Our Top 10 Motorhome Modifications
This is the second in our series of one year anniversary posts. This one is all about the favorite modifications to our motorhome. This may appeal more to fellow RVers than those who just like to follow our travels, so sorry about the geekiness for some of our readers; please fell free to skip off to another post! I’ll do a different post about accessories but this one is focused on things large and small that we (or in a couple of cases the previous owners) have actually changed or added to our motorhome that we think have improved how we travel. Here they are in no particular order.
E&P Hydraulic Leveling System OK so I said no particular order but this is probably our favorite modification and it should be. It is by far the most expensive upgrade we have done to our motorhome. When you travel full time you move a lot; for us that meant moving 122 times in our first year on the European road. Not having to mess around with ramps and chocks is a fantastic benefit. It’s rare to park anywhere that’s completely flat and if you are not level your fridge door swings open, your drawers slide shut and your wine isn’t level in your glass. It’s important! Additional benefits: we often level when we just pull over for a lunch stop and the system also lets you tilt on one side to empty the grey tank a little more thoroughly at the dump station too. Our levelers were expertly fitted by the good folks at Courtside Conversions in Devon and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Solar panels These were already installed when we bought our pre-owned motorhome. We have two panels on the roof, combined 220 watts. This is a fraction of what we had on the Airstream but our power needs are dramatically different in the motorhome. Firstly, compared to the Airstream the motorhome is more energy efficient as the majority of systems run on 12V. We also move much more often so the engine rapidly recharges the batteries regularly. So far we have found the panels to be more than sufficient to meet our power needs when we are off grid.
Lithium battery When we bought the motorhome it had the two original factory installed 80aH gel (AGM) batteries. We umm’d and aah’d about whether to switch to lithium but we are really glad we did. With lithium battery technology you can safely run the batteries down much lower without adverse effects. This means if we are unplugged and the sun isn’t shining we can run the batteries all the way down to 20 or even 10% SoC without any worries. Depending on our usage that is probably three or four days power from our 100aH lithium battery if there happens to be absolutely no sunshine at all. Other than the fact that they are lighter, another major advantage is lithium batteries recharge much more quickly than other types. We had our battery fitted by RoadPro in Daventry - highly recommended. You can read more at this link about the advantages from RoadPro’s owner Motorhome Andy.
Inverter It’s funny, when we were started looking for a motorhome in the UK we would ask dealers if the model was fitted with an inverter. We got lots of scowls and tuts as if having an inverter was a silly idea. We have seen the same on UK motorhome forums and Facebook groups. We even heard sexist comments like “the missus would just want to plug in the hairdryer if you had one of those”. Obviously they were not paying attention to my hair which clearly has not been “styled” for years. We actually don’t plug much in since we don’t have a coffee machine, electric kettle, or hair styling tools (obvs). But we do like to charge our laptops and occasionally use a hand blender/chopper in the kitchen while we are not on hook ups and that would be impossible without our 1500W inverter. For us it is an absolute essential and again Roadpro did this work for us.
Additional Security It’s a sad fact that petty crime exists and probably at a higher level of risk for European motorhomers than those in the US. We decided that a few extra precautions were in order. The standard locks on the motorhome are not terrific so we added deadlocks to our cab and habitation door as well as our two garage doors. The neat job was done by Paul Harrison in a couple of hours. In addition to the previously installed Autowatch CAN BUS alarm we added an Autowatch Ghost Immobilizer that, even if someone got past the deadlocks, makes it pretty difficult to start our motorhome and drive off with it.
New In Dash Radio The original 2014 era in-dash system that was installed our rig could play DVDs on the TV (something we never do) but didn’t have bluetooth so we needed a spaghetti of wires connecting our phones to it when we traveled to listen to any audio. With this, and the need for a clunky cellphone mount, it just wasn’t very elegant. We switched it out with a recently introduced Pioneer SPH-10BT with bluetooth and a built in cellphone holder. Much more fancy, neat and tidy!
Improved Connectivity WiFi Booster / MiFi Reliable connectivity is important to us so we didn’t skimp on this aspect of our motorhome upgrades. We use a combination of a 4G MiFi along with and WiFi booster both sourced from Motorhome WiFi. We opted for their roof mounted 4G antenna pack to maximize the chances of pulling in a signal from distant cell towers no matter how remote we happen to be. This coupled with the iBoost Directional pack for easy access to campground WiFi signals when available mean we are more often than not able to go about our digital day without too many worries.
Garage Bike Rack We keep our bikes inside our garage. They are quite heavy and unwieldy to move around so the sliding Fiamma rack is a back-saver. It is also bolted to the rig, and we secure our bikes to it when we travel for even more security.
Gaslow Again, this is a modification the previous owners fitted but we would definitely have done if it wasn’t on the rig already when we bought it. The refillable gas system allows us to easily fill the gas bottles in any country without having to worry about all the different standards and connections that exist throughout Europe. This is an absolute essential modification if you are going to travel for any length of time. In addition, we have an outdoor BBQ point. Without it we would need a grill that worked off disposable canisters and also obviously have to source and schlep around spares. Having the external point is just one less energy source to worry about.
USB Charging Points Although manufacturers are getting better with pre-wiring USB charging points in newer models, most motorhomes built in the past sadly lack this useful feature. We added several points around our rig so we can always top up devices as needed. Most importantly we installed one on each side of our bed for phone charging while we sleep.
So are there any things still on our wish list. Air suspension to make cornering more comfortable is probably top. I would love one of those cameras that is on the grey water pipe paired with an internal monitor so you can line up to drain and easily dump your tank without leaving your seat but that seems like a lazy luxury. Electric blinds on the front windscreen??? Are there any modifications you have that have made your motorhome life better that we should add to our list?