The energy shock

March 30, 2018 – Yesterday afternoon, returning from an “out of town” excursion, we decided to visit two specialists with whom we can discuss the preparation of the motorhome. The first is Carrozzeria Muschiona, from Cerro Maggiore, which is able to reconstruct the thermoformed parts of motorhomes. There, we verified the possibility of reconstructing the support of the bathroom sink, on which the mixer is also mounted. It is a fundamental job, because the pull-out shower that was installed as standard on our motorhome is no longer there (purchased used, we didn’t find it) and with a fixed tap personal hygiene would become a problem. The budget is reasonable: around 200 euros.

The other job to do is to arrange the shower tray, cracked in three points: using it in these conditions we would have water leaks in the locker below. Here the most radical solution is to rebuild it in fiberglass, more robust and durable. However, the operation is quite complex, because the shower tray is a single piece that also extends under the toilet. The estimate is more uncertain, but we are talking about around 800 euros, a little more than we expected. In addition, it is necessary to plan for 15 days of sheltering the camper before having it available again. We will also have to take this into account as we approach the “big leap”.

The second visit was made in Gira Gira, a dealer in Saronno to whom I usually contact for the maintenance of the motorhome. Here we explored the topic of energy autonomy. After reading various experiences of those who live in a motorhome or van, I was convinced by a configuration with a double flexible polycrystalline solar panel (for problems with the shape of the roof) of at least 100W each to support two 100Ah AGM batteries. All combined with a good inverter and replacing the four spotlights and three neon lights on the camper with LED lights.

As for use, we will have two laptops, two smartphones, two smart watches and a Bluetooth speaker to keep charged daily. The heating will probably remain ensured by the gas Truma system, therefore with only the forced air fan. No TV and no hairdryer. Maybe, and just maybe, we’ll have a Nespresso machine to make four or six coffees a day. On winter days we expect to stay in the motorhome during the dark hours for about 6 hours (from 5 pm to 11 pm, then to bed). In short, consumption does not seem so high to me.

The technical manager of the workshop, on the other hand, was skeptical: on the roof of our camper, according to him, two panels do not fit. With only one in summer we would have no problems, but in winter the maximum autonomy would reach no more than three days. His suggestion, avoiding Efoy-type systems or classic generators, too noisy, was to evaluate the installation of a 150Ah lithium battery whose cost, excluding installation, is two 2,000 euros…

At this point I doubted that he might be right and therefore my mind started looking for alternatives. On the latest issue of Plein Air (a well-known Italian magazine) I saw an advertisement for a Mobiltech product, called Zeus150 and defined as a “thermoelectric generator”. It is a 150Wh system running on diesel fuel (taken from the camper tank) which denounces a standard noise level at 7 meters limited to only 32 dB, which is very little. I would like to know how many dB it emits in its vicinity (therefore not at 7 meters) and if noise and smoke are really sustainable. The shock came by reading the price: 2,960 euros plus VAT and assembly.

In short, it should really be worth it to support such a figure. I asked for help and opinions, as I always do in this period, from the friends of the groups on Facebook and the comments were not long in coming. The conclusion was that the best thing to do is probably to start with the panel and double battery and check in the field if the solution is enough. There is always time to spend (too much) money.

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Paolo Galvani

Nato nel 1964, è giornalista professionista dal 1990 e imprenditore dal 2007. Si occupa di tecnologia dalla fine degli Anni '80, prima come giornalista poi come traduttore specializzato, e da circa tre decenni ama girare in camper. Dalla fine di maggio del 2019 è diventato "fulltimer". A luglio 2019 ha lanciato il blog

Born in 1964, he has been a professional journalist since 1990 and an entrepreneur since 2007. He has been involved in technology since the end of the 1980s, first as a journalist and then as a specialized translator, and for about three decades he has loved traveling in a motorhome. Since the end of May 2019 he has become a "fulltimer". In July 2019 he launched the blog