They’ve been around for about twenty years but one thing is unchanged in that time: having a motor mover for your caravan is all about convenience. Motor movers are remarkably powerful, making a lot of grunt work and effort disappear. Especially powerful models are recommended for the heaviest caravans and for parking up on a steep incline, be it your driveway at home or a pitch on holiday.
The caravan mover is an electronic, motorised device that is bolted to your chassis, allowing remote-controlled manoeuvrability. Powered by your leisure battery, the 12v motor simply engages rollers which connect with the wheels and guide them in the direction you choose.
Movers work in various ways. Some models engage the rollers manually with a wrench. Manual over-locking which can be a fiddle, while others have a screw action which can be slower. Anything involving electrical power is, of course, more costly but makes life a lot easier, especially for those with mobility issues. A remote control unit is supplied with chassis-mounted movers so you can direct the movement at the touch of a button. This is not unlike the TV remote you have at home, so don’t lose it!
How much is a motor mover?
To a great extent, you get what you pay for. Opting for a budget model could mean you have a mover with a less powerful motor, cheaper rollers, issues over inadequate ground clearance and poor finishing (susceptibility to rust, corrosion, flaking paint and so on). Not to mention a much-reduced warranty period and harder to obtain spare parts. So it pays to do some research, check the forums, talk to suppliers and dealers.
Does my motor mover come with a warranty?
As with any warranty or insurance check the small print. At face value, a decent warranty of 5 years or so is a good start. Extensions may be possible at an extra cost of course.
How much do motor movers weigh?
Different models vary of course but typically fall into the range between 30-40kg. Remember that the weight of a motor mover needs to be taken from the user payload. And be sure to buy a mover that can cope with the weight of your caravan.
Does a motor mover affect ground clearance?
A fitted mover must allow for clearance of around 150mm or more. While the manner in which a mover is mounted to the caravan’s chassis can vary widely (depending on the model, wheel size and so on), the retailer can always tell you by how much the mover will hang below the undercarriage. Get the ground clearance calculation right and you won’t need to worry about the mover hitting a pothole or a speed bump.
What about batteries?
You’ll need a decent battery that is well maintained. It’s probably more a question of the quality and condition of the battery than its capacity, though you’re likely to need at least an 80Ah battery. A supplier will recommend minimum requirements but always ensure your battery is looked after and fully charged.
Can a motor mover manoeuvre a twin axle caravan?
Naturally, a twin axle caravan will be more tricky. Motors can be fitted to the front or rear axle but the ability to turn is significantly poorer than a single axle. A twin axle caravan will turn in more of a gradual arc rather than pivoting on a sixpence like a single axle unit. Also much will depend on external factors like terrain which can cause problems. Fitting motors to both axles is the most common approach and this improves things greatly but adds extra cost and extra weight.
Top Tips on Caravan Motor Movers
Remember to take off the handbrake before use. And once you’re happy with the final resting position, put the handbrake back on before deactivating the rollers.
When buying a mover, look for one that seems to have solidly made rollers. These will enhance grip and traction in wet weather. Also, it’s worth checking that the roller has plenty of contact with the caravan wheel, so a large diameter roller is good here.
Also when buying your mover a soft start (and soft stop) feature is very useful. This might add to the cost of the unit but will enable the caravan to start moving slowly rather than jerking into action too suddenly. This can cause chassis problems and put unwanted strain on the caravan. It will also be invaluable in manoeuvring in a constrained spot or a narrow entrance.
Using the remote control to guide the caravan is the easy bit. A small indentation in the ground, a misplaced stone or a patch of soft ground can cause problems so check the caravan’s anticipated path before activating the motor mover.
Your mover is your friend so do keep it properly maintained and have it checked over when your caravan is being serviced.
The National Caravan Council has a Code of Practice (305) for motor movers, covering both design and installation. It’s worth asking the retailer if the model you’re considering complies with this CoP. If so it will be able to cope with a 15% gradient (up and downhill) and also have safety features like an isolation switch for the power supply.
Editor - Alan Rogers Guides
Rob has been involved in the leisure industry since completing a BTEC in Travel & Tourism in 1993. Previous roles have included the promotion of tourism in Yorkshire and running a motorcycle touring company in the Australian Outback.
He is the General Manager at Alan Rogers Travel Group, responsible for the ongoing development of the Alan Rogers website and the publication of the Alan Rogers Guides and 'Destinations' magazine.
He regularly travels with his wife and young daughter in their Dethleffs 'Campy' caravan. A keen cycling fan, Rob can often be found in a field in Belgium during the 'Spring Classics' season or riding his Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycle.