The switch to a full-time RV lifestyle has been a long time coming. There was money to save, priorities to order…and we had to come to terms with the fact that we’re crazy to have a home on wheels.
Even though we weren’t ready to pull the trigger and make our purchase, we used the time to research and decide which type of RV was right for us and our unique needs.
The conversation went something like this, over the course of a couple of years:
Brittany: “These Class C’s look nice.”
Eric: “I don’t think Class C’s are big enough for us to live in full-time. We need to look at Class A’s.”
Brittany: “Okay…you’re probably right.”
Eric: “I’ve done some research and diesel Class A’s have more power and can carry more weight. We should get a Class A diesel pusher.”
Brittany: “Newer Class A gas models have more power than they used to. I think a diesel might be overkill, and they sure are expensive! Hey, I think we can afford this new Class A gas.”
Brittany: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could pay in cash and not have a monthly RV payment?”
Eric: “Okay…I guess we need to buy an older RV.”
Eric: “Diesel Class A’s have more power and can carry more weight. We should get a Class A diesel pusher.”
Brittany: “Okay…you’re probably right.”
(And somewhere in the middle at an RV show)
Brittany: “Look at these fifth wheels!”
Everyone has different needs. For us, we made our decision to avoid certain RV classes and ultimately go with Class A diesel for the following reasons…
We never seriously considered a Class B because of their small size. I’m pretty sure this Mercedes Airstream is out of our budget anyway!
I went into this journey thinking that we would get a Class C. I tend to be minimalistic and budget-conscious, so Class C’s were enough for me. In the end, Eric convinced me that a Class C may be nice for weekend or summer trips, but would not be practical for us to live in full-time. Basement storage space would definitely have been an issue for me!
As you can see from our conversations above, we decided on Class A’s early in the process, but we went back and forth between gas and diesel multiple times. Actually, we applied for financing on a gas model before finally deciding that we wanted diesel! These are the major factors that went into that decision:
When we decided that we wanted to avoid monthly RV payments by paying cash, we had to come to terms with buying an older RV. However, the mileage on gas models that were 5-10 years old made us uncomfortable. How much longer would the engine last? If we kept a gas model for a few years before upgrading, would it have any resale value at all?
Engine durability is a non-issue for diesels that can hit 500,000 miles! Their Onan generators are built to last 25,000 hours or more. As long as we keep up with routine maintenance, we don’t think we’ll have any issues with the miles we put on, and no resale issues because of the coach’s mileage.
Power and towing capacity
We want to be able to explore the continent, mountain passes and all, without feeling scared that we’ll start coasting backwards downhill! (Okay, probably an unfounded fear, but you get the idea.) The Caterpillar engine inside our diesel pusher is the same kind my dad has driven across the country in an 18-wheeler. That’s power.
Add the fact that we want to be able to tow a car or SUV, and power is even more important. Yes, I’ve seen a Hummer being towed by a Class A diesel.
Load capacity and storage
Many gas owners have to keep a constant eye on the weight they’re carrying in their RV, to make sure they don’t exceed the manufacturer’s weight limit. I’m not sure what I’d have to carry in our diesel pusher to exceed the weight limit. I would probably have to start mining iron ore and carrying the booty in our basement storage.
Did I mention basement storage? Holy moly! This is a huge different between Class A gas and diesel. Granted, diesel models are built differently and I’ve seen some with smaller basement storage (usually dependent on length). But when we opened the doors to the basement of our Phaeton, we immediately started raving about building a clubhouse down there…or a second bedroom.
Because of the powerful engine and durable chassis, diesel coach interiors don’t have to be built out of lightweight plywood. You can feel the difference between the construction of gas model and diesel models as soon as you walk on the floors. Diesel coaches feel solid and the interiors are filled with heavier and more durable materials (check out the kitchen countertops, the fridge, and the cabinets).
Location of Engine and Generator
One other great things about the layout of diesel pushers = the location of the engine and generator. Because the engine is at the back of the vehicle, you don’t have the noise right under you as you’re driving to your next destination.
And the generator is at the front. So if you happen to be running the generator during the night, you don’t have the noise underneath you as you sleep!
Thanks for reading about how we chose a Class A diesel pusher for our first RV. I want to reiterate that everyone has different needs and priorities! I know many RVers travel in Class B’s and C’s, and they’re perfectly happy. So don’t take my word for it! Get out there and decide what’s right for you.
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Did you guys ever seriously consider a fifth wheel or travel trailer?
Your exchange at the beginning sounded very much like us at the RV show this weekend!
@disqus_5kphpsSvqh:disqus, we never seriously considered a travel trailer. They’re not built for fulltime use, have very little storage and can’t take much weight. I think it’s fair to say we seriously considered a fifth wheel over the course of a couple of hours (at an RV show). But by the time we were ready to leave the show, we knew it wasn’t the right option for us. However, we know many fulltimers who have fifth wheels and are very happy with them.
Just found your article on the very same issue we are mulling over. I enjoy the exchange between you two as well, as my wife and I go through similar back-and-forth debates. I hope it’s ok to share this, it’s our version of trying to figure what is best for our family of three: https://www.theuncommonroad.com/finding-the-right-rv/
lego rv class choosing