Advice needed pls - Caravan safety body?

May 24, 2017
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Morning all,
Just need some advice please. Looking to discover if there is a safety regulator or organisation etc for caravans. Similar to VOSA for vehicles.
Reason being, I believe someone needs to be made aware of a potential problem with the electrical installations in some caravans. I specifically know about some Coachman models but it could potentially affect any van which uses a BCA distribution board. I have approached both Coachman and BCA, both are completely ignoring me. The dealer (correctly) says it's a matter for Coachman and they won't get involved.
The specific issue is that the BCA board contains a set of mains breakers which are like those used in a domestic 240v installation. Therefore, it follows that there must be an inspection schedule for them, something BCA won't confirm. However, the installation in certain caravans is such that the cover cannot be removed without significant dismantling of the caravan (the whole offside font bench seat in my case) which means it doesn't appear as an inspection item on the maintenance regime.
The result in my case was that the incoming mains cable securing screws in the RCD worked loose causing the cables to arc and thus burn out the (cheap Chinese) RCD device. Had I not caught it in time it would most certainly have resulted in a fire, i.e had we been out for the day instead of asleep in bed when it happened we would have come back to a burnt out caravan. The smoke set off the alarm which woke us up and I pulled the hook up cable out.
If this was a domestic installation I could report it easily to the likes of NICEIC, the HSE, The Council under building regs etc. But nobody I can find seems to regulate this for caravans Any ideas please folks?
Many thanks.
Dom.
The offending article.
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And as an aside, for all their boasts that Coachman make about their build quality, I personally feel that if they believe this is an acceptable standard of installation then their standards are a low lower than they claim. Diabolical is one word which comes to mind. And normally hidden with a plastic cover rather than actually doing the job properly and dressing the cables back as any competent person would. Whoever shoved all this lot in clearly has no understanding of things like inductance and capacitance.

2018-10-28-15-17-59.jpg
 
Mar 14, 2005
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If you have any faulty retail product by way of design, materials or workman ship, it IS the legal responsibility of the seller in the contract to resolve it under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Don't take" its not my problem contact the manufacture" for an answer.

Mains wiring should be specified and installed in accordance with the concurrent edition of the Wiring Regulations in force at the time of installation. Failure to comply with those regulations should be reported to the Health and Safety Executive.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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You could ask the NCC as they issue certificates of conformity to certain industry standards.
As far as I know the standards that they certify are:

BS 1645-1 Leisure accommodation vehicles. Caravans. Habitation requirements relating to health and safety
BS EN 1645-2 Payloads
BS EN 1648-1 Leisure accommodation vehicles. 12 V direct current extra low voltage electrical installations. Caravans
BS EN 1949 Specification for the installation of LPG systems for habitation purposes in leisure accommodation vehicles and accommodation purposes in other vehicles
BS EN 721 Leisure accommodation vehicles. Safety ventilation requirements

I leave you to check whether any of the above apply in your particular case.

Note that none are legal requirements, but only industry standards.
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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dsolds said:
Morning all,
Just need some advice please. Looking to discover if there is a safety regulator or organisation etc for caravans. Similar to VOSA for vehicles.
Reason being, I believe someone needs to be made aware of a potential problem with the electrical installations in some caravans. I specifically know about some Coachman models but it could potentially affect any van which uses a BCA distribution board. I have approached both Coachman and BCA, both are completely ignoring me. The dealer (correctly) says it's a matter for Coachman and they won't get involved.

As the Prof mentioned earlier, the dealer that you bought the caravan from are the ones responsible for any inherent faults that you have found.
You didn't buy your Coachman direct from the factory, you bought it from a dealership and therefore the contract of sale is between the dealer who agreed to sell a new and inspected caravan to you, and yourself who bought a new caravan and never asked if the dealer had any caravans in stock with potentially dangerous electrical faults to sell to you instead of a new one that they had inspected. Don't be fobbed off, it's the dealers responsibility to ensure that any goods including caravans that they sell are fit for purpose in a safe marketable condition.
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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Sadly the kind of damage as shown in your photos is certainly not uncommon, and from the pictures you have posted the Live has been shorting for some considerable time, and should have been picked up before now.

It is a well known phenomenon that AC has the tendency to unscrew grub screws which is why it is one of the checks that should be done during a service, ie checking the security of cables.

Your situation probably started back in the Coachman factory and the person who fitted the cables failing to tighten the screws properly.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Dustydog said:
Dom,
How old is your Coachman?

The "Rats nest" of cables is not uncommon in all caravans, I don't think all the cable to CB breakers are tightened, on an annual check.
It is probably only done by Caravan owners who do there own Maintenance , to a greater extent than that is required to keep a warranty valid. , like Gafferbill cleaning a fan, or a roof vent fan, , a squeaking / howling Hitch. I have found my motor mover terminals and others from new are not correctly tightened, Door hinges, Bad screw in fixings, if you don't get them sorted in the first year, Many of us can do these things many cannot. Don't think because your caravan has an annual service, everything will be great, it will not.
Sorry if I am not sympathetic to your posting, but things do go wrong,
 
Nov 11, 2009
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EH52ARH said:
Dustydog said:
Dom,
How old is your Coachman?

The "Rats nest" of cables is not uncommon in all caravans, I don't think all the cable to CB breakers are tightened, on an annual check.
It is probably only done by Caravan owners who do there own Maintenance , to a greater extent than that is required to keep a warranty valid. , like Gafferbill cleaning a fan, or a roof vent fan, , a squeaking / howling Hitch. I have found my motor mover terminals and others from new are not correctly tightened, Door hinges, Bad screw in fixings, if you don't get them sorted in the first year, Many of us can do these things many cannot. Don't think because your caravan has an annual service, everything will be great, it will not.
Sorry if I am not sympathetic to your posting, but things do go wrong,

The mess of cables is similar to those shown in the thread about ‘good job Swift do not make aircraft”. It’s endemic among caravan makes. I do show some sympathy with people who may not have great DIY skills, or knowledge of what is really required to keep a caravan running. They pay good money to participate in the hobby. Manufactures turn out ostensibly poor quality fit and finish. Dealers don’t always do good PDI The owners manual doesn’t give such details as periodic retughtening of power supply cables, services may or may not cover such tasks. It’s a sad reflection on the industry in general more interested in churning out more glitz.
 
May 24, 2017
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Thanks for the replies. It’s a 2013 model, bought new by me.

Interesting that other makes also use the rats nest approach to getting rid of excess cables, it’s wholly unacceptable in my opinion. I have showed these photographs to a couple of colleages and they both agreed (Datacentre HVAC guys). Any other industry simply wouldn’t get away with it but caravans are so poorly regulated its seems.

Anyway, repairs have been done. Nasty chineses NBSe breakers replaces with Hager. All good again in my own van. Now planning to get rid of the horrid rats nest. That will take a bit more effort.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Dom could you do me a favour, and as your Coachman is the same year as mine, check for a data plate in the front locker, as you noticed on my thread about it Ms, Macintoch is a bit vague about the location, thanks
Hutch.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Dom, I can't help with your request, but my power unit blew up after about 2 years, I bought a new one and fitted it but didn't realise it was a pull out and plug unit so whilst, fitting all the powerlinks to the CB's and circuit breakers Realised all the screws were loose so went round all electrics and tightened everything up, including inside the motor mover unit. Other wise I might have had the same burnt CB units as yourself.
 
May 24, 2017
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Sure, my data plate is to the left of the main caravan door. Being a 620/4 the door is rear of the axles. Nothing in the front locker though. Presumably you mean the weights and masses plate?
As for the electrics, poor design, cheap components and installed by apes are things which come to mind easily. Unable to remove the cover from the consumer unit to tighten the screws without first stripping out the offside front bench, and this alone means the vast majority will not be checked sadly. These things are a fire waiting to happen, especially with poor quality breakers.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Thanks for the feed back about locker data plate, confirming my theory that there isn't one fitted. At a panic on a Saturday morning with no power 12 volt power in the van, removed the complete power Block CB's fuses etc, after a 150 round trip found the power unit just slotted in, at least we were in UK unlike Craig, who was in France. Always carry a spare unit now.
 
May 24, 2017
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Yeah, so a note on the charger unit. Slot in as you point out but again, not the finest quality electronics inside them. However...………
If the charger does go bang whilst away in the van the unit can be removed. Then, the 2 plugs for the 12 volt side (in the consumer unit) can be connected together to connect the battery directly to the caravan. As long as you have another way of charging the battery this works just fine. I had to do exactly this when my first charger failed and I immediately ordered a CTEK unit from Amazon for delivery to the site.
The actual charger on board has 2 outputs, one for charging the battery and the other to power the van while on hook-up power. When there is no hook-up lead connected the 2 outputs are bridged inside the charger allowing the battery to power the van.
 
Feb 23, 2018
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I think you have the NCC - But they just seem to be about representing the manufacturers.and the industry.

But I do agree that there is a lack of quality in new caravans. My 2018 Sprite was collected in March; I have just got it back after its second return to the dealers to rectify issues, which are mostly down to quality control. Some of them are minor and some people may not have even noticed, but I have a very critical eye for things like this. It all smacks of "That'll do" by the people assembling the thing. Multiply that by however many individuals work on each van, and you have small issues through the end product.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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The NCC is a trade funded body whose principal role is to lobby government on behalf of its members. Its role is to try to prevent the lawful enactment of legislation and regulations that will adversely affect the profitability of its members..

They do have a technical committee, who from time to time produce recommendations for their members, But they do not superseded or override legislative documents and regulations.

The NCC has no legal authority to enforce national standards or compliance with regulations on any one but their own employees. They do produce Technical Documents, but these are only recommendations they do not define legal requirements. Manufacturers must always defer to national acts of parliament and regulations.

The NCC has can only bring sanctions against its paid up members, as laid out in its terms of membership. It cannot force any of its members to change an activity or process, and the worst it can threaten is the suspension or revocation of membership. They cannot prevent any company from selling caravans in the UK or elsewhere.

The NCC can report anyone for non-compliance to a regulation to the relevant notified body, but that right is no different to any other member of the public.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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Hutch and Craig,
I am impressed. You both carry a spare charger :eek:hmy:
As Hutch knows I carry a number of spares but a charger. Not yet :woohoo:
Shame on the manufactures who appear to have learnt nothing.
Please , please, as I have suggested before supply a proper tool kit, spare bits of trim, direct access to your poor electrical gear and spare screws. Plus now a spare charger :evil: :evil:
And with the festivities I am dreaming........of....
 
May 24, 2017
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Yes, so we come full-circle. My original question was "Who is responsible for enforcing electrical regulations, as laid down by the IEEE, when installed in a caravan?"
The installation in my van is not up to the required standards which, were it a domestic or commercial installation, would be covered by one of either the Building Regulations, HSE or the IEEE.
I have asked some colleagues of mine who are commercial electricians (HVAC engineers actually) and even they say there's pretty much nobody who covers this in a caravan. Now, were it the gas installation it would be a small matter to get Gas-Safe (Formerly CoRGI) to withdraw registration from Coachman thus preventing them from making any more vans until they put their house in order.
All a bit of a concundrum really.I have a poor installation, they don't care, and there is seemingly nothing I can do about it.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Dom, I have pulled out my completion and inspection certificate for my Coachman, the company who issued it is Energy options ltd, and are stating they are NICEIC Reg, No. 018902000.
Thats all the information I have,
Hutch.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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Hutch,
That’s very interesting. A non Manufacturer competent company /person. Check out Companies House. It appears to be a one man band with very little resources . Over to you for further comment.
My Bailey cert is signed by a Bailey employee who is’qualified’ to sign off the electrical system.
This article is worth a read and may explain more for us mere mortals. What do you think Prof?
https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/media/1022895/mains-electrical-installations-mo.pdf
 
Jul 15, 2008
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.........it never was a particularly good idea to put mains electrics into a mobile vehicle that judders it's way along the highway on a suspension system that is a long way from being the best.
Given those facts I have always thought caravans have a good record in having very few problems as far as mains electrics are concerned.
They are very well equipped with fail safe devices in the event of problems.

The OP's post puzzles me in that I would have thought the electrical short that occurred in his caravan should have been dealt with by a safety device up the line in the supply to his caravan.
The supply should have been cut instantly and prevented the apparent overheating and danger of fire as shown in the pictures.

Had the supply been up to standard, the power would have been cut off before any damaged had occurred and the problem could have been investigated in relative safety.

..............I would be interesting if the OP could tell us how and where his caravan was connected to a supply?
 

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