We recently traded in our Xcape for a Chobe Echo 4×4 caravan at Kempton Caravans.
On our first visit to Kempton Caravans we asked all the obvious questions, including if the solar panels would work off the Brad Harrison plug from the new caravan, to which the reply was a definite, “Yes”.
When we finalised the deal we said we would collect the caravan the next week and, as we were coming from Polokwane, please would they check that everything worked and was tried and tested. We were given the assurance that this would be done. We also indicated that we were off to the Kruger National Park within a few days after collection. They confirmed that this would be no problem.
So, we fetched our new caravan the following week with great excitement for our upcoming trip! We were again given excellent service at Kempton.
Having assumed that all was well, curiosity got the better of me and, two days before leaving for the Kruger, I thought I better test the solar panels via the Brad Harrison plug, which also connects to the back of the car. To my amazement, the control box on the solar system showed a red light.
I then confirmed with Bush Power, the supplier of the panels, that there was no power going to the caravan via this source. Immediately smoke was coming out my ears and, one could say, I was in a very upset and disappointed mood!
I phoned Kempton and they were as surprised as I was.
I then looked in the caravan battery box, where I found a loose cable clearly marked ‘solar’. I then phoned Daron at Echo, who was very helpful, and he told me that the Brad Harrison plug at the front does not supply the power!
Subsequent to that call I spoke to Dirk (my golfing friend) and the owner of Brakhah 4×4 and his boss, Dawid, who runs the place very efficiently and is the mechanic, electrician, fitter, blah, blah, blah.
In the meantime, much conversation was going on between Kempton Caravans and Brakhah to try and resolve the problem, and the dealership was in touch with me, assuring me that Dirk at Brakhah would assist as they are the official agents for Echo caravans in Limpopo.
Soon, Dawid arrived at our house to inspect the caravan and I showed him the loose wire in the battery box. He immediately phoned Daron at Echo and they spoke their technical language.
The next morning I took the caravan to Brakhah and Dawid took out the power panel, attached the necessary wire marked ‘solar’ and installed the new Brad Harrison plug on the side of the caravan.
This way the solar panel does not require the control box, as this is already installed within the caravan power panel.
Without being negative and/or critical, who was responsible for this misunderstanding?
We are now very happy with the new caravan and everything worked fine in the Kruger.
It is fortunate that we were not in Botswana on a two-week trip with a fridge that wouldn’t work, let alone lights etc.
This brings me to my point about assumptions – don’t assume anything!
I hope this serves as a lesson to people with new, unfamiliar caravans.