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Old 10-03-2013, 03:58 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 8
Coming down to a buying decision & wondering which "tier" is best for me?


After a lot of research in shopping for a 36 foot or so fifth-wheel for year round living on a remote site (but on the electrical grid) about a hundred miles northwest of Houston, I'm struggling to decide which "quality tier" is the best value for me. Tomorrow I may be hiring an RVSurvey inspector for my final choice of one of these approx. 36' 3-slideouts, reasonably good-condition models:

FAIR: 2000 Kit Companion, around $11,000
OR a 2000 Forest River Spinnaker, around $10,000

GOOD: 2004 Montana Big Sky (Keystone), around $20,000
OR a 2007 Everest (Keystone) with 4-sides, around $18,500
[The 4th slide sounds impressive but it seems more like a big 3rd slide made into two smaller slides.]

BETTER: 2007 Select Suites (DRV), around $28,000

I'M NOT ASKING ANYONE TO MAKE MY CHOICE FOR ME. Instead, I'm simply wondering about some general factors in choosing an appropriate tier and the price/performance payoffs. I'm a widow and will be living alone, so no mob of kids wearing-down anything or slamming doors. I'm quite handy (and have family nearby to help) and plan to do careful maintenance and caulking/weatherizing on whatever RV I do get. I can easily afford paying $30,000 and more but wonder if the extra money would pay off cost-effectively. (I like the general layout and feel of all of these approximately 36' fifth-wheels.) I'm not looking for luxury. Just reasonable comfort and utility costs and not too many long-term surprises from bad workmanship. [I understand the concessions necessary to an economy model. I just don't want to have to open the wall up to fix sagged fiberglass insulation that has created big uninsulated gaps, for example.]

For example, I'm thinking about these factors:

1) Should I assume that the semi-mild Texas winter climate (but the often hot summer climate) means that I could be comfortable in all of them and only see a notable but tolerable difference in energy costs?

2) I know that the DRV models are considered well-build, solid, durable, but if I'm not driving it around and moving the slides in/out, will that matter much for my situation on a long-term, single-site use?

3) In summer I should be able to fully or nearly shade whatever RV I get (and probably get at least roof sun for passive sun heating in the winter)so will the climate-handling differences become modest?

4) The discontinued Select Suites DRV's were the lowest-priced "suites" of the various DRV lines back in 2007. Do they share/deserve the reputation for excellence of the more expensive DRV product lines? Do they have significantly superior insulation to my other possibilities on my list? [DRV proudly proclaims their aluminum "radiant barrier" layer of "insulation" but unless they face that layer toward a 3/4" air space, it is USELESS as insulation---and unless it is perforated for "breathing", such a vapor barrier could be a very bad idea in my area. I'm in that 100 mile wide "no vapor barrier" zone that appears on all energy engineering maps. So I wonder if a wrongly engineer "radiant shield" is mold/condensation prone as well as worthless for my area? The engineers I've consulted say "Yes" but I can't tell from the DRV videos of wall construction whether they are using perforated aluminum layer and facing it towards an air-space.]

5) I'm not clear on whether DRV Select Suites usually came with double-pane windows. I'm very open to general comments about any of these brands.

6) If I unexpectedly had to sell my RV in 3 to 5 years, will it have held its resale value better? [I assume that with fifth-wheels, once one gets past 10 years or so, a unit kept in good condition doesn't vary extremely by brand? Or not?? I have no experience with this.]

7) Some of the RVs lack a 2nd AC roof unit, so I've wondered how much I should "price adjust" for that in making comparisons----because I would certainly need the 2nd AC for Texas summers, even in full shade.

8) How about noise issues from ambient sources outside? (My location will have noisy "special events" adjacent to the property on some weeks of summer and fall---but otherwise wonderfully quiet and peaceful.) Will the construction differences produce any noticeable acoustical properties?

9) I do plan to visit these units around 11am or so in order to see what sort of thermal properties they have. Should I assume that the Select Suites will remain cooler much later in the day than the others.

10) I'm quite willing to add my own cabinetry/storage to compensate and even have some nice "kitchen island" and similar cabinets in rental storage from selling my house.

11) Are the low-end models going to be harder to "seal off" from insects/vermin or anything of that sort? (Yes, I know that most of the differences in pest experiences come down to food storage practices etc. but anecdotal reports of owner experiences of all sorts can provide good tips.)
==> Yes, I've already consulted a lot of owner forums to confirm that there's people who full-time and all-season in virtually every kind of RV---but we all know how purchase-confirmation can lead to owner-compensation and rationalization of quality issues.

I suppose the main question I'm asking is this: For my stationary, year-round living, are the quality-tier differences in these brands likely to strike me as significant four years from now? Yes, I can easily afford the $28,000 for the Select Suite but I'm also a very frugal person who doesn't want to pay $7,000 more in order to get just $4,000 in benefits (for example.)

I'm simply looking for your off-the-cuff, gut-level reactions.....in a "If it were me, I would..." sort of way. (As a lurker on this website in recent weeks, it has often been the spontaneous, casual remarks---even of the barely relevant tangential sort---which have often been of great value to me. So even though I'm asking for grossly over-generalized feedback concerning a border-line "unfair" set of questions, I nevertheless think that many of your observations will be helpful to me. Just tell me whatever you think about any of these brands, models, or whatever you wish to comment.....and I will greatly appreciate your input.

[I am well aware of the various defects and general "unfairness" of my question, so please focus on whatever helpful observations you *CAN* provide based on the information posted. I thank you for your kind assistance.]

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Old 10-03-2013, 05:03 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 2,073
Everytime I picked the 'cheaper' way out it seemed to cost me more in the end. The Select Suites is the bottom of DRV lineup. It is built well but not as well as the DRV Mobile Suits.

I saw a 2006 NuWa with an asking price of 25'gs.

I would continue to look. And I would (from experience) buy the best unit I could comfortably afford.

Having an A/C unit run 3 hrs per day is priceless as to having one run 9 hrs a day in a unit with poor insulation. A quiet interior is priceless as to hearing noise at night.

I was in a cheap unit. I could not sleep at night. I bought a better unit. Now it is quiet inside.

I would recommend looking for a mid 2000's NuWa or Carriage or DRV Mobile Suites, or Excel. All these units will make a much better shelter than any lesser brand.

Good luck

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Old 10-04-2013, 02:07 PM   #3
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Burleson, TX
Posts: 2,352
Not sure if you have stayed with your decision to stay away from this forum...so,

1). You will see a LOT of difference in some of the trailers you are looking at in temperature comfort level. This is one place where higher initial unit cost usually means better construction.
2). If you don't move it around or close/open the slides, the moving parts should last longer.
3). Again, lot of difference in brands/models as to interior comfort. Shade in summer is an absolute must.
4). Don't think much of the ads for insulation/radiant barriers--you are going to feel heat in direct sunlight and cold near windows/slide junctions.
5). Select Suites had double-pane windows as an extra-cost option. They are very helpful in maintaining interior comfort. But many of the windows lose the seal after several years and get a dull coloring to them.
6). Used fivers can vary all over the price spectrum--you should see that if you truly have done "a lot of research." If you overpay, you will lose more than if you buy close to value.
7). Don't even consider a large fiver without a 2nd AC in Texas--you will pay dearly for missing it in comfort and the single having to run constantly.
8). Outside noise--no way to tell this for you. What bothers my wife doesn't bother me. But the Mobile/Elite have a thicker wall than does the Select.
9). NO. It takes a while to cool the interior down. If you shut off the AC, then it will heat rapidly to ambient temperature. You should have noticed some of this when looking at used units. Heat loss is pretty high in thin walls with openings in them for slides.
10). Customizing your own trailer is part of the fun of having one, but you are limited severly by lack of space and construction methods already in place.
11). Every RV has the potential for a small rodent to enter somewhere--the higher end units might be better than the lower end. But any mfg can miss closing off an opening--you have to look the unit over carefully for entry points and seal them.

'05 36TK3 Mobile Suites
'10 F450 new to me
'09 F450 Lariat 4x4--died
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Old 10-04-2013, 03:37 PM   #4
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Spicewood, Tx
Posts: 424
For a permanent site unit, I would take a different approach. Rather than spend $28K for the DRV, I would spend $10K less for one of your other choices and put it under an RV port. A 16x40 ft cover costs less than $3k for materials. This keeps the RV roof and A/C units out of the Texas sun which will provide the same energy savings and comfort as the DRV plus you won't need to worry as much about maintenance/aging/leaking of the RV roof.
Larry Day, Texas Baptist Men volunteer
'13 Silverado LT 3500HD D/A CCSB 2wd, custom RKI bed
'11 Crossroads Cruiser 32MK loaded
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