10 Must-Have Aftermarket RV Parts And Accessories
You can enhance your RVing experience with a few inexpensive RV parts and accessories. These extras can save you some aggravation in your travels or simply enhance the overall enjoyment of your camping experience.
Some of these RV parts and accessories are necessary to fix things that often malfunction at the most inconvenient times. Other items will make your RV function better, and some will help you prolong the life of your RV’s systems.
1. RV solar panels and Battery Management Systems (BMS)
The first item on this list is certainly a must-have if you hope to do any serious boondocking. Solar panels are now a common enhancement on RVs. You need power to operate the various systems in your RV and if you’re not intending to use shore power in a campground or RV park, then you’ll need to get that power from somewhere. Of course, you can run a generator but that requires fuel, it can be noisy, and in some places, generators are not allowed because of noise or fire restrictions.
Power generated from solar panels is the perfect alternative power source. If you’re handy, you can install them yourself or buy portable panels that are not permanently mounted to the roof of your RV. The advantage of portable solar panels is that you can move them to the most advantageous location to maximize power generation.
But it’s not enough to just buy solar panels. The power they create must be captured and stored in batteries which is far beyond the scope of this article, but you can learn more about solar panel installation, batteries, and Battery Management Systems (BMS) on Do It Yourself RV.
2. Camco Step Braces
These handy adjustable braces are only going to be relevant to Class A and C RVs and some travel trailers. Most fifth wheels, truck campers, and van conversions do not have the type of steps that these braces will protect, but for all the folks who do have automatic steps on their RV, these braces can save you the cost of replacing the steps down the road. I did have to replace our steps and our two-step version cost over $1000 to replace plus the time to schedule and go to the appointment.
The braces are portable, easy to use, and only cost about $20. You can purchase a pair of braces on Amazon and when they are installed under your steps, the braces handle all the weight of people going in and out of the RV without putting any unnecessary strain on the step mechanism. It prevents sagging and wear and makes the steps and the RV more stable.
3. Vent covers
These handy aftermarket products allow you to have your roof vents open on rainy days and to leave the vents open while traveling without concern that the wind will rip the vent’s plastic covers off. We have camped next to people who were on their roof in a heavy windstorm trying to cover their vent with plastic because they had left the vent open, and the wind literally ripped the top off of the vent. A vent cover would have prevented that damage.
4. Surge Protector
This is an aftermarket accessory (not a part) but it’s vital to preventing serious damage to your RV’s electrical system. The surge protector is plugged into shore power and your electrical cord is plugged into the surge protector.
There are many different styles and price points for these devices. You can get them in either 30-amp or 50-amp and if the maximum power in your rig is 30-amp, then the 30-amp surge protector will meet your needs, but if your RV is wired for 50-amp shore power, you’ll need the bigger surge protector which will protect your rig with either 30 or 50-amp power.
We have a built-in surge protector in our RV, but just to be safe I also added a portable protector, and because it cost nearly $300, I also have a cable and lock attached to the protector so it doesn’t go missing in the night.
5. Water filter
There are many types of water filters and water filtration systems for RVs. At their most basic level, they extract harmful chemicals and particles from your water supply. Some of these systems also come with water softeners to keep system damaging corrosive metals out of your RV.
Some water filters only filter the water in your kitchen sink, other systems filter all the water coming into your RV. Check out iRV2 forums or read this RV LIFE article to learn more and determine what is the best system for your travel adventures.
6. Pressure regulator
The water pressure in RV parks is all over the map. Some parks have very high water pressure, and some parks barely deliver a trickle of water inside your rig. The trickle is annoying, but the real danger is with too much pressure. Almost all the plumbing throughout your RV is plastic tubing and too much pressure can overwhelm the tubing or the connection points.
To control this problem, you can install a water pressure regulator at the hose bib then attach your water hose to the pressure regulator. The simplest version of these devices only cost about $10.
You can get more elaborate pressure regulators that have a gauge on them but it’s really not necessary. As long as you can keep the pressure from spiking up to a dangerous tube popping level, you are protecting your RV. But the advantage of the more expensive regulators with the gauge is that you can adjust the pressure to your liking and these regulators only cost about $30.
7. Spare windshield wipers
As an RV accessory, this is only relevant to Class A, B, and C RVs because travel trailers and 5th wheels do not have wipers, but the general idea is applicable to the towing vehicles of these types of RVs as well.
Wipers often seem to be just fine until suddenly they’re not. This has happened to us more than once and having extra wipers in a basement has saved the day. Of course, you don’t realize that your wiper blades are shot until it’s pouring down rain and the rubber blades suddenly start to tear away from the attachment or they just stop clearing the water from your windshield.
Of course, fixing the problem right then in the rain is a nuisance, but a necessity. A better strategy is to check your wipers periodically and replace them on a regular basis. Then you won’t be standing on the side of the road in a torrential rainstorm doing something that should have been routine maintenance.
Once you replace the wipers, make a note to buy a spare set to have on hand. Another accessory in this category are windshield wiper covers. These covers slide over your wipers when you’re parked and they protect the rubber from damaging UV rays. These covers are not very expensive but they will prolong the life of your windshield wipers.
The last time we replaced the wipers on our Class A motorhome, they cost nearly $100. That adds up. If you can double the life of the wipers with covers, it makes sense to put them on your must-have RV parts and accessories list.
8. Replacement lighting parts
Every RV has some form of interior lighting and having replacement lights for your rig will make the annoying burned out bulbs or blinking lights that are about to go out less annoying.
Our old Class A RV had overhead light fixtures with replaceable bulbs. Our new RV has low profile LED lights and the entire light housing has to be replaced, not just a bulb.
Either way, it’s easier to carry a few of these replacement lights or bulbs with us rather than scramble to find them while we’re camped in some remote location miles away from a dealer or RV parts store.
9. Replacement latches & window shade string kits
This must-have RV part is like number 8, but it’s for the cupboard and drawer latches that are in your RV. These latches fail from time to time and if you don’t have replacement latches you may have a sliding closet mirror slamming back and forth while you’re driving, or cupboard doors swinging open.
The parts are easy to get when you’re at the dealership but not easy to get if you’re boondocking or in a remote location. Carrying extra latches in your RV will save you a lot of aggravation.
Additionally, if you have window shades that are the accordion style with strings in them, I would also advise that you carry a string replacement kit or two for your window shades. If the strings wear out in one shade, then others will likely follow.
The kits are inexpensive, and the repair is not that hard if you’re at all handy and you can follow the instructions. I replaced the strings in many of the shades in our older RV and having the string replacement kit with us when the shade string broke meant that we were able to get that repair done immediately.
This probably does not need to be said, but you should always have extra fuses in your RV. There are many different types of fuses in an RV and you can buy a kit to cover the most common types. You might still need to go to the auto parts store for an off-beat fuse, but having the most common amps and styles of fuses for most circuits will save you headaches in the future.
This list of must-have RV parts and accessories could be much longer and might include everything from outdoor griddles to mats, chairs, propane fire pits, and all kinds of DIY modifications that make your rig and your camping experience more rewarding. These 10 items, on the other hand, are the parts and accessories I have personally learned through experience that I needed for my RV travels.
A retractable marshmallow roasting stick might be a fun accessory to have on board, but a 20-amp fuse to keep your refrigerator working falls into the must-have category.
You, Me & The RV shares some of their favorite RV accessories in the video below:
If you’re new to RVing, then take some time and read the iRV2.com forums to better understand what types of issues you might encounter in your travels, so you can make your own personal list of must-have parts and accessories, then you can stock up the next time you’re at a service center.