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Old 06-25-2014, 02:58 PM   #1
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Quality and Equipment to look for in 5'er

Hi, I'm still in research phase preparing to go full time, or mostly full time, next year. We've found the style of floor plan we like. But there are many companys and quality levels with similar floor plans that I'm having difficulty deciding what level of quality is good enough, what is over the top and what is something I should avoid completely. Though the low quality ones do seem easier to pick out.

My question for the forum is what minimum quality levels I should be looking for. Is aluminum frame better than wood frame? What level of insulation? Any specific type of suspension, axel rating or wheels? Size/Rating of tires? Any exterior surfaces I should look for, or avoid?

I know this is alot and there's probably a lot more ..but basically what types of standard equipment would you look for at a minimum.

Also wondering what kind of extra features people have found useful or not so useful.

Thanks in advance
Jim
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:31 PM   #2
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A quality RV will be heavy and expensive. Look for a large frame, 17.5 inch wheels, hydraulic brakes, and great insulation. All RVs are pretty on the inside any more. It is the "bones" of the unit that is the most important in my opinion.
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:30 PM   #3
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When it comes to RVs, there is really no such thing as great insulation, especially the walls. Most RVs have 1-1/2 or 2 inch thick walls and that limits the amount of insulation. DRV and a few others use 3-1/2 inch thick walls just like a house and that is the only way to stuff in more insulation. Wood studs provide better insulation than aluminum, but they add weight.

What manufacturers claim for floor and ceiling insulation is generally bogus. They will claim an R value "equivalent" and they will also use the best number rather than an average value. The floor typically has five different areas that are built different, main floor between the I-beams, main floor outside of the I-beams, slide out floor, bedroom floor above the basement storage and bedroom floor above the pin box. All are insulated differently, yet the manufacturer claims the best number. Part of the "equivalent" number is use of Reflectix type insulation, but it is rarely installed as designed with a real dead air space on one side of it, yet many RV manufacturers claim the full R-value benefit.

There are so many air leaks and uninsulated areas of an RV, that good or adequate insulation in one area is compromised by those inferior areas. As an example, few manufactures insulate the refrigerator cabinet even though the back side is fully vented to the outside, what looks like an interior wall from inside the RV is really just a 1/8 inch plywood panel with outside air on the other side.

What can help is dual pane windows for minimizing solar heat gain and heat loss. Windows in an RV are a much larger percentage of total surface area compared to the typical home.

For full time use, make sure the unit has sufficient Carrying Capacity, (basically GVWR- dry weight) for your needs. Also, electrically heated holding tanks and water lines.
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:46 PM   #4
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Make sure you get a heat pump AC unit. Saves hauling propane way down into the thirties. I would never have one without it
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Old 06-25-2014, 10:08 PM   #5
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If you will move often, hydraulic landing gear and jacks. Tires and wheels that will carry the loaded trailer but only be at 75% or less of rated capacity, usually 17.5". A hard-wired power control center (surge protector and more). A Mor-Ryde pin box, or other arrangement to control chucking.
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:38 PM   #6
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Make sure it's rated for full time living. I think dual pane windows are a must, helps keep you cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. If your 35' feet or bigger and plan on being in warm climates then having a unit with 2 AC's would be on my list too. As someone else mentioned I'd look for one with a heat pump and a water heater that is propane and electric. I'd also look for a double door fridge, not residential. We've got a single door fridge now and on longer trips we're hitting the store more often so the extra room would be nice. Lots of good units out there and once you zero in on a brand then check out the owners forums for specifics.
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:34 AM   #7
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full time changes everything. You will put more wear on that camper in a year than most will in 20 years. Needs to have real wood, you can refinish it. this will make it heavy so you need better than average chassis. This will also require better axles and tires. This rules out 90% of units available. We are full time and you see our signature. We searched for 2 years for a 5ther we wanted. looked at most everything currently on market. bought an older Teton. We are very pleased.
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Old 06-26-2014, 09:42 AM   #8
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thanks

Thanks for all the responses. I'm not sure what a heat pump AC unit is so I'll look that up. It helps to see your signatures and what rigs other people are using. I appreciate the advice will definitely help as I continue looking.

jim
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Old 06-26-2014, 07:30 PM   #9
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Heat pump is an AC with a reversing valve. About 100.00 difference in price than a standard AC. Both of my coaches had dual heat pumps and we like them. Use little propane with them. Work down to 40-38 degrees. Then t-stat switches over to furnace.
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:17 PM   #10
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Heat pumps won't work below.40*!!
IMO ! And experience!!!
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:55 PM   #11
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TV - Tow Vehicle

You didn't mention this but I will give you some advise I didn't take, get at least a 1 ton truck. Don't even think about a 3/4 ton for full timing, a diesel engine will pull anything but as you might know already there are many other factors.
Also once you know what FW brands and models you want look for 1 or 2 year old used units, they are out there and if you don't mind used they will save you $$. RV's depreciate like rocks fall. Good luck on your hunt and keep asking questions, people who love RVing also love to talk about their hobby and and help others enjoy it.
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Old 06-26-2014, 10:23 PM   #12
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Here are some of the things we have on our 5th wheel: 17.5 inch wheels, hydraulic brakes, Big Foot Leveling System, roof top satellite, dual pane windows, inverter, onboard generator, electronic management system, and Moryde IS 8k suspension. Our RV was warranteed for full time use. We tow with a one ton Dodge dually diesel. If you are going to full time, get the best that you can afford. It is going to be your home and you should be comfortable and you want it to hold up. There are lots of really nice used units out there that will have the full time features that you may want. There are not too many manufacturers for fulltime 5th wheels any more. Keep in mind that people fulltime in a wide variety of RVs. Only you can decide what choice will be right for you.
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Old 06-27-2014, 07:56 AM   #13
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We like our residential fridge, our dish washer, our heat pumps, lots of cabinets/storage. We don't have dual pane windows and wished we did. It is not a deal killer though. We do have small awnings over our windows and that blocks a lot of heat. Winter we use reflective bubble sheets.
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Old 06-27-2014, 08:40 AM   #14
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since most 5th wheels do not come with a generator, you may want to add one. large 4 door refrigerator will keep the trips to the store down.
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