When you rent a motorhome for the first time you can get a little lost with all the equipment that is available. Of course, when you take the vehicle, the agent will go for a test drive with you with to explain its features and operation. However, this usually happens quite fast, and may also be in a foreign language, which does not facilitate the understanding. To guide you in your motorhome rental, we will introduce all the important features.
It is mandatory to wear a seat belt when driving a motorhome or campervan. These vehicles are bigger than average, so it’s important to always remember the dimensions of your motorhome or campervan. In terms of height, the information is usually always affixed to the windshield to remind you at all times. So remember to check this before going under bridges for example. When you turn, think about taking more amplitude. Vehicles are usually equipped with a reversing camera, remember to check if it is working.
The equipment inside the vehicle
The majority of motorhomes should be equipped with at least one of the following facilities. Of course, depending on the model you rent the equipment functioning may be a little different but this should give you an idea to start your journey with serenity.
Be aware that the vehicles are equipped with an electrical panel central (Main switch) with all the elements of the vehicle. So you will need to “switch on” the equipment that you want to use prior to each use and turn it off before moving your vehicle. Every motorhome has those features.
Most rental vehicles are equipped with a Frigidaire or an electric cooler for smaller models. The cooler usually connects to the second battery of the vehicle. You will not have anything special to do except to make sure that it is well connected. For the fridge, the majority operates on 12 Volts. It consumes little, so it is possible to let it turn on even if you are not connected to mains. You can adjust the temperature of the fridge inside. We recommend that you put it on strong power when riding and on lower power when you are having a break or at night to avoid noise. The “fridge” switch must be set to “ON” on the central panel.
To use the sink of the camper and therefore have water flowing from the tap, it is necessary to turn on the switch “water pump” on the central panel.
Motorhomes are all equipped with a gas stove with usually 2 or 4 burners depending on the size of the vehicle. Remember to first open/lift the glass plate that protects the burners. Then it is necessary to turn the switch “ON” and “stove” and potentially “range hood” if there is a hood. To start using the gas stove, make sure the gas is open. You will need to get out of the vehicle to open the gas bottle, accessible from the outside. The burners are usually equipped with an electric ignition so no need to have a lighter or matches. Those features are usually included in your motorhome rental.
Larger vehicle models generally have microwaves. This one works in the same way as a conventional microwave. However, be aware that you will only be able to use it if you are connected to the mains. Indeed, it is not possible to operate from a battery because it runs on 240V.
When renting, remember to check that your motorhome is equipped with a toaster and a kettle. These features are standard and are therefore part of all motorhome rentals. The toaster works only if you are plugged in. The kettle can be either electric and in this case, only works if you are connected to mains. It can also be a classic whistle and it can be put on one of your hotplates.
Basic models are usually not equipped with a bathroom. The larger models can be equipped with a bathroom with shower and chemical toilet. The toilets are cassettes that are under the cabin of the campsite. The cassette should be emptied quite often (every 3/4 days depending on use) to avoid odours. It is necessary to put chemical tablets inside the toilet in order to liquefy the materials and to avoid odours. These pellets can be bought from the lessor when you pick up the vehicle.
The shower enclosure is usually small and the sink is above the toilet and can be folded down for more space. The shower water is heated with gas. It is, therefore, necessary to open the gas bottle and turn on the “water pump” switch (usually this switch is named hot water system). Allow about 20 minutes for the water to get hot.
Depending on the size of your vehicle, the beds will be different. Usually in small vehicles, you will turn the seats into the bed or lift the roof of the vehicle to access the bed. In larger models, you will have a bed above the driver’s cabin and can transform a bench into another bed. The sleeping area above the cabin has a safety net, very useful if you are travelling with children. Remember to check that it is in good condition and works when renting the vehicle.
Heating and gas bottle
If you need to heat the vehicle during your road trip, you have several options. You can heat the vehicle with gas or electric heating. For gas heating, it is necessary to open the gas bottle and switch on the “heater” switch. Remember to ask the agent to show you this switch when you pick up the vehicle. It will be different from one motorhome to another. If you choose an electric heater, note that you can only use it if you are connected to the mains.
Water tank, waste water and toilets
When you rent a motorhome, the clean water tank is empty. You will need to fill the tank “Fresh Water” with the hose and nozzle provided. Simply connect to a normal faucet and push the water hose into the tank to fill it. There is usually no gauge to know the level of the tank, so you must fill it with noise or until it overflows :). This step can be a bit long depending on the water flow, you will have to fill about 100 litres…
When you use the water in your motorhome (shower and sink), it gets collected in a tank for waste water. You will need to make sure to drain these tanks as soon as possible. To empty the wastewater, you will have to go to the places provided for this purpose. Either on campsites or service areas.
If you are at a campsite, you can connect or place the sewage discharge outlet above the drain (the size of a manhole). Indeed, you will have at your disposal a tap of water to connect you as well as evacuation to directly empty the grey water.
In the service areas, stand above the drain and once the drain hose is on the drain screen, open the valve and allow the water to drain. Allow about ten minutes to empty the tank.
Empty the toilet often enough to avoid odours. Again the frequency may vary depending on how you use the toilet. If, for example, you use them very little, you can empty the cassette once a week. Be sure to empty your cassette in the right place, the “Dump point“. The toilet cassette is accessible from outside the vehicle, you will usually need a key to open the box provided for the cassette. To empty it, you must remove it from the box by pulling it, unscrew the cap of your toilet and pour into the dump point. Once this last emptied, rinse it. You can then put it back in the box. Having a toilet in your motorhome is great, but remember some features can also cause discomfort if you don’t take care of them.
Important: Remember to drain it often enough! It can develop bad odours but also because this sewage makes the vehicle heavier. You will consume more fuel by being heavier!
Electricity and connections
A central electrical panel or Main switch groups all the switches you need to use the equipment of your motorhome. This one is generally located on the kitchen side, above the fridge. If you want to turn something on in your vehicle, it will be necessary to turn on the associated switch. For example “water pump” to have water or “fridge” for the fridge to work. The lights work on 12V, so on the battery. Remember to turn on the “light” switch to use them.
The power of the vehicle is generally good because it has 2 batteries. Thus, you can be autonomous for several days depending on your usage. However, agents advise to connect to the mains approximately every two days to keep a sufficient level of battery. A Battery Level allows you to control your consumption.
To connect to mains, make sure the Main Switch is off. Insert the connection cable into the motorhome socket and the other side of the cable into the socket of the campsite. Then switch on the main switch and you have electricity!
Electrical outlets and chargers are available inside the cabin. Once plugged in, you can charge your phones, computers etc or plug-in an electric kettle, electric heating etc.
In general for larger motorhomes (4 seats or more), a storage box at the rear of the vehicle can store all the equipment of the motorhome. Indeed, you will find there the chairs and camping table (if you rent one), the drain and fill pipes, brooms and so on. Those features are usually included in your motorhome rental.
Motorhomes can be equipped with a sun visor on the side of the vehicle. It takes place with the help of an iron rod like a shutter. This allows you to have lunch outside in the sun and is very pleasant. However, do not use this sun visor when there is wind. It can easily tear and damage and the replacement will be your responsibility.
Steps into the vehicle by the cabin door are usually installed for large motorhomes (4 or more places). Indeed, these vehicles being higher, it is difficult to climb without using steps. Remember to get in before moving your vehicle.
Some Motorhomes come with a manual so you can read up the information you need to better understand the features of your motorhome.
For more information :
- Motorhome and Campervan Equipment
- Inspecting your rental vehicle: what to check?
- Motorhome and Campervan hire companies in Australia
- Motorhome hire prices in Australia