Caravan Self Levelling systems – What devices are Best and why?
One of the first tasks when arriving at your destination is to level your caravan.
This can of course involve a lot of ‘push me pull you’ as the bubble in your spirit level goes too far to the left then, too far to the right.
Then there are the oval shaped damp patches on the knees of your jeans, as you kneel down to inspect the corner steadies or legs. You get a sweat on with constant winding of the jocky wheel up, dow, up, down.
So how can this process be made easier?
There are now a couple of different caravan self levelling systems that can help with the process.
Looking at both systems I can see several advantages to having one of the two fitted you your caravan.
More about those hidden advantages later…
So what are the main two types of caravan self levelling systems? Both work in a similar way. The main two types are
- Hydraulic Caravan self levelling system
- Electrical Motor Mover based caravan self levelling system.
So lets take an in-depth look at the advantages and disadvantages of both of these devices.
Hydraulic Automated Caravan Self Levelling System
The first, and I think the most impressive of the two caravan self levelling systems, is a hydraulic device. It is made by a company called E&P Hydraulics based in Blackburn in the north of England.
How Does a Hydraulic Self Levelling Jack work.
You can see the Hydraulic system in action here:
As you can see from the vides, the system deploys two legs from the axle of the caravan. This will level the caravan from left to right. It then used the corner steadies to level the caravan from front to back.
Remember that the corner steadies are just that. Caravan chassis don’t have the strength to utilise devices in the corners to lift the caravan off the ground.
There are several advantages of being able to lift the caravans wheels off the ground.
- It would be a great system to use if you had a flat tyre on your caravan whilst on the move. The device does run off the caravan leisure battery though so that is worth remembering.
- Lifting the caravan off the caravan off the ground entirely would also make fitting your wheel clamp a breeze if it is the type that anchors into the chassis. If you are anything like me then you get everything level on ramps etc only to find that the spoke of the alloy wheel is obstructing the port for the wheel clamp.
Consideration does have to be given to the type of surface that you are pitching your caravan on. Hard standing concrete or gravel pitches would be ideal. Grass pitches, particularly wet grass could present an issue.
This is however also true of more traditional methods. As your caravan settles it will invariably need levelling again or the steadies adjusting.
How does a self levelling system help with Storage and Security
There is an argument that Lifting the caravan off the ground whilst in storage can be advantageous to the tyres, however, I don’t subscribe to this theory myself. I thing that you would have to leave the caravan in one position for a very long time to haver a negative effect.
Motor Mover Based Automated Caravan Self Levelling System
The second Type of system is based on the motor mover. The control for the motor mover has lights and indicates when the caravan is level. From the same controller you are also able to control the automatic legs to level the caravan front to back.
How does a Motor Mover Automated Self Levelling System Work?
On the motor mover controller, the lights indicate where the caravan is low. You are then required to read the indicator lights and then place a levelling ramp behind the wheel in the side of the caravan that requires lifting.
So not completely automated!
In fact – When I level my own caravan manually is use the mover to reverse onto the caravan levelling ramp and stop when my spirit level tells me to. so far, the electric system would be a very expensive way to save reading a spirit level.
Once the caravan is levelled side to side, the electric system will then finally level from front to back using the automatic legs.
Another draw back of this type of automated level is that you are still left with the issue that the spokes from the alloy wheels may be obstructing the port for the wheel lock. Where as the hydraulic system will actually help with this issue.
So – Who is most likely to need the self levelling Device
Theses devices are very popular with people with disabilities and limited mobility as it reduces the need to do all on the physical work of bending down and taking trip after trip into the caravan to look at the spirit level, then back outside again to make adjustments.
Lazy people like myself who love a gadget that just makes life easier.
You are on your holidays after all.
Weight considerations on Caravan self levelling systems
As with anything added to your caravan, thought has to be give to any extra weight and the location of that weight.
According to manufacturers the average weight to be added would be around 30Kg with either system. The added weight would be a concern for towing, but at the same time would lower the centre of gravity on the caravan.
What is the difference between the Different Hydraulic Systems
There are two main hydraulic systems offered by E & P.
Level C and Level C Compact. The level C compact will level the caravan from side to side. The level C however will level the caravan side to side and front to back.
Hydraulic Caravan Device’s ‘Tilt Function’
Both the Level C and the Level C Compact have a handy Tilt function. This is designed to help to drain grey water but I think I would also help with draining the hot water tank and help to drain water from the roof whilst cleaning the caravan.
What about Caravan Self Levelling System Maintenance
E & P List the Hydraulic system as maintenance free. They provide a two year warranty. E & P have a Trust Pilot rating of 4.3 out of 5.
From reading the reviews I could see that the self levelling systems aren’t without their issues, however staff are praised for being helpful and seem to resolve issues for customers.
The Cost of Hydraulic Caravan Self Levelling Systems
The Level C system (at the time of writing this article) has a list price of £3450 with the Level C Compact £1200 less.
Emove EM306 technical data
If you prefer the electric motor mover type of levelling system then you need to be aware that they are only available for single axle caravans. They will lift upto 1800 but remember that this is using your own levelling ramp.
Electric Caravan Self Levelling System Price
Prices change regularly, however you should be looking at around £2000 for the mover based device.
Sotorhome self Leveling Jacks
So what about Motorhome levelling Jacks? Well the good news is that there is a fantastic hydraulic system for your motorhome as well.
The main advantages are the sam as with the caravan self levelling system but with your motorhome you have the added advantage of being able to use the system even more often as you are likely to leave site more regularly. Also with a levelling time of just 120 seconds you can even level at a motorway service station for added comfort.
E & P Level M Hydraulic system for levelling Motorhomes
The E & P Level M Hydraulic system is a great choice for levelling your motorhome. The system is maintenance free and covered by E7P’s 2 years warranty.
The system also has a manual setting so that you can raise just one corner of your motorhome at a time. Ideal for emergency tyre changes.
The system also has an inbuilt safety feature that will prevent you from driving away whilst the feet are down.
Conclusions on Self Levelling Systems
To draw a conclusion to this topic, there are two main aspect that need to be considered.
- Is an automatic self leveling required, desired or unnecessary.
- Is the full hydraulic system, the hydraulic compact system or the motor mover electric device best.
In other words, should I get it and if so which one!
Is it required –
When trying to decide on most things it is sometimes best to weigh up the pros and cons.
Pros of a caravan self leveling system
Saves time when arriving at a caravan site. With the hydraulic system quoting from just 140 seconds to deploy and level the caravan or motorhome this will save you time that you can spend relaxing on your holiday.
Keeps you dry. In my experience, if it’s going to rain it’s always when you are setting up your pitch. With one of the automatic devices listed above you can shelter whilst the leveling system does the work for you
Saves the effort. On very rare occasions, the first time you look at the spirit level when trying to manually level your caravan, it’s bang on. More often you can expect to be going in and out of your caravan as the bubble gets closer and closer and then yes, you’ve guessed it. You have gone too far. The leveling device can save all of that effort.
Great for people with limited mobility. The effort listed above is a pain for most. Some can’t physically even attempt due to disability or physical restrictions brought on by age or illness. The caravan labeling system can open up the world of caravanning to this community or people.
Get you out of trouble. Few consider the inconvenience of a tyre problem whilst traveling to their destination. Many forget to even carry a suitable Jack for their caravan, just in case they have an issue. With the caravan leveling system you could have the wheel off the ground an be back on your way in no time. Manufacturers do warn however that you should not rely on the device on its own should you need to get under the caravan.
So… is the full hydraulic system or compact system best?
As a reminder the full hydraulic system levels both left to right and from front to back with additional hydraulic corner steadies.
This full system would take away all of the effort. But for those on a budget, the side to side would be fine. I feel that the side to side leveling of a caravan is more tricky than front to back.
The side to side leveling also has the massive advantage of lifting the wheels off the ground. Useful for wheel changes and for the fitting of chassis based wheel clamps.
How about the electric mover based version?
The electric mover based caravan self leveling system certainly has its place and the lower price reflects its capabilities. For me though, I’m very much an ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ type of guy and I would tether pay the extra for the capabilities of the hydraulic system.
What is the Maxium Slope for a Self Levelling System?
The golden figure quoted is 5% gradient. If you know that the slope is too great then you may be able to combine with other non automatic methods
Do Self Levelling Systems drain the Caravans Leisure Battery?
Like all devices that use power, both types of self leveling system will impact on your battery. Depending on the amount of use of other devices on your caravan will depend on how much battery you will have left. Also if you are off grid then this will be more of a consideration than if you have electric hook up at your destination caravan site.
How much weight can a self levelling system lift
E&P quote 3.5 tons. With the largest uk caravan being the Airstream at up to 2.5 tons, these self leveling caravan will be suitable for all UK caravans.