ELECTRICITY, LIQUID PROPANE GAS (LPG) & WATER

 ELECTRICITY

Approximately 80% of campsites in Europe will have the same 3-pin CEE17 European hook-up that we have in the UK. Those that do not may be able to loan out 2 pin adaptors, but you are advised to purchase your own before travelling.

 Reversed polarity can be found on virtually any campground in Europe. It will not stop any electrical items from working, however, it does mean that sockets and circuits remain live even when they have been switched off.

The important thing to remember is that many European campsites have a much reduced amperage compared with the UK. Over here we enjoy 240v 16amps, but across the channel it will normally be 6 or 10 amps, 220v. So what's that in old money?

My understanding is that if you take the number of watts an appliance uses and divide it by the number of watts, than you get the number of amps that appliance requires. So for example our kettle at home shows that it requires up to 3000 watts to operate, so that's 3000 divided by 240 (volts) which comes out at near enough 12, so that's 12 amps. On a UK campsite, no problem, on most European campsites - grief.

So pay particular attention to the power consumption of any electrical appliance you buy to use in the motorhome, especially if you're touring in Europe. The two main items you watch out for are kettles and hair dryers.

 Fit an intelligent charger like a CTEK, as batteries cannot be allowed to drop below 11.7v which is when their internal electric system cuts out. Battery levels have to be continually monitored and voltage is so important.

 If touring abroad take a polarity tester (Maplins & Screwfix supply them) for hook-up’s plus a ready wired reverse polarity plug for those occasions when the hook-ups are found to have been wired in reverse.

 Invest in a solar battery charger. It’s a silent servant, working unseen on the RV roof. 

GAS

 Use liquid propane gas (LPG) wherever possible as it is lighter in weight, burns at lower temperatures than butane and packs more calorific value kilogram for kilogram.

 Consider fitting a refillable system to the motorhome either the Gaslow www.gaslowdirect.co.uk system or an under-vehicle bulk tank. The disadvantage of the latter is the risk of grounding with the cylinder. Cylinders can be refilled at filling stations where LPG is available for cars. Two sizes of cylinder are available 6kg @ £135 and 11kg @ £150.

 www.drivelpg.co.uk lists sites in the UK where cylinders can be refilled as do www.lpgmap.co.uk  A book can be purchased from remarca@lpg-gids.nl or at any Dutch Tourist Information Office. This covers 22 European countries.

Be aware that some industry organisations have concerns regarding the self-filling of removable cylinders.

Consider carrying 2 x 907 Campingaz butane cylinders as spares. Although it is much more expensive to use it is widely available throughout Europe. Adaptor valves will be required. Gaslow do a special fitting to allow Campingaz bottles to fit the installed 30mb bottle type without making alterations to the gas installation.

Underslung fixed gas tanks are pretty tough units but the risk of grounding and damaging the tank or copper pipework should be considered. A protection guard for the tank should be considered. Autogas 2000 www.autogas.co.uk look to fit such cylinders and provide a robust frame around the tank.

'Truma' produce a filter to prevent microscopic particles from causing goo reaching the regulator. Costs about £70-£80. www.truma.com

 When crossing the channel be aware of the restrictions concerning that route. Carrying additional cylinders for a long stay may be an issue.

 Eurotunnel has strict rules about the amount of gas you’re allowed to carry and you should declare the presence of gas cylinders or tanks when booking check out www.eutotunnel.co.uk for specifics. The combinations between fixed and ’mobile’ cylinders looks complicated but working on a maximum of 50kg of gas looks safe. Cylinders must be easy to access by staff to carry out any checks. The filling rate will be checked on the gauge. If no gauge is present the vehicle will be refused.

 DFDS  Newcastle-Amsterdam & Harwich-Esbjerg will only allow up to 2 x 11kg bottles onboard. Dover-Dunkirk the maximum is 3 bottles of 15kg per bottle.

 P&O Dover-Calais and Hull-Zeebrugge/Rotterdam services allow up to 47kg of gas (excluding the weight of the recepticles). On Irish Sea routes up to 3 cylinders and no more than 11.2kg each may be carried. (Check on capacity allowed on Portsmouth to Bilbao route)

 BRITTANY FERRIES the maximaum is 3 x 15kg cylinders or 47kg of LPG excluding the weight of the tank. Only properly piped and fitted cylinders are permitted and must be properly secured away from sources of heat and ignition.

 LD LINES do accept gas bottles in motorhomes as long as they are part of the original equipment of the vehicle, and so extra bottles are not allowed to be carried.

Check with your intended carrier for the latest information.

 

                                                               WATER

 Keep the interior of the water tank fresh by dropping two sterilising tablets in it and flushing a couple of gallons of water through. Sterilising tablets and liquids will help keep algae at bay.

 Travel with only 10 litres of fresh water and empty grey and black water tanks.

 To avoid the cost of buying bottled water do the following:

 Boil water from a tap, allow it to cool and then pour it in to a Brita filter jug. The jug will also help remove metal particles. The level of Chlorine added to the water would be an unknown and variable quantity; therefore it would be difficult to know when the filter had expired. By boiling water or allowing it to stand overnight in the fridge should remove the chlorine. Therefore the best approach would seem to be: 

  • Boil tap water and allow it to cool. 
  • Pass through a carbon filter into a filter jug. 
  • Place in the fridge overnight.

Such water should be used within 24 hours as the chlorine protection will have been removed.

Install a good water treatment system, and you’ll have safe drinking water anywhere you go without having to rely on bottled water.

In reality what we do is to drain the fresh water and hot water boiler tank after every trip leaving the valves open to keep air circulating.

Before each trip I close the valves, half fill the fresh water tank and then pop in the appropriate amount of tank cleaner such as ‘Puriclean’, which smells as if its chlorine based. I then pump that solution through the pipework to all of the tap and shower heads leaving it there for 24 hours. After that I drain everything down again and thoroughly flush the system through with fresh water. Once done I fill the tank with the appropriate amount of fresh water for the trip.

By giving some though as to our projected water needs over the coming days I can ensure i carry no more than I need saving weight and ensuring what water is in the tank is fairly fresh.