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Whether new to RVing or at it awhile, it’s never a bad time to ensure you’re up to speed on RV terms and definitions.

We’ve provided definitions for each term so after reading this guide, you’ll be ready to decipher short hand descriptions and navigate RV owner groups with ease!

  • A/C: Short hand for air conditioner.
  • Aluminum Exterior Sidewalls: This term refers to the outside construction of the RV. It consists of a wooden framing with an aluminum exterior and batten insulation.
  • Auxiliary Battery: An extra battery to run 12 volt equipment.
  • Back Up Monitor: The camera mounted on the back of the RV that provides the driver with an extra eye when backing up. It’s typically in the dash by the driver’s seat.
  • Basement: The large storage area underneath the RV’s floor that’s accessible from the storage doors on the exterior of the RV.
  • Black Water Capacity: The amount of waste water from the toilet that the RV’s black water tank is capable of holding.
  • Booth Dinette: The dining area with bench seats on opposite sides and a table in between. Many RVs have booth dinettes that convert to an extra sleeping space.
  • Brake Controller: A device mounted inside the tow vehicle that applies the trailer brakes simultaneously when the tow vehicle brakes.
  • Breakaway Switch: A safety switch that automatically activate the brakes on the trailer if it becomes separated from the tow vehicle.
  • BTU: A measurement of heat known as a British Thermal Unit. It’s the quantity required to raise the temperature of a pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.
  • Bunkhouse: This refers to the floor plan style of an RV that has bunk beds.
  • CCC: The Cargo Carrying Capacity is the weight limit for items you can add to an RV.
  • Chassis: The framework the RV is built upon. In RVs, the chassis generally includes the engine as well as the transmission.
  • Chassis Battery: The RV’s battery that operates 12 volt components of the drive train.
  • Cockpit: The front of the RV where the driver and passenger seats are located.
  • Control Panel: A panel to control and adjust the RV’s systems for water, power, and climate. Many modern RVs include touch screen panels and apps for ease of use.
  • Converter: This can convert 120 volt AC power to 12 volt DC power and is also capable of charging a 12 volt battery.
  • Diesel Puller – FRED: This refers to diesel RVs with the engine located in the front. It’s short for Front Engine Diesel.
  • Diesel Pusher: This Refers to diesel RVs with the engine located in the rear. The engine location helps push the RV down the road and provides a smoother, quieter ride.
  • Dry Weight: The weight of the RV as it comes off the assembly line. It doesn’t include water, supplies, passenger weights, or fuel. Manufacturers weigh each RV and apply a sticker listing the dry weight prior to shipping.
  • DSI: Direct Spark Ignition is the method of igniting the burner on a propane appliance.
  • Ducted A/C: This describes an RV wherein air conditioning is supplied through ducts in the ceiling and vents throughout the unit.
  • Ducted Heat: This describes an RV wherein heat is supplied through ducts in the floor and vents throughout the unit.
  • Dump Station: This refers to where you can safely and legally dump your black and gray water tanks. It’s typically a concrete pad with a tank underneath the ground.
  • Enclosed / Sealed Underbelly: This term describes an RV whose bottom surface has been closed shut or insulated to help protect against temperature changes.
  • Engine: This provides power to the RV and can be diesel or gas powered.
  • Four Pin Electrical Connector: This provides the power you need from your tow vehicle to the RV for the lights only.
  • Free Standing Dinette: The dining area with individual chairs and a table in between.
  • Fresh Water Capacity: The amount of drinkable water an RV’s fresh water tank can hold.
  • Front Galley: A type of floor plan with a kitchen in the front area of the RV.
  • Front Living: A type of floor plan with a living room in the front area of the RV.
  • Front Sleeping: A type of floor plan with a master bedroom in the front area of the RV.
  • Fuel Type: This is the type of fuel an RV uses that’s either gas or diesel.
  • Full Hookup: This describes camps offering water supply, sewer / septic, and electricity.
  • Full Timers: People who live in their RV year round.
  • Galley: Another term referring to the kitchen of an RV.
  • GAWR: The Gross Axel Weight Rating is the total allowable weight on each individual axle. This includes wheels, tires, brakes, and the axle itself.
  • GCWR: The Gross Combination Weight Rating is the total allowable weight of the trailer, tow vehicle, occupants, hitching, fluids, and cargo.
  • Generator: This provides 120 volt AC power to an RV. It runs on propane, gas, or diesel.
  • Gray Water Capacity: The amount of used water from the shower or sinks in the kitchen and bathroom that an RV’s gray water tank can hold.
  • GVWR: The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the maximum an RV must not exceed to ensure safe traveling. It includes the vehicle’s passengers, fuel, fluids, engine, chassis, cargo, body, accessories, etc.
  • Height: The top to bottom measurement of an RV.
  • Hitch: The connection between a tow vehicle and an RV.
  • Hitch Capacity: The towing capacity of the receiver hitch measured in pounds.
  • Holding Tanks: This refers to an RV’s gray, fresh, and black water tanks.
  • House Battery: The RV’s battery that operates the 12volt electrical system.
  • Interior Height: The floor to ceiling measurement inside an RV.
  • Inverter: This converts 12 volt DC power to 110 volt AC power.
  • King Pin Weight: The weight pressing on the fifth wheel hitch by the trailer. The recommended amount is generally 15% to 25% of the GTW or gross trailer weight.
  • Laminated Walls: This refers to the outside wall of an RV consisting of an aluminum frame, styrofoam, fiberglass sheeting treated with a gel coat, and then laminated.
  • Length: The front to back bumper measurement of an RV.
  • Leveling Jacks: Equipment used to make sure an RV sits level on the ground.
  • Loft Bed: A type of sleeping space where the bed is on a raised platform above another room or multi usage area. These are often found in fifth wheel or travel trailer RVs.
  • LP Gas: This is Liquid Petroleum or another term for propane.
  • Park Model: A specific type of RV designed to be permanently parked in one area.
  • Part Timers: This term is used to describe people who travel and use an RV for more than the occasional vacation, but don’t live in it full time.
  • Rear Kitchen: A type of floor plan with the kitchen at the back of the RV.
  • Rear Living: This describes a floor plan with the living room at the rear of the RV.
  • Rear Sleeping: A type of floor plan with the master bedroom at the rear of the RV.
  • Seven Pin Electrical Connector: This provides the power you need from your tow vehicle to the RV for the lights as well as the electrically operated brakes.
  • Sleeping Capacity: The number of sleeping spaces in an RV. There are different types of sleeping arrangements including standard queen and king size beds, hide a bed or jack knife sofa beds, convertible booth dinettes, fixed bunk beds, and drop down bunks.
  • Slide Outs: Expanding walls or sections of an RV creating additional living areas.
  • Sway Bar System: Equipment designed to reduce or eliminate sway movement.
  • Tongue Weight: The actual weight pressing on the hitch ball located on the tow vehicle. It’s generally 10% to 15% of the GVW or Gross Vehicle Weight.
  • Tow Rating: The maximum weight a vehicle can tow determined by its manufacturer. Consult the vehicle manufacturer or use a towing guide to find out the towing capacity.
  • Underbelly: This term describes the bottom surface of an RV similar to an undercarriage.
  • Weekenders: RV owners who use it primarily on weekends throughout the year.
  • Weight Distribution System: This transfers the weight from the tongue of the trailer and redistributes it to the front of the tow vehicle.
  • Wheel Base: The distance between the center lines of the primary axles on an RV.
  • Width: The side to side measurement of an RV not including the extended slide outs.