Many believe I was born in an RV. Conceived, maybe; born, no. However, I was literally born into the RV industry as my dad managed my grandparents’ RV dealership which was established in 1937. Of course, back then the term “RV” hadn’t been coined yet – they were just known as trailers and campers.
Not too complicated 60 years ago
When I came into this world you didn’t really need 12 volts to operate most travel trailers or campers. Propane gas lights supplied light while also serving as an auxiliary heat source. Manual gas controls and pilot lights on refrigerators, water heaters and furnaces negated the need for electronic circuit boards. Even the potable water system did not require 12 volts as it relied on compressed air to drive water from the water tank to the faucets. Compressed air could be supplied by a hand pump or air chuck at a service station.
There were no electronics and the only moving mechanical parts were the tires and wheels. Shore power cords were a whopping 15 amps. Travel trailers were definitely not too complicated. When they did malfunction, the average person with a little understanding of mechanics and a few hand tools could get things operating again in the field until returning home, where permanent repairs could be made.
In the 1970s, RVs and the appliances within began to become more complicated due in part to government mandates and manufacturers wanting to add conveniences to their products. DSI circuit boards, blower motors, designer lighting, microwaves, etc., made RVers more dependent on hookups. Then slide outs proliferated across all types of RVs. While the advancements made operating an RV more convenient and more livable, it also increased their complexity – which was too complicated for some.
So many things are automated and too complicated
Now RVs have automatic this and wireless that and an app that turns this on and entry steps that fold up to the interior of the RV. There is slide out upon slide out, electric awnings, etc., which appear to be too complicated for many.
Cary Alburn, who has camped since he was a teenager, notes the progress with wonder. “The explosion of technology in RVs over just a few years is almost shocking, especially to those of us who’ve been RVing for so many years.” Per a New York Times article.
My current 2010 model travel trailer operates pretty much as the three that preceded it. With all the recent advancements in the name of convenience, I am concerned the trailer that replaces it will likely be too complicated for what I want, understand, or possess the ability to repair.
I have begun to wonder if I am the only RVer who feels this way or are there others?
To find out, I posed the following question to the RVing Tips group on Facebook: “Have RVs become too complicated? Please share your thoughts and photos for a future article I am writing. Thx!” I also included the picture below of a slide out within a slide out for visual attention.
Below is a small sampling of the 180+ comments I received:
Note: To save space, some are just a select portion of the original comment.
After reading them, please feel free to add your comments on my new forum page by clicking here.
Col Joe Preston: “People want more and more. Mfg tries to provide. But there is only so much space.”
Russ Walker: “If you really want to enjoy then use the KISS method. Keep it simple stupid! Too many things can go wrong when it gets complicated.”
Jess Rossman: “It’s like most things out there. Technology makes our lives more luxurious but at a cost.”
Bonnie Littlecat: “Years ago my husband had a client that we adopted into our family. Hugh Sanborn, he owned a Cadillac dealership in Daly City and was friends with Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in the ’80s. He gave me this financial advice when buying my first car. The more options and features you add to it, the more opportunity you have for it to break down and the more maintenance it’s going to add to the overall cost of the vehicle.”
Full-timers want RVs more comfortable
Nadia Tsutsa: “Yes, because more and more people are becoming full-timers and they want the RVs to accommodate that and have as much space/features as possible to make it more comfortable.”
Brian LeClair: “Complicated, no, pushing a button and reading an owners manual isn’t complicated. But there is a fine line of the more moving parts the more that will go wrong vs finding more ways to make more space.”
Benjamin Braun: “If you buy and not know how to use basic tools or have at least basic mechanical, electrical knowledge, everything is too complicated. If you buy on a budget, the fewer bells and whistles the better.”
Ryan Ippolito: “More there is, more to break”
Christine Jones Douglas: “Too complicated if you need lessons and notes to do all the things.”
Keep it simple!
Darlene Loesing: “The more goodies and gadgets that are on electric, the more problems that can go wrong. We are just waiting for electric awning to take a crap so we can replace with a manual one. The awning is either up in full high position or closed – no in-between! It has issues and has gotten stuck several times but so far has not fallen off the trailer! Manual ones are able to angle for rain or sun but just takes a little more effort to set up. All the new campers have auto this and that….. you’ll spend more time in Service than out camping. Keep it simple!”
Karyn Pazandak: “All the extras are great till they don’t work”
Jarred Duncan: “What’s complicated about pushing buttons…. push for slides… push to auto level…. push for awnings… sounds like it’s getting easier.”
Steven E. Crane: “More annoying, it’s impossible to even order simplicity anymore without paying for complete custom build.”
Robert Lackey: “Everything has. Look at cars and trucks. It’s just the way things are headed. Touchscreen everything, more and more modules… Customer demand for new amenities increases all the time.”
Douglas Wheeler: “I think keeping things simple is the best way to go.”
MD Butcher: “More electronic crap that will fail.”
Debi Kruse: “Yes, yes, yes. I’m trying to learn how to become a DC/ AC expert just to figure mine out.”
Sally Ford McGarrity: “Never. I love everything they are doing to make them more fun.”
What are your thoughts? Have RVs become too complicated or not? Please click here to share on my forum.
Dave will be speaking at the FMCA Convention in Tucson, AZ, March 25th and 26th. He would love to meet RVtravel.com readers who will be attending. Feel free to introduce yourself after one of his seminars.