Saturday, 15 October 2011

Water Water Everywhere – nor any drop to drink

Having dealt with the washroom issue we can now address cold (and sometimes hot) fresh water in an Eriba.
Water systems can vary greatly
It may surprise some UK owners, or potential owners, but even in 2011 if you look on the Hymer Caravan Price List you’ll find that standard specification Eribas are supplied without a hot water boiler and even without the means to connect an external cold water supply source, say the mains or an Aquaroll or similar. Getting those sorts of facilities is an option and costs extra. Eribas that come without such equipment have removable plastic containers (of relatively low volume) under the kitchen sink (and washroom basin if applicable), which take up storage and require easy access as they can need refilling/emptying quite often. 
Eriba Tip If you can use an Aquaroll water container then you'll find it will fit snugly in the standard Eriba washroom, standing on the floor, whilst the van is in transit.
Generally virtually all UK supplied vehicles have full water systems installed at the factory.  Eriba Ltd, the closed dealership that operated until Summer 2011 from Lechlade in Gloucestershire and Jandi, the still very much operating Scottish dealership, tended to have ensured they’re fitted. However Eribas imported from the Continent (normally used vans) may not have them as it seems that Continental buyers can be content to manage without. That’s not to decry the owners of vehicles without such water systems as plenty of people regard them as totally unnecessary and manage happily without and as they’d doubtless say, ‘what’s a kettle for if it’s not for boiling water?’
In fact Hymer offer a number of options as far as water systems are concerned, indeed over recent years they’ve even started offering built-in fresh and grey water tanks, thus aligning your Eriba to the same sort of system that most motorhomes use. It means you can fill up an inboard fresh tank and your sink/washbasin will empty into another tank that you can empty at leisure. Such fresh tanks can be attached to the mains with suitable adaptors to control the pressure and allow you to take advantage of pitches where mains water is provided direct. However unless you want to go through the rigmarole of coupling up the van and dragging it to the motorhome waste point you’ll still need some sort of container to empty the grey water tank when necessary. And if your pitch has direct drainage provided then you won’t need the inboard waste tank anyway. And always bear in mind tanks can use up valuable storage space, generally under seating, which you might consider more important. 
The water system most often seen in a UK supplied Eriba
I suppose what can be considered the standard water system is a connector hole in the flank of the van, usually covered by a hinged flap that generally has a joint 12 volt electric and a water connection. When required for use a hose with suitable connector is fitted and this hose has a water pump at its opposite end which is dunked into a water container such as an Aquaroll. The pipe has a 12 volt electrical wire running down it which drives the pump when a tap is turned on inside the van. In an Eriba with no boiler this will supply cold water to your tap or taps on demand.
The Truma Crystal hose which is the most prolific water system on Eribas, showing the pump at one end and the dual purpose water and 12V connector at the other.
Again what can be considered the standard hot water system works off the same water supply but has additional piping to a Truma Therme boiler, an insulated tubular shaped device, tucked away, normally in a seat locker somewhere. However the Truma Therme works on 240 volt mains only so you need to be on an electrical hook-up for it to be able to work. Other options are available, including a boiler that operates on either mains electric or gas, thus providing independence from mains hook-up, are available but are something like double the price of the Therme system. 
Our Poppy's Truma Therme boiler with warm air trunking passing through the middle and the clear tubed cold water supply and red tubed warm water piping.
Even if your chosen Eriba doesn’t boast a full water system or boiler a competent DIYer or caravan tech. should be able to retro-fit with little problem if you require it. Finding an Eribamate or mates to guide you and show you systems already in situ can help enormously.  
Grey (waste) water  
The standard waste water system on an Eriba is fairly basic. What did you expect?. 
You are supplied with one or two plastic jerry-cans (depending on model) and these are placed under hose outlets outside. One outlet will be directly under the sink and one directly under the wash basin (if your van has a washroom). Even when full the jerry-cans aren't too heavy but checking and regular trips to the waste water point can be a pain. For this reason a lot of people have the two hoses connected under the van and a single outlet fitted, normally on the nearside. This can either feed into a drain on the pitch (if you have that luxury) or into any form of waste container, such as a wheeled Wastemaster. However be warned that whilst the jerry-cans are quite small and can be neatly stored for transit, Wastemasters and their like are generally bigger, heavier when empty and of an awkward shape for stowage and cost extra cash.    
Drink from that?
But would you trust a water system in an Eriba, or any caravan to deliver pure, clean drinking water from the tap? Consider that it usually comes straight from a fresh water tap on site somewhere, into your Aquaroll then up through various pipes and out of your van tap. It’s recommended that the whole system is sterilised regularly (at least once a season) following the sterilising liquid, powder or tablet manufacturers instructions to try and ensure some purity. 
Whilst we carry out this practise ourselves we tend to opt for a separate supply for drinking, using recycled 1.5 litre water bottles which are refilled as necessary. It’s probably no safer and many people consider it too much fuss but we feel better doing it that way.  
The Nalgene 1.5ltre HDPE wide-mouthed bottle
 Recently we've been introduced to to the Nalgene range of bottles that are made of a rigid plastic that doesn't affect the water's taste and which can't leach any possibly dangerous nasties in the plastic into the water and are more sturdy than the bottles supplied containing shop bought water. In addition our favoured model the '1.5litre HDPE wide mouth' is much easier to fill and quicker to pour from than those of a recycled variety. Nalgene bottles are available in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours via Amazon and other outlets.  


  1. Do you have details of the combined mains and gas water heater? Especially interested in how much space the 30 tank takes unerring the bunk (photo?)

  2. Things have moved on quite a bit since I wrote this piece. Basically, unless you are buying a new Touring and having a boiler and/or fresh water tank fitted from the Hymer options list then you can fit or have fitted any of the dual fuel boilers that are on the market and specify any tank that will fit. Any local caravan technician/dealership should be able to supply and fit or they can be sourced through a large number of caravan equipment retailers many of whom are online.

    If you want to have the type Hymer offer in their options list then you need to discuss with either Automotive Leisure, Jandi or Adventure Leisure Vehicles who know most about Tourings. There are many more Hymer dealers in the UK these days, some only seem interested in motorhomes but they can all get hold of Eriba Touring parts etc from Hymer but may not have much of a clue about them.