How a motorhome works

To help people who have never hired a motorhome before here is some essential information.

The two main motorhome types available for hire here are coachbuilt and A Class. Coachbuilt motorhomes are also sometimes called C Class motorhomes. There are also a few other types such as pop top campervans and American RVs, but for the moment let us just focus on the coachbuilt and the A Class. There are a few RVs for hire in UK, but not many and there are much better solutions now which replace the pop top campervans.

The coachbuilt motorhome is built on the base, cab and engine of a commercial van such as a Ford Transit or a Peugeot Boxer, therefore the cab area is separate from the habitation area of the motorhome. Coachbuilt vehicles usually benefit from an overcab area large enough for a double bed, although low-profile coachbuilt motorhomes do not have enough space for this.

The A-Class motorhome is a purpose-built recreational vehicle, without a separate cab area. The body, including the driving compartment, is designed and built by the motorhome manufacturer, using only the chassis unit from a commercial vehicle and inserting the engine of their choice.

There are certain features that all the motorhomes in our fleet have in common.

All our motorhomes have a kitchen area and a washroom with cassette toilet, washbasin and a shower. There is a wide variety of interior layouts and sleeping arrangements, some which feature fixed beds and some with seating that converts into beds. Overcab beds and top bunks have safety retaining nets which should always be used when sleeping.

Your rented motorhome will be supplied with at least two keys: the ignition key, which starts the vehicle and the habitation key which locks and unlocks the entry door to the habitable part of the motorhome. Where a motorhome has a ladder, this will have its own key.

A motorhome has two batteries; the engine battery and a leisure battery. Driving recharges both batteries.

All modern motorhomes have a power management system and an electrical panel where you can switch on the 230v mains electricity. When you park up at a campsite you can plug in the motorhome’s mains cable into the mains electricity supplied to your pitch. If you are keen on wild camping you may want to take a generator with you. Some continental car parks have mains hook-ups for motorhomes.

A motorhome has a fresh water tank and a waste water tank. You should never drive with these tanks filled to maximum capacity; it is dangerous and uses more fuel. A third of a tank of fresh water is about the correct amount. A water meter display on the electrical panel will tell you how much water is in each tank. Empty the waste tank each time you leave a campsite and fill up the fresh water tank when you arrive. As long as you have the water tanks properly installed, the taps and drainage in the motorhome will work just as well as the water system in your house. Again, some continental car parks have facilities for emptying waste water tanks and cassette toilet.

The heating and hot water for the vehicle is supplied by turning on the propane gas bottle stored in its own locker on the side of the vehicle. You also need to turn on the gas isolater switch on the electrical panel. The heating and hot water are generally controlled by a combi dial and you should allow ten minutes for the water to heat. To use the shower you must have water in the fresh water tank. The blown air heating should not be left on all night.

The propane gas bottle (a spare is always included) also supplies the cooker and can be used to power the 3-way fridge freezer. Choose the “gas” setting on the fridge if you are parked and not connected to a mains electricity supply. If you are connected use the “mains” setting. If you are driving select the “battery” setting.

Most motorhomes have a sun roof or sky light which helps with ventilation. Flyscreens and blackout screens are fitted to the above and to all the windows in the habitation area.

Before driving off in your rented motorhome always check the following:

  • The 230v electrics have been switched off
  • The mains cable has been disconnected and stored
  • The gas isolator and gas bottle have been switched off
  • All loose objects have been put away and interior cupboards are locked
  • All windows and the skylight have been closed and locked
  • The entry door to the habitation area has been closed and locked
  • The entry step has been stored or retracted
  • Passengers are safely seated with seatbelts on

All vehicles supplied by come with a Driver’s Manual and a User’s Guide to the interior and exterior features of the motorhome. It is also essential that you watch the “Hand Over” DVD before taking your hire vehicle on the road.  Overall it is important to not allow yourself to become overwhelmed with this information, motorhomes are really quite easy to use and you will soon get the hang of everything during your motorhome holidays.