5 Costly RV Appliances To Avoid (And What To Use Instead)
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
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.
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 two years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and currently reside in South Texas on the Gulf Coast. They hope to head west for the summer season. Writing is Terri’s passion but she also loves hiking, kayaking and anything she can do outside.