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Welcome to our comprehensive guide to RV upgrades, where we share 41 ways to enhance your travel experience. As seasoned full-time RVers, we understand the importance of optimizing your RV to ensure comfort, convenience and safety during your adventures.
In this article, we will provide you with a detailed overview of essential RV upgrades, covering everything from interior modifications to exterior enhancements. Let’s dive in and explore the world of RV upgrades together!
- 1 Exterior RV Upgrades
- 1.1 Tires
- 1.2 Tire Pressure Monitoring System
- 1.3 Entry Stairs
- 1.4 Upgraded RV Lock
- 1.5 Sliding Cargo Tray
- 1.6 Upgraded Hitch
- 1.7 Towing Mirrors
- 1.8 Backup Cameras
- 1.9 Lithium Batteries
- 1.10 Solar Panels
- 1.11 Tank Heaters
- 1.12 Fire Extinguishers
- 1.13 Gas Alarm
- 1.14 Propane Shut-Off Device
- 1.15 Sewer Hose Accessory Storage
- 1.16 Insect Screens
- 1.17 Water Filtration System
- 1.18 Surge Protector
- 1.19 Right Angle Adaptor
- 1.20 Awning Wind Sensor
- 1.21 Vent Covers
- 2 Interior RV Upgrades
- 3 RV Upgrades for Pets
Exterior RV Upgrades
If you own a towable RV, tires are the first RV upgrade you should consider. Many travel trailer manufacturers equip their RVs with cheap tires that wear quickly and may not be adequate to support the weight of a fully loaded RV.
To understand if your tires should be upgraded, you first need to weight your trailer axles. Then, you can divide the weight on your trailer axle(s) by the number of tires to calculate the individual tire loading.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Whether or not you choose to upgrade your RV tires, you should install a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). Using cap sensors, these systems monitor tire pressure in real-time, so drivers are alerted of pressure issues before damage occurs.
TireMinder Smart TPMS is a great choice for both travel trailers and motorhomes. The system constantly monitors for high and low pressure, leaks, high temperatures and blowouts. All data is available in real-time through a smartphone app.
Like RV tires, RV entry steps are not generally known for their quality. Many RV stairs are flimsy and sit high off the ground. Upgrading your RV entry stairs provides a safe, more enjoyable way to enter and exit your RV.
We upgraded our entry stairs to Torklift’s Glow Step Revolution. This folding RV stair set has four steps and a top of the line adjustable height system that keeps campers safe even on rough terrain.
These steps are a bit heavy, so campers with physical limitations may consider Lippert’s Solid Steps that fold into the RV doorway.
Upgraded RV Lock
Did you know that RV keys are not individually made for each RV? When RV manufacturers install locks, they install the same lock on every RV, so it is easy for dealers to access all their RVs without carrying hundreds of keys.
Upgrade your RV security by replacing your standard RV lock with a Latch.It lock. The company makes a variety of locks, so it is easy to find one that fits your door. Some of their locks also have a keypad and key fobs for easy keyless entry.
Sliding Cargo Tray
One upgrade I have not made yet, but I am definitely adding to our next RV is a sliding cargo tray. These trays are installed in the basement storage area, and slide out so it is super easy for campers to reach all of their gear.
Without a sliding cargo tray, we often have to empty half of our basement storage compartment when we need to grab a tool that is stored in the middle of the compartment.
MORryde makes sliding cargo trays designed to fit a variety of RV basement sizes.
Travel trailer and fifth wheel owners should consider upgrading their hitches to make hooking up easier and improve the towing experience. We upgraded our fifth wheel hitch to an Andersen Ultimate Connection Rail Mount Hitch.
Some benefits of the Andersen hitch include a greaseless coupler and an adjustable height. The hitch is also super lightweight, so it can easily be removed from the truck bed when we are not towing.
Travel trailer owners should consider purchasing an upgraded weight distribution hitch, such as the Blue Ox BXW1000 SWAYPRO.
Another great upgrade for towable RVs is tow mirrors. Tow mirrors, or towing mirrors, attach to or replace the side mirrors of your tow vehicle to provide an extended field of view.
The Dometic DM-2899 Milenco Aero3 Towing Mirrors easily clip on to most vehicles’ side mirrors to provide improved visibility when towing a travel trailer.
Backing up a large travel trailer or motorhome can be difficult, especially in RV parks with lots of trees or tight campsites. A backup camera can help you see where the RV is headed and avoid an embarrassing accident.
Many RVs are pre-wired for backup cameras, which makes them super easy to install. Check if your RV already has pre-wiring and brackets for a specific brand before purchasing a camera.
For RV owners who plan to spend a good amount of time dry camping or boondocking, upgrading your RV’s power capabilities is a must. The first power upgrade we recommend is lithium batteries.
Most RVs come equipped with a lead-acid house battery that won’t last more than a couple of days without being charged. Therefore, many frequent boondockers chose to upgrade to more energy-efficient lithium ion batteries that stay charged longer.
Lithium batteries also have a much longer lifespan compared to lead-acid batteries, with some models offering up to 10 times the cycle life.
Solar panels are another RV upgrade that will extend your battery power while boondocking. For campers who conserve power while boondocking and don’t need to run 120 volt appliances, a portable 200 watt panel is sufficient to keep your battery charged.
If you want to maximize your RV’s power without using a generator, the experts at Future Solutions can design a solar plus battery power system that will allow you to camp off grid as much as you like.
RV tank heaters are electric heating pads designed to keep RV holding tanks warm. While some RVs come equipped with tank heaters, they are not always standard equipment.
RVers who plan to regularly camp in below freezing temperatures should definitely consider adding tank heaters. RecPro’s Tank Heater Pads have a peel and stick adhesive and are easily installed on RV holding tanks.
Like most RVs, our fifth wheel came equipped with one small fire extinguisher. During our first year on the road, I looked up to see our neighbor’s electrical cord going up in flames. Our tiny fire extinguisher barely put a dent in the growing fire.
Fortunately, we were able to put out the fire before significant damage was done, but we immediately ordered more extinguishers.
We recommend having at least three extinguishers: one in the bedroom, one in the main living area and one in an unlocked outside storage compartment. One good option for RVs is the First Alert HOME2PRO, a larger A/B/C fire extinguisher.
All RVs also come equipped with a gas alarm to alert campers to the presence of carbon monoxide or propane in the RV. Most of these gas alarms claim to have a lifespan of 5 years. However, we had three fail within our first five years on the road (they falsely sounded alarms).
Two years ago, we replaced our the standard gas alarm in our fifth wheel, with an RV Safe alarm and have not had any more issues. When you purchase a new (or new to you) RV, check the date on the back of the gas alarm to see if it is more than five years old.
If the alarm is outdated, purchase and replace it before your first camping trip. If the current alarm is good, we still recommend purchasing a back-up alarm so you have a replacement ready in case of malfunction.
Propane Shut-Off Device
Our last recommended RV safety upgrade is GasStop, an emergency propane shut-off device. This device attaches to the propane tank and is designed to shut off the propane in case of a major leak.
The company makes devices to fit travel trailer and fifth wheel tanks, as well as larger motorhome propane tanks. Both models also have easy to read gas indicators, to help make sure you never run out of propane.
Sewer Hose Accessory Storage
Many RVs have a built-in RV sewer hose storage tube under the RV. However, most of these built-in storage compartments are not wide enough to store accessories, such as elbow connectors, which means contaminated fittings must be stored in your RV. EW!
If your RV has a built-in sewer hose carrier that does not fit your accessories, install the Valterra EZ Accessory Carrier. 15 inches long with a 5.5 inch opening, the tube fits most 90° sewer fittings.
Insect screens are a simple RV upgrade that can prevent expensive damage to your RV appliances. Several RV appliances, including the fridge, water heater and furnace, have exterior vents.
These vents are large enough for insects to fly in and build nests in the appliances. Covering the vents with wire mesh covers keeps insects out while still allowing for the necessary airflow.
Water Filtration System
If you travel in an RV, it won’t take long until you encounter a campground with foul tasting (or smelling) water. Using a water filter can improve the taste, smell and safety of water while camping in an RV.
We recommend that all RVers install an exterior water filter, like the Clearsource Premium RV Water Filter System, on the outside of their RV. This filter removes or reduces sediment, chlorine, VOCs and other contaminants and bacteria.
Surge protectors are one of the most important pieces of equipment to protect your RV. If you own an RV, and do not have one, go buy it today! Surge protectors should be used every time your plug into shore power.
These devices protect your RV from surges due to lightening or other issues. Newer models also protect your RV from incorrect wiring and electrical issues at campgrounds.
Because we always use a surge protector, we have experienced several power outages and improperly wired campground electric boxes without any damage to our RV.
Right Angle Adaptor
Another upgrade for your RV power cord is a right angle adaptor. These adaptors change your power cord connection from straight to a right angle.
The right angle connection reduces strain at the inlet connection, helping to avoid damage to your RV power cord. Since, we have a 50 AMP RV, we use a 50 AMP adapter, but there are also similar 30 AMP models available.
Awning Wind Sensor
In our time on the road, I have seen at least 25 awnings succumb to the wind (including one of ours). Therefore, a wind sensor is an upgrade that can save your awning and save you a lot of money.
RV wind sensors detect movement and automatically retract the awning if the wind is too strong. They can be installed on any electric awning.
Wind sensors upgrades are sold by all the major electric awning manufacturers, so simply check the brand of your awning and look for a compatible upgrade kit.
Install vent covers over your RV vents and fans to maximize their efficiency and prevent rainwater from coming into your RV.
When its hot outside but you are not able to run the A.C., you can open the covered roof vents and the windows on the shady side of your RV to create maximum ventilation and let the hot air out.
Interior RV Upgrades
Many RVs come with only a super-thin cushion for the mattress. It won’t take more than one night sleeping on one of these RV mattresses to decide you need an upgrade.
Fortunately, there are many companies that make comfy mattresses sized for RV beds. We replaced our terrible RV mattress with this affordable, memory foam, short queen mattress.
Online mattress sellers typically compress the mattresses, so they can be rolled up and shipped in a box. This process actually works great for RVs, as it would be difficult to maneuver a full mattress into your RV.
If you purchase a new RV that has a decent mattress, a mattress topper is a more affordable way to upgrade your RV sleeping experience.
Since, foam mattress toppers can easily be cut to size, they are also a great solution for making RV bunk beds, Murphy beds, sleeper sofas and convertible dinettes more comfortable.
Door Window Shade
All of the windows in your RV except one will come with blinds or shades installed. The expectation is the window in your RV entry door, which is usually frosted but not covered.
This uncovered window can lead to blinding light streaming into your kitchen or living room at certain times of day. Fortunately, Lippert makes the Thin Shade, which is designed specifically for this problem.
The Thin Shade can be installed on any prepped Lippert RV door or you can purchase a full window replacement kit with the shade included.
After almost a decade on the road, we just upgraded our RV showerhead. After a month of showers with solid pressure, I can vouch this is an RV upgrade you should not wait to complete.
We replaced our manufacturer showerhead with the Oxygenics Fury. The replacement was super easy and completed in minutes.
While designed to conserve water, this showerhead offers significantly better water pressure than the one we previously had. It also has five different spray settings.
While you are in the shower, you should also consider upgrading your soap storage solution. When traveling in an RV, soap, shampoo and conditioner bottles have to be secured during travel to prevent a big mess.
To keep your RV shower tidier and make travel days easier, install a wall-mounted shampoo, conditioner and soap dispenser. The simplehuman dispenser is installed with double-sided tape, so no drilling is required.
Not all RV toilets are created equal. If your RV toilet is too short, too shaky or too old, upgrade it. Installing a new RV toilet is relatively simple and can be completed in a couple of hours.
Our favorite RV toilet is the Dometic 310 Series Gravity Discharge Toilet. This toilet has a high profile, a long seat, a ceramic bowl and an attached hand sprayer for easy cleaning.
If you plan on camping off-grid for long periods of time, you may consider upgrading to a composting toilet that does not fill up your RV’s black tank.
Most new RVs come equipped with 12 volt LED lights. These lights are more efficient and can run off the RV’s battery. However, many of these efficient light fixtures are not the most visually pleasing.
Start an RV makeover by replacing your RV’s preinstalled light fixtures with more modern 12 volt LED fixtures. These lights can be hard to find, but we’ve compiled a list of the 17 best looking RV light fixtures.
Another RV upgrade that will make your RV interior more stylish is replacing the built-in trifold or jackknife sofa with a cute futon. This replacement will allow you to add color and texture to your RV.
A futon will also likely reduce your RV’s weight as pre-installed sleeper sofas are quite heavy. Just make sure your new furniture is properly secured during travel to prevent damage to the RV floors.
Another easy RV design upgrade is installing a backsplash in your kitchen. Real tiles are usually too heavy for an RV renovation, so peel and stick tiles are the best option.
Peel and stick tile stickers are super easy to install. Simply clean and dry the wall, then place stickers on. If you mess up, the stickers can easily be removed and replaced.
Peel and stick tiles can also be durable. We have traveled for over six years with SnazzyDecal tiles, and they have not faded or peeled at all.
Given their size, RVs typically have limited storage space. Adding drawer organizers to your RV kitchen and bathroom will expand your storage capacity and make you feel more organized.
Washer and Dryer
One of the least fun aspects of RV living is heading to the laundromat every week. When we purchase our next RV, we will definitely consider adding a washer and dryer or getting an RV that already has laundry appliances installed.
Many new RVs come with washer and dryer hookups pre-installed in a closet or the bathroom. If you plan on living in your RV or taking extended road trips, this is an RV upgrade worth considering.
A central vacuum cleaner, is a cleaning system that is built into the RV in order to maximize cleaning power without utilizing too much space.
If a central vacuum is not included with your RV, it is fairly easy to install one yourself. After buying a central vacuum system, RVers just need to identify the best place to store the vacuum system and its included hoses (usually in a cabinet or storage bay).
The 9880 Dirt Devil Central Vacuum System is a complete kit for RVers. The main vacuum box is pretty compact at just 14.5 x 7 x 6.25 inches. However, the Dirt Devil vacuum has a large capacity compared to other compact vacuums and can hold up to one gallon of dirt and debris.
Clear Window Insulation
When camping in cold weather, windows allow cold air to enter your RV. Adding additional insulation to windows will help keep your RV warm and comfortable inside.
However, many window insulation solutions block natural light and make the RV dark and gloomy. Therefore, a Frost King window insulation kit is perfect for RVs. The insulation is clear and is easily removed when winter is over.
Our last recommend interior RV upgrade is a fun one! Use chalkboard paint to transform one of your RV walls (or cabinets) into a drawing board. We painted the wall beside our fridge, that faces the back of our RV, so it is hidden from view.
Hiding the chalkboard wall from view allows us to use it as a space-saving calendar, grocery list or to do list.
If you are more artistic than I am (see my terrible drawing above), you can put the chalkboard wall in a more prominent place, and use it to decorate your RV for Christmas and other holidays.
RV Upgrades for Pets
Upgraded Screen Door
On nice days, we love opening the doors and windows and allowing the fresh air to come inside. However, our cat Mr. Man loved clawing at the screen door to try to actually get outside.
To remedy this situation, we upgraded the screens in our door with pet screen that is tear resistant. We simply tore out the old screen and replaced it with the sturdier fabric. The process was fairly easy and took about two hours in total.
Screen Door Lock
In his quest to get outside, Mr. Man also learned how to open our screen door with his paw. Since RV screen doors do not lock, we used a bungee cord to lock our screen door.
An easier RV upgrade to keep your kitty safe is installing a hook and eye latch to lock your screen door. See the Campoholics YouTube video for an example of an easy DIY hook and eye screen door lock.
Litter Box Room
Finding a place to store your RV cat’s litter box is challenging in a tiny space. One of the best RV upgrades we made was building a litter box room in our basement storage.
Like most fifth wheels, our RV has interior stairs in the middle of the trailer that sit directly above the basement storage bay. We simply cut out the panel on the back of the stairs and built plywood walls behind them to create an enclosed room.
If you have another type of RV, you can still build an enclosed litter box room under the sink, in your storage bay or in the outdoor kitchen space.
Pet Feeding Station
When you have limited floor space, your pets’ bowls quickly become tripping hazards and mess makers. Upgrade your pet’s feeding station by installing wall-mounted bowls.
The Petvins Elevated Pet Feeder is perfect for RVs. It is mounted to the wall using adhesive wall brackets, so you do not have to put any screws in the wall. The bowls can be installed at any height to match your pet’s size.
When leaving your pets alone in the RV, you should take measures to ensure they are safe. A temperature sensor is an upgrade that allows you to monitor the temperature inside your RV from your phone.
Although these devices are a bit pricey, they are an essential safety tool for RV living with dogs and cats. The sensor’s app allows you to set an alert limit, so you will be notified if the temperature rises due to a power outage or air conditioner failure.
RV Step Covers
Last on our list of RV upgrades for pets is RV step covers. RV step covers are great for dog owners for three reasons. First, they keep your RV steps from getting slippery and make it easier for your dog to walk up on their own.
They also help prevent the steps from getting too hot for puppy paws, and they catch dirt and help keep the inside of your RV clean.
Thanks for reading our complete guide to RV upgrades. We hope you are ready to dive into some DIY RV projects.