RV Guide | RV Terms and Definitions

RV Guide | RV Terms and Definitions

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Before starting an RV search, it is essential to review the RV vocabulary. Learn the meaning of common RV terms commonly used on forums and blogs. After reading this guide, you’ll be ready to crack the brief descriptions and easily find your way around RV owner groups!

RV Terms & Definitions

# to C:

4-Pin Electrical Connector: This provides your RV with power from your tow vehicle for lighting only. 

7 Pin Electrical Connector: This provides power from your tow vehicle to your RV  for lights and electric brakes  Air Conditioning  Aluminum Exterior Sidewalls – This term refers to the exterior construction of your RV. It consists of a wooden frame with an aluminum exterior and slatted insulation.

Auxiliary Battery: An extra battery to power your 12-volt devices. Reversing Monitor – A camera mounted on the back of the RV that gives the driver an extra eye when reversing the RV; 

Backup monitors are usually located on the dash next to the driver’s seat. Basement – The large storage area under the floor of your RV, accessed via external storage doors.Black water capacity: The amount of toilet wastewater that your RV’s black water tank can hold. 

Cabin Dinette – Dining area with benches on opposite sides and a center table. Many RVs have cabin dinettes that convert to additional sleeping space.

Brake Control – A tow vehicle-mounted device that operates the trailer brakes at the same time as the tow vehicle brakes.

Emergency Stop Switch – A safety switch that automatically engages the trailer brakes if your trailer is separated from the tow vehicle.

Bunkhouse – Refers to the layout style of an RV with bunks.

C to F:

CCC (Cargo Carrying Capacity): The maximum weight limit for personal items you can add to an RV.Chassis: This is the frame on which your RV is built. In motorhomes, the chassis usually includes the engine and transmission. Chassis Battery: The battery in your RV that powers the 12-volt powertrain components. 

Cabin: The front part of your RV where the driver’s seat and the passenger seats are located.

Dashboard – A dashboard where you can control and adjust the RV’s climate, water, and power systems. Many modern motorhomes have touchscreen panels or apps for easy operation. 

Inverter – Converts 120-volt AC  to 12-volt DC  and also charges your 12-volt battery. Diesel 

Extractor – FRED (or Front Engine Diesel) – Refers to diesel RVs where the engine is located at the front of the RV.

Diesel Pusher – Refers to diesel motorhomes where the engine is located in the rear of the motorhome. RV. The position of the motor helps push the RV down the road for a smoother, quieter ride.

 Boat: A vehicle towed behind an RV; sometimes also called “toad”. 

Dry Weight – The weight of the RV when it comes off the assembly line. Does not include supplies, water, fuel, or passenger weight. Manufacturers weigh each RV and affix a  dry weight label. before shipping.

DSI Ignition – Direct Spark Ignition – Used to describe the method of igniting the main burner of a propane-fueled appliance. 

Ducted Air Conditioning – Describes an RV in which the air conditioning is supplied by ducts in the ceiling and vents throughout the RV. 

Dissipated Heat – Describes an RV where heat is supplied through ducts in the floor and vents throughout the RV. Disposal Station: Refers to a place where you can safely and legally dispose of your black and gray water tanks. Usually a concrete platform with a tank underground.

Closed/sealed floor: This term describes an RV whose underside has been closed or insulated to help protect against temperature changes. 

F to H:

Separate Dining Room: Dining area with individual chairs and a center table. Fresh Water Capacity: The amount of drinking water that an RV’s fresh water tank can hold. 

Front Kitchen: A type of plan where the kitchen is in the front, the front part of the RV. Front Living: A type of layout where the living room is in front of the RV. 

Front sleeping: A type of layout where the master bedroom is in the front of the RV.Fuel Type: The type of fuel an RV uses, either gasoline or diesel. Full Hookup – RV term describing a campground that provides water supply, sewerage/septic tank, and electricity. 

Full-time workers – people who live in their RV year-round. Kitchen: Another term referring to the kitchen of an RV. 

GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating): This is the total weight allowed on each individual axle, which includes the weight of tires, wheels, brakes, and the axle itself. 

GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating): This is the gross combined weight of the tow vehicle, trailer, all cargo on it, tow bar, fluids, and occupants. Generator – Provides 120-volt AC power to an RV. 

Generators can run on gas, diesel, or propane. Gray water capacity: The amount of used water from a kitchen sink, sink, or shower that an RV’s gray water tank can hold. 

GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): The maximum weight that an RV can exceed to ensure safe driving.Includes chassis, body, engine, fluids, fuel, accessories, passengers, cargo, etc.

H to L:

Height: Measurement from top to bottom of an RV. Trailer hitch (or receiver hitch): The connection between a tow vehicle and a motorhome. Hitch Capacity: The towing capacity of the receiver hitch, measured in pounds. Holding tanks: A term that refers to the fresh water tank, gray water tank, and recovery vehicle recovery tank. Domestic Battery: The battery in an RV that powers the 12-volt electrical system inside the RV.

Interior Height: Floor-to-ceiling measurement in a recreational vehicle. Inverter – Converts 12-volt DC power to 110-volt AC power. King Pin Weight (or Pin Weight) – The actual weight being pushed onto the fifth wheel by the trailer. In general, the recommended amount of King Pin weight is 15% to 25% of the gross trailer weight (GTW).

L to P:

Leaf Walls – This term refers to the exterior wall construction of an RV. Traditionally it consists of an aluminum frame, styrofoam, and fiberglass panels treated with a gel coat and then laminated. a mobile home. 

Leveling Jacks – Equipment used to ensure that an RV is leveled on the ground. Loft Bed: A type of sleeping space where the bed is on a raised platform above another room or multipurpose area. Most commonly found on the recreational vehicle or caravan fifth wheels. 

LPG: LPG, is another term for propane.

P to T:

Parking Model: A specific type of RV  designed to be permanently parked in an area. Part-time workers: A term used to describe people who travel and use an RV beyond the occasional vacation, but do not live in their RV full-time. 

Rear Living – This term describes an RV layout where the living room is in the back of the coach. Rear Bedroom – A type of layout where the master bedroom is in the back of the 

 RV.Sleeping Capacity: The number of sleeping places in an RV. There are different types of sleeping arrangements. Examples include standard king and queen beds, pull-out sofa beds or sleeper sofas, convertible dinette cabins, fixed bunks, and pull-out bunks. 

Sliders: Expansive walls or parts of an RV. Sliders create an additional living area in the mobile home.

Sway Bar System: Equipment designed to reduce or eliminate the side-to-side swaying motion of a towable RV.

T to Z:

Toad: A vehicle towed behind an RV; sometimes also called “boat”. Tongue Weight – The actual weight pressing on the hitch ball on the tow vehicle. Generally, the weight of the tab is 10% to 15% of the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). The weight specified by the vehicle manufacturer that a towing vehicle can safely tow. Contact the vehicle manufacturer or use a towing operator to find out a specific vehicle’s towing capacity.

Bottom: Term used to describe the bottom of an RV; Similar to the landing gear. Weekends: Motorhome owners who travel mainly on weekends throughout the year and use a motorhome. 

Weight Distribution System: Transfers weight from the trailer tongue and distributes it to the front of the tow vehicle.

Wheelbase: The distance between the center lines of the drive axles of an RV. Width: The  side measurement of an RV (does not include the additional width of the extended 


Now that you know these RV terms, take a look at our other great new RV content. In this post, we explain the differences between the types of  RV. After that, take a look at some common RV myths and discover the truths behind them.

Staying Safe While Camping

Going camping is generally a safe endeavor, especially if you are camping at a campground where many other campers will be. But that doesn’t mean that it comes without risk. 

And if you plan to go hiking while on your camping trip, that is another consideration. Bringing plenty of water, provisions, and proper clothing is suitable to start. 

Fast food in a plastic tub locked in your car keeps critters at bay. It’s also likely that you won’t have cell service, so having a satellite phone can be very helpful. Phones like Iridium, Globalstar, Inmarsat, and Thuraya work in remote areas where cell phone use is often impossible.

Preparation as a camping newbie is critical. Once you are, we guarantee you’ll have a great time camping.


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