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    Condensation

    I'm new to campervans (preferred name to motorhomes) though I have a lot of marine experience which is relevant. However I get conflicting messages from comments on these lists and Karen for one - who seems to have tried everything - says "No" to heaters in car adaptations.

    Our Doblo High Roof campervan Doblo7's first assignment was to be a trip to France, but we've missed the good weather owing to a schedule that was tight anyway, overrunning.

    Do we fit a heater and set off regardless (or to somewhere nearer home like Northumberland)? I've solved the technical problems of an installation (in my business "there is always a technical fix") and further action is pending discussions with insurers. But assuming we get a sympathetic insurer and we decide we can afford the cost of the diesel equipment, is it a good idea?

    Karen presumably says "No". But I see, looking at adverts for second-hand vehicles, that many of them are based on personnel carriers ie with full windows (from cars upwards) and have heaters installed, so they are presumably used out of season. The top of the range Bilbo is an example. Are the owners of these vehicles, from humble (the vehicles, that is) to very grand indeed (grander even than Bilbos) destined to a life of stained curtains and soggy carpets?

    People buy these vehicles because they want them: they drive to enjoy the scenery and arrive to do the same and not look at TV. We enjoy the garden and don't even look at TV at home, so why should we travel and live in windowless boxes on holiday? No Sir! (Madam!). One of many delights of Doblo 7 is its (pardon, his) light an airiness. Every passenger comments on this, and driving over the fells round here - on roads I hasten to mention - is a delight because one feels part of the scenery and truly expansive. Almost an open top but with climate control!

    As I've written elsewhere, a coherent solution for the camper vanner is to put all the accommodation in the back, insulate it fully including from the cab with double glazed caravan windows, and use the cab on site as a Summer House only. Roma Homes gets near this very logical solution. But (a) I want the MPV versatility that I currently have in three modes from bare five-seat vehicle upwards, as stated elsewhere, (b) I want the smallest possible vehicle and even a coachbuild such as a Roma has greater width for one thing that I seek to avoid and (c) anything bigger than a large car is an eyesore, unfair on our neighbours and a bit of a pain elsewhere. (I've got into trouble from motorhome owners for saying this!).

    As I've written: "there is always a technical fix" though perhaps "usually" would be more accurate, and I wonder whether the answer to this problem may be some kind of secondary double glazing in larger vehicles (perhaps Bilbo does this) and high heating power (unavoidable since the smallest heater is too big for purely heating reasons anyway) and good ventilation plus quarter lights left ajar on those cold evenings (never nights), and mornings when a heater is required. We go on holiday to go out: so the vehicle will be unoccupied during the day unless traveling. Then the car's own heater comes into play, of course.

    Am I proposing to condemn us to squelchy carpets? I've followed discussion of absorbent curtains that may be a partial palliative, but we haven't room nor do I have taste for a full kit of silver screens and if you don't fit all windows why fit any?

    I don't see an icon for a mop and bucket.

    Paul.
    Seek to make a virtue of necessity.

    #2
    On our Romahome we have done away with the curtain between the cab and the living area so that we can use the cab, we have to use the bed extension anyway and the drivers seat has to go as far forwards as possible. the passenger seat backrest folds down and we use external silver screens for the cab. Yes we get some condensation when we don't use the heater, but with a fan heater when on electricity or the eberspacher when not we can keep the condensation at bay. Part of our problem is the large expanse of uncarepeted fibreglass on the inside. We are looking at some kind of insulation for the roof vents and the windows in the living part. We use our Romahome all year round as we have done with all our campers.

    Peter

    Comment


      #3
      We've yet to experience a 'van winter as we only bought our first in June.

      The Eberspacher was already fitted on the forecourt, otherwise I doubt we've have chosen to have it.

      It works very well and, on the couple of occasions we've used it, we've turned it off after only three or four minutes as we're too hot by then. I wouldn't be happy with the noise for an extended period though, and I'm told by a boat-owning friend that they may have a tendency to soot-up unless they're kept going at high power. He did mention that this was from a sample of one, to be fair!

      We eventually bought the small electric job that Graham demonstrates on YouTube, on the basis that we'll almost certainly have EHU in winter.

      Having said all this, we're in a R20 Lo which is a pretty small volume to heat!

      Geoff
      Geoff

      Comment


        #4
        In the end, unless the heating is from a naked flame device, such as gas (which produces water vapour), the condensation comes from ourselves (breathing). Uninsulated surfaces such as windows and naked steel or GRP will condense the vapour with obvious results. Of course double glazed windows will help, but those in "campervans" and caravans are nowhere near as effective as domestic ones.
        There are two possible ways to prevent condensation, apart from perfect insulation of walls etc. One is to have sufficient fresh air vents thereby throwing heat away, OR, stop breathing!
        The reason modern vehicles are usually free from condensation when moving with the heater on is because the system introduces fresh air at the front and extracts the "spent" moisture laden air through vents usually at the rear.
        OF course a de-humidifier can help.
        Jim.
        Last edited by Twolitre; 11-10-2011, 13:16.
        Keeping people waiting is stealing a part of their lives.

        Comment


          #5
          We bought an external silverscreen, which helps to reduce the risk of condensation. Also a box with 'magic crystals' that are supposed to absorb condensation. Soz, can't for the life of me remember what the 'crystals' are called.

          (Found this link, showing an eg of a moisture trap with crystals:

          http://www.force4.co.uk/1881/Force-4...fill-Pack.html)

          But I have recently noticed a lot of condensation when cooking inside the van - not surprising, I know, but far more noticeable now that I'm cooking with the door only open a little, due to the cold weather.
          Last edited by NomadSue; 11-10-2011, 19:42. Reason: additional info
          Carpe diem! :)

          Comment


            #6
            I haven't ruled out the possibility of installing a heater in a future vehicle but it is unlikely.

            I'm not an expert on this in any way and all I can do is quote my own experiences when trying to work out how to produce the optimum vehicle to use as a daily runabout, carrier of bulky goods (ie hay bales!), leisure/day van and campervan.

            My choice would be for a diesel Eberspacher or similar. Having checked with several insurers, this would be acceptable in a van but not on a standard car insurance policy. Each potential insurer referred it to their underwriters and all but one rejected it outright as an unacceptable modification. It may be acceptable in a car adapted for the disabled however but then I hit another stumbling block: insurers would not insure a car adapted for the disabled if the installed ramp was removed. So that put paid to another idea.

            In my extensive experience of speaking to insurers, all unanimously rejected any form of gas heating in a car or van, eg Webasto, Propex etc in a car and I can understand why due to the fire risks. I'm also not sure whether this would simply generate masses of condensation, but the idea was a non-starter anyway, so it remains academic.

            The problem, as I see it, is that by adapting MPV cars, we're trying to make them more multi-purpose than insurers accept. They tend to see vehicles as falling neatly into clearly-defined categories: car, wheelchair-adapted car, commercial vehicle and motorhome with few overlaps. There are no insurance issues re fitting a heater into campervan/motorhome, bus, minibus etc. This applies only to a car where it seems to be considered a modification too far.

            As for the cost of fitting an Eberspacher, this would amount to around £750 to buy it and another £750 to fit it (not something I can do). It's not cheap, would take up valuable space, require a leisure battery and split-charger arrangement (another challenge to insurers) and I'm not convinced by the cost-benefit of it personally for my own use and have opted for a 12v leccy blanket compromise instead for cold nights.

            The reason I'm not pursuing it at the moment is because my van has a petrol engine so it's not an option anyway!
            Last edited by karenw; 11-10-2011, 20:33.

            Comment


              #7
              Eberspachers are fitted to Many Mercedes commercial vehicles and minibuses and they fit them somewhere in the engine compartment or front wing area. the actual unit is not very big. This version is often available secondhand so may be worth investigating.

              Peter

              Comment


                #8
                [QUOTE=peterholden;27869]Eberspachers are fitted to Many Mercedes commercial vehicles and minibuses and they fit them somewhere in the engine compartment or front wing area. the actual unit is not very big. This version is often available secondhand so may be worth investigating.

                Peter[/QUOTE

                True Peter, but very few 12 volt Eberspachers come onto the second hand market and most of the vehicles to which you refer, and those with them most commonly fitted, are 24 volt.
                I searched for a 12 volt version for my narrowboat a few years ago and the few used ones I found fetched premium prices because of scarcity. Never did get one.

                As for condensation from cookingwith doors and windows closed - there is no answer to that.
                Jim
                Keeping people waiting is stealing a part of their lives.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Hi Jim

                  The sprinter minibuses have a 12v version and some people on the self build motorcaravan club seem to be able to find them on occasion. Some VWs also have them fitted.

                  I also forgot they are also fitted in some ambulances and they must be 12v

                  Peter

                  Comment


                    #10
                    May be a little off topic, but,
                    You could use a 12v to 24v converter to run a 24v unit,
                    Or you could rig up 2 x 12v m/cycle batteries to give you 24v supply,
                    You know a good car electrician,! they would be able to install the unit for you
                    just checked prices of a 12v unit here,
                    http://www.mellorautoelectrical.co.u...KW_Diesel.html
                    £798.00 no change
                    If mistakes are the foundation of understanding, i have firm foundation,Underpinned by much in the way of I don't want to do that again

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Still only a small proportion of the Eberspacher market though Peter.

                      There is however a caravan warm air heater, cheaper than an Eberspacher, though it is gas. However I imagine the insurance people will probably unreasonably allow gas cooking, but not gas heating.
                      I don't know because my holiday mansion is a Romini caravan
                      Jim.
                      Keeping people waiting is stealing a part of their lives.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Like it jim
                        If mistakes are the foundation of understanding, i have firm foundation,Underpinned by much in the way of I don't want to do that again

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Twolitre View Post
                          However I imagine the insurance people will probably unreasonably allow gas cooking, but not gas heating.
                          Jim.
                          I very much doubt it! The argument would probably be why should anyone want to cook in a car?!

                          Gas installations would have all sorts of insurance implications including needing a locker vented to the exterior. I couldn't imagine any insurer accepting this, particularly as they won't accept a much safer diesel heater!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by chocoholic View Post
                            May be a little off topic, but,
                            You could use a 12v to 24v converter to run a 24v unit,
                            Or you could rig up 2 x 12v m/cycle batteries to give you 24v supply,
                            You know a good car electrician,! they would be able to install the unit for you
                            just checked prices of a 12v unit here,
                            http://www.mellorautoelectrical.co.u...KW_Diesel.html
                            £798.00 no change
                            Just one observation, the insurers which accepted an Eberspacher heater installation in a van did stipulate that it must be fitted by a manufacturer-approved installer. This is probably advisable for the warranty - if anything went wrong if fitted by a non-registered installer they and the manufacturer could argue between them that the fault lay with the other party - while you get nowhere (always pay by credit card to get some s.75 protection!).

                            The cheapest fitting quote I obtained a year ago was £750 and it would be a 1-2 day job.

                            It's not a cheap option but one to be considered carefully and I'd advise finding an insurer which will accept it prior to proceeding.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              As for condensation from cooking with doors and windows closed - there is no answer to that.
                              Jim[/QUOTE]

                              A roof vent fan, not pennies but very efficient and fits a standard opening vent. I had one fitted in a previous van conversion, worked a treat for cooking fumes with the added bonus that in hot weather in the South of France I set it to blow into the van and it provided significant cooling. Never could quite work out why it worked blowing hot air in rather than sucking hot air out, but it did. Naturally, there is one in the present van which also has a smoke alarm so you have to be carefull with fumes anyway. We also have a Webasto diesel water and space heater which is very efficient and, if you want to carry passengers in the back, you can have the heater working while driving, and you never need to worry about running down the gas bottle.
                              I know these won't be the solutions for everybody but if you are buying a van it might be helpful.
                              Colin

                              Comment

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