After 1 year of living in a Travel Trailer – What still works? We were recently asked about the reliability of the equipment and durability of our Travel Trailer, and what still works after one year. Has there been trouble with the craftsmanship, electrical or mechanical systems when we purchased our Travel Trailer or 1 year into it? What’s the reliability of its systems? Well, let’s take a look at the bad and the good of it after 2 adults, 2 kids, 2 cats, 1 dog, 1 year, and 12,000 miles.
For those of you that don’t know, we have been living in a travel trailer since October of 2015.
We travel quite a bit around the USA, but spend at least half the year stationary.
Please note, we know that living in a travel trailer puts a lot of wear and tear on a RV. More than any manufacturer ever intended.
First of all, what has failed?
Surprisingly, (not surprising maybe?) the air conditioning unit has been the only outright system failure that we’ve experienced.
The Dometic unit however, was replaced under warranty this past Spring as the weather was heating up.
We endured several hot days until we got up the courage to face the potential out of pocket expense, called Mr. Mobile RV Repair a Dometic dealer and warranty repair company, and received the good news that the unit would be replaced under warranty.
Besides the A/C unit, we’ve lost two out of the only 3 non-LED service light bulbs on the trailer!
Really, that’s it for outright failures…not too shabby for living in a travel trailer full-time.
What about the other systems in the RV? How have they held up?
The propane heater.
It has worked very well and quickly gets the interior space toasty warm.
Just be careful to monitor your propane consumption and in the winter, always fill a propane tank as soon as it’s empty. Better yet, keep a spare tank too. It’ll save you from running to Walmart at 4am before work to buy an electric heater.
The fill level indicator on the propane system is laughable, so just make sure you always have a full bottle, and never have your TT feeding from both bottles at the same time. Complacency will get you every time.
The stove top, microwave, and oven
Cooking in our tiny RV kitchen has been a breeze. Some folks never use it while living in a travel trailer and we’ve actually heard of folks wanting to remove them!! What?
In our case, our kitchen has allowed us to cook reliably, and ever since we added a pizza stone, we can actually get edible food back from the oven rather than toasty charred remnants that resembled food’s strange cousin, “fuud”.
However, the oven pilot light has been notoriously difficult to ignite, and I’ve spent up to 5 minutes of hangry rage trying to get it going! Note: we don’t leave the pilot running.
The freezer is quite mischievous for being such a little box and has its own climate zones that it chooses to keep either in deep freeze, or warm winter day in Boston cool. Roll the dice!
The refrigerator can be maddeningly small, but somehow perfectly sized at the same time.
We’ve managed to fit whatever we buy into it. I have been guilty though, of eating to make things fit now and then. I don’t recommend it. Which reminds me that I need to go for a run.
The electrical system
It has been quite solid. Just remember that in a 30 amp system, there are limitations and you can’t run your A/C and microwave at the same time.
We also learned through circuit breakers popping and speaking with our kind full-timing neighbors while in Ellijay, to turn off the water heater during the hottest part of the day in the summer.
The combined load of the A/C and water heater along with the television and whatever else is passively plugged in will also cause a circuit breaker to blow.
No worries here.
The drains drain, and the water flows.
There have been no leaks.
The only downside is that in winter, the hot water runs out quickly. We’re considering an on-demand water heater, but have a lot of research to do on that front…
So far, it has held up well, we’re overdue a wash and the awning is quite dirty, but beyond that, the electric jack does its job, the brake lights work, and the tires roll.
However, the tires look quite, well, cheap. They are one area that I’ll be paying extra attention to this next year and will seriously look to upgrade to a heavier duty construction in the future.
How about the Interior? Furniture & furnishings?
Realize, in a small space you will touch, and sit on and kick and bump and scratch the same surfaces far more than you would in a normal sized home.
Your cats will have a larger area to enact their chaos and the kids won’t wrestle on your bed as much.
The mattresses that came with the RV are total crap.
Lifeless masses of material that collapse, and lay there like their going to be comfortable but turn into medieval torture devices while you sleep.
We’re going to save up for replacements.
Cushions & Other Soft Surfaces
The cats have scratched every soft surface (we expected this) so no surprise there.
However, the dinette cushions seemed to just give up on a cohesive existence. One has split along an edge, (no cat needed), and the others are just lifeless lumps like the mattresses and they refuse to stay in their designated areas.
Other Interior Surfaces
Corners take a beating however, but that’s normal, and the look can be mitigated with a furniture pen.
Other than normal wear and tear, our dog managed to punch through a window screen, screen door, and ravaged the blinds on the slide.
Final thoughts about Living in a Travel Trailer
All in all, the RV and its hardware components have been trouble-free (save the A/C at first) and have worked as well, especially considering we are living in it.
The cushions and mattresses have been a major disappointment, and one that Forest River really needs to improve upon.
It’s important to note that we purchased our Forest River Grey Wolf 26′ “DBH” knowing that it is not a high-end model.
Quite economical in fact and I feel has been a great use of our money.
We plan to continue to full time it for quite some time and will make improvements and fixes.