Inefficient Usage of Space in RVs

9 02 2011

Simplifying things, RV manufacturers usually buy vehicle chassis and build a box on the back. They then build a house inside of that box. It’s similar to building a house in that a foundation is laid and the house is built on that foundation.

When we first started out in the RV and were getting acclimated to its layout I thought frequently about how efficiently space in that “box” was used. Nothing felt cramped, there was tons of storage space, and everything was laid out in a way that made sense.

I still think that space in the RV is used efficiently, but now that I’ve grown more comfortable poking around the RV I’ve been perplexed by the amount of empty space that is hidden behind paneling.

For example, I really like our wardrobe. It’s good looking and is fantastically deep. The upper 2/3 of the wardrobe house a closet, and below that are four drawers. Below those drawers are two wood panels. If you remove the drawers, it is clear that the only things behind the panels are the wheel well and two small fresh water pipes. And lots of empty space. Drawers installed in that space would need to be a bit shorter than the two drawers above, but they would provide precious additional storage space nonetheless.

Same deal under our sink, where there’s a cabinet right on top of empty space. And that space is completely empty, with nothing in the way of some drawers or a bigger cabinet. I know that our RV isn’t unique in this regard. We don’t need – and maybe don’t want – more room for stuff, but a lot of RVers do. It’s a bit odd that any space in an RV would be wasted.

PS – We’re in northern Israel now, and our group is tons of fun. Hopefully more to come on the trip soon.

posted by yair




7 responses

9 02 2011

I think Rob, the author of “The Ultimate Roving Home” blog made a point that RV designers are not as advanced as the Marine designers. Maybe the extremely high prices and technical challenges of the Marine market take all the good designers away.

9 02 2011
Stumpy and Cyndi

When I’ve looked at RV’s that have been customized, I am amazed by the extra space and storage that’s been gained.

I can’t wait to hear about your trip!

Thanks Michael, I ‘ll look for a marine designer to redo my RV, when the time comes!

9 02 2011
Early Retirement Extreme

In our RV (1991 Georgie Boy Encounter) every space has been turned into some form of storage, except maybe under the two drawers on the bedside cabinets, where one side has the rear furnace and the other doesn’t, leaving room for one extra drawer.

10 02 2011

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that manufacturers really don’t want you to go over your GVWR by stashing more stuff in every air pocket. Our Arctic Fox really makes great use of space though, I can’t think of any areas that are wasted. Maybe it’s because it’s so small, but we are still able to maximize every inch inside.

10 02 2011


Interesting. I’ve never been in a live-aboard boat, but I’m now curious to check one out. On the same note, I’ve also noticed that access can be a problem with RVs, as Fleetwood seems to think that it’s cool to build semi-permanent structures around plumbing.


I wonder if the issue is more limited to Class Cs?


I wish that were true, but I’ve heard so many stories of RVs that come out of the showroom an ounce shy of GVWR. Have you heard similar things?

10 02 2011

Yes, there is more space to be found in RVs. But there is that weight thing. The more storage, the more stored, the heavier the load. I’d love more drawer space but having less forces me to keep getting rid of things as I bring new things aboard. That is RV living!

11 02 2011

I am with Rene. I think it has more to do with weight than anything. Very astute of you to figure this out though.

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