Saturday, September 23, 2023


Beginner’s Guide to RVing Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 63

Welcome to the Beginner’s Guide to RVing from The information we present here every Monday through Friday is for brand-new RVers – those in the market to buy their first RV and those who just purchased theirs. If you are an experienced RVer, this material may be too basic for you.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

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DID YOU MISS reading this morning’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter? Good stuff there.

RVing Basics

Can I leave my RV’s refrigerator running on propane while traveling?

While some RVers do, it’s highly recommended to turn it off while moving, and even better to turn off the propane at its tank. However, if you have a three-way refrigerator and are operating on DC power, then no problem. By all means, never leave the refrigerator running on propane at a gas station. If vapor blows across the fridge’s pilot light it could blow up your RV and everything and everybody in it — plus the gas station. This has happened on more than one occasion. For years, a gas station in Lone Pine, Calif., posted pictures of such an incident — not a pretty sight.

I see a lot of RVs with residential refrigerators. Are they better than the traditional absorption versions?

This is a controversial topic among RVers. Since residential refrigerators require 120 volts AC (“shore power”), they are best used at campgrounds that provide shore power. Some RVers have managed to use them in a boondocking situation by having enough solar panels, storage batteries, and a properly sized power inverter. It can also be difficult (if not impossible) to get a residential refrigerator in an RV serviced when it breaks down. RV technicians, as a rule, do not repair residential refrigerators, and residential refrigerator technicians do not, as a rule, make service calls to RVs. One source tells us that residential refrigerators tend to be susceptible to bumps and vibrations on the road, and are known to have a working life of a couple of years when installed in an RV.

What should I do with my refrigerator when I am not using my motorhome?

Turn it off, of course. Remove all food and thoroughly wipe all inside surfaces to clean any residual — but unseen — food particles or spills. Be sure to prop open the doors to avoid mildew and odor buildup.

Quick Tips

Beware of bogus RV antifreeze
Ed C. warns us that he’s heard from some RVers about bogus RV antifreeze — off-labeled “cheap stuff” that doesn’t work too well. If there’s any doubt about the efficacy of RV antifreeze, Ed simply puts a bottle of it in the freezer overnight. If it doesn’t freeze, it goes in his RV. Thanks, Ed.

High idle in a diesel rig
Diesel engines don’t warm up at “normal” idle speed — they must be run at a “fast idle” to generate heat. Check with your dealer or the manual for how to access your fast idle speed.

 Many coaches use the following technique: As soon as you start the cold engine, gently and slowly increase the engine speed by depressing the accelerator pedal until you have reached the fast idle rpm setting. Then engage your cruise control (press the button) and gently … slowly … let your foot off the pedal. Your engine should remain at the fast idle rpm. (Some rigs may have a dash switch marked “IDLE INC/DEC” to activate high idle.) 

This is an excellent time to bring in slides, put the jacks up, and finalize the last-minute details just before pulling out of your boondocking site. Don’t use this procedure in a campground or if you have neighbors. Thanks to Ron Jones at

“If you could tell someone new to RVing just one thing, what would it be?”

From the editors: We asked our readers this question. Here is one response: 

“So you want to go RVing. When was the last time, if ever, you spent 3-4 months with your spouse in one room 24/7? You would be surprised at the people that sell their RV in 6 months saying ‘we damn near killed each other.’ If you have never been RVing or lived in tight quarters then go rent an RV (any RV) and take a 2-week trip. If you enjoy it, great, go buy one. If not, you will have saved a lot of money and even a marriage. Good luck.” —Jerry X Shea

Random RV Thought

Speaking to the above advice… Always be extra sensitive to the moods of your RV traveling partner. It’s good to count to 10 to calm yourself before responding to a remark that might make you angry. Living quarters are usually tight in an RV, so there is often no place to escape to when emotions flare. So be nice.

For peace of mind, use a backflow preventer
Backflow happens when a fresh water system gets “cross-connected” with a source of bad water or other contaminants. You don’t want that! Prevent this from happening by using a backflow preventer. Here’s an affordable one. Use it and rest easier. (You can read more about backflow prevention here.)

“What’s the best modification you’ve made to your RV?”

From the editors: We asked our readers this question. Here is one response: 

“For us, two changes have made a big difference. The first was installing a residential refrigerator in replacement of a Norcold gas absorption fridge. This meant installing an inverter, which means I can now power a CPAP at those overnight boondocking stops. The second change was building basement sliding drawers. I built and installed them myself for a lot less than retail slides, plus I have the exact size I want.” —Mike Johnson

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Editor: Emily Woodbury

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Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of or this newsletter. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers.

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This newsletter is copyright 2022 by RV Travel LLC.


  1. Best modification – when purchased motorhome asked dealer to take out washer dryer – saved $2,000. Used space for storage.

  2. We stayed at an RV park in Sunset, Texas and the hosts had a sign in front of their RV that said, ” We don’t have room to fight.” It must have been true because they got along pretty well.😃

  3. Reading the article about RV anti freeze. You say if it doesn’t freeze it good to use. One thing though. Rv anti freeze will turn to a slushy mixture, not freeze solid. Some people would consider this frozen. The slush will not expand and cause damage.

  4. I think the best mod I’ve done was to replace the small noisy bath fan with a Fantastic Vent fan. It’s used all the time in conjunction with the other big fan in the living room to move air quickly. They can be used when the temps outside are under 80 degrees instead of turning on the a/c’s. The other big mod was to buy an Autoformer. This does more to protect the rv than almost anything else you can buy.


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