European Vs UK caravans.

Aug 12, 2023
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Just purchased a 2008 Adria Altea 432PX. There are some pros and cons to Euro vans. Things to consider when looking at them.

Pros.
Longer Drawbar which is why we choose it as need somewhere for bikes. In theory should allow higher front locker payload if no bikes as its further from towball so reducing weight on it. Some say its better handling, time will tell on that one.
Bailey discovery range have long drawbars with traditional UK layouts and fittings but do forgo the front locker.

Higher Payload. Euro vans typically have higher payload than UK vans.
Inbuilt water tanks quite often. I'm not fan of bulky aquarolls and portable waste water tanks which take up floor space when travelling.
Better water tighteness, this can vary but Adria was worlds apart from few damp ridden Bailey's I inspected from same age. Construction of Altea was same as my water tight 2000 Bailey. I'm sure there are horror stories of damp ridden Euro vans.
Lot more layout options, Euro builders like to try different things which can make for better space utilisation. That isn't criticism of UK layouts they work but would be nice to see more options.
Quite often no front window so no breakages from flying stones to worry. Main bed is in front on these designs with seating area at back with windows and views. Plus if its the sea or minus if a hedge.

Cons.
What are standard features in UK van aren't always case in Euro vans. A lot of these are driven by cost savings in process make for lighter van . Altea is case in point gas only heating, electric only HW. No oven or grill.
No battery locker which is vented externally, Altea just has battery box under seat which vents into cabin. Not sure how regulations allow that especially with AGM batteries which can outgas under high loads, high charging currents or when old and stuffed (happened on last battery).
Maybe no charger, which is easy to retrofit but expensive if using professionals
Unreliable self latching window stays which we will be replacing with UKs traditional piston and tensioning knob.

Door maybe on rightside which is roadside not kerbside. Only issue when travelling. Will face neighbours at campsite, which could be plus if trying to meet new people. With motormovers you have option to face anyway you like.

Be aware of these cons when looking at euro vans, some maybe show stopper for you.

In regards to layouts they can vary quite alot, 432PX can have kitchen on left or right. Some research on web will show you what options are out there.

Happy hunting.
 
Oct 19, 2023
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i don't think so as battery is under the driver's seat and I cannot see any vent hose.
There is on this Jeep Grand Cherokee (same video I posted when you were asking about your Battery). The guy in the video talks about disconnecting 'this tube'......... that's the vent hose.

I believe that some batteries are completely sealed (no vents) but I've never come across one.

View: https://youtu.be/q6nQaXiZ-bo?si=AT3HHbvOtLLx5dzg
 
Mar 14, 2005
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It's a very balanced review.

In support of European caravans - we have a 2006 small Fendt (I was working in Germany at the time) - the layout is not a problem in UK, as pointed out, providing you have motor mover. As our french double bed is in the front, when UK caravans back in to their pitch, we go in forwards. This means that we have the same view from the seating area and that our door (awning) conforms. The long towbar means that the caravan is stable at most legal speeds both up and down hill. Our battery box is under the double bed but has a vent through the floor.

However, I will agree that that only the hot water has dual gas and electric power - gas only when the Truma heating system is on. We rarely use the gas blown air heating system as we have a very low wattage fan heater that takes the chill off. Equally we have no oven or grill although we do carry a Remoska and a cast iron Spanish griddle plate which goes on top of a portable campinggaz stove. Also, because of its age, we don't have proper useable shower - only a wrap around curtain which is not viable.

My major problem, and getting more difficult, is sourcing spare parts - bits of trim etc as age starts to impact.

Having said that, our caravan is as tough as old boots and, after 18 years, is still dry as a bone. It has taken us all over Europe, Scandinavia and Morocco on many adventures as I have mentioned in other non related posts. We will, eventually, have to replace it when my knees stop being able to crawl into the inside berth as OH is extremely claustrophobic.

European versus UK caravans is always going to cause a debate with everyone having their own ideas of pros and cons. What we will need in the future is a caravan small enough (current length and width - 7m x 2.3m) and tough enough to go places that caravans don't necessarily go with fixed 2 single beds (or an island bed).

That's why I am a relatively silent member of all the forums - will only contribute if I can usefully add to a debate. However, I watch and value all your views, debates and opinions on the reliability, build quality, toughness etc of caravan brands for when we come to replace ours in the future.
 
Jul 12, 2023
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However, I will agree that that only the hot water has dual gas and electric power - gas only when the Truma heating system is on. We rarely use the gas blown air heating system as we have a very low wattage fan heater that takes the chill off. Equally we have no oven or grill
Like all vans depends on the make and spec. My 2003 Hymer has dual gas/electric heat and water, oven, grill and thanks to a redundant TV cupboard a microwave too.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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There is on this Jeep Grand Cherokee (same video I posted when you were asking about your Battery). The guy in the video talks about disconnecting 'this tube'......... that's the vent hose.

I believe that some batteries are completely sealed (no vents) but I've never come across one.

View: https://youtu.be/q6nQaXiZ-bo?si=AT3HHbvOtLLx5dzg
Thanks for the update. I cannot access the battery except to look at it. The Jeep has tow batteries in that compartment and I assumed that the vent tube was a connection between the two.
 
Jul 12, 2023
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No battery locker which is vented externally, Altea just has battery box under seat which vents into cabin. Not sure how regulations allow that especially with AGM batteries which can outgas under high loads, high charging currents or when old and stuffed (happened on last battery)
You might find the battery has been replaced but the hose for venting not been as the changer thought it unnecessary as it said it was sealed... Mine had the hole drilled for it but not a hose in sight. I changed it out for Gel which gives better capacity (70% usable) and won't release gas even when it dies.
 
Aug 12, 2023
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You might find the battery has been replaced but the hose for venting not been as the changer thought it unnecessary as it said it was sealed... Mine had the hole drilled for it but not a hose in sight. I changed it out for Gel which gives better capacity (70% usable) and won't release gas even when it dies.
My research indicated any lead acid battery will vent if overcharged or discharged. In normal use shouldn't be issue with sealed battery.
Plan is to fit a LiFePO4 at some stage and they don't need venting according to one manufacturer.

Pickup van tomorrow. Battery setup will be high on my todo list as need to fit motormovers.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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My research indicated any lead acid battery will vent if overcharged or discharged. In normal use shouldn't be issue with sealed battery.
Plan is to fit a LiFePO4 at some stage and they don't need venting according to one manufacturer.

Pickup van tomorrow. Battery setup will be high on my todo list as need to fit motormovers.
Don't assume that just becasue one manufacturer says a type of battery does not need to be vented that it applies to all! read the instructions or seek advice from the manufacturer of the model of battery you go for.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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My research indicated any lead acid battery will vent if overcharged or discharged. In normal use shouldn't be issue with sealed battery.
Plan is to fit a LiFePO4 at some stage and they don't need venting according to one manufacturer.

Pickup van tomorrow. Battery setup will be high on my todo list as need to fit motormovers.
We would have liked the lithium battery, but I could not justify the cost for a 100ah battery so stuck with the AGM battery. Unfortunately during the winter months the almost 7 year old AGM battery would not stay above 12v and was sitting at about 11.5v most days.

We replaced it with another AGM battery and brought the old battery home and did a recharge. It has held the charge okay for the past couple of weeks.
 
May 7, 2012
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There are pros and cons to the arguments. The bailey is in general far lighter which means it can be towed by a smaller tow car and the weight of the Adria might rule out some people towing them. At the same time the heavier made caravans do seem to be better built so score there.
Most UK caravans can have a free increase in the MTPLM so provided you know this you can upgrade. I agree hough you should not have to.
The longer A frame is thought to be better for stability but may cost you more on ferries is you go abroad. I suspect that the European makers are less concerned with that. Putting bikes on the A frame will normally increase the hitch weight and in many cases could make the outfit illegal. This needs to be carefully checked before being used.
Bailey do not have the full front locker and neither do Coachman but there is a pair of locker accessed from the side on the Bailey which should work for most people and the Coachman system seems to work. In both cases they mean the front cabinet is set further forward to give a better double but the Adria misses the cabinet altogether. Which is best is open to individual interpretation.
All makers know what sells in their markets and build accordingly. Having said that Adria layouts generally follow those of UK makers so not sure of the point there.
We would not buy a caravan with no front window. We like to sit and watch the world go by and frankly cannot understand why anyone would go without this. I accept this might risk a breakage but we have gone 40years without a problem, touch wood.
I would agree that the Adria should have a vented battery box. We did have a Trophy for five years which had an unvented box though and never ad a problem so I do not know how serious this is.
We have not had an Adria mainly due to the weight and size being too much for us so cannot comment on the window latches but if the UK firms can fit decent ones anybody can.
Doors on the wrong side does not seem a problem for most people and I doubt would put us off.
Overall though I accept that UK caravans are poorly made in general and given the makers poor attitude to guarantee claims and the time to supply parts they should ashamed oof them selves. What we need is people taking a far harder line on these things, to the point where they have to improve.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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Some ‘ official’ Adrias sold here did have the bedroom at the front, so owners would pitch with the A frame going forwards into the pitch. One thing I noticed about Adrias was that they did not seem to have the large thin ABS rear panels used by British makes. The Adrias roof line at the rear curved downwards and there was a horizontal joint about two feet below the roof level. More akin to what German caravans did. Presumably no rear panel cracks.
 
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Both of my Coachman caravans, a 2010 545 VIP and a 2013 560 VIP . Had full front lockers, two 6 kg gas bottles and enough room to quite nicely overload the hitch weight.
Switching to smaller bottles that can be put in van while travelling is one way to reduce nose weight. In NZ it means forgoing local standard 9kg bottle (18kg full)which can be swapped at most garages for couple 4kg(10kg) bottles that need refilling. Refilling stations are lot rarer here since swap a bottle system came out.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Switching to smaller bottles that can be put in van while travelling is one way to reduce nose weight. In NZ it means forgoing local standard 9kg bottle (18kg full)which can be swapped at most garages for couple 4kg(10kg) bottles that need refilling. Refilling stations are lot rarer here since swap a bottle system came out.
In the UK LPG cylinders must be secured to prevent them toppoling in a an enclosure with free ventilation at both high and low level. In a caravan there is no reason to be using gas whilst traveling so the cylinders gas valve should be turned off.

This point shows how quoting or stating what's allowed in one country may not be allowed everywhere.
 
Oct 19, 2023
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I could not comply with Prof”s advice when transporting cylinders for exchange by car.
Was it advice or stating a legal requirement? If it's legal to carry one in your car then I can't see how it can be illegal to carry one inside a caravan. Securing it from moving or falling is common sense, but could probably be achieved inside a caravan easier than inside a car.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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This is typical of the advice concerning the transportation of of Vapour Phase LPG Cylinders

If an incident were to occur and you haven't followed the advice you you could be considered to have committed a H&S offence and might face criminal prosecution.

LPG in cylinders when managed correctly are very safe, but many people do not understand the inherent risks of LPG when it is incorrectly managed.

As part of LPG safety training we saw a Ford Cortina mk3 where the roof had literally been blown up after an LPG cylinder had been transported upright in a rear footwell. It had been leaking vapour becasue the valve had not been properly closed. Being heavier than air the gas filled the footwells, and continued to rise until it reached some 12V electrical circuits where there operation of a switch caused a spark, and the gas and air mixture ignited violently with enough force to blow out all the windows and and punch up the roof. The driver received severe burns.

If the cylinder had been lying down so the valve was below the level of the liquefied gas, the cylinder would have dumped liquified gas (not vapour) into the footwell. The liquid vaporises and expands over 250 times by volume which would increase the energy release and force of a blast, probably being fatal to the driver, and it was estimated by the fire service it would likely and split open the passenger compartment and peel the roof back like a ring pull tin lid with the blast.

Do not take short cuts with transporting gas cylinders.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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This is typical of the advice concerning the transportation of of Vapour Phase LPG Cylinders

If an incident were to occur and you haven't followed the advice you you could be considered to have committed a H&S offence and might face criminal prosecution.

LPG in cylinders when managed correctly are very safe, but many people do not understand the inherent risks of LPG when it is incorrectly managed.

As part of LPG safety training we saw a Ford Cortina mk3 where the roof had literally been blown up after an LPG cylinder had been transported upright in a rear footwell. It had been leaking vapour becasue the valve had not been properly closed. Being heavier than air the gas filled the footwells, and continued to rise until it reached some 12V electrical circuits where there operation of a switch caused a spark, and the gas and air mixture ignited violently with enough force to blow out all the windows and and punch up the roof. The driver received severe burns.

If the cylinder had been lying down so the valve was below the level of the liquefied gas, the cylinder would have dumped liquified gas (not vapour) into the footwell. The liquid vaporises and expands over 250 times by volume which would increase the energy release and force of a blast, probably being fatal to the driver, and it was estimated by the fire service it would likely and split open the passenger compartment and peel the roof back like a ring pull tin lid with the blast.

Do not take short cuts with transporting gas cylinders.
Prof
How did you transport your cylinder for an exchange?

I would do the same as Roger L and have car windows open for what was a relatively short trip if less than 4 miles to my normal supplier. Sometimes my storage would have cylinders. Not ideal but no alternative. Wonder how all those Flogas bottles at BQ are taken home?
 
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