This section attempts to categorize those RV features found in the interior living space of an RV. As the RV manufacturers try to burden the consumer with the task of deciding which of many options to add (or not) to their new RV—and some giving you little choice at all (by bundling several disparate options into a package)—the choices become more difficult, especially with the base price of just about all RVs escalating every year. (My biggest personal gripe with manufacturers is their propensity to make all sorts of goodies "standard" and included in the base price—when I really don't want some of them, but I don't have the choice of "deleting" some of the options to reduce the base price.
So, without further groaning and moaning about manufacturers' sales gimmicks, lets review the many different RV Interior Features found on RVs.
Walk-In Shower vs. Tub/Shower Combo. Many of the newer and larger motorhomes offer the convenience of a walk-in shower, rather than a somewhat small and cramped tub/shower combination. If you are planning on being a full-timer, or if either of the couple is physically large, then this convenience is one that you probably donít want to live without. However, coaches with walk-in showers usually do not also have a bath tub, so the lady should have a say in whichever unit she prefers.
Side-by-Side Refrigerator/Freezer vs. Over/Under Units. In newer motorhomes and fifth wheels, the potential new owner has yet another decision to make—whether the new refrigerator will be the standard over/under design or the option of a more modern and larger capacity side-by-side refrigerator/freezer combination. Hint for the fellas: let the Mrs. decide if this is something that she ďjust has to have.Ē
An added advantage with the side-by-side units, is that one of the freezer compartments usually contains an ice maker. (My lady thought she would never use an ice maker, but after having one in our new motorhome, now she can't ever think of living without it.)
Microwave Oven. Just about all RVs come with a microwave oven, intended to make the cooking chore less time-consuming. The microwave ovens found in RVs come in two flavors— the standard microwave oven and the microwave-convection oven (that can cook in a different way).
Most of the microwave units are over-the-stove types, and have a small exhaust fan built into the base and rear of the cabinet. However, not all of these units are vented to the outside of the RV (not too wise an idea). It is a good idea to check the coach you are about to order or purchase— to be sure that the microwave exhaust fan is vented to the outside of the coach.
Energy Management System. Energy management systems are becoming more and more common as standard equipment on most new motorhomes. These systems are particularly useful in motorhomes that have a 30A electrical system. Usually, two air conditioners cannot be run at the same time with a 30A system. An energy management system monitors the current drawn by the various electrical devices, and has the capability to turn off and on different devices—in order to keep the total energy usage to less than 30A. In most applications, the energy management system will turn off one air conditioner if the microwave is turned on, but will turn the second air conditioner back on when the microwave is shut down. (And, yes, for those of you in the know, some of the newer air conditioners are more energy efficient—allowing two air conditioners to be run on only a 30A service.)
Electric Hot Water Heater Element. Many of the newer RVs come with water heaters that work off of both propane and electricity. However, most older RVs donít seem to come with that convenience. Fortunately, it is quite easy to buy an add-on electric element that screws into the drain plug of propane-only water heaters—and is not that expensive. Why use your propane for water heating, if you are usually plugged into electricity at an RV park?
Many newer motorhomes now come with this feature as standard equipment. If you have an older motorhome or 5er, this feature is quite inexpensive and easy to add.
Oven (Extra Storage Space vs. Livability). Many of the newer coaches can be procured with an oven under the stove top, or alternatively the oven can be replaced by extra storage space—usually a cupboard. If you tend to eat out a lot and are a full-timer, then the extra storage space may appeal to you. However, for many of us, the oven is a convenience that we would not be without.
What better way to antagonize your neighbors in the middle of the Quartzsite desert than to be upwind of them and have the mouth-watering smells of your freshly baking pumpkin pie waft past their campsite. More than once weíve gotten some envious comments from down-wind neighbors! (Of course, the downside to this was the time we were eating at a restaurant with friends, when my lady suddenly remembered that she had left a pie baking in the oven!)
Corian Counter Tops and Ceramic Tile Floors. Iím sure there are lots of ladies that would almost insist on getting Corian counter tops and/or tile floors in their home on wheels. However, there are some disadvantages to Corian that some people dislike. Likewise, ceramic tile floors are easy to keep clean and are more durable than linoleum, but they are much heavier.
Remember, folks, that you are outfitting an RV on wheels, not a house on a foundation—and these items add critical weight to an RV, sometimes too much weight. If you are getting a diesel pusher, then you have much more weight carrying capacity than most gas motorhomes, but you still need to be aware of the weight penalty that you might be paying. If you are a full-timer, then you just might need the extra 500-600 pounds of carrying capacity for your ďstuff.Ē
Tile Floors vs. Linoleum Floors. Here again, be careful of your future RV's weight gain. Unless you have a diesel pusher with lots of GVWR, don't even think about ceramic tile floors.
But, many ladies in the RV world care very much about whether there is carpet or linoleum in the main traffic areas of the RV. The lady of this household looked and looked to find an RV that had carpet, primarily in the living area and bedroom area, but had easily-cleanable linoleum from the entry door all the way through the kitchen and into the bathroom area— that item was a "must have" on her selection list. Believe me, she is so happy to have linoleum in the high traffic areas of our RV. (Of course, since she lives with a "slob of the male species," having linoleum floors makes her job of housecleaning that much easier.)
Day/Night Shades. Day/Night shades are a most useful convenience on a motorhome or 5th wheel trailer. These shades have two different opacities (how much light you can see through them). These shades are built, accordion fashion, and are folded so that when you pull down only the lower part, you can see through the shades, but the hot sun is still filtered somewhat. However, at night, people outside can see into your coach.
When the shades are pulled farther down, the night part of the shade is across the window— you canít see out, and people outside cannot see in. The night portion of these shades are not really blackout shades, since you can see some light coming through during the day, but no one is going to ďseeĒ anything either way.
My ladyís previous motorhome had mini-blinds, but I find that the day/night shades are much more convenient, and (to me) well worth the additional cost.
With day/night shades, you immediately have three difference levels of viewing, light admittance, and privacy:
Exhaust Fan in Kitchen. An Exhaust Fan in the kitchen area of a motorhome can be a great thing. The older versions of these fans were very quiet, and had three speeds. These fans are great for removing heat from the galley or cooking odors from the coach—and do a much better job than the little fan in the range hood.
Some of the newer motorhomes also offer an Exhaust Fan in the bathroom area. (Some of the more fancy newer models have a rain sensor, and can shut off the fan and close the overhead vent if it senses rain.)
(Elsewhere on this web site, we will talk about why we had the original Exhaust Fans removed from our coach and replaced with revserible, variable speed fans, that also had remote controls.)
When we are away from the coach during the day, we often crack open a window and turn on the fan at low speed to keep some air circulating through the coach for the dogs. However, I really like the EXhaust Fan when we are boondocking out in the middle of nowhere. On warm days, we often open a window and turn on the Exhaust Fan to draw cooling air through the coach. The fan draws very little power, so we can feel cool without needing to turn on the noisy generator and air conditioner.
Small Inverter for Front TV and VCR. Many of the newer coaches come standard with a small inverter (170-600 watts or so) in the front of the coach for the front TV (sometimes the rear TV, too), the VCR or VCP, and even a satellite TV receiver. This setup allows the TV(s) to be used without being connected to shore power and without having to turn on the generator to get 120 volt AC power—great for watching TV very late at night or early in the morning without disturbing other nearby boondock campers.
Fancy Sound System. Many of the newer motorhomes give the purchaser the option of having a fancy sound system (such as Bose) installed. These sound systems usually feature several speakers throughout the rig and can provide almost theatre quality sound in your coach. Of course, you need to balance the extra cost of the system vs. what your budget/wallet can afford.
VCR vs. VCP. Almost everyone nowadays has a VCR at home and most folks actually know how to program it. In motorhomes, you need to be aware that not all VCR devices are created equal. Although these devices are usually all called VCRs, not all of them, especially in older motorhomes, have a recording capability. A VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) can both playback a pre-recorded tape and can also record a tape from the TV signal. Some RV manufacturers only put a VCP (Video Cassette Player) in their units—in order to save money. A VCP can playback a pre-recorded tape, but it cannot record on a video tape cassette.
For our personal preference, we prefer a VCR, so that we can both record and playback video tapes.
For RVs newer than 1998 or so, you probably won't find any of them with the older (cheaper) VCP, but check to be sure.
Large Sun Visors. Having a set of large, totally opaque sun visors is something that you really canít live without—even though many motorhomes come without them. After you have traveled for awhile, you will find that, somehow, you always seem to be traveling into the setting sun.
My ladyís previous motorhome had very small darkened glass sun visors that simply hung down in front of the window and could not be adjusted to stay where you wanted them—and they did little to block out late afternoon sun that was low in the windshield. However, my somewhat newer former motorhome had very large vinyl upholstered sun visors that covered almost the full width of each front windshield and were about a foot deep and could be placed in a particular position and they stayed there—giving me far greater drivability into the setting sun. I would not have a motorhome without large, totally opaque, sun visors.
Some of the newer and fancier motorhomes come with electrically operated sun visors— just push a button and they raise or lower to suit the driver and/or passenger. However, you need to check these out carefully. I have seen some new electric sun visors that are rather small in size and donít come down far enough to block sun when you are driving directly into a setting sun. What good are fancy electric sun visors if they canít be adjusted to block out late afternoon sun that is low in the sky. Do your homework before you buy.
Leather Seats vs. Cloth or Vinyl Seats. Many RV manufacturers offer leather seats as an extra-cost option. Some people have strong preferences for leather seats, and many others prefer cloth seats. It is a personal choice. However, if you are on a limited budget, as many of us are, maybe the cost of the leather seats could be more effectively used on another option. The choice is yours.
Radio and/or TV in the Bedroom. Radios and TVs in the bedroom of a motorhome are nice things to have—if your budget can allow for them. However, be aware that in most older motorhomes, the rear bedroom TV only works when you are plugged into shore power.
When I purchased my previous motorhome, I opted for a 12-volt color TV in the bedroom, but I seldom found myself on the bed watching TV.
A radio in the bedroom is a nicety, especially since they usually are an automotive radio that is connected to the house batteries. However, many motorhomes do not have enough counter space as it is, without taking away additional space by mounting a radio in a small corner cabinet.
These are two items that seem to be desirous, but take the time to think about your particular living style. Do you really need to have them? Again, the choice is yours.
Large Capacity Inverter. Many RV manufacturers offer a large inverter as an option. With a larger inverter, such as 1,500, 2,000 or 2,500 watt models, you can power everyday items such as hair dryers, curling irons, coffee pots, and even microwave ovens. However, be very wary of using your microwave oven for very long periods, because it can quickly drain your house batteries—something that you donít want to do.
For example, when an inverter is providing the electrical energy to power a microwave oven, it is drawing more than 100 amps from your batteries!As a general rule, if your RV has a 2,000-watt inverter in it, you should have four house batteries to provide enough spare amperage. A 1,500-watt inverter should be powered by no less than three house batteries—but be advised that this size of inverter is marginal for powering a microwave oven.
And here is another headís up—never connect an inverter to power your refrigerator or air conditioning units—your house batteries wonít be able to keep up with the heavy power drain, unless you are driving down the road.
Built-In Washer/Dryer Combo. For those of you who are or desire to be full-timers —living in your motorhome or fifth wheel all the time—having a washer/dryer combo in your RV is often seen as a necessity rather than an option. Many of the newer and larger motorhomes (usually 38 to 40 feet) come from the factory with either a built-in washer/dryer combo or come with the plumbing already built-in for such a system.
Although a built-in washer/dryer combo may sound wonderful to some of the ladies in the crowd, please be aware that the capacity of a combination washer/dryer is much less than a regular washer, and the longer drying times of the dryer take some getting used to. However, many full-timers adjust to the smaller loads and longer drying times—and are quite happy with their combo system.
Built-In Dishwasher. Yes, as strange as it might seem to some, many of the higher-end coaches offer the option of a builtin dishwasher. I have foud that those folks who have one are glad that they have it and they use it.
Gas or Electric Fireplace. Yes, believe it or not, folks, some RV manufacturers actually offer an LP or electric fireplace, complete with realistic logs and a lovely fireplace screen. However, most RVs are not laid out to accommodate a fireplace.