Below are some RV terms, information and items new RVers need to be familiar with:

1. The term full hook-up means you have electric, water and sewer connections at the campsite where you are staying, and in some cases cable TV. A partial hook-up means you have some but not all of these utility connections, usually electricity and water but not a sewer connection.

Full RV Hookup

Partial RV Hookup

2. It’s a good idea to take a 10-foot and 20-foot RV drinking water hose with you so you can always reach the campground water supply. Note* There are white drinking water hoses, blue drinking water hoses, and blue and white striped drinking water hoses. Verify that the label says drinking water hose.

RV Drinking Water Hoses


3. Keep a 10-foot hose and a 20-foot RV sewer hose available so you can always reach the campground sewer connection. Do not pull or drag the sewer hose on the ground, this can cause it to tear or get pin holes in it.

Different Size RV Sewer Hoses


4. Take a first aid kit in case of an accident or an emergency.

First Aid Kit


5. LP gas can be measured in weight or in gallons. You may have heard somebody say that the gas cylinders on their travel trailer are 30 lb. cylinders, or that their LP gas cylinders hold 7 gallons apiece. One gallon of LP gas weighs 4.26 pounds.

LP Gas Fill Station at Campground


6. Before you light any water heater, you need to make sure the water tank is full of water. Make sure the water heater is not in the by-pass mode. To see if the tank is full, turn a hot water faucet on inside the RV and see if you get a steady flow of water. If it is spitting air, the tank is not completely full. Allow the water heater tank to fill completely and if using propane instead of electric to heat the water, make sure the LP gas supply is turned on.

RV Water Heater Switches – Electric and Propane options


7. When you change an LP gas cylinder there is a possibility you will get air in the gas lines. A good habit to get into is to light the range burners first, after refilling and hooking the cylinders back up. This helps evacuate any air in the system and makes it easier to light the other LP gas appliances.

LP Gas Cylinders on a towable RV


8. Water from the RV fresh water holding tank is supplied throughout the RV by a 12-volt DC demand type water pump. The pump requires a 12-volt deep cycle battery, if you don’t have access to an external electrical source. You simply turn the switch on, usually located by the monitor panel, and the pump pressurizes the system and you have water.

RV Water Pump Switch


9. If you look at the RV’s power distribution panel you will see circuit breakers like you have in your house for the 120-volt AC side, and automotive style fuses for the 12-volt DC side. If you trip a breaker turn the appliance off and check the power distribution box. If a 12-volt device is not working check the 12-volt fuses. The breakers and fuses are labeled.

Try to determine why the breaker tripped and correct the problem. Turn the appliance off, reset the breaker and turn the appliance back on. If an overhead light quits working, check the bulb first, if the bulb is good check the fuse. You should keep some spare fuses and bulbs in a drawer.

RV Power Distribution Panel


10. Below is an amp chart with some typical amperage draws for appliances and accessories commonly found in RVs.  This is just a basic guide to assist you in how many amps you are using at any given time, so you don’t exceed the RV’s electrical system rating.

Note: If you need to know exact amperage ratings you can check the data plate on any motors, appliances or electronic equipment you are using. If you can’t locate a data plate with this information check the appliance or electronic equipment owner’s manual. This information might provide wattage requirements rather than amps. Here are a couple of simple formulas to help you convert some common electrical terms.

Wattage % Volts = Amps

Amps X Volts = Wattage

For example, 30-amps X 120-volts = 3600 watts. This is the total amount of power you can use before you overload a 30-amp electrical system. Note: Keep in mind many RV appliances require more amps to start the appliance than they do to run the appliance. A roof air conditioner can draw 16 amps to start, but may only use 12 or 13-amps once it is running.

120-volt AC Amp Ratings – Appliance or Electronic Equipment Estimated Amps


This is just a handful of tips for a newbie RVer. It will help start your RV education journey.

Happy Camping,
Mark Polk
RV Education 101

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An Introduction to RVs E-book Training Course

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RV Safety Features, Tips & Tricks E-book Training Course

RV Care & Maintenance E-Book Training Course

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About Mark Polk

Mark is an RVer and has a very extensive background in the RV industry. He began at age 15, washing RVs at a dealership in North Central Pennsylvania. It wasn't long before he was working as an apprentice RV technician under the guidance of the RV service manager. Mark then entered and served a full career as a ‎Maintenance Warrant Officer in the United States Army. He managed the operation of the motor pool, where he not only had ‎to understand vehicle maintenance, he had to teach young soldiers how to maintain and operate ‎motor pool vehicles. These soldiers came to him from very different backgrounds, and their prior experience with heavy equipment and mechanical skills were similarly varied. Mark had to learn how to ‎communicate with all of them clearly, concisely, and effectively, and he found that he had a ‎talent for teaching. The Army agreed, and eventually he was asked to produce written ‎instructional materials, including driver training manuals and operating procedures for motor ‎pools.‎ When he retired from the Army in 1996, Mark went to work for an RV dealership in ‎sales and service. He talked to customers about their needs and desires and helped them select ‎the right RV for them. He inspected used RVs for trade-in, he serviced customer RVs, and he ‎educated customers how to operate and enjoy their vehicles. As an RVer himself, through out the years, he has owned and used all the classifications of RVs (travel trailer, motorhome, pop up, 5th wheel and truck camper). He even restored from the ground up, a 67 Yellowstone travel trailer. It became clear to him that there ‎were limited resources available to RV owners who wanted to learn more about how to maintain ‎and operate their vehicles. Owners’ manuals provide limited information, and most consumers ‎find them confusing. Anecdotal information learned around campfires from other RV owners is ‎incomplete and can be unreliable. Mark realized that he had the knowledge and teaching ability ‎to fill that gap, and so in 1999, he began writing articles and books about how to choose, buy, ‎maintain, repair, and operate a variety of RVs. To date, he has authored more than 500 educational ‎videos, 15 e-books, 3 paperback books, and more than 1,600 articles educating millions of RVers. His best-selling book, ‎entitled The RV Book, has sold over 50,000 copies to date. ‎Mark's first priority is the safety of his audience. To Mark, ‎this means anticipating the risks and challenges RVers will encounter when following his ‎instructions, ensuring that the information he provides is complete and accurate, and providing ‎enough information so that his audience can make informed decisions about when to tackle ‎maintenance tasks themselves and when to take their vehicles to professionals. His second ‎priority is his audience’ empowerment. He sends his students out onto the road with confidence that they are equipped, prepared, ‎informed, and ready to enjoy themselves.‎Producing material that achieves those goals is a very difficult thing to do. RVs come in ‎a bewildering variety of different types, makes, models, and vintages, and when Mark writes ‎about tasks such as winterizing a water system, as we know there are many ways to winterize an RV, his instructions, need to guide his readers through the process ‎regardless of which RV his reader happens to own. Like his soldiers, his RV students come to him ‎with widely disparate levels of expertise, experience, talent, and motivation, and his instructions ‎must speak to all of them. Mark’s writing and video presentations are accurate and comprehensive. It is also clear, ‎concise, and easy to understand. He breaks complex, intimidating tasks down to easy steps.

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