Buying an RV is an exciting time for anybody. With the right RV, the possibilities are endless for you and your family to hit the open road. That’s why nearly half a million RVs were sold in the US last year alone.
Everybody loves camping, but the RV you choose can make or break all of your next trips. Luckily, we can help with that. Here are some important features to look for before you purchase an RV.
Choose a Style of RV
Do you have a vehicle that can tow a large trailer, or do you want an RV that drives on its own? This is an important question to answer before searching for a recreational vehicle.
The benefits of a trailer are that you don’t have to register it or insure it as a vehicle. It will be considered a trailer, which is far less expensive to insure. If you already have a vehicle that can tow it, then you can also save money on the purchase price.
While full-size RVs are more expensive to purchase or insure, they are separate from your primary vehicle. Consequently, you won’t have to take your personal vehicle with you on camping trips, you can access the driving area and living space without exiting, and they tend to be much longer, offering more room.
Both have their pros and cons and may work better for different people. A single person looking to travel occasionally may love a small teardrop trailer, whereas a larger family may need an RV to camp comfortably.
We all need electricity to thrive. It’s an essential feature of modern life, and it can even prevent serious safety risks. For example, an outdated electrical system may not be compatible with modern appliances.
Therefore, one of the first things to look for is the electrical system in an RV. You need enough power to fuel your activities, cookware, entertainment, and more.
Speakers, small televisions, small fans, and basic electronics (smartphones, laptops, etc.) don’t require much electricity to operate. However, electric ranges, refrigerators, microwaves, space heaters, and other large appliances certainly do.
Consequently, you may need to consider your energy source as well. Some RVs come equipped with generators or solar batteries, or you can add them yourself afterward. Just make sure that the electrical system is compatible with whatever energy system you choose.
By now, you may have heard of the EPA’s findings on gas stoves. Essentially, they found that using gas stoves in your home poses serious health risks, including cancer, respiratory illnesses, and cardiovascular disease. This means you can imagine that using them in a small RV can pose even more serious threats to you and your family’s health.
Of course, you may want to cook outside over a nice campfire. However, more and more states and public lands are banning open fires for safety reasons, so it’s important to choose a safe cooking system.
An electric range or induction range is undoubtedly the safest, but you will need the energy supply. Unless you have a high-capacity battery, you will likely need a gas generator for this. Still, if your energy system allows for it, we strongly recommend using a stove and/or oven fueled by electricity.
Water, greywater, and waste. These are the three tanks to worry about.
Your water tank is the water you will use for cooking, showering, cleaning, doing dishes, and even drinking. Typically, these come in sizes between 20 and 100 gallons. For a larger family, we’d strongly recommend going on the higher end, as one or two people can easily use up 20 gallons in a day.
Next, your greywater tank should be close to the size of your water tank, but it doesn’t have to be quite as big. If you have a 20-gallon water tank, it wouldn’t hurt to have a 20-gallon greywater tank, as the cost wouldn’t increase by much. However, if you have a 100-gallon water tank, you’ll likely only need about a 60-gallon greywater tank, as it’s relatively easy to dispose of excess water.
Finally, your sewage, waste, or holding tank. They’re all the same thing, and they come in 10-gallon to 100-gallon sizes.
100 gallons is rather excessive for most families unless you live or travel far away from any disposal sites. Generally, 20 to 60 gallons should be enough.
Don’t Forget Mechanics
RVs, not trailers, are vehicles. Therefore, you have to treat them as such. You wouldn’t buy a car after only looking at the interior, would you?
You can’t forget about the mechanics of the vehicle, especially when buying a used one. Take it to a trusted mechanic who works on larger vehicles and get a pre-purchased inspection for extra peace of mind.
If you’re handy, take a look yourself and test-drive the vehicle like you would with any other. Pay attention to any sounds, smells, lights, or any other concerns. Also, don’t forget to check the tires, braking systems, and other components, whether it’s a trailer or an RV.
For a new RV, make sure it has the mechanical features you want. Remember, this isn’t just a living space. You will have to drive it.
If you want a reverse camera, lane-shifting assist, blindspot detection, or any specific mechanical features under the hood, look for these when shopping. Some newer vehicles (not just RVs) don’t have dipsticks to check your fluid levels, which can be a serious concern for maintenance.
Do You Want a New or Used RV?
New RVs will undoubtedly cost more, but they will also last longer on average. If cost isn’t an issue, then a newer RV will offer the most modern aesthetics and features, potentially including your energy and waste systems. In most cases, this will be the cleanest and safest option.
Of course, you can get a great used RV for cheaper. If you’re willing to put in the work, then you could even revive and modernize an older RV and save a lot of money.
However, a used RV is likely to run into mechanical problems sooner, and you never know how the previous owner treated it. In many cases, RVs will just sit in people’s yards untouched, which will wear out important systems in the vehicle over time.
Still, this is entirely up to you, your needs, and your budget. A used RV is cheaper to buy and insure, but we’d recommend buying from a certified dealer. A new RV will last the longest and offer the newest features, so it’s up to you!
Choosing a Proper Size
You need to have enough space for yourself, your family, your pets, and any equipment you may want to bring with you. This includes the number of beds available, enough dining and cooking space, and enough storage space both inside and out.
Ideally, you’ll want some space outside, such as a roof rack or rear cargo holder, to hold some of your equipment. If you’re bringing kayaks, bikes, or other large equipment, you likely won’t have room inside the RV.
Not only do you need to worry about the size of your living space, but also the size requirements for taking it on the road. You may need proper licensure to operate larger vehicles, including commercial licensure.
If you want a larger RV, you will need a Class B driver’s license. From there, you can check out more Class B motorhomes and upgrade your size right away!
Some RVs will be harder to insure than others, which is something to keep in mind while shopping for RVs. You can contact your insurance provider ahead of time to ask about quotes, but make sure you have a few models in mind before doing this for a more accurate estimate.
The class of the vehicle will be the most important determining factor. Insuring a Class A RV will certainly cost more than a Class C vehicle. Again, it’s just something to keep in mind!
Look Into Buying an RV Today
Now that you know some helpful tips on buying an RV, use them to your advantage during your search. It’s critical that you choose an RV with the right features and enough space for you and your family to enjoy your trips, so do your research, consider your budget, and enjoy the open road!
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