Unlike a traditional travel trailer, fifth wheel trailers are a class of RV towed by a pickup truck using a special hitch installed in the truck bed. Like any towable RV, fifth wheels provide all the comforts of home, with areas for sleeping, dining, and bathing.
Standard fifth wheel trailers are practical investments for those who like to take weekend getaways and long vacations. There are also luxury models that are quite spacious and can actually serve as the perfect choice for full time RV living.
How Much Does a Fifth Wheel Trailer Cost?
Fifth wheel prices are actually quite wide-ranged. There are fairly affordable models starting at just $10,000 for a brand new trailer. These aren’t going to be luxurious, but certainly be adequate for occasional family vacations. Many luxury fifth wheel models can cost upwards of $100,000 or more. Most RV buyers tend to purchase fifth wheel trailers somewhere in the middle between these price points.
The luxury models do have their perks, however. The premium fifth wheel models include high-end kitchens and living areas, plasma televisions, and even separate bedroom areas, including a master suite that sits over the truck bed. Keep in mind that you’ll need a pretty big and high-powered truck, perhaps even a dually, in order to tow these luxury models properly, which is even a bigger investment.
Most casual RV travelers can get away with the lower-end models. These fifth wheel trailers are far more modest, but can be towed by most ordinary pickup trucks once the special hitch is installed. But if you’re looking to travel cross-country on a regular basis, you’ll definitely want to consider at least a mid-range fifth wheel trailer, even if you have to buy one used.
Pros of Fifth Wheels VS Travel Trailers
It’s true that fifth wheel trailers are more expensive than traditional tow-behind travel trailers. But, many campers and full time RVers prefer fifth wheels because they are far easier to tow. Being hitched in the bed of your truck, they are much more stable than on a traditional tow hitch.
One of the major cons of towing a travel trailer is how difficult they are to tow, especially in windy conditions. Because they tend to sway, they can make your tow vehicle work a lot harder, which stresses the tow hitch and decreases your gas mileage - not to mention wear and tear on both vehicles. Meanwhile, fifth wheel trailers almost never sway.
Which Fifth Wheel Trailer is Right for Me?
When setting out to choose a fifth wheel, list your minimum needs and see what models fit with your budget. You may also choose to purchase a used fifth wheel, which are actually fairly easy to find.
Also, consider the vehicle you’re using to tow the fifth wheel. If you’re using your personal truck, know what your truck can tow safely and easily. Since you’re not using your truck’s actual tow package, you want to be sure about the rating of your in-bed hitch and what your truck is rated to tow overall, not just what your regular tow package will allow. Knowing the GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) that your truck can handle will narrow down your choices.
Just like buying any vehicle, buying a fifth wheel is an investment. So, shop around and see models inside and outside in person to get a feel for each one. Be sure to have a complete list of the features and equipment included.
Remember that showroom models may not necessarily have everything you see come standard. Although some dealers do say that what you see is what you get, that’s not always the case. Also, understand the warranty that the trailer comes with, and purchase an extended warranty if you feel that one is necessary.
Also, like cars, fifth wheel trailers (and any RV for that matter) depreciate quickly. So, buying a used fifth wheel may be your best bet, if you don’t mind some wear and tear. Whether you buy new or used, be sure to get consumer reports online for makes and models for the years you’re considering. That way you can see which models tend to hold up the longest, which also typically have the best resale value. Be sure to get the most features for the best price.
But, I Really Want to Buy a New Fifth Wheel!
While many used newer models have been well cared for, you may decide that you absolutely want a brand new RV. If you do insist on buying a brand new fifth wheel, try to shop around for deals,. Look for dealers that offer deep discounts off of MSRP for brand new fifth wheels, which are often the previous year’s model. They don’t want to keep them sitting on the lot, after all. Besides price, the big advantage to shopping for new examples of previous year models is that there’s more reviews available. So, you can be better informed about your purchase.
Another great way to purchase a new fifth wheel is to visit RV shows on the last day. That’s because RVs are very expensive to have to transport back to wherever they came from. So, many salespeople are happy to cut some deals in order to not have to take their unsold models back home.
Whatever fifth wheel you decide to buy, you can know that you’ll get a very reliable RV that will serve you well on your getaways. If you do plan to plunge into the adventure of full time RV living, a fifth wheel is an awesome choice for your home on wheels.
During the summer months, you want to make sure that your air conditioner is in the best possible condition to keep you cool and comfortable. That’s especially true in your trailer or motorhome. RV air conditioner maintenance should be done regularly to make sure that all components are working properly. If RV air conditioners aren’t properly maintained, they can be very expensive to repair. You don’t want your RV air conditioner quitting and ruin your summer vacation, after all.
An RV air conditioner is similar to the split system air conditioners you find in some homes. This means that the condenser and compressor units are installed outside, in this case on the roof. Then ,the air-cooling unit is installed inside, on the ceiling. One unit is enough for many RVs, but for RVs that are longer than 35 feet may need two units to keep the space relatively cool.
Here are some tips to keep your RV air conditioners operating well through the spring and summer months.
Wash or Change Your RV Air Conditioner Filters Monthly
Your RV air conditioner filters should be washed or charged at least once a month. When the RV air conditioner is in use, disposable filters should be changed every month. If you use reusable filters for your air conditioner, they should be washed with water, then left ot drop dry before putting them back in.
It’s important to avoid having clogged air filters, since clogged filters can lead to lower efficiency, higher energy using, and potential damage to other A/C components such as the evaporator coil. Also, while changing the filter, using a damp cloth with a bit of dish detergent should be used to remove dirt and dust from the entire unit. You don’t want to be blowing all of that around!
Clean Your Evaporator Coil Regularly
The evaporator coil is one of the most important components of your RV air conditioner. If it’s not kept clean or becomes damaged, your A/C efficiency will be greatly reduced. The coil is located on the back of the rooftop part of the unit, so not only is it exposed to the elements but to possible damage from leaves, tree branches, and other hazards.
This coil is the part that circulates the cold refrigerant in your air conditioner, so you want to make sure this component is cleaned regularly. Use a soft bristled brush to remove any dirt that’s accumulated on it. While some RV air conditioner units already have shields for the fins and coils to protect them from the elements and potential damage, not all do. If your A/C unit lacks shields for these things, it may be a good idea to have them installed.
Check RV Air Conditioner Gasket Seals
Condensation can often occur due to much of the A/C components being outside. Because of this, the gasket seals on your RV air conditioner can become damaged. So, the gasket seal between the ceiling and the bottom of the unit should be checked regularly.
Also, the drainage holes in the condensate pan should be regularly cleared of any debris, such as leaves. Any clogs can cause condensation to leak into the RV. Not only is this an annoyance, but the excess water still inside can damage your A/C unit.
Before a Trip, Start and Check Your RV Air Conditioners
Before you set off on your big summer trip, start your RV air conditioner to make sure everything is running correctly. Be sure the the fan and your temperature control are working properly. Also, when checking your A/C, be sure that you have an adequate power source. A 15-amp extension cord may not be sufficient for some RV air conditioners, especially on larger RVs.
You don’t want to underpower your A/C when checking it, because insufficient amperage can actually damage your A/C motors, compressors, and other components. Check your A/C unit’s power requirements for the right amperage and make sure that you have the right switches and circuit breakers installed in your home to not cause power issues.
By following this regular RV air conditioner maintenance routine, you should be able to enjoy summer after summer with well-performing air conditioning. Have fun and stay cool.
Which RV Type is Right For You?
Are you interested in purchasing a motor home? Understanding the different types of motor homes can be overwhelming when trying to decide which RV type is right for you. In this guide, we’ll go over the different classes of RV, both trailers and motor homes.
Things to Consider When Choosing an RV
Some motorhomes are designed specifically for only two to four people. Others can sleep six to eight people or more. Travel trailers and fifth wheel trailers also come in many different shapes and sizes. There are so many layout and configuration choices when it comes to RVs. But, there are several classes of RV to understand in order to narrow down your choices when it comes to choosing your perfect motor home.
In the case of motorhomes, there are some major things to consider. There are motor homes with automatic transmissions or 5-speed manual transmissions. Also, different motor homes have different engines and fuel requirements. Motor homes use a lot of fuel and while many diesel models tend to be more fuel-efficient than gas-powered models, that isn’t always the case. So, do your research.
Obviously, with trailers you won’t have to worry about engine types and such. But you will have to consider what to tow it with. There are two major types of RV trailer: travel trailers and fifth-wheels. There are also truck campers, which actually connect into the bed of a pickup truck. We’ll get into these various classes of RV trailer in a bit.
Other things you’d want to consider are the amenities you’re looking for with your RV. Some of these may include chemical toilets with flushing capabilities, fresh water and waste water tank sizes for holding fresh water and waste water, hot water heater capacity, and air conditioning. Motor homes and trailers can also usually include various sizes of kitchens. Most contain a refrigerator and many have a microwave.
Fortunately, when you’re browsing RVs, the basic specs and equipments provided with each model of motor home or trailer will be listed on the manufacturer website. So, there isn’t a guessing game when it comes to knowing what each RV model has to offer. That way, you can narrow down exactly what features are important to you when making your choices.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s look at the various classes of RV. These include the Class A Motorhome, Class B Motorhome, Class C Motorhome, Fifth Wheel trailers, Travel Trailers, Truck Campers, and Van Conversions (or caravans as they are called in Europe).
Van Conversions / Caravans
In Europe, caravans have been popular for travel for years. These converted vans have become increasingly popular in America, Australia, and other places, as well. They do have the reputation of being “old school,” which is something that does attract people to them. However, they also have a reputation of being cramped, slow, and underpowered.
On the other hand, there are plenty of van conversion RVs that aren’t underpowered at all. Some of them have engines on par with the larger RVs and some are actually very similar to the Class B motorhomes that we’ll get to shortly. If you’ve been considering a van conversion, and it’s just you and one other person, a van conversion or European-style caravan may be a good choice for you.
Class A Motorhomes
Perhaps the most popular motorhome is the Class A Motorhome. For many people, they are considered the most impressive. That’s because they resemble a bus, and many are the size of smaller school buses. Some Class A Motorhomes resemble big-time tour buses. Like on a touring bus, Class A Motorhomes have a cabin where the driver and a passenger sit. Behind the cabin is a luxury vehicle that not only allows for luxurious road trips and vacations, but are the perfect choice for full time RV living!
The main appeal of Class A Motorhomes is that they typically can contain everything that a typical home can. These include appliances, even washers, dryers, and dishwashers in larger models, and can be built inside to look exactly like a typical small apartment. Larger Class A Motorhomes can sleep up to 10 people, although there are smaller Class A models that sleep four to six people.
With large Class A Motorhomes, you typically see owners tow their personal vehicle such as a car, truck, van, or SUV behind them. That’s because Class A motorhomes tend to be very difficult on fuel consumption, so having the smaller vehicle to travel locally is a good idea.
Class B Motorhomes
The Class B Motorhome is actually very similar to a cross between a van conversion and a Class A motorhome. It has a drivers cab in front, but it resembles more of a large van instead of a bus. They typically only sleep up to 4 people and don’t have all of the amenities of a Class A motorhome.
The major advantage of Class B motor homes is that they can be used as a practical vehicle around town. They fit in most parking spaces and tend to be very fuel-efficient. While they are OK for going on vacations, they aren’t well-equipped for long-term RV adventures.
Class C Motorhomes
The Class C motorhome is a popular choice of motor home for several reasons. It’s sort of a cross between a Class A and Class B motorhome. It has a drivers cab, but they have a private sleeping area above the cab, which can also be used for storage if that space isn’t required. Class C motorhomes come in a variety of lengths, but most can sleep six people comfortably.
Some Class C motorhomes are short enough to fit in regular parking spaces, while others can be even 30 feet or longer like a Class A! The major benefit of a Class C motorhome is no matter the size, every Class C motorhome comes equipped with a kitchen and small bathroom. While they can be cramped to live in long-term, for only two to four people in some of the mid-sized models (23 to 26 feet), full time RV living is possible in these Class C motor homes.
While Class A motorhomes are often built for luxury living, Class C motor homes are typically built with more practicality and versatility. They are a favorite of many full time RVers for that reason.
Fifth Wheel Trailers
In the case that you own a pick-up truck, fifth wheel trailers are a great RV option to consider. These trailers attach to the truck bed using a special attachment, which can be installed fairly easily by a local dealer. Fifth wheels tend to be far less expensive than a motor home, which is one major benefit to owning one if you have the vehicle to tow it.
Fifth wheels also have the benefit of having a “second story,” which is usually a master bedroom that sits over the truck bed. But the other thing about fifth wheels is that they are still free-standing when detached from the truck. So, it can be used just like a conventional travel trailer.
Another option if you have a pick-up truck is a truck camper. Like a fifth-wheel trailer, they sit in the bed of the truck. However, they don’t have any special attachments, and some larger ones can even be free-standing. These truck campers can have basic amenities such as a kitchenette and toilet & sink.
The larger truck campers are good for one or two people. They aren’t ideal for long-term trips or full-time RVing, but there those that use them for that purpose. The major advantage to truck campers is that you don’t have to worry about towing them.
Like the fifth wheel trailer, travel trailers are great if you have a towing vehicle. The major difference is that you can tow them with any vehicle capable of towing a trailer. You may have to invest in a better tow package for your vehicle, but many trucks, vans, and SUVs have the capability of towing decent sized travel trailers.
The amenities of a travel trailer are very similar to those that you would find in Class A and Class C motorhomes. Some travel trailers are actually quite luxurious, while others are more practical. Travel trailers are widely popular because of how easy it is to find a vehicle that can tow them. They’re very easy to live out of both in the short-term and long-term and are a staple at many campgrounds and RV parks.
Now that you know the major classes of RV, you can decide from these what type works for you. There are RVs in all of these classes at various price points, especially if you buy used. By knowing the various pros and cons of each class of RV, you can narrow down your choices considerably. At the end of the day, though, you’ll want to visit your local RV showroom to get a feel for each type in person.
What class of RV is your favorite?
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