Van modifications
Improvements I've Made

Once having got used to the fitted equipment and how to use it, I started to think of what I might be able to do to make life a little easier when we are on tour. Jenny insists that she is a caravanner, not a camper so any little improvements I make are greatly appreciated, not just by her either.

Refrigeration

Portable fridge The fridge that we have in the caravan is something I've been quite used to as I had a similar model in my last boat. Three-way absorption fridges are a boon for caravanners, but the one we have is a bit too small for our needs. Having looked around for solutions I came up with the idea of having a portable fridge that would work on either 12 volts DC or 240 volts AC. Fate took a hand and I found a very good one when, unusually for me, I popped into Aldi for something completely different.

The next problems were where would it live when we on the move and when we were set up? In addition, how would I power it in those situations?

I could carry the portable fridge in the car as I have a spare 12 volt socket. I didn't really want to do that because my computer and camera bags live behind the driver's seat and Jenny's jewellery making kit lives behind the passenger seat. You can see my solution for trundling up to the right. Note that the cushions stop the fridge moving fore and aft and the table leg stops it moving sideways. I usually jam a sponge cloth between the fridge and the leg, just to give some protection.

Once we have arrived on site and have the awning set up, the fridge lives out there. I have wired in a 240 volt extension socket which is available from the battery box. The fridge is then powered by 240 volts until we move again. If we do not erect the awning, the fridge is kept in the bathroom for most of the time and again powered by 240 volts via an extension lead.

Solar Panel

When we bought our trundle truck we couldn't keep our caravan at home, even though our garden was the best part of one third of an acre! She therefore had to live in a secure storge compound. That was fine except that there was no power on-site. I was most concerned about the health and well being of our leisure battery. We have a very good one which was almost new when we bought the caravan. As you know, these are very expensive items to replace.

I was also concerned that we were reliant on EHUs when we were trundling and also that I had no power at the storage site, should I need it. I had had flexible solar panels on my boat so I knew their value. I also knew that technology advances have made them far more efficient today. After some consideration of our needs, I bought and fitted a 100 Watt solar panel with its associated controller. I also bought and fitted a 1 KW inverter permanently wired it into the caravan and wired in a standard 240 Socket. I'm very happy to tell you that everything is going very well. I regularly use the inverter when I am at the boat (sorry, caravan) and the battery is tip top condition. As part of the installation I wired in a voltmeter.I know that this doesn't give a full picture of the battery's state, but it is useful and better than nothing.

 

Portable fridge in trundling home.

Trundling position  

 

Twelve volt power source.

Trundling position  

 

Solar control panel

Trundling position
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