One of the most common questions I get asked when we meet new people while out on our travels is where on earth we managed to fit a washing machine inside our 2013 Avida Esperance. It’s a bit of a story, so here goes.
Our motorhome is a 2013 Avida Esperance C7934SL. That means it was built in 2013, is a ‘C’ class motorhome with a bed above the cab (called a Luton), is 7.9 metres long and 34 is the model number. SL denotes that it has a slide-out. Our layout has a ‘dry’ bathroom across the back, then an east/west bed that lifts up to access a lot of storage underneath, then the fridge and L shaped lounge dinette on the driver’s side and the kitchen and entry door on the passenger side. Where could we fit a washing machine?
Firstly I did a lot of research into washing machines. I searched forums online and asked lots of fellow travellers what they had. I discovered that the lovely front loaders (I have had one in my home for years) are very heavy, weighing in at some 47 kgs. At the time we hadn’t upgraded our GVM so adding 47kgs was not an option.
Next I checked out twin tubs. I read and talked to a lot of people who carry one of these and store it in their shower. They are very light to move around and do a great job of washing and spin drying however I thought it would become very tiresome having to move it every time we wanted to use the shower.
So lastly I checked out small top loaders designed for RV use and eventually decided on a Sphere 3.3kg Automatic Top Loader that I purchased online from CampSmart for $369 delivered. This great little machine only weighs 18.5kg. It is 410W x 420D x 740H (mm) + 240mm with lid up. Now the challenge was where to put it.
At the rear on the driver’s side of our Espie is a large storage bin that we used to store things like our hoses, the wheel chocks, awning mat etc. It is a very large bin and can be accessed from inside by lifting up the bed. Luckily I have a very clever cabinet maker son-in-law who thought he could construct a box for the washing machine to sit in. This would also stop the machine moving around whilst traveling.
So the process involved emptying the storage bin, fitting the washing machine and taking the motorhome to our local RV repairer, Matt Best at Best RV Repairs, who plumbed in the washing machine to the cold water and drainage pipes. Then my son-in-law built the box around the machine. He cleverly lined the box with rubber matting so the machine does not move and keeps firmly in its place.
Next it was off to the auto-electrician to have the old 150W inverter taken out and a new 1000W inverter installed. The CampSmart website recommended a 600W inverter to run the machine however I went a little bigger in case we wanted to run other appliances in the future. Of course nothing is simple and the auto-electrician discovered that the new inverter could not go where the old one was as the cables are too thick to go from there to the house batteries, so the new inverter was mounted on the side of the new box built around the washing machine. Where the old inverter was is now a power point and two 12V plugs, one with two USB’s useful for charging our devices. A new power point for the inverter was installed under the bed near the existing double power point. The power cord from the washing machine can be plugged into it or, if we are on a powered site, it can be plugged back into the standard power point.
The box around the washing machine has made it really easy to stack items into the big storage bin as you can pack them up against the side of the box. What we store in each storage bin is a story for another day. That’s another thing we get asked about a lot.
So now we have a 3.3kg automatic top loader washing machine installed that I access by lifting up our bed. It uses 20L per wash for a full load and I use it all the time when we travel. I no longer have to use the, often dirty, washing machines at caravan parks or laundromats. The 3.3kg size is large enough to wash our sheets and these then get hung on our Versaline Traveller RV clothesline that Matt Best from Best RV Repairs installed on the slide out of our motorhome. Our son-in-law also installed a hanging rail above our dinette so that we can hang washing here to dry if it is a travel day or the weather is not good enough to hang clothes outdoors.
As we mostly freedom camp we are very careful with our water usage and usually only put the washing machine on if we will be filling up with water that day. Once while filling up with water at Menindee after camping in Kinchega National Park for a week I managed to do two loads of washing while we filled up. One of the beauty’s of the Sphere is that you can set it to do a wash only (this takes 14 minutes) then you can set it to spin only (this takes 7 minutes). If you only use Woolwash deturgent there is no need to rinse. So a full load of washing takes 21 minutes and uses 20L of water. The little washing machine happily runs on the inverter with no issues.
I really appreciated having it after our trip to the Big Red Bash in July. We arrived at the caravan park in Mt Isa afterwards to find the park chock-a-block full and all the washing machines in their laundry already in use. After being in the dusty outback everything needed to be washed and cleaned so the little washing machine did a mighty job. I did have to use the park clothesline as there was too much washing to hang out on my little clothesline. After a day of washing and cleaning we were ready to continue our travels.
So that’s it. With a bit of ingenuity we were able to find a spot to fit a washing machine in with plenty of power to run it when we are off grid.