Motorhome Jargon

Here’s our comprehensive guide to motorhome jargon to help you make sense of the motorhome world.

Awning A roll-up awning attached to the edge of the roof on the nearside of a motorhome. Ideal for creating a shaded dining or play area whilst on a camp site.
Berths How many people beds the motorhome has. Often stated as the number of adults’ and childrens’ berths, as not all berths are big enough for adults.
Bike Carrier A rack mounted on the rear of a motorhome to allow you to carry one or more bikes with you.
Black Waste Black waste is toilet waste. In most motorhomes it is stored in a removable tank below the cassette / Thetford toilet. It should be disposed of in designated drains or can safely be put down standard domestic-type toilets.
Caravan Entrance The name given to the side door of the motorhome which opens directly into the living space (i.e. like a caravan).
Cassette Toilet Most common type of motorhome or campervan toilet. All waste is contained in a sealed container that simply slides out of the toilet unit and can be emptied without mess into a designated disposal point (sometimes referred to as an “Elsan point”. Cassettes can also be emptied into ordinary flush toilets without causing any problems.See also “Thetford Toilet”Thetford is the most popular make of cassette toilet.
Coachbuilt The term used to describe motorhomes that have been purpose-built on a van chassis, like a caravan, or coach. These are wider and more spacious than van conversions – motorhomes built inside a standard panel van by adding windows, fittings, etc.
Corner Steadies Legs which can be lowered from the two rear corners of a motorhome to stop suspension movement when parked up – so that when you walk around, the vehicle does not wobble. Also useful if it is very windy.
Electric hookup The name given to connecting a motorhome to the purpose-built electrical sockets on campsites. A special cable will be provided with your motorhome for this purpose.
Fresh Water Tank The tank in which fresh water for washing and cooking is stored. See waste water tank also.
Fidge (3-way) Motorhome fridges are normally “3 way” – this means they will run on mains electricity (when on a campsite with electrical hookup), gas (when parked without hookup) or from the vehicle’s 12V leisure battery (when on the move and gas cannot be used).
Grey Waste/ Grey Water Grey waste is dirty water – from the kitchen sink, bathroom basin and shower (not toilet waste). This all drains into a grey waste tank in most motorhomes – campsites usually have a designated drain for disposing of grey waste. In mainland Europe, many motorway services have waste disposal points.
Leisure battery A motorhome’s second battery, used to power 12V lights and other electrical devices in the living area, without draining the vehicle’s main battery.
(Maximum) Gross Weight The maximum weight a motorhome can be loaded to – combining the vehicle’s weight and the weight of the payload.
Over cab bed A bed, usually double, located over the cab of coachbuilt motorhomes.
Payload The weight of everything in a motorhome that is not part of the motorhome – e.g. passengers, food, drink, luggage and other items. A maximum is specified for each motorhome.
Rooflight Like a skylight – a clear or tinted plastic hatch in the roof that allows light in and can be opened to provide ventilation.
Stabilisers See “Corner Steadies”.
Thetford toilet The most common type of motorhome toilet. Very simple to operate, empty and prepare for use and completely self-contained. Can safely be emptied into a normal domestic type toilet, or into designated toilet points at campsites and service facilities.
Travelling seats Seats in the living area of a motorhome that can be used whilst the vehicle is in motion. These will have seat belts fitted.
Waste Water Tank A second built in tank in a motorhome into which waste water drains – from the sink, basin and shower.