You Don’t Really Need These Expensive RV Appliances
When it comes to RV appliances, everyone is different. Only you know how much space you have, what you like or dislike, and what you can or can’t live without. I believe there are some appliances that you can get along without and better ways to spend your money. Consider these appliances as RV luxuries.
1. Outdoor griddle
Outdoor griddles, at their most basic, can run anywhere from $90 to several hundreds of dollars. The cooking surface on these can be anywhere from 17 to 36 inches. There is a lot to like about these pricey grills, but I’ve asked myself a number of times if it is worth the storage space it uses and, of course, the money. So far, I have avoided this rather large purchase.
Alternative: Electric Skillet
An electric skillet saves on propane, is easier to store, and only costs around $50 online. You can cook anything with an electric skillet, indoors or out.
I use mine at just about every meal and it would be the last thing I would give up. I’ve even perfected cooking multiple items, for example, setting my hash browns to the side of the pan to keep warm while I cook sausage or eggs for breakfast. I have a smaller version for two of us but larger versions are available.
2. Slow cooker
While this may not be the most expensive item on the list, in my opinion, it is probably one that might not be missed too much. A nice one of these appliances is usually priced around $40. The problem is all these appliances do is take all day to cook a meal.
While it is nice to put ingredients in the pot and have a meal waiting when you arrive home, it is not worth the space needed to store. I will admit at times I have missed having one, usually when I have a particular recipe that I like, but I found the alternative to be just as useful. You can also save money on other appliances such as a rice cooker.
Alternative: Instant Pot
Although there have been some instances where the Instant Pot has failed as a slow cooker, it gets top marks for cooking a meal quickly and does not heat up the RV. The Instant Pot cooks food up to 70 percent faster. It also has several other functions, making it more versatile than a traditional slow cooker.
It will cook rice to perfection, frozen food without thawing, and in about 10 minutes you can have perfectly boiled eggs every time. Be aware, while the recipe may say 10 minutes, there is always time added for the pot to pressurize. These are about $100 on Amazon.
Take this Amazon review for example:
“I use this for everything! How did I live without this before???
I live in a Sprinter van full-time and was using an induction burner for cooking, but since I’ve gotten this little gem, I haven’t used the induction burner once!
This is so easy to use, and it’s the perfect size for one or two people. I’ve been making a lot of stews, and I’ll saute the onions, carrots, and meat (if I’m using meat) then add everything else, seal it, and set it for 7 minutes on high pressure. I let it release naturally and have a perfectly cooked, tasty meal every time. This gives me enough for 4 or 5 servings.
I also quick soaked beans the other day by covering them with water, hitting pressure for 5 min. then letting it release naturally and let it sit (not on keep warm) for a couple of hours.
I’ll often make dinner right after I reheat my lunch, and make sure the keep warm function is on. I’m able to drive with it in my sink and have a hot, healthy, delicious meal waiting for me when I’m done driving.
I’ve even baked banana bread in it!!! So exciting, because I don’t have an oven. It turned out SO good! I used one of the containers and the lid from my To-Go Ware stainless steel lunch container to bake it in on the rack.” – Amazon review by The Galavan
3. Food processor
In my pre-RV life, I had a mid-level food processor that I used a lot. The fancy processors can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 or more and have many extra add-ons and gadgets. Unless you have a lot of storage room, you might want to avoid this one. I do miss mine sometimes, but I find a blender can provide a lot of the same functions, although I rarely use mine.
A basic blender can mix smoothies, blend cocktails, blend up sauces, or chop nuts. The cost can be as low as $20-$30 depending on the brand. My suggestion is to live without one for a while and see how much you miss having one. You might like a smaller blender/food processor such as a NutriBullet or Ninja.
4. Washer/dryer combinations
Your rig might come with washer and dryer hookups and for some, not having these appliances can be a RVing deal breaker. I can say I miss my washer and dryer but the space they would take up keeps me from making this purchase.
Individual washers and dryers for an RV can cost anywhere from $800 to thousands of dollars. A combination washer and dryer (one unit) costs around $1,000. The downside to these, aside from the cost, is they only run small loads and of course, add weight to your rig.
Alternative: A portable mini washing machine or a laundromat
The Wonder Wash is a great alternative powered via hand crank. These can be a great option for boondockers, only costing around $60. The downside again is they only take a small load and with these, you have to hang up the clothes to dry.
Unfortunately, some campgrounds might not like you hanging your wash outside. I find the laundromat is a comfortable alternative to all these machines. Laundry is always a painful chore, but I can run by the bank for quarters and have all my wash done in just a few hours.
5. Vacuum cleaner
Like other RV appliances I’ve mentioned, vacuum cleaners can take up room, cost a lot, and add weight to your rig. Unless you have a rig with tons of carpet, I would avoid a vacuum cleaner all together.
Many of the really good vacuums with powerful suction that you use for your home can cost upwards of $300-$500. Some of the smaller and less expensive rechargeable types can be a great size and weight but provide little suction power.
Alternative: Carpet rake, lint brush, broom
Consider a carpet rake that can gather pet hair to be picked up by hand. A small, handheld vacuum that you can use for your car is also a possibility and can run anywhere from $30-$100 dollars depending on quality.
We have a small amount of carpet and utilize area rugs in other parts of the rig. A lint brush works great on the rugs and the small amount of carpet. A clean broom is another great way to brush pet hair and dirt off carpets.
Other RV appliances to consider
Other RV appliances you might want to consider purchasing, but don’t want to break the bank, could include an RV dehumidifier or a space heater.
Depending on the size of your rig, you won’t need a huge household dehumidifier. But you will likely need something to keep moisture down. Purchase several small units for each room or one larger for the entire rig. We purchased a Hisense for around $200. Certainly, by the time you buy the smaller ones, you can get a larger one for the same price and do a more RV-wide job.
RV safe space heater
Space heaters are another purchase you can make for a relatively low price and still get something safe and effective for a small space. Ceramic heaters are portable, give off a great deal of heat from a small unit. They also tend to be more energy efficient and safer than other heaters. While they heat up quickly, their plastic casings stay cool. They come in a variety of sizes and costs.
Oil filled heaters use oil as their fuel but, in reality, work on electricity. Although oil needs a bit longer time to warm up, it can retain heat for a long period of time and are energy efficient. The require little maintenance and are one of the safest types of heater. These types of heaters usually cost less than $100.
See also: 5 Reasons To Avoid RV Dishwashers
Terri and her husband, Todd, are full time RVers and work campers. They have been living full time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Mini Aussie puppy Remi. They are currently wintering in Arizona with plans to continue their travels next summer. Writing is Terri’s passion but she also loves hiking, kayaking and anything she can do outside.
I don’t know where you live but in AZ we prefer a humidifier to a dehumidifier!
Terri Nighswonger says
We are in Corpus Christie, Texas area and the humidity, even in the winter, is high most of the time. We wake up every morning with a lot of condensation so the dehumidifier if a necessity.
Mark Belken says
We have gotten a lot of use out of our Can Cooker pot. Eliminated the Insta Pot or Crook Pot. It is very easy to use and very light. We can use in in camper or outside on the fire grill to prevent putting heat in the camper. The junior size is perfect for up to 4 hungry guys or 2 meals for 2. Healthy meals in about 45 minutes, super easy to clean.
It’s amazing what some people come up with, please preface your comments as opinions only. Have you ever really looked at washers and driers in community rooms, disgusting. Even with the limited capacity, I would my rather use mine on my time schedule than sit around waiting for their machines to finish before some gets to it first. I can start, go do something and finish when I get home.
*In your opinion
I so agree with you. We have the washer/dryer combo unit. It does not dry a full load effectively even though the spin cycle is very good. We have a drying rack and used plastic hangars for shirts. We space them out in our closet and they dry beautifully. We are just 2 people so love the small load capacity. We do not like to use laundromats either.
Rick Kronz says
You mentioned no vacuum cleaner. I live in Florida and anytime we take the RV to the beach it is full of sand. I put in a central vac system made by Dirt Devil. It takes no room inside the RV and the vacuum itself I mounted in one of the storage compartment soft off so essentially I’ve lost no storage. That might be a good suggestion for anyone that wants to be able to vacuum. It has a beater bar attachment that works really well in carpet.
Most of what is mentioned here is personal preference. We have a class A, so there is not as much to worry about when we think of weight. We travel about 9 months of the year. We have a 17″ Blackstone that we love, hated the electric skillet that did not cook evenly. We have the instat pot, LOVE IT. We ripped out the carpet because you just can not vacuum out the sand a minute dust, it was ungodly what was under it. There are just the two of us, so the small loads of laundry that the combo holds is perfect and I would not want to do without it. Blender, well I have one at home that I rarely use.
Dick and Sandy from near Buffalo, NY now in Florida says
We have a stacked washer and dryer in our 40 foot DP. With the pandemic we do not have to use campground or other laundry facilities that others use. We can do our own laundry without the worry of who used that machine before us and were their clothes infected. We are grateful we can social distant when it comes to doing our laundry.
Stay Safe, Stay Well.
Kim and Deb Eastern CT to South Texas says
We are full time so I cut down the rear bunk, plumbed in hot, cold, and a gray water drain for a small LG washer/dryer combo. Set it and forget it for 3 hours.
Sid Geist says
Instead of wasting time, money, and space on a hand crank washer, how about a 5 gal. bucket and a kayak paddle.
All too true about the space requirements. Good vacuum is a must, the vacuum can store outside as long warm it up before use.
Or, a 5 gallon bucket, or two. Put the clothes, soap, and water in. I feel it works best if the buckets are carried on the rear bumper, but should work inside, then drive with them full, for a few hours. Clothes should be clean, and either hang them on a folding clothes rack, or take along a small clothes dryer.
Or, you could drill a hole in the top of a bucket, drill some holes in a toilet plunger, and have a manual clothes washing machine for very little cost.
MIke Wingo says
Great idea to use the movement of the vehicle to wash the clothes! What do you do for a rinse?
To me the outdoor griddle is well worth the space and weight, and I have a Class C where both are very precious. Cooking anything on the stove inside immediately creates heat and moisture. And we are usually boondocking so anything electric is not a great choice. Cooking a big breakfast outside is one of the great joys of camping for us.
Agreed 100%. Laundromats are nasty places where people wash everything they don’t want in their washer at home. W/D was our first addition when going full time.
All but one of these require electricity. Keep those of us in mind that dry camp or boondock.
Mike Johnson says
We found that the temp on the skillet can be adjusted to act like a slow cooker or on high as a grill.
we use a “bullet” for the processor.
I carry Ryobi products for: vacuum, drill and saw, there are other attachments available.
Obviously you’re not a full timer with a big rig! We have Dishwasher, washer and dryer! We have both instant pot and a slow cooker! We do have smoothie maker! For small MH your right, you can add all that weight!
Travels With Charlie for another alternative to a washing machine!!
Charisse Tyson says
We had a washer/ dryer combo machine and it was awful. It took took over three hours to do one small load. We are glampers in very sense of the word. The only time you’ll find me in the parks laundromat is when I’m doing larger items like blankets, pillows or sheets. We have stackable now and the room it takes up is well worth it. I’d NEVER have a combo machine again.
Not So Free says
As to a vacuum, we have a small Shark which works for most areas. Since the floors have no carpeting, a broom works quite well.
Neither take up much room..
It’s interesting how differently things work for different folks. We have a combo washer dryer and couldn’t be happier with it. You’re correct that it does small loads, but for the two of us a load a day or every other day works out well.
Richard Menchel says
Spot on with your analysis on most items. I personally did like having a vacuum to keep my RV home clean.
Also, I added an ice maker and loved making ice when needed. At first we would buy ice but storing and paying for it was quickly eliminated by the ice maker.
Terri Nighswonger says
I couldn’t live without my ice maker but it does take up counter space!
For boondockers, it would be good to include the energy consumption and savings of each alternative too.
Eric B says
Really no washer and dryer? You prefer spending $20/$30 every wash day AND wasting hours doing laundry in a part of town you have no clue on safety.
We’ve had a washer and dryer for over 12 years. We would never RV with them.
Dave J says
Now how about a similar article for those hundreds of thousands of us who boondock at Q and in a great many dispersed areas. In other words no AC power beyond a few hundred watts off of an inverter driven by solar panels Thanks,
Hmmmm……guess if one wants to rough it really camping, these comments may be appropriate. However, I don’t camp….I LUXURIATE!!!! Not interested in “beating clothes on rocks.” But, one could wear clothes until really dirty and throw them away. Get a large enough coach and there is plenty of room for clothes washer and dryer. An InstaPot is as large as a slow cooker. How do I know? Have one of each sitting next to each other. I believe in having the right tool for the application. Sure is nice to come home to a ready to eat meal in a slow cooker. If one cannot run with the big dogs, perhaps one should remain on the porch. Worked very successfully for 45 years to not have to “rough it.” 🙂 🙂 🙂
Dale Walker says
I TOTALLY disagree with your comment about slow cookers. A slow cooker, a crock pot, and an “instant pot” are all different names for the same appliance, and I use my rice cooker ALL THE TIME!
We have the Wonder Wash – it paid for itself in only a couple of months. I also suggest the spinner by the same company. It’s like one of those old salad spinners. 🙂 It cuts down on the drying time.
Shelly Smith says
I agree on the electric skillet. I don’t even use the stove now. I also love having an air fryer. I bought a second one for the RV so I didn’t have to transfer it back and forth.
MIke Wingo says
Air Fryer is great to feed those kids that will only eat chicken nuggets, fish sticks and Fries
Steve Lamb says
Thanks Terri, found this article very useful. I too have an instantpot and plan on taking it with us on our next trip and not our slow-cooker. They do use more power than a crockpot, I believe. My wife loves our Spendide combination washer dryer and getting rid of it will not happen, but it uses a lot of water and shakes the whole RV! We got rid of our toaster and now have a cheap toaster oven which we can use to heat up pizza, etc. Again glad I found this article and have put your website into my favorites, thanks ~ Steve
Nancy Kling says
We keep a portable Shop Vac in our small RV Trailer. It’s great for sand and dog hair!
Thom Dressler says
Use gallons of bottled water to drink and cook. I prefer spring water for coffee and tea.
David Lovitt says
Could not disagree more on the washer and dryer. Who knows what oil field worker washed in that campground washing machine just before you got there.
Love my vacuum cleaner and crock pot. With 2 dogs, 1cat, 1 parrot and husband, daily vacuuming is a must. Crock pot, set up in the morning, adventure out, come back to a beautiful smell and a delicious meal. The rest of the items I agree.
This article makes the assumption that all RVers only go where they have hookups. I seldom do as mostly boondock.
Richard Diefenbach says
I can’t agree regarding the outdoor grill/griddle. We have a class B and the one we have stores very easily. It’s convenient to store and sets up easily on a picnic table. It frugally works off a small propane cylinder.
John Drake says
Probably you’ve already heard, but oil filled heaters do not use oil for fuel. They use it for heat transmission.
Mike Jones says
Disagree with the griddle. I got rid of the BBQ and got a blackstone 22 inch griddle and love it. It does all the things I need it to do, takes up very little space. Good breakfast, lunch and dinner. We do most of the cooking outside so makes more sense than to use an electric skillet inside the trailer.
David McCrostie says
I read through this list and partially agree, for the weight of them a Washer Dryer is really unnecessary. Most campground’s offer a laundry at a nominal cost. The crock pot? I love fall camping, and to me there is nothing like opening my trailer and smelling that Delicious meal that’s been cooking for hours. An electric skillet is fine if your rig is 50 amps.
My old Airstream is only 30 amps, and when I’m running my AC I’m very aware of how I am using my power. An electric skillet can pull a great deal of amperage and will throw your breaker. I like my gas griddle, bacon, eggs, early in the morning in the great outdoors. Yum.
Lea wilson says
Loved the comments , however, we love our washer and dryer. It’s perfect for the 2 of us. It shakes the RV on the high cycle so we just avoid that one. I don’t like public laundromats, especially now. Appreciated the other suggestions. Happy RVing and stay safe.
An oil filled heater does not use oil for the fuel. The oil is sealed in the unit and is not consumed to make the heater function. The oil is used to transfer the heat from the heating element throughout the find.
Tom Fay says
Thanks for the many useful suggestions. I am a novice at best so info like this is much appreciated.
Chere Snead says
We got caught up in the gas griddle craze. We bought a smaller 17” size. I also have an electric skillet which I use all the time. I do like my rechargeable vacuum cleaner. We have a dog and it is lightweight and convenient. I also like our washer and dryer. Instead of investing in the RV version, we purchased apartment size units for less than $500 total. My husband installed them himself. The dryer is vented to the outside. I can wash and dry 11 pound loads. The units weigh right at 100 lbs combined. Love the convenience
Chere Snead says
Forgot to mention we have a Ninja Foodi. Love all the functions this unit can do. Air fry, pressure cook, slow cook etc.
I noticed you showed Amazon reviews as a review to support your idea. Does anyone really believe Amazon reviews?
Tom Overeem says
If you use an induction stove, I did find a very nice non-stick induction compatible skillet on the Scanpan website. You have to buy it direct from Scanpan, I have not found a dealer, online or brick and mortar, that has them. From Scanpan you get state of the art non-stick, welded handles (no rivets), and lids are sold separately (usually). I have used Scanpan for years now, they hold up very well. Use link https://www.scanpan.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=induction
Donald N Wright says
Air conditioners, does anyone use the “Cool Cat” that is used in Aframe popup trailers ?
We have a smaller second Air Fryer and an Instapot, and I installed a built in vacuum in some dead space. No space so we use a laundrymat every 2 weeks while boondocking, combine food shopping runs. Plenty of solar and battery power to run everything while the sun is shining.
Rebecca Cardenas says
How does an instant pot save any more space than a slow cooker? You may prefer an instant pot to cook with, but it takes up just as much room as a slow cooker (and cost considerably more).
Steve Ewing says
Mostly agree with rhis write-up. Our RV came with a combo washer/dryer & it’s handy for small emergencies, but takes a long time & uses LOTS of water.
Instead of a Ninja or Bullet, we have a Braun 400W immersion blender. Easy to store & lots of power for any job. Instant pot is great, even makes yogurt!
Scott Nelson says
Interesting article. We full time and absolutely love our Miele combo washer/dryer. We have a Thermomix (Swiss food machine) that does EVERYTHING. We use it every day! For stovetop cooking we bought a double pit countertop induction unit 8 years ago for $75. It’s still going strong. With it we can use any size pot or frying pan that we want to, and it’s quicker, easier, and healthier than gas.
We did buy a huge house dehumidifier, but have since switched to three smaller ones that are tankless. (Ecor Pro DryFan12’s.) We use their warm exhaust air to keep our wetbay from freezing, and another one’s to keep our LiFe batteries warm enough so that we can charge them without voiding the warranty. (Two birds!) Look at your wood floor near your walls sometime (i.e. under the carpet or under a cabinet) and you’ll realize that if there’s condensation on your double glazed windows, there’s a lot more inside your walls, dripping on your floor and creating a perfect environment for mold and mildew…
I just take the few things I need to wash into the shower and then hang ’em up afterwords- no machine needed. The one must have is a vacuum though. – No real replacement for that. We have carpet. I much prefer the slow cooker to an Insta Pot. Nothing like a wonderful stew with the aroma all day. Now, we don’t dry camp either but space is at a premium. Sure is interesting to see people’s opinions.
My crock pot with built in electronic timer was $18 during holiday sales last year. An instant pot is certainly faster, but not even close to the price.
Another alternative is a canner/pressure cooker which can work with your gas or an electric cooktop. They start at around $30.
I use an air fryer a lot instead of my convection microwave (I have no oven). It’s good for the size of meals I cook, and it’s fast.
My RV has a built in vac so not an issue for me.
Sorry, not giving up my combo washer dryer. It’s a hot air dry model rather than one of the condensation models. Those hand operated models are nice for off grid, but they do tiny loads.
I use the little ceramic heaters. Quality varies, but no need to spend over $50 in my experience. There is a significant difference in max heat output between brands. Some draw 1200 watts, and my best one draws 1500. An EdenPure type heater can draw more but are quite pricey. I tried a “250 watt” model to heat the enclosed water works space on my RV and it was insufficient. Turns out it draws 200 watts. I replaced it with a more powerful unit with a low setting that draws a little more.
Our motorhome came with a washer & dryer. Would not have purchased it without one. LOVE them. Smaller loads, but not as small as you would think. I’m on vacation. So I have to do 2 loads instead on 1. Not interested in a laundry.
Larry Zetterlind says
All good ideas that we follow also in our Coachman Concord class C. We do need to get a dehumidifier. Opening a few windows a crack at night pretty much solves the problem unless it’s pouring rain. And I don’t mind using laundromats, fast, easy (most just a credit card swipe) and fun to meet and watch people. Thanks for your view.
Darnell Morgan says
we use a laundry pickup service and its $1 a pound they pick up from our campsite and drop off the next day by 8PM. Sudster.
Love your article. We hit about 100% in agreement with you having full timed for 4 years in several different size rigs.
Good article with back up reasoning for why you choose the appliances/items you use. Camping in a small rig helps prioritize the “like to have” from the “need to have” on the road.