Jan 242016

In yesterday’s blog I talked about the fact that there is no perfect RV, and that the best the RV shopper can hope to do is to find a rig that meets most of their needs and then make changes and upgrades to it. Here are some of the upgrades we have made to our Winnebago.

Progressive Industries EMS – To me there is no better way to protect your RV’s electrical components that with an electrical management system (EMS), and nobody builds a better unit or stands behind their products better than Progressive Industries. It was the very first upgrade we did to our motorhome, installed the week we bought it.

Custom work stations, bookcase, and table – Our Winnebago came with the standard interior, which was a hideabed couch on one side of the living room and two recliners, a small end table, and a kitchen table and chairs on the other (top photo). We removed everything on the passenger side and had Focal Wood Products in Nappanee, Indiana install two custom work stations, a bookcase, and a custom table that slides out to comfortably seat four people (bottom photos).

Original interior

Nick desk

Terry desk

Water quick disconnect – One simple and inexpensive upgrade that I have appreciated is a quick water disconnect I installed in our water bay, to make hooking up to campground water quick and easy.

Automatic rooftop satellite TV dish – I’m much too lazy and impatient to spend time trying to aim a TV dish, so the Winegard TRAV’LER makes my life a lot easier. As long as I can get a clear view of the sky, all I have to do is push a button and wait a few minutes and I’m watching my favorite shows.

Memory foam mattress – We both have back problems, and after trying everything from a standard innerspring mattress to a Sleep Number bed, we have found the best sleep we’ve ever had with our Night Therapy memory foam mattress.

TireTraker – I mentioned that I’m lazy, didn’t I? So crawling around with a tire gauge isn’t my idea of fun. A tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) will save you a lot of worry and work keeping your tires properly inflated. I’ve tried most of the ones on the market and the TireTraker is the best out there in my opinion.


Oxygenics shower head – Whether we’re on campground water or running off of our fresh water holding tank, our Oxygenics shower head gives us a lot better water pressure.

Engine bay fire extinguisher – An RV fire is a terrifying thing and we have taken every step possible to protect our coach from such an event. An automatic fire suppression unit in our engine bay was one of the first upgrades we did to our motorhome.

Refrigerator compartment fire extinguisher – One of the biggest causes of RV fires is their refrigerators. Knowing this, when we still had our Norcold refrigerator, we installed a fire extinguisher in the access compartment behind the Norcold.

Residential refrigerator – Because of all of the fires caused by RV refrigerators that I mentioned above, replacing ours with a residential model was high on our priority list. The Samsung we installed is the same physical size but has nearly twice the capacity and is much more efficient.

Samsung installed

Dedicated pure sine wave inverter – Our motorhome still has the original modified sine wave inverter, but Samsung does not advise running their refrigerators on anything but pure sine wave. So we had RV tech Phil Botnick install an Aims Power 1200 watt pure sine wave inverter under our bed that powers only the refrigerator.

New inverter small

AGM batteries – At the same time we had Phil install the secondary inverter, we replaced our Interstate batteries with Lifeline absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries. They are much more efficient than flooded cell batteries and require no maintenance. I did mention I was lazy, right?

LIfeline bateries small

Upgraded TVs and cabinets with storage – The original TVs that came with our 2002 Winnebago were worn out so we had RV Renovators in Mesa, Arizona replace them with new flat screen TVs and hang them on new doors made to fit their cabinets, turning the cabinets into extra storage space.

Window blinds – Has there ever been an RVer owner that didn’t hate the day/night window blinds that came with their rig? The strings are always breaking and it’s a constant battle to keep them working right. We replaced ours with 2″ Levolor wooden blinds and have been very pleased with them.

Living room blinds closed best

Winnie double blinds 2 best

New awning and slide toppers – The original electric awning on our motorhome did not retract well, and the slide toppers were worn and torn. So at the Escapees Escapade rally in Tucson last year we had ShadePro install a new electric patio awning and slide toppers.

LED lights – One of our latest upgrades was replacing the fluorescent lights tubes in our living room and kitchen with LED tubes, as well as replacing the small halogen lamp bulbs with LEDs. They cost more than the original lights, but last much longer and require minimal electricity.

Electric dump valves – Winnebago really goofed on the design of our motorhome’s gray and back water dump valves. Instead of the standard pull valves that most RVs have, ours came with a cable system that was always giving us problems. After replacing the cables for the second time in four years, last summer we had electric dump valves installed.

Fuel door locks – Our Winnebago has a fuel door on both sides, making it easy to fill up at any pump we pull up to. But for some reason, each door had a different key and I was always trying to unlock it with the wrong key. That problem was resolved with the installation of new locks that use the same barrel-type key.

Fuel door

Water filters – The standard dinky under-sink water filter that comes with most RVs is pretty much worthless. We added a two-filter system that uses a primary and secondary filter to our water bay.

Voltmeter – My buddy Greg White turned me onto the idea of adding an LED digital voltmeter just above my desk, making it easy to monitor our house battery status with a glance.


Dica jack pads – Another good friend, Ron Speidel, told me about the excellent jack pads sold by Dica. They are lightweight, easy to use, and virtually indestructible.

Silverleaf engine monitor system – The gauges that came with our motorhome are adequate, but adding a Silverleaf VMSps cable and program to a laptop computer gives me a lot more information on how my Cummins 350 is performing, and it provides a history and fault codes if we ever have a problem.

Silverleaf display

Some of these upgrades were relatively inexpensive and many were easy do it yourself projects, while others were a little more involved. But they have all added to our comfort, convenience and safety, and have contributed to making our home on wheels as perfect for our needs as possible. Our maybe someday list includes replacing the carpeting in the front of the motorhome with laminate flooring, installing a new range with an oven, and possibly a paint job. Time will tell.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Fomorian Earth: Star Borne: 1 by my friend Sharon Delarose. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Fomorian Earth

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  11 Responses to “RV Upgrades We Have Made”

  1. We have 8 day/nite shades in our bus. Have been fulltiming for 12 years, have only had one string break during that time……we like them. 🙂

  2. Are you still in Tuscaloosa? Where is a good place to say in Tuscaloosa? The

  3. Nell, we are at Sunset RV park, just of the interstate http://sunsetrvparks.com/

  4. Also, the Elks lodge has RV sites if you are a member.

  5. In Birmingham , the Hoover Met is a place we use to stay at times .It is convenient, close to shopping etc. but no bathrooms or amenities. It is not far from Tuscaloosa.

  6. I found that we had made several of the same upgrades to our rv that you showed. It works for us too.

  7. Thanks to your tip Nick, last spring we went to Focal Wood Products and had a credenza and pull out table, like yours, made to fit in the dinette slide. What a huge difference it has made to our living area, is much much more functional. The table extends out so far six people can sit around it for dinner. Which is great but I don’t have room to carry 6 chairs. What a quandary.

  8. Nick….

    I, like you, have made numerous upgrades to our coach……..far too many to list, and “far too much money spent” according to my wife! ? However I am very interested in where and what type of fire extinguishers did you use; and their source?

    Mike Roberts

  9. I’m curious about the mattress… We have a storage area under our bed. Will this bed flex enough without any damage to it to occasionally lift it to get in the storage? area?

  10. Mike, we get all of our fire extinguishers from Mac McCoy, the industry’s recognized fire safety expert http://www.macthefireguy.com

  11. Michael, yes, no problem at all. We raise ours often to access storage below the bed.

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