Caravan Innovations

The world is moving fast with innovations in almost every area of our daily lives. The world of caravanning is no exception. As with most innovations, the objective is to make our lives easier or produce a product which is more efficient than the last.

In this article we'll be looking at what the caravan industry is doing to make lighter, more aerodynamic caravans as well as looking at a few handy gadgets to help ease the struggle of some of the more difficult tasks associated with caravanning.

Engineering innovations

Swift Group's in-depth study into aerodynamics

Anyone who has ever ridden a bike into the wind will understand the huge effect of aerodynamics on speed and efficiency. With fuel prices now at over £1.35/litre and the general cost of motoring on the rise, aerodynamics has a huge part to play in keeping costs down.

This [design] allows both caravan and tow vehicles to move with greater efficiency therefore using less fuel and creating less wear and tear on other components.The innovative aerodynamic designs created by Swift work by creating a shape that allows the air to flow more easily around the shell. This allows both caravan and tow vehicles to move with greater efficiency therefore using less fuel and creating less wear and tear on other components.

As an example of this aerodynamic efficiency, the Challenger/Conqueror model has 10% less drag than the leading competitor caravan. To put that into perspective, that equates to 19.2kgs less force acting on the caravan. That's roughly the same weight as a large fully packed suitcase!

It has been suggested that the tow car has a huge effect on caravan aerodynamics. As such, Swift group tested a typical saloon car, 4x4 and an estate car in order to draw relevant comparisons. The results of these tests have resulted in 5 patent applications on some of the design elements created by Swift group for the purpose of reducing the drag of a towed vehicle.

More information can be found in an 11 page report on the study. Download the PDF - Swift Aerodynamic Case Study

Venus light weight caravans

Lunar caravans' Venus range consists of four single axle caravans which boast being the lightest caravans on the market in the UK. With the lightest model weighing it at just 905kgs, these unique caravans can be towed by almost anyone. This is particularly handy if you're thinking of buying a caravan but do not want to have to buy a heavier vehicle to tow it with.

As well as being lightweight, the Venus range features an impressive specification. Whale under-floor-heating and rapid heat-up water are among the excellent features included in these models.

The kitchen is equally well kitted out with a three-burner gas hob, combined oven and grill, a domestic fridge and a full-width freezer section.

The range comes in four different layouts. Two of which are two berth models and the other two are four berth models.

Lunar Lightweight Caravans

Bailey Alu-Tech

Often the most important quality in a vehicle is its longevity or durability. In 2009, Bailey made a breakthrough in the design of its leisure vehicles - The Alu-Tech body shell. Since then all bailey leisure vehicles are made to this specification.

The framework does not include any external fittings which makes it more impervious to water ingress.The aluminium design of the caravan includes a five piece design which differs from the usual nine piece design all of which is held together by a unique aluminium frame work. The framework does not include any external fittings which makes it more impervious to water ingress.

The overall objective in developing the Alu-Tech design was to create a more weather proof caravan with added durability and stability. All this had to be achieved without adding weight to the caravan. Should there be any water ingress, a secondary objective of the new design is to limit the amount of damage done by that water. The inclusion of a composite plastic internal skeleton (as opposed to traditional structures which include some timber) has meant that damage to the structure of the caravan will be limited should water get in.

The design also adds structural value to the caravan. The interlocking aluminium structure contributes to the caravan's overall strength rather than relying on the floor and chassis as in other older designs.

Bailey Alu-Tech

Innovations in Comfort and usability

As well as major engineering innovations in the caravan industry, there are also some smaller innovations that add up to make a big difference. Read on to find out about innovations that just make life that little bit easier or more comfortable.

Under-floor heating

An innovation which has been around for years in homes has made it to the world of caravans. Elddis use Whale under-floor heating to save space inside the caravan whilst still keeping the weight of the caravan down.Life is a revolving door, no formal training required, just ensure you have enough fire in your belly, to propel you back up in the form of a gaseous ball, whenever you fall. Don't be silly and think you won't you will, gravity works against us at times, take it as a sign from the stars, you were meant to take that tumble

Elddis Under-floor Heating

Motor movers

The are not new to the market but they are never the less an excellent innovation and one that's made caravanners lives everywhere easier.

It saves awkward positioning using your vehicle or back breaking manoeuvring using brute force. Motor movers enable you to move your caravan around a pitch with greater ease. It saves awkward positioning using your vehicle or back breaking manoeuvring using brute force. The device is about the size of a bread bin and attaches to the underside of your caravan near the wheels. When needed, the motorised cylinder can be moved next to the wheel thus turning the wheels of your caravan to move it into position.

Motor movers can be an expensive addition to your caravan but if you're not as mobile as you used to be or you simply want to avoid some faff after a long journey it could be the best investment you ever make. 

Motor movers

Solar Panels

More and more holiday makers are taking electrical goods away with them. Mobile phones have been the norm for many years now but the addition of more portable devices such as laptops, tablets, digital cameras and handheld games consoles has meant that the demand for power in a caravan has increased significantly. The leisure battery in your caravan is likely to struggle to provide enough power over the course of your holiday to power all these items plus lights and other essentials.

Unless of course you could recharge that leisure battery. That's where the addition of solar panels becomes a real benefit. For between £100 and £200 you can fit solar panels to your caravan which will recharge your leisure battery allowing you to power all the gadgets you need for modern living.

Solar panels

As with many industries, the caravan manufacturing business will continue to come up with exciting innovations. Lighter, more aerodynamic, more homely caravans are being developed all the time. But make sure you keep an eye out for new innovations and gadgets that will help make your home from home more comfortable.

Must Have Caravan Accessories

There are all sort of accessories available for caravans but to us, these are the must have accessories which will extend, secure and make caravan holidays easier:

Awnings

A large, well-made awning is an excellent investment and can easily double your available living space. It's often worth chatting to other enthusiasts on caravan forums about the best type of awning before shopping around. To make setting up your caravan pitch easier, look into inflatable awnings designed for a quick set up.

Caravan Movers

Electric caravan movers, or motor movers, aren't cheap but they're invaluable if you need power assistance when pitching your caravan or leaving a site after your stay. They allow easier levelling, which is ideal if you're using sinks and fridges indoors.

NOTE: remember to insure your awning and motor mover on your touring caravan insurance.

Jacks and Other Caravan Lifting Gear

If you don't want to go as far as installing an electric caravan mover, you might still want to lighten the load when positioning your van by using hydraulic jacks such as this Kojack Lite jack.

Power Cables for Caravan Appliances

Whether you're running electricity from a car battery, caravan battery or an external power source, it's important to keep your power cables in perfect condition and think safety first. If it's time for an update, this Pyramid mains power extension unit might fit the bill.

Tow bar electrics by AL-KO

Tow Bar Electrics

Along with towing gear, tow bar electrics are another important purchase to research carefully, both for price and for safety. They're either specific to your make of car or 'universal' kits like this Right Connection universal tow bar wiring kit. Check electrics comply with UK law and the terms of your insurance.

Refrigeration Units

Upgrade to one of the latest camping fridges for efficiently chilled drinks and fresh food. Many are now designed to run off a range of power supplies, making them extra versatile. This Royal 42L three-way camping fridge can run off 12V or mains electricity or gas.

Camping stoves are compact

Camping Cookers

When the weathers good there's nothing quite like cooking a slap up meal in the great outdoors. Now's the perfect time to track down a decent-sized outdoor cooker for a bargain price, whether you prefer electric, gas or charcoal.

Sinks and Showers

Installing or upgrading caravan bathroom fixtures means fewer trips outdoors at night or in the early morning, which makes for a more relaxing trip. Some of the most versatile fixtures such as this tip-up basin also fold away to save precious space.

Water Pumps

Nobody likes a slow trickle of water in the shower, and to get the most out of your caravan bathroom or kitchen plumbing you can install a new water pump to keep that H2O flowing just how you like it.

Water Heaters

You could boil a kettle every time you wanted to do the washing up or wash your face, but if you prefer your creature comforts then a compact, energy-efficient water heater means you don't have to feel like you're roughing it.

Chemical Toilets

Now to mention the unmentionables - a well-designed portable toilet is always worth the money, saving you hassle when transporting and emptying. It also gives you the option of avoiding public loos that aren't as nice or as nearby as you'd like them to be.

Towergate, caravan security (Bulldog)

Security Clamps

While it doesn't come cheap, quality security equipment is definitely worth every penny as caravan crime seems to be on the rise in some areas. Deter potential thieves with a visible wheel clamp or similar device so they don't see your 'van as an easy target.

Caravan Alarms

You may also wish to protect your property with an electric alarm system that goes off when there's an attempt to move your caravan or open the door while you're out. Simple models make a loud warning noise, and more complex ones can send a message to your mobile phone to alert you.

Comfortable Seating

After summer ends you can also find excellent offers on good quality folding chairs to help you take it easy and relax in style - look out for big price reductions and two-for-one deals. These Riviera Alu-Tech relaxer chairs look great, store easily and come with a two year guarantee.

Folding tables are great for when you pitch up your caravan

Folding Tables

It's hard to beat a well-designed camping table for extra preparation space and sociable mealtimes. This Royal aluminium fold out picnic table with benches is light but strong, provides lots of seating, and stows away effortlessly.

Heaters

An effective, safe caravan heater is a must-have for colder days, especially with the unpredictable British climate. Track down a suitable fan heater for your space or try a wall-mounted device such as a Tot-Lec electrical panel caravan heater to keep you warm.

Caravan Covers

When it's not in use, keep the exterior of your caravan free from dirt and dust with a smart cover that won't encourage the build up of condensation and mould. The Wilderness Trail breathable caravan cover is available in a range of sizes to suit most trailers.

Roof Vents

Roof vents are an ideal addition to help keep fresh air circulating indoors during warm weather, and will allow you to safely ventilate your caravan while you're sleeping too. This popular Fiamma roof vent doubles up as a skylight to brighten interiors, and is easy to fit.

Storage in your Caravan

When you're in transit, sturdy storage boxes prevent your possessions from moving around and getting damaged. Once you've arrived they're also handy for keeping everything tidy, and hiding more valuable items from prying eyes. This Fiamma Ultra top storage box keeps everything safe. Squishable pots and other stackable kitchen equipment can help save space in your caravan’s kitchen too.

Travel Beds

Get a good night's sleep without losing any precious living space by fitting a comfortable purpose-designed sofa bed. This Som'Toile folding bed pulls out to reveal a double mattress and can be fitted to most caravan and motor home interiors.

Bike racks mean easy storage for bikes when you tow

Caravan Sleep Accessories

Bunk beds are an ideal space-saving solution for kids' bedtimes. Make sure they're safe and snug by adding a bunk bed net and no-slip ladder to the top bunk. This bunk bed ladder hooks firmly into place and is easy to climb.

Bike Racks

Bring your bikes along with you for a more active break. Make sure they're firmly fixed to your vehicle for safe transit and theft prevention by fitting a bike stand to an A-frame or the back of your caravan or motor home. Something like a Fiamma Carry-Bike caravan bike rack is ideal.

Must Have Caravan Gadgets

You may be far away from home but you can still have some home comforts. Here are a few cool caravan gadgets which will help:

Sat Nav Systems

If you're towing a trailer or driving a motor home down busy motorways or narrow country roads, then referring to a printed road atlas isn't always the safest way to check your directions. The latest sat-nav on your dashboard will help guide you smoothly to your destination. This Garmin nuvi has European maps for continental journeys.

Satellite Equipment for Caravans

For keeping up with your favourite sporting events and TV shows while you're away, you'll need a travel satellite kit to get the best reception. For example, this Vision Plus 'suitcase' satellite kit packs away neatly, including the dish.

Portable Televisions

To go with your satellite dish or aerial, find a new portable television that's ready for the coming digital switchover. The best ones pack flat or fit into their own case, like this Vision Plus portable television.

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