12V Guru – How to dust proof your caravan?

Question to 12V Guru

What’s the best way to keep the dust off your camper or caravan?

With the large increase in “off-road” caravans on the road many owners are driving on dirt roads more than ever and after a long day on the road, everyone loves to quickly set up camp & crack open a coldie however there can be a significant clean up job in the van to remove the dust.

Some hybrid manufacturers supply a positive pressure system either standard or as an option however few off-road caravan manufacturers do so.

There are a few aftermarket positive pressure systems available but they are quite expensive. Have you tested any of these systems?

Many van owners choose to build their own DYI system consisting of a quality air filter, such as a Donaldson & a bilge fan that draws air from outside, through the filter & venting into the van pressurising the internal area & preventing dust entry.

Would  12V Guru have any advice and information regarding design and fitting of such a system please?
I believe a suitable bilge fan draws around 6 amps; our van has 3 x 100ah batteries charged by 4 x 150w solar modules. Should one connect the fan to the van’s batteries or run a heavy cable back to the vehicle which has a 100ah auxiliary battery?
I have the original snorkel head from a 200 series Landcruiser GX that I was considering attaching prior to the filter.

Ferg le Juge de Segrais

12V Guru answers:

Hi Ferg,

Glad to see you are hitting the road and intent on collecting red dust – a truly Australia only experience and you are definitely better to be well prepared as from my experience in driving in the Pilbara it does get into everywhere.  Once it stains the seals and fabrics it is almost impossible to get out.

Regarding DIY systems one of the best I have seen is the one my father (one of the most adventurous grey nomads I know😊) installed on his Ultimate camper about 10 years ago. As he spent a lot of time traversing the deserts the red dust was definitely an issue, and Mum hated cleaning it up when they arrived.

They didn’t use a bilge fan but used the natural air intake whilst driving.  Most dust follows behind the towed vehicle and not over the top so natural flow over the top or the caravan combined with an appropriate internal filtration system (for that little bit of dust) and some baffles and drainage for rainwater should really be sufficient. 

In my previous experience as a yachtie the bilge fans were great but the reason which they drew in air was because the boat was stationary and would help with the build up of humidity.

I have viewed the video of the system which Kimberley had in their hybrids and it looks impressive but have also seen Jayco campers hit the Gibb River Rd with natural home-built systems and come out unscathed, ready for a good night’s sleep, dust free.

What you need to dust proof your caravan

To build your own DIY system you certainly have the right parts together. Considering the 12V side of things the Guru suggests that you run the system off your caravan batteries as you have sufficient capacity with a 300Ahr battery bank and 4 x 150W panels on the roof would most likely be generating more DC power in that then 6Ahr required for the bilge fan. 

I would be recommending that in such a setup you should consider a good DC-DC charger from your rig as it is likely the panels on your roof will be operating at reduced capacity due to a covering of dust. If you have an isolated system such as the bilge fan only working from the aux battery in the car you could be running your alternator to power the positive pressure system for now reason as the solar (totally free) could be doing the job.

Tips to a good dust proof setup

  1. Ensure you clean the panels regularly to maximise power from sun to keep batteries topped up to power bilge.
  2. Install a 30A DC-DC charger to draw power from vehicle, again to keep batteries in RV fully charged and powering the bilge fan.
  3. Tape areas appropriate dust intake places such as hot water service – don’t forget to remove tape once in camp and the vent built into entry steps.
  4. Clean filter regularly so that it works effectively
  5. Remeasure the height of your van so you know what your clearances under bridges and low hanging objects is.
  6. Ensure you allow for rain (driven or static) – install baffles and drainage.
  7. Whilst you may know the current draw of your bilge fan make sure you understand what other 12V appliances may be drawing power whilst you are driving.
  8. As the bilge fan may be running for several hours ensure you wire the bilge fan on the correct side of any shunt which should be measuring your battery vitals.

Safe “dust free” travels! – 12V Guru 

The article is written for Caravan World Magazine.

collecting red dust in travels

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