Caravan and Motorhome Club Metered Electric

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Motorhome and Caravan Club Electricity Metered Site

I’ll be honest, when we booked Wyatt’s Covert (which is the site CAMC are trialing electric metered campsites) I was a bit concerned. We all know that CAMC have been a bit unfortunate with their technology choices in the past. Remember the app update when they starting accepting deposits on bookings? Slow, painfully slow, features missing etc, And the debacle around them getting “hacked” and the site being unavailable for an age?

I don’t know if it’s because I spend my working life in technology, or that I’m just a cynical old git, but I have trouble understanding how large companies often get technology completely wrong. Take the big supermarkets, when they first launched the self service tills, where you scan your own items, these were (to me at least) unusable as they were just a bit too slow. You scanned an item, wait 5 second; BEEP.

Anyone that uses Swift Command will know the issue with “lag” – you know, that pause of a few seconds between you pushing a button and it actually doing what you ask. This is also true of the Truma aircon unit we have. I press a button and 5 seconds later I’m beginning to think it’s broken, just as I go to press the button again, it starts to work. Why?

It can only be that companies that don’t have technology as their core business just try to cut corners with cost savings. I don’t know, like using a slower processor, or using the cheapest app development team, or worst still, not really understanding the technology themselves hence not being able to partner with he right company to develop their solutions.

Anyway, enough of that, I was just setting the scene for the space my head was in as we arrived at Wyatts Covert to being our journey into what could be the future for a lot of CAMC sites.

It’s Not a Level Playing Field

On the whole I’m in favour of metered electric. I have no problem in paying for what I use. However, what did come as a bit of a shock to me when we first used an electric metered site, was that as campers, we are charged commercial rate for electricity as we’re using the electricity supplied to a business. Now, I think this is wrong. The Caravan and Motorhome Club might be a business, but I’m not. As a user of electricity I’m a domestic user, although I’m being charged a business rate for electricity. This seems like one of those annoying little loopholes. Not CAMC’s fault of course.

CAMC Member’s Requirements

Let me be so bold and speak for every CAMC member 🙂

As a member of a club we expect a solution like this to be :

  • Fair – so we’re not being overcharged for my usage
  • Easy to use (easy top ups, monitoring usage)
  • Easy to get a refund if we haven’t used everything I’ve prepaid for
  • Quick and easy to get help if things go wrong. By this we mean from the Warden and NOT some offshore call centre charging us 50p per minute, whilst we explain what’s happening

There you go, that’s all we need, a solution that everyone can use and not so cumbersome that it spoils your holiday. Yes CAMC are a business, but it’s members are on holiday and this should never be forgotten.

Reduced Pitch Fees?

On the subject of reducing pitch fees on electric metered sites, the Caravan & Motorhome Club say:

Yes. All our current EHU pitch fees have a built in cost for electricity. When you stay on a Smart Metering trial campsite, the pitch fee is reduced by the average monthly electricity spend level from the first year of the trial. It will vary depending on the time of year and the number of guests staying. This puts you in control of your electrical spend – so by using less, you could save when you stay with us, while of course reducing your impact on the environment.

“the pitch fee is reduced by the average monthly electricity spend”. Is this true? I’ll let you make your own minds up, as I really can’t remember what we paid before. We paid £170 for 5 nights in early May 2024. That’s £34 per night. Plus the electricity that we used, more on that later.

How Much Are CAMC Charging for Electricity? ( Summer Usage )

At the time of writing these are the prices per kWh

CAMC say:

You will only pay for what you consume, so the amount it costs will depend on your personal usage: using less means you save money. The cost of electricity for the coming summer is reducing by 42% in 2024 due to an improved commercial tariff from wholesalers (table below).

The kWh charged to our members and guests will reflect the same costs that the Club is paying, with no additional charges other than VAT at 5% which is compulsory. The Club, as an organisation, does not benefit from any domestic energy pricing cap protections, and as such needs to secure its energy based on business rates.

CAMC Partner

Caravan and Motorhome Club site have partnered with a company called Meter Macs Ltd. I don’t know anything about this company, but they specialise in “leisure management solutions” and it’s their portal you login to manage payment etc. They speak of “innovative leadership, “customer-centric approach” and “technical excellence

Looking around Wyatt’s Covert site, there doesn’t seem to be any additional infrastructure, you plug the electric in the same way we always have, that’s good. This matches with what Meter Macs say on their website…

Our systems operate independently from other site infrastructures and uses a Cloud Hub at each site and bollards that communicate wirelessly via mobile data.

Other companies that use Meter Macs:

https://portal.meter-macs.com/register

The Benefits Are Obvious

No one can deny that the metering of electricity use is “fair”. Everyone shouldn’t have to pay for people that run aircon, heat the awning, or charge their EVs. Having said that I’m still left with a tiny after taste that we have to pay business rate for electricity. I understand it isn’t CAMC’s fault, but I remember in December when we were on a metered CL and it was -4, so obviously we had the heating on, the charge per kWh was 46p when at home I was paying about 26p. BTW that lead to daily costs of between £12-£15, on top of £26 site fee, granted both the kWh charge and temperatures were extreme, but it would rule out winter caravanning for most.

Anyway, back to the benefits; paying for what you use is fair, it might also get around what CAMC are going to do about the onset of electric cars. I know of at least one site that just charges a flat fe of £9 per day if you have an EV (or PHEV for that matter). With metered electric, I assume you would be allowed to just plug your car into the caravan’s external 3 pin plug socket and therefore you just get charged (no pun intended) for the electricity that you use when charging the car. Having said that, I assume it would be a very slow charge…

Whilst most would think it fair, some say that pitch fees should lowered to take into account that the member is now paying for the electric. That’s a fair point and is absolutely crucial that this pitch fee is set correctly. At Wyatts Cover we were charged £34, some would argue that should be the price INCLUDING electricity.

Initial Thoughts

Prior to arriving on site, I set up an account with Meter Macs, as instructed on CAMC’s own website : https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/smartmetering/

This was easy enough, no surprises here. I “preloaded” my account with £15, not knowing how much electricity I would use and a promise any unused credit would be refunded. OK, I have to take their word for it this time, we’ll see how easy the process is.

With this done, when on site you plug in as normal, but the electric supply is not “live”, to make it live you have to login. Here was my first “concern”. What if I didn’t have a mobile signal, I can’t log into my account and do what I needed to do. No problem there, I noticed at Wyatt’s Covert there is a screen where you can login to your account just by the toilet block, perfect, well done CAMC so far.

I logged in to my account and followed the process. You have to select what EHU you’re connected to – you’re given a drop down with a selection of EHU posts (ours was pitch 33 and was on the EHU with 32, 33, 34 listed) I selected this, then selected my pitch number. That was easy.

I then clicked the “Arrive” button and I hear the “beep” of things being live in the caravan. Interestingly enough CAMC tell you to do the account stuff first, then plug in the electrics, anyway it worked the way I did it.

Listen to Feedback. Customer is Always Right…

I will try to “wind my neck in” as I know it’s a trial, but if any representatives of CAMC are reading this, please listen to feedback, not necessarily just from me, but from forums, just google it, or look at the comments in mine and others vlogs, you’ll be surprised some are constructive, all the feedback you need is there. This is just my opinion.

My Thoughts, Suggestions and Recommendations

All perfect? I’d give it a B+ so there were a couple of things, which are easily fixed IMHO. CAMC if you’re listening. It did all work really well, so for that you are to be congratulated. However, when you go to Meter Macs website, it takes at least 22 seconds to come up with the initial website page. It’s not my internet connection. I think this will cause a lot of negative feedback for which, in essence, is a good service. Get it fixed now, or at least don’t sign up to anything further with Meter Macs until it’s fixed. Trust me, and if you don’t trust me, look at others feedback.

Secondly, why isn’t there an app? There has to be an app, seriously. To access the website I was having to go into my email, get the website address and access it that way. For the love of all things holy, get Meter Macs to develop an app.

Please, please, please don’t go live on other sites until this initial connection to the website is sorted out OR they supply customers with an app. You will regret it, this is your chance to get technology right.

Oh, it would be nice to have some sort of alert when the balance is running low, to enable to you top up, without the need to keep checking. If they had an app, you could switch on notifications and when the balance fell below a predetermined level, you could notify the member. (You can have that suggestion for free!)

I’ll admit to going into this with a less than open mind. As mentioned before CAMC’s track record with technology is poor. Having said that I’ll expand that to the whole damn caravan industry! They can do mechanics, but on the whole not software.

The process is straight forward and seems to work well. However, again, the web technology is letting things down. I’m not an expert on these kind of systems, however, I have many years experience dealing with users of web based systems and one of the biggest complaints is speed, or at least the customers perception of speed. The website itself is fast enough once connected, but that initial connection, 20+ seconds is too long to wait.

I understand it might mean additional cost somewhere, but seriously, the club needs to claw back some good feeling from many members. I’d imagine a fair few are expecting this to fail, or be unusable due to past performances.

Stress Test

On the whole is does work, the addition of an external terminal to use is great, it means those with no signal can top up. However, I’d worry about sites like Longleat where just about all mobile networks are sub standard. They need to install enough of these access points for people. Also, on that subject, if you have to go back to reception to get your electric live, this isn’t going to go down well, it’s a pet hate of mine having to go back to reception to tell them a pitch number so I can get a barrier key (Number plate recognition maybe? Most of Europe seem to manage it)

Make sure Meter Macs can scale, I’ve seen it happen many times. Find a way of simulating the number of simultaneous connections you will need, I mean worse case scenario. How many connections do you have and how many EHU points are plugged in at the height of summer. This does need proper testing, don’t take the company’s word for it, or even have it put in a contract somewhere, make sure it works at scale. Members won’t be sympathetic if you start to blame 3rd parties for a lack of electricity supply due to failed technology.

Maybe ensure there’s some sort of local override. If Meter Macs infrastructure fails, how are members going to get their electricity supply turned on?

So, What Were We Charged For Electricity?

We arrived at 1pm of Wednesday and it’s Sunday AM now, so that’s 4 nights and what have we been charged.

Before we arrived I added £15 to my account. Our current balance is (it’s 08:00am Sunday)

£15.00 – £9.56 = £5.44

So we’ve used £5.44 over the 4 days we’ve been here, so £1.36 a day, bringing the site fee to £34+£1.36 = £35.36

Just to put that into a bit of perspective (as I could use this to “sell” the idea of metered sites). It’s been sunny and during the day it’s been over 20 degrees. At night, maybe no less than 13 degrees. Which means we have NOT used the heating or air con at all. Neither have we heated the water. We’ve used site facilities for showering and washing up.

If you look at my other article on the subject it paints a VERY different picture, as we were using around £15 per day on electric. Now of course, it’s completely dependant on the temperature outside and the cost of electricity at the time.

I think we were using minimal electricity. Having said that the two main uses were from the kettle (I do like a cuppa) and the air fryer, which we used to cook most dinners. So we could have reduced electric usage a bit have we used the oven, or something like a Cadac to cook on gas.

So in the summer, metered electricity on site is probably a no brainer for the member. However, it’s dependant on cost per kWh. Now, in the winter it’s a completely different kettle of fish, this is dependant of 2 factors, the outside temperature and the kWh cost.

In my 2 experiments, we’ve been lucky / unlucky enough to experience both extremes. One, where we needed the heating on 24×7 (unless you wear a coat) and another where we didn’t use the heating at all.

I know some will argue the use of Safefill gas to bring the costs down and naturally this is true. If you plan to use a metered site in the winter, stock up on the gas in you’re Safefill bottles and you’ll 100% save money in the long term.

You Tube Vlog

Here’s a link to my vlog on the some subject

YouTube player

Also a link to my previous vlog which covers winter on a metered site.

YouTube player

About the author

2 responses to “Caravan and Motorhome Club Metered Electric”

  1. Dino McKee avatar
    Dino McKee

    Did you get your balance refunded promptly?

    1. CaravanVlogger avatar

      Yes, the next day.

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