Types of RV Slide-Outs

Beginner's Guide to Types of Slide-Outs

Slide-outs or RV slides are rooms on an RV that expand the living space by extending outward. Most slides expand with a simple switch on the wall while others may be tied directly to electronic monitoring systems. There are a few different types of slide rooms and if you are in the market to purchase replacement parts, you will need to know what type your motorhome currently has.  

Electric vs. Hydraulic Mechanism

If you don’t have the manuals that identify whether your slide-out is hydraulic or electric, there are a couple of things to look at that can tell you with just a glance. It is not just a matter of looking for a hydraulic pump and reservoir on your RV because many RVs can and do have a hydraulic leveling system but utilize an electric system for the RV slides. 

The first thing to look for would be whether your slide-out has small motors to extend and retract the room or a hydraulic cylinder to move the room in and out. 

If there is a cylinder attached to the room, look to see if you can find hydraulic lines attached to the cylinder. These high-pressure lines allow hydraulic fluid to be pumped into the cylinder at one end of the piston to extend the room and push fluid into the other end of the cylinder to retract it. If a hydraulic line is connected to the cylinder at one end, that indicates the slide room uses a hydraulic slide-out system. 

To identify if your slide-out is electric, one of the obvious things to look for would be no hydraulic lines connected to the room. You can also look for a gear and rack system with a small electric motor attached to it to extend and retract the room. For instance, the Lippert Schwintek room slide-out system has its racks mounted to the side of the room with the electric motor mounted at the top of the column. On the other hand, the Lippert Through Frame system has gears and a rack under the bottom of the slide-out and an electric cylinder with the drive motor attached at one end of the cylinder.  

Taking a moment to check for these different types of drive motors or hydraulic cylinders can quickly and easily tell you whether your system is hydraulic or electric and will help you determine what type of maintenance you will need to do to keep your system running smoothly. 

Above-Floor RV Slide Room with WindowAbove-Floor RV Slide Room with Window

RV Slide-Out Identification: Main Types of Slide-Out Systems

Small Slide-Out Room with a Type of RV Slide-Out MechanismSmall Slide-Out Room with a Type of RV Slide-Out Mechanism

There are several different slide-out systems available to RV manufacturers today; some electric, some hydraulic, and some systems can be either/or. When yours is not working as intended, and you can’t find the manual to identify what type of slide-out your coach has; it can be challenging to figure out what your system is so you can troubleshoot. 

Two main cable slide-out systems are being utilized in the RV market today. The Bal cable system and the Lippert F.A.S.T. Track System. With each, you can tell it is a cable system by the cables running alongside the slide-out. There are a couple of differences that can identify which is on your coach. The Lippert system can be identified by the drip tray at the bottom corners of the slide-out opening and the lower wipe seal. The Bal system does not use a lower seal or drip tray. 

The Schwintek system is easily identifiable by the gears and racks mounted on the outside walls of the slide-out room. Also, the motor to drive the system and move the room in and out is mounted on the top of the column. 

You can Identify the through-frame system by the gear and rack system location under the floor of the slide room. Beside the rack will be an electric cylinder that will include an electric motor mounted on one end of the cylinder. This is used to extend or retract the room, with only one motor on one side of the room or the other. The other side of the room will move in and out with the drive side of the system on a drive shaft.  

The SlimRack System, just like the Schwintek System, can be identified by the racks running alongside the slide room and the electric drive motor mounted on the top of the drive shaft. However, the main difference you will notice between the two systems is that while the Schwintek rack is mounted to the side of the room with screws, the Slim Rack system is only attached to the room at the end of the rack. The rack itself is not in contact with the room anywhere else. 

Large RV Slide-Out Room with WindowsLarge RV Slide-Out Room with Windows

Download the SlimRack® Slide-Out Owner’s Manual

These are a few of the more utilized slide-out systems you may see out there today. A couple out there are discontinued or not seen very often, but chances are your system is one of the ones we have shown you here.