Efoy fuel cells for quiet, reliable power anywhere. DETAILS FOR ALL MODELS
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For details of the current Comfort models see Efoy Comfort fuel cell models. Although there are improvements in outputs and other details, the article below (based on the previous models which were updated in June 2011) is still valid in describing the general characteristics and installation of Efoy fuels cells.
Enjoy the freedom of quiet, reliable power anywhere, at any time of the day
or season and whatever the weather - even if you are a high energy user.
It's always lighting up time with EFOY fuel cells.
EFOY fuel cells will recharge your motorhome leisure batteries so that you can be sure of full energy reserves even in the remotest of places.
They are the perfect power source for motorhome and camper owners who
prize their independence and like the idea of not being tied to mains
hook-ups or the uncertainties (and limitations) of solar power. Now the latest
generation of Efoy fuels cells is even quieter, lighter and more economical
than ever before. With a range of four models you can choose an output to suit
For some years these fuel cells, now with thousands of units installed in
motorhomes and boats, have been growing in popularity on the European
continent where a number of leading motorhome builders are now providing
them as a factory-installed item.
Power for your needs
The EFOY product family provides a choice of outputs.
There's nothing else that offers all of these advantages -
Enjoy the luxuries of home – anywhere. Even appliances that use a lot
of electricity are no longer a problem.
The Automatic Charge Control regulator constantly monitors battery charge.
If the voltage drops below 12.3V, the fuel cell will switch on, recharge
the battery and shut off automatically. You needn’t worry about a thing.
Lightweight and compact
The EFOY fuel cell weighs only around 7.5 kg, making it a compact lightweight
unit that fits into motorhomes and even campervans with ease.
All models are the same size - a mere 43.5cm long x 20cm wide
x 27.6 cm high.
The EFOY fuel cell is even quieter than its predecessor so it’ll allow
you to enjoy nature, whilst still having your comforts, day and night. How
quiet? About as loud as a computer, which means that in many mounting
locations you'll not even hear it. The fuel cell generates electricity
directly via a chemical process which requires no moving mechanical parts.
The only sound comes from small pumps which operate from time to time
to circulate the fuel within the fuel cell; and the occasional operation
of an internal fan which draws air (part of the chemical process and
also needed for cooling) through the unit.
Reliable, easy and safe
The EFOY fuel cell doesn’t just deliver quietly and cleanly. It also
generates power reliably and effortlessly whenever you need it. Day and
night, regardless of the weather and any place at all it will offer maximum
convenience and safety. There's is no messy operation to 'refill' them
with fuel; when a fuel cartridge is empty you simply remove the empty
cartridge (which can be disposed of as normal plastic) and plug in a
new cartridge. The cartridge sits in a holder alongside the fuel cell.
High tech for clean energy
EFOY fuel cells are easy on the environment, they’re economical and
non-polluting. Aside from electricity, the only other by-products are
water and carbon dioxide in about the same amount as in a small child’s
A closer look ....
Note that this is campervanstuff.com's summing up of the EFOY fuel cells;
we have taken our information from the comprehensive and detailed
data which the manufacturer provides, and added some thoughts
and calculations of our own. We also describe how we installed our own
Efoy 1600 and we explain why we rate the product as Great Stuff!
Who makes it?
The manufacturer is a German company, SFC Smart Fuel Cell
AG. The company is the market leader in mobile power supply based on
fuel-cell technology for leisure-time, industrial and military
applications. One of Germany’s
most successful technology enterprises, the company has been the recipient
of numerous prizes for innovation. This is the only production fuel cell
of its type in the world. You can visit their site (available
is several languages including English) here.
In October 2007 SFC signalled a greater presence in the UK and Eire with
the announcement that it has appointed Grove Products Ltd, one of the
UK's leading wholesale distributors of caravan, motor home, camping,
and leisure products and a member of the Trigano group, to distribute
the EFOY series to retail suppliers throughout the UK and Eire.
is pleased to be one of these suppliers.
What is an EFOY fuel cell?
An Efoy fuel cell converts liquid methanol directly into electrical energy.
A noiseless chemical process transforms methanol and oxygen into electrical current without any combustion. Methanol is a form of
Pure methanol is drawn from a separate Efoy fuel cartridge and this is mixed
internally within the fuel cell with water from a patented, fully
automatic water return system; the resulting methanol and water mix
is introduced to one side of the fuel cell stack (which, briefly, consists
of platinum coated membranes and positive / negative plates).
methanol comes into contact with the catalytic converter it releases
electrons which flow across the plates, along with protons and on the
opposite side of the stack oxygen in the air reacts with the protons
and electrons to form water; most of this is released into the atmosphere
via a small diameter exhaust tube, having been vapourised by the 75 deg
operating temperature which the reaction causes inside the stack.
The reactions also emit a very small amount of carbon dioxide: only the amount
found in a small child's breath.
SFC's site provides
a wealth of technical detail including downloads of manuals and installation
instructions in English. We have also provided some of these downloads
further along on this page.
Is it easy to use or do you need to know about all the technical stuff?
Extremely easy - you don't need to know all the technical stuff, it just works.
A remote control panel which is provided with the fuel cell is located at
a convenient place in the living area and makes operation's child's play.
You can choose the convenient automatic mode, or you can switch the unit
on and off manually from the panel.
In the automatic mode the fuel cell will continually monitor battery voltage
and will automatically begin recharging the moment that voltage drops
below to 12.3 volts; once the battery reaches 14.2v, the fuel cell
automatically returns to sleep mode.
The control panel also displays battery voltage and the charging amperage
which the fuel cell is outputting. It also tells you if the fuel cartridge
is empty and needs to be changed.
What do you get?
Remote control panel with data cable
Mounting plate with strap
Fuel cartridge holder with strap
Charging cables to connect unit to battery
Exhaust hose 10mm diameter, 1.5m long (carries water vapour, CO2 and methanol
traces to outside)
Ducting kit (to carry heat out of enclosure where the unit is housed -
the unit's maximum continuous ambient operating temperature is
40 deg C)
Is it safe?
EFOY fuel cells meet the highest standards of quality and safety including
those governing installation in motor vehicles. They are the world’s
first fuel cells to carry the certifications E24 (installation and operation
in motor vehicles), CE and the TUEV Sued’s “safety-tested and monitored
fuel cell system“.
Fuel cartridges are available in two sizes: 5 litres and 10 litres.
Methanol is an alcohol which occurs in nature in sources such as trees, cotton
bushes or oils. It is also produced industrially and increasingly out
of renewable resources such as biomass or even household waste.
is flammable and poisonous and that is why SFC has developed its
childproof, TUEV-approved cartridges that are designed to prevent contact
with the contents. Handling is easy, clean and safe. EFOY fuel cartridges
meet extremely strict safety requirements and even qualify for airfreight.
You can carry as many cartridges in your motor home as you want, provided that
exceed the maximum permissible weight for your vehicle. In contrast to
other types of fuel, methanol is very quickly biodegradable and has no
impact on the ozone layer.
fuel cartridge bears the TUEV-GS safety seal awarded by the German
inspection laboratories and is proof that the cartridges conform to the
highest safety standards. EFOY fuel cartridges were designed with safety
in mind right from the start. The containers are made of highly impact-resistant
plastic and have passed numerous drop and shock tests with flying colours.
The cartridges are equipped with a safety valve that
prevents leakage. It only opens once the cartridge has been connected
to an EFOY fuel cell. If you remove the fuel cartridge, the safety
valve hermetically reseals the cartridge. At no time does a user come
into contact with methanol. Handling methanol is by far safer, cleaner and
more convenient than fuelling ordinary petrol generators.
Every EFOY fuel cartridge bears the Ultra Pure seal. This
seal stands for a molecular purity guarantee that is subject
to constant monitoring.
Is the EFOY fuel cell expensive to buy?
Well, they are not cheap (follow the links to the individual models for pricing).
But neither is your motorhome cheap: it's an expensive
investment and most likely it has many refinements which help you to
enjoy its use in comfort. Much of that comfort involves equipment which
needs power from your leisure battery. If you can't rely on there always
being enough power then the chances are that often
you find yourself worrying about whether your comfort is going to last
long enough, so perhaps you have to ration your use of these comforts.
Or maybe you find that you tend to limit yourself always to camping in
places with hook-ups, when really what you'd like is more independence.
Is it expensive to run?
PLEASE NOTE that we have not yet revised the following information to reflect the improved fuel consumption of the latest 2009 models, which use 20% less fuel at 0.91 litres per kWh (1.09 litres per 100 Ah)
We think not. Of course it depends on how intensively you use power, but there
are various examples from SFC which indicate what you might expect,
For instance, it says that a 5 litre cartridge connected to a 1200 Wh model
operating constantly, day and night, at its peak load will last very
nearly four days and four nights but under a more realistic variable load,
a 5 litre cartridge could be expected last between one and two weeks.
We have also done some figuring of our own:
Using SFC's example above, at a cost of around £18
(inc VAT) for a 5 litre cartridge this usage amounts to between £1.30
per day which compares
very favourably with how much extra you pay to have a campsite pitch
which includes an electrical hook-up fee. If you use a 10 litre cartridge
it is even more economical because the price per litre is much less.
Another cost comparison we have made for ourselves is with a petrol generator.
We have a small, efficient generator (Honda) which we sometimes use for
charging up our battery. Although the generator is rated at 1kw peak,
this power is largely wasted because the battery cannot be charged at
a high rate. So in practice we charge at 20 Ah (and many chargers fitted
to motorhomes will charge at much less than 20 Ah), which means that
after running the generator for 2 hours we will have increased its charge
by 40 Ah.
To match the 100Ah daily output form the Efoy 1200 we would
have to run the generator for 5 hours, or probably more if the charger
is not able to maintain a high charge rate as the battery gets near to
being fully charged. The generator will run for between 4 and 9 hours
on 2.3 litres of fuel, depending on the power being drawn from it, so
we'd estimate that 5 hours at the level required to charge our battery
is going to use say 1.5 litres of petrol and that's getting on for £1.70.
Remember that if your battery charger has a lower output, you would have
to run the generator for even longer; many motorhomes have chargers which
are intended for use on a hookup which is likely to be connected for
a long time and therefore the charger need only have a low output.
In comparison, the
fuel cell would use 1.3 litres of methanol; using the most economical
10 litre size which costs around £27,
the cost per litre is £2.70:
so to run at full output for 24 hours and thereby produce 100 Ah will
cost 1.3 x £2.70 = £3.51.
However, the cost comparison with a generator, although interesting, is in
fact somewhat academic because the reality is that even if you needed
to replace 100 Ah of charge per day, you are highly unlikely to run a
generator for this length of time because of the noise disturbance it
creates; in many locations or in bad weather conditions you might not
be able to deploy the generator at all.
Here's how you can make a calculation yourself, by relating things to your
All Efoy models consume the same
amount of methanol for a given output: 1.1 litres per kWh of output.
Looking for a simple guide, this means that a 5 litre cartridge will
provide 4.5 kWh of power and a 10 litre cartridge 9.1 kWh.
At 12v these outputs equate to an output of 380 Ah and 760 Ah respectively.
For the 10 litre cartridge this is a cost of around 3.5p per Ah
of output. Next you need to relate this to your typical usage. You can
use a calculator like the one below (under 'how do I choose the right
model?') which lists the appliances you might use and the length of
time they are used, but we'd suggest you can also make a quick judgment
based on how long you currently expect your battery to survive without
any form of recharging - in other words if you are parked up at a location
without a hookup and you don't want to move until you have to.
If you have a 100 Ah battery and you last for two days, on the face of it
you are using 50 Ah per day. But the reality is that most likely your
battery was not charged 100 per cent to begin with (only the most
sophisticated chargers, plus a lengthy charging time, do this); and
you should never completely discharge your battery because it can easily
be severely damaged. In any case many appliances have cut-outs which
prevent them from operating once the battery voltage gets too low; this
is usually well before the battery is 'empty'.
For these reasons it is better to assume that the actual usable capacity
is at most only around 75 per cent (many sources advocate only 50
per cent as being a better guide). For this example, we'll take the higher
figure so your battery has a usable capacity of 75 Ah - which would
mean that you are consuming around 35 to 40 Ah per day if you can last
for two days. An Efoy fuel cell will provide 35 Ah for 35 x 3.5p,
which amounts to £1.23
per day. On the other hand, if your 100 Ah battery normally supplies
your demands for only one day, then you could reckon that you are using
75 Ah per day at most and the Efoy fuel cell will provide this for around £2.63.
Where can I obtain fuel supplies?
SFC says that the cartridges are currently available from approximately 600
outlets across Europe. Now that SFC has appointed a new wholesale
trade distributor for the UK the aim is to provide a network of
outlets in the UK. And of course you can order your fuel cartridges from
campervanstuff.com. Because of the high fuel efficiency of Efoy fuel
cells, you can easily plan to set off on a trip with enough fuel to
last for the duration, without requiring a large amount of storage space.
Is it like a generator or a solar panel?
It is not at all like a generator: a generator is designed to provide AC
mains power - although this mains current can be used to power a battery
charger which is then able to recharge a leisure battery.
The fuel cell
does this job directly, putting its output straight into the battery.
As discussed earlier under running costs, the generator is not ideally
suited for this purpose as most of its power output cannot be transferred
to the battery and so it is wasted.
So you shouldn't compare the output of a generator with the output of a fuel
cell: for example a generator might have an continuous output of 1kWh
which means that it in one hour it would produce 1000 watts - nearly
as much at the Efoy 1200 would produce in 24 hours. But as we have already
described, in fact the generator would have to run for at least five
hours, not one hour, to put 1200 watts into the battery. All the
time that a generator is running it creates noise and fumes, while the
fuel cell operates quietly, without fumes and without needing any attention.
On the plus side for the generator, if you are using AC mains voltage appliances
in your motorhome, the generator can supply them directly which makes
fuller use of its output - but the generator has to be running while
you do this.
If you rely instead on an Efoy fuel cell and you do want to use AC mains
for some appliances in your motorhome, you can still provide for this
by installing a suitably sized inverter which connects to your battery
and converts its 12v to AC mains power which it provides through a standard
domestic-type socket. Inverter systems also can be connected into the
existing AC mains system in the motorhome: when the circuit is
not being powered from a hookup, the inverter automatically proves AC
power to the circuit. Unlike a generator which must run continuously
so that power is available on demand, say when you turn on a kettle,
an inverter is in standby until you turn on an appliance, then instantly
provides power. campervanstuff.com can supply suitable inverters.
Solar panels are similar to the fuel cell only in that they provide
energy directly to the battery and therefore are also a source of 12
volt power. But a solar panel is dependent on location, time of the year,
time of day and weather conditions. SFC's example show that the average
daily output for a 100w solar panel in Germany is only 33 Ah in summer
and a mere 8 Ah in winter. This compares with 50 Ah for even the smallest
Efoy fuel cells, unaffected by conditions.
The chart provides a comparison of average daily outputs of a 100w solar panel
compared with three of the Efoy models, in three locations: Lisbon,
Munich and Trondheim (Norway).
If you already have a solar panel then it will work very well in combination
with an Efoy fuel cell. The Efoy provides a guaranteed level of output
at all times, while the solar panel will save on
fuel cartridge costs, particularly when solar conditions are good.
A point to bear in mind when comparing Efoy fuel cells either with generators
or solar panels is weight.
The fuel cells weigh a maximum of 7.5 kg including mounting (but excluding
the fuel cartridge), much less than the alternatives.
How do I choose the right model for me?
First, here are some strange things about
comparing different models. Although there are big
differences in the output of the four models:
There are all the same size.
They weigh nearly the same - 6.3 kg for the lowest output, 7.3 kg for the
They all consume the same amount of methanol for a given output: 1.1 litres
1600 Wh/day 130 Ah/day
1200 Wh/day 100 Ah/day
Wh/day 75 Ah/day
current @ 12v
0.91 litres per kWh (1.09 litres per 100 Ah)
Noise level 7 m
23 dB (A)
(L x W x H)
x 20.0 x 27.6 cm
needed (L x W x H)
x 35 x 30 cm (minimum)
Is installation difficult?
The Efoy fuel cells come with all the components which you need - see 'What
do I get' earlier in this page. They also come with full installation
The essence of it is that the fuel cell sits in a shallow tray which is
fixed to the floor of the vehicle in a suitable location; the tray has
a strap which secures the fuel cell. A separate tray holds the fuel cartridge
alongside the fuel cell.
A small diameter exhaust tube (10mm outside diameter) carries
the products of the chemical reaction - water vapour, a small amount
of carbon dioxide (a small child's breath, remember) - to the outside.
The fuel cell also has a separate outlet for the warm air arising from
the reaction and this should be vented away from the area so that it
is not trapped around the fuel cell location which would result in overheating.
A vent kit with 100mm diameter trunking is supplied; this could be used
to take the warm air outside, or into another area within the motorhome.
The wiring to the battery and to the control panel is supplied and connects
to the fuel cell via plug and socket. Several metres of cable is supplied
for the battery connection; this only needs to be of moderate gauge
because the maximum charging current is 5.4 amps. If you plan
to install the unit yourself then you should obtain professional advice
if you are not sure of your competency to do the 12 volt connections.
We have read the excellent installation manuals and everything seems relatively
simple and straightforward. There are a few strict requirements about
the mounting for the fuel cell: for instance it must be within 15 deg
of level when it is operating; the exhaust tube must not be kinked and
should be routed so as to avoid dips where condensate could accumulate
and block the tube or run back into the fuel cell; and the fuel cell
must be located in a place where there is at least the minimum space
around it in order to provide enough ventilation, and the heat should
be vented away from the area using the vent kit ducting.
If you read and understand the installation instructions thoroughly before
you begin then the operation should not be difficult; but please do adhere
to any stipulations or you are likely to compromise the unit's reliability.
campervanstuff.com can help with advice and we might also be able to arrange
installation if you'd rather not do it yourself. You can even contact
SFC in Germany direct on toll-free phone numbers provided on the company's
Are they guaranteed?
Efoy fuel cells are automatically guaranteed by SFC for two years from the date of purchase, for leisure use. SFC also offers a 5-year warranty at extra cost; this can be purchased directly from SFC within three months of the fuel cell purchase. A voucher for this will be provided by the dealer at the time of purchase.
What is the service life of an Efoy fuel cell?
The fuel cell’s stack which generates electricity has no moving
parts and thus is not subject to wear and tear.
SFC has demonstrated in extensive laboratory and field tests that EFOY fuel cells
have performed reliably at full power for more than 6,000 hours of operation.
EFOY fuel cells meet the strictest quality and safety standards. Every
component is designed to last 5,000 hours, which translates to a useful life
of ten years at 500 operating hours a year.
We are sold on the concept of the Efoy fuel cells and in early April 2008 we installed the 1600 model in our own motorhome.
We have begun reporting on it here, as we gain experience in use. We
have also added a run-down on the actual installation, which we did
The installation went smoothly; any problems we had were due to the extreme
lack of space in our motorhome - in reality it's more a campervan since it's
a T4-based high-top. If you know what that's like, you'll know its not very
big and you might wonder how we have accommodated all our gizmos.
It's a testament to the advanced development of the Efoy that such a high tech, effective device is so compact that it can be fitted not only in a motorhome - but in a campervan. In the event, it has replaced our small Honda 10 EU10i generator, taking no more space except for finding a way to route the ducting to carry away warm air from the Efoy location - which is in the bottom of a wardrobe.
You can read an illustrated article which describes our experience of
installing our own Efoy:
We are delighted so far and from other experiences we have heard we expect this to be reinforced with future use.
GREAT STUFF! - Update
We now have had the Efoy on board during a variety of trips. In short
- it's great. It has given us the freedom to choose sites even though
they lack electric hookups; instead location, convenience and and the
other facilities we need on any particular occasion take precedence.
During a two-week break we stayed on a variety of sites, some
with electric hookup, some not - about half and half at a guess. Some
days we moved on or drove out, sometimes the vehicle stayed put without
moving for three or four days. Some days we got some contribution from
our small 40 solar panel - but not a lot.
Some evenings we sucked out around 35Ah
in one go (well under an hour anyway) from the battery, to power our
500 watt Remoska 230v cooker. Other times we cooked on gas. We enjoyed
(electric) toast in the morning and watched satellite TV at night. Sadly,
because this meant work, the laptop (and therefore inverter, another
power draw) was on for many more hours each day than one would have liked.
So how many gallons and gallons of methanol fuel did all this take? Well litres
actually: we used one 5 litre cartridge. The two spares which we took
with us remained tucked away.
Does this mean that the Efoy 1600 runs for two weeks continuously on 5 litres
of fuel? Of course not, but what it does demonstrate is that in a mixed
usage pattern the reality is that you run the fuel cell only when you
need to. But - and because you can - you always enjoy all the power you
need. It was a great feeling. Or, as a customer of ours described their
Efoy a few weeks after we had installed it for them - Absolutely
The Efoy is an extremely highly developed product that does it's job efficiently
and without fuss.
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