Top functional add-ons to make the most of your experience in camp.
Being handed the keys to a new motorhome is like being handed the keys to a wonderful lifestyle. As with our houses of sticks-and-bricks, we want to improve our homes on wheels to reflect our tastes and personalities better, and to help them function more comfortably.
I have yet to meet a motorhome owner who is completely content with their stock unit, and who doesn’t want to change or add a thing. Sometimes it’s something small like adding a hook in the bathroom for a towel or robe. But sometimes, it’s a sizable project, like adding a leveling system or making changes to the chassis to improve the driving experience.
While the list of possible improvements is almost endless, here are 10 upgrades that every motorhome owner will appreciate. Let your mind wander as you contemplate this list, as it is designed to help get the juices flowing, and to encourage you to reach for those upgrades you’ve always wanted to do. Have fun!
Slide toppers are available in many styles to match the original awning installed on your motorhome.If your motorhome came without slide toppers, then you should add these to your wish list. Slide toppers are awnings that are specifically designed to protect the roof and seals of your slideout room. They provide shade for the roof of the box, keeping it cooler and preserving the roof and seals from the environment. They also reduce the amount of rainwater that collects on the roof (it’s refreshing when the slide comes in wet, and all the water sloshes forward to land on the driver shortly after hitting the road), and they protect the roof and seals from debris that can get caught when the room is brought in. And in winter, they keep snow and ice from collecting on the roof and creating problems.
There are many options available for slide toppers, and we recommend matching the manufacturer of your motorhome’s other awnings for a consistent look. As mentioned before, some models can also further extend down to act as a window awning as well as a slide topper. Slide toppers are available for special order at Camping World RV & Outdoors and Gander RV & Outdoors.
The built-in generators in our motorhomes are super quiet, especially in comparison to those brain-rattling commercial models. However, exhaust fumes can make hanging out around the RV a smelly affair, and we’re not even mentioning the dangers associated with carbon monoxide (CO). Camco’s Gen-Turi is a simple device that directs the generator exhaust up above the roof and away from the RV. It works very simply by creating a venturi around the exhaust pipe, drawing fresh air around the hot exhaust, accelerating the flow of gasses upward.
Installation is quite simple, with an exhaust pipe adaptor that clamps to the generator exhaust and two small brackets attached to the motorhome side to keep the Gen-Turi upright. The parts are stored in a nylon bag and assembly takes only about a minute. MSRP: $185.99. The Gen-Turi is available at Camping World RV & Outdoors.
If you’re anything like me, you have an invisible “Eat at Chris’” neon sign over your head, inviting the insect world to sup upon you and your vacation. So, to fix it, you go inside. Or, you can use a screen room. Manufactured and sized to match the awning on your motorhome, screen rooms provide that screened-in porch, allowing you to enjoy a beautiful evening without being a sumptuous banquet.
Screen rooms come in a variety of styles, from basic screen enclosures to add-a-room styles with roll down windows and doors to increase privacy and add tent-like sleeping space for guests. Combined with an awning mat, it is like another room.
Some rooms, like the Carefree of Colorado Vacation’r, are designed for 12-volt awnings. The Vacation’r stows in a bag and is pretty lightweight for ease of installation. Others slide into the accessory slot on the awning roller tube and attach to the side of the motorhome. Privacy panels help seal up the area under the rig. Made to complement your brand of RV awning, prices vary based on size and features.
Back in the early 2000s, window awnings were popular and have fallen into obscurity to some extent, but they’re worth their weight in gold. When a motorhome is parked in the direct sun, the windows act to transfer heat into the RV, making the interior uncomfortable; sometimes even too hot for the air conditioning to keep up. Window awnings are manual pull-down awnings that match the windows’ size, and they can even match your main awning. The result is a cooler interior, and the windows can be left open to allow breezes to pass through, sometimes eliminating the need for air conditioning.
There are a few styles to consider, including basic vinyl or acrylic fabric, metal weather shields, and models combining a slideout cover and window awning in one piece of hardware. If you use your motorhome in the sun (and hey, who doesn’t?), then window awnings will improve the experience.
Window awnings are available from Carefree of Colorado, Dometic and Lippert Components, and are available for custom order at Camping World RV & Outdoors and Gander RV & Outdoors.
Upgrading a lackluster commode can make a big difference in comfort and even increase the motorhome’s resale value. Sure, basic-model toilets get the job done, but the market has expanded over the last 10 years to include larger, more residential models, with features like electric flush and more.
Replacing the toilet is an easy DIY job that anyone can do. It rarely involves more than replacing a couple of bolts and adapting over the water supply, which can be done with a simple ½-inch toilet hose adaptor available at the local home center. They even come with replacement seals for the gravity-flush models. Models from Dometic and Thetford include short- and long-bowl options and short and tall models for varying installation scenarios.
Of course, the daily shower (or two) is an opportunity to refresh one’s self, or to get the grime off after a day of hiking. There are several upgrades that motorhome owners can do to make the shower a better space, especially if the shower is on the simpler side.
Showerheads are the first thing most folks think of, and for good reason; they can make a big difference in the effectiveness of the shower. RV and marine showerheads are designed to be miserly to conserve water while providing a good spray pattern (or patterns). They also usually have a shut-off feature to help conserve water while lathering up. One of the best-reviewed models is the Camco RV/Marine showerhead, with four spray patterns, an on/off switch and heavy-duty construction. Available at Camping World RV & Outdoors for just under $20, it’s a great addition for relatively little money.
Upgrading your motorhome’s water pump to a higher-flow and higher-pressure model, like the Lippert Components Flow Max, makes quite an improvement.Many motorhomes come with a basic 12-volt water pump that can pump, at best, a paltry 3 gallons per minute (GPM) at 45 psi. While this will get the job done, these pumps can be noisy, with a lot of chatter and pulsation. If you spend a lot of time boondocking in your motorhome, a water-pump upgrade may be just the thing.
Upgraded 12-volt RV water pumps are available in sizes up to 5.3 GPM and 65 psi to improve the flow and pressure in your motorhome’s water system, to better simulate a city water connection. Many options will improve performance, and they’re pretty easy to install, though the largest pumps may require some rewiring.
Motorhomes are all about bringing home-style comfort on the road. If the mattress is thin or lumpy, the whole experience is shot.If sleeping in your motorhome is uncomfortable, then the whole experience suffers. Now, more than ever, there are good options for getting a good night’s sleep. While many RV beds use standard mattress sizes, there are also many odd sizes to be found (short queen, RV king, California king, twin XL, three-quarter, etc.), which require a custom or better-quality stock RV mattress. Camping World RV & Outdoors carries several brands that fit these and standard sizes. With the increasing popularity of memory foam, mattresses can be custom cut to any size, including having angles and “hinges” for slideout beds that require one.
Winegard ConnecT 2.0Many motorhomes are coming prepped for Wi-Fi and 4G LTE access point hardware, and even if not prepped, the installation of these systems is usually pretty straightforward. Built by companies like Furrion, KING, Winegard and WiFi Ranger, these systems will create a small wireless network inside and around your RV, and connect to an outside network for internet access. Because the system often uses an external antenna and a powered radio to boost transmit power, even connecting to campground Wi-Fi can be improved considerably.
What’s better is that the models with 4G LTE access can often work in concert with a cellular booster when LTE data is the only source for connectivity. While there are still plenty of connectivity hurdles out there, these systems can improve your ability to connect with family and work while on the road.
Cellular Signal Booster
In the 21st century, connectivity is vital, and for most of us, that means smart cellular devices. Of course, those iPhones and Androids are bricks if there is no signal for them to connect to a network.
Companies like Wilson Electronics, PDQ Connect, KING and Smoothtalker, to name a few, make cellular signal boosters for home, business, automotive and RV applications. While not necessarily a panacea for mobile connectivity issues, these systems do a pretty good job creating a small “cell” in your RV, while connecting to the existing signal from a distant cell tower.
The most powerful of the lot is the Wilson Electronics weBoost Connect RV 65. Designed for parked RVs, the weBoost Connect RV 65 has a telescoping antenna tower (RV flagpole) that gets deployed as you’re setting up the RV. After the initial installation, set up takes about 10 minutes. The weBoost Connect RV 65 will give you the best shot at making a reliable connection for voice and data, and because you have a local “cell,” battery longevity will be improved.