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RV Upgrades: Everything You Need to Know

RV Upgrades: Everything You Need to Know
Melissa Brock
Melissa BrockUpdated November 10, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Whether you have a new RV or one that’s a few years old, you may want to enhance it with an RV remodel. RV upgrades can add comfort and security to your home away from home.Energy-efficient equipment, smart technology, additional storage capacity, and new appliances are just some of the RV upgrades you can make. Read on for ideas on how to remodel an RV, including your RV's interior and exterior, as well as how to cover the costs. 

RV Upgrades Cost

Depending on the upgrades you decide to make, the amount you spend can vary widely — from less than $100 to thousands of dollars. For example, on the lower end, you can buy surge protectors for under $15 apiece and a quality mattress topper for a more comfortable night’s sleep starting at $199. For more expensive RV upgrades, like swapping the traditional battery in your RV for a lithium one, you’ll pay around $1,300. And if you camp off the grid and want to install solar power in your RV, a complete RV solar system costs up to $4,000.

Impact RV Upgrades Have on the RV Value

In general, an RV is a depreciating asset. You can expect to lose approximately 15% to 30% of the purchase price as soon as you drive it off the dealer’s lot. Most RVs are worth half of what you paid for them by the time they are five to six years old. That’s why it could be important to help increase the value of your rig with RV upgrades. Some good value-added options include upgrading the appliances in your RV, installing new furniture, and replacing the flooring.

Types of RV Interior Upgrades

Some RV remodel ideas you may want to consider include upgrades for the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. 

RV Bedroom Upgrades

There are many RV bedroom remodel options from big to small, such as:
  • Mattress upgrades: Many RV owners say the original mattresses in their RVs are uncomfortable. So this upgrade can be well worth it. There are a wide range of mattresses specifically for campers. An RV mattress starts at just over $300.
  • Carpet: If you don’t like the carpet in your RV or if it’s worn, replace it. New carpet typically costs about $2 to $5 per square foot.
  • Lights under the bed: There's likely storage space under your RV beds, but you can’t see what’s in that space because there’s no lighting there. Add a row of LED string lights for $20 to make it easier to access your storage.
  • Cosmetic upgrades: You may want to replace the flooring in the bedroom, install shelving, renovate the cabinets, put in new curtains, and add a new bedspread. It can cost several hundred dollars to make these types of upgrades to your RV bedroom, depending on what you choose to do.

RV Bathroom Upgrades

Bathrooms are typically one of the most compact areas of an RV. You might want to consider a full RV bathroom remodel or upgrade one thing at a time. Here are some options that can make a big difference: 
  • Bathroom sink: If your RV bathroom currently has a plastic sink, you may want to upgrade to a metal sink, such as stainless steel, which can cost between $40 to $150.
  • Bathroom fixtures: Consider getting a more attractive faucet or a better showerhead.
  • Storage: You can swap out your current bathroom cabinets for stylish new ones that offer more storage space.
  • Tankless hot water heater: A tankless water heater may make a lot of sense if you use your RV often or you live in it full time. These heaters heat water more quickly and consistently, use less propane (for propane units), and don't need to be winterized. Tankless water heaters cost around $100 to $200.

RV Kitchen Upgrades 

RV kitchen remodels can make your RV feel like home, particularly if you enjoy cooking and entertaining. Consider upgrading:
  • Floors: You may want to replace the existing floor with vinyl, laminate, or tile. Replacing the flooring throughout your RV ranges from about $200 to more than $6,000, depending on the size of the RV, the amount of flooring space you have, and the materials you choose. Replacing just the kitchen floor may be a fraction of that cost.
  • Cabinets: You can upgrade your cabinets to hardwoods like oak, pine, or hickory. Or consider an open shelf look instead — no cabinet doors necessary.
  • Appliances: Upgrade your appliances to a better brand of RV oven, stove, refrigerator, or microwave. But be prepared to spend some money: A new RV refrigerator costs about $1,000, for instance, and can be as much as $3,000.
  • Countertops: If your current countertops need a makeover, you can try countertop resurfacing yourself, which is $30 to $150. Or you can purchase new ceramic tile countertops for $50 to $150 plus installation costs.

Types of RV Exterior Upgrades

While you can make all sorts of interior upgrades, there are also RV exterior remodels you can make. These are some of the options.

Solar Panels

Harnessing the power of the sun can be a smart idea whether you're an off-grid camper or not. To upgrade the exterior of your RV with solar panels. you'll need to know how many watt-hours of energy you use. A 4,000-watt system should run small appliances and turn on the lights, but it won't be able to handle heavy appliance use.Solar system costs can vary depending on what type you install. Complete solar kits can run up to $4,000 or more.

Generator

A generator helps power your RV when you don't have electric hookups. Standard sizes for RV generators are 2,000 to 4,000 watts, although you can purchase a generator as large as 12,000 watts. It's worth considering a larger-watt generator to help run appliances like electric ranges and water heaters, which require around 2,500 watts, and your refrigerator, which uses 600 to 800 watts. The larger the generator, the more expensive it will be, ranging from $3,000 to over $10,000.

Battery

Most campers come with a traditional 12-volt battery. Adding more battery power can be a necessity if you're an off-grid camper. Lithium batteries weigh less compared to the amount of energy they provide. They also take up less space and charge more quickly than standard alkaline batteries. However, you'll pay more for lithium batteries — about $1,300.

Suspension

Upgrading your suspension can keep your RV riding a smooth and prevent the floor and frame from getting damaged. Check your RV's owner’s manual before changing this major structural component, or check with a professional installer. The cost can vary but can run at least several hundred dollars.

Financing for RV Upgrades

There are several types of financing for RV upgrades, including refinance auto loans, credit cards, and personal loans. Here’s information about each one.

Refinance Auto Loans

You can apply for a refinance in the form of cash-back auto loan refinancing. You may get more favorable terms to replace your current auto loan. With this type of financing, you receive a lump sum of cash as part of your refinance, and then you can use the extra cash for your RV upgrades.Just make sure not to borrow more than your car is worth. A refinance auto loan requires you to put your car up as collateral, which means your lender could take your vehicle if you fail to repay your loan.

Credit Cards

You may want to put the costs of your RV remodel on a credit card. If you pay off your card in full by the due date, you won’t be charged interest. And if you use a rewards card, you might earn cash back or points you can redeem. However, it's important to watch your credit limit. Using a large portion of your credit limit can negatively impact your credit utilization, which is the amount of credit you use. Also, if you don’t pay off the cost of your RV remodel before the billing cycle ends, you’ll owe interest, and credit card interest can be high.

Personal Loans

You can use a personal loan to finance your RV upgrades. You can choose from personal loans for cars or personal loans for car repairsWith a personal loan, a bank, online lender, or credit union lends you a lump sum that you repay with interest in installments over time. The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you may get. One of the benefits of personal loans is that once you’re approved for a personal loan, you may receive the funds quickly, typically within one to five days. There are many personal loan tips that can help you find the best personal loan option for your needs. 

The Takeaway

An RV remodel can upgrade your rig and add to its value. It can also personalize it and make it more comfortable to travel in.If you’re considering a personal loan to finance your RV remodel, Lantern by SoFi can help you shop for personal loans with the best interest rates and terms. By filling out one simple form, you’ll get offers from multiple lenders in our marketplace to help you find the right fit for your financing needs. The process is quick, easy, and convenient. Explore personal loan options with Lantern.
Photo credit: iStock/cosmonaut
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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you finance your RV upgrades?
How much does it cost to upgrade your RV?
Does an RV upgrade increase the value of the RV?

About the Author

Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock is a higher education and personal finance expert with more than a decade of experience writing online content. She spent 12 years in college admission prior to switching to full-time freelance writing and editing. Her work has appeared on Yahoo Finance, Entrepreneur, Investopedia, The Balance, FinanceBuzz, The Journal of College Admission, MarketBeat, College Finance, Rocket Mortgage, LeverageRx, Benzinga, Morty, Ally, and more.
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