You’ve got the interior of your RV right where you want it, having added all the best upgrades and modifications. From the latest RV GPS to an upgraded RV sofa sleeper to custom-built kitchen cabinets, you spared neither time nor expense when it came to making your rig your very own.
So why should things be any different when it comes to your RV’s exterior?
Whether you drive a camper trailer or a Class C motorhome, almost every rig can benefit from a few essential exterior RV upgrades. In fact, some of the best and most amazing RV modifications we’ve seen have nothing to do with upholstery or cabinets, or even the high-tech gadgets we use to make our navigation and camping experiences more efficient.
RV Exterior Improvements Guide
Without further ado, here are some of the best exterior RV upgrade ideas we’ve come across.
1. External LED Lighting
Want to make your RV’s exterior literally shine?
Although many rigs come equipped with exterior and awning lights, if you drive an older model, they may not be long-lasting, high-efficiency LEDs. It’s a small up-front investment that will easily pay for itself over time, since LEDs have an expected lifespan of 50,000 hours on average! Because RV LEDs use less power and have a long life, they can make up for the high price in the long run.
Plus, bright exterior lights aren’t just pretty to look at. They can also increase your safety, both when you’re coming back to a dark campsite after a long day of adventuring and while you’re fast asleep inside. For one thing, you won’t trip over your outdoor camping chairs, and a well-lit rig with LED porch lights isn’t one that burglars are likely to target!
If you’re set on LED lights for your RV, here is our post on the 7 best LED lights for camping.
2. External Solar, Rechargeable, and Battery-Powered Lights
You might want RV outside lights that can hang from the awning to another spot, creating the perfect zone to pull up a chair and relax. Or maybe you want a lantern that you can bring with you from your campsite to others. Some of the most popular types of solar and battery-powered RV lights include:
Once you determine which type (or types – every RV needs plenty of light!) of RV outdoor lights you’d like to purchase, you’ll want to decide how to power them. It’s likely that you’ll be able to find one style powered in a variety of ways. The most common include solar powered, battery powered or rechargeable. There are different lengths of time that each device stays charged.
When deciding how to power your RV outside lights, think about your typical lifestyle when RVing. Do you think you’ll remember to recharge your lights or set it in the sun? If you don’t, you may want to opt for battery-powered RV outdoor lights. It also can be helpful to have a mix of some solar or rechargeable lights with other battery-powered lights, so you’re never without an option!
You’ll also want to think about storage. While many outdoor RV lights collapse, or are small to begin with, you will still need to store them in your RV when not in use. It can be helpful to opt for lights that are easy to store in your rig, especially if you’re planning to purchase several lights.
3. Fixing RV Trim and Moldings
Water leaks are one of the leading causes of RV damage and can easily turn your rig from a vacation getaway mobile to a soggy, expensive-to-fix mess. So getting ahead of the problem by repairing any old, cracked-looking exterior RV moldings and trim, especially around your camper door and other moving parts and seams.
Looking for a quick fix until you can take the time to do a proper upgrade? Dicor sells this excellent Seal-Tite corner tape which will keep water out in a pinch. But don’t delay on making proper improvements. Trust me, redoing your moldings is a lot easier (and cheaper) than dealing with internal water damage after the fact!
4. Repairing or Replacing RV Awning
Does your awning have holes from tree branches, rips from the wind, or fading from the sun? If you’re nodding yes to any of these, your awning needs an improvement! First, start by assessing the damage. Look at the underside of the awning, as well as the top of the material. Typically, if the rip or hole is less than 2-3 feet, you can easily repair it. If the damage is significant, consider replacing your awning with a brand new one.
For repairs, you’ll want to be sure you give your awning a good wash before getting to work. You can use a spray bottle with water and dish soap or bleach. Spray the awning, let it sit, then rinse with water and wait for it to dry. Once dry, you can go ahead and use some repair tape or a patch kit to fix any rips or holes.
If you’ve decided you need a replacement rather than a repair, check out our guide to replacing an awning for a detailed, step-by-step explanation.
RV Exterior Modifications and Upgrades
Here are some more clever RV modifications and upgrades for you to consider.
5. Always-Connected Sewer Hose Modification
Hate having to disconnect and reconnect your sewer hose every single time you need to dump your tanks? We love this upgrade idea from Love Your RV, which connects the sewer hose permanently with your waste tank and makes for easy dumping every single time — no more need for that once-a-week decoupling nightmare!
This is an especially good upgrade for squeamish RVers who don’t want to get stranded up… well, you know where without a paddle.
6. Installing Fiberglass Siding
If you’re not a big fan of washing your RV’s exterior often, installing fiberglass siding is one of the best RV upgrades you can make. That’s because slick, smooth, pristine-white fiberglass doesn’t hold onto dirt as well as the matte aluminum your RV might feature.
A ten-foot roll of fiberglass siding will cost you a little more than $300, and can be found in either bright white or black if you want to give your rig’s exterior an edgy twist! Although this is one of the pricier RV aftermarket upgrades, you won’t have to do it more than once, and it’ll really lower your maintenance time in the long run. And when compared to the cost of professionally painting an RV exterior… well, you might even say it’s a bargain!
7. Installing Solar Panels
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly way to power up your rig, consider installing solar panels! They are particularly popular with those who enjoy off-the-grid adventures, as a solar system can charge your RVs battery and provide power anywhere sunlight is present — even in winter months and on cloudy days.
RV solar panels can help extend your battery life with their slow, cut down on generator use, and even save money in the long run on propane. The number of solar panels your rig needs will depend on its size and your power needs. For example, a small travel trailer with minimal appliances will not need as many panels as a motorhome with all the bells and whistles. For installation and solar panel recommendations, you can check out our full guide here.
RV Performance Upgrades
Some of the most essential RV upgrades aren’t necessarily the flashiest. These modifications will increase your rig’s performance in the long run — which is a worthy investment, we think!
8. RV Suspension Upgrades
Your RV’s suspension system is important — especially if you drive a hefty Class A diesel pusher (or, on the other end of the spectrum, if you’re trying to keep your weight ratio right in a compact travel trailer).
On that note, Trailer Life has an excellent guide on all you need to know about upgrading a variety of different types of RV suspensions, whether your rig features leaf suspensions, tandem- or triple-axel systems.
Depending on the exact design of your RV, there are a lot of RV suspension upgrade devices ready-made for relatively easy installation, like the MORryde Suspension System, the Lippert Equa-Flex Suspension Upgrade Kit for Tandem Axle 6K – 8K, and the MORryde Heavy Duty Shackle Upgrade Kit for Tandem Axles. Always consult your RV’s user guide or owner’s manual before tackling any major structural component replacements or upgrades, and if in doubt, check with a professional to ensure you’ve got the right modification device for your rig!
From relatively simple changes like external lighting to bigger investments like new exterior siding or suspension systems, exterior RV upgrades are one of the best ways to prolong your rig’s lifespan and continue camping in a safe, comfortable rig for many years to come. Depending on your current budget and available time investment, you can easily take on a small and simple project — or get more serious by hiring professional help or taking on a multi-week remodeling project.
Either way, take your time and do what you can; it’s your rig, after all, so you’re the boss. Happy upgrading, campers!
Looking for more tips and tricks? Check out these articles on the blog:
- How to Spruce Up the Exterior of Your RV
- 7 Best LED Lights for Camping
- RV Interior Lights LED and Decorative – Read Before Buying
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