legal Eagle
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Do we have to have laws governing everything that is self evidently potentially dangerous or can some things be so obvious that they don't need a law? Having said that I guess there those that don't consider such an action as potentially dangerous. Conversely, once you have a law in place there are also those that either ignore it because they object to being restricted by any law, or aren't even aware a particular area is governed by a law. I think most people would say that any industry standard covering good, safe practice is an excellent starting point for DIY operations, given they are designed to protect professional operatives in the business.  

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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34 minutes ago, Steamdrivenandy said:

I think most people would say that any industry standard covering good, safe practice is an excellent starting point for DIY operations, given they are designed to protect professional operatives in the business.  

Absolutely, but let's make sure we quote the facts correctly instead of perpetuating myths. Next thing will be an assertion that the 85% rule (aimed at road safety) is enshrined in road traffic law!

Manufacturers and other professionals must comply with certain regulations and industry standards to ensure gas and electricity safety whilst you and I have no such obligations. Until the general sale of gas and electrical equipment and fittings are banned for DIY, safety will always be compromised. Common sense is not enforceable!

Edited by Legal Eagle
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Posted (edited)

I’m not going to justify my question as I believe it’s valid. The front locker is not a gas locker, it is a wet locker. 
having been around rally cars for a few years and seeing the battery boxes they use when a battery is installed inside a car I know that they are airtight to prevent gassing off into the interior of the car.

so a sealed battery box inside a wet locker should in theory be fine.

the battery can spark away if it so wants and no gas can enter or leave. 
But to be fair if the gas is in anyway leaking then you’ll smell it a mile away.

plus my current battery is situated in its box that isn’t airtight to the interior of the van. It can’t be. There are cables passing through in standard gromits, for the main power leads, TV coax, motor mover power leads.  And the battery box is within 24” or so of the gas manifold within the van. 
so if it was that dangerous the battery would be on the other side of the van.

Edited by mark-w
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