Glossary of Motorhome Terms

12-Volt DC - A motorhome’s electrical system. 12-volt direct current is supplied by on board batteries to run the lights, fridge, stereo, radio, water pump, fans and other equipment.

240AC - This is the electricity that the motorhome receives when on a hook up, the power is the same as you get in your home

A Class: - A motorhome built on a base vehicle from the chassis up. All the bodywork is designed and built by the motorhome

A Frame - Towing Separate framework used to tow a (small) car behind a motorhome. An accepted method of towing a car in the UK There are debates about the legality in Europe with some countries issuing on the spot fines.

ABS - an anti lock breaking system but can also mean 'acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene’ which is a type of plastic sometimes used for exterior body panels on motorhomes

Air Rides - Proprietary name for spring assisters fitted to the rear axle. Air rides will improve the handling of the motorhome.

Aire De Service - Or just “Aire” These are motorhome service points, found all over France, where you can stay for a day or two. They usually have fresh water, somewhere to dump waste and some have electricity.

Al-Ko - a proprietary Chassis used to increase improve the length, payload of motorhomes. Al-Ko make entire chassis’ and extensions designed to fit on the original vehicle chassis.

Artic Package - a term used by Americans to describe an RV that has been equipped with extra insulation and heat pads for holding tanks for wintertime use.

Awning - A material extension that rolls out over a window or patio area of a Motorhome, these are almost always an extra.

Axle weight - The amount of weight carried by a single axle and the amount of weight transmitted to the road by one axle.

Base Vehicle - Most motorhomes are built on an existing vehicle. This is usually either a panel van or a chassis cab – The most common in the UK is the Fiat but Ford, Mercedes, Peugeot, Renault and Volkswagen are all used also.

Black Water - The term for toilet waste held in a holding tank until a means of disposal is available, ie black tank

Blown Air Heating - A method of heating all areas of a motorhome by delivering warm air via small pipes.

Boondocking - An American term for wildcamping. Parking anywhere other than on a paying campsite.

Breakaway system - An emergency device designed to stop a towed vehicle if it were to become detached from the motorhome.

BTU British thermal Unit The quantity of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Some equipment is rated in BTU’s

Butane - see LPG

captain’s chairs - The driver’s and passenger’s seats at the front, or cockpit, of a motorhome. The chairs often swivel to face the living area.

Cassette Toilet - A type of toilet where the waste is held in a removable container sometimes known as a cassette, which you carry to a Chemical Disposal Point on a campsite / Aire De Service to empty.

CC - Caravan Club.

CCC - Camping and Caravanning Club.

CDP - Chemical Disposal Point, Are for the disposal of toilet waste (Black water).

Chassis - The steel frame skeleton that holds the engine, running gear, and steering and suspension systems and on which the body section of the motorhome is mounted. In most Coachbuilt motorhomes, the chassis includes these components as well as the original van cab section.

Chassis Battery - The battery used for starting the motorhome and powering 12-volt DC automotive components of the drivetrain, as distinct from the ‘leisure battery’

CFL- Certificated Fun Location, small site that is limited to 5 caravans or motorhomes at any one time with a maximum stay of 21 days

CL - as CFL but caravan club equivalent

CS - as CFL but Camping and Caravanning club

Coachbuilt motorhome - A motorhome built on an automotive manufactured van chassis. See Here

Converter/charger - When connected to an AC power outlet, this electronic device automatically converts 240 volts AC to 12 volts DC to run 12-volt equipment. It may also charge the leisure batteries

Delamination - In motorhome construction, a failure of the adhesive bond line, or of one of the individual components, within a laminated assembly of either wall, roof or floor, Can be a sign of damp.

Double Floor Beneath the floor you walk upon there is a void then the main floor In this space the manufacturer can install waste water tank, and all the pipe work in the void, this insulates these sytems as well as providing additional storage.

Elsan Point- see CDP

Dump station - See CDP

Full-timer - A person who travels and lives in a motorhome full time

FSH - Full service history

Grey Water - waste water from sinks & showers

GVW - Gross vehicle weight as marked on the vehicles VIN plate.This means the maximum amount the vehicle can weigh. Usually referred to as MAM or MTPLM. It is illegal to operate a vehicle in excess of the maximum weight marked on the VIN plate.

Holding tanks - The collective name for the tanks that collect black water (toilet waste) and grey water (sink, shower, lavatory). Also the fresh-water tank.

Hook up - 240v socket on a campsite that you plug into and power your motorhome.

Leisure Battery - The deep-cycle battery (ies) that power the motorhome’s 12-volt DC electrical system, separate from the chassis battery. These batteries allow you to camp for long periods with a ‘hook up’

Inverter - A device that converts 12-volt direct current to 240-volt alternating current. Inverters allow you to use regular items like 240v TVs, phone chargers and computers via the power in your “Leisure Batteries”

LWB - Long wheelbase generally referring to the original base vehicle

LPG - Liquid petroleum gas, this comes in two types: Propane, which is OK for all season use; butane, no so good in the winter as it won't produce gas below 0°C

MAM - Maximum authorised mass, see GVW

MRO - Mass in Running Order. The total weight of the motorhome equipped to the manufacturer’s standard specification - it doesn’t include any part of the user payload.

MTPLM - Maximum Technically Permitted Laden Mass, see GVW

NCC - National Caravan Council. The trade association for motorhome manufacturers, suppliers and dealers. The council for certifies hat new motorhomes comply with European and relevant standards.

Payload - The weight of the extra items that you can carry in the motorhome after an allowance has been made for driver, passenger, water, fuel, gas and certain other essentials.

Propane - See LPG

PVC Panel Van Conversion; These motorhomes are built inside the shell of a standard panel van, such as a Ford Transit. See Here

RV - Recreational Vehicle, used in the USA to mean any type of camping vehicle, but often used in the UK to refer strictly to American motorhomes.

Safari Room - An awning that has panels which can be affixed to create a complete room protected on all sides

Slideout - A wall on a motorhome that slides out to give greater living space. The slide out is only operated once on site. There are single slides, doubles, triples and quads. The slide our sections are anywhere between 6 and 12ft. Some later American models have full wall slides, where the whole of one side slides out to provide a massive extension.

SOG - A cassette toilet modification where toilet chemicals are not used, forced air is used to disperse smells.

Subfloor - The panels that generally comprise the floor of a motorhome's storage area. Also known as basement floor.

THS - Temporary Holiday Sites. Situated in popular holiday destinations, seaside resorts and countryside retreats, Temporary Holiday Sites are set up by the main clubs and you can often casually choose the days you would like to attend.

Toad - a colloquial term for the vehicle you tow behind a motorhome

Wheelbase - The distance between the centres of the front and rear wheels on a motorhome. If a motorhome has a tag axle, the wheelbase is measured from the front axle to the centre point between the drive and tag axles.
About author
Jim
Jim is a long time motorhome enthusiast travelling extensively in the UK and Europe. He has owned many motorhomes both British and Continental. His present motorhome is a 27ft C class RV. Jim is married to Siân, has three kids and a dog and lives at the seaside in sunny Sutton On Sea.

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