Fully off-grid, solar boosted ERV built by Retreat Caravans in Melbourne priced from $109,900
With energy-efficient thermal rating construction and a revolutionary energy supply, self-contained, almost unlimited power for caravans has become a reality with our solar-boosted ERV available for sale from March next year.
This comes after we successfully completed a harrowing, plug-free test journey of 20,088km across the country over 176 days.
Unveiled earlier this year, our latest development of this hi-tech, electric, ‘smart’ caravan platform was built by us at, Retreat Caravans, in conjunction with the technology company, OzXCorp.
By making use of an unprecedented 2033 watts of PV Solar lithium-ion battery bank coupled with extensive solar panels and a 5000-watt Smart Inverter, it delivers enough power for the simultaneous use of a range of appliances for extended periods of time.
Our first test model is a 20-foot caravan powered by a self-generated 240-volt system with a special inverter that does not need a gas system for appliances.
In a recent interview, our very own Drak said, ‘’this proves that the revolutionary new ERV is a renewable power source on wheels that serves as a home-away-from-home.”
He also explained that the technology employed in the development of the ERV is not only for Retreat, but has the potential of being offered to other Australian caravan manufacturers as well as other markets.
“Retreat has a global interest in the technology and development of this caravan”, he said, “and we know that it will take off”.
While on the test journey our test team powered two other caravans with its impressive solar system.
Even with two air conditioners and several appliances running, the ERV still had power to spare, even when it was used in the shade.
The integrated, automotive-grade 16 kW/h battery is conservatively de-rated to 14.3 kW/h for consistent and reliable power.
The self-generating, holistically engineered battery energy storage system promises a revolutionary, truly off-grid experience. The smart inverter has a huge 5000 Watt continuous rating.
“The electrically powered lights will be the last function to go, however, it is very unlikely that this will happen”, said Drak.
“When the battery gets critically low, the refrigerator and lights will continue to function to the end to ensure the occupants are kept safe and that they have food.”
Because there is no gas system there is no need for ventilation. In place of a ventilation system, the ERV has 15 solar panels on the roof.
A patented curved mounting system allows the lightweight solar panels to lie above the roof rather than flat.
This system allows the sun’s rays to enter and also keeps the panels cool by reducing heat flow through the roof cavity.
The solar panels cover most of the caravan’s roof leaving just enough space for a vent or antennas if needed. Different panel layouts are available on certain production models.
The air conditioning unit is located underneath the bed to free up roof space for the panels.
At a demonstration of a breakfast scenario at the Perth 4WD show, the ERV showed a kettle, toaster, hairdryer, air conditioner, and induction cooktop, all operating simultaneously and drawing power from the batteries.
“It was pointed out to onlookers that at the same time the TV, full-size fridge, and lighting were running simultaneously as well” said Drak.
“All this was done without plugging into grid-connected mains, using a generator or any other source of external power to continuously run a combination of 240 Volt appliances up to 5000 Watts.
Because there is no need for gas as an alternative energy source, the ERV does not need to comply with the requirements of gas regulations such as additional vents in the roof.
The elimination of vents also greatly reduces the amount of dust that finds its way into a caravan when out on the road.
Leading-edge insulation means occupants can enjoy a better-controlled environment.
The chassis-integrated energy system of the ERV is dustproof as well as water-resistant to a depth of 1 metre for about ten minutes.
It also features a 50mm crush-resistant shell that protects the batteries in severe off-road conditions.
With the benefits of cutting edge lithium technology, the electrical system of the ERV is fed by a 48 Volt, OEM automotive-grade, lithium-ion battery, up to 2033 Watt solar system based on the largest size unit, and a 5000 Watt Smart Inverter.
The size of the lithium battery is equivalent to a 90-litre water tank weighing approximately 115kg.
A ‘wow’ factor of the ERV’s electric system is its 15-Amp, heavy-duty, industrial socket outlet located in the tunnel boot capable of running a 3-pin, 15-Amp welder.
A fully self-contained energy pack provides the caravan and its occupants the opportunity to travel off-grid, even to remote areas that have previously been difficult to access.
It also provides economic benefits of not needing a powered caravan site and the potential of saving on fuel consumption due to the flush roof design made possible by the lack of an exposed air conditioner.
A Retreat van was used as a donor for the ERV with structural chassis changes to allow space for the lithium-ion battery beneath the floor where the van’s potable grey water tanks are located.
The 20ft ERV2 model that was displayed in Perth had a tare weight of 2700kg, a 150mm A-frame, a fibreglass composite body, DO35 coupling, 10’’ drum brakes, a Dexter sway control system, and 265/16 Mickey Thompson AT tyres on 16” wheels.
Standard suspension on the ERV is Control Rider TS with twin shocks. Buyers will also have an option of a Simplicity coil or AI-Ko suspension, as well as airbags.
Other features include electric steps, an optional outdoor TV, powered awning, a fusion sound system, and a slide-out for a Weber barbecue.
External features include a single spare wheel carrier, an external shower, a dual-slide-out toolbox, a jerry can holder, a fold-down picnic table, and a reverse camera.
Internal appliances include an induction cooktop, a convection oven and grill, a 274 litre fridge, a 24-inch TV, and LED lighting.
The ERV also features a Swift 48-Volt hot water system and a 12-Volt water pump.
The contemporary styled interior of the van includes acrylic doors, tiled shower recess and splashback, waterfall kitchen benchtop and plenty of storage space under the seats and bed.
Also included in the ERV2 model is a ceramic cassette toilet, a 110-litre grey water tank, two 110 litre water tanks, a 65-litre drinking water tank, and a 3kg top-loader washing machine.
The Retreat ERV range will be available for purchase from March 2020 in 5 body sizes ranging from 18ft 6in – 22ft 6in with a range of different layouts.
Prices start from $109,900. An ERV2 displayed at the 4WD show was priced at $119,900. The larger 2033 Watt solar panel ERV5 is the top-spec model.
The ERV caravan by Retreat Caravans is the first to leverage the power technology provided by OzXCorp.
However, consumers will have to wait a while longer for a production version of OzXCorp’s Hybrid Drive System that utilizes electric hub motors to power the wheels of a van.