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Tropical Roof - A World First for Caravans

tropical roof installed on off road caravan

When Kimberley developed the tropical roof for their off road camper trailer, the drop in temperature inside the camper trailer tent was a staggering 25%. You just wouldn't buy a camper trailer these days without one. But back 8 years ago, they were new and innovative.

A tropical roof was, therefore, a fundamental requirement for the design of a full size off road caravan. The Engineering and design team examined carbon fibre material but the cost was prohibitive. So they embarked on an innovative design using only 1.2mm thick alluminium strengthed by the bonded 1.7mm thick Super Thin Solar panels.

The result is stunning and practical. It is a world first for a standard production caravan.

This tropical roof is more sophisticated than the canvas type. It is specially constructed to sit 50mm above the fibreglass roof and is permanently fitted.

The Super Thin Solar panels are bonded to the top with a layer of polyurethane between to form a laminated structure.

Dual layer, foam encapsulated thermal insulation is bonded underneath and protected by the folded edges.

The solar absorbs the suns energy but passes very little through the tropical roof. The air gap in between allows any breeze to cool the roof.

The actual support structure and top hat sections is proprietary to Kimberley.

9 layers insulation with tropical roof on caravan

The tropical roof provides:

  • Significant insulation from the heat and cold
  • covers 80% of the roof area
  • hatches operate straight through special cut-outs
  • Support for 720W of Super Thin Solar
  • To achieve significant insulation, the underside of the tropical roof is lined with thermal insulation material. The tropical roof wraps around and over this material on the sides.

However, there was a major reason for installing the roof and that is the air-conditioning design.

By reducing the heat load and improving the insulation inside the galley roof, the air-conditioning comprises only a 2.2kw spilt system.

This has significant benefits:

  • The compressor based condensor are fitted in the front Unipod separate to the Kruiser cabin to reduce noise and heat.
  • The system can be operated on the 12V Lithium Battery system using an inverter. This is a world first as well for off road caravans.
    By having the tropical roof, the air conditioning load is far less and up to 8 hours is expected from a fully charged battery system.
  • If you do take a generator, you only need a 2kW unit which is smaller, lighter and quieter than the larger units needed for larger air-conditioners.

On top of the tropical roof is 720W of Super Thin Solar. These mono-crystalline solar panels are only 1.7mm thin. Kimberley have been using this technology now for 4 years with great success. The solar system will yield up to 50 Amps max through Dual redundant MPPT solar controllers. This will put 200-300Amp Hours back in the battery system in good solar conditions. The on-going capacity is more a function of how quickly the solar can replenish the batteries than how long the batteries last.

There is both longitudinal and lateral support under the roof to avoid drumming while driving at maximum highway speed. As the overall height is still a little less than the hatches, there is not a significant increase in drag.

underside insulation of tropical roof on caravan

The roof is powder coated white for thermal efficiency.

A future Blog will show the air-conditioning systems in action!

The hatches protrude through the roof . Look at the image of the trim around the hatches.

 

Hatch trim detail tropical roof caravan

This is great but it won't help when the sun is streaming in through the windows in the late afternoon. Not only does the heat intensify then, but looking out at the view is impossible with a blinding sun!

To tackle that problem, the Kimberley Kruiser T3 tropical roof has a sail track along the top edge of the roof. Inside a small attached bag is a silver coated tropical awning that unrolls from the bag. The setup is very simple with 3 short arms that clip onto the side of the van above the window line. There are 2 support straps that hook into points in the subframe to tie down. 

tropical awning for off road caravan kimberley kruiser

excellent view from windows of kruiser T3 off road caravan with tropical awning above windows

We havent had it out in high wind yet, but we estimate that additional pegs and an end pole should suffice in a 20knot wind.

If you want to see the T3 up close, register for the Road Show in August at a Dealer close to you. Bruce Loxton will be spending time going though all the innovations and benefits in what is regarded as the finest off road caravan in Australia!

Congratulations to the engineering team at Kimberley for a fantastic piece of innovation that will reduce energy consumption and improve comfort to get more Australians off road!