Hi from Wrexham

Nov 8, 2020
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Hello and good morning, I am Scott Payne and I am an engineering student at Wrexham Glyndwr University currently trying to find innovations to add to a caravan, I am keen to have this lead by current trends and needs of the users.

Is there anything that you would like to see becoming common place in all caravans?

Would you be interested in clean energy from roof solar panels and collecting rain water for use in the bathroom?

How much value would you feel the solar panels (and additional batteries) would add to the caravan?

Same question for the rainwater collection, this would require a tank just for rainwater which could be heated for the shower. Clean (drinking) water could also be transferred to the rainwater tank but no rain water would be used for drinking water (currently).
To help with this water management we think a phone app would be best, do most people who like caravan holidays have a smart phone? Or are they more likely to have old the and little need for it?



Please let me know wat you think of our ideas and what else we might be missing, I look forward to chatting with you about this and more.
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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Caravans have a very limited scope for extra equipment before you think about adding other bits.

As for solar power, a lot of caravan owners already employ this medium, and have done for a long time, so nothing new there.

As for collecting rainwater, that is essentially a no go as there is not enough payload to accomodate extra water storage containers and as for heating to use in a shower, that again would involve a dedicated heater just to process the rain water, this in addition to the water heater already fitted, plus the loss of space , extra plumbing, and pipework needed.

I think you need to rethink your project as this is a non starter.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Caravanners mostly have no problem with smart phones. Many new vans provide utilities compatible with a smart phone. Jeremy Ckarkson calm down now 😱
 
Nov 8, 2020
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Sorry I should have explained better, we are trying to add additional value to an already existing model of caravan, which does not have any solar power (great to here that it is wanted)and does have a water heater, the heater would only pull from a new rain water tank (which could be topped up from the drinking water tank if needed).

This my appeal more to people who are staying in one spot for a whole holiday but I feel the extra and free water would be worth the slight decrease in living space for peace of mind and being eco-friendly.
Is tap water ever hard to come by and is it always included in the cost of staying on the site?

Also are there any features/technology you feel need updating or adding to a caravan like air conditioning or parking cameras?
I have see about weight sensors to make sure they are packed evenly and small incinerators to get rid of waste on a long trips.

Thank you all for your advice so far :)
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Tap water is always available even on the most basic of Rally sites, Certified Locations and Certified sites. It's included in the nightly cost, and I cannot see that the cost would be brought down if the caravan collected rain water. After all its always sunny when away on holiday.

Waste refuse is also provided for on sites, and caravans can/do have rear view cameras, and air conditioning. Some even come with them. It might be worth your while looking at makers brochures to see the specifications.
 
Nov 6, 2005
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Sorry I should have explained better, we are trying to add additional value to an already existing model of caravan, which does not have any solar power (great to here that it is wanted)and does have a water heater, the heater would only pull from a new rain water tank (which could be topped up from the drinking water tank if needed).

This my appeal more to people who are staying in one spot for a whole holiday but I feel the extra and free water would be worth the slight decrease in living space for peace of mind and being eco-friendly.
Is tap water ever hard to come by and is it always included in the cost of staying on the site?

Also are there any features/technology you feel need updating or adding to a caravan like air conditioning or parking cameras?
I have see about weight sensors to make sure they are packed evenly and small incinerators to get rid of waste on a long trips.

Thank you all for your advice so far :)

Is tap water ever hard to come by and is it always included in the cost of staying on the site? No and yes! Without an inclusive supply of tap water, it's not a caravan site.

Incineration is a polluting way to get rid of waste, unless done on an industrial scale which filters all the exhaust gas.

Air conditioning is readily available for after-market fitment as are wireless rear-view cameras.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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Many of us would like to see bigger payloads on caravans. We have a large twin axle but on the standard model caravan before upgrade the maximum payload is 159 kg. Add on an AWD motor mover at 60 kg and an air con at 30 kg your payload is severely reduced and you still need to put in bedding, cutlery and crockery, pots and pans etc.

The majority would like to see caravans that do not suffer from water ingress a very common problem with all caravans.

Lastly I think that quality control is lacking on many UK caravan production lines. So how do you improve quality without compromising production?
 
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Damian

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the heater would only pull from a new rain water tank (which could be topped up from the drinking water tank if needed).

You fail to appreciate the shape of a caravan and the fact that it has no roof overhang, therefore no way of harvesting rain water as it either runs off the front or back and no way of diverting the water elsewhere.

Added to that what you are proposing involves a second water tank for the rain water in addition to the already in use fresh water container, so what is the advantage of having to fill a fresh water container to pump into a rainwater tank when the current system works very well as it is.

Another aspect to take into consideration, which makes your proposal even more less attractive is the mains water connector that can be used attached to the site tap and left on all the time which gives the user unlimited fresh water with no extra aquaroll or any other tank

From what I remember a caravanner uses about 40 to 60 Ltrs of water daily and we dont get anywhere near that amount of rain every day, in fact we had no rain for over 3 weeks this year alone, and the time when rain is more likely is the time when a lot of caravan users store their vans , ie very early in the year and late in the year.

As far as an incinerator to dispose of rubbish is concerned , that would instantly be stopped, either by the site owners or by Envronmental Health as it would almost certainly produce toxic smoke/gas.
 
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May 7, 2012
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I do think that improving the construction would be better than trying to find new things to fit. The main problem with caravans is water ingress due to out dated construction methods. Cars are getting lighter, but caravanners want more things fitted and the two are incompatible, so weight reduction in construction and fitted items could be looked at.
Almost everything available to the caravanner is available on caravan and the limiting factor on what is on any particular model is limited only by price and possibly weight.
 

Mel

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Mar 17, 2007
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Hi. Good luck with your project. If there was a way to fit a lightweight, low energy, not too noisy macerating system to the loo so that toilet waste could be fed into the main drain on a fully serviced pitch; that would enhance my caravanning experience.
Probably not possible but you did ask.
mel
 
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Nov 16, 2015
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Mel, thats mixing grey water and 😨 other waste, which should not mix, especially if you have a chemical in it.
Hope all is well in Wales for you.
 

Mel

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Mel, thats mixing grey water and 😨 other waste, which should not mix, especially if you have a chemical in it.
Hope all is well in Wales for you.
Just trying to encourage the lad 😀. Didn’t think it was possible. I am not in Wales, but my seasonally pitched Caravan is. 🙁. At least I hope so.
mel
 
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Hi Scott.

Damien has highlighted the limitations of some of your suggestions; personally I see no benefit in harvesting rainwater for caravan applications. There are already many forum threads on purifying the caravan water system, adding a source of 'dirty' water would be a minefield.

I'm fairly new to caravanning, having only had a 'proper' caravan for just over 2 years; in general I like the fairly traditional ways of doing things. Its part of the charm, but my own musings on innovation come down to 2 areas:

Towing and stability: The industry standards of 50mm towball and 'overrun' cable operated brakes have been around longer than I have. A more advanced system (yes I know ALKO ATC exists) seems about due. UK/Euro caravans have axles in the centre so are not as stable when towing as trailers with wheels further towards the rear (see articulated truck trailers) . Disc brakes? Vehicle ECU & Stability control integration? Retractable wheels for additional stability? Not sure if these are practicable and the ball/hitch will never change.

Habitation: Most new caravans come with the necessities for a literal home from home, but they are not insulated like a home. They can achieve large temperature differentials (see grade 3 insulation) but all caravans have fixed ventilation in the floors (actual holes) and in the roof (unsealed roof lights/Hekis); why can they not be sealed like the latest passive house technology? This would need an integrated HVAC system and a removal of gas appliances, but that seems to be where the industry is heading (see Knaus or Weinsberg all electric caravans) so your A/C suggestion is not stupid - its just that caravan A/C exists in a bolt-on form.

I have see about weight sensors to make sure they are packed evenly....

This one... Being able to instantly see how heavy the caravan is would be a game changer. Knowing your nose weight is also very important (100KG is the limit for ALKO Hitches and then whatever the towball limit is for each towcar, 90KG in my case) but can be checked at home, with scales or a gauge. A display/Smartphone app which gave you that information instantly would remove all guess work and make for safer towing.

...parking cameras?

Cameras and screens are replacing mirrors in cars [See Honda-e] so caravans are going to need additional camera functions, not just a simple rear-view /reversing camera that some caravans come with. Front mounted cameras to replace towing mirrors and cameras to form a top-down or better yet, a virtual 360° image for manoeuvring like new BMWs would be of interest to me.

As ever, the issues raised come down to the way caravans are built and that they are treated as a glorified trailer with the car and caravan not talking to each other and the driver having no active control over the caravan's function or behaviour on the road.

Hope my thoughts are helpful.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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This one... Being able to instantly see how heavy the caravan is would be a game changer. Knowing your nose weight is also very important (100KG is the limit for ALKO Hitches and then whatever the towball limit is for each towcar, 90KG in my case) but can be checked at home, with scales or a gauge.
Our ALKO hitch is rated at 150 kg and it is unwise to drop the nose weight of the caravan to below 120kg.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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More hot water!
We have the ALDE Continuous hot water flow system so as much hot water as we need for showering. Several people could shower one after the other and plenty of hot water. Great if you are on a fully serviced pitch with water and waste hookup.
 
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Scott, If you can design a production system that gives pin point accuracy at every stage you may be onto a winner. Quality of current caravan manufacture is by modern standards poor.
 

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