Jan 262009

In a recent blog comment, a reader asked about the availability of small trash compactors for RVs. We have seen them in several upper level diesel pushers, though they have never really appealed to us.

It is interesting what one person thinks is an essential item in an RV, while someone else would consider it a waste of space. It’s all about your personal preferences.

Many of the upscale rigs we have seen, including a lot of Prevost bus conversions and some of the big truck conversions, don’t have a stove. Instead they have only a two burner cook top, and sometimes a microwave/convection oven. Terry loves to cook, and would never be happy without a stove and oven. On the other hand, she has never liked microwaves, and we finally discarded ours because it was just taking up space she would rather use for storage.

Another kitchen accessory we have seen in RVs is a dishwasher. For us, that would just be a waste of space and absolutely worthless. Yet, for some RVers, it is very popular. Some people consider an RV washer/dryer combination a must have, while others think that their small capacity and limitations make them more trouble than they are worth and just go to a laundromat. We have had two of the Splendide combos and were never happy with them. We upgraded to separate apartment sized Whirlpool washer and dryer units and Terry would not be without them. We have seen RVs with huge flat screen televisions in the front living area, a nice TV in the bedroom, and even a third TV in an outside bay that pulls out to watch under the awning. We have a 20 inch LCD TV in the living room, and eventually we may put one in the bedroom, but after eight years without one, would we even watch it?

Lately I’ve wanted to replace our old portable tripod satellite TV dish with one of the automatic rooftop domes. The tripod unit has served us well, but there are many nights when we pull into a roadside rest area or a parking lot someplace where setting up a dish would not be possible. And in some campgrounds, it’s been darned hard to lock in on a signal. With a rooftop dish we could catch the news wherever we park, as long as we have a clear view of the sky. I’ve also considered the new VuCube portable automatic dishes. I talked to a trucker that hangs his VuCube off his side view mirror and can get a signal just about anywhere. Has anyone used one of them?

We have also seen many rigs with pullout barbecue grills in their bays. Why? I guess that would be fine if you’re into tailgate parties and such, but for fulltimers, that space is much too valuable to waste. Our small portable grill does the job just fine and uses much less space.

One thing that we see more and more RVs coming with these days is a computer desk. Not that silly pullout tray on the dashboard that some motorhomes have, but an actual desk where you can comfortably use your computer. In our first motorhome we took out a recliner that never got used and replaced it with a desk. Even if we were not working RVers who use the computer for hours a day, I’d still want this upgrade.

My buddy Ron Speidel has a macerator hooked up to his sewer dump system and really likes it. I bought a macerator a couple of years ago, and have not found it very useful up to this point.

Again, it’s all about your own needs and wants. Some people do a lot of boondocking, and find an array of solar panels invaluable. Others would never spend a night without hookups, and to them that would be a waste of money.

So what accessories do you find important in your RV, what do you have that you could do without, and what do you wish you had?

Thought For The Day Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

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Nick Russell

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  14 Responses to “RV Accessories And Upgrades”

  1. I really enjoy your blog and I think I’ve learned something from each one I’ve read..

    This is off topic but….. If you had it to do over would you still buy a bus?

  2. Hi Nick,

    You are right about the desk. I wouldn’t be without one but one thing that you did not mention is a fireplace. We have one in our current 5th wheel and made sure there was one in the new Big Sky 5th wheel that we have on order. We use it just about every day and love it. Most of our friends that laughed when they saw ours now have one and wouldn’t be without it.

    There is something special about sitting in front of the TV at night with a bag of popcorn and the fireplace on. We even use it with the heat turned off just for the ambiance.


  3. Nick, I’ve been thinking about getting a macerator pump. If your not using yours, I’ll Give you $50.00 for it.

  4. The VERY FIRST THING that came to mind in answer to your question is that MY number one accessory, the absolute one that I cannot do without, is my husband of 38 years! After him, everything else is just gravy!

  5. I could not do without sat.(although we currently have tripod). Next move is roof top automatic one. Anywhere we stop we can get news and current weather. The tripod mounted dish is so aggravating to operate and I find I have short fuse these days.

  6. We’d sure like a computer desk if we ever upgraded to a new unit, which we don’t plan to. We’ve been full-time in our 2001 motorhome for six and a half years. The first year out, we converted the dinette into a computer desk. Now we have file storage where the aft dinette bench used to be, and a small freezer sits where the forward bench used to be. Thank goodness the storage beneath the benches is pull out drawers, not lift up top!

    We’d also love a dishwasher, but there’s no room. We really are glad to have the freezer, as it has brought back halibut from Alaska, peaches and blueberries from Washington, roasted chilies from New Mexico and Flathead cherries from Montana!

  7. I will up the price $100.00 wish i had a sat dish or dome maybe a couple of slides or better yet (since we are wishing) how about a net newer Beaver Patriot, our’s is a 96 so maybe just ’05 or ’06 jim and lisa

  8. Mornin Nick

    As I said earlier we only have a little 15 ft. Aliner Cabin A3, so I guess my first want would be the 18 ft version or if I felt a little greedy maybe the 22 ft. model. That will never happen cause Columbia Northwest stopped making that version and now make a slightly different travel trailer model and I am not impressed with the new version.

    So what don’t I need! It has a furnace that for such a little rig is a waste. It runs on LP and that is not the problem. It is too much for the little rig. Can’t use it cause it just heats up too much too fast.

    And now for what I want! I would like an outside shower, coming soon. Would like a solar panel or two for going boondocking, coming not soon enough. Now for the greedy part, an awing or a screen room.

    I think that is all I would want. I love my little rig and it is almost perfect. I searched for a long time and looked and looked. Quality was the most important thing to me and I have to say I think what I have is the best. It is not perfect, but then nothing is. The solid two piece construction means no roof to care for other than to wash, no leaks to worry about, no rubber roof to maintain or repair, I have the Expedition model which comes with it’s own storage box on the front. I have an LP tank, 6 gal LP hot water heater, 12 gal black/grey/fresh water tanks. The heater, A/C, micro, 3 burner stove top, 3 way fridge, on demand water pump, extra outlets, a 12v marine battery, lp detector, smoke detector, Co2 detector, 2 vents, a big bubble window, 2 windows with screens, a bathroom with toilet and shower, two couches that make into a full bed, lots of cabinets for storage, a sink with hot and cold running water, storage room under my beds and all my stuff gives me more that enough to go and have fun with.

    When we were living in an RV resort in Central Florida a lot of the bigger guy’s laughed and teased me about my little rig. They would ask the question” where is the rest of it”. That’s ok I would tell them. I have everything you have just in a smaller package AND I can go anywhere I want and a lot of places you can’t plus I can go a lot cheaper. That would usually stop most of the laughter. Most of them were really suprised when I invited them in to visit or see all my stuff that I had all that I did and that there was so much room. My hubby is 6’5″ and at 290 a pretty big guy. He can be in it and sleep in it too. Of course, I don’t let him come with me all the time. I have weight dist. bars, a sway bar, electric brakes, and a top of the line Prodigy brake controller and I can back up my vehicle, hook everything up and be on the road in less that 30 minutes.

    So that is my story. As you can probably tell that I really love my little “house”. For me it is the most perfect rig I could ever have. Of course my hubby would love to have what you and Miss Terry have and maybe in the future that would be a possibility. But, for now we like what we have and it works for us.

    Cabin A3
    F150 supercrew

  9. The one thing that takes up too much room and is a waste, for me, is the entertainment center. I bought a used 2004 5th wheel that came with a big, heavy Magnavox tv, a big boom box radio & speakers, and a lot of remotes. I’ve had my rig since Dec 1st and the only thing I’ve turned the tv on for was the inauguration. I got ABC and while it wasn’t a great picture, it worked ok. If I had a long enough coaxial cable I could plug into cable at campgrounds that offer it, but I’m not a TV watcher.

    I’m taking up half the dining table with my computer stuff, so I’d like to get rid of the tv and maybe get a very small flat screen tv, and install a computer desk. The E-Center is in the dining room slide-out, and I don’t know if tampering with it would affect the weight distribution in the RV or the structural integrity of the slide. While it is an attractive part of the rig, it is absolutely useless to me.

    I sort of miss a washer & dryer, but wouldn’t bother with the combo. For now I’ll just take my laundry out, and while I’m in Sacramento visiting 3 of my kids, I just take my laundry when I go to one of their houses. Role reversal, isn’t it?


  10. Nick I couldn’t find a way to email you off line, but would appreciate your answer.

    I was checking my battery today and it is shot. I guess ( stupid me ) that I didn’t keep enough water in it, cause I didn’t check it out often enough. Story said.

    What I need is a new battery. Closed cell, gel, marine deep cycle, able to be used later to compliment solar power.

    What are your suggestion’s. I know you don’t always like to do that cause it might come back to bite you in the butt, so to speak. I would like some idea’s if you could cause I am a pretty big newbie on this stuff. But, I do know now what a bad battery smell like is when it is trying to charge and the top has already cracked. Could have been a bad incident I know. Live and learn.

    You can email be offline and I will look forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you in advance. LInda

    I know not quite as long an entry as the earlier one.

  11. Nick, I simply wouldn’t be without a very small, yet most improtant tool: my Pressure Pro tire monitoring system. As you’re well aware, it has a wireless sending unit screwed onto each valve stem on the RV and toad. It alwo includes a monitor which we’ve velcroed to the dash. This monitor measures approximately six inches by three inches and is less than 3/8s of an inch thick. The display shows the precise air pressure level of each monitored wheel and sends an alarm warning of either high or low air. My Pressure Pro has warned me of unsafe conditions more than once, and prevented a front wheel blow-out from becomming a possible tragedy. Of course, I know you wouldn’t be without yours either. . . you’re the one who told me to call Mike and Pat McFall and order one. What a deal! This is the one tool I wouldn’t be without. Thanks, oRV

  12. I added an electric “hog lift” for my motorcycle so along with the toad Jeep we have two vehicles where ever we go. It’s good to have my motorcycle along. When either of us needs a little space, we can go see a movie alone, or just cruise the area. I really enjoy being able to ride in different parts of the country. We’ll be in Arizona next week.

  13. Our Bigfoot levelers. We will never have a 5er without them.

  14. I would not be without our roof full of solar panels and the satellite dish up there. Could never dump with a 3 inch hose so the maserator stays too. Got to have my Verizon air card and wireless router, along with my ham radio equipment. Basically I must be able to have all of my toys just as I have at home. If I can not take them I am not going. Do not believe in roughing it but love drycamping. Would not trade my GMC Classic A coach for most pushers. The most important thing of all, my best friend Teri.

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