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Blog - Sustainable caravans?

Part 2 of the blog series 'Sustainable camping'

Being aware of the environment is totally anno now. Words such as sustainable, circular and environmentally friendly are flying around, but how sustainable is camping really and how sustainable can you make it? In the second part of the 'Sustainable camping' blog series, we look at the retro caravans themselves and at today's technology!

Weight of a vintage caravan

An old caravan is (of course) lighter in weight! Many people think, because they are vintage caravans, that the weight is also heavier. The opposite is true and it is very easy to explain why. In the "old days", cars were not nearly as powerful as they are today, so caravan manufacturers were forced to make caravans as light as possible. Looking at models from before the 1980s, the average caravan often weighed between 750 and 1000 kg.

This makes the vintage caravan relevant again for various reasons. With the advance of the electric car, a lightweight caravan is a must if you want to keep your driving range somewhat acceptable. But also the 'normal' petrol car has its advantages with a lightweight caravan; the petrol consumption will be considerably lower. That is profit for the climate! So you don't even need to buy a big car; a simple VW Golf can easily tow 1000 kg. So that saves on petrol costs all year round.

If you'd rather have a modern caravan, there are some concept models for the future. Dethleffs, for example, has a 'hybrid' caravan with an engine to support the electric car. Other concepts, for the future, are mainly focused on form and styling, not so much on the complete concept.

Shape of the caravan

You have to put a lot of effort to find a caravan with a special design these days, because they often look the same. This used to be different (fortunately) when mass production was also done by hand. Why do we mention this in a sustainability blog? Well, the shape of the roof does a lot for the wind and therefore the consumption of your car.

We have listed a number of beautiful shapes and types for you, one a little better for the wind than the other. Lift roofs, for example, are always an advantage because of the lower roof. Moreover, vintage caravans are often less wide, think of 2.00 to 2.20 metres maximum. If you choose a small (old) Eriba caravan, for example, you won't notice much of a difference when it's hanging behind your car.

Does Glaravans recycle too?

Mostly we rescue the most "bad" models from the demolition. This means that we rarely demolish a caravan in good condition in order to turn it into a Glaravan. . Most enthusiasts prefer to leave vintage caravans, which we like to use, untouched.

Although it may not be immediately apparent at first glance, we use 40% to 60% of the 'old' caravan. We reuse the chassis, because otherwise the superstructure will no longer fit, and we also reuse the superstructure. At the client's request, we also use the existing overhead cupboards and we ourselves often keep many details that we bring back into the new design. If we look at the total volume of materials, we quickly exceed 40% reuse. On request, we also make use of sustainable oils, paints and insulation materials. In the case of Glaravan #3, for example, we used linseed oil-based paint & environmentally friendly oils for the upper cupboards.

Of course the other materials are recycled. Those particular parts can be given a second life again to an enthusiast of the classic and original oldtimer caravan.

Solar panels

One of the most frequently asked questions from our customers; are solar panels also possible? To which we ask; what do you need them for? Solar panels are a fantastic invention for the camper who goes to places where there is no electricity. The type of camper who does this mainly is the backpacker and the camper. Driving your camper to remote areas where you can camp overnight and then move on to the next destination. For this, the solar panels provide enough power to supply all the lights and mobile phones, the fridge and heating often work on gas. In that case, solar panels are very useful, but we build caravans, not motorhomes!

With the caravan you often go from campsite to campsite and at most campsites there is a nice pole where you plug in the caravan. This allows you to enjoy a bit of electricity. But most caravan owners don't do real Off-Grid camping, and rightly so; you'd rather take a motorhome on the narrow, adventurous roads high up in the mountains than a car with a caravan behind it. The added value of solar panels is then quickly lost, unless you insist on 'green' electricity. The question is whether the will then outweighs the extra packing weight of a battery (approx. 40kg) & the solar panels (+/-5kg) and the additional petrol costs.

Don't get us wrong; we certainly install them in Glaravans, see #4 & #6, but not without a good discussion about why they're absolutely necessary. In both cases, the owners plan to be in locations where there is no electricity or they prefer not to be dependent. There is also the emotional aspect or the fact that the same caravan also has a mover; then the weight of the battery is already there and a solar panel is a nice bonus.

Solar panels & Lithium batteries

If you have plans for a solar panel & use a lithium battery for your mover? Then beware! The current generation of lithium batteries are not suitable for charging with a solar panel and require a special charger. The lithium battery needs a constant voltage and solar panels cannot provide this. Unfortunately, this technology has not yet been developed specifically for caravans. In the case of a motor home with a lithium battery, the solar panels are often connected to the conventional car battery and then connected to the lithium battery from the conventional car battery.

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