Could your Caravan Fridge Problems be due to your Car?

Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

Being the owner of a small caravan site I get quite a lot of feedback from guests about their caravans. What they like, what they don’t and also whats stopped working. Over recent years I have had a number of guests talk to me about caravan fridge problems. Some would state that their fridge would work fine on gas. However, they were having problems with their fridge working via mains electricity and 12V.

There are various reasons why you can get problems with a caravan fridge not working properly. For instance, it’s very important to properly level your caravan to make sure the fridge works efficiently.

Caravan Fridge Problems
There are various issues which can lead to caravan fridge problems.

Occasionally, I’ve also had guests describe problems with the fridge not working properly while towing. However, I was recently made aware by one guest that caravan fridge problems may be down to the purchase of a new car! I was rather perplexed by this, so I started to look into it a bit more. I then came across the video below which explains why new cars with Euro 6 engines may be to blame for some caravan fridge problems.

Learn why Euro 6 engines used in new cars may be to blame for some caravan fridge problems.

Caravan Fridge Problems and Euro 6 Engines

Engines used in cars are not that clean emissions wise as we know (Diesel Gate cough cough). However, there new sets of standards which come around roughly every 5 years. The current highest standard for car engines is Euro 6, which was introduced in 2015. You can read more about what Euro 6 engines are and how they work in this AutoExpress article. Essentially the key objective is the reduce the nitrous oxide (NOx) and particulate (black dust) emissions which both petrol and diesel engines produce.

Regenerative Braking on Euro 6 Engines

So the key issue with caravan fridge problems and Euro 6 engines is around the feature of regenerative breaking. Typically the alternator on a normal car is putting power back into the battery by placing that load on the engine. Well, to improve fuel efficiency, Euro 6 engines take that alternator load away from the engine and captures it from the car’s brakes, under braking conditions.

For regenerative breaking to work there has to be somewhere for that energy to go. Therefore the computer (ECU) on a Euro 6 engine keeps the car’s battery at a lower state of charge/voltage ready to absorb that energy. Hence here lies the problem. As the battery on the Euro 6 engine is now only held at 12.4V, where older cars would be at 14V.

DC Power and Long Cables

Direct current (DC) as used in vehicles loses voltage the longer cables get. Now, a car is fairly short, just a couple of meters long. Therefore voltage loss within the car is not a problem. However, to go from a cars battery to a caravan fridge, there can be 8m of cable, potentially even more. Therefore voltage loss suddenly can become an issue.

Caravan Fridge 12V
This graph shows the voltage drop from the car’s battery to the caravan fridge which can cause problems. – Image: SterlingPowerLtd

As I’m sure you know, your caravan fridge when running from the leisure battery requires 12V to work. As stated above a Euro 6 car will have a battery potentially as low as 12.4V. Therefore after that power has travelled through 8m+ of cables, it could actually be below 12V. Hence the caravan fridge can develop problems and stop working.

However, as stated in the video above, the voltage coming from the car while towing may actually be as high as 15V. Well, in that case, the problem might be that the caravan fridge trips out because the voltage is too high!

Potential Damage to the Caravan Fridge?

So there is potentially a situation, say going up and down hills where the car’s battery is fluctuating between 12-15V over a relatively short period of time. Causing the caravan fridge to turn on and then trip out quite frequently. Besides obviously not being great for your food stored in the fridge, it also makes you think is that damaging the fridge? I personally have no idea, but I can’t imagine its good for it. It makes me wonder if some of the guests I’ve spoken to with mains electrical issues and their fridges could be linked to this problem.

Associated issues with Leisure Batteries and Caravan Movers

So the issues of a low voltage being sent to a caravan from Euro 6 car potentially creates other problems. First, your leisure battery will not have been maintained at a reasonable state of charge.

The leisure battery is probably depleted from trying to run the caravan fridge because the car is not providing enough power to do so. Therefore, many people probably think this is an issue with their leisure battery being old or faulty and not an issue with their new car. Moreover, this can lead to an issue with your caravan motormover.

Caravan Motor Mover
You need well over 12V from your leisure battery to use your motor mover – Image: Powrtouch Classic

You arrive on site, and you want to set up your caravan. After turning the remote control on for your motormover …. nothing happens. I know from personal experience, if you are not well over 12V on the battery meter you don’t have a chance at getting your motor mover to work. Therefore this voltage issue with Euro 6 engine cars is potentially causing more problems than just your fridge not working.

Solutions to the Problem

Essentially your not going to fix this problem within your car, you need to focus on your caravan. If only 9-12V is reaching the caravan, then before that goes into the fridge or leisure battery it needs to be boosted in voltage. The video above is produced by Sterling Power Ltd. They offer a battery-to-battery charger. At this time of checking the price is just under £230.

Sterling Power Battery to Battery Charger
The Sterling Power Battery to Battery Charger could potentially address certain caravan fridge problems.

There are potentially other products on the market that can perform the same task of providing a more consistent and suitable voltage to the caravans electrical system. So make sure to look around, compare prices and warranties etc.

How do you check if a car has a Regenerative Braking Alternator?

The easiest way to check is to get a friend and portable DC voltage meter with a cigarette lighter adapter. Your friend can then sit in the passenger seat with the DC voltage meter plugged in. As you drive around and go through various braking situations you will know the answer. If your friend sees the voltage spike up to 15V when you brake, then that’s a sign you have a regenerative braking alternator.

DC Voltage Meter
A cheap DC voltage meter plugged into your cars cigarette light will tell you if your car as a regenerative braking alternator.

Conclusions on Caravan Fridge Problems due to New Cars

Now, this issue with caravan fridges and new Euro 6 cars does not appear to be prevalent in all cases. There are various forum posts from individuals stating they have never experienced such an issue with their new cars.

The fact is there are lots of variables at play. Certain manufacturers of caravan fridge may be more sensitive to voltage changes than others. Some caravan manufactures may be aware of this issue and have fitted additional electrical equipment to regulate the voltage. However, if it sounds like an issue which may be the reasons for problems you’re experiencing with your caravan fridge, it may be worth looking into.

I hope you found this post useful and informative and I hope you consider visiting us at Horton Common and our fully serviced pitches in the future. 🙂

How long do Caravan Tyres Last?

Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

The subject of caravan tyres and how long they last may not be the most interesting topic I could think to write about, however, it is one of the most important. When discussing how long caravan tyres last, what we are really talking about is at what point are the tyres not safe to tow on? With regards to safety, there are differences between new and old tyres in terms of braking performance. However, the key concern is blowouts. If your not sure what a tyre blowout is, just watch the video below to see:

Caravan tyre blowouts need to be taken seriously

As you can see, with a tyre blowout there is really nothing you can do to retain control of the trailer. Travelling at speed is the most likely scenario for a blowout to occur, and obviously, that also carries the most significant chance of serious repercussions.

What can cause a Caravan Tyre Blowout?

There are various reasons why caravan tyre may blowout. For instance, over or under inflation of the tyres over time can lead to damage which results in a blowout. However, there also some other factors which can negatively impact on tyre safety.

Caravan Tyre Blowout
What can cause a caravan tyre blowout to happen? Image – etyres.co.uk

Caravans Sitting Idle

So as you would expect, most people don’t use their caravans over winter. Therefore the caravan is sat idle for several months of the year. The weight of the caravan bearing down on one specific point of the tyre. This can distort the tyre and create a weak point. However, that week point doesn’t become apparent until you get the caravan on the road. Once up to speed and the temperature of the tyres rise that’s when the damage can become apparent.

Idle Caravan Tyre Damage
Leaving a caravan idle without rotating the tyres can cause flat spots.

Therefore it’s best practice to rotate the tyres each month that the caravan is sat idle. You can also consider the use of tyre savers. These are a curved pad, typically made of plastic. The idea of the tyre saver is to support the weight of the caravan over a greater surface area of the tyre, avoiding flat spots.

If you do want to go down the tyre save route make sure they are well supported and made of a good quality UV stable plastic. We have purchased tyre savers in the past that became brittle over just one year and the edges snapped off. Alternatively, the wheels could be removed and the caravan left on axle stands.

Caravan Tyre Savers
Caravan tyre savers can help to avoid flat spots on the tyres when left idle – Image: Towsure.co.uk

UV Tyre Damage

Another factor which can lead to more rapid deterioration of caravan tyres is UV damage. Now, in the UK how much of an additional effect UV radiation plays in ageing the tyres, I’m not sure. Tyres will age and become less flexible over time no matter what. But, covering the tyres to protect them from UV radiation while the caravan is stored/idle is not difficult. Alternatively, there are some tyre black products which have UV protection built into them.

Caravan Tyre SunBlock
Tyre SunBlock can be used instead of covers for UV protection.

Insurance Claims

According to CaravanGuard apparently, 90% of their tyre related claims are to do with blowouts, with the average repair cost at £2,500! As you would expect, those claims raise considerably in the summer months. There are various choices you can make to help reduce your insurance by fitting a tyre pressure monitoring system or tyre bands, more details on those below.

How often should you Replace Caravan Tyres?

When it comes to how long do caravan tyres last, it will very rarely be when the tread is worn out. Most people simply don’t do the number of miles to wear down the tread that quickly. The main reason you should change your caravan tyres is down to their age. So to answer this question I thought I would include quotes from various organisations on their perspective on how often you should replace your caravan tyres:

“We recommend that you replace your caravan tyres when they reach five years old and should never be used when more than seven years old.” – Caravan and Motorhome Club

“Irrespective of the tread left on them, it’s advisable to change tyres before they reach 5 years old.” – Caravan Guard

“The generally accepted rule within the caravan industry is that tyres should be changed when five years old, even if they appear in perfect condition. Indeed, in The Netherlands, a caravan will not pass its MOT if a tyre is six years old or more.” – Outandaboutlive.co.uk

“Most expert commentators recommend that tyres are changed when they are five years old and that they should never be used after they are seven years old.” – Caravanwise.co.uk

So, as you can see, there is a pretty clear consensus that at 5 years and at most 7 years you need to change your caravan tyres. However, if you can see damage to the tyre sidewall you should seriously consider changing the tyres before this point.

Tyre Wall Cracks and Bulges

The video below from Blackcirles tyres provides a good quick overview of the various issues a tyre can suffer from and how to spot them. Tyre wall cracking and bulges are a particular concern for caravan tyres.

How can you tell the Age of Caravan Tyres?

In most (but not all cases) you can find out the age of your caravan tyres by looking for the DOT code. If the tyres don’t appear to have a DOT code, look around the tyre sidewall for a 4-digit code. It’s this 4-digit code either on its own or at the end of the DOT code which will tell you how old the tyres are.

Caravan Tyre Age
Look for a small 4 digit number which could be on either side of the caravan tyre sidewall – Image: outandaboutlive.co.uk

The first two numbers indicate the week, and the second two numbers indicate the year. So in the example above those tyres were made on the 14th week of 2015.

Are Caravan Tyres different from Car Tyres?

There is no such thing as tyres ‘specially’ designed for caravans. There are tyres branded a ‘trailer tyres’, however, the sizes of these tyres are not really suitable for most caravans. The most important thing about the tyres that you purchase for your caravan is their load rating or load index. Once you know the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) of your caravan, you can work out the load rating of the tyres you require.

Caravan MTPLM
Your caravan’s weight plate and MTPLM is usually fitted near the door – Image: outandaboutlive.co.uk

So in the case of the MTPLM rating of 1415kg as shown in the image above, each tyre needs to support just over 700kg. The general rule is to add another 20%, so you’re looking for the tyres to support just under 850kg each. If you check the tyre load index charts online that means a load rating of 102. You can compare this number to the load rating of the existing tyres on your caravan using the diagram below:

Tyre Diagram
The load rating index number is before the speed rating letter – Image: twt.co.za

What should the Pressure be on Caravan Tyres?

Your caravan handbook should state what pressure you need to inflate the tyres too. However, if you have lost your handbook there is a useful tool provided by Tyresafe.org. You need to know your caravan’s MTPLM and tyre size. You then enter that information into the tool along with the number of wheels, depending on if its a single or double axle caravan.

Caravan Tyre Pressure Tool
If your unsure about your caravan tyre pressure check out this tool on tyresafe.org

Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems

You can fit a tyre pressure monitor system which will give constant feedback on your caravan tyres. Not only can this provide you with the reassurance that the tyres are properly inflated, but it can also lower your insurance. It’s worth checking with your insurer which tyre pressure monitoring systems they will provide a discount on. Autoexpress has recently done a review of tyre pressure monitoring systems which is worth checking out:

Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems
You could consider a tyre pressure monitoring system – Image: Autoexpress.co.uk

Tyre Safety Bands

Another option to consider for your caravan is tyre safety bands. Tyre safety bands help to keep the tyre on the rim in a blowout situation. It is worth noting, however, with a tyre safety band fitted it is more difficult to have the tyres changed. Therefore some fitters will charge more because of this.

A common brand of safety bands for caravans are Tyron. They are a product that some people love, and some people think they create too many issues when changing tyres. The video below provides a good overview of Tyron bands:

Do Caravan Tyres need Balancing?

It’s better to get the tyres balanced if you can. At relatively low speeds (below 50mph) you probably wouldn’t notice an unbalanced tyre. However, above 50mph on the motorway, that is where you may notice some vibration coming from the caravan. So if you do a lot of motorway miles in your caravan I would definitely consider getting the tyres balanced.

Quick Note on Caravan Movers and Tyre Damage

It is worth noting that a caravan mover which has not been properly fitted or adjusted can potentially cause damage to the tyres. The mover needs to engage against the tyre with sufficient force to move the wheel while not slipping. However, if it engages with too much force they can potentially distort the caravan tyres. This is less of an issue with motor movers which automatically engage.

Powrtouch Classic Motormover
Motor movers with manual engagement need to be checked that they are not placing too much force on the tyres.

Conclusions on How long do Caravan Tyres Last

So, in summary, really whatever your caravan tyres look like, you need to be changing them between 5-7 years. If you can see a significant amount of cracks or a bulge in the side wall of your tyres, don’t wait, get them changed.

You shouldn’t be judging how long your caravan tyres last based on tread depth. It’s highly likely after 5 years you will still have plenty of tread left on the tyres. The main problem is from the moment their made all tyres age and denature. They progressively become stiffer and less flexible, developing cracks and weak points.

I hope you found this post useful and feel the urge to go and check the condition of your caravan tyres as a result. I also hope at some point you consider coming to visit us and our fully serviced hardstanding caravan pitches here at Horton Common. 🙂

What are the Best Caravan Awning Storm Straps and Pegs?

Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

As you can see from the image above, at Horton Common we have some amazing views over the Staffordshire Moorlands and Peak District National Park. However, it also means we have a higher average wind speed than most locations. That’s why even with our hard standing fully serviced pitches I still close the site between the end of October and March. Therefore when it comes to our guests setting up their caravans and pitching their awnings, I get to see how effective the use of decent storm straps and quality pegs really is.

So with this post, I thought I would provide some information on storm straps and caravan awning pegs currently available. To start this post though is a quick video from Practical Caravan on how to pitch a caravan awning.

The Benefits of Storm Straps

Storm straps are fitted to the outer corners of the awning to provide additional strength and wind resistance. When awnings are most prone to the effects of wind is during gusts, potentially lifting the awning. Storm straps can help to provide tension and keep the awning in position and firmly secured to the ground. Depending on the make and model of your awning some come with storm straps included. Many caravan awning manufacturers, while perhaps not included in the purchase offer their own version of a storm strap. For instance, the video below is from Isabella awnings and their version of the storm strap called Stormband.

One of the benefits of the Isabella Stormband is that it does not connect to the fabric of the caravan awning, potentially causing damage under wind gusts. The Isabella Stormband wraps around the corner poll connection. It also provides quite a neat solution fixed directly below the corner polls. Hence not creating a tripping hazard with long diagonal storm straps.

Storm Strap Colours

With most storm staps they are fixed 1m to 2m into the ground diagonally from the furthest corners of the awning. Therefore, like any guy ropes, storm straps can potentially be a tripping hazard. Therefore you want to purchase storm straps which are a bright fluorescent colour of either green or orange. That way you’re far less likely to trip over them.

Caravan Awning Storm Straps
Try to choose caravan awning storm straps of bright fluorescent colours to avoid them being a tripping hazard.

Rachets are Better than Plastic Clips

So as you can see from the image of the storm straps above, they use a quick release plastic clip system. The problem is with the many different kits you can purchase, the quality of plastic differs considerably. You also don’t know if the plastic clips are strong enough until they snap in a storm.

Most storm strap kits available online use quick release plastic clips, so they are hard to avoid. However, if you have the option, try to use a storm strap kit with ratchets. You can then tension up the straps to provide the best wind resistance. Obviously, you’ll have to pay more for metal ratchets over plastic clips. However, if the difference is your caravan awning staying against the ground, the price difference is insignificant.

Caravan Awning Storm Strap Ratchets
When possible try and purchase caravan awning storm straps with metal ratchets instead of plastic clips.

Storm Strap Springs

When you install the caravan awning storm straps you want them to be tight but at the same time not bend any awning poles! So it can be tricky getting the tension on the straps right to provide the best wind protection while allowing the awning to move a little. Furthermore, as stated above, it’s under gusts of wind that most damage is caused.

This is where the springs on caravan awning storm straps play an important role. Under gusts of wind, they allow the awning to move slightly. However, are always working to keep the storm straps under tension. Now, obviously as with the discussion on plastic clips above, different springs are made to different qualities. However, you are far less likely to have a metal spring break on you than a plastic clip.

Caravan Awning Storm Strap Springs
Springs help to keep the storm straps under tension while providing a bit of flexibility to the awning.

Caravan Awning Ladders

Awning ladders are commonly attached between the side fixings of the awning when pegging down. The different holes on the ladders make it easier to peg down the awning on uneven ground. They are made from synthetic rubber, which provides a bit of stretch and flexibility. However, they do snap. Therefore don’t be tempted to use awning ladders instead of springs on storm straps, you’ll regret it.

Caravan Awning Ladders
Caravan awning ladders have their use when pegging down the sides of the awning. However, don’t be tempted to use them instead of metal springs on the storm straps.

Caravan Awning Pegs

So the storm straps you choose for your awning are only as good as the pegs you use to hold them into position. Therefore I thought I would highlight some of the pros and cons of different awning pegs.

You need to consider Ground Conditions

Now, the type of awning pegs you can use will depend on the ground conditions. For instance, at Horton Common, we have hard standing pitches. However, the area provided for awnings in on grass. Depending on the time of year though, some guests move their caravans forward to pitch the awning on the hardstanding. So for instance at the start and ends of the camping season when the grassed areas may be too soft.

Hard Standing Pitches
At Horton Common all our pitches are hard standing with grassed area for pitching a caravan awning.

Therefore it’s best to have a selection of awning pegs for both soft and hard ground. What is also important to remember is that grassed areas can be both hard and soft. During the very hot summer of 2018, our field was like concrete. When the field is like this, it’s very easy to break plastic awning pegs.

Hard Ground/Rock Awning Pegs

Hard ground awning pegs are metal, often with a plastic clip at the top to connect to your guy ropes, awning ladders or storm straps. There are lots of metal awning pegs you can purchase, however not all metal pegs are hard ground pegs. You want to purchase metal pegs which are thick enough that they will not bend under a vigorous smack from the mallet.

If you are going to be setting up your awning on a hard standing pitch or a grass pitch in the middle of summer you need hard ground pegs.

You may be thinking, why would you ever use anything other than a hard ground peg? If they can go through the hard ground they will obviously go into soft ground. The problem is in the wet soft ground these pegs have a relatively low surface area. Furthermore, the benefit of being smooth when going into the hard ground is a downside when fixing into soft ground. Therefore in the soft wet ground, these types of pegs can easily be pulled out.

V-Shaped Metal Awning Pegs

For a middle ground between the best soft ground pegs and proper hard ground pegs, there are metal v-shaped pegs. These pegs have a greater surface area than proper hard ground pegs. Therefore they perform better in soft ground. You can sometimes use them on hard ground. They are going to perform better than plastic pegs which snap, or thin metal pegs which will easily bend. However, if the ground is really hard, metal v-shaped awning pegs will also possibly bend. As stated above, they are not the ‘best of both worlds’. However, they can serve as a good alternative to true soft/hard ground pegs.

V-Shaped Awning Pegs
V-shaped awning pegs will perform better than true hard ground pegs in soft ground. However, in hard ground, they can still sometimes bend.

Soft Ground Twist/Screw Peg Anchors

To provide the best wind resistance to an awning, you want to use pegs which grip the ground with the most surface area. Therefore the best pegs to hold down your awning are twist anchor pegs. You may even see these types of twist/screw pegs as dog lead anchors.

There are many different types on the market of various different lengths and sizes. The longer the twin anchor peg the greater the grip surface area. However, you also want to look at how wide the twist pegs are. Some of the pegs are solid with a screw on the outer surface. Other pegs are more open with wider screw surface area.

You may be thinking, as these pegs provide the best surface area, when not use screw type pegs all the time? Well, the reason is, if the ground is too hard, you may not be able to get a twist/screw peg into the ground. Some have a handle design so you can get a really good grip to rotate them into the ground. You could even put a bar through the head of the screw pegs to provide better leverage. However, again you need to be careful not to put too much force on the peg to bend or snap it.

Screw Peg Anchor
Screw peg anchors provide a lot surface area in the ground and are therefore one of the best soft ground anchors. However, you are unlikely to be able to get a screw peg like this into hard ground.

Conclusions on Awning Storm Straps and Pegs

So in summary, when it comes to awning storm straps you want to choose a brightly coloured material to avoid them being a tripping hazard. You also want to avoid plastic clips in favour of metal ratchets. Finally, you want to use metal tensioning springs and avoid the use of rubber awning ladders.

When it comes to pegs to hold down the storm straps, there is not ideal peg of every scenario. You need an assortment of awning pegs to deal with the various hard and soft ground conditions you will experience.

Well, I hope the above post has been useful, and I hope you consider coming to visit us at Horton Common at some point in the future. 🙂

Inflatable Caravan Air Awning Reviews, are they any Good?

Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

Since opening Horton Common in 2014 I’ve had guests turn up with pretty much every brand and type of caravan awning you can think of. However, over the last couple of years, I’ve seen a steady increase in the number of guests setting up with inflatable caravan air awnings. I’ll often see other guests going to talk to those who have chosen to take the ‘leap of faith’ to an inflatable caravan air awning. They often ask questions such as:

I thought with this post I would try and answer some of these questions and then provide some details on the most popular inflatable air awnings currently on the market.

Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awning
While inflatable caravan air awnings are becoming more popular are they really a better option when compared to a standard pole awning? – Image of a Kampa Frontier AIR PRO 400

How Durable is an Inflatable Air Awning?

The first company to develop the concept of the inflatable awning was Vango with their Air Beam concept. The construction of the air tubes is based on a canvas outer materials with a thick PVC inner tube. You may be wondering how durable is this PVC air tube to withstand punctures etc? Well from the feedback I’ve received from guests pretty robust. I’ve only had one person mention to me a beam which had a slow leak. However, it was a second-hand purchase from eBay, so that comes with the territory. They were able to get it sorted though relatively easily. Of those who purchased their inflatable air awnings from new, I’ve not heard any horror stories of leaky air beams.

The durability of inflatable caravan air awnings.
Are inflatable caravan air awnings as durable as a standard pole awning? Image – Kampa Air Pro Rally 390

One thing I do know of is that inflatable air awnings are much better at dealing with the wind. Due to our location at Horton Common, we have amazing views but the wind at certain times of the year will be higher than in other locations. Inflatable caravan air awnings are much better at dealing with gusts of wind. With a standard pole awning (depending on the make and how it was put up) the poles can come out of position. However, inflatable caravan awnings just bend with the wind and then pop back into position! That doesn’t mean that I don’t still recommend decent storm straps and pegs to keep the awning in position.

Does an inflatable air awning weigh more?

This is something that a few guests with an inflatable air awning have commented on. Yes, an air awning does weight more than standard pole awning. The reason being the ‘all on one’ nature of an air awning. With a pole awning, you have two separate bags, one containing the awning fabric and one for the poles. Well for an air awning its just one thing, and there is more fabric/PVC involved.

Kampa Inflatable Air Awning Weight
In general, yes, an inflatable air awning does weigh more than a standard awning bag – Image: Kampa Air Pro 260 from the Practical Caravan Review

Can one person set up an inflatable air awning on their own?

So this carries on quite well from the previous question. Inflatable air awnings can be easier to put up on your own. However, the additional weight of an inflatable air awning needs to be a consideration. Remember, lift with your legs and not your back 🙂 . Depending on the design and manufacturer there will either be an air valve for each pole, or a single air value (cross-beam). I’ve often heard the joke from guests about an awning is ‘divorce in a bag’. Therefore if you are looking to put up an air awning on your own you should be looking for a cross-beam design. With a cross-beam awning, it’s simply a case of laying it out and connecting the pump to one air value. A couple of pumps later your awning is up, divorce avoided!

Kampa Easy Awning Pulley
To make it easier for one person to put up an awning you could consider an Easy Awning Pulley – Image: Kampa

Top Tip: One of the hardest parts of putting an awning up on your own is getting it into the rail. Now, you may be tempted to use a bit of WD40 or a similar product to lubricate the rail. However, WD40 and detergent based products can actually de-nature the weatherproofing on the fabric of your awning. Therefore, purchasing a small bottle of awning rail lubricant is a better option. With proper lubrication, it can be possible for one person to pull the awning along the caravan rail.

How often do you have to pump up an inflatable awning?

Once setup correctly you shouldn’t have to be getting the pump out again. I have seen a few guests checking the pressure of their air beams once a week, with maybe the odd pump. Most manufacturers such as Kampa recommend a pressure of between 8-11 psi. If the poles do appear to be dropping, its often not a puncture of the air beam but a loose fitting. There are dark grey tubes with cross-beam awnings that link the air poles together. During storage, packaging or assembly they may have been disturbed. Kampa provides a 2-year warranty on the air poles. However, it is also possible to repair the beams with an approved tape and adhesive.

Kampa Air Awning Pressure
Its very important that the air beams of the awning are not put under too much pressure – Image: Kampa

Does an air awning expand when the air temperature rises?

This is a reasonable question, after all, you don’t want to hear a loud bang when the sun comes out and to see your air awning on the ground! Kampa who is one of the main brands when it comes to air awnings state temperature rise is not an issue. As stated the recommended inflation pressure is between 8-11psi, but they are tested up to 22psi. Kampa provides a chart to demonstrate the relationship between temperature and pressure changes.

Kampa Inflatable Air Awning Temperature and Pressure Changes
The pressure chart Kampa use to show the relationship between temperature and pressure changes.

So in the UK even in the middle of summer going above 30 degrees Celsius is a pretty rare occurrence. If you set up at 20 degrees and the temperature increased to 30 degrees over the next couple of days, that’s less than a 1psi change in pressure. So, in other words, you shouldn’t need to worry about an inflatable awning popping in hot summer days. Therefore there are no pressure relief valves fitted. This would just add to the cost and create another potential leak point.

Can I use an electric pump to raise an inflatable awning?

So most inflatable air awning manufacturers either include a manual pump with the initial purchase or offer one as an optional accessory. With a manual pump, it takes a minute or so to build up to the required pressure, but it’s not that taxing. However, some people may be interested in using an electric pump to do the work for them. Some of the inflatable air awning manufacturers provide their own electric pumps, set to a pressure of 11psi. Could you use your own pump? Well only if you can set the pressure on the pump. You don’t want to use an electric pump that will just keep trying to build pressure until something pops! You could pretty easily cause damage to the awning and void the warranty.

12V Air Compressor
It is not advisable to use a 12V air compressor to inflate an air awning unless you can limit the pressure to 11 psi.

Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awnings

Most of our guests are choosing to purchase Kampa air awnings. While Vango initially created the principle and have a strong presence in the inflatable tent market, it’s Kampa who appear to be dominating the inflatable caravan awning market. The video below shows their current range of air awnings and accessories:

The current range of Kampa inflatable caravan air awnings.

Notable Kampa Awning Features

For those of you not able to watch the video above I thought I would just highlight a few of the notable features of Kampa inflatable air awnings:

Dual Pitched Roof System

Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awning Dual Pitch Feature
Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awning Dual Pitch Feature

Something which was obvious from the initial inflatable awnings was that head height wasn’t as good as a traditional awning. There were wide and thick curved air beams which anyone around 6 foot would have to duck underneath. However, now Kampa has been able to improve the design with the Dual Pitched roof. Not only does this feature improve head height it also has benefits with regards to dealing with wind and rain.

Weathershield Pro

Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awning Weathershield Pro, Expert and 4Season Fabrics
Weathershield Pro Inflatable Awning Fabric is probably best in class for inflatable air awnings.

When you’re up close and personal with the Kampa caravan awnings you are able to appreciate the quality of fabric they are using. Their Weathershield Pro fabric has now been improved with better UV protection. There is also their Expert and 4Season fabrics to choose from depending on your circumstances.

Webbing Straps

Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awning Webbing Straps
Kampa Webbing Straps provide much better support from the wind

As previously noted, our brilliant views at Horton Common do come with a higher wind speed than average. Therefore when I see an awning fitted with webbing straps apposed to a thin string I do feel more comfortable. When combined with decent pegs inflatable awnings are the best solution to deal with more exposed locations.

Limpet Ready Fixing System

Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awning Limpet Ready Fixing System
The Limpet Ready fixing system is an excellent solution to fix the sides of the awning to the caravan.

The Limpet Ready (great marketing name) fixing system will fix the sides of the awning to your caravan. You feed the limpet fixings through the pre-made holes on the awning sides. The suction pads are then twisted to create the vacuum. You will notice this mechanism from modern portable SatNav systems. Its really impressive how much grip strength is created. Again, a really good solution for an awning in an exposed location.

Single Point Inflation

Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awning Single Point Inflation

As mentioned previously, a cross-beam inflatable air awning design benefits from a single inflation point. This is the case with the Kampa range of caravan awnings. So through this single inflation point, you can pressurise all of the air beams in one go. If you are going to be putting up an awning on your own, a single inflation point is the way to go.

Roof Lining (Optional Extra)

Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awning Roof Lining
The optional roof lining for Kampa inflatable awnings is worth a consideration.

So anyone who has been in a caravan awning before will appreciate the dramatic temperature changes that take place. Especially if you have slept in an awning annexe like myself. Within the same day, you can wake up cold in the morning to sweating buckets at midday. Well, Kampa is now offering an optional roof lining for their inflatable awnings to address this issue. How successful it is I’m just not sure, I’ve not had any guests with it fitted as yet. Presumably, the roof liner is reflective to keep the heat out from the sun but keep the inside warmer when it’s cold. Depending on the cost this could be an option worth considering.

Sabre Link LED Awning Lighting

Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awning Sabre Link LED Lighting System
The Sabre Link LED Lighting system is also worth considering.

Having to use your phone as a torch to walk around the awning at night is a pain. There are various camping lights available. However to get the best illumination you want the lights within the roof of the awning. The Kampa Sabre Link LED lighting system is modular and can be fitted with up to three light bars. In total it can offer up to 450 LED’s to provide enough light for an evening dining in the awning. The Sabre Link comes with a remote control, with various options including dimming. There are various other LED lighting systems on the market which may be cheaper. However, if your shrewd, you may be able to get the Sabre Link at those prices if you purchase it along with a new awning.

Downdraught Air Pump

Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awning Downdraught Inflation Pump
For manual pumping, the Kampa Downdraught Inflation pump is included with a purchase of an inflatable caravan air awning.

Anyone who is reasonably fit and healthy will with relative easy be able to use a manual pump for an inflatable awning. The Downdraight pump included with Kampa inflatable awning purchases is pretty easy to use. I’ve had a go before with one of our guests Kampa awnings. On the upstroke, there is no resistance. So while it will take more pumps to raise the awning, you are able to use your weight to compress the pump. Its a pretty well-made piece of kit and the pressure gauge means you always know when to stop.

Gale Electric Pump (Kampa Approved)

Kampa Inflatable Caravan Air Awning Gale Electric Pump
If you want an electric pump, Gale is the approved pump from Kampa

As mentioned previously, you shouldn’t use just any electric pump or air compressor. Doing so could lead to severe damage to you your inflatable air awning. The approved option from Kampa is the Gale electric pump. You simply set the Psi and the pump works until that pressure is achieved.

New Kampa Inflatable Awning Range

In 2018 Kampa introduced more awnings to their current range which includes the:

  • Frontier AIR Pro 300
  • Ace AIR All-Season 400
  • Rally AIR Pro Grande 390
  • Rally AIR Pro Plus 260 LH

What is the Cheapest Kampa Air Awning?

Ok, I’m excluding used Kampa inflatable air awnings, though there are some very good deals on eBay. The cheapest Kampa air awning currently available appears to be the 2017 version of the Kampa Ace Air Pro 400 on Amazon at £769.

Kampa Air Ace 400
The previous generation Kampa Air Ace Pro 400 from 2017 is currently the cheapest Kampa inflatable awning you can buy (new).

Kampa Inflatable Awning Prices

You do need to be aware that you are going to be spending more on an inflatable air awning that for a standard pole awning. Therefore you need to weigh up the benefits of better wind resistance and ease of setup over that additional cost. For instance, while I’ve been impressed with the air awnings I’ve seen on site, the material quality and stitching are not as good as my fathers Isabella awning for instance. Isabella awnings are also not cheap, so you are looking at a similar costs relationship to inflatable air awnings.

Isabella Standard Pole Awning
Standard pole Isabella awnings are not cheap, but the fabric materials do appear to be a higher quality to a comparably priced inflatable air awning.

Kampa Trustpilot Reviews

As stated above, I’ve probably had 20-30 guests to our site over the last couple of years with inflatable air awnings. Most of those have been Kampa awnings and most of them have not experienced any significant issues. However, from some of the reviews for Kampa on Trustpilot, unfortunately, some people are having issues.

Kampa Trustpilot Reviews
Kampa is currently rated as Poor on Trustpilot from 28 reviews.

Something you do have to bear in mind is that most people who are happy with a product don’t bother to write a review. Therefore the Trustpilot rating for Kampa should not instantly make you dismiss the idea of purchasing an inflatable caravan air awning. However, that also doesn’t mean you should ignore the issues experienced by some individuals. The issues range from concerns over the build quality and customer service.

What other Brands of Inflatable Air Awning are there?

Besides Kampa, there are also inflatable air awnings offered by brands such as Quest, SunnCamp, Outwell, Outdoor Revolution and of course Vango.

Quest Leisure Products

Based in the Midlands (Redditch) Quest Leisure Products have been in business for 25 years. They offer a considerable range of inflatable air awnings. However, it’s not clear who developed them. As the same design of awnings can also be purchased under the Westfield brand. The notable features of their inflatable awnings include:

  • Advanced Air System (AAS) – There is an inflatable internal bladder which is surrounded by dual layer polyester cover. These air tubes then slide into sleeves within the awning cover its self. Worth noting with the Quest awnings, the air tubes are individually inflated.
  • HydroDore SL PRO Fabric – Apparently, this fabric has a 4000mm hydrostatic head pressure rating. For reference, anything above 1000mm is considered a fully waterproof fabric.
  • Anti-Weather System (AWS) – This includes additional features such as guttering around windows and more use of PVC components.
Quest Leisure Products Inflatable Air Awnings
Quest Leisure Products have a significant range of inflatable air awnings for caravans and motorhomes – Image: questleisure.com

Quest/Westfield Inflatable Air Awning Prices

Something that is very clear is that these products are priced as a ‘budget’ alternative. For instance, their porch awnings such as the Lynx and Dorado start at just under £300. Larger full sized caravan awnings such as the Omega and Aires are between £750 and £1,000. Obviously significantly cheaper than offerings from Kampa.

Quest/Westfield Inflatable Air Awning Reviews

None of our guests to Horton Common has as yet come with a Quest/Westfield inflatable awning. Therefore I’ve had no feedback in that regard. I’ve done some quick browsing through Google, Amazon and eBay reviews, and there are not many reviews for the Quest inflatable awnings. However, from those that were available, I’ve not read any horror stories of leaky air tubes etc.

SunnCamp

The range of inflatable caravan air awnings that Sunncamp offer isn’t quite as considerable as that of Quest/Westfield. However, they are also targeting the budget end of the market. Information about Sunncamp on its website (even its address) is not readily available. Therefore, that doesn’t exactly build confidence in the quality of the products their offering.

SunnCamp Swift 220 Inflatable Awning
This is the 2015 Swift 220 inflatable air awning from SunnCamp

SunnCamp Inflatable Awning Prices

As stated above, SunnCamp is a budget brand, the Swift 220 porch awning from the image above is currently £220 on Amazon.

SunnCamp Inflatable Awning Reviews

Again, as with the Quest awnings, there isn’t a lot of reviews out there. They are a smaller brand compared to Kampa, so that is understandable. The most significant number of reviews I could find was for their Amazon listing of the Swift 390:

SunnCamp Amazon Reviews
The Amazon reviews for the SunnCamp Swift 390 are actually very positive on build quality and value for money.

Outwell

A Danish-based company and a big European player in the family tent market. Outwell are not competing against Quest or SunnCamp, they are a premium brand. Therefore, their products are more similar to the offerings from Kampa and Vango.

Outwell are a premium brand of inflatable caravan air awnings based in Denmark.

Outwell Inflatable Air Awning Prices

The prices on the Outwell website start from £599 for the Cover 400A up to £1,699 for the large Reed 650SE.

The Outwell Reed 350SE is an impressive caravan air awning.

Outwell Inflatable Air Awning Reviews

To date, I’ve only had one guest with an Outwell air awning. I personally was impressed with the build quality. The fabrics, in particular, looked to be of good quality.

Outdoor Revolution

Outdoor Revolution is based in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire and appears to have their own in house design team and have been operating for over 13 years. They offer quite a considerable range of inflatable awnings from porch to full sized.

Outdoor Revolution Inflatable Air Awnings
The 2019 ESPRIT 360 PRO S inflatable caravan air awning from Outdoor Revolution.

Outdoor Revolution Inflatable Air Awning Prices

Price wise, Outdoor Revolution is also targeting themselves as a premium brand. Prices start from around £500 for the E-Sport Air 325 up to around £1,00 for the Esprit 420 Pro.

Outdoor Revolution Inflatable Air Awning Reviews

I was able to find several very positive reviews for Outdoor Revolution and their inflatable air awnings on the Google listings for their products. In fact, I was actually unable to find a negative review at all!

Outdoor Revolution Air Awning Reviews
Outdoor Revolutions have some very positive reviews on their air awnings.

Vango

As stated at the start of this post, it was Vango that really developed this concept of inflatable caravan air awnings. Vango is based in the Scottish Highlands and has been producing tents since 1966. They are another premium brand who are continuing to develop their air awning technology.

Vango produce some of the best quality inflatable awnings – Image: Vango.co.uk

Vango Inflatable Air Awning Prices

The cheapest awning from Vango currently is the Rapid III 250 at £450. Their top of the range unit includes the Vienna 400 and the Florence 420 at around £2,000.

Vango Inflatable Air Awning Reviews

There are not that many text reviews of the Vango air awnings however there is an excellent video review of the Vango Varkala below I would encourage you to watch. The review is balanced and fair, highlighting both the pros and cons of the Vango inflatable caravan air awnings.

Conclusions on Inflatable Caravan Air Awnings

So after preparing this post in combination with the feedback I’ve received from guests, I do feel that air awnings are an option worth considering for many people. I think where air awnings particularly shine is for larger setups, with multiple annexes and porches. This is where setting up a pole based awning can be a genuine challenge.

I hope you found this post useful and informative and you consider coming to visit us at Horton Common in the future. 🙂

What are the Best Caravan Motor Movers?

Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

A significant number of our visitors to Horton Common now have motor movers fitted to their caravans. Instead of trying to reverse their caravans on to the pitch, they avoid potential clutch wear and use their motor movers. Over the years I’ve seen a wide range of motormover fitted to the caravans that arrive at our site. I’ve also heard about the various challenges and issues that some have experienced with certain motor movers. Therefore I thought I would write a post about what are the best motor movers currently available for caravans.

Jockey Wheel or Axel Mounted Motor Movers?

Now, I must admit, since we opened Horton Common in 2014 I’ve only ever had one guest with a jockey wheel motormover. Today, the only motor movers I see fitted to caravans as those mounted to the caravans axel. However, products such as Mr Shifta and motorised jockey wheels were the first such products to hit the market. While still available for purchase and significantly cheaper than axel mounted motor movers there are some issues with these products.

Mr Shifta Caravan Motor Mover
The Mr Shifta caravan motor mover was one of the first such products. Only really suitable for moving your caravan at home: Image – C&CC

Only One (Small) Driving Wheel

So the first problem when you think about it is that you are only powering one small wheel to push and pull the caravan. The axel mounted systems are driving each wheel on the caravan (other than the jockey wheel). To the point where on a twin axle caravan there are actually four motor movers fitted. So when you think about it, with a motorised jockey wheel there is significantly less point contact with the ground. Not only because you are only driving one wheel, but because that wheel is so small.

Jockey Wheel Motor Mover
Jockey Wheel Motor Mover: Image – Amazon

So if we think about ground conditions for a second. If you are on a hard road surface that’s flat I’m sure a motorised jockey wheel can perform a respectable job. This is why you will see them still used in caravan sales yards. As one motorised jockey wheel can be fitted and removed from a caravan once its in position. However, on a caravan site, you may be on a sloping grass pitch. Add in a bit of wet weather to produce soft ground conditions and a motorised jockey wheel is going to struggle.

Therefore with this post on the best motor movers available, I’m not going to focus on motorised jockey wheels. They are not a product I see my guest using, therefore I think that’s a likely reflection of most people. While motorised jockey wheels may still have some uses, I don’t believe they are the solution suitable for most people.

We need to talk about your Caravan’s Weight

So before we start to explore the best motor movers on the market for your caravan, you need to understand the impact on your caravan’s weight. You see, once fitted the motor mover will be deducted from your caravans user payload. Therefore the weight of the motor mover you choose can have significant implications on how much you can store in your caravan. Below I will provide details on the weights of the different motor moves, however, generally, it will be 27kg +. Therefore you need to first check what your caravans user payload is. You then need to evaluate if you can still store all your belongings for your trip and be within the weight limit. Remember, breaching your caravans user payload if you had an accident could have implications on your insurance payout.

Fitting a caravan motor mover can have impacts on weight distribution and reducing your user payload – Image: RAC

Impact on your Caravans Nose Weight

Caravan Nose Weight
Fitting a motor mover can increase the nose weight of a caravan: Image – outandaboutlive.co.uk

Normally an axel mounted caravan mover is mounted forward of the axel, therefore between the wheels and tow hitch. This means the motormover is adding additional nose weight to your caravan. Depending on your car, you could have a nose weight limit of just 70kg. Getting the nose weight under that limit can be a significant challenge depending on the amount of stuff you want to store in the caravan. Therefore once a motor mover is added to the equation it can make meeting the nose weight limit even harder. Therefore you need to be confident before adding a motor mover to your caravan it is not going to lead you to exceed your cars noise weight limit. It’s worth noting that some motor mover manufactures such as AL-KO recommend fitting the motor mover forward of the axel to avoid damage from stone chips etc if placed behind the axle.

What about Ground Clearance?

Caravan Ground Clearance
You need to make sure a motor movers still gives your caravan sufficient ground clearance : Image C&CC

Yes, ground clearance is another important consideration. Some caravans have different wheel sizes fitted which can impact ground clearance. Furthermore, how the motor mover is fitted to the caravan chassis can influence the remaining ground clearance. The minimum industry standard for ground clearance is 150mm. Therefore if your chosen motor mover reduces your ground clearance below 150mm, this could lead to problems. That problem could be smashing your new expensive motor mover against a speed bump for instance 🙁 .

How Easy are Motor Movers to Use?

With all axel mounted motor movers, you are provided with a remote control. Therefore the actual operation of the motor mover is very easy. However, where some motor movers differ is in how easy they are to engage and disengage. The motor mover drive cylinder is not in constant contact with the caravan axle wheels. Therefore you only engage the motor mover just before you want to move the caravan. As you can imagine, it needs to be well compressed against the caravan tyre to provide good traction and avoid slipping. Slipping will either cause the caravan to jerk, not turn properly or potentially not move at all.

Top Tip: If you have a motormover fitted, make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure. Under-inflated tyres can be a reason for slippage when using a motor mover.

Manually Engaged Motor Movers

The Powrtouch Classic is one of the most common manual motor movers currently fitted to caravans.

The majority of our visitors have manually engaged caravan motor movers. In most instances its a spring loaded arm that is calibrated to provide sufficient pressure against the tyre. The other form of manual engagement is that of the wind system. In some cases, the user has to use the lever to engage each motor mover. However, in other cases, a single (cross-actuation) bar is fitted which engages both motor movers. My father actually has this system fitted to his caravan. Something to bear in mind, it takes quite a bit of effort to move the lever to get the mover into position. Therefore, if you have are concerned you will not have the ability to engage the motor movers manually, a motorised system is probably for you.

Automatic Engaging Motor Movers

The other option to the manual systems is to pay a bit more for the motorised engagement motor movers. There are more buttons on the remote control which engage the motor movers against the caravan tyres. However, with any motor mover system its important to remember to disengage the motor mover before you set off again. You would probably notice, as it would feel like towing the caravan with the handbrake on. It would probably also make quite a strange noise. However, if you didn’t notice it would lead to some very rapid tyre wear and potential damage to the motor movers and caravan battery.

Ideally Chose a Soft Start Caravan Motor Mover

Some of the older caravan motor movers and some of the current budget offerings don’t have soft start motors. With basic on/off motors its very tricky to accurately control and position the caravan. Without soft start motors, the caravan tends to jerk when the motors start to move. Therefore, ideally, try and choose a caravan motor mover which has the soft start feature. It comes in very handy when you’re trying to fit the caravan into a tight space.

Whats the Amp Rating and Condition of your Caravan Leisure Battery?

Caravan Leisure Battery
You normally need at least an 85Ah leisure battery for a motor mover to work properly.

Each caravan motor mover manufacturer provides specifics on what amp rating of leisure battery their equipment requires. As a general rule of thumb, a good quality 85Ah leisure battery fully charged in good condition should be sufficient. The number of volts the battery is producing is important. I remember when we once tried to use the motor mover on my father’s caravan. We turned on the system and all we got was a beep and no movement. When we looked at the condition of the battery is was ever so slightly below 12V. However, being just under 12V was sufficient for the motor mover to decide that’s just not enough power.

Caravan Motor Movers Currently Available

Below I’ll provide details on the main caravan motor movers currently on the market and some of the highlighted features of each unit.

Powrtouch Classic

Probably the most common motor mover I see fitted to caravans which visit Horton Common is the Powrtouch Classic. This is also the motor mover which is fitted to my father’s caravan. While a bit underpowered by today’s standards (only suitable for vans up to 1500kg) its been a reliable motor mover for my father and our caravan site guests.

Powrtouch Classic Motor Mover
The Powrtouch Classic is probably the most common motor mover I see fitted to caravan which visit Horton Common
  • Weight of 37kg including all fittings
  • Flat surface max caravan weight 1,500 kg
  • Soft start and stop
  • Average current 20 Amps
  • Maximum current 80 Amps
  • Leisure battery minimum 85Ah (110Ah recommended)
  • Warranty 5 Years

Powrtouch Classic Prices

The Powrtouch Classic is now a discontinued product, however, there are a few retailers who still hold stock. A new unit is around £599, and there are now second-hand units appearing on eBay. You can get hold of a second-hand unit for between £200 to £300. There are lots of parts available too, therefore if you were considering a second hand/DIY solution this could be an option.

Powrtouch Classic Reviews

I’ve had lots of comments from guests who were happy with their Powertouch Classics. While maintenance and repair are expected (changing the motor brushes), I’ve never heard any horror stories from our guests. Powrtouch currently holds a 4.8 out of 5 star review on their Google listing.

Powrtouch Freedom

The Powrtouch Classic has been replaced by the Freedom, this is their cheapest unit currently on offer with manual engagement. The Freedom can move a caravan up to 1,500 kg up a 1/4 slope, and a 2,000kg van across a flat service. There appears to be a slight reduction in weight from the Classic of 2kg. Other than that the units appear mechanically very similar with more weather protective coverings on the Freedom. The Freedom as with the Classic is only suitable for single axel caravans.

Powrtouch Freedom Motor Mover
The Powrtouch Freedom has replaced the Classic as their entry level manually operated caravan motor mover.
  • Weight of 35kg including all fittings
  • Flat surface max caravan weight 1,500 kg
  • Soft start and stop
  • Average current 20 Amps
  • Maximum current 80 Amps
  • Leisure battery minimum 85Ah (110Ah recommended)
  • Warranty 5 Years


Powrtouch Freedom Prices

A £599 price point appears to be consistent across all the retailers. Therefore the same price point as the Classic.

Powrtouch Freedom Reviews

As the Freedom is very similar mechanically to the Classic the previous reviews should be applicable. Powrtouch does also offer a 5 year ‘no quibble’ guarantee.

Powrtouch Evolution

The Evolution features an improved (more powerful) 4-pole motor over the Freedom. The Evolution is available as either a manual or automatic engagement. Also, the Evolution is suitable for twin axle caravans, you can use just motors or a unit for each wheel for an AWD system. What is interesting is that even though a more powerful motor is fitted the Amp ratings have not changed from the Freedom. Also, the weight has been reduced considerably to just 30kg.

Powrtouch Evolution Motor Mover
The Evolution has a more powerful motor compared to the Freedom and is suitable for single or twin axle caravans.
  • Weight of 30kg including all fittings
  • Flat surface max caravan weight 1,800 kg
  • Soft start and stop
  • Average current 20 Amps
  • Maximum current 80 Amps
  • Leisure battery minimum 85Ah (110Ah recommended)
  • Warranty 5 Years

Powrtouch Evolution Prices

For a manual (single) Evolution, you are looking at around £825, for an AWD manual system that jumps up to just over £1,500. For an automatic Evolution single unit, it’s just under £1,000 and for an AWD automatic system that’s around £1,900.

Powrtouch Evolution Reviews

I’ve been unable to find any specific reviews for the Evolution at the moment, but if I do I’ll update the page. Powrtouch is still offering its ‘no quibble’ 5-year guarantee. I’ve seen quite a few of our guests with this motor mover fitted who originally had Classics on older vans. One has commented on the extra power having its advantages on steep slopes.

EM203 Emove Caravan Mover

The EM203 from Emove is a budget/entry level product. However, it does offer quite good value for money for the feature set. While it is a manual engagement motor mover, it is easy to engage through the wind function. Furthermore, unlike spring tension systems you can account for changes in tyre tread depth and tyre pressure to provide good contact with the tyre.

Emove EM203 Caravan Motor Mover
The Emove EM203 is a budget entry level caravan motor mover with manual wind engagement.
  • Weight of 37.2kg including all fittings
  • Flat surface max caravan weight 1,800 kg
  • Soft start and stop
  • Average current 100 Amps
  • Maximum current 200 Amps
  • Leisure battery minimum 85Ah (110Ah recommended)
  • Warranty 5 Years

EM203 Emove Prices

As of May 2019, the best price on offer appears to be that from Aldi at £499. Other retailers are offering the EM203 between £500 and £600.

EM203 Emove Reviews

Currently holding a 5 rating via the Aldi website and a 5-star rating for its Google Shopping listing. However, it’s important to note there are only a few reviews for the EM203. Users noted the good value for money and how relatively straight forward the EM203 was to fit to their caravan.

EM303 Emove Caravan Mover

The EM303 is the premium version of the EM203. While still a manual engagement motor mover, there are some notable differences to the EM203. This unit features an all-season protective housing to keep the unit clean from mud. Importantly, it also features a larger aluminium drive roller.

Emove EM303 Caravan Motor Mover
The Emove EM303 is a essentially an EM203 with an additional cover and larger drive roller.
  • Weight of 37.2kg including all fittings
  • Flat surface max caravan weight 1,800 kg
  • Soft start and stop
  • Average current 100 Amps
  • Maximum current 200 Amps
  • Leisure battery minimum 85Ah (110Ah recommended)
  • Warranty 5 Years

EM303 Emove Prices

The Emove EM303 is not currently available at Aldi, other retailers appear to be selling the unit for between £599 and £650. As it has the same power output as the EM203 you would have to weigh up if you felt the housing and larger drive roller was worth the additional £100.

EM303 Emove Reviews

There is very little evidence of online reviews for the EM303, as it essentially EM203 with a few more features, the EM203 reviews should be applicable.

EM303a Emove Caravan Mover

So this is Emove’s automatic electric engagement caravan motor mover. Claimed by Emove to be “the world’s most popular automatic engage mover on the market today”. Described to be suitable for large single axle and twin axle caravans. A feature I do like about the Emove remote handsets is the feedback on the condition of the caravan battery. This can be very useful if the caravan isn’t moving to narrow down the problem.

Emove EM303a Caravan Motor Mover
The EM303a is the premium automated electric engagement caravan motor mover from Emove.
  • Weight of 37.2kg including all fittings
  • Flat surface max caravan weight 1,800 kg
  • Soft start and stop
  • Average current 100 Amps
  • Maximum current 200 Amps
  • Leisure battery minimum 85Ah (110Ah recommended)
  • Warranty 5 Years

EM303a Emove Prices

As you would expect, for the automated electric engagement you are going to have to pay more. Prices appear to range between £699 and £829. Rember, none of these prices include fitting, these prices are just for the motor mover itself. It is possible to fit a motor mover your self, however, it can be a tricky DIY job for some people. If you’re not confident in your DIY abilities you need to factor in the cost of fitting from a suitable installer.

EM303a Emove Reviews

I’ve not been able to find any reviews for the EM303a. Therefore there is no feedback available on how effective and reliable the automatic engagement feature is.

EM305 Emove Caravan Mover

Emove do also have a motor mover specifically for large twin axle caravans up to 2,000kg. It’s similar to the EM303a with automatic engagement but with a more powerful motor. However, it’s actually lighter than the EM203 or EM303 at 34 kg.

Emove EM305 Caravan Motor Mover
While the EM305 is the most powerful unit offered by Emove, its actually their lightest unit as well.
  • Weight of 34kg including all fittings
  • Flat surface max caravan weight 2,000 kg
  • Soft start and stop
  • Average current 100 Amps
  • Maximum current 200 Amps
  • Leisure battery minimum 85Ah (110Ah recommended)
  • Warranty 5 Years


EM305 Emove Prices

The cheapest price for the EM305 I could find was £849 from Motor Movers Direct. Other retailers appear to be offering the unit for between £969 to £999.

EM305 Emove Reviews

I was only able to find one review for the EM305 of 4 stars out of 5. However, the author stated they had not actually fitted the unit yet.

Conclusions on Emove Motor Movers

With Emove now offering their products through Aldi stores, it’s clear they are trying to secure a broad market appeal. They are supplying both budget and premium options. In terms of build quality and durability, there is not currently enough information available to make a judgement. They do offer 5-year warranties on all their units. Something I did also want to mention was their solution to help level your caravan.

Emove offer an automatic levelling system with a motor mover and electric corner steadies.

For this complete levelling kit with motor movers, you have to spend £1,999. That’s quite a lot of money, however, if your physical abilities are limited it may be something you want to consider. Also, this system is only available for single axle caravans. Something I do wonder about though is the electric corner steadies lifting the van. Normally the advice is to never use corner steadies to level a van. It can cause warping with the caravan body/chassis. Perhaps in this instance, as the electric corner steadies are synchronized its not a problem. Perhaps they offer better support to lift the caravan without body flex been an issue. From the information I’ve seen on this product so far I’m just not sure.

AL-KO Ranger Caravan Motor Mover

As you may be aware, AL-KO is one of the major manufacturers of caravan chassis. Therefore it was a natural move for AL-KO to start offering motor movers. However, it’s rather surprising that they came ‘late to the party’ behind brands such as Powrtouch. Their entry-level manual engagement offering is called the Ranger.

AL-KO Ranger Caravan Motor Mover
The Ranger is the entry level offering from AL-KO
  • Weight of 37kg including all fittings
  • Flat surface max caravan weight 1,800 kg
  • Soft start and stop and ‘bump-free’ manoeuvring
  • Average current 20 Amps
  • Maximum current 100 Amps
  • Leisure battery minimum 70ah
  • Warranty 5 Years

AL-KO Ranger Prices

Prices form the AL-KO Ranger appears to be around £960 for self-fitting. Midlands Motor Movers appear to be the only retailer currently offering this unit.

AL-KO Ranger Reviews

I’ve been unable to find any reviews at all for the AL-KO Ranger, but I will update the page if that changes in the future. However, it’s worth noting AL-KO’s long-established reputuation making quality caravan chassis. Therefore it’s reasonable to presume they are not offering an inferior product to the competition. But at the same time, you have to weigh up their higher price point compared to the competition as well.

AL-KO Mammut Motor Mover

A Mammut is an extinct species distantly related to elephants. Large powerful creates similar in appearance to the also extinct Wooly Mammoth. So it’s clear with this branding AL-KO is trying to emphasize power. From 2010 onwards AL-KO started to brands their chassis with an M for setups suitable for the Mammut. It’s unclear if the Mammut has a more powerful motor compared to the Ranger, but the amp ratings are the same. The most notable difference is the ‘form factor’. In other words, the Mammut is compact, very compact. Basically, if you are concerned about ground clearance there is no better solution currently available.

AL-KO Mammut Motor Mover
The Mammut is the premium automatic engagement offering from AL-KO
  • Weight of 37kg including all fittings
  • Flat surface max caravan weight 1,800 kg
  • Soft start and stop and ‘bump-free’ manoeuvring
  • Average current 20 Amps
  • Maximum current 100 Amps
  • Leisure battery minimum 70Ah (100Ah recommended)
  • Warranty 5 Years

AL-KO Mammut Prices

The Mammut is a highly engineered motor mover, and probably the ‘neatest’ motor mover on the market. The design is very compact and discreet while still providing sufficient power. However, you do have to ‘pay for the privilege’, the Mammut is £1,570.

AL-KO Mammut Reviews

While there appear to be no customer reviews available, back in 2010 Practical Caravan did review the Mammut with extensive praise. But it’s important to bear in mind, a lot of time has passed since 2010. The competition has upped their game and at a lower price point. However, the Mammut is still the lowest profile motor mover you can buy.


Truma Mover XT 2/4

You may or may not know that Truma acquired Carver. Carver was the British engineering company responsible for the first axle mounted movers brought to market back in 1997. The modern Truma motor movers are characterised by their prominent aluminium drive wheels, they are simply huge. The advantage of course from using such a large drive wheel is good contact with the tyre. Another notable feature of the Truma motor movers is brushless motors. A high-quality feature, but it comes at a cost.

Truma offers the standard XT, the XT2 and the XT4. The XT is for single axle caravans up to 2,300 kg, the XT2 is for twin axel vans up to 2,400 kg and the XT4 for twin axle caravans up to 3,100kg! Basically, if you have a very large twin axle caravan, the Truma range is the sort of motor mover you need to be looking at.

Truma Motor Movers
Truma motor movers are premium products with a premium price point.
  • Weight XT (28kg), XT2 (28kg), XT4 (60kg)
  • Flat surface max caravan weight 2,300 kg (XT) up to 3,100 kg (XT4)
  • Soft start and stop
  • Average current 28 Amps (XT, XT2) and 37 (XT4)
  • Maximum current 158 Amps (all versions)
  • Leisure battery minimum 70Ah (100Ah recommended)
  • Warranty 5 Years

Truma Mover XT 2/4 Prices

Right, so Truma is leaving the budget end of the market behind. They are setting themselves up as the premium of premium brands. To that effect for a Truma motor mover you are going to be spending over £2,000 for the XT and up to around £3,700 for the XT4. At this sort of price point, you need really weigh up your options and consider your choices.

How much does it cost to have a Motor Mover fitted?

If you don’t want to go down the DIY route you can usually get the motor mover fitted for an additional £100 from the retailer. If you do want to go the DIY route you need to check that the specific products warranty allows it. You don’t want to go through the effort of fitting the mover only to find out you have just invalidated your warranty.

Final thoughts on Purchasing a Motor Mover

So as you can see from the options above, you are spoilt for choice in 2019 with motor movers to choose from. All manufacturers today appear to offer a 5 year warranty period which is reassuring. Remember, the price points above do not include fitting so you need to add in at least another £100. Also, if your leisure battery is not up to the job that will be another additional cost.

Something else that I wanted to mention is the use of a single motor mover on twin axle caravans. I’ve had guests at Horton Common provide feedback on this issue. With a single mover in most instances, it’s just not going to provide sufficient power (and grip) for anything but the flattest and smoothest surfaces. I hope you found the above useful and I hope you consider paying us a visit to Horton Common at some point. 🙂

How to get an Internet Connection in your Caravan

Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

While our caravan site Horton Common is in a beautiful rural location, unfortunately, that does come with slow rural broadband speeds. Therefore offering WiFi to our guests is simply not feasible. So I often get asked what other solutions are there for getting an Internet connection in caravans and motorhomes? The answer is to take advantage of the 4G mobile network. While we may have poor landline broadband, due to our elevated location we get an excellent reception from the most if not all of the 4G mobile networks.

Using mobile networks for an Internet connection is something I have quite a lot of personal experience of due to our low-quality landline broadband. Therefore I thought I would write a post to share some of this knowledge, and the little tips I’ve learnt over the years. The information below really applies for an Internet connection in a caravan or motorhome in any location. In most cases, you will often get a better speed than onsite Wifi can provide. Before we go into more detail on the various options, let’s cover the ‘highlights’.

How to get an Internet Connection in your Caravan or Motorhome

  1. Ask the site owner if Wifi is available

    Check what sort of speeds could be expected and if there is a charge for using a certain amount of data.

  2. Alternatively, use the 4G Mobile Network

    Using Ofcom’s coverage checker see which networks are available at the caravan site you are going to visit based on their postcode.

  3. Use your Phone, Mifi Device or Dongle

    In some cases, you can use your phones data plan and tether the phone to your other devices. Alternatively, you can use a Mifi Device or Dongle with a separate SIM card to provide mobile internet access.

So first we’ll talk about using Wifi when available for an Internet connection on the caravan sites you visit and how to make the best use of it. Then we’ll discuss using the mobile data networks and the various options and tips to get the best results and value for money.

How to make the best use of Wifi when available

So if the caravan site your visiting has available Wifi it’s often provided by a username and login. Therefore, if you want to use multiple devices at the same time there’s an issue. The solution is to use a device to create a Wifi Hotspot. You log this one device into the Wifi network and then you connect your devices to the Wifi Hotspot. Therefore all your devices are able to share that one username login. An example of such a device is the HooToo TripMate Titan, yes its a bizarre name. The video below does a good job of explaining the features of this device. It explains how you would use it to share a single Wifi connection with multiple devices in your caravan.

Boosting Wifi Signals

Solwise Antenna for Caravan and Motorhome WiFi Internet
Solwise Wifi Omnidirectional Antenna

If you want to get the best signal from on-site Wifi then you could look into solutions such as the Solwise Outdoor Antenna. This can be positioned on the outside of your caravan permanently, or just placed in position when you arrive on site. It has a USB connection and you can connect it directly to a laptop on its own. However, if you wish to share the Wifi with multiple devices then paring the antenna with their Wifi Repeater (Hotspot) will do the trick.

iBoost Directional Wifi Antenna for Caravan and Motorhome Internet
iBoost Directional Wifi Antenna

There are other devices on the market that can do a similar job, such as the iBoost Directional Antenna. The Solwise antenna is omnidirectional whereas the iBoost is directional. The difference being the Solwise will pick up a Wifi signal from any direction. With the iBoost, you have to physically direct it to the Wifi source. Now, that may seem like more of a faff, so why would you go for a directional antenna? While it may be more of a faff to locate the Wifi direction and move the antenna, you will (in theory) get a better signal than an omnidirectional antenna.

What are the downsides to on-site Wifi?

One of the biggest problems is until you arrive on site and set up your caravan you will not know how good their Wifi is until you try it. Also, the speed of the Wifi on site will depend on how good their landline connection is. If there are lots of caravans and motorhomes on site all trying to access the Wifi to watch YouTube or Netflix you can guess the results.

When it comes to video streaming you may also be limited by data. You need to carefully check what the site’s policy is, do they charge per day, per hour or on data usage? If they charge via data and you only want to browse websites/social media this could be quite reasonable. However, if they charge for data use and you want to use a video streaming service, your eyes maybe streaming when you add up the cost.

Using the Mobile Network for Internet in your Caravan or Motorhome

If Wifi is not an option or you are concerned about the slow speed /high data costs you can look into using the 4G mobile broadband network. There are lots of options to consider, however, with a bit of research, this can be an excellent solution. You may even be already paying for a solution to the Internet in your Caravan and don’t even know it!

Which Mobile Network Provides the Best Signal?

The Big 4 Mobile Internet Providers
The ‘Big 4’ Mobile Internet Providers

So, in the UK the main mobile networks are O2, EE, Vodaphone and Three. For later reference, let’s call these companies the Big 4. There are other mobile service providers such as Tesco Mobile and GiffGaff, however, they actually piggyback off the 02 networks. Therefore if you use a mobile service provider who is not one of the Big 4, do a quick Google search to check which network service of the Big 4 they are using.

To find out who provides the best service at a specific location, hence the caravan site you are visiting, there are multiple ways to do this. You can go to each of the main network operators websites and use their service checkers. However, there is a simpler and quicker option. Ofcom has produced a one-stop shop for checking the coverage of the mobile network with a simple postcode checker. They have also produced an app of the coverage checker you can download to your phone or tablet.

Ofcom Mobile Internet Coverage for Horton Common Caravan Site
The above is a screenshot from the Ofcom mobile internet coverage checker for Horton Common Caravan Site (ST13 8QS)

Check the Indoor and Outdoor Signal

Now, on the Ofcom mobile network signal checker, there is an important option to play with. That’s the Indoor and Outdoor signal reception slider. When you select the Indoor signal the results will often change, producing an amber triangle instead of a green tick. The amber triangle means you may experience ‘some problems’.

You need to take the Indoor readings with a pinch of salt as the performance will depend on a lot of variables. For instance how thick are the walls of the property and what materials are used. With a caravan and motorhome, you are inside a metal box, therefore this can have an impact on the signal you receive. However, there are means to mitigate this issue which I will talk about later in the post.

Conclusions on Network Signal Strength

Personally, I always focus on the outdoor signal results for the networks. It doesn’t make presumptions in the same way the indoor results do. The outdoor signal results are produced just on the distance to the nearest tower and the elevation of the location. Fewer buildings and trees to get through means a better and cleaner signal is possible.

Using your Phone as a WifiHotspot through Tethering

As you may have noticed above I made the statement:

You may even be already paying for a solution to the Internet in your Caravan and don’t even know it!

Phone Tethering for Caravan and Motorhome Internet
Tethering your phone as a WiFi Hotspot

Well, the reason I said this is because due to our slow land line speeds I’ve been using the 4G mobile network for many years as my main internet connection. I’ve done extensive research over the years in the various options available, including separate data SIM cards in dongles and MiFi devices. However, the best (and cheapest) solution is to actually use my phone.

Within settings of all Android and Apple phones is the option to turn on your phones Wifi Hotspot. This will share the 4G data connection of your phone with multiple devices, this is called tethering. The number of devices supported depends on the individual phone. However, it’s important to note that not all providers allow tethering. Therefore, you need to check your network provider if they allow tethering. I’ve been using Three for the last 5 years as for just over £20 a month I get unlimited data and unlimited tethering.

Quick Tip:

If you are looking to change your mobile plan for one with lots of data/tethering, check out Quidco. You can often get quite a lof cashback on a new phone contract.

Do you have enough Data?

So, as previously discussed, the amount of data you will need will depend on what you want to use the Internet for. If you simply want to browse websites and social media just a few GB of data would be sufficient for a couple of weeks in the caravan. However, let’s say the weather hasn’t been kind to you and your in the caravan bored. You want to watch BBC iPlayer/Netflix etc, is this possible? Its definitely possible if you’re in a good strength signal area and you have enough data, but what’s enough? Well, to stream roughly 1 hour of video will use between 1-2GB of data.

Using a MiFi Device for an Internet Connection

If your current phone or contract doesn’t support tethering or provide enough data, then you can look into a MiFi device. There are lots of Mifi devices available with various different data plans, it can take some time to work out which device is best for you.

MiFi Device for Caravan Internet Connection
Both O2 and Three offer the Mini MiFi devices produced by Huawei

You want to consider technical features such as battery life, and the number of devices you can connect to the MiFi device at one time. However, I’ve never seen any MiFi device provide for less than 10 devices, therefore in a caravan, any of the products on offer should meet your needs.

What you really need to focus on is the contract length and the data allowance. A MiFi device is not your phone, and you probably don’t use your caravan or motorhome all year round. Therefore going into a 24-month contract is probably not going to work for most people. Therefore for a MiFi device in your caravan, a Pay-As-You-Go or 1-month rolling contract is likely to be your best option.

Tip: Buying a MiFi Device

Personally, I would also choose a MiFi device which is not locked to a particular network and you can change the data SIM card. Therefore, before your visit to a caravan site, you use the Ofcom service coverage tool mentioned above and order a data SIM from the network that provides the best service in that area.

Positioning your Phone or Mifi Device for the Best Signal

OpenSignal App
OpenSignal App

It’s important to remember when you are in your caravan or motorhome your inside a metal box. Therefore its possible some of the signal is deflected and does reach your device. So where your device is positioned can affect the signal strength and the speed of the service.

Try and position your phone or MiFi device next to the window of your caravan, ideally where the source the 4G internet is coming from. I use Opensignal, it’s a great App that loads a map and shows which tower you are connected to and its direction. Therefore using that app you can work out which window in the caravan is the best place to put your phone or MiFi device.

Tip: How to resolve slow 4G Internet speeds

Just like Wifi, if too many users are sharing the same access point the speed of the connection will drop. Congestion is evident on all forms of Internet connection, however, with 4G it can be particularly evident at certain times of the day. Now depending on your location, there may be multiple signal towers within range. If your speed drops turning the 4G data connection off and on will reconnect your device to the least congested tower.

Conclusions on Getting an Internet Connection in your Caravan or Motorhome

There’s a lot of information above to digest for you to explore your options. Both Wifi and the 4G network have their pros and cons. Over the next couple of years, the 5G network will be rolling out over the UK. That claims faster speeds and better network coverage, but we’ll have to see how that plays out in reality. However, on 4G with the right device and data plan, it is possible to use video streaming services in your caravan on those wet rainy days. I hope you found the above useful, and if you would like to visit us at Horton Common to enjoy our fully serviced pitches please check out the booking form. 🙂

How to Sterilise a Caravan or Motorhome Water System

Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

Every now and again we have a visitor that turns up at Horton Common with a new caravan or motorhome asking questions about how to clean their water system. Often the dealer will have mentioned briefly that they should sterilise the caravans water system, but the dealers don’t really provide any more detail than that.

I’ve briefly touched on how to sterilise a caravans water system in how to set up a caravan on site. However, with this post, I thought I would go into a bit more detail on how and why you should sterilise your caravans water system. First I’ll provide the highlights in a step by step manner, then I’ll go into the topic in a bit more detail.

How to Sterilise a Caravan or Motorhome Water System
Its important to sterilise your water system at least once a season

How to Sterilise a Caravan or Motorhome Water System

  1. Purchase a tub of Puriclean

    Puriclean is specifically designed for washing out and sterilising a caravans water system. Don’t be tempted into using Milton sterilising fluid, it’s not designed for the job. In fact, Milton could end up doing more harm than good to the water system.

  2. Half Fill your Aquaroll/Water Hog and add Puriclean

    For a full water system clean and sterilisation, you will need to add 8-9 teaspoons of Puriclean to the Aquaroll/Water Hog. Once you have added the Purilclean fill the container up to the top with water, a quick shake and then let it sit for a while.

  3. Remove the Caravan Water System Filters

    Before you pump the sterilised water through the caravans water system you will want to remove the water filters. Puriclean will breakdown and dissolve the filter membrane.

  4. Close all the Taps and Prime the Water System

    Make sure that you fill up both the cold and hot water tanks, but don’t turn on the hot water heater. Open each tap and let some of the sterilised water flow out of the taps. Then shut the taps and let the Puriclean do its job.

  5. Leave the Puriclean to work for between 1 to 12 Hours

    Obviously, there is a significant difference between 1 to 12 hours. How long you leave the Puriclean in the water system to sterilise is a personal preference. You should consider how long the water system has been sat idle since last used.

  6. Flush Through the Water System until Empty

    Now go around each tap (including the shower) and empty out the whole contents of the Aquaroll/Water Hog. Try and make sure each tap gets a fairly equal amount of the sterilising water flowing through it.

  7. Re-fill the Aquaroll/Water Hog and Wash Through

    You will now probably want to re-fill and flush through the caravan water system 3 to 4 times to remove any taste of the Puriclean. Again, make sure you do this with each tap.

  8. Re-install and Potentially Replace the Water Filter

    Now the caravans water system is clean you can now re-fit the water filter. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for how often you should replace the water filter. You can now use the caravans water system as normal.

This videos provides quite a good summary on the process of how to sterilise a caravans water system.

How often should you Sterilise your Caravan or Motorhome Water System?

Puriclean Water Steriliser
Puriclean is made specifically for cleaning and sterilising caravan and motorhome water systems.

Now how often you choose to sterilise your water system is a matter of personal preference. However, as a minium, you should sterilise the caravans water system once a season. If you are in the caravan quite frequently, say once every month or two, you may find once a year sufficient. If there are gaps in your use of the caravan for more than a couple of months at a time it’s not a bad idea to sterilise the water system again.

One method could be to do a once season sterilisation and leave the Puriclean in the caravans water system for up to 12 hours before you set off on your trip. Then every couple of months you could do a quick clean for just 1 or 2 hours. For instance, you could leave the water system to sterilise while you level the caravan or motorhome.

What if you don’t use your Caravan Taps for Drinking Water?

Now, quite a lot of caravanners don’t actually use their caravans water taps for drinking water. They will have a small portable water container of says 5L which they have inside the caravan. This is why at Horton Common with our fully serviced pitches we fitted two taps. One tap is for the permanent water connection to top up the Aquaroll and the second is for separate water containers. Therefore our visitors do not have to disconnect the permanent water connection to fill up their portable drinking water containers.

Fully Serviced Caravan Pitch
We provide two taps at Horton Common per pitch. One for a permanent water connection the other to fill portable drinking water containers.

So if you don’t use your caravans water system for drinking water do you still need to sterilise it? Well yes, when you wash your hands you wouldn’t want to add germs instead of washing them away. Also, if you don’t sterilise your caravans water system you could have issues with a build-up of biofilm. Biofilm is a combination of bacteria and fungi that can grow on surfaces. You may have noticed on the inside of a hosepipe that slimy residue, well that’s biofilm. If you don’t sterilise your caravans water system you could be washing your hands and cookware in biofilm residue! Don’t forget about your shower, I’m sure you don’t want to shower in water contaminated with bacteria either.

Are there Alternatives to Puriclean?

Milton Sterilising Fluid
Don’t be tempted to use Milton Sterilising Fluid. It could damage your caravans water system

Sure, there are various other brands of water sterilisation additives. However, make sure they are suitable for caravan water systems. Some water sterilisation liquids that many people are familiar with, Milton being an example can actually do damage.

Milton attacks metal surfaces. If you read the label on the back of the bottle you will see the warnings. Therefore using Milton could cause corrosion issues with certain parts of your caravans water system.

We personally use Puriclean in our caravan and most of our guests also use Puriclean in their caravans. It’s not expensive and I feel it does a good job at sterilising the caravans water system.

Conclusions on How to Sterilise a Water System

Hopefully, you found the above information useful. I must admit, I’ve had quite a few caravanners who never used to sterilise their caravans water system until they started to notice a strange taste in the water! You don’t want to leave it until that point, make sterilising your caravans water system a part of your preparation before going away and while setting up on site.

How Much Does a Caravan Weigh?

Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

Since setting up Horton Common in 2014 I’ve had many discussions with our visitors about the weight of their caravans for various reasons. First, it may have been conservations about their tow car and how suitable they found it for pulling their caravan. Secondly, it has been conversations based around driving licences and ‘Gross Train Weight’. Therefore I thought I would write a post about these conversations, and to explain why the weight of a caravan is important for those looking to purchase a caravan for the first time. Before we discuss the topic of how much does a caravan weigh in detail, I’ll just cover the ‘highlights’ to the question.

How Much Does a Caravan Weigh?

The smallest and lightest caravans such as an Adria Altea have a weight of around 900kg and Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM)of 1100kg. Trailers below this weight don’t have toilet/shower facilities and are really camping trailers more than a common understanding of what a caravan provides. The heaviest caravans you will see on UK roads would be something like a twin axel Airstream International. The weight of these caravans unladen is around 2,000kg and with a MTPLM of around 2,400kg.

What does MTPLM mean for a Caravan?

Caravan Weight Plate
A typical caravan weight plate – Image: outandaboutlive.co.uk

MTPLM stands for Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass. On each caravan, there is a metal label (usually located around the door) which will provide full details on the caravan. It will show the MRO (sometimes MIRO) which stands for Mass in Running Order. This is the weight of the caravan as it leaves the factory, hence its unladen weight. The MTPLM is the maximum weight the caravan can be once laden while complying with your insurance policy. If you have an accident and your insurance company believe it was due to your caravan being overweight, they could refuse to pay out. Therefore it’s very important you do not overload your caravan.

Quick Note: The MTPLM is also very important when it comes to purchasing new caravan tyres. You want to make sure the tyres your purchasing have a load index rating to suit the MTPLM of your caravan.

When Did You Pass Your Driving Test?

The weight of caravans becomes more significant to you depending on when you passed your driving test. The reasons being depending on when you passed your test it will dictate if you can legally tow a caravan over a certain weight, depending on your chosen tow vehicle.

Passed Before January 1st 1997?

If you passed your driving test before January 1st 1997 you probably don’t have much to worry about. Most driving licences around that date enable you to have a car and caravan weight up to
8,250kg also known as the maximum authorised mass (MAM). This should cover practically any car and caravan combination on you could want.

Passed After January 1st 1997?

This is where it starts to get a bit more complicated. The information from the governments website states, “You can also tow heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer is not more than 3,500kg.” So that’s obviously a significant reduction from the 8,250kg from those with a pre-1997 licence. It’s also important to remember that the MAM is not the weight of the vehicle, but its total laden weight. In other words, the maximum that vehicle can weigh including its contents. So, for instance, if you passed your driving test after January 1st 1997, you would not be able to tow a heavy caravan such as an Airstream International without passing additional driving tests. If your not sure what your driving licence allows, you can actually now check it online.

If you passed your driving test after 1997 this is an example of a car and caravan combination that you will not be able to tow under a standard licence 🙁 : Image – Trucktrend.com

To be able to use a large tow car to tow a large caravan you will need a B+E driving licence. I personally passed in 2004, so the above also applies to myself. I can tow provisionally B+E if supervised (and with L plates), as well as notifying my insurance company. Otherwise, I’m limited to keeping the total MAM of the caravan and car under 3,500kg.

How To Load A Caravan For Good Weight Distribution

When it comes to loading up your caravan weight distribution is very important. How you load up your caravan will affect how it performs on the road. First, you need to be aware of the payload limit for your caravan. As stated above the payload will be the difference between the unladen weight of the caravan and its
Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM). Once your confident your items are within the payload limit you can start to load the caravan. You want to distribute the items depending on their weight. The heaviest items (likely to be the awning) should be positioned over the caravan axel on the floor. Try to make sure you are balancing the weight of items either side of the axel. This will mean the caravan has good on the road performance without excessive pitching and snaking. The RAC has produced quite a good towing guide for caravanners.

The above diagram provides a good illustration on how to properly and safely load a caravan – Image: RAC – Towing a Caravan Guide

Caravan Nose Weight and Why You Should Check It

Measuring Caravan Nose Weight
You can actually measure the nose weight of your caravan with some bathroom scale : Image – outandaboutlive.co.uk

Before you set off after loading up your caravan you should really check the nose weight of the caravan once fully laden. The nose weight is the force the caravan is placing on your cars tow ball. Each car has a different rating for nose weight on the tow ball. It depends on the cars chassis and suspension setup. Cars with long overhangs from the rear wheels generally have low nose weight limits. Cars with air suspension usually have higher nose weight limits. The reason being the air suspension can up the pressure to stop the back of the car dipping down too much.

Some cars have a nose weight limit as low as 60kg, larger 4x4s will have a limit up to 150kg. Always check the manual for your car to find its nose weight limit. Depending on how much stuff you have in your caravan and its position it can be challenging to keep the nose weight under control. Remember, a caravan motor mover can increase the nose weight of your caravan, reducing your user payload.

Consequences of Going Over Your Nose Weight Limit

If you breach your nose weight limit and have an accident your insurance company could refuse to pay out. It can be very unsafe to exceed the nose weight rating. More weight on the back of the car will potentially lift the front. The front of your car obviously provides the steering. Less contact of your steering wheels on the road can lead to handling issues and potential accidents. Most people will have seen cars on the road which are clearly breaching their nose weight limit. The rear wheels of the car almost disappear into the arches, and the tow bar is practically dragging against the ground.

Caravan Weight Distribution
This diagram shows how excessive caravan nose weight can cause significant problems – Image: caravansplus.com.au

Conclusions on How Much Does a Caravan Weigh

When it comes to towing a caravan, especially with a driving licence post-1997 the weight of the caravan you choose has significant implications. So does the weight of your chosen tow car. The MTPLM is based on the maximum laden weight of the caravan AND car being under 3,500kg. Once you have chosen a suitable car and caravan combination to keep under the 3,500kg limit, you need to focus on loading the caravan properly. Weight distribution in the caravan can have a significant impact on how it feels to tow. Therefore checking the nose weight of your caravan against your cars nose weight limit should not be ignored.

Anyway, I hope the above provided some useful information and links to other useful resources. I’ve also produced posts on how to set up a caravan on site and how to level a caravan. Once your setup with your car and caravan you may be interested in coming to visit us here ar Horton Common and our fully serviced pitches. 🙂

How To Level A Motorhome/Campervan on Site

Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

If you are a new motorhome or campervan owner one of the most important skills to learn is how to properly and safely level a van when you arrive on a site. I’ve previously written about how to level a caravan, however with motorhomes its a different challenge. With this post we will first cover the highlights, then we will go into more detail:

How To Level A Motorhome/Campervan on Site

  1. Find a Good Position With Firm Ground

    Motorhomes are heavy vehicles, even small units will be between 2-3 tonnes. Therefore it’s a bad idea to try and level the motorhome on soft ground, as it won’t stay level for long.

  2. Purchase Strong and Durable Levelling Ramps

    Don’t be tempted to purchase cheap levelling ramps. As stated, motorhomes are heavy vehicles. Cheap ramps will break and snap pretty quickly, therefore check reviews before a purchase.

  3. Kick the Ramps into Position and Don’t Hold Them!

    Kick the ramps under the wheels parallel to the tyres. No one should be holding the ramps in position. If the clutch slips or the driver makes a mistake it could have serious consequences.

Right, now we have covered the highlights lets go into more detail on how to level a motorhome or camper van on site.

1. Find a Good Position With Firm Ground

As stated above, motorhomes are heavy vehicles. At Horton Common, we have had some very large motorhomes visit us over the years. Some of the large A Class motorhomes weigh between 5 to 10 tonnes! So when it comes to levelling a motorhome of that weight, the ground needs to be firm and stable enough to support the weight. Luckily at Horton Common, we have installed a road and hard standing pitches with 200 tonnes of stone at a depth of 6 to 10 inches to provide a firm stable surface all year round. It’s been tested several times by the 20-tonne gravel wagons that deliver granite chipping for the road dressing.

How to Level a Motorhome on a Grass Pitch

However, not all caravan and motorhome sites have such a firm surface, particularly on small sites. Even more so if you are going to be staying on a grass pitch. Many of our motorhome visitors state they now only visit sites with hard standing fully serviced pitches. But in some cases, you might not have a choice, and you have to stay on a grass pitch. Therefore try to find an area on the site that will drain well, asking the owner for the best position is a good idea.

You don’t want to get stuck in the mud! Image:
Lin and Johns Motorhome Adventure Blog

Let’s consider an example. You turn up to a site on a dry day and level your motorhome. You get the motorhome perfectly level and your pretty happy with the job. Then some typical British weather takes hold, and down comes the rain. The ground becomes wet and the due to the weight of the motorhome you start to sink! Now this will not only put your motorhome off level, but you may also get stuck! Therefore the very first step on how to level a motorhome is to find stable and firm ground.

2. Purchase Strong and Durable Levelling Ramps

When I wrote my post about how to level a caravan I also talked about levelling ramps and the importance of purchasing quality ramps. However, I’m going to put even more emphasis on purchasing good quality levelling ramps for motorhome owners. And again the reason is weight.

Levelling Ramps
Milenco Motorhome Levelling Ramps

I’ve seen many motorhomes in the past with levelling ramps which are broken or split. The reason being cheap plastic and poor design. Make sure that the levelling ramps you purchase have got a good number of positive reviews from customers who have used the ramps multiple times. Even the cheap ramps won’t break the first time you use them (probably). However, you will want to be using these ramps time and time again.

Going back to the first point about choosing firm ground to start with. You also want to purchase levelling ramps that have a wide base to spread the weight of the motorhome as much as possible. In some cases, motorhome owners place boards underneath the levelling ramps to spread the weight even more. In terms of driving up the ramps, the video below from The Motorhomer’s Magazine provides some good information:

3. Kick the Ramps into Position and Don’t Hold Them!

As the video above notes, when you are driving the motorhome up onto the levelling ramps no one should be holding them into position, it can be seriously dangerous. You simply want to kick the ramps firmly into position, parallel to the tyres. To drive up onto the ramps it requires feathering the clutch. Depending on the condition of your clutch this will either be a smooth operation or pretty juddery. The last thing you want is a loved one suddenly trapped under the wheels of your motorhome due to clutch slip!

But Why Do You Need To Level Your Motorhome?

Level Fridge
A level fridge is a happy fridge

Well, there are several reasons why it’s a good idea to level your motorhome. First, a level fridge is a happy fridge. Some makes and models of fridges fitted to motorhomes do not work properly if tilted. Another reason is so your shower drains properly. Now some motorhome manufacturers are wise to the issue of levelling motorhomes. It’s not an easy task for some people, so they now design the shower around the issue. This involves putting two drain holes into the shower floor. However, if your shower only has one drain you want to make sure that it’s going to work properly. Hence levelling the motorhome is vital for those with one shower drain.

Shower Drain
If you have a single shower drain its very important to level your motorhome

There is also the issue of a comfortable sleeping environment. Its unlikely your pitch would be so tilted you’re going to fall out of bed. However, some people will notice the difference if their bed is not level in the quality of their sleep. Finally, there is the issue of cooking on your hob. If your not on a stable/level pitch that could make cooking pretty dangerous, especially with hot liquids.

What about Automated Self-Levelling Systems for Motorhomes?

Yes, we have had a couple of visitors to Horton Common over the years who have had these automated self-levelling systems fitted. They use four hydraulic jacks mounted to the motorhome chassis to lift the van into a level position. The video below is an example of such a system:

Now, these automated self-levelling systems are very impressive. Literally, with the touch of one button, it will do the job for you. However, they are pretty expensive. One visitor to our site told me the self-levelling system for their motorhome cost £7,000. Now, that’s not an insignificant amount of money. However, for them, it was worth every penny. Their mobility was limited and not having the get down on the ground to position ramps etc was important to them.

Conclusions on How to Level a Motorhome

So if you have purchased a motorhome and you’ve never set up on a site before I hope the above information was useful. I do believe levelling a motorhome is more difficult than levelling a caravan. You have more wheels to deal with and a heavier vehicle. However, if you purchase good quality levelling ramps and think through the process you’ll be fine. You can then set up your unit and enjoy your stay 🙂

How to Level a Caravan on Site

Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

So this post is for those who are new to caravanning and are looking to learn how to set up a caravan. It’s going to cover not only how to level a caravan but also the reasons why you need to level your caravan. First off, before I start going into the detail lets just cover the highlights:

How To Level A Caravan

  1. Get the Caravan into a Good Position

    Before you start to level the caravan you want to make sure the van is in a position that you will be happy with for your stay. If its a fully serviced pitch you want to make sure the position of the caravan means you can make full use of all the facilities.

  2. Level the Caravan Axel (Right to Left)

    First, you will need to level the caravan axel, this will probably involve using a ramp on one side. Though other options are available.

  3. Level the Caravan Front to Back

    Now using the jockey wheel you can level the caravan front to back. Once complete its time to lower the corner steadies to hold the caravan into position.

So now we have covered the highlights lets go into a bit more detail on how to level a caravan and the various steps involved.

1. Get the Caravan into a Good Position

Fully Serviced Pitch
First, find a good position that your happy with before you level the caravan

So as stated above, this obviously depends on what sort of site you are visiting. It may be a grass only site where the owners haven’t set out specific pitches. If that’s the case make sure you are far enough away from any caravans or tents nearby for fire regulations, which are usually 6m. Also, if you want to set up an awning make sure there is enough distance between units once that’s been put up.

At Horton Common, we provide hard standing fully serviced pitches, with a number for each pitch. Therefore the position of the caravan is set to provide each of our visitors with a good view and access to a 16A electrical hook up, fresh mains water and our wastewater disposal system. The pitches, however, are not perfectly level. In fact, the slight slope is why the wastewater drainage system works so well. Therefore you will need to level your caravan when you arrive.

2. Level the Caravan Axel (Right to Left)

Now that you have the caravan in a good position, we need to focus upon levelling the axel. This is also known as levelling the caravan right to left. But before we do that, we better talk about tools to help you level up and where to place them.

Levelling Up Tools

Cross Spirit Level
A cross spirit level can a cheap but effective choice

So obviously as you might have guessed, a spirit level is the go-to tool here. Now you can purchase a very cheap short spirit level for just a few pounds, however, you might consider other options. For instance, a long spirit level may provide a better reading. There are also cross spirit levels so you can check both directions at the same time.

Stablia Spirit Level
Stabila make some of the best spirit levels

I probably wouldn’t advise purchasing the cheapest spirit level you can find. As strange as this sounds some spirit levels don’t actually show level properly. I’ve had some very cheap ones in the past which give inaccurate results. Furthermore, the plastic was so brittle it got damaged pretty easily.

Smartphone Spirit Level App
You can even use your smartphone to level your caravan!

Now, you can get applications for your smartphone which will tell you where level is. They will even shout it out to you! They work using the gyroscope which is within most smartphones. You could use this option, however always think of the downsides. For instance, if the app stopped working or you need to charge your phone. Therefore I think its always a good idea to have the low-tech option available as well. However, if you are on your own levelling a caravan, having that audible feedback can be handy.

Where Should You Place The Spirit Level?

Right, there is not a simple one fits all answer to this question, as it depends on the caravan in question. Ideally, you want to place it on the floor of the caravan. But don’t place it upon the carpet or on any lumps and bumps such as floor trims. You want it to have full contact with the floor and be stable. When you come to level front to back you can place the spirit level on the bottom of the door sill.

Caravan Kitchen Worktop
Placing the spirit level on the kitchen worktop may not be the best idea

What about putting the spirit level on top of the kitchen worktop? This would seem an obvious option, as it’s nice and flat, and at a height which is easier to see. However, sometimes the kitchen worktop is not actually perfectly level to the floor of the caravan. Therefore, don’t presume that it is. Once you have finished levelling the caravan for the first time you can put the spirit level on the worktop again to check. If it also produces a level result in left-right and back-front you can use the kitchen worktop to level the caravan in the future.

Using Ramps to Level the Caravan Right to Left

Caravan Levelling Ramps
Milenco Levelling Ramps

One of the simplest options to level a caravan axel is to purchase plastic levelling ramps. There are various different options on the market. So as normal, read some reviews to see which are the easiest to use and most durable. Also, ideally you don’t want to reverse onto the ramps due to the over-run brake system fitted to caravans. You would position the ramp in front of the wheel, and pull the caravan up onto the ramp. Or you could use a motormover.

Wheel Jacks for Levelling

Milenco Caravan Leveller
One example is the Milenco Caravan Leveller

Instead of using a ramp there are wheel jacks available which fit around the wheel. As you turn the handle the wheel will slowly lift up. Again, read reviews before making a purchase. The downsides to these systems are corrosion on the threads can make the jack difficult to use. Also, build quality on some of these products is not the best.

Lock’n’Level Inflatable Bag

There is also the Lock’n’Level inflatable bag system, again also with pros and cons. If you have an Alko wheel lock, getting your caravan level and inline to fit the wheel lock can be a bit of a chick and egg scenario. However, with a Lock’n’Level inflatable bag system that’s not the case. You drive the caravan onto the bag either using the car or motormover, fit the Alko lock and then inflate the bag until level. The video below provides some good tips on using this product:

3. Level the Caravan Front to Back

Caravan Jockey Wheel
You can now use the Jockey Wheel to level the caravan front to back

Now that the caravan is level across its axel, that’s half the job done. We now need to level the caravan from front to back. We do this by using the jockey wheel. First place the spirit level on the bottom of the door sill, or a suitable location of your choice. Now lift whichever edge of the spirit level gets the bubble into the centre. That will then tell you if you need to go down or up with the jockey wheel.

Lowering The Corner Steadies

Caravan Corner Steadies
Finally lower the corner steadies to make the caravan stable

Once you have the bubble in the centre we now have a caravan that’s level right to left and front to back! Now, before you jump inside the caravan with joy, a final important set needs to be completed. You will need to lower each of the four corner steadies to the ground to make the caravan stable. You’ll probably also want to place blocks of wood/bricks underneath the corner steadies feet to stop them sinking. Lowering the corner steadies can be done manually with the included tool, or you can use a battery drill with attachment. However, don’t over tighten the steadies, just make sure they have good firm contact with the ground.

Important! Never Use Corner Steadies To Level a Caravan!

It may seem tempting to try and use the corner steadies to level the caravan, however, doing so could lead to regrets. Often the corner steadies are fitted to the floor of the caravan, and not the chassis. Therefore trying the lift the caravan to level the unit could bend the floor itself, leading to serious damage. It can also create flex in the caravan body which later leads to water leaks!

Automated Caravan Levelling Systems?

Caravan Self Levelling
Automated caravan self levelling systems

So, over the last couple of decades, caravan motor movers have completely changed how many people position their caravan. Therefore, it stands to reason that how you level a caravan will also get some attention in terms of caravan modifications. And it has, there are several automated caravan levelling systems on the market now. Using hydraulic or air systems a ram lifts one side and using an onboard gyroscope, they can level your caravan with a push of a button. The most advanced kits also feature motorised corner steadies. So once the caravan has been levelled the corner steadies are also automatically lowered into position.

Automated levelling systems are very clever and can do the job within a minute! However, there are also pretty expensive. Currently, you will be looking to spend close to £3,000 to have a kit fitted. The cost of the systems depends on the weight of the caravan. However, there are those with limited mobility where such a levelling system may mean they can keep caravanning.

But Why is it Important to Level a Caravan?

You need a level caravan for your shower to drain properly

So let’s dismiss the extremes of sliding out of bed because your caravan is not level. The main two reasons to level a caravan are for your shower and your fridge to work properly. For your caravan fridge compressor to work efficiently and in some cases at all, it needs to be level. Secondly, if your caravan is not level and you have a shower you may get a nasty surprise. Instead of the water running down the drain, it may just run onto the floor of your caravan!

Conclusions on How to Level a Caravan

So, first and foremost, get your self a spirit level you can trust. In fact, it’s often a good idea to have a couple of them around the caravan. As they are easy to lose and then not available when you need one. Phone apps for levelling can also be a backup plan or first port of call. Once you have levelled a caravan a couple of times you develop your own chosen means, and it becomes quicker to do. I’ve also written a post on how to level a motorhome or campervan. Anyway, I hope you found the above useful and you consider coming to visit us at Horton Common as some point. Cheers!