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15 Changes We Made to Our RV in the First Year

    As all experienced RVers know, buying a new RV is just the beginning. You’ll need to figure out the best way to store all of your stuff, and buy the appropriate storage containers. You’ll probably have some things you’d like to do to customize your RV, either to make it feel more like home or to better utilize the space. And you’re almost guaranteed to have something to fix after your first shake-down trip with a new RV or in the first few months of RV ownership.

    Here’s a list of the 15 things we’ve changed in our RV during the first 12 months. Many of these items are very specific to our RV, an Ibex 19MBH by Forest River, but they should give you some ideas for modifying your own rig.

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    1. Battery Upgrade

    We upgraded the manufacturer supplied RV battery. Our original RV battery was very small (like barely enough amp hours to keep the fridge on overnight) and we knew we wanted to be able to boondock at least 1 night on the way to our destination. We swapped the single 12v battery for a dual 6v battery setup.

    2. Faucet Swap

    Every RV model is going to have at least 1 or 2 things that you’re not crazy about and the original bathroom faucet was at the top of our list. It didn’t stick out very far into the sink, so it was very difficult to wash your hands well. We replaced it with a basic faucet we’ve used in our home.

    3. Added a Closet Shelf

    We have a small closet on either side of our RV murphy bed, and it’s a very deep compartment. We filled some packing cubes with our swim clothes and spare sheets and towels on one side, but on the other, we decided to put a temporary shelf. It can easily be lifted to access underneath, and now Ryan has a place to set a stack of folded clothes.

    4. Blackout Curtains

    I am a light sleeper and we have little kids, so we have blackout shades in all the bedrooms at home. I hoped our blinds would be enough, and they definitely are for most campgrounds, but when you’re camping under a street light (or hoping to go to Alaska in the summer one day), they just don’t cut it. We took off the valances and blinds and replaced them with thick blackout curtains and we love how it instantly made the entire RV feel a little bit more like a home.

    5. Baby Gate on the Top Bunk

    Our youngest was 18 months old when we purchased the RV, so we installed a baby gate on the top bunk for him. We don’t love that the baby gate and the bathroom door swing out into the same space, but that’s just part of RV life. The kitchen space is also the hallway, and you can’t all use it at once.

    6. Bathroom Dimmer Switch

    We get ready for bed after our children are asleep and the bathroom door is low enough that lots of light comes through. We installed a dimmer switch for the overhead bathroom light to use in the evenings.

    7. Net Hooks

    The storage below the murphy bed has netting across the front, which makes it hard to reach in and pull larger items out without stowing the bed and lifting the couch. We swapped some of the screws with hooks so you could lower the top half of the net for easier access.

    8. Added Dinette Storage

    Only one of the two dinette benches was open storage. The other was screwed shut because it had some pipes and wires inside. We opened it up and sectioned off the piping to allow the rest to be used as storage. We also hinged both of the boards, so you wouldn’t have to lift those out of the way in addition to the cushions.

    9. Removed the TV

    We are rarely in an RV park with a cable hookup and we prefer to stream from our laptops, so it made sense to remove the TV and save a few pounds for something else we’d rather bring with us. Now we hang our hats in that empty space.

    10. Added Toy Hammock

    RV toy storage is a fun little puzzle, so we added a cargo net to one of the bunk beds to serve as a hammock for stuffed animals and other large lightweight toys.

    11. New Sewer Hose Storage

    Many people like to store their sewer hose in the bumper, but the plastic end caps break easily with frequent use. We did not want to lose a cap and end up trailing our sewer hose down the highway. Yuck! So Ryan created a metal door with a padlock for each end to keep it secure. We also welded the safe to the rear bumper since it’s too small to be useful to us inside the RV and now we can store our sewer connection parts in there. It’s just big enough for the elbow, a few caps, and a rubber stopper. It’s nice to keep all the black tank stuff far away from all our other hoses and adapters.

    12. Backup Camera

    We wanted to add a rear camera to the trailer for our travel days. It wasn’t crucial for backing up but was mainly going to be used for traffic monitoring on really busy interstates. Our Forest River is prewired for a Furion camera but after researching our options, we decided not to buy a wireless camera setup. We added a wired camera system with a quick connection video cable. Our truck’s head unit has the ability to view a 2nd camera on demand when needed and the picture quality and delay is a lot better than a wireless camera setup.

    13. Keyless Entry

    We added a keyless entry system from RVLocks. RVLocks makes several variations but each allows for a key code entry and includes a key fob remote as well. RVLock sells a refurbished version at a discount from time to time and we waited for one of the sales to get a deal on the upgrade.

    14. Upgraded the Batteries Again and Added More Solar

    After our 5 week trip to Texas, we knew we wanted a little more flexibility with boondocking. In order to make room for a propane storage upgrade and expand our electrical setup, we moved all of the RV electrical systems into a portion of the pass through storage. The dual 6v batteries were replaced with a single 12v 200 amp hour lithium battery. We also added 400W of solar to the roof and replaced the MPPT solar controller with an appropriate amp version. The MPPT solar controller was also moved to the pass through storage.

    15. Additional Propane Tank

    We mounted a second propane tank to the tongue so that we’d always have easy access to our spare tank. This was very helpful for winter camping when we ran out of propane in the middle of the night.

    We’ve loved adding these little customizations to our new RV, and we still have a bunch of things we’d like to add! Right now, Ryan’s in the middle of building a drawer to add to my side of the bed, above the water pump access area. We also need to source the right sized bin to hold toiletries inside the medicine cabinet so they don’t fall on our heads when we open the cabinet for the first time after a long drive. We need some sturdy triangular bed pillows to make TV watching in bed more comfortable against the curved RV wall. And we want to add some tall dividers in our dinette storage area so I can stack up our pantry items a bit more without having them move around a ton while we’re driving.

    Each trip we take, we discover a new and better way (or 3!) to customize this little space to work hard for our family on our RV family road trips. Good thing we always love having a project!

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