RV Books

Proven & Unbiased Information from Collyn Rivers

♦ caravans ♦ motorhomes ♦ camper trailers ♦ solar ♦

Important News

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is investigating the Caravan Industry

A media release was issued on 12 November seeking information about the industry in relation to Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC has received over 1300 complaints about the industry over the last 5 year, and they've finally decided to act.  RV Books has been active in pointing out the shortcomings of the industry, particularly in the area of caravan safety, and we applaud their efforts.

The ACCC have set up two surveys - one for purchasers and the other for retailers.  We encourage everyone caravan owner to respond.  The survey is easy to complete and will only take a few minutes.

Click here to read the media release: https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/views-sought-on-caravan-industry

Click here to go straight to the survey: https://consultation.accc.gov.au/accc/new-caravan-survey-consumers/

As information becomes available regarding this investigation we will report it here.  Discussion of the issues raised by this investigation can be found in our forum: https://rvbooks.com.au/forum/

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Between 1959 and 1961 Collyn Rivers and Antony Fleming drove a Bedford QLR off-road truck twice the length and breadth of Africa studying road surface conditions.

A 43 minute film about their adventure, produced and narrated by Antony Fleming, has been viewed on YouTube more than 1.6 million  times!

Picture from africa journey. Caravan and motorhome electrics by collyn rivers

To view the film, and also read Collyn's telling of the tale, just click the button below.

Africa 

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The Camper Trailer Book.  Free!

Not currently available as an eBook or paperback, RV Books is publishing The Camper Trailer Book on this site.  Every week new sections will be released until the complete, fully revised, version is available.

Read It Here

Solar Success

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Collyn Rivers is the author of Solar Success. Previously only available on a different website (solarbooks.com.au),  you'll now find this book and a large selection of exclusive articles by Collyn Rivers dealing with the intricacies of setting up and using solar power to run your home, cabin, caravan or motorhome.  Over the next few weeks all of the content from Collyn's second site will be brought over to RV Books to provide a more comprehensive coverage of a wider range of topics. 

Solar Success

Featured article

Battery ventilation is vital – why take any risk?

by Collyn Rivers - Updated 2020

Battery Ventilation

All lead-acid batteries, AGMs and gel cells, generate explosive gas. Even though most are sealed, makers stress that battery ventilation is vital still. Confusion exists over this. Around 2000, some battery makers began to claim that no ventilation was required. Or, ventilation is advisable but not necessarily essential. They withdrew this advice, however, shortly after. Many batteries thus have a warning notice as below.

Battery ventilation notice

Despite warning notices like this, many RV builders install batteries in unventilated compartments. In 2012, one threatened criminal defamation when I published that 'battery ventilation is vital'. The company withdrew only when shown evidence the batteries they were fitting in their own products had such notices.

Explosion risk

Hydrogen lacks colour or smell. Without instrumentation, a human cannot detect it. Unsealed batteries smell whilst charging, but that odour is not hydrogen.

Many batteries have an acid/water mix called an electrolyte. If overcharged, that liquid produces explosive hydrogen. In a typical battery enclosure with about 10 litres of free air space, a 10% (explosive) concentration builds up within 60 seconds. When mixed with air, ignited hydrogen typically starts fizzling at a concentration of about 4%. If the concentration exceeds 10% a tiny spark causes it to explode.

Sealed batteries cope with low levels of overcharging. To prevent an explosion, they have normally sealed vents. These open when pressures reach dangerous levels. As long as the batteries are ventilated (and there is no source of ignition) this gas typically dissipate harmlessly.

Lead-acid battery explosion is rare. It can however blow an RV apart. One (Australian) RV maker, whose product lacked ventilation, blew out the floor of his very own, through just that.

Assuring basic ventilation is so easy it seems ridiculous not to provide it. Let alone (as some do) to argue against it.

Battery exploded

An exploded battery is an ugly sight. Pic: http://www.rayvaughan.com

Hydrogen only explodes when ignited. An almost invisible tiny spark, however, does so. Common sources include insecure terminal clamps and cables. Also, battery connectors that work-harden and crack. Sparks can also be caused by any electrical or moving device. Worn bearings may do so. Battery chargers, isolating relays etc, should never be installed in battery enclosures. Such battery ventilation is vital.

Venting details

The battery enclosure must enable fresh air to enter at its base. The (lighter) hydrogen must be able to escape to atmosphere via unrestricted outlets at the enclosure's very top. The RV industry has no standards regarding this. General practice, however, is to provide a few 25 or so mm holes at the top. They are needed to the very bottom.

In 2003, the (then) Sustainable Energy Industry Association suggested the following minimum. The size given is for each vent (top and bottom).

Area in sq cm = 0.006 X ‘n’ X I.

Where ‘n’ - the total number of cells in the battery/s (for this purpose each cell is nominally 2.0 volts)

‘I’ = maximum charging rate in amps.

For example a caravan with two 12 volt batteries (each of 6 cells) and maximum charging rate might be 50 amps. Then A = 0.006 x 12 x 50 = 3.6 sq cm. The above is a minimum requirement. Ventilation can thus be one or two slots top and bottom. Each should be about 5 cm by 1 cm.

Naturally vented enclosures have been criticised. Decades of experience, however, indicate they are adequate. Wind, however, can generate areas of high pressure around exit vents. This can prevent gas from escaping. This is less of an issue if adequate lower vents are provided. But many an enclosure is vented only at the top. If yours is like that, cut a few holes at the very bottom.

LiFePO4 batteries

These batteries use a technology that is different from lead-acid. These batteries can and do explode. When they do, they typically emit dense white smoke. This strongly irritates and may harm the respiratory tract, mucous membranes, eyes, and skin. The electrolyte reacts with moisture to form hydrogen chloride and sulphur dioxide. Some also release bromine and chlorine. There are also fire risks if they are overcharged. This is due to the flammable properties of volatile organic substances.

So here too battery ventilation is vital. Vendors offer little advice re this. It seems prudent, however, to house them much as with lead-acid batteries. Ideally using fire-proof materials. (See also Article Lithium-ion batteries in caravans.)

Battery ventilation is vital - summary

There are no legally enforceable (RV) standards in this area. This article can thus only state that battery makers stress battery ventilation is vital. Some explain why.

There is little or no risk if batteries are housed in well-vented enclosures. With sealed batteries, the risk is not high. It exists however if they are within (say) a closed bed base that traps gas. Eliminating this risk consist of little more than cutting slots, or drilling holes. So why not do it?

Further information

For information on batteries and battery charging see: AGM batteries for caravans, Lithium-ion batteries in caravans, and Speeding battery charging from generators.

In-depth coverage of batteries and battery charging is included in my books Caravan & Motorhome Electrics, Solar that Really Works!  (RV-related), and Solar Success (homes and properties). My other books are the Caravan & Motorhome Book, and the Camper Trailer Book. For information about the author please Click on Bio.

This topic often arises on RV forums. If you feel this article might assist others, please consider posting this Link to it on the relevant forum thread.

Recently updated articles

Electric Vehicle Batteries

The market for quickly-rechargeable, light and compact batteries is huge. One or another battery will eventually evolve. When it does, electric-only vehicles are likely to have a range unthinkable using fossil-fuels. Moreover, in the meantime, hybrids are an excellent compromise. Furthermore, see also Electric Vehicles – Hybrids.

read more

Electric Vehicle Home Charging

Many existing home grid-connect solar systems have excess capacity outside peak periods. Solar energy fed in during the day can be re-drawn during off-peak periods, for much the same price, to charge an electric car. This is because many grid networks have excess capacity outside peak periods. Furthermore, such charging extends battery life: all dislike ongoing deep discharges.

read more

Electric Vehicle Motors

Updated 2020 Electric vehicle motors AC/DC Electric vehicle motors use one or other of the two main kinds of electricity: alternating current and direct current. Both are effective as electric vehicle motors. Alternating Current (AC) is where electric current...

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Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

Globally, there is move to electric vehicles. Apart from minor rubber tyre particles they are virtually emission free.They are also about 80% efficient. If, however, their electricity is from fossil-fuelled power stations, their emissions are similar to year 2020 petrol-fuelled (or hybrid) vehicles.

read more

Articles by Category

Electrical (general)
Batteries & Battery Charging
General
Travel
The Camper Trailer Book

Want to find out more? Our books cover all these topics and a lot more. 

Cover of how to choose and buy an rv by collyn rivers

Whether you’re buying your first RV or updating to a bigger, more comfortable rig, there are a great many things you need to know and consider. How to Choose and Buy an RV breaks things down so that you can decide what you want and whether or not what you’ve found is right for you.

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Cover of solar that really works by collyn riversSolar That Really Works! explains every detail of designing and installing solar in boats, camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes.

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Cover of caravan and motorhome electrics by collyn riversCaravan & Motorhome Electrics covers every aspect of designing, installing and fault finding of the electrics in fifth wheel and conventional caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.

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Cover of the caravan and motorhome book by collyn riversThe Caravan & Motorhome Book covers every conceivable aspect of camper trailer, caravan and fifth wheel caravan, campervan and motorhome usage.

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Cover of why caravans roll over by collyn riversCaravans and their tow vehicles rarely jack-knife and roll over - but when they do the results are catastrophic. The cause, and how to prevent it, is explained here. Why Caravans Roll Over offers solid advice for keeping yourself safe on the road.
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Cover of solar success by collyn riversSolar Success explains how to design and build home and property systems that ensures affordable solar success first and every time.

 

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Cover of how to choose and buy an rv by collyn riversWhether you're buying your first RV or updating to a bigger, more comfortable rig, there are a great many things you need to know and consider.  This book breaks things down so that you can decide what you want and whether or not what you've found is right for you. It's technically sound and comprehensive so that you can proceed with complete confidence.  How to Choose and Buy an RV is the ultimate guide for those times when you want to, well, choose and buy an RV.

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Cover of why caravans roll over by collyn riversCaravans and their tow vehicles rarely jack-knife and roll over - but when they do the results are catastrophic. The cause, and how to prevent it, is explained here.  Why Caravans Roll Over offers solid advice for keeping yourself safe on the road.

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Cover of caravan and motorhome electrics by collyn riversCaravan & Motorhome Electrics is the totally rewritten successor to the original globally selling Motorhome Electrics. The book's content now also covers every aspect of designing, installing and fault finding of the electrics in fifth wheel and conventional caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.

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Cover of solar success by collyn riversSolar Success explains how to design and build home and property systems that ensures affordable solar success first and every time.

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Cover of the caravan and motorhome book by collyn riversThe Caravan & Motorhome Book covers every conceivable aspect of camper trailer, caravan and fifth wheel caravan, campervan and motorhome usage. Like all of Collyn Rivers' books it is technically sound yet written in plain English.

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Cover of solar that really works by collyn riversSolar That Really Works! explains, in clear English, every detail of designing and installing solar in boats, camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes. It is up-to-date, valid globally and technically accurate. It is clear, concise and easy to follow without sacrificing important detail.

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How to Choose and Buy an RV

This is Collyn Rivers' newest book.  Building on his years of experience and extensive knowledge of engineering and all things caravan and RV, this is the book you need with you when shopping for an RV.

Caravan & Motorhome Electrics

Collyn Rivers has done it again! – if you need to know anything about motorhome electrics, then this book is for you... Collyn must be, without doubt, the foremost authority in Australia on this subject.

The Wanderer (Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia Ltd)

Why Caravans Roll Over....and How to Prevent It​

Should be compulsory reading for everyone involved with Caravans: Design / Engineering, Marketing, Journalism (print & electronic), Regulations, Inspections, Driver-Training, Caravan Clubs, Towing and Modifications.

Colin Young

Founder and CEO, Caravan Council of Australia

Solar that Really Works!

Collyn is an accomplished engineer who knows how to design and build successful systems. It is refreshing to see practical advice written in plain language when there is so little solar information around. . . this is an essential text . . . you won’t find a better guide.

Alan T. Gray

Earth Garden Magazine

The Caravan & Motorhome Book

Without doubt, this is the best book we have ever read . . . it will be treasured, and read on a regular basis.

The Wanderer (Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia Ltd)