Deciding what to buy – Part 3: Add-ons

It the first two installments of this series, we have made decisions about what type of RV to buy and how it should be equipped, what we need in a floor plan and amenities. In this installment, I’ll discuss what add-ons we will need. These add-ons may be manufacturer options or after-purchase items.

Water Softener

This is NOT an option. We have lived with a whole-house water softener in each of our homes, over about 15 years and to say that we have become spoiled would be a great understatement. Once you’ve lived with soft water, the thought of taking a shower in hard water leave you with a feeling of dread. It takes a lot of fun out of travel, when you know that when you get back to the hotel, you’ll have to take a shower in hard water. That’s why we will have a water softener.

After seeing some of the videos about single tank water softeners and how much trouble they are, we’ve decided to go with a water softener that has a separate brine tank and is plumbed into the motorhome fresh water and gray water tanks. That way, the regeneration process that has to be done every so many gallons (about three or four fresh water fills) will be simply a matter of pushing a button or turning a switch and filling the brine tank with salt pellets after every four or five regeneration cycles.

A plumbed water softener, with a brine tank, is installed between the whole-house filter and the fresh water tank. It also has the ability to take water from the fresh water tank, for back-flushing, during the regeneration process. With a two-tank system, the brine water is drained into the gray water tank and emptied the next time you empty that tank. Regeneration can be fully automatic or semi-automatic.

By contrast, single tank systems have to be manually regenerated, requiring the driver to get out of the coach, hook up hoses to reverse the flow for a while (I think 15 minutes) and then reverse the hoses again, and flush the system for a while, before you can hook it up to your coach. All of this takes quite a bit of time. It’s certainly not something that you want to do in the cold. Also, you have to find a way to drain the brine water, when flushing a single tank system.

In either case, during regeneration, you will still be using soft water from your fresh water tank.

A Dometic® Freezer

We have recently learned that there are certain uncivilized parts of the United States, where Blue Bell® Ice Cream is not available. This, of course, cannot be tolerated by people of even moderate civility and refinement. This is not to say that we are either civil or refined. OK. Becky is. But even an insane person, like me, has to have standards. Actually, we need a freezer for more than just Blue Bell Ice Cream. I just use that example, so anyone from Texas, who reads this, will understand the importance of an extra freezer. It’s an easy add-on and not expensive. This one is a no-brainer.


We have no idea where we might find ourselves. We just know that we will be full timing, with no fixed plan, more than a couple of weeks out. We don’t plan to live off-grid for great lengths of time. But we will be doing some dry camping and who knows? We may decide that we like it. On the other hand, we would rather be safe than sorry. Also, the way things are going on the solar technology front, solar may marginally increase the re-sale value. But more importantly, in the future, a used motorhome that doesn’t have solar will likely take longer to sell, regardless of whether it increases the re-sale value. So, it’s a pretty safe bet that we’re likely to add between 400 watts and 1,200 watts of solar.

Cell Booster/Repeater and External Antenna

Since we’ll continue to manage some of our business affairs, while on the road, we will need to have the most reliable communications. A good cell booster will turn our whole motorhome into a cell tower. That means that we will be able to make phone calls and access the internet in areas, where cell signals are weak. It may not be a cure-all for bad cell signals, but it goes a long way in that direction.

In-Motion Satellite Dish

Most satellite dishes work only while the motorhome is stationary. There are, however, some dishes that will stay focused on the satellite, even when you are traveling down the freeway. We figure that the cost to upgrade to a full in-motion satellite system will be nominal, after spending well over a quarter million dollars on a motorhome. With an in-motion system, Becky will be able to go back and watch TV, when she gets tired of watching the road go by.

Dashcam and Cyclic DVR for Rear Camera

Unobtrusive Dashcam
 Unobtrusive Dashcam

Because expensive motorhomes are often targets for insurance accident scams, we will have a forward facing WiFi dashcam on the windshield. That’s easy. I already have a GolukT3 Car Dash cam with SD Card (pictured) that works just fine. However, as we make our purchase decision on a motorhome, we will be looking for one that will give us the easiest way to insert a cyclic DVR into the line between the rear camera and the dashboard screen. A cyclic DVR is a small box that works the same way as a dashcam, in that it runs continuously and overwrites the oldest files, when memory fills up. The camera plugs into the DVR and the DVR feeds the same signal on to the monitor. So what this means is that anything that the rear camera sees, is saved in the memory of the DVR. That way, in case of an accident, you have it recorded. Note that the DVR pictured below may not be the best product for this purpose. It is only shown as an example of the class of device.

In-Line DVR
In-Line DVR to connect up to 4 existing cameras

If someone claims that you changed lanes and side swiped them, you have evidence, for the police and your insurance company, that you were in your own lane. If someone pulls in front of you and brake-checks you, to cause an accident, you have that, as well.

Many dashcams and cyclic DVRs have a parking mode that records, only when it senses motion, so they will work to provide security around your motorhome, when you are asleep or away in your toad (tow vehicle). This means that we will also be considering a DVR for the side cameras, as well. It’s a small cost, for the extra security that they provide. Dashcams also give you a way to capture those “Did you see that?” moments, for later playback, to show friends.

Your Ideas

Please share your ideas. We are newbies and welcome all types of input. We are soaking up all kinds of information about motorhomes. Give us your input. Do you have a favorite solar setup? What is your favorite cell repeater? Is Comfort Steer® worth the money? We aren’t stuck on but a few things. We will have IFS. We will have no less than 450 horsepower. We will have a dual tank water softener. We will have a dashcam and DVRs. Those things are carved in stone. Everything else, including those things we are leaning toward, are still subject to change.

As Number 5 said, in the movie Short Circuit, “Need input.” We hope we have given you some valuable input. Pleas give us some of your input.

2 Replies to “Deciding what to buy – Part 3: Add-ons”

  1. Thanks, Uncle Billy.

    I checked out That’s one more website that I didn’t know about. It looks very interesting and I’ll dig into it more in the next day or two.

    As for ForeTravel, we are already planning a trip up to Nacogdoches, to see their facility. We saw their Realm product at Motorhome Specialists a couple of months ago. Very interesting product. But if we can find most of what we want in a production coach, I feel it would not be worth the cost to go to ForeTravel, just to get a few less important features. But ForeTravel is definitely on our radar, as is Newell, up in Oklahoma. We’ll probably visit their facility, on our way back from visiting all the manufacturers up in Indiana.

    We looked at the Tuscany and at the other Thor products and noticed a very significant difference in the Tuscany. We definitely would not buy any of the lesser Thor products. But until recently, Tuscany was still on our radar. Just a couple of weeks ago, I noticed how much further back the driver’s seat is on the Tuscany 45AT, than on most other motorhomes. Kind of strange. It’s not really bad, but it is a negative.

    I don’t like the Super C rigs, because I’ve drove an International big rig many years ago (15 speed – 5 speeds, with 3 trans-axle gears) and I still remember the sizable blind spots – particularly the one that exists between the right side mirror and the front bumper. Also, insurance accident scammers target, almost exclusively, those types of vehicles specifically, because they can use those blind spots in their scam.

    As for coffee gear, we live by the maxim that to live a healthy life, one should consume at least one high quality serving of each of the five basic food groups every day – steak, potatoes, chocolate, coffee, and scotch. We roast our own Panama Boquete coffee, I drink only single malt, cask strength Highlands whisky, and use Valrhona chocolate. But I’m really concerned about the steak. I’m not sure how we’re going to get good steak, after we leave Texas.

    Thanks again for your ideas. It’s gathering good ideas from others, with more experience, that is part of the reason for this blog. Sharing that experience and eventually our own experience, is the other reason.

  2. Just read all your posts after finding you in iRV2. Its gonna be a fun ride Never heard anyone basing what they need because of their coffee equipment. For Tech info check out and their other site which covers tech/cell/internet needs of RV folks…
    Since you are very specific on wants, have you looked at a few RV manufacturers that will build exactly what you want? From what I’ve read the best ones are ShowHauler and Hallmark. Super C rigs they are called. Built on Big Rig chassis and should last forever…

    Don’t buy anything from Thor! Way too many problems. Even Entegra is having teething problems. Look up some threads and you will see what folks are complaining about.

    Check out Foretravel if you haven’t. Custom built in Texas and they are beautiful

    Good luck and thanks for taking us along

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