When we first started RV shopping, we had tankless water heater as a desired item and thought we might upgrade to one. However, after using our standard electric / propane tank (12 gal) water heater for over a year full time… we've never run out of hot water. Even with visitors staying with us. So, the Truma tankless fell to the nice to have but not necessary category. I have enough projects on the to-do list… 😀
The 399TH was a strong candidate, making the top 2or 3. But on the 399, there were a couple of things that we weren't keen on:
One issue was internal accessibility with the slides in. We wanted to be able to get to our fridge, bathroom and bedroom at rest stops or the occasional location where we can't put out slides. On the 399 only the one rear bath is accessible and only if it's not blocked by something in the garage.
Another issue was the washer / dryer prep. We knew we wanted stackable units versus combo, and we wanted the dryer vented to the outside. In the 399TH, the W/D prep is in the middle of the garage making venting difficult. There are also controls on the wall above the prep, meaning they'd need to be relocated, or some sort of cabinet build around the washer/dryer. All doable but a lot of extra work. Plus we really like the W/D in the bedroom.
The third issue was the patio on the passenger side and all of the nice big windows being on the driver side, which has a lovely view of the front of our neighbors or, better yet, the back of their rig and poop hose. 😳 We also weren't sure how much we'd like the patio since it really only holds 2 people. If you want to watch a game or something outside and have more than that, some will be on the ground looking up over the rail. In reality this never happens as it's usually just two of us. But it was something we thought about.
Everyone has different priorities and there's no such thing as the “perfect” RV, just perfect enough for you. If we could have everything, our RV would be 75 feet long!
For us (and I think for most), the first step was finding the right floorplan for our needs. There were a couple of brands with similar floorplans but, to us, the Grand Designs just felt more solid with better construction than other's we looked at. Once we were leaning toward GDRV, we researched their warranty, customer service and support. We wanted to make sure that the warranty did not preclude full time living and also that they would work directly with us on any warranty issues, with a mobile tech or sending us parts directly. We also asked around on the Grand Design Owners Facebook page. All of that checked out and we went with it. We've not regretted our choice one bit! Our home has been wonderful and the minor issues we've had were handled directly as they promised.
If you're debating on which brand, what we recommend is to join owners groups for each on FaceBook, and ask the owners what they think. You'll get lot's of negative comments on every brand so be prepared for that. Any time you sell thousands of RV's you're going to have some haters. But I think you'll find that the Grand Design owners will also have lots and lots of positive to say.
Our decision to buy a fifth wheel toy hauler over a class A diesel pusher was primarily economic precipitated by weight. Bringing Lucile (our 2017 Indian Roadmaster) was a MUST.
Lucile weighs about 950lbs with fuel. Since we didn't want to deal with a trailer (and we wanted to flat tow a daily driver), we were looking at lift systems (like Hydralift). When you do the math on a 950lbs motorcycle plus a 400lb lift and factor in leverage based on the average distance from the rear axle to the bumper, it adds around 2000lbs to the rear axle. That put us in tag-axle territory, which starts getting WAY up in price. So, we had a choice between waiting another year to save more money , or investigating a plan B. So, we started looking at toy hauler options. The only Class A toy hauler we found was a Gas model by Thor. Nope.
Then we found fifth wheels! The more we looked at fifth wheel toy haulers the more we realized that, perhaps, it should have been our Plan A all along. A lot more living space when converting the garage to an office / guest suite, two full baths, kitchen with island, etc. And the financial aspect fit too. Class A option: Roughly $300K rig (tag axle) plus $30K daily driver plus around $10K for the lift, braking system, tow system, etc ($350K minimum). Fiver Toy Hauler option: $60K Truck plus $90K rig ($150K) AND we get more living space. That was an option we could fit in our budget and timeline. We've not regretted it a bit!
When we just do a quick overnight stay, we generally stay hooked up if we have room for it. Makes for easy departure the next day. If we are already fairly level, I will use the Lippert hydraulic leveler system and level manually, taking care to not put any odd stress on the hitch (no side/side or lifting).
We shopped around and found Progressive to be the best option for us. It's Full Timers with Total Loss Replacement/Purchase Price (got this instead of GAP coverage) and costs us about $1500/yr. If you full time, be up front with the insurance company and get appropriate coverage.
They are both Splendide brand. Washer is ARWXF129W and the dryer is TVM63F. We DO like them a lot! Sure, they're not the giant full sized LG's we had in our sticks and bricks, but they do a very good job and it's nice to be able to do laundry in our own home. Note: the dryer is vented to the outside. We've heard a lot of bad reviews about non-vented combo units.
Our awnings are Carefree brand, so we thought it best to buy the same brand of drop shade. This is the one we selected: amzn.to/2GotqEj
In comes in two parts with the short end connecting into the awning in the groove. That 3′ section stays on and gets rolled up with the awning. The long 9′ section sippers on and we bungee it down using stakes. It provides some extra stability in the wind and we only pull it down if winds are going to be over 15mph.
For our first year (2018), we used the CoPilot GPS app on our iPhones. It stores maps locally and allows you to input RV dimensions and weight in and will route accordingly. However, after an update to the app this year, it started doing some really crazy routing (get off this exit, do a U-turn and get back on, etc). Coincidentally, the next week, Eric from TechnoRV asked if we wanted to try a new GPS. So glad you asked!
Since February (2019), we've been using the Rand McNally OverDryve 7 RV GPS and LOVE it! Great big display, voice prompts (that aren't overbearing), and it finds rest areas, service stations, etc along our route with ease! We will have a full review coming out soon!
These are the curtains we used for both the back garage door area (in front of the 3 season doors) as well as for privacy between the living room and garage / guest suite. All super easy to install tension rods and they stay up during travel. Except for on I-90 / I-80 in Indiana! (worst road ever!) 😎
The red “cans” under out jacks in some of our videos are Andersen Jack Blocks. We don't use them anymore because we've broken NINE of them (6 we bought and 4 replacements they sent us). Simply unreliable. The bottom edge would break off and they'd sink into the gravel / dirt / whatever.
We've switched to RV SnapPads and love them. They don't help lessen the jack extension like the Jack Blocks did, but they don't break and they stay on the rig, which is great when setting up and breaking down camp.
We've been using our RVSnapPads for several months now and really like them. They are much less expensive direct versus Amazon, and if you use our link / code (LANES10), you can get another $10 off!: rvsnappad.com/discount/LANES10
Note: The same company (RVSnapPad) is going to be coming out with a new product that will integrate with the SnapPads to help with the jack extension / stability this year. We will be helping them prototype those and will do do a video on them when they come out.
In many of our videos you will see a simplisafe alarm. We purchased that system thinking we could self-monitor, but simplisafe can only be remotely monitored, controlled, etc if you have their monitoring service. Alarm system monitoring is not possible when one moves every week or two, due to regulations around integration into the 911 system, etc. So, we couldn't actually arm it when leaving the RV. Sure, it would alarm, but there would be no way for us to be notified, no one to shut if off, and Daisy would go insane. We didn't know this when we bought it, so it was essentially just an expensive door chime for over a year
We've since switched to Ring for our security system and have a full article and video on that here.
The MSRP for our RV as configured (we opted for most features) was around $127,000. We paid around $91,000. You can typically get 25-30% off MSRP. Grand Design has a build and price tool that was very helpful. We used that to build out the RV we wanted, then shopped the build around to get the best deal.
I use this Waterless RV Wash Wax Mop Kit and LOVE it! I can wash/wax the whole 44 foot rig in about two hours! Three hours if there are a lot of bugs on the cap. Maybe four, if I want to really detail beyond what I can do with the wedge tools in this kit. And it's a “dry” wash, so you can even use it in the majority of parks that don't allow washing, or charge extra to allow you to wash with water.
We've also had the rig cleaned twice at a truck wash. The first one was not a Blu Beacon and they scratched it up a bit (very light brush marks), after which we had it washed and waxed professionally to remove the scratches. Expensive mistake! More recently, the rig was VERY dirty from dust storms and we tried a Blue Beacon truck wash. That one did a great job on the rig AND truck for $44. Will use them again when we can, and maintain using our wash-wax-all kit.
How do you keep your fridge cold on travel days? / Do you run the fridge on propane while traveling?
This can be a hot button topic online. Many say “no big deal we do it all the time for years and years”. And some say “you're going to burn up in a fiery death”. Truth is, there's not a lot of data showing a preponderance of propane fires on the road. While it's obviously a safer move to shut off a fuel source while traveling, we traveled with our propane on for about a year before we upgraded our batteries with enough Amp Hours to handle running the fridge on our inverter for a whole travel day. Now, we run in electric via the inverter and monitor our batteries from the truck with the BMV-712.
No. We have the stock Dexter 7K axles with electric drum brakes and Westlake G rated tires. Well over 15,000 miles so far with no issues. We take good care of them and monitor them with a TPMS.
Don't mistake the Westlake G rated for “china bombs”. I watch this issue very closely online. The E rated Westlakes had the bad reputation and were dubbed the “china bombs”. So, now, some just consider all Westlakes bad, but they're wrong. The only issue I've seen with Westlake G rated was a curb job.
We had originally thought we might want to install a dishwasher after seeing them in Class A RVs. It was one of those “let's see if we really miss it” kind of things. While it would be nice to have, we haven't missed it very much. Kind of keeps one motivated to wash them right away after a meal. We're not sure where we would install one even if we wanted to. Don't think it would fit anywhere.
Yes! You can't see our EMS because it's hard wired inside the RV. We currently have the Progressive Industries HW50C Hardwired EMS (amzn.to/2NZSo1s) installed. However, we might be switching to this surge guard soon (changinglanesrv.com/ems-50-hardwired) to review it for TechnoRV. It's newer and the remote display is a lot better.
Pedestal version: (changinglanesrv.com/ems-50-pedestal)
Beware of the basic surge protectors. They are much less expensive but don’t protect against what kills most RV air conditioners, which is low voltage. And low voltage is more common than is should be in RV parks. A good EMS will protect against: Open Ground, Open Neutral, Reverse Polarity, Over/Under Voltage, Accidental 240V, and Bad A/C Frequencies.
There's a lot of confusion on this topic. Yes, some states have Class A CDL or some type of non-commercial endorsement requirements for RV's over certain weights. However, Florida (as well as about half of the other states) does not. In Florida, drivers of recreational vehicles are exempt from the requirement to obtain a commercial drivers license. section 322.53(2) (d), Florida Statutes.
Since every state honors the driving and license requirements of every other state, we are perfectly legal to drive in all 50 states under our standard Florida license.
All of that said, our personal opinion is that rigs as large and heavy as ours should require some type of extra certification or endorsement as well as training.
We were in over 45 locations last year all over the East coast of the U.S. and 20 or so out West. We've never had an issue finding a site, and we've stayed in Campgrounds, RV Parks, State Parks, COE (Army Core Of Engineers) Sites, etc. We just plan ahead and make sure to call each site and confirm they can fit our RV. We also use RV Trip Wizard, which has a lot of great tools to find locations. National Parks are a lot more size restricted, but there are always great campgrounds and RV parks outside the national parks. We’ve only been in one or two sites where we didn’t have room for the patio.
OMG YES! When we first got our RV, we thought the mattress was actually pretty decent. That lasted about a month before it was super flat. We decided to try Mattress Insider‘s 8″ Luxury Gel Foam RV Mattress w/Organic Cotton. LOVE IT!!! It has the option of flipping it over for a firmer feel and that's what we use. We've slept on it every night for well over a year and a half and it's still as awesome as the day we got it! They have every imaginable RV size and can make custom sizes.
We liked it so much, we got the 5.5″ queen for the guest bed.
If you use our LINK you will get 5% off your purchase. 💰😊
We chose to not buy an extended warranty. We knew we’d almost never be near our “home” dealer, so a warranty from LazyDays was out right away. When researching other warranties, it was a mixed bag of reviews, mostly negative. I knew going into this that I wanted to learn everything I could about our home and fix everything possible myself (chad). That was one major reason for choosing Grand Design RV: they will work directly with us on warranty work, and send parts directly. We've also used mobile techs, paying the service fee ourselves and letting Grand Design cover the rest. For us, we just didn’t find a warranty without 1000 loopholes, etc. So we just kept that money!