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A few post-France random questions....


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Just back from two wonderful weeks in Normandy, many useful tips from forum members were invaluable.

A few questions that spring to mind:

1) Doh! I never knew that we could plug in on the car-deck....just happened to see another guy doing it and he showed me how and where. Having said that, my cable might not be long enough. If I was to make up an extra-long cable for ferry use, could I use a lighter, more flexible cable, as it would only be powering the fridge? Something that would be easier to uncoil in a hurry, and take up less room?

We did wonder if anyone secretly leaves their gas on for the fridge btw....

2} We used mostly aires, with an occasional hook-up site now and then. We moved on every day or two, and weren't that concerned about power use (including the inverter for our tv), with two good leisure batteries and two smallish linked Maplins solar panels. Having said that, the power started dropping on the last two days,

probably because of excessive inverter use. (It was rainy now and again, OK?) My question is, very ball-parkish, how much driving should it take to fully recharge two leisure batteries, and if we weren't moving on, what's a good solar panel set-up to boost the available power (cost and supplier)? No complex current/resistance/voltage blah blah please. I'm a simple soul.

3) Finally, how do I stop unsightly rust marks re-appearing on my 2004 (White) Transit sills below the driver's and passenger doors? I clean the area, finely cut back, apply Kurust, prime and respray, and back it comes within a a few weeks. What's the solution? It's not as if it ever rains in Ireland......


Thanks for taking the time to read all this!


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1) Just use your standard lead, if you're doing it right the difference in using a lighter lead should be negligible. I've no doubt some leave the gas on, it's a bit like using a mobile whilst driving, fine until it all goes wrong.

2) I would guess that your problem with power is more to do with the amount of power it takes to run the tv, although you don't say what size panels you have. A new Avtex tv, whilst expensive takes very little power.

3) I've found better results by making sure the rust is removed by rubbing down and then immediately priming.

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cruiser - 2016-09-30 12:57 AM


Rosslare to Cherbourg....around 18 hours each way.



I have found that , if the fridge is 'thoroughly' cold before we get on a ferry, and we put a bottle of frozen water, or milk, in it - the fridge has stayed cold enough to preserve everything in it for up to 26 hours.



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Having played around with classic cars for many years, I've tried a number of rust converters and found Rustbuster's FE123 very effective. I painted some onto a patch of well established surface rust as a temporary measure until I had time for a proper repair. It was two or three years before I got round to doing anything more and the rust was no worse, despite the car living outside and being used regularly.



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We always carry 2 hook-up cables, that can be joined together if necessary. One is longer than the other, so in normal circumstances we use whichever is most suitable. But there have been a good few occasions when we have needed both together because the power sauce has been so far away from an ideal pitching spot.
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(I‘ve copied the following from a disconnected posting by cruiser and deleted the original - Derek Uzzell)


Thanks for the various replies. Responses in no particular order....

I'll check out the rust preventative.

Would a bottle of frozen water keep the freezer compartment frozen for 18 hours?

Is it the TV or the inverter that uses more power?

I do have two leads, the original that came with the van is fairly heavy duty, prone to coiling and twisting. My point was, could I use a lighter, more flexible lead that would be quicker to unwind in a hurry, and easier to store? The power points on the ferry were quite a distance away!

Finally, I'm still hoping someone can suggest a good solar panel kit that won't break the bank?

Recommendations appreciated!

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If you are just using the 'thin' cable to run the Fridge, it will be passing barely 1 amp so low risk of overheating a thinner 10amp cable and starting a fire. If you are charging the batteries as well using the MH mains charger that might add another 2 - 3 amps?

Not sure I would want to go much less than a 10amp cable though, not with a potentially 30 + metre voltage drop on thin cores?

I would suggest you stick with the 16A cable as it is designed for rough usage, like being walked on/Driven over?



If you have two 100Ah batteries and run them down to 30%, which is most battery manufacturers max recommendation for optimum life, then you will have taken out roughly 60Ah.

In a typical 2004 vehicle that would give an average charge rate of around 15amps, so taking 4 hours of driving to put back?

The initial charge rate might be as high as 25amps, but would soon drop off, especially on budget batteries, hence the 'average' figure.



A mains TV running from an Inverter will use a lot more power than a 12v TV.

The Inverter is not 100% efficient, typically 75 - 90% only. Additionally when the TV receives the 230v power from the Inverter, it with drop it down to typically 15v, again with conversion losses.

You will also find that unless the 230v TV is very new, so has the latest power saving features to try and achieve the latest A+ style energy ratings, it is likely to be inherently less efficient than a specialist 12v TV where the manufacturers have a 'focus' of producing an efficient TV.


In a worst case a 230v TV run on 12v may use twice as much power as one of the latest efficient 12v TV's.



The Maplins style portable Solar panels give out very little power.

If you holiday between April and September, a 100w Solar panel will deliver about 35Ah a day average. In Winter it can be less than 3Ah a day.


I would guess that if the available power was dropping off towards the end of the holiday you were typically drawing more power each day than you were putting back in?


Most batteries will start to sulphate/deteriorate if you take out power and don't put it back pretty quickly?

You might have dropped the life of your batteries significantly if they were in that semi discharged state for any length of time?



I would suggest that your cheapest option to address the problems you had might be to reduce the power you were drawing, rather than put in extra charging?

If you switch to one of the latest 12v Tvs you will not only have a better TV (usually a better, more sensitive Tuner) but it may save the hassle/cost of fitting Solar Panels?


Look at the lighting in the habitation area, you can often run 10 LED lights for the same power draw as one Flourescent/Halogen.



How long a fridge will keep the contents at the optimum temperature without power, will depend on the Fridge itself, it's location in the vehicle and the temperature outside the Fridge.

On a Journey where the MH habitation area is at 30 + degrees, I can't see many Fridges keeping food safe for more than an hour or two?

On the other hand a trip over to Norway in January on a Ferry top deck might be a safe bet for a few hours?






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Regarding hook-up cables, an example of the sort of thing recommended by the Caravan Club is shown here:




I have one of these 25m-long/2.5mm-wire cables and it’s heavy and not easy to coil.


I also have a 10m-long/2.5mm cable that’s easier to handle and I use this whenever possible.


French motorcaravanners normally use a cable that has 1.5mm-wire and more flexible ‘rubber’ outer insulation (examples here)




Such cables are significantly lighter and more easily handled than the 2.5mm variety and (as will be seen from the above link) are marketed in lengths up to 50 metres. The cables are often wound on a reel and are often happily employed with a lot of the cable’s length still wound on the reel, which risks overheating of course. Fully unwound this specification of cable should safely cope with a maximum load of 3kW (about 13A).

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Many, many thanks for the detailed and very informative replies, I've learnt a lot from them and will adjust my next-season plans accordingly!

The TV we have is a flat screen which we bought about 9 years ago, so it's a good time for an upgrade. Is it OK to purchase from a regular non-MH outlet, specifying that I need an energy- saving model?

And one more question.... iis the inverter itself a heavy current draw? Is it better to keep the engine running during initial set up (raising the st dish etc)?

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