This is part of a selection of solutions for the generation of electrical power for the motorhome and is beginning to be fitted as standard equipment by some top end manufacturers and offered as extras by others. Truma and other companies are developing units that use either LPG or Oxygen to develop electricity but at the time of writing only Efoy have a marketable system. In fact Efoy systems are into their second generation and have built up a solid reputation of reliability. Efoy systems should be included in any motorhome owners consideration when assessing power generation requirements. They should be assessed alongside of solar panels, generators – gas or diesel.
Efoy systems are near silent producers of electricity that can automatically re-charge your battery(s) all day and night long by burning Methanol. Depending on the size you buy the charge rates will vary from 3 amps to around 9 amps. The benefits of Efoy is that it is weather independant so you can park under trees and they work day or night, sun, rain or hail. These units now come in three sizes – Comfort 80 (providing up to 80 Amps per 24 hrs), Comfort 140 (providing up to 140 Amps per 24 hrs) and the Comfort 210 (providing up to 210 Amps per 24 hrs).
Note the above models are the second generation of Efoy and replace the original 600, 900, 1200, 1600 and 2200 with these original models becoming hard to source. Prices of the new models range from £2499 to £5259. Fitting is fairly easy or can be fitted by the dealer for around £100
As with most things there are advantages and disadvantages.
The units are light in weight – around 7kgs and quite compact needing little space so those of us with limited payload means you can have a system without much additional weight.
As mentioned earlier they are weather independant so you don’t have to depend upon the sun shining as with solar panels.
Efoy systems are near silent so you don’t have any noise issues as with generators.
The biggest one being cost – Efoys are expensive and it isn’t just the initial cost. The on-going costs can be considerable as Methanol can cost up to £40 per 5 ltrs and in winter you may need more than one bottle. Depending upon initial cost the long awaited Truma system should be much more economical to run as LPG is cheaper than Methanol.
Availability of Methanol can be a problem as there are not many retail outlets and many make a heavy charge for delivery, while others only offer collection only. Only Methanol produced by Efoy is acceptable again limiting supply.
Some insurance companies for some reason restrict the volume of Methanol you can carry at any one time – why I don’t know as Methanol is less volatile then petrol of which there is no limitation.
If cost is not a problem then in my opinion a combination of solar and Efoy would be the ideal solution as you have the sun to top up the batteries for free and Efoy for those days when the rains come down. In winter Efoy would make the motorhomer truely power independant. If weight/payload is an issue (and not money) then Efoy may be the answer. Hopefully over time and with more competition the cost of both the unit and Methanol will fall
The Truma system was demonstrated at the Oct 2012 Motorhome show at the NEC – and was stated as “being available” early in 2013. I wouldn’t hold your breath as Truma have been saying that for years. However more details were given and a demonstration system was on display. The new unit is considerably bigger and heavier than the Efoy – probably taking up some 40kgs in weight and was larger in size than say a TEC29 petrol generator with an estimated retail price of between £6000 and £8000 fitted. I personally think that it will be too large and possibly too heavy for the majority of camper vans and really only suitable for the real top end vans.