Back in the early nineties, there was a song by German dance group Snap! called 'The Power.' As far as songs from that era go, it wasn't too bad, and I remember getting my dance on at several nightclubs to the catchy tune.
When I found out I was reviewing the new Nomadix Premier from Spinifex Caravans that featured its brand new 48V Safiery electronics system, I couldn't get that song out of my head — luckily for me I only found out a couple of days before the review.
During the course of the review, while crawling around underneath or making my way through the interior, I often found myself humming that familiar tune.
THE GOOD OIL
I have to admit, apart from having heard a few whispers at Best Aussie Vans 2020 in November 2019 about these new 48V caravans that were doing away with gas for heating and cooking, I hadn't had any hands on experience with one yet.
Fortunately for me, when the time came, the team from Spinifex organised Ryan from Safiery to walk me through the 48V system that had been fitted to the latest Nomadix Premier to roll off the Spinifex production line.
And when I say just roll off, I mean it. The morning I arrived to run my eye over the van and take it for a bit of a spin through the Glasshouse Mountains, the crew at Spinifex were still madly finishing a few things off. Talk about fresh!
So while front toolboxes were being bolted to the A-frame, cupboards being vacuumed and the outside being detailed, I sat down with Ryan from Safiery and got the good oil on this flash new system.
This Nomadix Premier is the first Spinifex to feature the 48V system from Safiery. Not only is it the first, but it's been built for Steve Thompson, who just happens to also be the owner of Spinifex Caravans.
He's of the opinion that if he's going to offer it to his customers, he has to be happy with it first. By the time you read this review, a full shakedown run will have been undertaken.
To say Spinifex has gone ‘all in’ with Safiery is right on the money. There are already another couple of 48V Safiery systems on the production line, with more to follow. In fact, Spinifex is the first caravan OE supplier of Safiery 48V systems and will offer it as a standard fitment from 2021.
12V VS 48V
So what is the difference between a 12V system and a 48V system? Is it just four times more power?
Compared to a 12V system, a 48V system runs at a lower amperage, which means you can run thinner cables through the van, itself meaning there is less copper, which equates to less weight. That's a good thing.
A 48V system is also more efficient, so there is less power loss over a similar length of cable compared to 12V.
The system in the Nomadix Premier uses two 50Ah lithium batteries. When run through the Victron control panel, this equates to 400Ah of power at 12V. Used sensibly, this allows for 100 per cent off-grid living. With this system, there is also a real focus on replenishment and charging of the batteries via solar and through the vehicle with a DC/DC charger.
If comparing ‘apples to apples’, overall a 48V system would be a far more efficient high power solution compared to a 12V system.
To keep an eye on everything, Victron has a proprietary app for your smartphone or laptop that lets you know anything and everything you may possibly want to know about your system. Alternatively, a touch screen panel resides on the side of the kitchen overhead cupboard which displays similar information, as well as your water tank levels.
As well as being able to keep on top of everything yourself, if something were to go pear-shaped for some reason, or if you accidentally hit the wrong button and didn't know how to fix it, Victron offers 12-month remote monitoring support. If you have access to a cellular network, Victron Head Office can log in remotely to help you out and get you back on track.
As a bit of an indication of what's possible with this 48V system, on test day, the temperature was well above 30C where we set the van up. We thought it would be a good idea to crank the air-conditioner unit up to max, with the thermostat set to 16C. At the start, we even left the windows open!
Then, we hooked up the 2000W induction cooker before topping it all off by plugging in the ice maker — and all the interior lights were switched on.
Thanks to the 1160W of solar panels mounted to the roof, we were barely making a dent in the overall battery capacity. At one stage, our solar input maxed out at 1017W being fed back into the system.
While this first caravan featuring a 48V system through the Spinifex factory still has a couple of 9kg gas bottles mounted on the A-frame behind the stone guard, the plan is to remove gas all together and employ diesel heaters and induction cooktops in future builds.
Please note, though, that a 30-minute crash course in 48V systems does not make me an expert in this area — so I encourage you to do your own research.
We've talked at length about the electrical system in the Nomadix Premier which will allow for 100 per cent off-grid living. But off-grid living requires more than just power — I don't know about you, but I don't mind water and a bit of food, either.
Thanks to good management, when buying a Spinifex van you can pretty much guarantee it will be well equipped for lengthy stays away from civilisation. Owner Steve isn't a fan of caravan parks, so when he puts pen to paper for his own custom vans, he goes all out.
Lack of water can be fatal in the outback, so Steve fitted a few tanks underneath. And by a few, I actually mean seven — yep, seven.
There are five 83L tanks for showering and washing water and a single 65L tank purely for drinking water. Rounding off the lot is an 83L grey water tank. All tanks are heavy duty poly units with aluminium checkerplate shrouds protecting the vulnerable plumbing fittings.
Other plumbing lines, as well as gas and wiring, have been run through convoluted split tube for protection high and well out of harm’s way.
As mentioned earlier, the Nomadix still has a pair of 9kg gas bottles for cooking and water heating duties. In the kitchen, the standard 190L Bushman Compressor Fridge/Freezer has been upgraded to the 285L model so even more grocery items will remain fresher for longer.
New for 2021 to the entire range of Spinifex caravans is a grey fibreglass panel which looks rather dapper, especially when matched with the hammer-tone propeller plate that protects the lower section of the front, side and back of the van. The contrast between the two works well, while not being quite as stark as the gloss black lower checkerplate panels and gloss white walls commonly seen.
The look and shape of the van also let you know in no uncertain terms that this van is designed and built to go offroad — from the Hitch-Ezy 5T fully articulating hitch at the front to the twin 75mm dual beam hot-dipped galvanised chassis. Then there’s the heavily truncated rear to maximise the departure angle when being dragged through creek beds in northern Australia.
If you needed any more justification of the offroad creds of the Nomadix, a casual glance underneath will confirm it beyond a doubt.
This 6.1m (20ft 6in) Nomadix Premier rides on the XT full airbag suspension system from Cruisemaster and features the ‘Level 4’ air control kit which provides an excellent ride and also allows for super easy leveling of the caravan, especially when paired with the ‘Savvy Level’ levelling app.
During our offroad testing, the ability to alter the ride height was put into practice to eliminate the chance of scraping or bottoming out the boss’s new van before he’d even had a chance to test it out himself!
Completing the package are 17in BFG All Terrains in a 285/70R17 with rims matched to the 200 series LandCruiser. Two spares hang off a heavy duty rear bumper.
While the outside of the Nomadix Premier is all about looking tough and rugged, the inside offers a distinct change with a luxurious and modern feel.
On-trend interior colours have been used, with a predominantly white palette and grey/charcoal accents. LED lighting features throughout and, as you would probably expect, there's enough 240V, 12V and USB points scattered throughout to handle all of your needs.
As with most things in a Spinifex build, the interior is customisable to the individual’s needs, wants and tastes. Starting from a standard ‘bed at the front, ensuite at the rear’ layout, the inside of this van has been tweaked to suit the owner, Steve.
Wanting as big a lounge/dinette as possible, which in turn increases the kitchen size, Steve opted for a slightly shorter bed and minimal clear space between the lounge and foot of the bed.
While it was a bit squeezy to sneak through (even for a little fella like myself), I think the trade-off is worth it. A bigger kitchen and spacious lounge which you use a lot more versus a tight gap that you may only go through a couple of times a day at most.
THE BEATING HEART
Call me weird, but I've always had a thing for neat wiring. Back in my trade days, I'd often glance over the shoulders of the sparkies when they were wiring up the big power boxes and (most of the time) admire their handy work. I always thought it was a shame it was all hidden behind a metal door. It’s a bit like the heart of the Safiery 48V system fitted to the Nomadix, all covered and hidden away under the lounge seats.
Under one seat are the two 50Ah 48V batteries, while under another is where the controllers, wiring, fuses and circuit breakers reside. Everything is labelled, neat, tidy, and where it should be. Just how I like it.
Spinifex have these panels made up directly by Safiery, depending on what the final requirements of the customers are. These panels are then delivered and hooked into the rest of the caravan's wiring.
If you ever do manage to drag yourself away from the comforts of inside, you might like to pull up a seat under the massive Aussie Traveller awning. It's big enough to set up a couple of chairs and a little table so you can invite some friends around for a couple of sundowners.
The Nomadix also comes standard with a 32in smart TV that can be mounted both inside and out. An external sealed AV hatch provides 12V and 240V power, as well as a connection point for the antenna. Due to the amount of solar fitted to this van, a smaller Milenco antenna was used. Standard fitment is the Winegard Snowflake.
An external gas bayonet fitting is located beneath the tunnel boot for hooking up the barbecue when it is time to get those sausages sizzling.
Coming in with a tare of 3080kg, the Nomadix is no lightweight. Maxed out at an ATM of 4000kg, you're going to need a tow vehicle that can legally tow that kind of weight. We hitched it up to the back of the 200 Series LandCruiser that had its suspension upgraded.
Over the course of the day, from highway driving up to the speed limit of 110km/h, all the way to loose dirt forestry tracks and a few rough tracks thrown in for good measure, the Nomadix felt solid, stable, and did everything it should.
The hydraulic disc brakes work fantastically, too. Especially when you just about overshoot your exit off the Bruce Highway.
Spinifex Caravans offers a full three year warranty on its vans. This is a full offroad warranty, so you have peace of mind when hitting anywhere from the Tanami to the Tele. A quick search on Google finds very few issues with the brand, and any issues that do crop up are minor and dealt with promptly by the company.
THE BOTTOM LINE
At $162,570 there is no denying that you're purchasing a quality bit of bespoke caravan to haul around behind you on your epic Aussie adventures. This Nomadix Premier will follow you everywhere you want to pull it — you just won't need to pull it into any caravan parks.
The 48V system that is employed in this build will no doubt be the first of many for the Spinifex marque, and I can definitely see them becoming increasingly popular in the future.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 8.98m (29ft 5in)
External body length 6.1m (20ft 6in)
External body width 2.44m (8ft)
Travel height 3.1m (10ft 2in)
Internal height 1.98m (6ft 6in)
Ball weight 160kg at tare
Bed size Queen (north/south)
Frame Lightweight interlocking aluminium frame
Cladding One-piece fibreglass reinforced external walls and roof
Chassis Hot-dipped galvanised chassis w/ extended A-frame
Suspension CruiseMaster XT Independent Airbag Suspension w/twin shocks and Level 4 air control
Coupling Hitch-Ezy 5t offroad coupling
Brakes Deemax 12in hydraulic disc brakes
Wheels 17in alloy rims w/ 285/75R17 BFG A/T tyres (2 x spares)
Water 5 x 83L shower/washing water, plus 1 x 65L drinking water and 1 x 83L grey water tank
Battery 2 x 50Ah @ 48V lithium (equivalent to 400Ah @ 12V)
Solar 4 x 175W and 4 x 115W (total of 1160W solar)
Air-conditioner Truma Aventa
Gas 2 x 9kg
Three years (full offroad)
RVMAP Accredited No
Cooking Swift 3 + 1 gas/electric cooktop w/ grill + fan-forced oven
Fridge Bushman 285L 12V compressor fridge/freezer
Bathroom Ensuite with separate shower, toilet, vanity with laundry
Hot water Truma AquaGo instantaneous HWS
Microwave Camec 20L Microwave
Washing machine Camec 4kg front loader
Bushman 285L 12V compressor fridge/freezer
4 x 115W solar panels
Powder-coated propeller plate
48V Safiery electronics system
Wiring provision for Cel-fi Go
PRICE AS SHOWN
21 Imboon St, Deception Bay
Ph: (07) 3888 2221