RV Terms and Definitions

The Ultimate Guide to RV Terms & Definitions

With a vast amount of knowledge to obtain when starting your RV journey, forums and manuals can be hard to decipher when you’re a novice. Our RV terms and definitions guide for beginners includes common RV vocabulary, slang and abbreviations to help you learn the meanings of different words related to RVing, so you can confidently explore the world of outdoor living.

To steer you in the right direction, we’ve grouped like RV terms into different categories for easy navigation. If you’d like to jump ahead to a particular section, simply click the links below.

  1. RV Names & Types
  2. People, Organizations & Businesses
  3. Outdoor Living & Accomodations
  4. RV Parts, Components & Accessories
  5. Towing
  6. Leveling & Stabilization
  7. Electrical & Power
  8. Water & Plumbing
  9. Heating & Cooling
  10. Gas & Propane
  11. Tires & Wheels
  12. Weights & Capacities

RV Names & Types

There are many different monikers for RVs, whether they’re motorhomes, travel trailers or 5th wheels. Take a look at the list below to understand more about the different RVs and their names. If you’re interested in learning more RV terms and definitions related to RV names and types, check out our blog post titled “Types of RVs” for a more in-depth breakdown.

RV Names & TypesRV Names & Types

Bumper Pull — Another name for a travel trailer because it gets pulled by the bumper of a tow vehicle.

Camper — A portable trailer used for camping.

Caravan — The European name for a travel trailer.

Class A — A type of RV that is often pushed by a rear diesel engine and specifically built on a motorhome chassis by an RV manufacturer.

Class B — A compact van converted into an RV by a manufacturer that has scaled back, yet similar amenities to a Class A.

Class C — A mid-sized RV that can be recognized by the raised sleeping or storage area above the cab.

Diesel Pusher — Rear diesel engines are commonly called “pushers” because they push the coach down the road from the back end of the unit.

Fifth Wheel (or 5th Wheel) — A trailer and hitch configuration connected to the tow truck directly above the rear axle by way of a special 5th wheel hitch. This causes several feet of the connected trailer to hang over the tow truck, placing about 15 to 25% of the trailer's weight on the rear axle of the truck.

Fiver — Another name for a 5th wheel RV.

High Profile — A 5th wheel trailer with a higher-than-normal front to allow more than 6 feet of standing room inside the raised area.

Motorhome — A motor vehicle built on a truck or bus chassis and designed to serve as self-contained living quarters for recreational travel.

Park Model — A travel trailer that requires park facilities to function; it lacks holding tanks, dual-voltage appliances and is more of a small mobile home than a recreational vehicle in appearance and function.

Rig — What many RVers call their units.

RV — Short for recreation vehicle, this is a generic term for all motor vehicles or trailers which contain living accommodations.

Self-Contained — An RV that can be parked overnight anywhere due to it not needing external electrical, drain or water hookups. Self-contained units can also hook up to facilities at campgrounds or service centers.

Towable — An RV that requires a tow vehicle to move.

Travel Trailer — An RV type that has an A-frame and coupler attached to a ball mount on the tow vehicle. Depending upon tow ratings, travel trailers can be towed by trucks, cars or sport-utility vehicles.

Wide Body — An RV having an external body width greater than 96 inches (8 feet). The most common wide body widths are 100 inches and 102 inches.

Looking for more? Check out our complete guide to types of RVs.


People, Organizations & Businesses

There are many terms in the RV space that refer to people, organizations and businesses. You will want to know these definitions to fully understand how to refer to the people you’ll meet along your outdoor journey.

RVers Shaking HandsRVers Shaking Hands

Dealer — A person or business who is authorized to sell and/or service your RV.

Full-Timers — People who live in their RV full-time, or at least most of the time.

KOA — Abbreviation for Kampgrounds of America.

OEM — The original equipment manufacturer of an individual appliance or component in your RV.

Part-Timers — People who use their RV more than usual (more than just a few weekend trips a year) but still use it less than full-time.

RVDA — Abbreviation for Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association.

RVIA — Abbreviation for Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.

Snowbird — Someone in a northern climate that heads south in winter months.

Weekenders or Weekend Warriors — People who use their RVs for weekend trips and vacations.

Work Camper (or Workamper) — A person living in an RV and working.

Interested in joining an RV community? Start with Lippert Scouts!


Outdoor Living & Accomodations

You may not be familiar with the many ways you can live outdoors. This next set of RV terms and definitions will help you know about the different accommodations available to you, whether you’re at a campground or in the wilderness.

RV at a campgroundRV at a campground

Boondocking — Camping without electrical and water hookups outside of developed campgrounds. (Read more about boondocking in our “Tips for RV Boondocking Safety” blog post.)

Campground — A designated place for camping, usually with many different campsites.

Camping — An outdoor recreational activity where you spend one or more nights in a tent, primitive structure or RV with the purpose of getting away from civilization and enjoying nature.

Campsite — An area where an individual or family might go camping (usually within a campground). Great for customizing to your own unique style!

Dry Camping — Camping when there is no city water hookup or shore power within or outside of developed campgrounds (i.e., using only the water and power available in your camper and not from any other source).

Full Hookup Site — A campsite that has city water, shore power and sewer hookups or connections available.

Hookups — Available electrical, water and sewer connections from a campground’s facilities to your RV. Hookups may also include telephone and cable TV connections at some campgrounds.

Iron Ranger — A fee collection box used at campgrounds that do not have full-time attendants. Upon entrance to the campground, you deposit your nightly fee(s) in an envelope with your name and site number and drop this in the collection box. At some time during the day, a park ranger will collect the fees. You will often see these in National Park and National Forest campgrounds.

Primitive Site — A campsite that may have city water, shore power or sewer hookups but not all of them; primitive sites may have no hookups or connections at all.

Pull-Through Site — Campsites you can drive through and park (without having to back into the site).

RV Parks — Often used interchangeably with campgrounds. A place where people with RVs can park and stay for a period of time.


RV Parts, Components & Accessories

Your RV has a large variety of different parts and components. You may not know the names of certain parts or don’t know their functions. The next terms and definitions will help you understand the different parts and sections of your RV while also defining different parts and accessories available to you.

RV parts and componentsRV parts and components

Awning — A roof-like structure made of canvas or other materials which extend from the RV body to provide shade. RV awnings are generally placed over entrances. Some extend and stow manually while others are operated electrically.

Basement — An exterior storage compartment that is located under the floor of an RV. This storage space can be optimized by adding a cargo tray that slides in and out of the basement for easy access to belongings.

Bed Lift — A motorized or pulley system that lifts your RV bed up and down. Bed lifts allow for the space underneath the bed to be utilized for storage.

Chassis — The supportive frame of your RV.

Cockpit — The space in the front of an RV where the driver and passenger seats are located.

Control Panel — The network of buttons and switches which control different functions of an RV.

Curbside or Door Side — The side of the RV that faces the curb when parked.

Dinette — A booth-like dining area that is usually equipped with a dropping table unit that converts into a bed for extra sleeping space at night.

Egress Window — The formal name for the emergency escape window.

Entry Steps — A set of stairs leading into an RV. Entry steps come in a variety of styles and sizes, including manual and premium options.

Galley — The kitchen in an RV.

Hula Skirt — A type of dirt-deflecting accessory some RVers use on the back exterior of their motorhomes to aid in the protection from debris thrown from their rear wheels to the vehicles directly behind them or being towed behind them. This dirt skirt is usually the length of the rear bumper and resembles a short version of a Hawaiian hula skirt.

Island King or Island Queen — A king or queen-sized bed with walking space on both sides.

Laminate — Layers of structural frame members, wall paneling, insulation and exterior covering that is adhesive bonded under pressure and/or heat to form RV walls, floors and/or roofs.

Loft Bed — A sleeping space that is raised on a platform.

Roadside or Off-Door Side — The side of the RV that faces the road when it is parked.

Shade Room — A space created underneath the awning of an RV by attaching shade panels to the awning.

Slide-Out — A compartment added to an RV to increase interior space. The slide-out (or slide-out room) slides into the body during travel and slides out when the RV is parked.

Slide Topper — A protective covering that prevents dirt, debris and water from collecting on top of an RV slide-out. Slide toppers come in different sizes and styles to fit a variety of slide-outs.

Streetside — The part of the vehicle on the street side when parked.

Tip-Out — An area or room in an RV that tips out for additional living space. The tip-out was generally used in older RVs. Newer RVs mainly use slide-outs.

Underbelly — The under-floor surface of an RV, which is protected by a weatherproofed material.


Towing

Understanding how to properly tow a trailer can be tough because there are lots of terms and definitions associated with it. The next section will break down different towing components as well as describe different types of trailer movement you can experience while towing.

Towing an RVTowing an RV

Brake Controller — A device mounted under the dash of a towing vehicle to control the braking system of the RV. Brake controllers are also important for monitoring a trailer’s braking system.

Chucking — The fore and aft jerking motion that happens when towing a trailer that is usually caused by an unbalanced trailer or uneven road.

Dually — A heavy-duty, dual rear-wheel truck having two wheels on each side of the rear axle for a total of four wheels.

Gooseneck — A trailer and hitch configuration connected to the tow truck directly above the rear axle by way of a gooseneck hitch in the truck bed and a vertical, slender arm on front of the trailer.

Hitch — The fastening unit that joins a movable vehicle to the vehicle that pulls it. A hitch may refer to the receiver or ball mount components.

Jackknife — The angle obtained from turning or backing a 5th wheel or travel trailer with a tow vehicle. Jackknifing a short bed truck towing a 5th wheel without using a slider hitch or extended 5th wheel pin box can result in damage to the truck cab or breaking out the back window of the truck cab due to the truck and 5th wheel colliding.

Kingpin — The pin, mounted on the 5th wheel pin box, by which a 5th wheel trailer attaches to the truck. It slides into the 5th wheel hitch and locks in place.

Porpoising — The up and down motion in an RV while traveling.

Sway (or Yaw) — The fishtailing action of a trailer caused by external forces that set the trailer's mass into a lateral (side-to-side) motion. The trailer's wheels serve as the axis or pivot point. Sway is preventable with a sway control.

Sway Bar System — Towing equipment that uses anti-sway bars to reduce the side-to-side motion of an RV. Sway bar systems are important for keeping a straight tow load on the road and offering more control over the tow vehicle.

Trailer Brakes — Brakes built into a trailer axle system, activated either by electric impulse or a surge mechanism. The overwhelming majority of RVs utilize electric trailer brakes that are actuated when the tow vehicle's brakes are operated, or when a brake controller is manually activated. Surge brakes utilize a mechanism positioned at the coupler that detects when the tow vehicle is slowing or stopping and activates the trailer brakes via a hydraulic system.

Umbilical Cord (or 7-Way Power Cord) — A wiring harness that connects the trailer to the tow vehicle during transport. The umbilical cord supplies the trailer with DC power for charging the batteries and operating DC equipment. It also operates the trailer brakes and signal lights.

Weight Distribution System — An advanced hitching system that combines precise weight distribution with active sway control. Weight distribution systems use a pair of spring bars to leverage the trailer tongue weight and spread it across all axles of the vehicle-trailer combination.


Leveling & Stabilization

Leveling and stabilizing your trailer is super important when it comes to creating a rock-solid foundation that doesn’t rock or sway. These next RV terms and definitions will help you identify the different types of jacks and stabilizers needed to protect your trailer from potentially damaging movement.

Leveling and stabilizing an RVLeveling and stabilizing an RV

A-frame Jack — A device designed to support the weight of A-frame trailers. A-frame jacks can be bolted or welded directly onto the trailer frame and are able to retract for travel clearance.

Equalizer — A device designed to dramatically reduce trailer chucking and eliminate trailer and cargo damage caused by road shock and vibration.

Leveling — Positioning an RV to be even with the ground below it using ramps (also called levelers) placed under the wheels, built-in scissors jacks or power leveling jacks.

Leveling Jack — A device lowered from the underside of trailers and motorhomes to level the rig. A leveling jack is designed to bear a significant portion of an RV's weight.

Scissor Jack — A leveling and stabilization device operated by a horizontal screw that raises and lowers an RV to eliminate rocking and swaying.

Stabilizer Jack — A device specifically designed to reduce the rocking and swaying motion of a trailer while walking through it after it has been leveled.

Swivel Jack — Pipe mount or bracket mount device that provides stability to a trailer and features a pull-pin that allows the jack to pivot on its mounting bracket and swing up and out of the way for travel.

Tongue Jack — A stabilization device used to lift and lower the front of a trailer to attach and detach it from the tow vehicle.


Electrical & Power

Some of your RV’s most important systems rely on electricity to operate. But what’s the difference between AC and DC power and what do inverters and converters do? You’ll want to know this next set of RV terms and definitions so you can understand the different electrical systems throughout your trailer and learn how to hook up to power.

RV electrical systems and powerRV electrical systems and power

AC Electricity — An alternating electrical current also known as shoreline power.

Ampere (or Amp) — The electric current unit of measure. RV sites with electric hookups will specify the maximum amps supported, which generally come in units of 20, 30 or 50 amps. The RV power connector must match the various plugs of the site amp rating.

Auxiliary Battery — A 12-volt DC deep cycle battery that runs your RV’s equipment.

Breakaway Switch — An electrical switch on trailers designed to engage the brakes if the trailer breaks away from the tow vehicle. The switch is connected by a cable to the tow vehicle. Breakaway is detected when the switch cable is pulled out during vehicle separation.

Converter — A device that converts 120-volt AC (alternating current) to 12-volt DC (direct current). RV devices mostly run on 12-volt DC power that is supplied by the battery, allowing the RV to function independently. When shore power (an electrical supply) is available, the converter changes the voltage from 120 to 12-volt to supply the appliances and to recharge the battery.

DC Electricity — Direct current also known as auxiliary battery power.

Dual Electrical System — RV equipped with lights, appliances that operate on 12- volt battery power when self-contained, and with a converter, on 110 AC current when in campgrounds or with an onboard generator.

Generator — A device powered by gasoline, diesel fuel or propane that is used for creating 120-volt AC power.

Genset — Abbreviation for generator set.

House Battery — One or more batteries in an RV that are used for operating 12-volt lights, appliances and systems. House batteries can be 12-volt units tied in parallel or pairs of 6-volt batteries tied in series (to double the voltage). The term house battery holds more significance in motorhomes because they contain one or more other batteries for the engine’s operation, referred to as the chassis or starting batteries.

Inverter — A device that changes 12-volt battery power into 120-volt AC power. When boondocking, an inverter is used to power certain 120V AC-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.

Power Source (or Shore Power) — The receptacle outlet used to plug in your shoreline power cord. This can be a campsite power box or electrical box, a residential receptacle outlet specifically wired for your RV or a generator.

Shoreline Power Cord — The electrical power cord that runs from an RV to a campsite shore power outlet.

Surge Protector — A device installed at the power supply location and designed to prevent surges or spikes in electrical current that may damage an RV’s electrical system or electronic components.


Water & Plumbing

Black water, grey water, fresh water... oh my! With so many different types of water and drain systems, it’s important to know how your RV’s plumbing systems work. How do you know what water to drink and what kind to dump? Check out the RV terms and definitions below for a breakdown of plumbing, water and tank types.

RV plumbing system diagramRV plumbing system diagram

Anode Rod — When used in a steel water heater tank, this piece attracts corrosion-causing particles in the water, so the particles do not attack the metal tank of the water heater.

Black Water — Associated with the sewage holding tank where water from the toilet drains.

Blue Boy (or Honey Pot) — A portable waste holding tank with wheels on one end. These tanks are often manufactured out of blue plastic, hence the nickname “Blue Boy.”

City Water — The water supply you hook up to at a campsite. It is called city water because water is pulled from a central outside source (like a city) and not the fresh water tank.

Drain Down System — A system that cleans out stagnant water which could cause harmful bacteria growth. A drain down system blows out RV water lines using compressed air pressure.

Drain Trap — The curve that exists in all drains where water is trapped and creates a barrier so tank odors cannot escape through the drain.

Dump Station — A site where you drain your grey water (waste) and your black water (sewage) tanks.

Dump Valve — Another name for the T-handle valve used to release and drain the black tank (sewage) and grey tank (waste).

Fresh Water — Potable water used in the kitchen and bathroom sinks, shower, toilet and water heater.

Fresh Water Tank — Tank for holding fresh water for drinking, cooking, and bathing while not connected to a city water supply.

Grey (or Gray) Water — Water from the sink drains, shower and washer that goes into the waste water tank.

Holding Tanks — There are three different holding tanks on most RVs: the fresh water tank, grey water tank and black water tank. The fresh water tank holds water that can be stored for later use. The grey water tank holds the waste water from the sinks and showers. The black water tank holds the sewage from the toilet.

Honey Wagon — The sewage pumping trucks used to empty RV holding tanks in places where full hookups and dump stations are not available.

Low Point — The lowest point in your RV plumbing. Drains are placed here so that water will drain out of the lower end of your RV when flushing or winterizing the water system. These drains must be closed when you fill the water tank.

Non-Potable Water — Water not suitable for consumption.

Sanitization — An RV’s fresh water system that has been sanitized with chlorine bleach before use or after storage.

Stinky Slinky — Slang for the sewer hose, constructed from a spiral wire covered with vinyl. One end attaches to the RV piping and the other goes into the local sewer dump facilities.

Water Pressure Regulator — A device installed on the water hose attached to city water to limit the water pressure entering the RV. Most regulators limit water pressure to 40 psi.

Winterize — Preparing an RV for storage. The water systems have been drained and RV antifreeze has been added to protect the water lines and drains. (To learn more about winterization, read our blog post titled “A Beginner’s Guide to RV Winterization.”)


Heating & Cooling

It’s important to understand the different heating and cooling systems your RV has so that you can troubleshoot issues if they arise in the future. Our RV terms and definitions related to hot and cold air should help you through owner’s manuals and online forums.

RV roof air conditioner systemRV roof air conditioner system

A/C — Abbreviation for air conditioning.

British Thermal Unit (BTU) — Measurement of heat that is the quantity required to raise the temperature of one pound of water 1°F. RV air conditioners and furnaces are BTU-rated.

Condensation — The result of warm moisture-laden air contacting cold window glass. Keeping a roof vent open helps to reduce humidity levels. Added roof vent covers help to prevent cold air from dropping down through the vent while still allowing moist air to escape. Using the roof or stove vent fans when showering or cooking also helps prevent excess moisture buildup.

Ducted A/C — Air conditioning supplied through a ducting system in the ceiling. This supplies cooling air at various vents located throughout an RV.

Ducted Heat — Warm air from the furnace supplied to various locations in an RV through a ducting system located in the floor.

Heat Exchanger — A device that transfers heat from one source to another. For example, there is a heat exchanger in your furnace, and 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 blown through the ducting system for room heating. The combustion gases are vented to the outside air.

Heat Strip — 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."

Reefer — Slang for refrigerator. Reefers are often found in either a two-way or three-way operating mode. Two-way has a gas mode and an AC mode. Three-way has a gas mode, AC mode, and 12-volt DC mode.

Roof Air Conditioning — A cooling unit mounted on the roof of an RV for use when the RV is parked. When moving, most RVs are cooled by separate air conditioning units which are components of the engine.


Gas & Propane

There’s nothing better than outdoor cooking in the summertime. To cook in your RV, you’ll need to know what LPG is and how that relates to your stovetop. Check out the next section of terms for a breakdown of gas and propane definitions.

Cooking on an RV stovetopCooking on an RV stovetop

Carbon Monoxide — A colorless, odorless and poisonous gas.

Direct Spark Ignition (DSI) — The method of igniting the main burner on a propane fired appliance. The burner is lit with an electric spark and an electronic circuit board monitors the flame. This ignition system is used in refrigerators, furnaces and water heaters.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) — Used to fuel appliances in an RV, such as the stove, oven, water heater and refrigerator.

Pilot — 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.

Thermocouple — A device that monitors the pilot flame of a pilot model propane appliance. If the pilot flame is extinguished, the thermocouple causes the gas valve to shut off the flow of gas to both the pilot flame and the main burner.


Tires & Wheels

Proper tire and wheel maintenance is something you'll repeatedly encounter when owning an RV. This section of RV terms and definitions will help you travel down the road with confidence after learning how your tires and wheels can be adjusted and monitored.

toe and camber alignment diagramtoe and camber alignment diagram

Camber (Wheel Alignment) — The number of degrees each wheel is off from vertical. Looking from the front, if the tops of the wheels are farther apart than the bottoms, it means the wheels have a positive camber. As the load pushes the front end of a vehicle down, or the springs get weak, the camber would go from positive to none to negative, meaning the bottoms of the wheels are farther apart than the tops.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) — An electronic device that keeps track of your tire pressure and sends real-time information to your smart device, such as a phone or tablet. A TPMS is extremely important if you want to avoid an unexpected flat tire during your travels.

Toe (Wheel Alignment) — The measure of whether the front of the wheels of a vehicle (looking down from the top) are closer (toe-in) or farther (toe-out) than the back of the wheels.

Uniform Tire Quality Grade Labeling (UTQGL) — A program that is directed by the government to provide consumers with information about three characteristics of a tire: tread wear, traction and temperature. Following government prescribed test procedures, tire manufacturers perform their own evaluations for these characteristics. Each manufacturer then labels the tire, according to grade.

Wheelbase — The total horizontal distance between the centers of the primary axles on a vehicle.

 


Weights & Capacities

The TWR is the same as the TLR which can also mean the VLR. Got all that? There are so many acronyms when it comes to vehicle weights and carrying capacities. Be sure to refer back to this section of terms and definitions the next time you find yourself lost in the sea of letters that can help you determine how much weight your RV can carry.

RV capacityRV capacity

Cargo Weight — The actual weight of all items added to the curb weight of the vehicle or trailer. This includes personal cargo, optional equipment and tongue or king pin weight.

Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC) — Equal to GVWR minus each of the following: UVW, full fresh water weight (including the water heater), full propane weight and SCWR.

Curb Weight — The actual weight of a vehicle or trailer, including all standard equipment, full fuel tanks, full fresh water tanks, full propane bottles, and all other equipment fluids, but does not include the body weight of passengers or personal cargo.

Dry Weight — The actual weight of a vehicle or trailer containing standard equipment without fuel, fluids, cargo, passengers or optional equipment.

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) — The maximum allowable weight each axle assembly is designed to carry, as measured at the tires, therefore including the weight of the axle assembly itself. GAWR is established by considering the rating of each of its components (tires, wheels, springs, axles) and rating the axle on its weakest link. The GAWR assumes that the load is equal on each side.

Gross Carrying Capacity (GCC) — The maximum carrying capacity of your RV. The GCC is equal to the GVWR minus UVW. The GCC is reduced by the weight of fresh water or other tanks, propane, occupants, personal items or dealer-installed accessories.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) — The maximum allowable combined weight of the RV and attached tow vehicle. GCWR assumes that both units have functioning brakes, with exceptions in some cases for exceptionally light towed vehicles, typically less than 1,500 lbs.

Gross Trailer Weight Rating (GTWR) — The maximum fully loaded trailer weight. Each component (receiver, drawbar, ball) of a ball-type hitch has its own rating. Some ball-type hitches have separate ratings when used with a weight distribution system.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) — The maximum allowable weight of the fully loaded vehicle, including liquids, passengers, cargo and the tongue weight of the trailer.

Hitch Weight — The amount of an RV’s weight that rests on the tow vehicle. It should be approximately 12% to 15% with travel trailers and approximately 18% to 21% for 5th wheels.

King Pin Weight — The actual weight pressing down on the 5th wheel hitch by the trailer. The recommended amount of king pin weight is 15% to 25% of the GTW, also called pin weight.

Net Carrying Capacity (NCC) — The maximum weight of all personal belongings, food, fresh water, propane, tools, dealer-installed accessories, etc., that can be carried by an RV.

Payload Capacity — The maximum allowable weight that can be placed in or on a vehicle, including cargo, passengers, fluids and 5th wheel or travel trailer hitch loads.

Sleeping Capacity — The total number of sleeping spaces in an RV.

Sleeping Capacity Weight Rating (SCWR) — The manufacturer's designated number of sleeping positions multiplied by 154 pounds (70 kilograms).

Tire Ratings — The maximum load that a tire may carry is engraved on the sidewall, along with a corresponding cold inflation pressure. A reduction in inflation pressure requires a reduction in load rating. Tire manufacturers publish charts that establish the load capacity at various inflation pressures.

Tongue Weight Rating / Tongue Load Rating / Vertical Load Rating (TWR/TLR/VLR) — Different terms for the maximum vertical load that can be carried by the hitch unloaded.

Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW) — The weight of a vehicle as built at the factory with full fuel, engine (generator) oil and coolants. It does not include cargo, fresh water, propane, occupants or dealer-installed accessories.

Weight & Load — These terms are generally used interchangeably. For the purposes of understanding RV applications:

  • Vehicles have weight, which impart loads to tires, axles and hitches.
  • Scale measurements taken when weighing are loads carried by the tires.
  • The measured loads are used to calculate Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), Gross Axle Weight (GAW), Gross Combination Weight (GCW) and hitch loads.

Wet Weight — The weight of the vehicle with the fuel, fresh water and propane tanks full. Note these important weights:

  • Propane = 4.24 lbs. per gallon
  • Water = 8.34 lbs. per gallon
  • Gasoline = 6.3 lbs. per gallon
  • Diesel fuel = 7 lbs. per gallon

Now that you’ve refreshed your vocabulary with our ultimate guide to RV terms and definitions, you’ll be able to navigate the world of outdoor living with comfort and ease. Be sure to check out the related articles below for more beginner guides and resources to help you along your journey.