Planning a camper conversion can seem a little daunting, and keeping your van in tip top condition, ready for the next adventure, can also have you scratching your head.
With our indepth Guides page, we cover many topics to help with all aspects of van conversion planning and maintenance, so head over there for tonnes more info.
12V ELECTRICS EXPLAINED
The following is a brief guide to some of the common electrical system components in your van, and is based on the Cambee conversions range. Other conversions will differ slightly depending on the appliances fitted and some of the information may not correspond exactly to your particular setup.
The power in your van is a limited resource which cannot be used indefinitely without care to keep the system charged and functioning properly.
The 12V system is charged by the engine when running, and mains charger when on hook-up.
If a solar panel is fitted this will charge the 12V system at all times when the panel is south-facing, not obstructed and light conditions are adequate.
To run all the appliances and lighting in your camper a leisure battery is installed. The leisure battery is protected by a low voltage cut out to prevent damage to the 12V system. This will cut the power when the voltage reaches 11.25V.
If 240V hook-up is installed – To keep the leisure battery charged when on hook-up (and therefore keep the fridge running for extended periods) you need to convert 240v to 12v, this needs a battery charger. The type we fit a a 5-stage (intelligent) charger which will ensure your battery is kept in good condition and and not degrade it in the way unintelligent types can.
IMPORTANT BATTERY ADVICE
- Never leave your battery in a discharged state
When a battery has been fully charged it can quite happily be stored away for 2-3 months. However, when a battery is flat, storing it for this period would almost certainly damage it beyond repair.
The reason behind this is a chemical process called sulphation. When a battery is charged, this chemical process cannot take place. However, when the battery’s voltage falls below 12.4V the chemical process begins.
Sulphation causes sulphur crystals to form on the lead plates inside the battery, which in turn increases the battery’s electrical resistance. The longer this process is allowed to continue the worse the effect. Eventually the battery will become so electrically resistant, that you will be unable to charge it, let alone draw power from it.
If sulphation is caught early you may be able to salvage the battery using a battery charger with a pulse charge function. This will partially break down the sulphur crystals but the battery will never reach its full capacity again.
Remember that if your battery fails due to sulphation it will not be covered under warranty. This kind of failure is classed as damage caused by the user through neglect.
- Never overcharge your battery
Although you must always keep your battery as charged as possible when not in use, you must never overcharge it using a domestic unintelligent charger. Fortunately, most chargers these days are now automatic and will turn themselves off once the battery has reached the end of a charging cycle.
Overcharging will cause the battery to heat up and its electrolyte will start to evaporate. In turn this will cause the battery’s plates to break down, severely reducing the battery’s ability to yield power.
Overcharging can be caused by a faulty regulator on a vehicle’s charging system or by a manual charger being left on continuously at a high charging rate.
This type of damage is also not covered under warranty, as the battery is clearly not at fault.
- Avoid deep discharging your battery
Everybody knows that all batteries will deteriorate over time, and will eventually have to be replaced. Every time you use your battery and recharge it, its performance is decreased very slightly. This cannot be avoided. However, the severity of this decrement can be limited.
The way to achieve this is to not discharge your battery too deeply. Deep discharging causes the performance decrement to be more severe. Therefore once you have used the battery for the day, it is best to recharge rather than use it until it becomes flat.
Obviously, in the real world this is not always possible as the battery may be fully drained with one day’s use. But when you can, recharge the battery before it’s fully discharged.
Roof Canvas – To ensure your roof remains weatherproof and in good condition, you should treat the canvas annually with a recommended waterproofing product. Spray Fabsil (or similar product) onto roof canvas and wipe off excess with a clean cloth. Allow to dry thoroughly before stowing the roof.
Draining The Water System – In winter it is very important that you drain the taps of any water to avoid it freezing in the pipes and causing cracking.
For internal removable tanks, switch off the pump and lift the handle to allow any remaining water to syphon into the tank before emptying it.
For built-in or underbody tanks, drain the system by opening the drain on the underside of the tank, then turn on the tap with the pump switched on until no more water is coming out. Switch off the pump promptly when no further water is coming through to prevent damage.
Track System – It is beneficial to vacuum the track system periodically to remove sand, dirt and debris from the rails. This will ensure the sliders function smoothly without the need for excessive force.
Clean with Mr Sheen or other silicone based cleaning products.
Curtains – Wash as delicates on a cool cycle and do not tumble dry. Some bespoke curtain fabrics may require dry cleaning. Please refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines if you have supplied your own curtain fabric.