Power upgrade options for motorhomes

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When you buy a motorhome you are purchasing your ticket to the freedom of the road. Part of this freedom means having the power to drive when and where you want to and to use all the creature comforts of home you take on board with you which require electricity.

This means that having a reliable battery system or an alternative energy option is essential.

Before doing any upgrades make sure to have a valid and up to date motorhome insurance policy.

After you have owned your well-equipped straight from the factory motorhome for a while, you may feel you want to expand the power capacity. This can be for a number of reasons such as spending a great deal of time wild camping where there is no access to site electricity hook-ups, or you want to run more appliances through the on-board system.

Enhancing the life of the batteries

All batteries have a lifespan and this will be shortened through either constant use over a long period of time, overuse through too many electrical items being used at once, or if the vehicle is left  for months at a time without being started.

Battery management systems are perfectly adequate for running battery stores when they are new or at full capacity, but over time an upgraded ‘intelligent’ battery-to-battery charger will give an enhanced efficiency performance.

This can be an improvement on efficiency of up to 85% and installing one will maintain the starter battery to keep it at a constant power and then charge the leisure batteries.

The technology of this style of charger works by continually testing the condition of each of the batteries and then charging accordingly.

Having a valid motohome insurance policy is also another checkbox ticked for whenever you go away.

This is an important feature in that if the batteries are being heavily discharged through the use of a number of appliances, they need to be recharged in a particular sequence in order to increase future efficiency, ensure safety and to prolong the life of the batteries.

Alternative power; the use of the sun and solar

A simple upgrade is to fit one or more solar panels to your motorhome and use the free power of the sun.

Make sure before any of this that you have a valid motorhome insurance policy.

Vehicle solar panels are available as either rigid, semi-flexible or flexible units. There are a number of styles so they can be installed according to the model and shape of your motorhome.

Unless you have a large European motorhome or an American RV, you probably won’t have the flat surface needed on the roof to accommodate the permanent fixing of a rigid solar panel of a power capability of over 100 watts.

This size of unit will need around 1 metre by 60 centimetres of available, flat space and whilst you may have more area on the roof than these dimensions, it’s often not flat. This is where semi-flexible or flexible units come into their own and they have opened the alternative energy option to many motorhome owners since their launch onto the market.

Cost and expertise

Solar panels are decreasing in price all the time, but if you are on a limited budget, don’t worry. You can start with a small, single panel and use it alongside your batteries as a back-up system and then link other panels to it over time. You’ll then have a power system which is all but independent from requiring a hook-up point.

Make sure you have adequate motorhome insurance to ensure you and your family are protected.

If you don’t have a great deal of experience with solar, a small panel will mean you can find out more about upgrading your power this way and also give you peace of mind that your starter battery will be maintained – nobody wants a nasty surprise when they put the key in the ignition.

A gradual upgrade to a larger system will mean that more appliances can then be run at the same time, the batteries aren’t being depleted and you don’t need to pay at campsites for a mains supply connection.

Power upgrades keep you on the road so you can continue to explore the world. Once you have a system you’re happy with, all you need to think about is maintaining your vehicle with a regular service, ensuring it has motorhome insurance and lastly making a list of the electrical equipment you want to take with on your next journey.

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