If recent attendance at RV shows across the country is any indication, the RV industry is alive and well! Tradeshow attendees are being treated to an array of new technologies in building RV’s as well as an expanding array of luxuries.
I would put the list of RV manufacturing trends and innovations for 2011 into two main categories.
On one side, manufacturers are focusing on turning out more eco-friendly and energy efficient units. On the other end of the spectrum, manufacturers continue to find new ways to impress us with all the luxury they can put in an RV.
One of the fastest growing populations of RV owners is budget-conscious empty-nesters. RV manufacturers are working hard to meet the demands of these consumers with features such as:
- Light-weight all-composite, wood-free construction for better fuel efficiency and easier towing. These impact-resistant composites are stronger and more durable than traditional materials, increasing your RV’s usable life and resale value. Eco-friendly composite materials are completely recyclable so won’t end up in our landfills.
- New RV furniture designs made from light-weight aluminum and high-density foam for increased comfort and decreased weight.
- Awning-style windows that maximize aerodynamics while improving interior air flow.
- Energy-efficient tankless water heaters that provide unlimited hot water with 60% less propane.
- Roof-mounted solar panels and wind turbines that generate electricity to power RV appliances and systems.
- Powerful fan/vent systems designed to decrease air conditioning use.
- Energy-efficient appliances, fixtures, and LED lighting that can decrease energy consumption by 25% or more.
Without totally abandoning economy, RV manufacturers continue to find new ways to increase floor space and convenience. For those of us that still define down-sizing as anything smaller than a house, RV manufacturers have a few surprises.
- Quad slides and full-wall slides are increasing interior space – even up to as much as 460 square feet. Be sure to check out Monaco’s new telescoping slide that expands the living area by as much as 5 or 6 feet without affecting usability of the RV in the retracted position.
- Full size appliances and gourmet galleys
- Outdoor kitchens and entertainment centers
- Dual refrigerators with outdoor access
- Full size walkaround queen beds
- Walk-in closets with built-in dressers
- A second ½ bath
- Dual entry doors
- Master bathrooms outfitted with dual sinks and full size showers
- 46-inch wide screen TVs and Blu-Ray players and integrated surround sound system
When shopping for a new RV – whether its brand new or new to you – its easy to get swept up by the all these gee-whiz features. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is to not lose sight of how you use your RV, and what’s important to your unique day-to-day lifestyle. Just because something is fancy, doesn’t mean that its functional. Spend some time in the RV without the salesman pointing out all the features he thinks you can’t live without. Pretend you are living in it.
- Sit at the table, on the couch, and especially the driver’s chair. Is everything comfortable and aesthetically pleasing?
- Imagine preparing dinner in the kitchen and where you would store your food, dishes, and pots and pans.
- Stand in the shower and sit on the toilet. Is there enough room for you?
- Lie down on the bed. Is it easy to get in and out and is there a convenient place for a bedside clock?
- Visualize the amount of clothes you typically have with you. Is wardrobe space adequate? There could even be too much wardrobe space, scarifying things like a walkaround bed.
- Walk around the outside of the rig, open all the storage compartments, and perform a mental inventory of what you have and make sure it will all fit and be easily accessible (both with the slides in and out).
- And don’t forget to pull the slides in. Can you still get to the bathroom comfortably and have enough room to make a lunch?
Once you have found the perfect RV for both your budget and your liftstyle and are ready to get down to the business of purchasing it, here are some useful checklists from TaxFree RV to help you reduce or even eliminate sales taxes and registration fees.