Project Description

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Most RVs are manufactured with 30 Amp, 120 Volt electrical systems,  while some of the larger RVs with greater numbers of appliances or additional A/C Units use a 50 Amp, 120 Volt electrical system.

This is a flat electrical connector that provides power from your RV to whatever you are towing for the lights only.

This is a round electrical connector with 7 pins that provides power from the RV to whatever you are towing for the lights, as well as the ability to electrically operate the brakes of the tow vehicle remotely either using a brake control, or the brake pedal (or both)

Short for Air Conditioning

This term refers to the outside construction of your RV. It’s made up of wooden framing with an aluminum exterior and batten insulation.

Typically made of magnesium or aluminum, this rod is installed in water heaters to protect from the build up of rust. They protect the other metal in the water heater by corroding first. this should be inspected regularly and replaced as needed.

Amp is short for ampere, the electric current unit of measure. The ampere is defined as one coulomb of charge per second.  The coulomb is defined as the charge carried by one ampere during one second.

RV sites with electrical outlets will specify the maximum amps allowed.  They are usually rated in units of 20, 30, or 50 amps. The male RV power connector must match the female outlet of the site amp rating

May be an optional or standard package offered, depending on the RV manufacturer. An Arctic Package is generally comprised of thicker walls and floor, an upgraded furnace, heated basement compartments and dual pane windows.

A connection point between two objects which permits movement. In the case of RVs, an articulation point is where two vehicles are joined together by a ball or fifth wheel hitch. When a vehicle is pulling a travel trailer or fifth wheel, a single articulation point exists. If a boat is towed behind that RV then two articulation points exist.

A canvas or vinyl covering mounted to the side of an RV which extends from the RV body that rolls out to provide shade. Awnings are generally placed over entrances and sometimes slides. Some awnings are retractable and use a spring-loaded roller tube. Other awnings must be rolled out by hand and are supported by poles, rope tie downs and stakes.

An additional battery to run your 12-volt equipment.

The number of times the drive shaft must turn to turn the axle one time. If you have a 3.73:1 axle ratio the drive shaft turns 3.73 times for each full turn of the axle. The higher the numeric value of the axle ratio the better the vehicle will tow. Conversely, the higher the numeric value the more fuel you will use.

A spot in an RV park with a single entrance, meant to be backed into with the RV.

Usually found on motorhomes. It is a camera mounted on the back of the RV with a monitor by the drivers seat. A backup monitor aids the driver while backing up the RV as it gives them a wide view of what is behind the RV.

Hitch balls have three basic measurements, the ball diameter, the shank diameter and the shank length. Ball diameter sizes come in 1 7/8”, 2” and 2 5/16”. The ball size must be the right size for the coupler on the trailer you are towing, and be rated to tow the trailers GVWR.

The ball mount is the removable portion of the hitch that slides into the hitch receiver found on a tow vehicle under its bumper. For Weight Carrying (WC) hitches it may be necessary to find a ball mount with a drop or rise to help level the trailer when its hooked up to the tow vehicle.

An adjustable ball mount is used for heavier trailer applications. Adjustable ball mounts allow the ball to be raised, lowered or tilted to compensate for trailer tongue weight and to attain proper height adjustments. Adjustable ball mounts are normally used with Weight Distributing (WD) hitches.

Large storage compartments underneath your RV floor. They are accessible from doors located on the outside of the RV. Basements are usually found on motor homes and many fifth wheel trailers.

TV antenna on the exterior roof of an RV characterized by two horizontal elements. Batwing antennas are normally raised and rotated with a hand crank from inside the RV living compartment.

Disposed water and waste from an RVs toilet system,  Black water is kept in large “black water holding tank(s)” until it is dumped, either into an RV park sewer hookup, or a dumping station available at most campgrounds.

A tank mounted under the RV that collects water and waste from the toilet. The black water tank is treated with chemicals to control odor and assist in breaking down waste.

It is recommended to empty the tank when it is is ¾ full or fuller.  It is then emptied or dumped into an approved dump station or campground sewer.

Camping far away from civilization without any facilities such as water, electricity or sewer hookups.  Also known as “roughing it”. Recently it has come to mean camping or parking anywhere without amenities, relying strictly on the amenities provided within the RV. Many RVers refer to spending the night in a highway rest area, shopping center parking lot, or truck stop, as boondocking.  It is also referred to as “Off the Grid” camping or “Dry Camping.”

Dining area with bench seating and a table in-between. Many booth dinettes also fold down into a bed.

A control unit mounted inside your RV, or tow vehicle, that activates the electric trailer brakes of an towed vehicle (RV or tow vehicle) in harmony with the braking of the tow vehicle. A brake controller can be used to adjust trailer brake intensity, or to manually activate the trailer brakes.

An electrical switch that is wired into the trailers brake system which is designed to apply the trailer brakes if it is engaged. It is attached from the trailer to the tow vehicle by a cable lanyard. If the trailer and vehicle separate, the cable pulls a pin located in the switch and the trailer brakes become activated. The switch must have a 12-volt source to operate.

A BTU in the RV industry refers to a measure of power needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water 1 degree F. It relates to RV Furnaces and Air Conditioners output.

A towable trailer (a travel trailer or pop-up) that hitches onto a ball mount on the tow vehicle.

Another term to refer to an RV slide (or slideout)

Refers to the floorplan style of an RV having bunk beds.

A passenger bus or school bus converted into an RV.

This term can refer to one of two things:

1) a Class “C” motorhome, or

2) the sleeping area which is over the cab in Class “C” motorhomes and truck campers.

Another term for an RV, especially smaller RV’s that are towed behind or carried on top of light trucks. Truckers generally refer to all RV’s as “campers” in their CB conversations.  see “Classes and Types of RVs” for more information on truck campers.

The maximum allowable weight of personal belongings and cargo that can be added to the RV. CCC is equal or less than GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) minus UVW (Unloaded Vehicle Weight), full fresh water weight, and full LP gas weight.

The caster, or wheel alignment, is when a vehicle’s suspension or steering system is out of line and is put back correctly. Having a wheel alignment problem can cause tire wear and poor gas mileage.

Refers to the framework your RV is built on. In motorhomes it generally includes the engine, transmission, fuel tank, wheels and drivetrain.

A water connection, found on the outside of an RV, that is connected when you have an external water supply, such as at a campground. A potable water hose is recommended to connect the water supply to the city water connector on the RV.

Also called a Class “B” motorhome – see “Classes and Types of RVs” for more information

Stands for “Citizens Band” radio.  It is a general use, short distance, two-way radio primarily used by truckers. CB’s are also helpful to RV operators to radio for help in an emergency and to listen for driving conditions. Many CB’s on the market today also have weather channels with alerting features.

Also called a camper van.  See “Classes and Types of RVs

A vehicle with enclosed passenger accommodations. In the broadest sense of the term, coach can be applied to most recreational vehicles. When used by itself, it usually refers to a motor home, most likely a Class A.

The front of your motorhome.  Where the driver pilot seat and passenger co-pilot seats are located.

Condensation is the process of gas/vapor turning to water under certain conditions. This can happen in to an RV when the inside of your RV is cool while the outside is humid. Be careful of too much condensation as it can create water damage over time.

A converter is device that converts 120-volt A/C (alternating current) to 12-volt DC (direct current). Many RV devices run on 12-volt DC power that is supplied by the battery, which allows the RV to function independently. When “shore power” (an electrical supply) is available, the converter changes the voltage from 120 to 12 volt to supply the appliances and to recharge the battery.

Located on the front of the trailer A-frame, the coupler attaches the trailer to the ball on the hitch.

Curb Weight is the actual weight of a vehicle or trailer, including all standard equipment, full fuel tanks, full fresh water tanks, full propane bottles, and all other equipment fluids, but before taking on any persons or personal cargo.

Often referred to as the auxiliary battery(s) or house battery, it is used to supply 12-volt DC power to the appliances and accessories in the RV. Unlike an automotive starting battery, they are designed to hold a charge longer and be discharged repeatedly. The RV battery(s) is charged when the motor home is running, or in the case of a trailer, when the tow vehicle is running, if a charge line was wired in to the trailer plug. It is also charged when the RV is plugged in to a 120-volt power source or by an onboard generator (if the RV is equipped with one).

Also called an “on demand water pump”. The onboard water system operates off of a 12-volt demand pump. When you have potable water in your fresh water holding tank and the pump is turned on it pressurizes the onboard water system. When you open a faucet and the water pressure drops the pump cycles on and off to maintain a constant pressure.

FRont Engine Diesel – When your diesel motorhomes engine is located in the front

When your diesel motorhome engine is located in the rear of the RV it is called a diesel pusher.  While most pushers are equipped with diesel engines, some gas engine models are also available.

booth-like dining area. The table usually drops to convert the dinette into a bed at night.  See “Booth Dinette”

A vehicle towed behind a motorhome, sometimes with two wheels on a special trailer called a tow dolly, but often with all four wheels on the ground.  Also called a “Toad” (towed).

The weight of the RV without adding fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers. The manufacturers UVW (Unloaded Vehicle Weight) will not include any dealer-installed options.

This term refers to the method of igniting the main burner on a propane fired appliance. The burner is lit with an electric spark and the flame is monitored by an electronic circuit board. This ignition system is used in refrigerators, furnaces and water heaters.

RV equipped with lights, appliances that operate on 12-volt battery power when self-contained, and with a converter, on 110 AC current when in campgrounds or with an onboard generator.

A truck having two wheels on each side of the rear axle for a total of four wheels.

Air conditioning supplied through a ducting system in the ceiling. This supplies cooling air at various vents located throughout the RV.

is warm air from the furnace supplied to various locations in the RV through a ducting system located in the floor (similar to house heating systems).

Where both holding tanks terminate into one main outlet. This is where you connect the RV sewer hose to dump or empty the gray and black water holding tanks.

An area designated and approved for dumping or emptying your gray and black water holding tanks.  Most campgrounds have dump stations, and there may also be public (or private paid) dump stations located in some towns and cities.

Trailer brakes are electric and are activated when the tow vehicle brakes are applied by means of a brake controller installed in the tow vehicle.

This term refers to the bottom surface of your RV being closed shut to help against weather. Manufacturers will also offer additional packages that will increase the number of seasons you can use your RV in.

Provides power to your motorhome or tow vehicle.

A heat exchanger, similar to a small radiator, through which engine oil passes and is cooled by airflow.

An equalizing hitch, or weight distributing hitch uses additional hardware (spring bars and brackets) to distribute a percentage of the trailer tongue weight to the axles on the tow vehicle and the axles on the trailer. Trailer tongue weight should be 10 to 15 percent of the loaded trailer weight.

A device installed on the engine which causes deceleration by restricting the exhaust gases. Exhaust brakes are used to supplement the service brakes of a vehicle and to increase stopping power. Especially useful to slow heavy loads down steep grades.

Gauge indicating engine exhaust gas temperature as measured by a probe inserted into the gas flow. Temperature is generally measured directly after the exhaust manifold or after the turbo. Useful in preventing engine overheating.

This is a switch used for fans on appliances that closes when a preset temperature is reached. On a furnace, it causes it to run for a short time after the thermostat opens, allowing the furnace to cool down.

Dining area with individual chairs and a table in-between.

A trailer and hitch configuration connected to the tow truck directly above the rear axle by way of a special fifth wheel hitch.  See “Classes and Types of RVs” for more information.

Also known as a Pop-up or tent trailer. They are small light weight RV’s with collapsible ends and sides for ease of towing and storage.  For more information see “Classes and Types of RVs

The amount of potable (drinkable) water your RV’s fresh water tank can hold.

An area on the outside of the RV which has a connection or inlet where you can fill the fresh water holding tank with potable water to use when you are traveling or dry camping.

A tank mounted under or in the RV that stores potable water for use while traveling or dry camping.

When the kitchen is located in the front of your RV.

When the living-room is located in the front of your RV.

When the master bedroom is located in the front of your RV.

This is when an RV campground offers a water supply, sewer or septic, and electricity. Some RV parks also offer cable TV and telephone line connections.

A person living full-time in an RV, having no other home.

When powered, initiates gas valve opening and spark sequence which lasts approximately 7 seconds. Newer boards are 3 try (ie. will attempt to ignite 3 times at approximately 60 second intervals). Older models are 1 try.

Type of fuel your motorhome uses. Either Gas or Diesel.

The kitchen in an RV

Commonly used on motorhomes, a generator produces 120-volt AC power. A generator allows you to use 120-volt appliances when you are not plugged into an external electrical source. Generators are rated in kilowatts. For example a 5 KW generator is 5,000 watts. Generators may run on propane, gasoline or diesel fuel. They may be portable or built in (as with some motorhomes).  Genny is short for Generator

A trailer and hitch configuration connected to the tow vehicle (pickup truck) directly above the rear axle by way of a standard ball hitch in the truck bed and a vertical, slender arm on front of the trailer. Gooseneck hitches are more common on horse and utility trailers, but not found as often on RV’s.

The degree of inclination of a road. A grade of 6% or higher is considered steep.  Understanding grades (or inclinations) is important if you are driving or pulling an RV as they will affect your drive time, fuel efficiency and more.

This is wastewater from the sinks, shower and tub. In some units, grey water is kept in a tank separate from black water. As with Black water, it is dumped in large tanks or dumping station available at most campgrounds.

A tank (usually made of Low Density Polyethylene or LDPE.) mounted under the RV that collects wastewater from the sinks, shower, bathtub and laundry. When you empty your holding tanks you should always empty (or dump) the black tank first, and then dump the grey tank. This will assist in rinsing out the flexible sewer hose prior to storage.

The manufacturer’s rating for the maximum allowable weight that an axle is designed to carry.

The actual weight placed on a single axle.  It includes the weight of tires, wheels, brakes, and the axle itself.  This is set by the manufacturer.

This is the actual weight of the fully loaded tow vehicle as well the towed vehicle (trailer, car, boat, etc.), including all cargo, fluids, passengers, and optional equipment

The maximum allowable weight of the combination of tow vehicle and trailer or fifth-wheel, or motorhome and dinghy (tow vehicle). It includes the combined weight of the vehicle, trailer/fifth-wheel (or dinghy), cargo, passengers and a full load of fluids (fresh water, propane, fuel, etc.).

The actual weight of a vehicle when fully loaded. (Base Curb Weight + Cargo Weight)

The actual weight of a loaded vehicle or trailer, including all cargo, fluids, passengers, and optional equipment.

The same as Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) when referring to a trailer.

Truck rating initially created to specify the cargo carrying capacity of a half ton (1,000 lbs). Today, tonnage rating is no longer an adequate indication of a truck’s cargo carrying capacity.  Instead it is more of a relational indication among trucks in different categories. Common half ton pickup truck models are the Chevrolet 1500, Dodge 1500, Ford F-150, and GMC 1500.

A heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat from one source to another. In an air conditioner, warmer air passes through cold coils turning the air cold. In a furnace, the propane flame and combustion products are contained inside the heat exchanger that is sealed from the inside area. Inside air is blown over the surface of the exchanger, where it is warmed and then blown through the ducting system for heating while combustion gases are vented to the outside.

An electric heating element located inside the air conditioning system with the hot air distributed by the air conditioner fan and ducting system. They typically have 1500 watt elements (about the same wattage as an electric hair dryer).

The connection used between your tow vehicle and your RV.

The hitch receiver is mounted to the frame of the tow vehicle. A ball mount slides into the receiver. There are five classes of hitch receivers based on the maximum amount of weight the receiver can handle.

Hitch weight or Tongue weight (TW) is the amount of weight pressing down on the vehicle’s hitch from the coupler of the trailer when the trailer is fully loaded for travel. For trailers that weigh over 2,000 pounds TW should be 10 to 15 percent of the loaded trailer weight. For fifth wheel trailers hitch weight should be 15 to 20 percent of the loaded trailer weight.

Refers to the group of tanks in an RV such as Black Tank, Grey Tank and Fresh Water Tank. There are usually three different holding tanks on most RVs; fresh water tank, gray water tank and black water tank. The fresh water tank holds fresh water that can be stored for later use. The gray water tank holds the waste water from the sinks, showers, bathtubs and laundry. The black water tank holds the waste from the toilet.

Connections to a campground’s facilities. The major types of hookups are electrical, water and sewer. Hookups may also include telephone and cable TV in some campgrounds. Full hookups refer to a combination of water, electricity and sewer.

Euphemism for the sewage pumping truck. Honey wagons are used to empty RV holding tanks in places where full hookups and dump stations are not available.

One or more batteries in a recreational vehicle used to operate the 12 volt lights, appliances, and any other 12 volt systems. House batteries can be 12 volt units tied in parallel or pairs of 6 volt batteries tied in series (to double the voltage). The term house battery is of more significance in motor homes because they contain one or more other batteries for the operation of the engine, referred to as the chassis or starting batteries.

Used for leveling an RV, typically a Class A motorhome and some larger fifth wheels, they are remotely operated leveling jacks that work by pumping hydraulic fluid into the jacks located on the undercarriage of the motorhome and are controlled by levers or a touch pad normally located near the driver’s seat (in a motorhome) or a storage compartment (usually on the drivers side of the fifth wheel).  Some motorhomes and fifth wheels also use electric jacks instead of hydraulic.

Similar to a spark plug, this is a device used in propane appliances such as an RV stove, oven, refrigerator and hot water heater. It is used to provide a spark and start the appliance when it is running on propane.

A device that converts 12 volt battery power to 120 volt AC power. The amount of available power depends on the storage capacity of the batteries and the wattage rating of the inverter. There are 3 primary types of inverters: Square wave, Modified Sine wave and Pure Sine wave. The most common used in an RV are Modified Sine and Pure Sine. The modified sine wave inverter will power most things in your RV while a pure sine wave inverter is needed for more delicate electronics such as flat screen TVs, computers and other newer electronics.

An abbreviation for Internet Service Provider.

Another way of saying Exhaust brake. This is a device installed on the engine which causes deceleration by restricting the flow of exhaust from the engine. Exhaust brakes are used to supplement the service brakes of a vehicle and to increase stopping power. Especially useful to slow heavy loads down steep grades.

The pin by which a fifth wheel trailer attaches to the truck. It fits into the fifth wheel hitch reciever and needs to be locked into place before attempting to pull your fifth wheel trailer.

King Pin Weight (also called Pin Weight) is the actual weight pressing down on the fifth wheel hitch by the trailer. The recommended amount of King Pin Weight is 15%-25% of the GTW.

Laminate are boards or panels made up of several different materials sandwiched together using pressure, heat and adhesive. They can be used to form an RV’s walls, floor and roof.

Refers to the outside wall construction of your RV. They are constructed using an aluminum frame, styrofoam, fiberglass sheeting laminated together and then they are treated with a gel-coat to protect them.

A jack lowered from the underside of trailers and motor homes for the purpose of leveling the vehicle. A leveling jack is designed to bear a significant portion of the RV’s weight, even lifting it off the ground on certain models.

RVs that are designed to be easily towed behind most Minivans, light-duty trucks and cars. The most common being a pop-up trailer.

A furnace safety switch that is usually closed, but that does open if it gets too hot. When it opens, it turns off the power to the gas valve and igniter board.

Usually found in Toy Haulers, this is a space above the garage, entrance door, or other space, that includes a large sleeping area. Much like a bunk bed without the lower bed.

Liquid propane or liquefied petroleum is the gas used for RV appliances. Typically it is used for the range burners, oven, water heater, some generators, and the LP gas mode of the refrigerator. LP gas is stored in cylinders or bottles on trailers and in tanks mounted to the frame of motor homes.

LP gas leak detectors are audible alarms that warn you of a potential gas leak. They are normally found close to floor level because LP gas is heavier than air and will settle towards the floor.

Luxury RVs refer to RVs that are made with extra features and better construction. They can range to well over 1 million dollars

The maximum allowable fully loaded weight of a trailer. (GCWR – GVW).

This panel allows you to check or monitor the fluid levels in the gray, black and fresh water holding tanks. You can also check the condition of the auxiliary battery(s) and on some monitor panels, the propane level.

A motor vehicle built on a truck or bus chassis and designed to serve as self-contained living quarters for recreational travel. Also commonly spelled as motorhome.  There are many different classes of motorhome – see Classes and Types of RVs.

Also referred to as “Payload Capacity”. It is is the maximum amount of persons, personal cargo, optional equipment, and Tongue or King Pin weight that can be added to an RV without exceeding its GVWR (as specified by the manufacturer). The formula for NCC is GVWR – UVW. NCC differs slightly from the more widely used “payload” term, by including full fresh water and propane tank weights.

Abbreviation for Original Equipment Manufacturer

Truck rating originally conceived to indicate cargo carrying capacity of one ton (2,000 lbs). Today, tonnage rating is no longer an accurate indication of cargo carrying capacity. It is more of a relational indication among trucks in different categories. Common one ton pickup truck models are the Chevrolet 3500, Dodge 3500, Ford F-350, and GMC 3500.

The portion of the motorhome that extends from the rear axle to the rear of the motorhome.

A travel trailer that needs park amenities to function. It lacks holding tanks and dual-voltage appliances, which means it needs to be hooked up to water, sewage, and an electrical service. A park model is more of a small mobile home than a recreational vehicle, in appearance and function.

People who use their RV for extended stays, longer than typical campers, but for less time than full-timers

Payload is a weight rating. It is the maximum weight that people plus cargo should never exceed.

A pilot (also known as pilot light) is a small flame that is used to ignite the main burner of a propane fired appliance when flame or heat is required. Pilots are commonly found in furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators, ovens and stove tops.

Also known as King Pin Weight, this refers to the weight from the trailer that is transferred to the king pin.

A small, light-weight trailer also known as a fold up trailer, or tent trailer, that folds or collapses into a low-profile carriage, suitable for towing behind light vehicles such as cars, SUVs, and smaller (or regular sized) pickup trucks.

Describes the up and down movement of an RV when traveling

A portable RV toilet with a small holding tank. When the holding tank cartridge is full it can be removed and emptied at a dump station.

Also known as a Water Pressure Regulator, this device is installed on a water hose attached at the city water connection to limit the water pressure entering the RV. Most regulators limit water pressure to 40 psi.

Also known as LPG or liquefied petroleum gas, propane is used in RVs for heating, cooking and refrigeration.  It can be stored in onboard tanks, such as on some Class “A” motorhomes, or in portable tanks, such as with your BBQ.

A campground site that requires no backing into. The site is designed for you to drive or pull through.

A motorhome with rear mounted engine. Most pushers are equipped with diesel engines, but some gas engine models are also available.

When the kitchen, living room or bedroom is located in the rear of the RV they are considered rear kitchen, or rear living, or rear bedroom.

A Recreation Vehicle combines transportation and living quarters for recreation, camping, and travel into a single unit. They can be classified in two basic groups: motorized RVs and towable RVs.

Motorized RVs include Class A, B and C motorhomes.

Towables include pop-ups (tent trailers), travel trailers, fifth wheels and truck campers. RV’s refer to multiple RV and RVers refer to their owners.

For more information on the types and styles of RVs see “Classes and Types of RVs

An LP gas regulator controls or regulates the flow of LP gas (propane) through an RVs appliances, while maintaining the proper operating pressure in the LP gas system.

Rear Gross Axle Weight (GAW) is the actual weight placed on the rear axle.

Rear Gross Axle Weight Rating (RGAWR) is the maximum number that the GAW of the rear axle should never exceed.

Generally refers to the truck towing a travel trailer, or an entire RV.  For example, a truck towing a trailer could be considered a rig, as are motorhomes, but sometimes even the pickup truck itself is considered a rig.

An air conditioning unit usually mounted on the roof of an RV used to cool the air temperature inside the RV when it is parked.

When moving, some RVs (such as motorhomes) are cooled by separate air conditioning units that are components of the engine, much like in a car or pickup truck.

Roof air conditioners usually need shore power to run them while some can be cooled by a roof top if a proper size generator is installed.

Abbreviation for the RV Consumer Group organization.

Abbreviation for:  Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association

Abbreviation for:  Recreation Vehicle Industry Association

A set of chains that are installed as a precaution to the trailer A-Frame and connected to the tow vehicle while towing an RV. Safety chains are intended to keep the trailer attached to the tow vehicle in the event of hitch failure, averting a complete separation of the trailer from the tow vehicle.

These chains should be attached to the tow vehicle from the trailer using an X-pattern (criss-crossed) underneath the A-Frame so the coupler is held off the road in the event of a separation.

A screened-in enclosure that attaches to the exterior of an RV. They provide protection from insects and rain, and may include panels to protect from sun. Screen rooms are most commonly used with pop-ups.

A term describing a RV that has all the components for living like electricity, plumbing, heating, sleeping and more without relying on an outside power, water or sewer source

A flexible hose that attaches to both the RV sewer outlet and the campground sewer inlet used to dump or empty holding tanks. You should have a hose with necessary sewer hose attachments available that is long enough to reach from your sewer outlet to the campground sewer inlet. Most common sewer hoses come in 10 or 20 foot lengths and can be joined with special connectors to make them even longer, as needed.

“Stinky Slinky” is a slang term for this hose.

A plastic or rubber ring used to get a good seal between the sewer hose and the campground sewer connection. Sewer hose donuts are required at many campgrounds.

Originally a boating term that has been adopted by the RV community to refer to the electrical power hookup supplied to the RV by a fixed, external source (not by a portable generator). A full hookup RV site has shore power.

The amount of sleeping spaces in your RV. RVs come with different types of sleeping arrangements from regular sized beds, to hide-a-beds in sofas, to collapsible booth dinettes which convert into beds, and drop down bunks

Also referred to as a slide-out.  A compartment added to an RV to provide you with additional living space. It slides into the body during travel and slides out when parked. Some RVs have multiple slides.

A fifth wheel hitch used with short wheel base (also known as short box) pickup trucks. With short wheel base trucks the front of the 5th wheel trailer can make contact with the cab of the truck when turning too sharply.

A slider hitch has two positions. One for normal driving conditions and one for maneuvering where tighter turns are required.

A snowbird is a term for a person who travels from the higher latitudes and colder climates of Canada or the northern United States in the southward direction in fall or winter to warmer locales such as Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt of the southern United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean.

Solar panels (also known as “PV panels”) are used to convert light from the sun, which is composed of particles of energy called “photons”, into electricity that can be used to power electrical loads. They are typically mounted on the roof of RVs and used for charging the batteries.

Jacks installed under or lowered from trailers and motorhomes for the purpose of stabilizing the vehicle when it is being set up at the campground. A stabilizing jack is not designed to bear a significant portion of the RVs weight, only a small amount to reduce movement during occupancy.

Stabilizing jacks are generally found toward the back of trailers (or front and back of longer units), under the king pin of fifth wheels, and under some slides.

Stabilizer jacks are not designed to level the trailer.

A set of high strength steel bars designed to reduce or eliminate side to side sway movement of your trailer. They attach from the RVs A Frame to the tow vehicles hitch to “firm up” your ride by reducing the sway which may occur when towing a trailer.

Small, light-weight trailer that folds or collapses into a low profile, suitable for towing behind light vehicles such as cars, SUVs, and mini pickup trucks.

Truck rating originally conceived to indicate cargo carrying capacity of three-quarter ton (1,500 lbs) pickup trucks. Today, tonnage rating is no longer an accurate indication of cargo carrying capacity—it is more of a relational indication among trucks in different categories. Common three-quarter ton pickup truck models are the Chevrolet 2500, Dodge 2500, Ford F-250, and GMC 2500.

An RV refrigerator that can operate off of 120-volt AC, 12-volt DC, and LP (propane) gas.

A sensor that can measure temperature using two different metals when heated that monitors the pilot flame of a pilot model propane appliance. If the pilot flame goes out for any reason, the thermocouple causes the gas valve to shut off the flow of gas to both the pilot flame and the main burner thus preventing major disasters.

A jack lowered from the frame of a travel trailer, directly behind the tongue, for the purpose of leveling the trailer. A tongue jack is designed to bear a significant portion of the RV’s weight, called the Tongue Weight (10% – 15% recommended).

The amount of force that is put on the hitch from the coupler when the trailer is connected to the tow vehicle. Also referred to as “hitch weight” or “tongue load”. Tongue weight for a travel trailer can be 10-15 percent of overall weight; fifth-wheel hitch weight is usually 18-20 percent of the overall weight.

A portable tank used to dump the contents of a holding tank into, and then transported to a dump station to be emptied.

A tow bar is a bar installed on the back of a vehicles to tow a trailer or hold a device like a bike rack.

A trailer used to tow a vehicle behind a motorhome when the vehicle cannot be towed with all four wheels on the ground. Two of the vehicles wheels are on the tow dolly and two are on the road surface.

The maximum weight your tow vehicle can safely tow(set by the vehicle manufacturer).

A toy hauler refers to both fifth wheels and travel trailers.  It describes an RV designed to carry toys—small cars, dune buggies, four wheelers, motorcycles, etc.

A distinctive feature of a toy hauler is the large door in the back which opens down to create a ramp or deck, which then opens into a dedicated garage area that also usually has fold-away furniture in the main compartment, and often a third axle to support the heavy toys.

Some toy haulers also have their own supplementary gas tank which is used to fuel the toys.

Brakes that are built into the trailer’s axle systems which are activated either by electric impulse or by a surge mechanism. The overwhelming majority of RVs utilize electric trailer brakes that are actuated when the tow vehicle’s brakes are operated, or when a brake controller is manually activated. Surge brakes utilize a mechanism positioned at the coupler that detects when the tow vehicle is slowing or stopping and activates the trailer brakes via a hydraulic system.

A small heat exchanger or radiator designed to protect your transmission from overheating. It is usually mounted at the front of the vehicle, in front of the radiator. Automatic transmission fluid circulates through the oil cooler and is cooled by the airflow coming into the front of the vehicle.

A towable trailer that hitches onto a ball mount on the tow vehicle and designed as living quarters for recreational travel.

To learn more, see “Classes and Types of RVs

Truck campers are RVs designed to slide onto the bed of a pickup truck. The tailgate is lowered or removed and the truck camper is attached to the truck via tie-downs. This makes for a very versatile RV that can access back roads and remote areas other RVs can’t get to.

Truck Campers also usually have their own legs which can be folded town to support the camper on its own, either in the back of the truck or when not mounted into the truck bed.

For more information please see “Classes and Types of RVs

The wiring harness which connects the trailer to the tow vehicle during transport. The umbilical cord supplies the trailer with DC power for charging the batteries and operating DC equipment. It also operates the trailer brakes and signal lights when connected.

It is important to disconnect your RV from your tow vehicle when it is set up as it may continue to draw power from your tow vehicle which could drain it’s battery so that it might not start when needed.

The underbelly refers to bottom of a travel trailer or fifth wheel. It is protected by a weatherproof material.

Also referred to as “Dry Weight”.  This is the weight of a vehicle as manufactured at the factory.  It includes the weight of the vehicle with the engine and generator, and fuel tanks and fluids, if applicable.

It does not include cargo, water, propane, people or dealer-installed accessories. It may or may not include factory installed options.

Be aware that some manufacturers weigh each unit to determine UVW, while others provide only the average or estimated weight for each model.

Very similar to Class B motorhomes, a van conversion is a type of RV where the owner has converted a typical stock van into an RV.  Some may have elevated roof lines but no modifications to the length or width of the original chassis.

Is used to prevent too much water pressure from entering the RV and damaging the plumbing system. You attach the pressure regulator to the campground water supply and then attach one end of your drinking hose to the regulator and the other end to the city water inlet on the RV.

Most regulators limit water pressure to 40 psi.

People who travel and use their RVs on the weekend throughout the year.

Also known as a “dead-weight” hitch, this category includes any system that accepts the entire hitch weight of the trailer. In the strictest sense, even a weight-distributing hitch can act as a load-carrying hitch if the spring bars are not installed and placed under tension.

A ball hitch system that distributes some of the tongue weight to all axles of the tow vehicle and trailer.

With standard ball hitches, all the tongue weight rests on the tow vehicle’s rear axle.  With the weight-distributing hitch, spring tensioned bars are used to distribute the weight across all the axles. This provides more weight on the front axle for better steering control, and less weight on the rear axle to allow towing a heavier trailer that may otherwise overload the rear axle.

The weight of the vehicle with the fuel, fresh water and propane tanks full.

This is the distance between the center lines of the primary axles on your RV.

An RV having an external body width greater than 96 inches (8 feet). The most common wide-body widths are 100″ and 102″. Also widebody.

The process of introducing non-toxic antifreeze into the water lines and drain traps of an RV for winter storage to prevent freezing and line breaks.

As part of your winterization process you should also drain all holding tanks, freshwater tanks and water heaters, remove batteries (if you store your RV in a location where it may freeze) and cover it.

Technology that enables computers equipped with wireless network cards (also called WiFi) to connect to the Internet without requiring wired connections such as phone lines or cables. This service may require an additional fee and a sign-up process.

Some RV parks offer free WiFi, but their capabilities may be limited, or non-existent if the RV park is full.

Refers to the left and right movement of a travel trailer (also known as fishtailing) caused by external forces that set the trailer’s mass into a lateral (side-to-side) motion. The trailer’s wheels serve as the axis or pivot point. Also known as “sway”.