Give your motorhome a makeover with one or more of these renovation and updating ideas.
By Janet Groene, F47166
Full-timers realize that motorhomes are much different in 2014 than they were a few years ago. Yet many love their older motorhome and want to continue to make it their sole residence. When your motorhome was new, you probably fine-tuned it to increase comfort and efficiency, reduce costs, and protect the resale value. Now that it’s a little older, you may have considered making major changes. Luckily, many things can be done to bring your home on wheels up-to-date.
So, what are the items that are being added or upgraded on older motorhomes? Here are some trends that experts have observed among customers who have a motorhome they want to keep for some time to come.
Steve Paul is director of RV Sales at Lippert Components. The company supplies chassis parts, slideout mechanisms, axles, upholstered furniture, mattresses, windows, doors, leveling and stabilization equipment, suspension enhancement products, electronics, awnings, and many more products for RVs. As a frequent visitor to RV rallies, he’s found that furniture and mattresses are high on the list of upgrades. “One customer wanted to increase seating and sleeping space in the motorhome and get rid of the dinette that came standard with the unit,” he reported. “We removed the old sofa and dinette and replaced it with two jackknife sofas. The look is great and the owners love it!”
The bedroom is another place where many motorhomers want to make a change. “New mattresses make success stories all the time,” Mr. Paul said. “We sold a new Denver [brand] mattress to one couple …. They showed up at a rally later in the year and couldn’t stop talking about its quality and comfort. At another rally, we met a couple who wanted to replace the sofa that came standard in their coach with two residential recliners that we offer. Now they each have a personal recliner to position as they wish.”
Safety And Technology
“Some requests we get from existing owners have to do with added personal security,” revealed Sonya Kobriger, a sales representative for commercial and specialty vehicles at Winnebago Industries Inc. As time goes on, an owner may need additional grab bars. That, in turn, may call for added structure. “We can install a platform lift, a Superarm Lift (www.superarmlift.com), or perhaps just a personal lift for the person who isn’t in a wheelchair but simply needs help getting on board,” she said.
Computer use is an increasingly important factor as well, especially with the many full-timers who work out of their motorhomes and require computers for both personal and professional use. “We may be asked, for example, to install a simple pull-out keyboard tray under the dinette table,” Ms. Kobriger said.
Winnebago is happy to talk about making changes to an existing motorhome. “Furniture pieces have parts numbers at Winnebago,” she said. “So, it’s always possible to replace a piece as long as it fits.” She said that the Flexsteel Euro recliners Winnebago uses are especially popular as a motorhome update.
Slow And Steady, Silent Solar
Occasionally, you may encounter an all-solar RV, but most of us are still waiting for the big breakthrough that will give us megawatts of power for a minimal investment. Still, solar energy is becoming more affordable at a time when our entertainment and communications electronics are becoming more energy-efficient. Even a modest solar power system can run a TV and recharge telephones and tablets, according to Jeff Wilson, author of The Greened House Effect, Renovating Your Home With A Deep Energy Retrofit ($29.95, Chelsea Green).
Although the book is written for owners of stationary homes, it has many tips that can apply to motorhome living. Mr. Wilson outfitted a small RV with an all-solar system six years ago, and he’s been pleased with the reliable service he’s received from it. With an 85-watt solar panel and a wind generator, the Wilson family can watch TV on a laptop, charge phones and iPods, and run a fan. Thanks to two deep-cycle batteries, the RV has enough power to last through the night if needed.
Other Popular Modifications
The Web site ModMyRV.com is devoted solely to modifications, most of them easy enough for owners with moderate do-it-yourself skills. It’s an online community where RVers share information about modifications they’ve made or ask questions about modifications they would like to make. The site includes 108 “Must-Do Mods” and 18 modification categories. Some of the most-viewed modification projects are titled Air Conditioner Hard Start Capacitor; Digital Thermostat; Flat Panel TV Mount; Laminate Flooring; Bumper Mount Cargo Carrier; Generator Installation; Dinette Replacement; Holding Tank Monitor System; Power Inverter; and LED Lighting Upgrade. The site also includes a Parts page to help locate items used in some of the modification projects; a Galleries page where users can post images of their modifications; a Resources page to find information and help when making modifications; and a Forums page where Web viewers can discuss different topics about RVing and modifications.
Other modifications currently in vogue include new and streamlined cargo carriers or racks (especially for skis, snowboards, and surfboards); custom floor mats and seat covers; slide-topper awnings; and remote-control anything, from security devices and entertainment electronics to thermostat access from another location. Devices that add convenience include the Blue Streak Dispenser, which automatically dispenses chemical into the toilet with each flush, thereby treating the holding tank at the same time.
You also will find new designs in multipurpose furniture, such as convertible sofas, chairs with built-in storage, and height-adjustable coffee tables. To help save water, owners can add a new aerated showerhead and wand designed to deliver a forceful spray using half the usual amount of water. They easily can be retrofitted to most plumbing, and the new designs convert from showerhead to wand. Some even have a built-in water filter.
So, the next time you see something in a newer motorhome that you wish you had in your older unit, make that wish come true with a modification or renovation project.