RV Terms & Acronyms

Generator – An engine powered device fuelled by gasoline or diesel fuel, and sometimes propane, for generating 120-volt AC power.

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) –  The manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, that can be placed on the axle.  If an axle has a 3500-lb. GAWR and the RV has two axles (tandem axles), then the RV would have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 7000 lbs. (see GVWR below)

Gross Combined Weight (GCW) – The combined weight of the tow vehicle and the trailer.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) – The manufacturers maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the trailer and tow vehicle.  This rating includes the weight of the trailer, tow vehicle, fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) – Gross trailer weight is the weight of the trailer fully loaded in its actual towing condition. GTW is measured by placing the fully loaded trailer on a vehicle scale. The entire weight of the trailer should be supported on the scale.

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) – The weight of the vehicle.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) – The manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the vehicle.  This rating includes the weight of the vehicle plus fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

Generator  –  An electrical device powered by gasoline or diesel fuel, and sometimes propane, for generating 120-volt AC power.

Gray Water – The gray water tanks on an RV hold drainage water from the sinks and shower. It contains soap and food particles and although not seriously harmful, the common practice of dumping gray water on the campsite ground should be avoided.

Gray (WaterTank  –  The gallons of gray waste that can be held
Hitch Weight  –  The amount of a trailer’s weight that rests on the tow vehicle’s hitch.  For travel trailers this weight should be 10% to 15% of the total weight of the trailer.  For fifth wheels this weight should be 15% to 20% of the total weight of the trailer.

Heat Exchanger – A heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat from one source to another. For example, there is a heat exchanger in your 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 the blown through the ducting system for room heating. The 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 are typically 1500 watt elements (about the same wattage as an electric hair dryer) and have limited function. Basically they “take the chill off”

Hitch Weight – The amount of a trailer’s weight that rests on the tow vehicle’s hitch. For travel trailers this weight should be 10% to 15% of the total weight of the trailer. For fifth wheels this weight should be 15% to 20% of the total weight of the trailer.

Holding Tanks  –  There are three different holding tanks on most RVs:  Fresh Water, Gray Water and Black Water.  The fresh water tanks hold the water you will use for water you will pump into your RV when you are not getting water from an outside source.  The Gray Water tank holds water from your kitchen and shower.  The black water tank holds the water and waste from your toilet.

Hookups  –  The ability of connecting to a campground’s facilities.  The major types of hookups are electrical, water and sewer.  If all three of these hookups are available, it is termed full hookup. Hookups may also include telephone and cable TV in some campgrounds.

Inverter – An inverter is a device that changes 12 volt battery power to 120 volt AC power. It is used when “boon docking” (camping without hookups) to power certain 120 VAC only devices like a microwave oven. The amount of available power depends on the storage capacity of the batteries and the wattage rating of the inverter.

Laminate – A sandwich of structural frame members, wall paneling, insulation and exterior covering, adhesive-bonded under pressure and/or heat to form the RV’s walls, floor and/or roof.

Livability Packages – items to equip a motor home for daily living, which may be rented at nominal cost from rental firm, rather than brought from home. Include bed linens, pillows and blankets, bath towels, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, cutlery.

LP Gas  –  Liquefied Petroleum Gas.  LP gas is used to fuel appliances in the RV, such as the stove, oven, water heater and sometimes the refrigerator.

Often called propane. LP weighs 4.5 pounds per gallon.

Net Carrying Capacity (NCC)  –  Sometimes called the payload capacity, this is the maximum weight of fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers that can be added to an RV without exceeding the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).   (see GVWR above)

PartTimers  –  The term used for people who use their RV more than usual (more than just a few weekend trips a year), but who still use it less than full time.

Payload Capacity  –  The maximum allowable weight that can be in or on a vehicle, including all cargo and accessories, fuel, freshwater, propane, passengers and hitch loads.

Pilot – a pilot is a small standby flame that is used to light the main burner of a propane fired appliance when the thermostat calls for heat. Pilots can be used in furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators, ovens and stove tops.

PopOut – The term for a room in an RV that pops out for additional living space.

Pop Up

Popup or PopUp – Another name for a folding camping trailer.

Porpoising  –  A term used to define the up and down motion in an RV while traveling.

Propane – LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas, used in RVs for heating, cooking and refrigeration. Also called bottle gas, for manner in which it is sold and stored.

Puller – The slang term for a motor home with a front-mounted diesel engine.

Pull Through – A camping site that allows you to pull through while setting up and leaving the area.  A site where you do not have to back into or out of.

Pusher – The slang term for a motor home with a rear-mounted diesel engine.

Rig – What many RVers call their units.

Roof Air Conditioning – air conditioning unit mounted on roof of RV, to cool the RV when it is parked. When moving, most RVs are cooled by separate air conditioning units which are components of the engine, or they may be cooled by a roof top if a proper size generator is installed.

RV – Short for Recreation Vehicle, a generic term for all pleasure vehicles which contain living accommodations. Multiple units are RVs and persons using them are RVers.

Safety Chains  –  A set of chains that are attached to both the trailer A-Frame and the tow vehicle while towing.  Safety chains are intended to keep the trailer attached to the tow vehicle in the event of a hitch failure, preventing the trailer from completely separating from the tow vehicle.

Self Contained – RV which needs no external electrical, drain or water hookup. Thus, it can park overnight anywhere. Of course, self-contained units can also hook up to facilities when at campgrounds.

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