The term ‘self-contained’ is commonly seen in the RV world, but what does this term mean? What is the difference between a self-contained and a non-self-contained RV? There are several kinds of RVs out there, but does it make a difference when the RV is self-contained? Let’s find out!
Self-contained on an RV means that it has its own built-in systems for water, waste, and electricity, allowing it to operate without external hookups or facilities. According to a survey by the RV Industry Association, 25% of RV owners prefer to camp in remote areas, making self-contained RVs popular for off-grid travel.
Self-contained RVs are becoming more popular and desirable among RV owners than ever before. Let’s explore this term and what it means for the modern RV. Self-contained can mean different things depending on the RV, and it is important to understand what it means when examining an RV for purchase.
Definition of ‘Self-contained’ On An RV
Modern RVs are equipped with several features, and there are different types of RVs that have different feature sets. If you encounter an RV that is said to be ‘self-contained,’ what can you expect from the RV? What is a self-contained RV?
Self-contained on an RV means that the vehicle is fully equipped for the occupants to rely on the vehicle for all amenities and essential functionality. The RV and the people using it are not reliant or dependent on any external amenities, resources, and appliances. The RV can be used entirely on its own without requiring any external infrastructure.
The basic definition of a self-contained RV is an RV that has an onboard toilet, shower, running water, waste and water disposal, cooking facilities, storage, and sleeping facilities.
However, modern RVS may be held to a different standard of self-contained. This definition only covers the most basic form of self-contained, but many modern RVs have a broader definition of the term and have additional features that modern RV owners require for the vehicle. Be self-contained.
Let’s explore this term further and determine the definition of self-contained for modern RV standards.
What Features Do Self-contained RVs Have?
The term ‘self-contained’ has a broader definition for most modern RV owners, especially when looking for a new modern RV to purchase.
Most RV owners have more requirements for an RV to be defined as self-contained than RV owners of the past, and these vehicles must now meet new modern standards to be properly defined as self-contained.
Modern self-contained RVs are typically equipped with the following features:
- Running water.
- Heated water.
- Fresh water storage.
- Waste water storage.
- A shower.
- A functional toilet.
- Water and waste disposal.
- Waste storage.
- Onboard electricity generation and storage.
- Internet and Wi-Fi connectivity.
- Cooking facilities.
- Good storage for all onboard items.
- Emergency equipment and gear.
- Heating and cooling capabilities (depending on where the RV is used).
- Sleeping facilities.
- Dining facilities.
Some of these features may be optional for self-contained RVs, depending on the requirements and preferences of the RV owner, but these are considered standard self-contained features for most modern RVs and campers.
These facilities and the functionality provided by this equipment enable the RV to be fully self-contained, not relying on any outside infrastructure, equipment, or facilities for the owners of the RV to live comfortably on the road.
These types of RV are more expensive than others, but they are much better equipped for life on the road and do not require the owner to rely on any external factors or facilities to live in their RV.
Self-contained RVs are ideal for those who want to live in an RV permanently, for anyone who spends long periods on the road in their RV, and for anyone who wants to experience the comforts of home while on the road.
Are All RVs Self-contained?
Most modern RVs have many of the features listed above, which may lead potential RV buyers to wonder if it is worthwhile searching for the ‘self-contained’ label or if all modern RVs can be considered self-contained to some degree.
Not all RVs are self-contained. Modern RVs have many more features than older RVs, and they are equipped with several creature comforts and convenience features, but they are not all considered self-contained.
Many RVs are designed to rely on external facilities such as water and electricity connections from TV parks, many have no onboard toilets or shower, and not all have running water.
Most modern RVs have many features that make them highly versatile and very comfortable, but not all RVs can be considered self-contained.
Can Any RV Be Made Self-Contained?
Not all RVs are self-contained, but is it possible to turn a standard RV or an RV that is not well-equipped into a self-contained RV?
While modern RVs have many good features, not all models are self-contained. It is possible to turn a standard RV or even a basic RV into a self-contained vehicle if you have the budget, time, and skills to do so.
Any standard or basic RV can be converted into a self-contained RV by adding any missing features to the vehicle that it may be missing to make it self-contained.
It is important to realize that not all RVs can accommodate all self-contained features, as some are not large enough to accommodate a shower or a toilet.
However, these features can be added with external facilities, and the RV can be equipped with portable versions to make it more self-contained, even if some features are not built into the vehicle.
If the RV is big enough, has enough internal space, and can bear the additional weight, it can be converted from a standard or basic RV into a self-contained vehicle.
Do You Need A Self-contained RV?
There are several self-contained RVs on the market, but do you need a vehicle like this?
Not all RV owners need a self-contained RV. If you only take your RV to designated RV locations with hookups for water, power, and waste disposal, then you do not need a self-contained RV.
However, if your RV is used to traveling long distances, boondocking, or visiting remote areas without RV facilities, you will require a self-contained vehicle.
Self-contained RVs are versatile and can be used for all types of trips. These vehicles can be used anywhere and are not reliant on any external facilities.
If your trips take you beyond the standard RV parks and trails, using a self-contained RV is a good idea.
My Closing Thoughts
Self-contained in the context of RVs means that the vehicle is fully contained within itself, having all of the necessary facilities and amenities for living on the road without requiring outside support, equipment, or services.
Fully self-contained RVs are very convenient, and they provide a level of comfort and useability on the road that no other RVs can provide, but they are more expensive, and they are usually significantly larger than other RV models.
David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.