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Motorhomes with family layouts

Family caravans in Australia are available in different lengths, weights, and types. Demand for family caravans does wax and wane a bit, depending very much on economic conditions, but generally speaking, there are definitely more models around these days than there was a decade ago.

Motorhomes with a layout for the whole family are a slightly different kettle of fish for several reasons and are somewhat rarer. Ex-rental motorhomes are often a great option for families, not only because of the budget price but also because the four and six-berth layouts favoured by motorhome companies which have the necessary passenger seats for travel, but that same seating can be turned into beds by night.

Apart from previous usage, there's a downside to rental motorhome which related to the width. Because of inexperienced driver use, it is usually around 2.25m (7ft 5in). In comparison, a retail motorhome might be around 2.47m (8ft 1in). While 220mm/8in might not sound much but it makes an incredible difference in a confined space. Ask any RV designer. 

A typical example of a retail motorhome is found in the Avan range. Fiat Ducato powered, the Ovation M7 has a length of 7.92m (26ft). It has both a Luton peak and an offside slide-out, resulting in a generous living area and plenty of space for a family of four. Not only is there an adequate number of beds, helped by the swivelling cab seats, there's also plenty of seating/dining are up front. It's not always something you find in every family caravan. Conversely, the kitchen space is relatively small, although appointed with all the essential features.

The Avan Ovation M7

I took this Ovation M7 out for a test run but when I returned to the Avan sales yard, my attention was caught by a smaller motorhome, an Avan Applause with a pop-top roof. It is new to the Avan range but not so new elsewhere. This design idea has been available in Europe for a couple of years and Jayco introduced it in Australia last year. The Applause is based on a Fiat Ducato van conversion. It and similar layouts from other manufacturers are generally designed for one or two people, although some, like the Applause, have seating for four when travelling. The pop-top roof adds another dimension where a couple of young kids can use it for sleeping. The Applause, with a family of four, has limited internal living space. Still, it's great as a weekend escape machine or for longer road trips, with everyone travelling reasonably lightly. An additional bonus for the four-seater is that it can also be used for around-town transport.


I know I have mentioned this before, but I sometimes despair over so-called ‘information’ available online. A case in point is an LPG article published on a well-known social media site. The article cited that it was okay to travel in a motorhome or caravan with the LPG left turned on to run a fridge. Unfortunately, it wasn't clear that the article was written by someone based in North America. Where, as anyone with a passing interest knows, things related to electrical power and LPG are done differently. The electrical bit when the writer referred to 110V AC power gave a clue as to the writer's origins.  

A responder to this post stated that it’s illegal in Australia to travel with an LPG cylinder turned on. That wasn’t helpful either because, ahem, believe it or not, that isn't correct. However, and I stress however, just about any organisation be it RV related or not, that has anything to do with LPG cylinders, recommends that if it’s not being used then an LPG gas cylinder should be turned off. As an example, caravan rollovers aren’t exactly unknown and having an open gas cylinder if that unfortunately occurs is best not thought about. 

In Australia, fridges in caravans are primarily of two types: three-way absorption or 240v/12V compressor models. In both cases, they can be run off 12V, and many late-model absorption types have an auto changeover, so when the LPG is turned off, the 12V DC cuts in. 12V DC supplies for a fridge, particularly caravans, can be problematic, so using an Anderson plug or a DC-DC charger is the way to go. Stay safe out there.