Are older travel trailers built better?

In today’s blog post, we will discuss: Are older travel trailers built better? We will explain the differences between older and newer travel trailers, and discuss what the new motorhomes have that just make them stand out. 

Are older travel trailers built better?

Older travel trailers are not necessarily built better. Newer motorhomes have more amenities and safety features. 

  • Older used motorhomes are generally noisier and less comfortable in terms of space. 
  • Most vehicles do not have air conditioning, and the rear seats may not have seat belts. 
  • You also won’t find a queen-size bed and fuel consumption will be high. Also, note that the fridges have limited capacities compared to today’s models.

We advise you to avoid old vehicles with low mileage. This is because a low-rolling motorhome wears out faster and sellers tend to use this as an excuse to increase the selling price. 

It is also important to check the condition of the tires, battery and timing belt which should be changed approximately every five years. It is also recommended to look for a used motorhome that has a full-service book and invoices.

Why are newer travel trailers better?

Modern travel trailers and motorhomes incorporate numerous technological solutions that make our lives much easier, to which we must add the enormous possibilities offered by smartphones and their Apps.

While autonomous driving is making its way towards the mobility of the future, there is a leisure sector that reclaims its space looking towards another type of autonomy. Motorhomes and habitable vehicles such as camper vans are becoming more popular and offer more and more leisure options.

Advances and growing demand with a growth of 120% in the last five years are bringing more technology to the motorhome sector. Today we are going to review what technologies we can find in these vehicles and which ones to pay special attention to if we want to get into this world.

New motorhomes technology and driving aids

Following the technological revolution that we have experienced in cars, motorhomes and camper vans have also been incorporating more and more skills. After all, in both cases, they are habitable vehicles built on vans, and these are increasingly similar to cars in terms of connectivity, infotainment and driving aids.

Apart from having received interior finishes worthy of tourism in recent years, motorhomes and campervans have also inherited the infotainment systems developed for cars. Thus, touch screens have been making their way, creating more intuitive and natural interfaces as well as opening up new options, such as integrating rearview cameras, parking sensors or guidance assistants for when we reverse with a trailer.

At the same time, these digital systems have allowed vans (and their derivatives) to embrace connectivity with smartphones. Now it is easy to quickly integrate the phone with the motorhome system thanks to the integration with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in practically all models, either as an option or as standard.

On the other hand, driving aids have also been implemented in these large vehicles, making travelling abroad increasingly comfortable and safe, perfect for long road trips. Adaptive speed controls, lane-keeping assistants, blind spot warnings, automatic emergency braking or fatigue detectors can mean the difference between arriving at our destination rested or thinking that the trip has been longer than necessary.

Charging systems and solar panels in travel trailers

One of the key points for motorhomes and campervans is autonomy, being able to move anywhere to live without needing any type of infrastructure. A good part of this autonomy is achieved by having a second (or third) supplementary battery with which to feed the electricity consumption at the destination.

The lighting, the water pumps, the refrigerator or the air conditioning work with the electricity accumulated in these batteries, but they are not infinite, so the best complement to guarantee days of electricity without worrying about starting the engine or finding a plug is the installation of a solar panel.

With a plate capturing solar energy on the roof, it is necessary to convert this renewable energy source into energy that we can store safely and stable. For this, we must resort to regulators with which to transform natural energy into one with a stable amperage that will be the one that we will direct to the battery or batteries.

In addition, with the current regulators and if we have several batteries installed, we can control what percentage of charge we want to allocate to each of them, giving priority to the vehicle battery, the one in the home area or both equally. The monitors of these regulators in turn will also inform us graphically of how much we are charging, the state of charge and the voltage of the batteries.

A complete installation of more than enough to power the lighting, heating and refrigerator of a motorhome can be a 160 W solar panel, regulator, wiring and a second 120 Ah battery (with its corresponding relay to charge from the alternator in operation). The price of everything could be around 600 or 800 euros between materials and labour. From then on, depending on the electricity needs of each vehicle: the more energy demand we will need higher capacity batteries and higher power solar panels.

New travel trailers come equipped with inverters

With the electricity stored in the batteries we can do many things, but taking into account that this electricity is at a voltage of 12 V, we either use devices prepared to work with that voltage or we resort to another extremely versatile accessory.

Current inverters are responsible for transforming the voltage from 12 to 220 V. And what does this mean? Well, thanks to them, we can plug small electrical appliances into the motorhome or camper van that can make life more comfortable.

More amenities of new travel trailers and motorhomes 

The latest generation cars already have the possibility of being WiFi access points, so the caravans that will continue to be small houses on wheels are even more so beginning to include this equipment among their options.

To achieve this, small modems with 4G technology are installed that connect to traditional telecommunications providers. With one of these devices and as long as there is the coverage we will have access to a stable WiFi network with good speed.

4G routers can be purchased for less than 200 euros. Additionally, the system can be complemented with more powerful reception antennas and signal amplifiers if necessary.

Finally, and although the most important thing is to disconnect when we go on a getaway is a disconnect, the travel trailer or motorhome can also be equipped with a television.

In this case, the system is as simple as having a television and, obviously, an antenna. If we only want to have a screen to play multimedia content from a USB or hard drive, we will not need more than the electrical connection. 

Final thoughts

If you plan on buying or selling a second-hand camper, its condition will speak more than the year of manufacture. In most cases, older campers are usually in good condition since the owners tend to take care of them (as you may very well do when you buy yours). 

While we believe that older travel trailers are not built better than the new ones, you are more than welcomed to disagree! Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments or questions about the subject. 

FAQ on Are older travel trailers built better?

What is the lifespan of a camper?
The average lifespan of a camper is 14 years. A model that is between 5 and 7 years old represents the best price-performance ratio. However, it is not that uncommon to see people driving 30 and 40 years old campers. 

When’s the best time to buy a camper?

The best time to buy a camper is when manufacturing companies launch their new designs with renewed features and styles. This means that there will also be massive sales, in order to get rid of their “old” stock.

How can you tell how old a motorhome is?

You can tell how old a motorhome is by its VIN number. 

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