Our new home is the very much respected Hymer B754 on a Fiat Fiat Alko tag axle chassis.
We picked the thirteen year old Hymer because (A) the build quality is renowned, (B) it has a “desk” which I can use as my office and (C) we couldn’t afford a new motorhome. We paid a touch over £30,000 and consider the purchase very good value for money.
Most motorhome owners in the UK travel from campsite to campsite so they aren’t terribly bothered about being self sufficient. Neither Cynthia nor I wanted to incur unnecessary additional costs on our extended tour, so we’ve done what we can to extend the vehicle’s off grid capabilities.
We’ve had a 150w solar panel installed to help keep our batteries topped up when we don’t have the engine running. The Hymer had just one 110ah leisure battery and one starter battery. I didn’t know how old the leisure battery was or what kind of condition it was in, so I had that one replaced and another added.
We had more electricity than we needed on the boat. We had a 300w solar array feeding four 160ah AGM batteries. The boat also had a 2,000w inverter so we could run mains appliances on board. The Hymer doesn’t have an inverter. I decided not to install one. With an inverter fitted on board, there’s always a temptation to use mains appliances and drain our small battery bank. We now have an effective alternative.
We had a Kipor suitcase generator on the boat. We didn’t use it very much because of the capacity we had in our battery bank. When you live afloat, much like when you live full time in a motorhome, you become acutely aware of the cost of generating your own power, so you try to use as little as possible.
Anything which generates heat uses a great deal of power, so electric toasters, kettles, hair dryers and straighteners, irons and electric fires are too heavy a burden to place on the battery bank. I purchased the Kipor in case we needed to use any of these things. At the time, I thought that we would sometimes need an iron for when we decided to do something which required dressing up. The iron hasn’t been used for many years now. Rather than spending a fortune on posh clothes we rarely use, we buy buy easy care or, in my case outdoor technical clothing, which dries virtually crease free.
I also thought that we would sometimes need hair dryers or straighteners. We don’t. My hair is always less than an inch long so doesn’t need any artificial drying. Cynthia allows her hair to dry naturally, so she doesn’t need power sapping hair care devices either.
The Kipor was a reasonably good generator, but it was far from perfect. At 37kg with a full tank of fuel, lifting it on and off the boat was a bit of a pain. The weight would have been an issue on the Hymer. The motorhome has a generous payload, but the Kipor would have used too much of it. Size was an issue too, and so was the noise. I decided to buy something more suitable.
Honda suitcase generators are generally considered the best on the market. Our new suitcase generator is a Honda EU20i. It’s lighter, quieter and smaller than the Kipor. It starts much easier too. The Kipor needed at least a dozen enthusiastic pulls to get it going. The Honda needs just one.
I have a 12v charger for my MacBook. There are two cigarette lighter 12v power points on board, including one next to my “desk”. The charger also comes with two spare USB ports so that we can charge our phones and Kindles while my MacBook is charging.
We’ll use the Honda for everything else. Everything else will include a blender for smoothies and a mixer and food processor to indulge Cynthia’s passion for baking, and my passion for eating what she bakes.
The Hymer has a 120l on board fresh water tank. Even compared with the onboard water storage on a narrowboat, the tank is tiny. Our narrowboat tank is smaller than most at 350l. Most narrowboat fresh water tanks are 700-1,000 litres. If we are very careful we can make 12o litres last us for three or four days.
Given that we needed to cram everything from Cynthia’s house and my boat into just two hundred square feet of living space, on board storage is very important to us. The Hymer is very well designed in this respect.
The Hymer’s boot, trunk for American readers, or “garage” for motorhome readers, offers plenty of space for items too large to cram inside. The garage is home to our Honda generator, a 50m super tough Hozelock anti kink hose and reel, several suitcases packed with Cynthia’s seasonal clothes, and two hiking day rucksacks plus a much larger 70l rucksack for weekly supermarket shopping.
What really sold me on the Hymer was the saloon table which doubles as a desk. There are cupboards both above and below the table to store my office paraphernalia.
The galley, as is typical with European motorhome specifications, didn’t have an oven and grill. We had one installed in cupboard space above the fridge. It’s too small to do anything other than brown toast or keep plates warm. Cynthia wants something closer to a full size oven to indulge her passion for baking. We think we know where we can put it, but we’re mindful that installing it will mean removing handy storage in the galley and making selling the vehicle more difficult if we decide to either upgrade to a newer model or move back onto the water. Moving back into a bricks and mortar home is NOT an option!
The cupboard where we have now installed the oven/grill combination was used by the previous owner to house a television which folded out into the cabin space. We neither want nor need a television on board so we have removed it. We have left the roof mounted satellite dish and aerial in place. I’m sure that potential buyers will want them.
We have two very lucky dogs. Tasha and Florence, ten and four years old respectively, both bassets, live a luxurious lifestyle. The very comfortable settee is their bed when the motorhome is stationary. When we’re on the move they both wear harnesses secured to floor mounted anchor points, but most of the time
THIS POST WILL BE UNDATED ON 12TH SEPTEMBER