RV Dictionary and RV Terms

A list of helpful definitions so that RV’s don’t seem so mysterious!

Dictionary of RV Terms

Dictionary of RV Terms

If you don’t find a term in this RV Dictionary –> ASK HERE PLEASE – I want to help you! <——

This is my page (updated occasionally) that contains lots of good terminology for RV’s. Have fun! I tried to keep the list alphabetical.

  • Black Tank – The storage tank that stores the output of the toilet (if you know what I mean) in an RV.
  • Black Tank Rinse – A system that rinses out the ‘refuse’ from the black tank. This is much, much more convenient than running water in the toilet OR putting a cleaning wand into the black tank.
  • Boondocking – Camping where there are very limited amenities. For example, no electric, no water, no sewer.
  • Brake Controller – The device inside of the tow vehicle that activates the brakes on the RV when the tow vehicle brakes are applied.
  • Bunk House – An area of the RV allocated for beds that are not the master bedroom. You can clearly see the bunkhouse in our Open Range 399BHS. It is a left and right side bunkhouse that can accommodate up to 4 people (6 if there are two couples). We use it for 2 children.
  • Camping Trailer – A small trailer that is small enough to be pulled by a car or SUV. These typically have canvas sides and fold into a compact package.
  • Caravan – In Europe this term is the equivalent of the term RV.
  • Class A – A large special built RV that is built on a frame specially built for an RV. This is the type of RV most people think of when they say RV or motorhome.
  • Class B – This is a full size van converted to an RV. Its just a van.
  • Class C – This is an RV that is built upon a truck frame.
  • Converter – This device converts 120VAC (Volts Alternating Current) which is the common household type of power, to 12 VDC (Volts Direct Current) power, which is the type of power common on vehicles (RV, boats, marine, cars, etc.). See inverter for the opposite type of power.
  • Dinette – A very common arrangement in the RV’s where the dining table is “fixed” to the RV and there are two benches that are fixed as well. Typically, you can take down the table and convert the Dinette to a bed.
  • Dry Camping – See Boondocking.
  • DSI – Direct Spark Ignition – Instead of using a pilot light, DSI is used in hot water heaters in RV’s to ignite the gas flame in the hot water heater.
  • Fifth Wheel – A towable RV that utilizes a special hitch that is mounted over, and in front, of the rear axles of a tow vehicle – usually a pickup truck.
  • Full timer – variations : full timing, fulltime, fulltimer – in short, this is someone who lives in their RV, well, full time. Much different than weekenders.
  • Fresh Water Tank – A tank that holds clean, potable water that can be used for showers, drinking, and toilets. It is used when the RV is not connected to a faucet (shore facility) or hydrant. The RV gets water pressure from a water pump.
  • Gray Tank – variations : grey tank –  Storage tank for the water from the sinks and the showers in an RV.
  • Holding Tanks – This is the generic name for the Gray, Black, and Fresh Tanks.
  • Inverter – This device converts 12 VDC to 120 VAC. See Converter for more indepth description.
  • Leveling Jacks – These jacks usually work in concert with the wheels of the RV to level the RV. Usually front to back first, then sometimes from side to side (our Open Range 399BHS can do this). Many RV’s must manually level side to side, but using lumber or plastic lifts, but then can have electric leveling jacks on the front to level the unit front to back. Leveling Jacks can handle quite a bit of weight and are tied into the frame of the unit solidly.
  • Motorhome – an RV which is self propelled. These really are defined as Class A, Class B, and Class C.
  • Park Model – a manufactured home with wheels intentionally created in such a way to fall under the same jurisdictions as vehicles, but for which it is not meant to be moved but once or twice in its lifetime.
  • Popup Camper – Same definition as the Camping Trailer.
  • RV – Recreational Vehicle. Used to denote that the vehicle in which you can camp or live-in is not a normal vehicle used for transportation.
  • Stabilizer Jacks – These are jacks or supports that extend, usually, from each of the 4 corners of the RV to the ground to provide stabilization to the RV – for example, when you are walking around in the unit, the idea is to reduce the bumps and rocking. These jacks are NOT meant to level the RV or carry much of the weight of the RV – just to take out some of the sloshiness of the RV.
  • Slide out – variations : Slideout, tipout, popout. A portion of the RV that actually retracts into the RV when the RV is being moved or stored and then when being used slides out to create a much larger living space. Modern RV’s can have up to 5 slideouts. The slideouts have a definite weight to them, so adding them make the unit heavier.
  • Stink Slinky – The flexible hose that attaches the black tank and gray tank drains to a sewer or septic connection.
  • Toad – What RVer’s call the vehicle that is being towed by a Class A or Class C motorhome.
  • Travel Trailer – A towable RV that hitches to the BUMPER of a pickup (usually).
  • Workamper – variations : workamping, workamp – someone who travels and lives in an RV, but picks jobs and work wherever they are visiting. Often times, RV’ers can get a free site at an RV park if they help the RV park with cleaning bathrooms and such. Or you can be a “park host” at a state park for a free site. This is at least true in Texas, although I’ve tried none of these.
RV52.com authored a REALLY USEFUL book, especially for newbies. It GOES WITH your manufacturers users manual. I called it The Ultimate Companion RV Users Guide - 5th Wheel Edition. Find it on Amazon here

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