By Chris Dougherty
Certified RV Technician
The RV season is underway in all of the U.S. by now, and as people are using their coaches they may be wondering how to fix little issues like a leaky roof vent, or a broken handle or a broken light. How about fixing by accessorizing!
I’ve been in the business for years, but before that I loved going to the RV store and getting the big catalogs. In them I would see all kinds of fun things I could add to my RV, and even some things I could dream about for a future rig. One of the things that was apparent, however, was all the little upgrades I could do. If I didn’t like the entry handle, or I broke one, I had many options for replacing it. I could get a lighted one, a chrome one, even a big one that was easier to grab and folded down against the side of the coach for travel.
This is the same for most things in the RV. For instance, if I have a leaking roof vent and I need to replace it, I have the option of replacing it with the same one that I currently have, I can upgrade it to one that has the fan built-in, or I can replace it and add a vent cover.
A water heater is another example of an up-gradable replacement. Say you have a pilot-light-only model and now you need to replace it. Well, you can upgrade to an electric-ignition model, or even a gas-electric model with a 110VAC element.
Awnings are another great accessorizing option. There are many options for awnings including lights, shades, screen rooms and hooks. If the awning is damaged and needs replacement, consider replacing it with an electric model or a longer awning, or changing the color or fabric. Window awnings are a great addition for RVs used often in the hot sun, and to allow windows to be left open during the rain. The shade they provide helps protect interior fabrics from the effects of the sun, and it keeps the inside of the coach much cooler.
There are a lot of other things you can do to the outside of your coach. For instance, many people are making the move to LED lighting, which is more visible than incandescent and uses much less energy.
On the inside of the RV there are lots of upgrades that can make the RV living experience more comfortable. Toilet upgrades are a big plus. For those folks who just can’t stand the plastic toilet that came with their RV, there are a number of porcelain models that are really easy to install and have the “normal” feel most folks appreciate. Adding a better kitchen faucet is on the list of many RVers I know and it’s pretty easy, too. In fact, you can usually install any name-brand faucet in your RV kitchen!
Nothing is as important as a good night’s sleep, which is hard to do on some RV mattresses. We just replaced ours with a much better option than what came with the coach. In fact, this mattress has been in three of our RVs so far. (When I sell or trade the RV, I put the original, unused, mattress back in the unit.) There are a number of companies making RV-specific mattresses, or you can get the standard sizes at your local mattress store.
Mobile electronics have been coming down in price in recent years, so upgrading or adding to the electronics in your coach has never been easier or more affordable. When I started doing RV satellite TV systems, the automatics cost in the thousands. Now products like those from Winegard that we have profiled on the RVTravel Channel on YouTube only cost a few hundred dollars and give you all the TV you have at home in standard or high definition! Mobile stereo systems have come quite a ways from the old days, and there are a lot of units from which to choose.
People still have CRT TVs in their RVs and as they fail they need to be changed over to LCD or LED flat-screen, high-definition models. Of course, you don’t have to wait for that big old brick to croak before you swap it over! The options for TVs and mobile mounts have never been greater.
Don’t forget all the little accessories you can get or even make for your RV. If the glasses and bottles are rattling, make a rack for them. Need to organize your storage space? There are lots of things you can do to improve that, and also make the best use of the open space you have in the coach.
Then there are all the little items — the cooking gadgets, the awning tie downs, the soap holders, the hose parts. The list goes on so long I can’t think of them all — and that’s why I like to look at the big catalog!
Finally, be sure to watch my helpful videos the RV Travel Channel.