Lighting and Plumbing questions.

Submitted: Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 20:33
ThreadID: 102625 Views:2431 Replies:5 FollowUps:12
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Hi guys,
Have just purchased my first caravan in the form of a camper (Coromal 440, 2003). This is an step up for me from a cub. Am not collecting the van until this weekend.
The previous owners did not seem very cluey about a number of things related to the van and I was hoping someone may be able to help.
Electrical.
The van has a battery bank that gets charged automatically anytime 240 is connected. I noticed the light fittings inside the van only contain one globe and yet they work on either 12V or 240.
Is this because they are always run via the built in inverter on the 12V system? If this is the case then would the power points also be run via the inverter or would they be direct from the 240 supply?
Assuming that is the case then is the inverter in the van simply to sup[port lighting or is there likely to be an inverter supported outlet at some point?

Plumbing.
The van has two tanks and an external tap with an inline after market filter to allow direct connection to town supply water.
Is it normal practice that when town supply is connected that this would enable a non return valve preventing that water supply getting into the main tanks?
This is of particular interest to me as the van is fitted with a hot water service and external shower.
My thinking, and correct me if I am off track here, is that if the town water supply or alternately a pump from a clean water source tapped into the town water supply tap and filter was not able to get into the main water tanks that this would then allow me to use the Hot water system and in turn the shower direct from this supply and when finished remove that connection and then after a short purge I would then be back on tank water again with no contamination.

Now the theory sounds great but I am wondering how things actually happen in practice?

Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge, thoughts etc.

Ian.
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Reply By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 06:47

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 06:47
Hi. I have no personal experience with your van but most vans have the non return from town water built into the pump itself.
With the electrical, I doubt there would be an inverter to run all power points. If there was it would be a large one and in turn would use a lot of battery power very quickly.
Might pay to contact Coromal if they dont have an owners manual for it. Bob.
AnswerID: 512690

Follow Up By: Mazdan - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 08:23

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 08:23
Aha, thanks for that Bob.
I thought of a simple way overnight to prove the theory one way or another by emptying the water tanks and leaving the drain plugs out and seeing if anything flows out while mains pressure is attached.

The van does have an inverter that is part of the original package but is mounted in a not so easy to get to spot in the van which got me wondering. I would be concerned if it was the only means of powering up the outlets. I will do some more investigation over the weekend.

Ian
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FollowupID: 791159

Reply By: Ozhumvee - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 07:44

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 07:44
Like lots of vans especially poptop's they only ever run 12v lights, always off the battery which in turn is recharged either by the vehicle when towing or the mains when connected.
There is usually no inverter, just the battery charger.
Depending on the size of the battery bank there could be an inverter to power the 240 side but not normally fitted to most run of the mill vans as microwaves etc take huge amounts of power.
Peter
1996 Oka Motorhome

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AnswerID: 512693

Follow Up By: Mazdan - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 08:26

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 08:26
Thanks for that info Peter,
Last time I was in a van was 40 odd years ago and it had dual globes in each fitting. Makes sense to simply have lights as a 12V only circuit.
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FollowupID: 791161

Follow Up By: Charlie B2 - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 13:49

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 13:49
Hi all,

My Jayco Eagle Outback has the standard (for Jayco) battery charger/power supply with a separate switch near the 12 volt fuse array to change between them. When connected to 240 volts, it allows all 12 volt electrics (lights, piezo gas igniter and cigarette-lighter type outlets) and 240 volt systems (electric hotplate on the stove, power points) to work - in one position it will also charge the on-board batteries, but in the other it doesn't.

There is no inverter - 240 volt outlets don't work without the van being plugged in to a 15 amp power circuit. That would be the obvious test to undertake once you've collected the van.

My water system may be a bit different from yours, but my hose connection from mains water runs direct from the hose to a tap over the sink - the line that carries that water goes nowhere near our water tank and pressure is adjusted by the simple expedient of reducing the flow from the mains tap (i.e. by turning the tap off a bit) if you really don't want to experience an indoor shower you didn't need. The tank itself is filled through a separate, capped filler right next to, and under the same coverplate as, the hose connection on the outside of the van and water is drawn from the tank by a hand pump next to the abovementioned tap, also over the sink. I've recently bought an inline, 12 volt electric pump to ease the pumping effort for my wife, even if it will complicate tank-water delivery a bit, after reading an earlier article on this forum about a camper trailer set up that way, but haven't yet had the time to fit it.

We don't have a HWS in our van, so that's something I can't help with, but as others have said, saline water can be detrimental, as can water with high calcium levels but you CAN get quite saline water through the mains depending on where you are. Here in SA the water is almost hard enough to crack rocks, but we all still use hot water services at home :-)

Regards,

Charlie
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FollowupID: 791189

Follow Up By: Mazdan - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 16:26

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 16:26
Thanks for that Charlie,
I probably should have indicated earlier that this van has only one tap inside the van. Interestingly my brothers coromal built in the same year has two, one being a pump it yourself style and the other for the mains pressure. In his case it appears the two are completely seperate as it appears yours is.
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FollowupID: 791214

Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 08:11

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 08:11
Ian

As stated it is usual to have everything operating on 12v except for air con. As Peter has stated you would have to be connected to 240v to get power points etc working. You need a closer inspection. In my van I have large batteries and an inverter and can power my 240v power points but most do not.

Plumbing is also a matter of design. In my van I can connect to town supply and at a flick of a tap either fill my tanks or isolate them and only use the town water without any cross contamination. Should also have a pressure reducer to prevent town water pressure causing plumbing problems inside the van. I can do exactly as you desire but my limited knowledge of the Coromal would suggest that your van cannot. You can always connect and disconnect from an outside source but I think you are asking something more elaborate than that. I doubt your van can pump water from an outside source.

Check the specs of your model with Coromal.

Alan
AnswerID: 512697

Follow Up By: Mazdan - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 08:46

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 08:46
Cheers for that Alan,
Just out of interest, is your inverter integrated into the vans GPO circuit or is it powering a stand alone Outlet?

Re the plumbing, I wasnt thinking of using the van pump to pump from an outside source but to use an external portable pump hooked in where the town water would go.

I will confirm there is a pressure reducer although I would be surprised if there wasnt one fitted.

Are you aware of any problems running filtered creek or river water for use in the gas hot water and shower system?

Only thing I could think of was checking with HW manufacturers re minimum filtering requirements in terms of microns.
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FollowupID: 791163

Follow Up By: member - mazcan - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 12:12

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 12:12
hi mazdan
using creek or river water through your HWS without first testing it to see if the water has any salinity level
could cause premature corrosion and failure of the system
a lot of natures water has none to a small percentage of salinity at varying stages depending on flow rates and I don't think a filter would remove it so be aware of this
I notice you went very close to duplicating my handle
cheers
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FollowupID: 791176

Follow Up By: member - mazcan - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 12:22

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 12:22
hi mazdan
before someone jumps in to point out many of natures water sources are saltier than the sea
my comment was in respect to salinity levels in regards to creeks and rivers that are visually and taste wise ok drinkable quality
just thought I clarify that one
cheers
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FollowupID: 791179

Follow Up By: Mazdan - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 12:45

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 12:45
Good thoughts mate re the salinity side of things and I will include that in my discussions with HW manufacturers and also look at the existing filtration system.
haha actually I have been a member here for Im guessing about 10 years so not sure who nearly duplicated who but fun to see someone so close in spelling. (In my case the joining of a nickname and a name to form the online name.)
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FollowupID: 791182

Follow Up By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 15:27

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 15:27
Ian

My van has the inverter (1800w) connected to all 240 circuits and points except the air con.

My plumbing is setup to use the van pump to get water from the outside. If water is fresh and not bore water it should be ok for showering. Keep an eye on the sacrificial anode in the hot water system (surburban) if you have one. I change mine every 12 months and it needs it.

I know some collect water in large tub and then pump out of it with the van. Would not be too keen to pump directly into the van with an outside pump unless you know the pressure. (seen Tanks blown and distorted this way)

Alan
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FollowupID: 791204

Follow Up By: Mazdan - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 16:34

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 16:34
Thanks for that info Alan,
That being the case with the inverter, Im guessing you have a changeover switch that allows you to select either inverted power or direct 240?
Good tip re the anode and something I had added to my notes earlier today while researching various HW systems and how they are made. Its one of the first things I will be looking at this weekend because sure as pigs dont fly it will never have been changed.
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FollowupID: 791215

Follow Up By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 19:15

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 19:15
Ian

Only have a switch to switch the inverter on when required. Not switched on when plugged into 240V.

All items in the van (lights,TV,fridge,heater-hot water-stove ignition, toilet flush.etc) operate on 12v. Inverter allows others items eg hairdryer to be used. It was sized to run a microwave.

Plugged in to 240v allows the aircon to run and of course don't need inverter as all 240v points are also live including the battery charger. Have 4 solar panels and 4 batteries and don't need a generator.

Alan
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FollowupID: 791242

Follow Up By: member - mazcan - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 21:58

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 21:58
hi mazdan
interesting about your handle haven't noticed it on here until recently
I have been using the nickname for 17 years for the mazda bravo as I found it can go most places hence
maz can
but I have had certain 4x4 owners think that I called it that because they think its not what they would be seen dead in and was incapable of keeping up with their bigger rigs
but after they found I was still right behind them on some difficult trips it has changed their opinions somewhat
it might not be the greatest 4wd ever made but it always gets me there and back and is a very easy vehicle to service and maintain
and it was paid for in full the day I picked it up from the dealer
so until it has a major failure I will keep the mazcan going
no electronics or computers under the bonnet just basic electrics and injection system
cheers
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FollowupID: 791268

Reply By: KenInPerth - Saturday, Jun 08, 2013 at 16:03

Saturday, Jun 08, 2013 at 16:03
Mazdan

Bit late on this discusison but thought I would throw this in as an addition.

Mine (and I think a lot of vans around that era) had (pre modification) a power converter 240V to 12V (Centurion CS2000 or CS3000 I think were common) that is "designed" to float the house battery and run all the 12V stuff (lights, pump, etc) when on shore power.

When the external 240V is not available the house battery then runs the same 12V stuff via the converter without any user intervention. Very simple basic set up.

The 240V outlets are only wired to the external power via the "fuse panel" which is (usually?) an earth leakage breaker of some form.

To have the 240V outlets running off an inverter would require modification of the "out of the factory" system and as Allan and others do there are a number of ways they achieve this depending on needs.

Ken.
AnswerID: 512787

Reply By: Mazdan - Monday, Jun 10, 2013 at 18:46

Monday, Jun 10, 2013 at 18:46
Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for there help.
Things are as described and all working excellently. I was a bit thrown off by my memories of an old Millard my parents owned when I was a smaller kid than I am now.....about 40 years ago. Things have certainly changed in a good way.
I already have an excellent set of batteries and solar panels on the cruiser (75 series) which power up a large inverter that gets used almost everyday in my work so its a simple matter of plugging that into the van if I ever need 240 but over the years I have learnt to pretty much survive on 12V alone except maybe when I want to watch the cricket on the big TV but the inverter easily handles that.
I am very impressed with the van now that I have had a few days to spend in it. Despite being a 2003 model it appears it was first sold in 2007 and truly is in mint condition from top to bottom inside and out. Surprisingly in better condition than a demonstrator model that was 5 months old I was looking at. Not a mark on this so could not be happier.

Looking forward to many many years of much more comfortable camping over the next 10-15 years before my next upgrade to a full van and my twilight years.
AnswerID: 512918

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