Solar Panels - We didn’t want to be reliant on hook ups to charge the habitation batteries so we had 2 x 130watt panels fitted by Marquis prior to delivery. Part of the Marquis deal was 1 x 130w so we added an additional one along with an additional 100ah battery making 200ah. I know other people have more solar power and more battery power but the set up seems to be able to cope with our normal usage at the moment.
Inverter - We wanted an inverter that would charge the electric bike batteries, the odd bits and pieces like vacuum cleaner and Karcher window vacuum and most important Kay’s hair dryer. We reckoned on 1500watts being sufficient. Solar Solutions in Poole were doing some of the fit out for Marquis and they recommended a 2000watt unit that had given good service. The downside is that it takes more power to run and also is physically large. You can see from the picture that the inverter takes up the room where the 2nd battery would fit. In our case the 2nd battery is in a box below the battery in the picture. Also in the picture is the air compressor for the air assist suspension for the back axle. We also have a remote switch to turn the inverter on, shown in the pictures below along with the gas level gauge.
Awning - We had the Fiamma F65s fitted by Marquis prior to delivery. Not much to say about it, good quality stuff so far. It’s a tear drop design that fits neatly on top rather than on the side of the motorhome.
Refillable Gas Bottles - We wanted to have 2 x 11kg bottles fitted which was on the original spec agreed with Marquis. However, when it came near to the motorhome arriving from Italy Marquis declared that 11kg bottles don’t fit in the locker and they would be fitting 6kg bottles (helpful). Again Solar Solutions we’re going to do the fit and after a long chat with Wesley we had a 40ltr tank fitted under the moho near the rear axle. Marquis didn’t question the additional cost as they had originally advised me incorrectly. We’ve got a gauge in the saloon that seems to be pretty accurate so far.
MiFi on board - We wanted to have access to the internet as we use it a lot and decided on the unit from Motorhomewifi.com. Adam and Sophie used their motorhome European experience to start up their own company connecting everybody to the internet ( europebycamper.com). We got the Pack 2 which consists of a 4g low profile roof antenna, 4g Hauwei MiFi and a quick fit kit. We have used it with a 3 prepaid SIM card which worked well apart from one problem. If you use it in the EU you can’t use it all there. We had a 12gb card and it just stopped working after using 8gb which cocked us up. We had monitored our usage to last the whole holiday and then it stopped working! I had to top up the card at great expense to get a few more gb to last us the remainder of the holiday. Then, you just couldn’t find out this fact on their site, you might now. We are away on September the 3rd for just over 2 months and have signed up for a Vodafone monthly account, 30gb for £25 a month and data not used carried over to the next month. We can cancel anytime giving 1 months notice. Just received the SIM card and it works here in Guernsey straight out of the box. Time will tell if it’s a good deal.
We also bought the iBoost WiFi booster but haven’t had much success with it so far. We will have a go at getting some free WiFi this time away.
Electric Bike Storage - We both have electric bikes and use them a lot, so that’s what we use for travel when we are away. Having researched about bike racks we decided the bikes would be too heavy for a standard bike rack. Also, they would be difficult to lift onto the rack even without the batteries. We would have to cover them to protect them from the weather and also they would be added targets for thieves. I’m not saying that it’s impossible just not desirable. Another way would be to have a tow hitch fitted and a bike rack on that but that’s even more weight right at the back and the bikes are still out in the elements.
So, we decided the bikes would have to be housed in the garage, out of the elements and out of sight. This ruled out an awful lot of motorhomes when we started looking for the right one. In fact, the garage size was the first consideration in the motorhome selection.
The Mobilvetta’s garage is big enough for the 2 bikes and a lot more. The problem was how to load and secure the bikes in a quick and safe manner. I found just lifting the bikes in and shifting them around was quite difficult. Decided a sliding system was the answer and Fiamma provided the solution, expensive I thought but necessary. With the added height of the trackway we now have to remove the front wheels and stow them alongside the bikes. This isn’t a problem as they are quick release. We also fitted quick release pedals otherwise they would clash together. It only takes me about 5 minutes to get the bikes out, ready to go, so we’re happy with the system.
SOG Unit - I researched the SOG unit prior to the motorhome delivery and had Marquis fit it. I had read such good reports from a lot of bloggers that I thought it was a no brainer. For people who have not encountered SOG units I’ll briefly explain. Basically, it’s a fan that sucks air out of the cassette when the toilet blade is opened. The air can be vented where you like, we have ours coming out under the motorhome and runs through a replaceable charcoal filter. So all the smells are exhausted out and not into the motorhome. The air flow also helps the breaking down of the waste. You don’t have to use any chemicals so it’s more bio friendly. I thoroughly recommend it and don’t understand why motorhome manufacturers don’t fit it as standard (some do now).
Air Assist Suspension - We have a 4.4t Fiat chassis and the ride proved really hard, so much that we got fed up of the crashing sound on bumpy roads, which let’s face it, is most roads. I researched air assist suspension for the back axle and thought it would help us, how much, we didn’t know. I eventually ordered a Timpro system with Rubena bellows from Slovenia on eBay for £315. It was pretty easy to fit by myself having raised the back end up by an extra 40cm. Borrowed a torque wrench for the leaf spring U clamps and that’s all the specialist tools you need. The difficult bit was where to mount the control panel and the air compressor. I was intending to wire the compressor to the fuse board as there were a few spare slots. However, having sourced some specialist spade connectors for the board from a UK firm they didn’t fit and weren’t the right ones. This specialist firm assured they would fit so that was £10 down the drain. Eventually, I wired the compressor direct to the batteries with an in-line fuse and mounted it in the battery compartment. The control panel is alongside the driver so we can adjust the ride as we go along.
The air assist stops the roll really well and the motorhome feels more planted. The ride is much improved and we will mess around with the pressures when we’re away in September. At the moment it’s set at 30psi and that seems pretty good.
Alarm System - Last time we were in France we felt a bit vulnerable parked up in quite remote places so we decided we would get an alarm fitted next we were in the UK. Reading forums, mainly motorhomefun.co.uk (recommended) it looked like Van Bitz was the place to go. Having talked with Van Bitz and been sent lots of literature we decided on what VanBitz describe as ‘the most agressive motorhome security system available in the UK’, the Strikeback Growler. Covers most scenarios and has incredibly loud horns inside and out. I won’t bore you with everything it does but I think it’s great. Fitting in Somerset was easy, you get a free night at their fantastic campsite and the system is fitted in about 6 hours at their clean and tidy workshop. Not cheap at around £1000 but well worth the money I think.