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Fulltiming 5th wheel


kinseypw

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We are fulltiming in a 2011 Cougar322qbs. I understand that this trailer, like most, is supposedly only designed for "occasional use" i.e. weekend camping. I know that some companies do make trailers specifically designed for fulltiming but we do not have one. Are there specific area on the typical trailer that are more likely to be a problem with fulltime use and is there a way to prevent problems from arising?

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Mechanical components are usually not the issue. It is more excessive wear and tear on interior trim items that seems to show up with full time usage. Stay on top of fixing any issues that come up, loose drawer tracks, lose hinges, loose trim, etc., and it should last a while.

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There are few, if any RVs built that are actually marketed as fulltime versions but there are groupings for vacation, snowbird, & fulltime RVs that have been created by the RV Consumer Group as a means of comparing the various models, and many others in the RV world have begun to adopt those groupings, but I doubt that you will find an RV manufacturer who markets any model at for full-time living. Even so, there are many of us who do or have lived all of the time in an RV and can offer some advice based upon our research and experiences.

 

What most of us call fulltime RVs have more insulation than the vacation type, they have dual pane windows for better ability to heat and cool them, and they typically have sold wood in cabinets, drawers, and none of the particle board construction with vinyl wrapped wood grain on the outside. In addition, they have kitchen surfaces of Coran or some other durable product while vacation models usually have Formica or similar product that is glued to wood.

 

There are also differences in construction and the better rated RVs are far heavier because of the materials used in the walls, thermal breaks designed into the framework and the total avoidance of the use of aluminum, which is a good heat conductor. In addition, the top quality RVs all have the waste tanks inside of heated spaces and all plumbing that way as well so that none of it is exposed to the weather. Spaces below the floor where tanks and plumbing are located have heat ducts that empty into them from the furnace and they are insulated. Even waste dump valves are not exposed to outside temperatures. They typically have larger capacity furnaces and air conditioners as well and frequently are wired to use 50A power if available.

 

Appliances are usually pretty much the same, although they may have larger water heaters, refrigerators, and sometimes a home type of 120V refrigerator in place of the usual RV absorption one. They often have a washer/dryer on board and they almost always have larger fresh water and waste tanks. In general the high end or so called fulltime RVs will weigh much more for the size and they usually also have higher GVWR ratings and carrying capacities.

 

Remember that for the vacation & weekend user an RV will rarely be used for more than 30 to 60 nights per year, which means that it takes them 6 to 10 years to put as much use into one as what a fulltimer does in one year. In fulltime use, most RV appliances will reach the end of life at some point around 10 to 15 years, while in vacation use it isn't uncommon for the original appliances to list the life of the RV.

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Thanks for the feedback, Dennis and Kurt. Our unit does have a "polar package" though I believe that the actual amount of insulation is minimal, no dual pane windows sadly. The tanks are in heated compartments but since we dont often use the furnace I'm not sure how useful that will be. We try to stay away from really cold weather and so far havent had to deal with anything colder than -7C one morning near Superior. We do have corian counters and solid wood trim so I am relieved about that and I will be keeping up on interior repairs. I want to have wheel bearings regreased every year and try to do anything that anyone can suggest as preventative maintenance within reason.

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There are few, if any RVs built that are actually marketed as fulltime versions but there are groupings for vacation, snowbird, & fulltime RVs that have been created by the RV Consumer Group as a means of comparing the various models, and many others in the RV world have begun to adopt those groupings, but I doubt that you will find an RV manufacturer who markets any model at for full-time living. Even so, there are many of us who do or have lived all of the time in an RV and can offer some advice based upon our research and experiences.

 

What most of us call fulltime RVs have more insulation than the vacation type, they have dual pane windows for better ability to heat and cool them, and they typically have sold wood in cabinets, drawers, and none of the particle board construction with vinyl wrapped wood grain on the outside. In addition, they have kitchen surfaces of Coran or some other durable product while vacation models usually have Formica or similar product that is glued to wood.

 

There are also differences in construction and the better rated RVs are far heavier because of the materials used in the walls, thermal breaks designed into the framework and the total avoidance of the use of aluminum, which is a good heat conductor. In addition, the top quality RVs all have the waste tanks inside of heated spaces and all plumbing that way as well so that none of it is exposed to the weather. Spaces below the floor where tanks and plumbing are located have heat ducts that empty into them from the furnace and they are insulated. Even waste dump valves are not exposed to outside temperatures. They typically have larger capacity furnaces and air conditioners as well and frequently are wired to use 50A power if available.

 

Appliances are usually pretty much the same, although they may have larger water heaters, refrigerators, and sometimes a home type of 120V refrigerator in place of the usual RV absorption one. They often have a washer/dryer on board and they almost always have larger fresh water and waste tanks. In general the high end or so called fulltime RVs will weigh much more for the size and they usually also have higher GVWR ratings and carrying capacities.

 

Remember that for the vacation & weekend user an RV will rarely be used for more than 30 to 60 nights per year, which means that it takes them 6 to 10 years to put as much use into one as what a fulltimer does in one year. In fulltime use, most RV appliances will reach the end of life at some point around 10 to 15 years, while in vacation use it isn't uncommon for the original appliances to list the life of the RV.

Nice post. I full time in a 2010 Jayco Designer. I bought it new in August 2010 and have lived in in full time ever since.

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I full time in a 2010 Jayco Designer. I bought it new in August 2010 and have lived in in full time ever since.

We bought a 1998, Georgie Boy Cruise Master, 36' long with no slides and an F-53 chassis. It was "Snowbird" rated by the RV Consumer Group and was even agreed as a good match for us by founder JD Gallant at the time of purchase. Even so, we regularly see posts by "experts" that it just isn't an RV that will do for fulltime, but we owned ours for 14 years, nearly 12 of that it was our only home.

 

As they say to members, the rating divisions are not intended to mean that you can't live in a vacation grouped RV, only that it will require more maintenance and show wear more quickly that would one that they class as Snowbird or Full-time. Those classifications are only intended to be a means of comparison shopping, It avoids new RV buyers trying to compare a Bounder to a Newell.

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People full-time in all sorts of rigs, from motorcycles to 45' motorhomes. None of them are perfect for everyone. You will need to be aware of the limitations of any coach, whether it is the one you currently own or one you are considering. If your coach isn't well insulated, you will need to plan on spending more on propane or electricity. You may need to add a supplemental electric heater in the wet bay.

 

Two things that many people forget are your water hose and sewer hose. When it gets below freezing outside those hoses will freeze, no matter what the temperature is inside the coach. If the tanks are heated you would be wise to fill the fresh water tank and disconnect the water hose from both the coach and the faucet. Same thing with the sewer hose. Disconnect it, wash it, and put it away for the night. Use the internal tanks.

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Sound advice David. We try to avoid the really cool weather but we have to be in Canada most of October and you never know what can happen. Currently we are sitting in a campground just north of the border waiting as long as possible before heading south. We didnt bother to hook up the sewer and water for the reasons you mentioned even though its only getting down to -2C overnight. Our rig is supposed to be good to -10C but I assume that means with the furnace running and we dont use the furnace much but have a catalytic heater instead. Not sure how good the heat transfer is to the basement. I did see a note about a fan you can use to pump air from the cabin to the basement and we might look into that. I'm also tempted to check into the exact amount of insulation we have in the basement - scary thought!

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