This update is for those of you that don’t particularly like to click on a YouTube video link. This pretty much is the same thing that is on the Video but not exactly the same.
As those of you that follow our blog know, after over 6 years full-timing in a Class A motorhome we have decided to switch to a New Horizon 5th wheel.
With that in mind I started thinking about how many times I see people asking on different forum’s “which is better for the full-time lifestyle, a Class A or 5th wheel” and how many times the people answering that question have only owned and actually lived in one or the other and can’t possible give a well-rounded answer.
And in those rare times that people have owned both it seems they had maybe an older motorhome with few or no slides and older technology whether it’s suspension or appliances or just general construction and they switch to a newer 5th wheel with slides and all the new technology and of course it would be night and day when comparing because they are not comparing apples to apples so once again the response can be pretty lop sided.
That’s where I got thinking about how we will be switching from a newer well-appointed Class A to a very high quality 5th wheel and how in time we might be able to share some information that might be helpful to those trying to figure out what might be best for them. And we have owned both a non-tag axle and a tag axle Class A.
In our “introduction video” we talked a little about our experience with RV’s and in a nut shell this is what it said.
((*- And before we go any farther we will say that there really is no right or wrong and what’s right for one person may not be right for the next and both I’m sure have their advantages and dis-advantages. There is no perfect world in anything any of us do.
*- When we decided to hit the road we already owned a Class A so it was a pretty easy decision for us on what we would be living in on the road but for a lot of people researching the fulltime life style is a little more complicated because they maybe don’t own a RV and in some cases never have so they have to figure everything out from scratch. And that can seem like a daunting task.
*- In 2006 we bought our first RV, a 2006 40’ triple axel Weekend Warrior toy-hauler 5th wheel that we pulled with a Ford F350 King Ranch.
*- Then after some time on the road and after we decided that the fulltime life style was something we wanted to continue doing we decided to trade in our 40’ 07 and buy a 42’ 2014 Tiffin Phaeton that gave us what we felt was even more creature comforts and an even better driving experience mainly because of the tag axle and more power and the layout of the inside which we will go over when we actually talk about our likes and dislikes of a Class A.
*- Since hitting the road in 2012 we have packed up and relocated 275 times in 35 different states and have traveled mainly on 2 lane secondary roads but have traveled some freeways as well. And have done everything from boondocking for weeks on end to staying in high end resorts. Well high end to us anyway, maybe not compared to what some might call high end.
**- So with that said we feel we have a pretty darn good idea of what it’s like to live and travel in a Class A.
*- When we first hit the road we have always said that as long as we pick up and move around a lot we would no doubt stay in a motorhome because we really feel that’s where the advantages are most obvious with a Class A but if we ever got to a point that we started to settle into one spot for longer periods we would consider switching to a 5th wheel. And that’s the stage we have finally reached.
*- My mindset is that many components of a motorhome are designed to be moving and I don’t want a big diesel engine and transmission just sitting. Belts & hoses and seals and whatever else need to be exercised and sitting for months on end is just not good for them.
*-Again, that’s my opinion, lots of people will say that starting a engine and letting it run once a month is all you need to do but I’m not of that mindset and don’t feel that’s adequate but again, everyone has their own opinions and that’s what makes the world go around, go with what’s good for you. We are just sharing what’s good for us.
*- As we mentioned, we are at the stage of our fulltime experience that we plan to start sitting in one spot for longer periods, 4 or 5 months in one spot during the winter and maybe 1 to 2 or even 3 months at a time during the summer months as we bounce around so we are having a new 40’ New Horizon 5th wheel being built that we plan to take possession of in April.
*- And we have a new 2018 Ram 5500 built and waiting for us at Classy Chassis in Indiana that we will use to move us around the country.
*- Obviously because we have not been in our 5th wheel yet we will be doing a 2 or 3 part series starting with this “introduction video” and then one talking about our experience and our likes & dislikes about living in a Class A and then after we have spent some time in our new 5th wheel and feel we can do a real and honest comparison we will do another.
*- So in reality the “introduction video, this one” and the one about our motorhome experience will come pretty close together but the one comparing the motorhome and 5th wheel will be months away.
*- Maybe we will do one on the 5th wheel in May to give our initial thought and share what struggles we have adjusting to the change and what we might find that we immediately like OR dislike, we will play it by ear.
*- So, we hope we have sparked your interest and we hope in some way we can help someone in some way work through the ongoing question of what’s best for the fulltime life style, a Class A or 5th wheel. ))
Anyway, we know that we have already supplied a link to our intro video in a previous update but here it is again just in case.
Ok, now on to what we pretty much had to say in our video about what we like and dislike about full-timing in a Class A. Again, what is typed out is not exactly what is said in the video, I do more winging it in the video, but it’s all pretty close.
*In this episode we are going to talk about what we like about full-timing in a Class A. Our next episode will be after we make the switch to our new 5th wheel.
*- Ok, here we go.
*- First off I like driving a motorhome. Our current rig with the tag axle handles so nice on the road that it’s a pleasure to drive. And I attribute a lot of the road characteristics to the tag axle.
We don’t notice wind caused by mother-nature or from passing trucks nearly as much as we did with our first motorhome that didn’t have the tag axle. Plus our current rig weighs more which I’m sure helps.
*- We love sitting up higher while going down the road in our Class A. And with the huge windshield it gives us a great view of the scenery and it’s a huge advantage being able to see over traffic while looking for upcoming turnoffs or even seeing things happen well in front of us that we need to be concerned about.
*- I love the 2 stage engine brake in our 2014 motorhome. The exhaust brake in our 07 was very good but the engine brake in our 2014 is far better. It just takes away any anxiety we might have had going down even the steepest of grades around the country. Not that we don’t still need to use some common sense.
This is something that will be on our minds as we learn more about pulling a 5th wheel but that’s why we opted for the Ram 5500 instead of a smaller truck. From the research we have done we feel the exhaust brake system and larger brakes should be just fine. But we will report on that in the future.
*- Cargo capacity is a huge consideration when full-timing. Not just being able to fit everything in but being able to do so AND stay within the weight ratings of the RV AND when thinking about a 5th wheel the trucks ratings as well.
With our 2014 we have never had to worry about being overweight, even if we were headed to a boondocking spot with our 100 gallon fresh water tank filled and were stocked to the gills with food. And the tag axle has a lot to do with that.
The last time we were weighed our motorhome weighed 36,800 lbs and that was with empty grey and black tanks and we had about ¼ tank of fresh water at the time (so about 25 gallons), the way we normally are on travel days.
Our max weight rating for our particular coach is 44,320lbs so we were 7520lbs under our max allowed which we felt very comfortable with. AND we were very well balanced from side to side which is very important as well. So that’s a WIN WIN!!
And for the record our Gross Combined Weight Rating for our particular coach (which is the weight of the RV AND the toad combined) is 54,320lbs and with our coach weighing 36.800lbs and the F150 pickup weighing it at 5450lbs we were 42,250lbs total, that’s 12,075lbs under our max allowed. I just don’t know how we could ever have a weight issue unless we started chauffeuring a rock band around the country.
*- Speaking of cargo we have liked the storage arrangement in our class A’s. We like the way cargo is spread out pretty evenly in the outside storage areas which makes it pretty darn easy getting to everything.
*- And we like that the generator in our Motorhome is located in a slide out compartment at the front of the coach that does not take away from any cargo areas. That’s something that has always been a drawback to me when it came to 5th wheels having the generator in a area that takes away from cargo space.
Lucky for us the New Horizon 5th wheel we will be getting mounts the generator behind the axles so it doesn’t take away from valuable cargo space AND doesn’t add to the pin weight. But we will go over that when we do a video on the 5th wheel in the future.
Oh, the generator in our motorhome is a 10,000 watt Onan that runs off diesel provided from our fuel tank and it’s large enough to run everything in the coach with no issues.
And being able to start and run the generator with just a push of a button while going down the road without stopping is nice on those really hot travel days that we might want to run our roof AC’s. In reality we very seldom did that because of our usual early start times and not traveling very long into the day.
*- I guess because we touched a bit on power it would be a good time to bring up the solar we had installed.
We had 8 140 watt solar panels installed on the roof that provides 1120 watts of solar power that charges 6 Lifeline 6CT 300 Amp Hour AGM batteries that in turn provided us with 900 amp hours of battery power, well really 450 amp hours because you can only safely deplete these batteries to 50%.
But we don’t want to turn this into a solar educational video, we will leave that to the real experts. But if you are interested in what all we do have as far as solar panels, boosters, monitoring systems and inverters you can go to our blog and do a search for boondocking with a all-electric coach and it should take you to a write up we did back in 2016.
*- While talking about power we should mention that this particular coach is an all-electric coach and we really love that. Not having to mess with propane has been very nice.
*- Having a all-electric coach and camping off the grid is another big topic that gets hashed over again and again and again and all we will say about it is YOU CAN BOONDOCK JUST FINE WITH AN ALL ELECTRC COACH, PERIOD!! Don’t get wrapped up with all the NEA sayers. Those that say it can’t be done just haven’t done it or given it a chance.
I think the longest we have boondocked or dry camped off the grid at one time without moving was 17 days and we did just fine in an all-electric coach. Even though our holding tanks were getting pretty darn full, but they were the only deciding factor on when we had to find hookups.
*- I guess the last thing we should touch on in regards to the outside stuff is that we have felt the hooking up and un-hooking of our toad is a breeze. We have never timed it but I’m guessing we do it within 5 or10 minutes pretty easy.
We have made it a little tougher on ourselves by carrying the bikes on the rear of the motorhome instead of on the back of our toad but luckily we are still pretty nimble so it’s not really a big deal, and the benefits of having them on the motorhome for us outweighs any added inconvenience by far.
The only inconvenience we are referring to is that I need to duck and bend over a little more to work under the bikes when storing and taking the tow bar out of its cradle but that’s not really a big deal.
*- As far as having a toad behind a motorhome I love that when we get to a campground we can unhook before ever going to our site which makes out total length shorter when driving through campgrounds which can be pretty tight at times.
And it means that once we back into our site we are out of the way of anyone needing to get by us. Many times we see trucks pulling a 5th wheel still sticking out into the road and at times blocking traffic until they get unhooked, which also means they will block the road while hooking up as well and I admit that this gives me a little anxiety thinking about that when we make the switch.
But fellow RVers know this can happen and are pretty patient for the most part so I guess I shouldn’t worry about it that much.
*- I have also liked that our motorhome is only 12’ 8” tall at the highest point which really hasn’t been an issue for us so far, and we have mainly traveled backroads, not that we still don’t need to pay close attention.
Our new 5th wheel will be roughly 1 foot taller so I’m thinking we will encounter height issues a little more as we travel and it will be something we will need to pay even closer attention to.
*- I could go on and on about the outside stuff but let’s move on to the inside.
*- The first thing we want to bring up as far as the inside goes is the ongoing debate about the steering wheel. It never fails that when a 5th wheel owner talks about a motorhome they almost always bring up having the steering wheel be part of your decor in the living area and how ugly it is.
Well that’s a problem only if you let it be. We on the other hand have turned it into a great place to put a lamp and dressed up that area and we never think about a steering wheel being there. So really it shouldn’t even be a topic, but I’m sure it always will be.
*- And our seats turn around to add extra seating in the living room area and provides a great spot to sit down to take off or put on our shoes and the spot behind the driver’s seat and under the steering wheel is a great place to put shoes.
So to us the cockpit area in a class A just might have an advantage over a 5th wheel setup and that’s something we will have to figure out once we make the switch. We will let you know what we think at some point in the future.
**- And we use the dash like we used to use our “behind the couch” table we used to have when we lived in a house for plants and stuff like that. A real non-issue for us.
*- While we are talking about the front of the coach I guess we could touch on the windshield. For us we know that in a Class A we will always be looking out at the street in a campground unless we have a pull-in site, and in a way we thought that was an advantage because we know we will never be looking at someone else’s patio while in parks that have RV’s backup up to each other like so many do or staring at some brick wall or something like that. If you stay in enough RV parks you know it’s going to happen.
We would much rather look at people walking their dogs or something like that than looking out at someone sitting on their patio trying to have some private time.
And we always feel in touch with what’s going on outside and have always thought in a 5th wheel we might feel more out of touch. I’m sort of an extravert so I like being in touch but for people who are more of an introvert like Diane it’s probably not a big deal. Everyone is different.
But on the other hand if you are in a state park type setting or out boondocking having the back window of a 5th wheel would probably have the advantage. This is another thing we will have to get used to living in a 5th wheel.
*- And that big windshield can attract a lot of heat if you parked so the sun beats on it but we have overcome that by using a Magna-shade which we can’t speak highly enough about.
We love not having any snaps to deal with or having to use a ladder to put it up or take it down. AND it stops the sun’s rays BEFORE they reach the glass which is a huge advantage over just using the inside shades.
*- Moving back a little we like the seating arrangement in our current class A with the 2 front seats turned around and the L shaped couch that gives a “separation” feel between the kitchen and living room area. Even though we have never felt our couch was overly comfortable like in some other brands we have been in like Winnebago or Entegra for example. Tiffin could do a lot better job picking comfortable furniture.
*- And speaking of the fireplace, we love it. In the mornings if we are having cool weather I hit the button on the remote control that we keep by the bed at night and turn on the fireplace before getting out of bed and within minutes the chill is taken off and it’s very comfortable when I get up. And we use the fireplace as our main source of heat in the front part of the coach 95% of the time that heat is needed.
But keep in mind, we don’t spend any time in areas that get real cold for extended periods of time in the winter.
*- Another added heating feature we have in our class A that we love is the heated floors. We have tile floors everywhere in the coach except for our slide room and they can get very cold if in cool weather but the heated floor system keeps them nice and warm when turned on. And let me tell you, there is nothing more inviting than rolling out of bed and putting your bare feet on nice warm floors.
And it’s surprising just how much heat radiates from them when left on which helps heat the entire coach. We hate the fact that we will not have heated floors in our new 5th wheel.
That’s one of the first things we ran across when going to a 5th wheel manufacture that boosts “fully custom” because even though they would install the heated floors they would not warrantee them, that was almost a deal breaker for us to be honest, that’s how much we love the heated floors. But we gave in and it was our 1st “known sacrifice” in switching to a 5th wheel.
*- While still talking about heat sources our current coach uses a Aqua-Hot system for hot water and those times we need a little extra heat.
Without going into it much the Aqua-Hot system operates off electricity or diesel and can provide endless hot water while using diesel if we so desired. And for us we used the electric side of the system mainly because we don’t spend much time in cold areas where the diesel side would be needed. (The electric side is really only good if temperatures stay above 40 degrees or so).
It’s a good system that we have really liked and I’m sure we will miss when we switch to the 5th wheel.
*- Moving back to the kitchen and eating area we have everything we could possible need. We have a induction cooktop (which may not be the best one on the market but we got used to it).
*-We have a full sized dishwasher that we love even though we didn’t think we would want one in a RV, and it uses so little water it appeases people like Diane that worry about that type of thing.
*-We have a full sized residential refrigerator that we would not be without, we will never switch back to a “RV style” propane slash electric unit. (Now remember, these are just OUR feelings, not everyone is the same. Remember there is no right or wrong).
*-We have plenty of cupboard space for us even though some RV’s we go into have some pretty nice pantries that I’m sure are nice to have.
*-Our counter top space is adequate and being able to pull out the extension where our bank of drawers are sure helps when cooking larger meals or for us mainly we use it when using the Instant Pot (which we love by the way).
*- And we really like the way our dining room table just slides out to add more space. No legs and no leafs to deal with. And the tabletop space behind the table is a great spot for a small lamp and other do-dads.
I use this computer station every single morning and to be honest it might just be the biggest single item that I will be sacrificing by going to the 5th wheel because once again it’s something we will lose by going to a “fully custom” 5th wheel.
In fact if we think back not having a computer station is one of the reasons we did not go with the Entegra brand Class A back in 2014 when we were switching from our previous motorhome.
Oh well, I will figure out a system that works I’m sure once we make the switch but I really hate this one. And if we gave it some more thought or changed the floorplan some in the 5th wheel I’m sure something could have been figured out but for us it just wasn’t meant to be.
*- We like that there is really just 1 small step involved to get from one end of the coach to the other once we are inside and that step is just 7” tall and leads into our rear bathroom.
At this stage of our life steps are not an issue and we hope they never become a issue in the future because we will have more steps to negotiate in the new 5th wheel.
*- Speaking of the rear bathroom, we really love the separation having a rear bathroom has from our living area AND it’s good sized so we don’t feel claustrophobic and feel like we need to rush out.
Probably the only thing we are not crazy about in that bathroom is the closet. The space is adequate but we have a electrical panel located inside and it takes up a chunk of space on the bottom of ½, which of course is my side.
*- We have a stacker washer dryer in the bathroom as well. The “have or not to have” a washer drier is another ongoing debate among RVers but we can honestly say that we would not own a RV without having a Washer Drier on board while full timing.
In our first Class A we had a combo unit and we didn’t have any real complaints about it but we do like the stacker units we have now better. But if we felt we were tight on storage we would have the washer dryer combo at a minimum.
*- I guess the only room we have not mentioned is the bedroom. We have a king size bed that we love even though making the bed is a bit of a challenge, but I think that probably holds true with most RV bedroom setups.
And we did switch out our mattress to a Tempure Pedic like we used to have while living in the house. In fact we like it so much that we are taking this mattress with us to the new 5th wheel.
*- And there is plenty of storage in the bedroom including the nice sized storage area under the bed.
*- The only thing in the bedroom area that we do not care for is the electronics area.
First off the way Tiffin located some electronics in a small closed in cavity is pure stupid because of heat buildup, and we all know heat is a killer on electronic.
We went through 2 splitters at well over $100 each before I wised up and installed a fan in that compartment which fixed the problem.
*- The other thing about the electronic being located behind a louvered door in the bedroom is that the power lights shine through which bugged us a bit at night. So every night we drape a cloth over the door to block the light.
I suppose we could have done something else like put a piece of tape over the lights but we just didn’t. Or do what Diane always told me to do, JUST SHUT YOU’RE EYE”S!!
*- I guess that pretty much sums it up and as you probably noticed there are far more things that we like about full-timing in a Class A than there are things we don’t like. But as we said before, the real main reason that we are making a switch to a 5th wheel is because we plan to sit longer at spots and we just don’t want a big expensive diesel engine and transmission sitting for extended periods of time. And again that’s just my opinion.
*-Plus from what we have found with a little research the yearly expenses owning a 5th wheel should be less than owning a Class A.
Even though in our case because we are buying one of the most expensive 5th wheel brands on the planet we will not save much insurance wise, in fact when researching we found that between having our particular 2014 Class A and our F150 as a toad and our new 5th wheel and jumping up to a much more expensive truck to pull it with we will pay almost exactly the same for insurance and maybe even a few dollars more at the start but very little. Not enough to even talk about.
The savings will come in annual maintains costs and things like the cost differences on tires when the time comes. But again, we will report on that in our blog some time in the future when we can share hard facts.
*- There are many more topics that come up when comparing 5th wheels to Class A’s like fuel economy or how convenient or inconvenient it would be if you have a mechanical issue with a Class A compared to a 5th wheel and we have our own thoughts on those topics but this video is getting a bit long so they may be something we do videos on in the future when we actually experience them in our 5th wheel.
But let us just say now that don’t let people scare you away from a motorhome because you might get 8mpg while going down the road like we do in our Class A because trust me, if you pick the right tow vehicle to pull along you will more than make up the difference by having a economical car as a daily driver than driving the truck around that you use to tow a 5th wheel around I’m guessing. But we will report on that when we have hard facts.
*- And as far as mechanical issues while in a Class A let us say that yes, if you live this life style long enough you WILL have an issue at some point but we have never had to spend a single night in a hotel because of a mechanical issue.
Sure, we have spent nights or even over a week in the back lot at a repair center but what happens if you have a serious issue while full-timing in a 5th wheel? I bet you would be spending time in the rear lot of a repair center as well, no difference.
And in a motorhome we still have our toad to get us around.
In fact if our motorhome broke down on the road we could have it towed and still have our toad to fall back on but if the truck breaks down that is pulling the 5th wheel you may have to have the truck towed as well as your home (the 5th wheel).
But again, after we get some time under our belt in a 5th wheel we will report on that. Again, there is no perfect world and we don’t care what you fulltime in.
*- Ok, that’s it. We will do another one of these after we switch over to our new 5th wheel and have a chance to spend a little time in it so we can give our opinion on the differences between living in a Class A and a 5th wheel.
There you have it, our thoughts on living fulltime in a Class A in a nut shell. There are probably things that we take for granite and have forgotten to talk about but I think we have covered most of it.