If you are a current van owner or just getting your research together to buy your dream van there’s a lot of innovations that have hit the market over the last few years that may or may not be a great idea.
Electronic Stability Control has been out for some years now but there is still a bit of confusion as to how it works and what the benefits are. There are two main products available on the market, ALKO ESC and DEXTER SWAY CONTROL. Both are owned and produced by ALKO who are a huge RV component manufacturer but they work a bit different to each other. ESC is powered off the car via an anderson plug or through the trailer plug wiring and if the van sways (yaws) excessively it applies the brakes to both sides of the van to pull it back inline with your tow vehicle. Dexter on the other hand applies the brakes to the opposing side of the van to create the same effect, so if the van sways right it applies the left-hand brake and vice verca. There’s arguments and pro’s and cons for both systems but they are both very effective and are a must as far as I’m concerned. The main benefit is in an emergency situation as they both help avoid jack-knifing in a sudden brake situation. My preference is ESC as I’m of the opinion that Dexter, having the power supplied by the caravan house battery has it’s limitations: If your house battery fails then your stability control won’t work whereas ESC is powered by your vehicle and as long as the tow car is running it is powering the ESC. If you are thinking of doing a bit of off- road work ensure you have your ESC powered via an Anderson plug so you can disconnect easily. Have a look at this video
Sirocco 12v Fans: These have become an extremely popular accessory of late and are very prevalent in the family van sector to keep the kids bunk areas nice and cool of a night. They are normally fitted by the van manufacturer at build time but can also be retro fitted to older vans via a 12v outlet or by wiring into an existing 12v light power supply. They are easily adjusted to different angles and have a variable speed control that even though they can supply a decent amount of volume are very quiet whilst operating. There’s quite a few Youtube vids that explain the operation etc and even one that explains the installation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDAi74s1-jc
Vehicle Components DO35/45 Off-Road Hitch: If you are thinking of doing a bit of off-road or even tougher semi off-road you may want to have a look at an articulating hitch. These hitches are basically a jointed hitch that spins left to right as the van is twisting through hollows and uneven ground. The vehicle and van often are at odds with each other whilst being towed and these devices allow that to happen with much less stress on both vehicle and van. There are quite a few different types: McHitch, Hitch Easy and various others but my money is on the DO35/45 as I have put them through their paces and have never had an issue with them. Very strong and being manufactured by Vehicle Components in sunny QLD, famous for Cruise Master Suspension, they have a good lineage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZAR6yQxaE8
Lithium Batteries: Well………. Where do I start? Lithium Batteries have hit their straps of late as they become more affordable and more and more new van buyers are asking the questions of how and why. The first thing you should remember is that you will normally require a lithium compatible battery charging system, solar regulator and DC to DC chargers which can be a fair bit more expensive than a normal charging unit but there are a small minority of brands of vans that fit them as standard these days. There are a few brands of batteries that claim to be interchangeable with any system but the data on those is a bit scarce to comment on as yet. Why would you buy lithium over AGM? The main benefits are as follows:
- Longer Life, lithium has an increased cycle life and will last longer than an AGM
- More available power, the draw down ie: the amount of power you can utilise is dramatically increased in a lithium battery. You will get up to twice the amount of available power out of a lithium than an AGM battery.
- Weight savings are outstanding. Most lithium batteries are around half the weight of AGM’s and this can be important when having a high powered off-grid system or multiple batteries.
Gas Heating Vs Diesel Heating: Onboard heating systems are very handy if you are camping in cooler climates. Even if you are in the outback in can become extremely cold of a night and some vans have pretty scanty insulation (check that before you purchase a van). Air Conditioning that offers a heating mode needs 240v to operate so if you’re free camping this isn’t always possible so a heater unit makes good sense. I’m a bit of a gas fan myself as I feel the atmosphere created in the van is a bit drier with gas compared to diesel (not as muggy) and also you don’t require a diesel tank as the gas heater is plumbed into your van’s gas system. No smelly diesel hands 😊. The price of both are fairly comparable so it’s just a matter of which you prefer. https://www.truma.com/au/en/products/truma-caravan-rv-heater/truma-varioheat-eco.html https://www.webasto-comfort.com/int/heating/recreational-vehicles/
I have heaps more on my list but won’t bore you for too long. I’ll post more up in the coming weeks.
If you have any queries on any of the above shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org