RV Glossary, Terms, Terminology Explained

A/C, AC: Air Conditioner. Also refers to Alternating Current in 110v systems.

AGM: Absorbed Glass Mat, a type of battery.

Amp, Amps: Ampere, amp for short, is the standard unit of electrical current. Amps refers to more than 1 amp.

AmpHour: A unit of electric charge, with sub-units milliampere-hour (mAh) and milliampere second (mAs). Whether your RV is 20, 30, or 50 amp, a simple way to look at the power available is to think of these numbers in terms of thousands. For example, at 115v AC, 30 amps equals 3,450 watts. For comparison a common wattage for a microwave is 1000 watts. Volts x Amps = Watts. The AmpHour of a battery rating tells you how much amperage is available when discharged evenly over a 20 hour period.

Anode Rod: When used in a water heater, attracts corrosion causing products in the water. These products attack the anode rod instead of the metal tank itself.

Arctic Package: Equipment added to an RV for cold weather usage that may include extra insulation, double-paned windows and heating pads for holding tanks.

ATV: All Terrain Vehicle

Awning: The retractable canopy found on just about every RV.

Axle Ratio: The ratio between the pinion and ring gears in the differential that multiply the torque provided by the engine. It is the number of drive line revolutions required to turn the axle one time. As an example, with a 4.10:1 axle the drive line turns 4.1 times for each full axle revolution. The higher the number, the more torque and thus more towing power. However, the higher the number also means less speed.

Back-In Site: A campsite that requires you to back up into it.

Backup Monitor: A camera mounted on the rear of an RV with a remote screen viewable by the driver. Used to see what is behind you.

Ball Mount: The part of the hitch system that supports the hitch ball and connects it to the trailer coupler.

Basement: The storage area below the floor of the RV, accessible from the outside. Basement storage usually refers to storage in a Class A, Class C or 5th Wheel.

Batwing: Refers to the Winegard Sensar Antenna used to receive over-the-air TV signals. Many versions of this antenna are available.

Black Water: The contents of the black water tank, human waste, sewage.

Blue Boy: Refers to a portable holding tank.

Boondocking: Camping in your RV without any hookups in a remote location. Wal-Mart is not a remote location (see Dry Camping).

Brake Controller: A control unit mounted inside the vehicle that allows the electric brakes on the trailer to become activated in harmony with the braking of the tow vehicle. See here.

Break-Away System: A system designed to automatically lock the trailer brakes in the event of a hitch failure, where the trailer may break away from the tow vehicle.

BTU: British Thermal Unit, a measurement of heat that refers to the quantity required to raise the temperature of one pound of water 1°F. A/Cs and furnaces are BTU-rated.

Bubble: Lots of meanings; roof bubble, bubble level, delamination bubble, etc.

Bypass Valve: The name for one or more valves that allow the fresh water supply to bypass the water heater.

Camper: Refers to the RV itself or the person using it.

Campground: Where you park your camper or pitch your tent.

Camp Host: Also known as campground host, someone whose principal duty is to be a point of contact in the campground.

Cargo Weight: The actual weight of all items or gear added to a vehicle or RV.

CCC: Cargo Carrying Capacity is the maximum allowable combined weight of all occupants and cargo carried in or on the vehicle.

Condensation: Warm moisture laden air contacting a colder surface.

Converter: An electrical device for converting 110v AC power into 12v DC power.

Coupler: The part of the trailer that attaches to the ball of the hitch.

Curb Weight: The actual weight of a vehicle or trailer including all standard equipment with full fuel tanks, without people or gear.

DC: Direct Current in 12v electrical systems.

Deep Cycle: Refers to a battery type. See here.

Delamination: A form of failure of an RV's exterior surface.

Diesel Puller: Motorhome with the diesel engine mounted in the front of the vehicle.

Diesel Pusher: Motorhome with the diesel engine mounted in the rear of the vehicle.

Dinette: Booth-like dining area.

Dinghy: The vehicle towed behind an RV, also called a toad.

Dolly: Tow dolly.

Doughnut: A rubber ring that seals the dump hose and the campsite sewer connection so that gases and odors do not escape.

Dry Camping: Camping without any hook-ups, such as an overnight stop at Wal-Mart. Similar to Boondocking.

Dry Weight: The weight of the RV without any fuel, freshwater, propane or passengers.

DSI: Direct Spark Ignition. The burner is lit with an electric spark and the flame is monitored by an electronic circuit board.

Dual Electrical System: This is a system within an RV that allows it to run on both electric hookups within a campground, or self-contained on battery power or with a generator.

Dually: A pickup truck, or light-duty tow vehicle, with four tires on one rear axle.

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

Ducted Heat: Warm air from the furnace supplied to various locations in the RV through a ducting system located in the floor.

Dump Station: Location where black water and grey water holding tanks are emptied.

Equalizing Hitch: Also referred to as a weight distributing hitch, this hitch allows for the weight of the trailer to be distributed both on the trailers axle and the towing vehicles front axle by use of spring bars.

FHU: Full Hook Up (water, electric and sewer)

Fiver, 5er: Another name for a fifth-wheel RV.

Flooded Wet Cell: A type of battery. See here.

FMCA: Family Motor Coach Association

Fresh Water Tank: Tank used for storing potable water in an RV.

Full Hookup: The ability to connect to all three of the campground's facilities; electric, water and sewer.

Full-Timers or Full-Timing: The term used for people who live in their RV full time.

Gelcoat: The outer layer of a fiberglass body material that results in a glossy finish.

Gel Cell: A type of battery. See here.

Generator: An machine powered by gasoline, diesel fuel or propane used to generate 110v AC power.

Genset, Gen-Set: See Generator.

Gray Water: The water and waste from the sinks and shower.

GAWR: Gross Axle Weight Rating. The manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, that can be placed on the axle.

GCW: Gross Combined Weight. The combined weight of the tow vehicle and the trailer.

GCWR: Gross Combined Weight Rating. The manufacturers maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the trailer and tow vehicle. This rating includes the weight of the trailer, tow vehicle, fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

GTW: Gross Trailer Weight. Gross trailer weight is the weight of the trailer fully loaded in its actual towing condition.

GVW: Gross Vehicle Weight. The weight of the vehicle.

GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. The manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the vehicle. This rating includes the weight of the vehicle plus fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

Heat Exchanger: A heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat from one source to another.

Heat Strip: A heat strip is an electric heating element located in the air conditioning system with the warm air distributed by the air conditioner fan and ducting system.

Hitch Rating: The weight, assigned by the manufacturer, that the hitch is designed to handle.

Hitch Weight: The amount of a trailer's weight that rests on the tow vehicle's hitch.

Holding Tanks: This term is used to describe the fresh water, gray water and black water tanks.

Honey Wagon: A mobile service that will empty the waste holding tanks on an RV at a campsite.

Hookups: Connections that are available at any given campground are considered hookups. These include the basics such as electric, water and sewage, but can also refer to telephone and cable TV.

Hula Skirt: A skirt placed on the back bumper of a motorhome to stop debris that is thrown from the rear wheels from damaging vehicles behind the motorhome, either the vehicle you are towing or other vehicles behind the motorhome.

Inverter: A device that changes 12v battery power to 110v AC power.

LP Gas: Liquefied Petroleum Gas, propane.

Kingpin: A device that connects a fifth wheel to the towing vehicle.

Macerator: An electrical pump that allows the content of black and gray tanks to be emptied into a remote sewer connection.

NCC: Net Carrying Capacity. See CCC.

Part Timers: People who travel more than a few times a year - but who are not living the majority of time in their RV.

Pilot: Small standby flame that is used to light the main burner of a propane fired appliance when the thermostat calls for heat.

Pin Weight: The weight that a fifth wheel trailer places on its kingpin.

Popup, Pop-Up: A folding camping trailer.

Porpoising: A term used to define the up and down motion in an RV while traveling.

Propane: See LP Gas.

Primitive Camping: Camping without any hookups. See Dry Camping, Boondocking.

Pull Through: A site where it is possible to pull into the site and out of the site without ever needing to back in or out.

Puller: See Diesel Puller.

Pusher: See Diesel Pusher.

Quick Disconnect: Fittings that allow rapid connections to be made without the use of tools.

Reefer: A slang term for a refrigerator.

Ride Height: The distance between the ground and a specified point on a vehicle with correctly inflated tires.

Rig: A name some RVers use when describing their RVs.

RV: Recreation Vehicle.

RVDA: Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association.

RVIA: Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.

RVRA: Recreational Vehicle Rental Association.

Safety Chains: A set of chains that are attached to both the trailer A-Frame and the tow vehicle while towing.

Self Contained: A self contained RV has the capability of supplying electrical, drain and water needs without any external hookups.

Shore Power: An external power source, instead of using an internal battery or fuel source.

Slide-In: Refers to a Truck Camper.

Slide-Out: This term refers to an area within the RV that can be pushed out to expand the living space.

Slider: The slang term for a slider-hitch.

Slider Hitch: A sliding hitch used on short bed pickup trucks to enable them to tow fifth wheel trailers. It allows them sufficient clearance to make turns without having the trailer hit the cab of the truck.

Snowbird, Snow Bird: Generally someone who lives up north but spends the winter months in the South, typically in Florida and Arizona.

Solar, Solar Power: See here.

Thermocouple: A device that monitors the pilot flame of a pilot model propane appliance.

Toad: A "towed" vehicle. See Dinghy.

Tongue Weight: The downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer coupler.

Tow Bar: A bar used for connecting a towed vehicle to the motor home for towing with all four wheels on the ground.

Toy Hauler: Any RV type capable of carrying ATVs, gold carts, motorcycles, etc.

Trailer Brakes: Brakes that are built into the trailer and are activated either by electric impulse or by a surge mechanism.

TPMS: Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

Travel Trailer: A type of RV. See here.

Triple Towing: The term used for three vehicles attached together, usually a tow vehicle pulling two separate trailers.

Truck Camper: A type of RV. See here.

Underbelly: The RV's under floor surface, which is protected by a weatherproofed material.

UVW: Unloaded Vehicle Weight. Weight of the RV as built at the factory with full fuel, engine oil and coolants.

Waste Water Tanks: The gray water tank holds the waste water from the sinks and showers. The black water tank holds the waste from the toilet.

Weight Carrying Hitch: A hitch designed to accept the entire hitch weight of the trailer.

Weight Distributing Hitch: A hitch that utilizes spring bars that are placed under tension to distribute a portion of the trailer's hitch weight to the tow vehicle's front axle and the trailer's axles.

Wet Weight: The weight of the RV with oil in the engine and with full fuel, freshwater, gray water, black water and propane tanks.

Wheelbase: Distance between center lines of the primary axles of a vehicle.

Wide Body: The term for an RV exceeding the normal eight feet wide. Wide Bodies are usually 102" (8' 6") wide.

WiFi: Wireless internet.

Winter Texan: Generally someone who lives up north but spends the winter months in Texas, typically in the Rio Grande Valley.

Winterizing: A process of making an RV safe from the hazards of winter storage in cold climates.

Workamper®: An RVer who trades a little labor for a free campsite, salary or both. Also known as RV workers.

Workamping: If you work as an employee, operate a business, or donate your time as a volunteer, AND you sleep in an RV, you are a Workamper! See here for free ads for workamping jobs.

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