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"RV Glossary"
A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z  

30 Amp, 120-volt electrical system - Most RVs are designed with 30 Amp, 120 Volt electrical systems, and some of the larger RVs with more appliances and two roof A/Cs use a 50 Amp, 120 Volt electrical system. What this basically means is, for everything to operate properly the manufacturer intends the RV to have a 30 or 50 Amp electrical service supplied to the RV.

120AC 12DC -The power sources on which RV refrigerators operate.... 120 AC means 120-volt alternating current (same as in houses); 12 DC means 12-volt direct current (same as in automobiles). Some RV appliances can operate on either electricity source and/or LP-gas (see below).
A
Artic package - An RV that is equipped with additional insulation and heated holding tanks for winter camping.
Awning - A canvas or vinyl covering mounted to the side of an RV that provides shade. Some awnings are retractable and use a spring-loaded roller tube. Other awnings must be rolled out by hand and are supported by poles, rope tie downs and stakes.
Axle ratio - The number of times the drive shaft must turn to turn the axle one time. If you have a 3.73:1 axle ratio the drive shaft turns 3.73 times for each full turn of the axle. The higher the numeric value of the axle ratio the better the vehicle will tow, and the higher the numeric value the more gas you will use.
B
Backup monitor - A monitor located in the driver's view that is attached to a small camera on the back of a motorhome. It is used to assist in backing the motorhome and to monitor what is happening behind you while you are traveling.
Ball & Ball mount - Hitch balls have three basic measurements, the ball diameter, the shank diameter and the shank length. Ball diameter sizes come in 1 7/8”, 2” and 2 5/16”. The ball size must be the right size for the coupler on the trailer you are towing, and be rated to tow the trailers GVWR. The ball mount is the removable portion of the hitch that slides into the hitch receiver. For Weight Carrying (WC) hitches it may be necessary to find a ball mount with a drop or rise to help level the trailer when its hooked up to the tow vehicle. An adjustable ball mount is used for heavier trailer applications. Adjustable ball mounts allow the ball to be raised, lowered or tilted to compensate for trailer tongue weight and to attain proper height adjustments. Adjustable ball mounts are normally used with Weight Distributing (WD) hitches.
Black water - disposal water from toilet system, held in holding tank until you dump it, in large tanks or dumping station available at most campgrounds.
Black water holding tank - A tank mounted under the RV that collects water and waste from the toilet. When the tank is ¾ or more full it is emptied or dumped into an approved dump station or campground sewer. The black water tank is treated with chemicals to control odor and assist in breaking down waste.
Boondocking - Camping without hookups. The term is also used among campers who like to enjoy all of nature, regardless of the terrain while avoiding redundant commercial campground fees.
Brake controller - A control unit mounted inside your RV that allows electric trailer brakes to become activated in harmony with the braking of the tow vehicle. This device can be used to adjust trailer brake intensity, or to manually activate the trailer brakes.
Breakaway switch - A switch that is wired into the trailers brake system. It is attached from the trailer to the tow vehicle by a cable lanyard. In the event that the trailer and vehicle separate the cable pulls a pin from the switch and the trailer brakes are activated. The switch must have a 12-volt source to operate.
Bumper pull - A term used to describe towing a travel trailer or pop-up, also referred to as a pull behind.

C
Cab over - The portion of a class C motor home that extends over the vehicle cab. It is usually designed as a bed.
Cargo carrying capacity (CCC) - The maximum permissible weight of personal belongings and cargo that can be added to the RV. CCC is equal or less than GVWR minus UVW, full fresh water weight, and full LP gas weight.

City water connection - A water connection, on the outside of the RV, that is used when you have an external water supply, such as at a campground. A potable water hose is used to connect the water supply to the city water connector on the RV.

Class A motorhome - An RV with the living accommodations built on or as an integral part of a self-propelled motor vehicle. Models range from 24 to 40 feet long.

Class B motorhome - Also known as a camping van conversion. These RVs are built within the dimensions of a van, but with a raised roof to provide additional headroom. Basic living accommodations inside are ideal for short vacations or weekend trips. Models usually range from 16 to 21 feet.
Class C motorhome - An RV with the living accommodations built on a cutaway van chassis. A full-size bed in the "cabover" section allows for ample seating, galley and bathroom facilities in the coach. Also called a "mini-motorhome" or "mini." Lengths range from approximately 16 to 32 feet.
Condensation - Condensation is a result of warm moisture laden air contacting a cold window glass. In an RV, keeping a roof vent open helps to reduce the humidity levels especially when using the shower of the stove.
Converter - A converter is device that converts 120 volt A/C (alternating current) to 12 volt DC (direct current). The RV devices mostly run on 12 volt DC power that is supplied by the battery, which allows the RV to function independently. When "shore power" (an electrical supply) is available, the converter changes the voltage from 120 to 12 volt to supply the appliances and to recharge the battery.
Coupler - Located on the front of the trailer A-frame, the coupler attaches the trailer to the ball on the hitch.
Curb Weight (CW) - Also known as Net Weight. The weight of the RV as it is sitting on the lot, without the personal load you will be adding.
D
Deep cycle battery - Often referred to as the auxiliary battery(s) or house battery, it is used to supply 12-volt DC power to the appliances and accessories in the RV. Unlike an automotive starting battery they are designed to hold a charge longer and be discharged repeatedly. The RV battery(s) is charged when the motor home is running, or in the case of a trailer, when the tow vehicle is running, if a charge line was wired in to the trailer plug. It is also charged when the RV is plugged in to a 120-volt power source and by an onboard generator.
Demand water pump - The onboard water system that operates off of a 12-volt demand pump. When you have potable water in your fresh water holding tank and the pump is turned on it pressurizes the onboard water system. When you open a faucet and the water pressure drops the pump cycles on and off to maintain a constant pressure.

Diesel pusher - A motor home with a rear mounted diesel engine. Often times referred to as a pusher.
Dinette - booth-like dining area. The table usually drops to convert the dinette into a bed at night.
Dinghy - A vehicle towed behind a motorhome, sometimes with two wheels on a special trailer called a tow dolly, but often with all four wheels on the ground.
Dry Weight (DW) - The weight of the RV without adding fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers. The manufacturers UVW will not include any dealer-installed options. Also known as Unloaded Vehicle Weight.
DSI - Direct Spark Ignition. This term refers to the method of igniting the main burner on a propane fired appliance. The burner is lit with an electric spark and the flame is monitored by an electronic circuit board. This ignition system is used in refrigerators, furnaces and water heaters.
Ducted AC - Air conditioning supplied through a ducting system in the ceiling. This supplies cooling air at various vents located throughout the RV.
Ducted heat - is warm air from the furnace supplied to various locations in the RV through a ducting system located in the floor (similar to house heating systems).
Dual electrical system - RV equipped with lights, appliances that operate on 12-volt battery power when self-contained, and with a converter, on 110 AC current when in campgrounds or with an onboard generator.
Dually - A pickup truck with two tires on each side of the rear axle.
Dump outlet - Where both holding tanks terminate into one main outlet. This is where you connect the RV sewer hose to dump or empty the gray and black water holding tanks.
Dump station - An area designated and approved for dumping or emptying your gray and black water holding tanks.
E
Electric brakes - Trailer brakes are electric and are activated when the tow vehicle brakes are applied by means of a brake controller installed in the tow vehicle.
Engine oil cooler - A heat exchanger, similar to a small radiator, through which engine oil passes and is cooled by airflow.
Equalizing hitch - An equalizing hitch, or weight distributing hitch uses additional hardware (spring bars and brackets) to distribute a percentage of the trailer's tongue weight to the axles on the tow vehicle and the axles on the trailer. Trailer tongue weight should be 10 to 15 percent of the loaded trailer weight.

F
Fan Switch - A normally open switch that closes at a preset temperature. It causes the furnace to run for a short time after the thermostat opens, allowing the furnace to cool down.
Fifth-wheel trailers - Fifth-wheel trailers are trailers designed to be coupled to a special hitch that is mounted over the rear axle in the bed of a pickup truck. These trailers can have one, two or three axles and are the largest type of trailer built. Because of their special hitch requirements, fifth-wheel trailers can only be towed by trucks or specialized vehicles prepared for fifth-wheel trailer compatibility.
Folding camping trailer - Also known as a pop-up or tent trailer. They are the smallest of RV's with collapsible ends and sides for ease of towing and storage.
Fresh water fill - An opening on the outside of the RV where you can fill the fresh water holding tank with potable water to use when you are traveling or dry camping.
Fresh water holding tank - A tank mounted under or in the RV that stores potable water for use while traveling or dry camping. To pressurize the system and use the water in the holding tank you turn the 12-volt demand pump on.
Full hook-up - A full hook-up means you connect the RV to the campground electric, water and sewer facilities. In addition to this it can also include cable TV and phone line connections.
Furnace ignition control board - When powered, initiates gas valve opening and spark sequence which lasts approximately 7 seconds. Newer boards are 3 try (ie. will attempt to ignite 3 times at approximately 60 second intervals). Older models are 1 try.
G
Gas pressure - LP gas pressure must be 11" of water column (6.25 oz per sq. in.). A manometer is required to check and adjust the pressure.
Generator - Commonly used on motorhomes, a generator produces 120-volt AC power. A generator allows you to use 120-volt appliances when you are not plugged into an external electrical source. Generators are rated in kilowatts. For example a 5 KW generator is 5,000 watts.
Grey water - disposal water from the sinks and the shower. In some units, this is held in a tank separate from black water. As with Black water, it is dumped in large tanks or dumping station available at most campgrounds.
Gray water holding tank - A tank mounted under the RV that collects wastewater from the sinks and shower. When you dump or empty your holding tanks you should always dump the black tank first, and then dump the gray tank. This will assist in rinsing out the flexible sewer hose.
Gross Axle Weight (GAW) - The total weight supported by each vehicle's axle (front or rear). To obtain this number, you have to weigh the vehicle and the trailer on a scale.
Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) - The manufacturer's rating for the maximum allowable weight that an axle is designed to carry. GAWR applies to tow vehicle, trailer, fifth-wheel and motorhome axles.
Gross Combined Weight (GCW) - The actual weight of a vehicle and trailer combined. To obtain this number, you have to weigh the vehicle and the trailer together on a scale.
Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) - The maximum allowable weight of the combination of tow vehicle and trailer/fifth-wheel, or motorhome and dinghy. It includes the weight of the vehicle, trailer/fifth-wheel (or dinghy), cargo, passengers and a full load of fluids (fresh water, propane, fuel, etc.).
Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) - The actual weight of a vehicle when fully loaded. (Base Curb Weight + Cargo Weight)
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) - The total allowable weight of a vehicle, including passengers, cargo, fluids and hitch weight.
H
Heat exchanger - A heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat from one source to another. In a furnace, the propane flame and combustion products are contained inside the heat exchanger that is sealed from the inside area. Inside air is blown over the surface of the exchanger, where it is warmed and then blown through the ducting system for room heating. Combustion gases are vented to the outside air.
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. They typically have 1500 watt elements (about the same wattage as an electric hair dryer).

Hitch receiver - The hitch receiver is mounted to the frame of the tow vehicle. The ball mount slides into the receiver. There are five classes of hitch receivers based on the maximum amount of weight the receiver can handle.

Hitch weight - Hitch weight or Tongue weight (TW) is the amount of weight pressing down on the vehicle's hitch from the coupler of the trailer when the trailer is fully loaded for travel. For trailers that weigh over 2,000 pounds TW should be 10 to 15 percent of the loaded trailer weight. For fifth wheel trailers hitch weight should be 15 to 20 percent of the loaded trailer weight.

Holding tanks - Tanks that hold water. There are three different holding tanks on most RVs; fresh water tank, gray water tank and black water tank. The fresh water tank holds fresh water that can be stored for later use. The gray water tank holds the waste water from the sinks and showers. The black water tank holds the waste from the toilet.
Hookups - Connections to a campground's facilities. The major types of hookups are electrical, water and sewer. Hookups may also include telephone and cable TV in some campgrounds. Full hookups refer to a combination of water, electricity and sewer.

Hydraulic leveling jacks - Used for leveling an RV, typically a Class A motor home, they are leveling jacks that operate using hydraulics and are controlled by levers or a touch pad normally located near the drivers seat.

I
Igniter Electrode - Similar to a spark plug. There are two versions; a three 3 probe (remote sense) and a 2 probe (local sense).
Inverter - An inverter is a device that changes 12 volt battery power to 120 volt AC power. The amount of available power depends on the storage capacity of the batteries and the wattage rating of the inverter.
L
Laminate - A sandwich of structural frame members, wall paneling, insulation and exterior covering that is adhesive-bonded under pressure and heat to form an RV's walls, floor and roof.
Light Weight RV - RVs that are designed to be easily towed behind most Minivans, light-duty trucks and cars! The most common being a pop-up trailer.
Limit Switch - A furnace safety switch that is normally closed but that opens if it gets to hot. When it opens, it turns off the power to the gas valve and igniter board.
LP gas - Liquid propane or liquefied petroleum is the gas used for RV appliances. Typically it is used for the range burners, oven, water heater and the LP gas mode of the refrigerator. LP gas is stored in cylinders or bottles on trailers and in tanks mounted to the frame of motor homes.
LP gas leak detector - LP gas leak detectors are audible alarms that warn you of a potential gas leak. They are normally located close to the floor level of the RV because LP gas is heavier than air and will settle towards the floor.
M
Maximum Loaded Trailer Weight (MLTW) - The maximum allowable fully loaded weight of a trailer. (GCWR - GVW).
Monitor panel - In an RV, this panel allows you to check or monitor the fluid levels in the gray, black and fresh water holding tanks. You can also check the condition of the auxiliary battery(s) and on some monitor panels, the propane level.
N
Net Carrying Capacity (NCC) - The amount of cargo, passenger and fluid weight that can be added to an RV without exceeding its GVWR. The NCC label in an RV may not include the weight of dealer installed or factory installed options already on the vehicle. Subtract UVW from the GVWR and the result is what can be added to the factory weight.
O

OEM - Abbreviation for Original Equipment Manufacturer

Overhang - The portion of the motorhome that extends from the rear axle to the rear of the motorhome.
P
Park model - An RV trailer designed to be taken to a location such as a campground or resort area and set up permanently. A park model trailer has more household type features and amenities than a travel trailer.
Pilot - A pilot is a small stand-by flame that is used to light the main burner of a propane fired appliance when the thermostat calls for heat. Pilots are common in furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators, ovens and stove tops.
Pop-up Trailer - Also known as a folding trailer, great for first timers due to its simplicity and relatively low cost.
Porpoising - A term used to describe the up and down movement of an RV when traveling.
Portable toilet or Porta potty - A portable RV toilet with a fairly small water tank and holding tank. When the holding tank is full it can be removed and emptied at a dump station.
Propane - LPG or liquefied petroleum gas. Used in RVs for heating, cooking and refrigeration.
Pull-thru site - A campground site that requires no backing. The site is designed for you to drive or pull through.
R
Regulator - LP gas regulators control or regulate the LP gas flow through all appliances, and maintain the proper operating pressure in the LP gas system.
Roof air conditioning - An air conditioning unit usually mounted on the roof of an RV to "cool off" the inside of the RV when it is parked. When moving, most RVs are cooled by separate air conditioning units that are components of the engine. Some can be cooled by a roof top if a proper size generator is installed.

RIG - A term RVers use for their RV.

RV - Abbreviation for Recreation Vehicle. A Recreation Vehicle combines transportation and living quarters for recreation, camping, and travel. They can be classified in two basic groups, motorized RVs and towable RVs. Motorized RVs include Class A, Class B and Class C motor homes. Towables include pop-ups, travel trailers, fifth wheels and truck campers. RV's refer to multiple RV and RVers refer to their owners.

RVDA - Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association
RVIA - Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
S
Safety chains - A set of chains that are attached to the trailer A-frame and connected to the tow vehicle while towing. Safety chains are intended to keep the trailer attached to the tow vehicle in the event of hitch failure, preventing the trailer from complete separation. They should be installed using an X-pattern (criss-crossed) so the coupler is held off the road in the event of a separation.
Screen room - A screened-in enclosure that attaches to the exterior of an RV. They provide protection from insects and rain. Screen rooms are most commonly used with pop-ups.
Self contained - An RV which needs no external electrical, drain or water hookup. A self contained unit can park overnight anywhere.
Sewer hose - A flexible hose that attaches to the RV sewer outlet and the campground sewer used to dump or empty holding tanks. You should have a 10' and 20' hose available with necessary sewer hose attachments.

Sewer hose donut - A plastic or rubber ring used to get a good seal between the sewer hose and the campground sewer connection. Sewer hose donuts are required at many campgrounds.

Shore power - Shore power is a term used for plugging the RV in to an external 120-volt power source such as at a campground.

Slide-In - A truck camper that slides in to the bed of a pickup truck.
Slide-Out - A section of the RV that slides out to provide you with additional living space. Some RVs have multiple slide outs.
Slider Hitch - A 5th wheel hitch used with short wheel base pickup trucks. With short wheel base trucks the front of the 5th wheel trailer can make contact with the cab of the truck when turning to sharp. A slider hitch has two positions. One for normal driving conditions and one for maneuvering where turns are required.
Stabilizer jacks - Jacks that are used on the corners of an RV to stabilize it when it is set up at the campground. Some are mounted to the frame of the RV and others are portable. Stabilizer jacks are not designed to level the trailer
Surge brakes - A hydraulic braking system used on some lightweight trailers. Surge brakes activate when the trailer surges or pushes against the hitch ball when slowing down.
Sway control - A device used to help control trailer sway. There are two basic types of add on sway control, friction and cam action.
T

Tag axle - A non-drive axle located behind the rear drive axle that is used to support the weight of the RVs overhang.

Three way refrigerator - An RV refrigerator that can operate off of 12-volt DC, 120-volt AC and LP gas.
Thermocouple - A device that monitors the pilot flame of a pilot model propane appliance. If the pilot flame is extinguished, the thermocouple causes the gas valve to shut off the flow of gas to both the pilot flame and the main burner thus preventing major disasters.
Tongue jack - The jack mounted on the A frame of the trailer that supports the front of the trailer and is used to raise and lower the trailer when hitching and unhitching.

Tongue Weight (TW) - The amount of weight imposed on the hitch when the trailer is coupled. Also referred to as "hitch weight". Tongue weight for a travel trailer can be 10-15 percent of overall weight; fifth-wheel hitch weight is usually 18-20 percent of the overall weight.

Tote tank - A portable tank used to dump the contents of a holding tank in to and then transport it to a dump station to be emptied.
Tow bar - A device used for connecting a dinghy vehicle to the motorhome when it's towed with all four wheels on the ground.

Tow dolly - A trailer used to tow a vehicle behind a motor home when the vehicle cannot be towed with all four wheels on the ground. Two of the vehicles wheels are on the tow dolly and two are on the road surface.

Toy Hauler - An RV that has a ramp door on the back and cargo space to load motorcycles, ATVs or other toys inside.
Trailer brakes - Brakes that are built into the trailer axle systems and are activated either by electric impulse or by a surge mechanism. The overwhelming majority of RVs utilize electric trailer brakes that are actuated when the tow vehicle's brakes are operated, or when a brake controller is manually activated. Surge brakes utilize a mechanism positioned at the coupler that detects when the tow vehicle is slowing or stopping and activates the trailer brakes via a hydraulic system.
Transmission oil cooler - A small heat exchanger or radiator designed to protect your transmission from overheating. Automatic transmission fluid circulates through the oil cooler and is cooled by the airflow.
Travel trailer - Also referred to as "conventional trailers" these types of trailers have an A-frame and coupler and are attached to a ball mount on the tow vehicle. Travel trailers are available with one, two or three axles. They range in size from 15 to 37 feet and offer all the comforts of home. They can be unhitched from the tow vehicle when you arrive at your destination.

Truck camper - Truck campers are campers loaded onto the bed of a pickup truck. The tailgate is removed and the truck camper is attached to the truck with tie-downs. This makes for a very versatile RV that can access back roads and remote areas other RVs can't get to.

U
Umbilical cord - The wiring harness that connects the tow vehicle to the trailer, supplying electricity to the trailer's clearance and brake lights, electric brakes and a 12-volt DC power line (to charge the trailer's batteries).
Underbelly - The RV's "underfloor" surface that is protected by a weatherproofed material.
Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW) - The weight of the RV without adding fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers. The manufacturers UVW will not include any dealer-installed options. Also known as Dry Weight.
V
Van Conversion - A fully loaded van and the smallest of the fully enclosed motorhomes. These are constructed on a van chassis with elevated roof lines but no modifications to the length or width of the original chassis. Gross vehicle weights are in the 6000 to 8000 range with heights of 7 to 8 feet and lengths of 17 to 19 feet.
W

Water pressure regulator - A water pressure regulator is used to prevent too much water pressure from entering the RV and damaging the plumbing system. You attach the pressure regulator to the campground water supply and then attach one end of your drinking hose to the regulator and the other end to the city water inlet on the RV.

Weight carrying hitch - Also known as a "dead-weight" hitch, this category includes any system that accepts the entire hitch weight of the trailer. In the strictest sense, even a weight-distributing hitch can act as a load-carrying hitch if the spring bars are not installed and placed under tension.
Weight distributing hitch - Also known as an "equalizing" hitch, this category includes hitch systems that utilize spring bars that can be 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 vehicle with the fuel, freshwater and propane tanks full.
Wheelbase - The distance between the center lines of the primary axles of a vehicle. If a motorhome includes a "tag" axle, the distance is measured from the front axle to the center point between the drive and "tag" axle.
Wheelbase - Distance between center lines of the primary axles of a vehicle. If a motorhome includes a tag axle, the distance is measured from the front axle to the center point between the drive and tag axles.
Wide body - An RV that is wider than 8'. The majority of RVs are 8' wide. A wide body RV is usually 8' 6” wide.
Y
Yaw - Refers to the "fish-tailing" action of a trailer caused by external forces that set the trailer's mass into a lateral (side-to-side) motion. The trailer's wheels serve as the axis or pivot point. Also known as "sway".
 
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