Gertie’s utilities

So how does water, gas, electric, broadband, tv, sewerage (don’t worry I’ll give you a ‘look away now’ notice for those not wanting to know!) work when your home is not tied down. For those who have never Motorhomed, Caravaned or Boated here’s a bit of an overview.


We have a 100 litre fresh water tank and a similar sized ‘grey’ water tank to hold this water as it’s used via kitchen sink, shower room sink and shower.
We carry a hose and selection of fittings so we can fill up from most sources of drinking water. The ‘grey’ water is emptied by parking over a suitable drain and opening the outlet pipe.
This arrangement has a number of compromises. If you’re wild camping you need to find a source of drinking water before you use up your 100 litres. Also, like home, you can’t put all your waste down the sink. No animal fat to clog up the system but also need to be a bit careful about things like starchy water (e.g. spuds/pasta) that could provide food for bacteria to grow in the tank. After emptying the ‘grey’ tank we normally add a little proprietary product/bio detergent to help prevent this.


We use gas for cooking (three ring hob), boiler for heating water/room heating and one of the options for running the fridge/freezer. We fitted an under-floor LPG tank to replace the cylinders the van came with (see Links page for supplier details). A full tank normally lasts us 3/4 weeks so we just need to ensure, within that time-frame, that when we’re filling up with diesel we find a forecourt that has LPG as well.


We have two different battery systems. A  battery that runs the base vehicle electric requirements, starting, headlights etc just like a regular car and a leisure battery which runs the ‘home’ side, internal lights, tv, water pump, etc. We have fitted a solar panel on the roof which recharges both batteries (see Links page for supplier details). Driving also recharges both batteries.
We can also hook up to mains electric supply at campsites, aires or someone’s house. As well as giving more power, mains supply also recharges both battery systems.
We have both ‘regular’ electric sockets and 12amp to allow us to run appliances off both mains and battery supply. However, some things like the electric kettle will only run off mains. Special mention for the fridge/freezer, as it’s important it’s got a supply at all times it can run off mains electric, vehicle battery, gas or leisure battery.


We have a number of devices that link up with the internet and it is important to us that we have a reasonable broadband supply. Cost prohibited us from getting the most reliable supply, satellite but we went with a combination of the other two options (see Links page for supplier details).
WiFi booster which is an antenna and router which basically picks up any WiFi signals in the area and boosts them. You can then connect a number of devices to this router.
MiFi which does a similar thing using mobile networks. Again you have an antenna and a MiFi box with a data sim card and can connect a number of devices.
Hopefully between the two we will have reasonable broadband access.
I suspect you may well be hearing more about this when we’re travelling!!


We have a TV with a digital decoder, a Satellite dish and standard definition decoder box. This gives us access to the regular UK stations via Astra 2 which covers most of Western Europe, except far south. When we get to southern Italy and Spain we will have to revert to the Satellite box which will gives us a different set of options. Not quite sure what these are but look forward to finding out!
The TV set also has DVD player so if things get dull we may catch up on series 5 & 6 of Game of Thrones.


Look away now warning.Motorhome dump symbol
This is where the magic happens, or so Kath thinks, because she has nothing to do with this once the deposit has been made!
On the inside the loo looks like a regular loo with a flush and SOG system (which keeps everything smelling nice). On the outside there is a cassette, a box, that collects the waste.
When it’s full you remove the cassette, take it to special dump facility (at campsites, aires or site with this Motorhome dump symbol!), empty and wash. Given the contents the process needs careful attention. Like the ‘grey’ water tank they are products you can add to the empty cassette to keep everything fresh and clean.
Using the loo is a bit of a compromise, the more you use it the more you have to empty it (and find somewhere to do it). So it’s that versus convenience.
Our strategy tends to be morning coffee somewhere with a loo!

… and just a reminder why you would choose these facilities.




4 thoughts on “Gertie’s utilities

  1. Hi,
    Just like to say that if you investigate 3G you can get a sym card for £30 for 12g. This has kept our IPad going for 4 months using it everyday whilst in Spain you just buy the sym card and a spare and I guess you could be on the road full time for about 6 months or so. Saves all that messing about with Mifi and all the other rubbish and you still won’t get a signal.

    Cheers….. Andrew


    1. Thanks Andrew. That sounds like the Three (network that is!) 12GB data sim. We got 3GB ones for £10 each. There is currently supposed to be a 60 days/year restriction on using a Three data sim abroad. Good to hear you used yours for 4 months. We are taking 3 separate sims. Although there is a rumour that Three may insist you activate the sim in the UK before you go, which would defeat our cunning plan 😦
      We intend updating the blog on our sim/MiFi experience when we get there. There is a lot of conflicting info around!


      1. Also we can’t possibly SHARE an ipad!! The advantage of putting the SIM into a Mifi box is we can then connect more than one device, and each use our own laptops etc. But thanks so much for commenting – great to hear other people’s experiences.


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