Getting All Charged Up – Update 2…

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I guess this really is the update to an update (Getting All Charged Up – Update…). We have been living with the Sterling Wildside unit now for about 6 months and a LOT of people have been emailing me asking how we are getting on with it and is it worth it?

IMG_1194Well I have done quite a bit of testing with my leisure battery in various states of discharge. With it at about 50% I have recorded a charging current of 15.9 Amps which is far greater than I could manage before and due to the fact that the Wildside unit uses the correct charging profile for my battery I’m not concerned that I will be reducing or damaging my leisure batteries life expectancy.

Earlier this month I had an email from David Dent who had successfully installed a Wildside unit in his Bailey Unicorn 3 Cadiz and he seemed pleased with the results so far. Although installing it in a Bailey was a bit more of a challenge. I’m looking forward to checking back with David to see how he is getting on with his unit.

A couple of other people have also emailed me reporting that after installing a Wildside unit that it had solved their problem of having enough stored energy to operate their motor movers. I still wonder if people who have been experiencing problems with their motor movers caused by supposedly bad batteries and have had to replace them is possibly down to the fact their battery was never really receiving a correct or full charge before causing its early demise.

New Tool…

One of the things I want to get to add to my ‘tool box’ in the near future is one of the computerised digital battery testers. At the moment I’m basing a lot of my work on the voltage of the battery and chemistry type. I’d like to be able to improve on this.

Watch This Space…

The other thing I’d also like to be able to do is get a voltage and charge current reading for the leisure battery while we are actually driving. I have been looking at a few – mainly American options for bluetooth remote voltage and current sensors that you can connect up to with your phone. There are a couple of devices that offer a separate display to fit in your vehicle.

However, there is a rather exciting unit that will shortly be coming on the market in this area that might be a bit of a game changer. If you want to know what it is well go and see Andy Harris or one of the guys on the Road Pro stand at the NEC in a couple of weeks time as they, along with the manufacturer will be launching and demonstrating a new product that might just be bringing caravan technology bang up-to-date. I hope to be bringing you a bit more about this soon and maybe an install too!

Final Thoughts….

Is the Wildside unit worth it?  Before I answer this let me just say I am not being paid by anyone for any endorsements of this unit. I was supplied one of the first (pre production?) units as a test and to provide feedback to Sterling Power on how easy it was to install and it’s performance in the real world, which I did. As a result a couple of things were ‘tweaked’ hence mine had to be returned, reprogrammed and reinstalled.

Well I’d say if you have a Euro 6 or even a 5 engine and you want to make sure your battery is looked after then yes. If you want to upgrade to a more advanced battery chemistry, again yes.  If I had to return mine would I go out and buy one? Yes I would.

Is there anything I’d like to see changed? Well if they ever did a Wildside 2.0 I’d like to be able to move the caravan’s own charging system so it was routed through the Wildside unit when on mains hook up to take advantage of the Wildside’s smart charging facility and to allow you to move to more advanced battery chemistry. I guess also adding a solar panel input with built-in MPPT would be a big hit too.

In The Future…

I’m starting to wonder if the way we charge and power caravans needs to take a leap forward. I have had an idea that you could basically split an inverter. One half in the vehicle and the other in the caravan. Imagine a small unit that takes the 12 volt DC from the vehicle and inverts it to 48 volts AC. You then have a lead that connects this across to the caravan and there it is converted back into 12 volts DC.

So whats the difference… all you are doing is what’s already happening? Well using a 2.5 mm cable rated for 25 amps at 48 volts gives you 1200 watts of power. To transfer that much power at 12 volts you would need 100 Amps. Keeping it at 48 volts will mean the system is still in the ELV range for safety. (Use 4mm cable and this could be 1680 watts of power which would be equivalent to 140 Amps at 12 volts)

Being able to transfer that sort of energy would allow you to forget LPG cylinders and put 1000 Ah of lithium cells in the caravan with a 240 volt inverter and power everything. Just a thought that I’m throwing out there.

 

The Caravan and Motorhome Show 2018

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New Year and the first show of the year!

logo_2016The North’s largest outdoor leisure show for campers, caravan and motorhome owners, will be pitching up at Manchester’s EventCity from 18th – 21st January 2018 offering a huge range of inspiring ideas for lovers of the great outdoors.

This is our “local” show and hopefully it will continue its record each year of increasing the attendance figures over the previous year. With leading manufacturers and dealers in attendance, a range of celebrity speakers, including television presenter Matt Allwright and The Camping and Caravanning Club President Julia Bradbury.

Rob Debenham, Show Manager, says: “We’re hoping to build on the success of last year which saw 36,102 visitors attend over four days and we are really excited about the 2018 show. With some exciting new attractions in store for our guests I’m confident we’re on track to deliver our best show yet. It offers something for everyone, and with kids under 16 going free, it’s a great value day out for the whole family and of course the perfect chance to find your ideal caravan or motorhome.”

With over 200 exhibitors, visitors are sure to leave feeling inspired at the four-day event to start planning the trip of a lifetime.

Tickets to the show also include a free show guide and free entry into the co-located Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show with live cookery demonstrations on the Food & Travel stage. Featuring hundreds of travel companies such as Trailfinders, VIA Rail Canada, and Great Rail Journeys, as well as tourist boards including Morocco, Cuba, Malta, Massachusetts, Barbados and more, visitors are sure to find something to suit all travel interests.

The box office is now open and tickets are available at www.caravanshows.com or by calling 0844 873 7349 or of course you can buy on the day in the foyer.

We will be there on Thursday for the opening, so hope to see you there!

 

End of Year Catch Up…

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Wow… it’s been quite a while since our last posting, and many thanks to all those of you who have emailed asking if we are OK. We are both fine, thanks.

Back in October we were due to go to the Caravan & Motorhome show and we had  booked in to the campsite at the NEC for 4 days. However, the day before, we actually wondered why we were going. Plenty of other bloggers and video bloggers would be going and posting on YouTube. I guess the plethora of video bloggers filming each other meeting other video bloggers wasn’t what we were about…. so we went to the C & M Club site at Southport instead.

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Is A Euro 6 Engine Killing Your Leisure Battery?…

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OK… so that title was a bit dramatic! However here’s the thing… I don’t think everything is peachy with Euro 6 engines and charging leisure batteries.

If you are a regular reader, you know I have recently installed one of Sterling Power’s Wildside units (and so far I’m super happy with it!) but I did get an email from someone who had read all my postings about it and asked me if it might cure his problem. Here’s the gist of his email….

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Getting All Charged Up – Update

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The best laid plans….

We had originally intended to spend a week down at Glastonbury which would have meant the 5 hour drive down would have been an excellent test for the Sterling Power Wildside unit’s first outing. However we had to cancel the trip literally the day before we were due to set off. In the few days between installing the Wildside unit and our planned trip to Glastonbury I had been exchanging emails and phone calls with Charles Sterling talking about some of the aspects of the Wildside unit and the direction that caravan electrics was heading in.

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A Step In The Right Direction…

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OK, so if you read about the bike rack install I guess you might have seen the video of me getting onto the tailgate of the VW Amarok…. akin to a whale wearing a tutu and trying to get on points. I needed something better… well my knees were telling me I better do something about it at least. In the USA, the land of the pickup or Australia the home of the Ute there were plenty of options. The downside was the Amarok has not been released in the USA and shipping charges from Australia are insane. I had to find something closer to home. Doing the usual google searches always ended up with products on sale in different continents so I ended up searching for images that contained the word ‘tailgate’, ‘step’ and ‘Amarok’ and after clicking on various pictures discovered Pegasus 4 x 4 in Bristol. (Note to all the companies out there… spending time correctly tagging and key wording all the photos on your websites pays off!) Continue reading

Getting All Charged Up – Part 3 “The Install”…

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There has been a bit of a delay since Part 1 and Part 2 due to Sue having a fall and breaking her arm in three places. This required over three hours of surgery to install enough metalwork and screws to keep a blacksmith happy followed up by a lot of trips back and forth to the hospital. However, on with the install of the Sterling Power Wildside unit. I think that this will be the first ever install of a unit in a caravan. Continue reading

Getting All Charged Up – Part 2…

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Planning the Install

Remember the Six P’s… “Proper Planning Prevents Piddling Poor Performance”… or something along those lines! Before we start hacking away at the multitude of cables (and my email inbox fills up with help requests) we need to pull out the relevant electrical schematics from the handbook. Our caravan is a ‘dealer special’ based on a 2011 Swift Europa 550 fitted with a Sargent PSU. Continue reading

Getting All Charged Up – Part 1…

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If you are a regular reader you may remember a couple of posts I wrote about leisure battery charging in caravans and motorhomes (Smart Alternators: how they affect Caravans and Motorhomes…. and NEC Show Roundup – it’s all technical…) and I linked to a few videos that Charles Sterling from Sterling Power has produced covering charging topics and Euro6 engines. At the recent NEC show Sterling Power were featuring a new product that would soon be available that would solve all the issues for caravan owners that were experiancing towing with vehicles that had “smart alternators” which were are standard on Euro5 and Euro6 engines and the issues around regenerative braking on Euro6 engines. Charles promised to send me one of the first pre-production “Wildside” Battery to Battery chargers specifically designed for caravans. Continue reading