RV Books

Powerful, Proven & Unbiased Information

♦ caravans ♦ motorhomes ♦ camper trailers ♦

Cover of Caravan and Motorhome Electrics
Cover of Why Caravans Roll Over
Cover of How to Choose and Buy an RV
Cover of The Caravan and Motorhome Book
Cover of Solar That Really Works

Search our catalog of exclusive RV articles

Search our catalog of exclusive RV articles

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 1.3 million times!

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

Africa 

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

Visit Solar Books

At solarbooks.com.au you'll find exclusive articles by Collyn Rivers dealing with the intricacies of setting up and using solar power to run your home, cabin, caravan or motorhome.  Solar Books is about how to use solar to shrink your power bill to where your energy provider is paying you - and to do it all economically.

Solar Books

RV Books provides the most extensive and most reliable information available for anyone wanting to explore their world via camper trailer, motorhome, caravan - any sort of RV.

If you find this site useful you will find our books even more so.  They are all available in a number of formats designed to make them as useful as possible as reference guides for all your travels.  As well as a paperback version there are versions for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and for all Apple devices.

The information on this site is provided without charge, without sponsorship and without advertising.  All our activities are funded by the sales of our books.

Featured article

The Camper Trailer Book – Chapter 14: Fridges

Updated 2021

The cooling ability of RV fridges relates to how well they are installed, not major differences between products. Their installation manuals show how to do this. Most buyers and many ‘professional’ installers, however, appear to ignore them. Because of this few RV fridges work as well as they should. This is particularly so with ‘three-way’ fridges that run from your choice of (LP-gas or /110/230/12 volts. These must be installed as specified. They rarely are and have an undeserved reputation for not performing.

It is usually possible to improve cooling and reduce energy draw of such fridges. It is harder to do this if they are inside a packed towing vehicle. Even then, a fair bit can be done to help. How to do this is shown in detail in rvbooks.com the Camper Trailer Book.

Engel 80-litre fridge. Pic: Engel.

Cooling ability of RV fridges 

Fridges do not make ‘cold’. They pump heat from where it is not wanted, to where where it does not matter. The more common compressor fridges do this via intermediate compression/expansion. The sketches below show the two most common types of compressor.

Most fridge makers specify energy draw at an internal temperature of 4℃. A well installed RV compressor fridge so used is likely to draw about 0.7 amp hours/day per litre of its capacity. Each 1℃ colder thermostat setting increases energy draw by about 5%. Each 1℃ increase in ambient temperature does likewise. A fridge that draws 50 amp hours/day on a cool garage floor is likely to draw close to twice that in a warm 4WD.

Once the fridge’s contents are cooled, the energy needed to maintain that relates to its insulation and door seal losses. Only minor energy is lost when the door is briefly opened. This is because air does not store or readily transfer heat. A door-opening freezer, however, wastes energy if frequently opened (as children may). This loss can be reduced by installing high-fronted plastic drawers.

The simple and effective Engel swing-motor.

The Danfoss equivalent. Both work well and reliably. Drawings: RV Books.

Energy draw

Many fridge makers quote energy use in terms of current drawn. This can mislead. Most electric fridges cycle from fully on to fully off every few minutes. A fridge that draws 2.0 amps for 14 hours a day thus uses 28 amp hours/day. Another that draws 2.5 amps for 10 hours a day uses 25 amp hours a day. It is the total daily current draw that matters.

Many new fridge compressors, however, run constantly. They maintain temperature by varying their speed. This saves energy because electric motors draw about twice their running current for a second or two each time they start.

There are currently no specified performance standards for compressor-driven RV fridges. But given competent installation and usage the better brands are generally similar. They are also increasingly efficient.

Electric only

Most campers trailers have electric-only fridges (12/24 volt DC and grid power). They run from the tow vehicle’s alternator, often with solar and/or generator back-up, or even solar alone. These fridges may cool well if the installation is less than perfect, but they will draw excess power. They may not, however, cool properly in very hot places.

Three-way fridges

These are intended to run from the alternator whilst driving, and the battery only for lunch stops etc. They run on LP-gas or grid power at all other times. They draw far too much energy for solar or long term battery operation.

The EU has standards for these fridges. The ratings are SN, N, ST and T. The ST rating (36℃) is fine for warm climates. A T-rated unit (43℃) is needed for tropical climates.

Fridge installation

Fridges must be installed properly to work as intended. To cool properly, a fridge’s heat must be able to escape. Air intake and outlet vents must be unobstructed.

Fishing camps etc.

Camper trailer owners who fish seriously need a large fridge or fridge/freezer (and often a second in the tow vehicle).

A typical efficient chest fridge/freezer draws approximately 0.7 amp hour/day per litre of its capacity. A 200 litre unit thus draws about 140 amp hours/day in normal use. It will draw up to twice that, however, to freeze newly caught fish. It will draw and even more in tropical areas (not least as these may also stay hot all night).

One or two such fridge/freezers will run directly from a 1 kW generator, but use a great deal of fuel. It is better (and quieter) to use a 2 kW or 3 kW generator driving a high-current battery charger to charge a lithium battery bank of about 300 amp-hour. A lithium battery bank of that size accepts massive current. Very-high output battery chargers are available. The system will then need running only for an hour or so each morning and evening.

Recently updated articles

Caravan and tow vehicle dynamics

by Collyn Rivers - Updated March 2021 and tow vehicle dynamics The complex interactions of and tow vehicle dynamics are described here by Collyn Rivers. It is a precis of the rvbooks.com Why Caravans Roll Over - and how to prevent it. In the early...

read more

The Camper Trailer Book – Chapter 14: Fridges

The cooling ability of most fridges of similar price and size is usually related to how well (or badly) they are installed, not to major differences between the products. For them to cool as hoped, and use only the energy claimed, they must be installed correctly. Their makers show in detail how to do this, but most buyers and many ‘professional’ installers, appear to ignore the manuals. Because of this few RV fridges work as well as they should.

read more

Caravan and motorhome compliance – the Caravan Council of Australia explains all

Caravan and motorhome compliance can confuse. Imports are often not 100% compliant. This article shows what is required. Total caravan and motorhome compliance is rarely an issue with locally-made product. It can be, however, with imported caravans. This was particularly so of fifth-wheel caravans. There can also be problems with private imports. They may legally be used but only by the original buyer. That buyer often truly (but wrongly) believes them to be 100% compliant. They must not be sold, nor even given away, unless brought to 100% compliance.

read more

Our sister site, solarbooks.com.au, is about making sense of solar.  For anyone wanting to save serious money on their power bills, Solar Books has the information you're looking for.  Click here to visit.

Articles by Category

Electrical (general)
General
Travel
The Camper Trailer Book

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

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.

learn more

Solar That Really Works! explains every detail of designing and installing solar in boats, camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes. 

learn more

Caravan & Motorhome Electrics covers every aspect of designing, installing and fault finding of the electrics in fifth wheel and conventional caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.

learn more

The Caravan & Motorhome Book covers every conceivable aspect of camper trailer, caravan and fifth wheel caravan, campervan and motorhome usage.

learn more


Caravan & Motorhome Electrics covers every aspect of designing, installing and fault finding of the electrics in fifth wheel and conventional caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.

learn more

How to Choose and Buy an RV
Here's how to get it right first and every time.

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.  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.

learn more

Caravans 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.

learn more

Caravan & 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.

learn more

The 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.

learn more

Solar 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.

learn more

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)