Hybrid RVs, more RV notes


Every time I take an RV trip (ie. each Burning Man) I come up with more observations. The biggest one is that it cost $360 in gasoline to go from the bay area to the black rock desert, about 800 miles. And that's at a price still well below world price. The RV owner said he was planning to get out of the business, people no longer want to pay the gas price.

So why is it taking so long to produce a hybrid RV? Hybrid cars are great of course, but trucks and RVs are what really suck gas and need the improved efficiency. And they have the room for larger and more unusual engine configurations. Most of all, RVs also mostly come with expensive generators and batteries, and a hybrid RV would of course have a super duper power plant and batteries and inverters, presuming the engine was efficient at lower revs. The Hybrid RV's power plant could also be a backup generator when parked at the non-moving home. Probably make the most sense with diesel fuel, or as I have suggested before, even the highly efficient stirling engine. (Stirlings are big, and take time to warm up, but an RV with batteries is fine with this.)

Every RV's shower has this hose based showerhead with an on-off dial with a slight leak. Our camp built a much nicer shower using a standard kitchen sprayer. A kitchen sprayer with a lock-on would be much better and would make it easier to conserve water by letting you pulse water where you need it when rinsing.

Cleaning the RV, especially when back from the desert, is hard. RV renters charge fat cleaning deposits and fees. Why doesn't some company that hires out housekeepers do an RV service. You could come to them. Drive in, and a team of 5 attacks your RV, cleaning it in minutes. Do it at a car wash to also handle the outside if needed. Espcially after Burning Man there's a business here.

I've said these before: Paper towel racks, built-in soap dispensers, inverters, flourescent lights. Why aren't these everywhere in the RV world, instead of being rare?

Stabilizers jacks are great, but how about something simpler, some way to lock the springs or shocks (of course with an interlock to prevent starting the vehicle!) And while slide-outs are great, why do we never see flip out beds the way pop-top campers have, or a pop-up on the cab-over bed? (Most RVs don't have any spare wall space except in the master bedroom, which does limit the flip-out bed concept. You also almost never see murphy beds.) Flip-out beds don't take away your dinette or couch as do the extra beds commonly found. And how about a seat belt design for use on the beds for safe sleeping while driving? You can do this now but it doesn't seem super safe.


I typed "hybrid RV" in a Google search and came up with this posting.

I think a hybrid RV chassis would be the cat's meow.

Not only more economical than the standard 3-12 mpg of standard RV's, but a wonderful way of storing power - a perennial problem currently solved in various inefficient ways in the RV world.

Also, solar panels are now flexible - not the fixed, glass panels we are all used to seeing. An RV awning could be made of flexible solar cells instead of canvas.

There are a tremendous number of ideas, using current technology, which would make the current sterotypical RV something resembling a Brontosaurus, if someone who had an investment/interest in putting these things together just had some imagination.

Is anyone doing this?

That's why I was Googling. This link is all I found.

Anybody know anything?




Here in Louisville we have a few Hybrid busses. I'm sure that sooner or later these chassis will be the underpinning for RV's but I doubt it will be less than three years until they show up commonly. I haven't been able to find anyone that manufactures them.

By the way, to all those who've never been to Burning Man, don't take your own vehicle unless you plan on it's death in the near future. The playa dust is very fine and VERY alkaline. It'll eat everything it gets into.

Brad, I liked your comments on the hybrid rv but I am waiting for the new ford diesel engine. The 2009 F150 is supposed to be available with a 4.4 liter high tech engine derived from a smaller diesel that is presently available on Range Rovers and in the Range Rover the smaller engine gets 31 mpg. I want a classB with that engine getting mid 20's with good horses and torc. Do you think we will see it?

Tennesee Johnston

I'm planning to live in an "RV" as my home, because to me, "home ownership" means I don't need permission (a permit) to change it, and I don't have to pay someone (taxes) for the "privelege" of staying in it. I don't want Uncle Sam living with me.
Johnston hopes he can get 31mpg in his RV with a Range Rover engine.
Sorry Johnston, it's the amount of work the engine has to do to move that big box.
Fortunately, the fraudulent "energy shortage" is quite easy to overcome, if you're mechanically inclined. There's a lot of ways to build an external combustion engine that will run on anything that produces heat, including an all fuel furnace. Even a simple steam engine could take you cross country on nothing but the fuel you find along the way: pieces of deadwood, burnable garbage, leftover deep fat fry oil (yum!), tree moss, dried kudzu... don't know how you'd figure "MPG", but do you even care? It's unlimited and free for the taking. And if the EPA complains about green house gases, ask them where you can get some nice, warm, gas free nuclear waste (Moo ha ha ha)

Ws wondering how you deal with mail and any other "residence-based" things?

Thanks for any insight.


How do you get your mail? By using a mail forwarding service. Not all fulltime RVers move all the time either. That sterotype is getting dated very quickly. In our current location, 90% of the park is fulltimers who work at various jobs. Mine keeps me in one place until I decide it's time to move on. Others are various types of construction workers (carpenters, electricians, road and bridge builders, the guys who put up the cell phone towers) and they move on after anywhere from one month to 1 year. Monthly site rent will drop your nightly rate down to $12-$15 per night. Beats the $35 & up per night for the same spot.

I believe the the rv industry runs on a tight budget. They use whatever chasis concepts that people like Ford and GM bring to them. Local governments have lots of cash. That is why there are hybrid, alternative and electric buses. A rich guy could buy a hybrid or electric bus and convert it. My county just bought a bunch of IC corp hybrid plug in school buses which still have a small V8 gas engine like a hybrid car stil has a 4 or 6 cylinder gas engine. I read that some electric concept city buses are going on 100K miles. The all electric rv is starting to make sense to me. My old motorhome has a generator, a solar panel, inverter, 3 batteries, propane and gas on broad. The propane tank seems in line with old style dry camping before every rv came with a/c and a generator.

Consider a locomotive which pulls hundreds of rail cars thousands of times its own weight. This, as a diesel electric powerplant is really a hybrid. Imagine now, those huge bus-like RVs with a smaller version of what's found inside a locomotive--a efficient durable diesel engine powerplant driving a generator that produces power for an electric motor. Each element optimized for what it does best. Same would apply for over-the-road trucks and 18 wheelers.

Some interesting thoughts on hybrid RVs.

BTW, better than 12 mpg can be had. My 21 ft toyota Sunrader will get 15-17 with it's trusty 22RE engine. A new benz diesel powered C class can get over twenty, but, they are pricey. It's for sale, BTW. I just bought another toy motorhome.

As for electric or hybrid powering of large vehicles, don't hold your breath for it.

Electric or hybrid power makes sense on a commuter bus which lives in an urban environment at low speeds and with of brake use and no need for extended ranges. It makes sense pretty much for any sized urban vehicle with similar needs. RVs and large trucks don't live here. They generally live on the open road and eat up the miles in big gulps, big rig trucks in particular. The electric side of a hybrid drivetrain would pretty much just be an expensive heavy passenger in such a case. Take a look at mileage between a VW TDI and Toyota Prius. The prius wins around town, but, not on the interstate.

The diesel electric drivetrain analogy is a flawed one as well.

There is one reason this drivetrain is used. The reason is not efficiency. Burning fuel to turn an engine to turn a generator to make electricity to turn a motor is not efficient.

The reason is nobody has figured out how to make a big enough clutch yet. Freight trains weigh bazillions of pounds. Getting a bazillion pounds rolling is tricky. There is not a transmission yet made that can do it efficiently other than a really, really big electric motor which, unlike ICE engines, develops max torque at 0 rpm. ICEs tend to make 0 torque at 0 rpms. Big rigs are big, but, not so big that we haven't figured out how to build a conventional tranny and clutch to handle it.

So, until manhattan becomes a popular RV destination, I doubt we'll see hybrid RVs.


Maybe it’s your term "hybrid", seems to me that most hybrid are designed for city traffic...using the cars brakes to put energy back into the car and of course designed small with small engines. From what I've seen hybrid do not offer many savings on the open highway where the RV plays, other than what is addressed by being small with well designed small engines. Electric Diesel, now you’re talking (VERY BIG BUCKS)…Electric something anyway. Where are the energy cells I saw on “Sixty Minutes” the other day that turn hydrocarbon fuel into electricity? Make an RV that runs on that and you will change life as we know it.

Solar is only efficient if you use it all the time, and usually only if you grid tie. Otherwise most solar panels will cost more energy to manufacture than they will give back to you in such intermittent use. (RVs also tend to park in shade, and won't point the awning south as would be required.)

Solar makes sense if you are going to be away from other power sources and fuel for a long time.

If the hybrid RV's power plant is efficient, it would do better from a cost standpoint, though the solar might (just might) be a bit greener.

Even perfect solar (mounted south, grid-tied, sunny location) is not cheaper than grid electricity, even with the $4/watt rebates in California. Of course, this will improve with better solar tech.

The weight of an RV precludes a lot of alternative energy choices. The best hybrid approach would be a diesel-electric, a mini freight train if you will. Such an arrangement would not be a good house power generator; fuel consumption, noise, etc. Small, very eficient diesel gens already exist.

R.V showers drip intentionaly. It keeps the shampoo on yer head from getting sucked back into the fresh water system.

There are countless mobile RV wash companies making big coin coming to your place and shinin' yer rig. It aint cheap.

Interior ammenities? you get what you pay for!

Richard's Mobile RV Repair

Would indeed be too noisy (unless it was fuel cell or some other tech that works at low rates) but you would run off the large battery banks for everything but air conditioning, even for the microwave. The power plant would recharge the batteries in noisy bursts during the day.

Though you could in theory run the AC off the batteries -- modest RV ACs are about 1200 watts, and you can run for several hours off the likely 10kwh of battery a hybrid RV would have -- it might also make sense to look into propane powered AC, which is more expensive but probably cheaper upgrade than having a special generator just for the AC.

I'm not talking about RV detailers who are expensive. Just ordindary house cleaners, same as come to your house! Just cheaper because you can come to them.

So THAT'S why they leak.

Thanks for enlightening me, Richard.

My fantasy vehicle would be modeled after a RoadTrek Van--I have a 2001 190V currently. I can even get 18 MPG with it if I keep the speed @ 57 MPH.

But my fantasy RV would be a fuel cell camper Van.

Camper Van is best because I don't need all the wasted space & I can drive & park where the bigs ones can never go.
With a fuel Cell(s) the waste heat & water could be utilized for water heating & water "making". All appliances (stove, fridge, etc.) could be electric for simplicity. Besides the fuel cells, power would be stored in several 'flywheel batteries'--a mechanical battery with many times the watts per pound of current lead acid or even lithium ion batteries. High Efficiency solar panels on roof & awning(s) and extensive use of LED lighting. Toilet would be a slightly heated & vented compost type so no black water tank would be needed. All windows would be Low-e glass and double pane where possible. What do you think--is this too big of a fantasy?

Should be:

*Small-- 19-20' (RoadTrek size)
*Carbon/composite body, Aluminium frame for lowest possible weight
*Flywheel batteries (highest watts per pound vs lithium, etc)
*electric motors on all 4 wheels, regenerative braking
*small/standby hydrogen generator--about 1/4 of maximum power (60mph) demand
*30% Efficient solar roof with pull out solar Awnings (left & right)
*Aerogel insulation throughout vehicle & fridge
*LEDs for All lighting (headlights included)
*heated/composting type toilet with outside removable tray
*double pane low-E glass windows, Aerogel insulated sun roof
*run-flat tires--no spare carried to save space & weight
*all electric appliances

Is it possible? Would you buy one?

I like the solar roof Idea, there is a large surface area for that. But I had an idea for a ram air wind generator for generating power for the batteries, if the regenerative braking is not enough. The unit could be small like the ac caps on your standard rv's. The forward facing area designed to channel air toward the center, housing a fan, or impeller, connected to a generator,then on to the batteries. The road traveling would gernerate the wind, and maybe with some minor clutching a highly efficient power generator could suply a generous amount of power.
Now I am no expert, and maybe my idea for a ram air generator is just a pipe dream. Maybe someone can clue me in if I am way off base, and "BTW" there are hybrid busses and hydrogen power cell busses being tested in Canada.

the extra wind drag would increase load on the engine. It would be more effichent / lightweight to simply put a second or bigger alternater on the engine. plus that whay it would still generate power at idel

ram air wind generator. Hi I have also thought about that idea. Its sounds like a very god idea as you have access to 50-60 mph winds which can generate lots of electricity. I have started the process of starting from scratch with a new 30 foot airstream classic shell and am going to retrofit completely with upscale and efficient appliances. I am toying with all electric with solar and maybe even dc air conditioners . Lots to think about but I know it can be done and be renewable and very comfortable. Keep thinking. From experience camping is where I have got most of my ideas. Good luck. Scott

I've been having similar thoughts about a revolutionary RV design. I love to design and fabricate machines. I was speaking to my son yesterday about finding investors and developing the next generation RV. Even in a bad economy people will buy an RV that's revolutionary. It appears that RV'ing is ever gaining in popularity. What we need is an extremely lightweight aluminum chassis and a revolutionary lightweight diesel engine. The Corvette ZO6 has an aluminum frame that's shipped to the factory and placed on the assembly line with it's steel cousins. The engine is titanium and aluminum. Diesel engine blocks and heads however must be something other than aluminum. It appears that diesel engine builders have relied on heavy castings for so long there's no lightweight alternative. Maybe a there's a super alloy yet to be developed which would allow builders to cut the engine weight in half. A 6 cylinder Cummins weighs 1100 lbs.

Aerodynamics is another area which needs attention. I see the modern RV as a large brick designed to consume large quantities of fuel. A lower center of gravity is needed during travel, then a roof that can be raised when parked is the solution. Air turbulence over the roof and under the chassis must be eliminated. Adjustable and flexible air dams are needed. Seeing that RV's travel long distances without stopping, regeneration from braking is a waist of time. Excess heat from exhaust gasses can be used to drive sterling engines; these coupled with electric motors can drive A/C compressors. The motors can generate power when the A/C's not in service. Every new automobile in the world should have it's compressor in the trunk area using electric and sterling motors to power it. No extra fuel required to cool the interior. Big oil, tobacco, banks, and auto makers are filthy whores in bed together; they conspire to rob the people of every dollar they have.

Turbine engines are better suited, and are the most efficient prime movers for electrical power generation. This could also be used to power the RV itself instead of a diesel engine. The exterior should have a Kynar finish; their oldest coating is over 50 years old and maintains an 80% reflectivity. Reflecting and refracting sunlight keeps the interior cool and helps maintain the beauty of the finish. The Kynar could be cross-linked with the gel coat resin when making the outer wall panels; white being the most efficient of colors. This future RV will get at 30-50 mpg via it's turbine electric drive train, main engine run at low rpms drives generator, lightweight lithium ion cells used to overcome inertia when stopped and to power the unit when parked. Aerodynamic, lightweight chassis, and fuselage with a 50 year fade resistant finish. Anything I missed?

I would suggest you wait a few more years for the new nanotech batteries, carrying about 20x today's best. The problems with high energy flywheels are:
1) they explode like kiloton bombs when disturbed, like if you bump into something
2) expensive exotic engineering is required for the extreme operating conditions
(150,000rpm, transfering megawatts of energy in/out of a perfect hermitic vacuum)
3) they're super gyroscopes -- they don't tip when you go around banked turns
4) super gyroscopes do tip slowly on their own when you're standing still, because
the earth is also spinning. In 24 hours, your vehicle will do a slow rollover ;-)
5) they are huge, especially with decoupling gimbals to overcome the gyroscopic effect.
6) charge and discharge cycles create huge reaction forces (this is how the English beat
the Germans in their Sopwith Camels -- they could literally turn on a dime just by
revving their engines).
Otherwise, we'd have been using flywheels a long time ago, wouldn't we?
But keep the ideas coming; there are no technical problems, really, only political ones.

Check out Roadtrek's new RV based on the Sprinter Van, then do a little research on the WEB and see that they are producing Hybrid Sprinters for the European market. Hopfully these will get to the US soon. Throw some solar panels on the roof and you have a Tri-brid, also check out air-x, so if it's not sunny out you can capture the power of the wind. Let me know if anyone is doing this. I'm planning on hitting the road full time in a few years and doing my research now.

I agree, no-sink is a configuration they should offer. However, I expect there are buyers who will insist on a sink that has privacy for various ablutions and thus they have it. Another possible design would be a small fold-out sink above the toilet or in the shower. You still need cabinets of course, which may be another reason for the sink.

As for recycling shower, to put it indelicately, when people wash their rear ends, there is matter flushed out that can't be recycled back for washing unless you have very fancy filters and sanitization. On the other hand a gray water reclamation system which takes the gray water, filters it, and loads it up with chlorine, then gives the chlorine time to percolate out to safe levels for human use (non-potable) could work. And when you drain out this water at a dump station, you could do it over the other side of the filter to clean that. Still, might be other toxins to worry about on the body (wash up after working on engine?).

Of course one simple approach would be to use waste heat from the generator system to distill gray water, if you're running that enough.
Then of course you get back potable water. Interesting way to watercool an engine.

The point is the sink in the bathroom is normally over cabinets. If those cabinets are somewhere else, they still take up square footage in the RV, whether they have a sink or not. Losing the sink to gain square footage for the larger shower means losing the cabinet under it, that's all.

I'm just saying you may simply not understand the tastes and privacy desires of other RV buyers. They are putting those sinks in there for somebody. In spite of what you say, many people feel that living in a 23 foot rv with somebody increases the desire for rare privacy. I'm not saying it's rational, but it's the way some people are.

You should not assume your ass works the same way as everybody else's, either. When you assume, you say the ass of u is the same as me.

Manufacturers of RVs can't make a recycling shower if it has health risks even for a tiny fraction of the users. Liability rules will not let that easily happen. Reclaiming the water is a good idea but it is not likely to be just a filter. And it need not be, since it need not be fast. One can design a water tank, for example, with a rubber bladder in it so it holds two types of water (gray and reclaimed) and slowly reclaims water from the gray bladder which shrinks and puts into into the reclaimed. I imagine it might even be possible to have 3 bladders and in one space store fresh, gray and reclaimed though it would be more expensive.

I would like to retire in 9-10 years and travel in a hybrid self built van possibly using veggie oil & electric. Any tips on U.S. or Euro sites for info?

Do a search on Metacafe.com and Youtube.com for homemade fuel and equipment....and you are ready to go!

LEDs are good, though if they had wanted to conserve power they would have gone to vibration-protected flourescents a long time ago as they are even lower power than LEDs, and cheaper. The car lights they use are a standard part, of course, and cheapest of all to build.

You're also forgetting that many people are trained with the thought that after you go to the bathroom, you wash your hands. You don't open the door with them. Many people don't care but there are those who have this as an ingrained rule.

Also, the privacy I refer to also relates to the fact that the kitchen sink is normally in full view of the outside unless you close a lot of blinds. People who think of "camping" as tenting don't care but those who think of it as a portable house will feel you don't brush your teeth, floss and remove your make-up in a visible space.

But maybe you're right, maybe it's just lack of imagination on the part of the RV vendors, and the first RV to take it out and have a big shower might sell a lot.

On distillation: You could do this with propane. But I think you would get only about 10 gallons of water for a gallon of propane, which is a reasonable cost for drinking water but probably not for showering.

I am SOOO glad to find others that think like I do! How cool to stumble on this site!

On Demand water heaters a must for everyone and why they are not in RV's I will never know.

Non-Electric, On Demand water softeners are available and will remove a good 80% of Total Dissolved Solids from the water as an initial purification process. There are also numerous solar water purification set ups available as well. The best for drinking will always be a triple distilled reverse osmosis system.

Ok, so you were really reading this just to see what the cooking with DVD's was all about...right! Now for the real surprise....YES.....YOU REALLY CAN cook with CD's or DVD's! Go to Metacafe and/or Youtube.com (I can't remember which one I saw it on) under science or educational stuff. There it shows how to use cd/dvd's with the SUN to actually cook a Turkey!! Cool eah?

I am getting ready to make my final decision on what I have to "settle for" in my Class A RV selection this Spring (2008). Bummer I can't find what I want....basically EVERYTHING EVERYBODY HAS BEEN WRITING ABOUT that has not been invented/created yet.

I would be interested in discussing some business ventures with anyone interested in turning the RV industry on it's HEAD by actually building with a brain....the next generation of Motorhomes!

There was a very interesting article in the WSJ yesterday about the status of the RV industry and the hard times it is presently experiencing. In response to your "business ventures" comment I am interested to know if you have advanced your interest in a more modern RV since January? Did anyone respond they were interested? Are you still looking to build a new RV business? It occured to me there might be a very viable busiess here if the alternative energy angle is at the forefront. A "green" RV company would be very appealing to the Yuppies about to retire.

I'd jump on that ship!! I worked in the marketing department of an RV company a few years ago when they all knew the end would be approaching. Why the VP and Pres. didn't require their engineers to come up with a concept hybrid RV I will never know. A lot had to do with greed and the "market." The market being wealthy travelers not concerned with gas prices. Everyone jumped on these VERY UNSAFE toyhaulers - so they were all the rage.

I am really impressed by the various ideas posted here. A couple of years ago, I inquired about adapting hybrid technologies to RV's and was pretty much laughed at. We are trying to find out about either a diesel hybrid/bio-diesel RV. Recycling gray water, compact flourescents, light-weight but strong materials for cabinets and other furnishings, and supplemental solar is very appealing. If anyone has any more info on this, please post or let us know.


i have pondered this one for a decade. no doubt it can be done, trouble is, assuming a class c pusher, you'd want a good 300 hp, 3 phase motor at approx 1500 lbs deadweight. (http://www.baldor.com/products/specs.asp?1=1&page=1&catalogonly=1&catalog=M2569T-4&product=AC+Motors&family=General+Purpose%7Cvw%5FACMotors%5FGeneralPurpose&hp=300%2E00&winding=18WGX106&rating=40C+AMB%2DCONT). with 300 hp a standard bus/truck trans/axle would be practical. i know torque can be an issue but i think a 300 hp with nominal gearbox could move a bus up a grade at highway speed.

a skid pack diesel generator with sufficent kwh to turn the motor at the +-1800 rpm needed weighs in at 8100 lbs (http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200312086_200312086)but the motor and skid pack makes for a complete system.

the gen would still have the juice to run the rv hvac and systems.

i think the rule of thumb says you might get double the mileage with hybrid diesel. assuming the generator used 3 gals in an hour, 60 mph = 20 mpg? (i haven't dug deep enough to get gallons per hour at load so that's just an ether example.) if it used 6, you'd be at current rv mpg's.

i'm quite sure the generator/motor combo outweighs a diesel plant by, at least, 3 tons so there's gvw to consider too.
anyway, i'm glad someone else is thinking about it. fyi, once i win the powerball, i'm building one. i'll keep you posted!


I'm loving what I'm reading about the new cars that use the electric motors in each of the wheels. These motors also give electricity back by providing 85% efficient regenerative breaking. Stopping an RV on a down hill slope can put a healthy bit of power into your banks I'd imagine.

These motors put out 160 hp per wheel. My RV has 6 wheels, two in front and dualies in the back. That's 960 hp if you put them in all 6! (That's assuming they can be put into dualie wheel configurations.) My current RV has a Triton V10 engine, which is 362 hp. The Hi-Pa Drive motors they used come in three sizes. If they used the largest (HPD40) for the Mini, then the smallest (HPD30) has 1/3 the power, 320 hp for all 6 wheels. The mid power motor (HPD35) would be 640 hp for all 6 wheels. The smallest would be enough for most driving but it would choke crossing the continental divide. The other two would have way more than enough output.

Remove the weight of the engine and that huge axle and you've got lots of battery/capacitor space and weight allotment, which is good, because you're gonna need it! The motors like to see 350-400V DC and draw 400A. that's more math than I want to do right now but getting 400V out of my T105 Trojans would take 66 batteries which would weigh about 5000 pounds, so I'm thinking lead acid battery storage is out. I know LiION is smaller and getting smaller every year so this will just get better and better as the nanotube design strategies for power storage ramp up production.

A fat Onan geny will put out about 12.5KW continuously. Most of your power is needed in acceleration so that would come from the batteries and capacitors and then trickle back up when you get up to coasting speed. I'm not sure how long it would prevent you from running down your battery stores. Depends on the power necessary to keep something with such a massive drag coefficient up to cruising speed. At any rate, a dinner break or a rest stop excursion would let your bank catch up a bit.

Solar won't do much when driving, but when parked and powered down for a while I think it would be very helpful. If nothing else, running out of gas in the desert, you could let it soak in the sun for a couple of days and get your butt back to civilization. In dry dock it would certainly keep your batteries topped off. My 35' RV has 280 square feet of roof. After you subtract all the rooftop gear I think it's about 260 square feet of space the sun could hit. Of course solar efficiency is going up and up and that's a decent bit of space so it might help to cut down a bit on your diesel budget if the RV sits for long periods in the Texas sun. At the very least, you'd start off every new trip with a "full tank" when you pulled the old girl out of the storage slot.

I would love to work on a super green RV, and if certain projects come through, I just might get a chance to try it. Of course the project would *totally* be televised.

I saw that concept vehicle using those engines, they also had a generator and used nanosafe batteries, new batteries that can be charged in 10 mins and are eco friendly. There is also a new rotory engine out of Canada that is 6 inches in diameter and 6 inches long, and produces 42hp. They have a bigger version that produces 125hp. 42hp is more than enough for a 12kw generator. It will also run on any fuel you throw at it, the demo they have runs on diesel. It has 24 combustion events per rotation. "Calculated at 30% volume efficiency, compared to Wankel engine's 10% volume efficiency, compared to piston engine 7-8% volume efficiency." So it's also more fuel efficient. It's made by Regtech. http://regtech.com/ramcam.html

unfortunately hybrid motorhomes won't save much fuel. the average rv has approximately 90 square feet of frontal area and a coefficient of drag of about .45. if you work out all of the math involved (like i just did) you find that this rv will require a continuous 118 horsepower at 60mph, and 172 horsepower at 70 mph. a hybrid drive system won't help you with continuous loads like this.
if you were to make a motorhome front wheel drive and get rid of the hypoid gear in the differential you could save approximately 10% of your fuel burn.
if you worked on the vehicles aerodynamics and lowered the coefficient of drag to .30, you would only need 91 horsepower at 60 mph, or 129 horsepower at 70 mph.
as far as the recycling shower goes, it's a great idea for a motor home. these are currently manufactured right now for high end home use (think 10 or twelve massaging shower heads). they pump water out of the shower basin, filter it, re-heat it, and spray it right back out. this ends up being alot cleaner than sitting in a bathtub full of soapy water.

Actually the hybrid RV based on a Dodge Sprinter...such as the Winnebago View/Itasca Navion, would be great. The vehicle gets 16-19 mpg anyway and thus is useful for normal driving. RV'ers with plug-in hybrid vehicles could get very useful local travel done while running on the batteries. At least they'd get about 15 to 20 miles of economical use of their batteries! The point is, I think, will there be enough HP to handle freeway speeds at all...right now the View has only 159 on its regular turbo diesel.

Bathroom sink...live with it. It allows cabinet space above and below, a private place to wash up, a place away from the kitchen sink to brush your teeth, etc. One of the ideas of an RV is to have something like a home on wheels and a bath sink fits in and unless you're on a solo drive, nice to have. Some RVs even have two...no THAT's a waste!

Concerning "JEFF on Sun, 2006-03-05 19:25" who makes a recycling shower for high end homes? I've never seen such a thing, link or information or search terms please? I'm not finding anything. :P Would like a lead to find more. Please post here. :P

The only prototype recycling shower I read about let you choose recycled or fresh water whenever you wanted. So simply wash your 'behind' or get the dirtiest stuff off you and let everything flow down the drain... or do a naval style soap and wash, then switch it over to recycle mode after it's passed and get some cleaner soapfree water in the loop.

It's cleaner than floating in a tub full of your own previously used water, let alone others (ever been in a hot tub??) or washing your face with the same bar of soap you shove 'elsewhere', I dont really see a problem or liability issue. :P The health risks are no more than taking a bath or sitting in a hot tub or using the same bar of soap on your whole body. And I like the idea of a high flow long shower in an RV without using lots of water.


The reason there are not hybrid RV's and people get laughed at suggesting them is that #1 - the hybrid busses with huge 400hp motors and massive battery banks are something like $165,000 additional MINIMUM i've heard, Allison makes a system) #2 - at those costs you'll never make back the cost of gas. Spend $150,000 more when the average motorhome only drives something like 7000 miles per year? How far can you drive on $165,000 of gas? 55,000gal at $3/gallon, and lets say 6mpg that's still over 300,000 miles for free, before you even BREAK EVEN. Not including the needed maintenance probably replacing the battery pack every 100,000 miles making you have to drive further. The systems are installed on busses expecting to drive a million miles or more over a lifetime.

#3 - you only gain the mileage benefit in the cities, almost no benefit on the highway. How many people putter around the city in their motorhome? They take long trips to some beautiful locale then park it. #4 the batteries add so much weight and take up so much space under the floor (give up your luggage and tanks) that it's not worth it and you'd need chassis upgrades in all likelihood. Most RV's are already marginal in weight capacity - you'd be forced to upgrade to an HD truck.

I dont know if incinerating toilets would work as well in an RV for the same reason it's hard to run an air conditioner or electric heater off the batteries. You need ALOT of batteries. Microwaves run for a few minutes, not an hour. If you want that much extra battery capacity in an RV, just put it in for that reason alone? You'll quickly find how expensive and heavy it really is.

Of course since most RV's run with generators or shore power anyways the incinerator toilet WOULD work well in that case - just not as well for boondocking. :)


For the past six years my company has been working on a new water saving technology shower system that will change the way we look at shower systems in RVs forever. This patented textured technology works like no shower system on the planet and has never been available to the RV community before now...

Normal RV low flow shower heads unenhance the shower experience leaving the user with a decision sometimes to remove the flow restrictors to get wet enough to feel enough water and defeating the whole purpose of saving water with only a limited supply available.

The RV Rain Crystal on the other hand uses a 10” showering surface.. Special shaped patented distribution ducts release water onto textured rings which serve as water highways overloading and creating in abundance large and small droplets and strings of water creating a drenching feeling coating the skin with every drop causing the body to get wetter faster with less water. 1.65gpm inhanceing the shower experience and creating the most natural feeling rain shower ever. Made from optic grade lexan and supported by a state of the art adjustable chrome stem for easy height adjustment plus installiation puts the Rain Crystal water saver far ahead of its time.,Also by tilting the Rain Crystal head slightly it changes the water flow to one side creating a unique waterfall.

The RV Rain Crystal sets a new standard in water saving shower systems. Being user friendly it can be installed in most showers in 5 minutes. Being in a drought situation in many parts of the world. Weather patterns,over building and population explosion pollution of our ground water ,rivers and streams these needs have to be delt with now. The RV Rain Crystal water saver is one of many water saving showerheads but there is a big difference every drop of water coats the skin requiring less water to get wetter. Spray systems hit and bounce off sending 60% of water barely used down the drain.
The RV Rain Crystal is pioneering the way to make the most of our precious resource water. RainCrystal products will all be centered around saving our planets water supply and providing the most natural rain shower experience ever. Hosting the most beautiful and affordable shower system in the world.We look and feel better because we are better.

Frank H. Clark/inventor/designer/CEO

Patented, Pat. Pend. USA,Canada,Mexico,Australia and seven countries in Europe the UK and Hong.

For anyone looking at recycling showers goto http://www.waterstructuresco.com/baths/bathtech.html
That company installs them. You can probably find more examples by searching for "waterfall showers" or "deluge showers".

Oshgosh, they heavy truck manufacturer, has been working on building a heavy truck with a disel/hybrid power plant, for the Govt..this would be be perfect for RV use.

Maybe if we elect smart leaders we could get some progress in making clean RVs - electric or solar powered or hybrid?

Coming from a motorcycle that gets 65mpg and tent and then moving a pop up camper (Sunlite) to go onto our F150 Ford pickup, some of the suggestions presented here are certainly for a different RV’ing lifestyle. We recently took a wonderful trip up to Canada (BC), across to the east coast, and back across the USA via a lot of parks. We lived comfortably for 6 weeks as the camper is fully self contained including a bathroom. Since I had one small 55ah auxiliary battery, electrical was a problem, especially if we camped in the same place for two nights without recharging. In my research I found small florescents and LED’s are not much more energy efficient (lumens per watt) than the cheap halogens provided in many campers by the manufacturer. Showers are incredible wasteful. We almost always took a park shower, which were usually cheap and with plenty of hot water. When we couldn’t, we heated up two quarts of water and took a sponge bath. This included washing our hair and was surprisingly satisfying, and required no huge gray water tanks pulled around by barge like RV’s. We were only 21' long (just the length of our pickup) and got about 15mpg on regular gas. What we liked most was the ability to park in a regular parking place in town, at a grocery store, and in a pinch could even go up in some parking garages (7'4" clearance). In my dreams I’d have a Sprinter which is a little roomier and gets about 25mpg. But at the higher price of diesel, and a cost of about $80,000, it would take about 50 years to pay for itself... not a wise economic choice. So for you RV’ers who want to save money and the planet, I suggest this. 1, get an economical little rig (i.e. Toyota Dolphin, small camper on a pickup, camper van, etc.) or 2. get a large RV and go to only a few places and keep it parked there a lot. For me, I keep fighting my tendency (probably common to a lot of guys) to be equipment oriented, when I should be enjoying the parks and friends. After all I can’t take it with me.

These guys have some interesting technology using hub motors built into the wheels for buses that would apply to the Hybrid RV concept. http://www.e-traction.com/fuel_consumption_calculator.htm

Scott Farrell is running for Congress in Florida and has converted his campaign bus to bio-diesel (see attached)


I also hear Willie Nelson is working on some interesting ideas, although he may be working on them from jail at the moment.

I am also looking for a smaller RV possibly hybrid/electric/solar/vegetable oil/windmill on the roof/backed up by generator/ or whatever????

This would be a good project if we could all get together an invent something. With all the hurricanes we get down here, it would be great to have something to depend on when you gotta get out of town fast and could possibly live in something until it all blows over so to speak.

Keep me informed. I find this all very interesting.


I'm so glad to have stumbled upon this discussion as this is something I've been thinking about for a while now.

I would love to see a multi-fuel system RV with hybrid technology. It's true, to really make a usable hybrid system you would need a total redesign from a chassis perspective, but I think it could be done if the demand was there to justify the R&D cost.

My idea was to use possibly use a turbine engine. If you take a look at marine turbine's retrorocket, the jet turbine they outfitted in that pickup can do 800 miles to a tank and the engine can be tuned to burn multiple fuels. Turbines dont do well at variable rpms and operate best @ certain rpms. In an RV installation you can be sure the turbine can spin where its happy driving both the transmission and the electrical system. The beauty of this system is that it's very compact and could be teamed with a traditional engine in the space of today's RV bays. Turbine engine gensets are readily available on ebay and govt surplus sites and are very desirable solutions due to their ability to burn almost any fuel you throw at it. The Rolls Royce Allison 250 MTT use would be a great system as it runs great on biodiesel while producing 300hp at the shaft.

My dream would be to have a roof covered in super efficient solarpanels which would drive a hydrogen generating system to power a fuel cell (which can assist in water and cabin heating) to assist the electrical subsystem, or if you were to have a pair of engines (turbine and traditional) in the engine bay, you could have an unleaded engine modified to burn hydrogen (true you need tons of sun and panels to generate a "tank" of hydrogen, but it would be enough for an emergency backup or something or if your regenerative braking system donated its power to the hydrogen creator (also quite compact) ;)

hey a guy can dream can't he?

Just some rough estimates, one of those prevost RVs could accomodate at least 16 200W solar panels (even more on popout segments) which will generate a very healthy amount of electric to power several hydrogen generators (I would prefer to use the panels to generate and store hydrogen since the panels stop after dark and hydrogen can be used in a fuel cell/produce heat/burned in engine)

Seems to me with some of the new technoligy in gas engines (i.e. variable displacement)and some of the new materials on the market (i.e. carbon fiber), that there is a lot that can be done to improve upon rv's. Lowering the overall weight and using a more efficient powerplant could offer vast improvements. As for the solar power panels that are flexible using them in an awning isn't viable the flexable solar panels that I have seen are not intended to withstant the cyclic flexing. But here's an idea for you, laminate flexible solar panels into the curvature of the sides to the roof all the way around then no matter what direction you parked you get a charge and not just in the middle of the day like the roof mounted panels.

My Future RV would be a completely electric Diesel Pusher chassis with 4 motors mounted in the 4 rear wheel sets. It would have (3) banks of batteries. The A bank would power motors in the (front) rear wheel set. Bank B the (rear) rear wheel set and bank C would be a backup and power the A/C, lights, etc. For now, power would come from a pair of large (Onan) generators BUT the dual generator compartments would be completely modular and allow for future power sources (most likely Fuel Cell). The battery compartments would allow for easy replacements, too. The smooth roof would be completely PV which would help to 'trickle charge' the batteries. The Onan's would turn on as needed. All accessories in the unit would be electric. Not the most efficient, I know but certainly the most 'Green'. The unit could even include a fold-up wind turbine generator tower (but I'm not attached to this option yet). --> collinburnell@hotmail.com

First of all:
Its being planned right now. Last I heard a hybrid RV Similar to a Class A Diesel Pusher will be available by 2010. Looks like a really big Airstream only a pusher. Uses a tall mini-van door as the main entrance. The skin and most of the superstructure will be aluminum, with the underpinnings rails and suspension and engine drive mechanisms will be steel. And it is not an American company that has it in development.

Second: Anybody that thinks they are going to see the Hydrogen economy with fuel cells come to fruition in the next 20 to 30 years is a fool, kidding themselves, or does not understand basic economics or chemistry. Its way to expensive to produce and if you think gasoline and diesel fuel are explosive and flammable, boy watch out for hydrogen. That stuff goes off, Be place else. Its just not viable right now guys ok deal with it. Your going to be dealing with fossil fuels for a little while longer. Not saying it wont happen just not right now.

Third: Turbines Sorry BUT nope fuel consumption way to high, and dont think that reducing throttle will reduce fuel consumption. Its not a piston engine reducing the throttle by 25% on a piston will reduce fuel consumption by about 25%, BUT reducing the throttle by 25% on a turbine does not reduce fuel consumption by 25%. Flight idle on a turbine is very high compared to a piston engine. With a turbine your trading a lot of fuel for a lot of power. Noisy and VERY expensive. Anyone who thinks oh that would be the cats meow putting a turbine in a car truck SUV RV has never been around one running. Im not talking about the single engine life flight bird flying overhead. Im talking about what GE did one time making a turbine locomotive. For a block it would blow out the window of buildings near the station it pulled into and cities it went through.

Fourth Thin film solar is only about 8% efficient where as the true silicon panels are about 22% efficient. The panels are the best option. LEDS are the best interior lights for the power use.

The future is coming guys your just gonna have to be patient.

Let the 60 and 70 year old farts go to the home or take the eternal dirt nap and then it will happen.

Hybrids are a great idea ...... in stop and go traffic or where there are lots of hills, so long as the hills aren't too long. Problem is, most RV travel is on highways or rural roads where having a hybrid means you are just dragging along extra weight in batteries.

The way to go is lightweight turbodiesel powered RVs. Twenty years ago the vixen was able to get mileage approaching 30 mpg. That was with an overweight steel frame and fiberglass shell. With the advances in direct injection diesels and aluminum/composite monocoque bodies, I would think that 30+ mpg should be achievable.

I agree with the stupidity of black water sewage system. Way too much weight and mess. No matter what type of drivetrain you use, any propulsion system produces huge amounts of excess heat. This might as well be used to boil all the water out of the crap tank leaving nothing but a pile of ashe which you can use to help grow your tomatoes. That free heat source might also be put to good use distilling gray water into potable water.

I read your posting from Oct 16, 05 and am wondering if you are still interested in this area. My 2005 Gulfstream Crescendo was destroyed by fire an I am looking at replacing or rebuilding. I had equipped it with 6 roof mounted rigid solar panels and 12 deep cycle batteries connecting 2 3kw Outback Inverters. I am looking to rebuild and would appreciate your opinion on what would constitute a "doable" green conversion today.

Kind regards,

Thanks, Brad, for posting this idea of a Hybrid RV, something I've also thought of and would really like as a full-time Roadtrek traveler.

And to do that, besides the hybrid Sprinter van in Europe mentioned by an earlier poster, in Googling for "hybrid RV OR motorhome" (where this page comes up first) I have also discovered another option for getting a hybrid vehicle to be used as a motorhome: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/05/usps_introduces.html says USPS has introduced local mail delivery vans designed with hybrid technology. Buying them up used, these could be converted to a motorhome (similar to Roadtrek or other class B, but much more clunky, but maybe you could leave it as a mail truck and so onlookers would think someone is camping there). There is more discussion about this very thing there.

On the note that motorhomes (everywhere) wouldn't benefit from hybrid technology (because they spend most of their time at highway cruise speed), I beg to differ.
* First, it would seem the great great electrical power storage and generation would be wonderful -- much more elegant than the noisy and inefficient generator, lead acid batteries, and inverter/charger that motorhomes must have now. My batteries, weighing 350 lbs, certainly don't help my fuel efficiency. And it's waste running a 3000kw generator when I am only using about 100W on average average. Plus waiting hours for the lead-acid batteries to very slowly charge, and wasting fuel doing this.
* Second, while big motorhomes, due to their size and inefficiency, would likely only be used on the highways, for myself and others who have small motorhomes (I have a Roadtrek, which fits in a parking spot), I use my Roadtrek as a car -- for all my around-town & errand driving, since I am mostly traveling with it. And it is VERY expensive without regenerative breaking.


(Aside: a little bug with this blog which might stop some posters. I first entered my homepage as "www.Cytex.com" plus selected "Save my Comment Information for next time."; this produced the error "The URL of your homepage is not valid. Remember that it must be fully qualified, i.e. of the form http://example.com/directory."; however, when I corrected it to "http://www.Cytex.com" my change got ignored and replaced with the saved (even though incorrect) www.Cytex.com". I couldn't get the post to go thru until I unselected "Save my Comment Information", then corrected the URL, then previewed, then again selected "Save my Comment Information".)

Hybrid power has been around for many years and is used in 2 primary applications:
1. Unusual torque and RPM ranges that require very complex transmissions.
2. Awkward or demanding physical engine placements that require the engine to be jammed somewhere.
a new use:
3. Hybrid cars, that can scrub energy off braking and squeeze out some extra fuel efficiency, but only is effective during starting and stopping.

A train has excessive torque and very low rpms and must run across a variety of speeds - this makes diesel electric drive systems very practical, so all freight trains (and some large earth movers) are hybrids. (reason #1)

A cruise ship might have a hybrid drive, too. That way, instead of one gigantic engine directly spinning a prop (there actually are many direct drive ships, too - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W%C3%A4rtsil%C3%A4-Sulzer_RTA96-C ), several smaller engines can be jammed through out the boat - their weight distributed where needed (reason #2).

An RV has plenty of space, and there are lots of excellent engines/transmissions to pull rv's. The first two just don't apply to RV's. RV's don't do a lot of starting and stopping, mostly just highway driving, so hybrid power won't help them at all.

Look at it this way: why doesn't the US post office swap hybrid drives into their little mail trucks? And garbage/utility trucks too? Those vehicles start and stop a lot - well, they don't use hybrid drives because hybrid drives don't save money. Only some fuel. Hybrid power is really only practical when used for the first two reasons above.

Actually, the mail trucks are candidates for being all electric as batteries get better. They start and stop all the time, travel a predictable distance and go back to a base all night. They don't travel very far in the day though so they don't burn that much gas and the current cost of a hybrid is only justified if you travel a lot, with much of it in the city. The Prius also gets decent highway mileage, though it is comparable to an underpowered ICE car on the highway.

The main reason to consider hybrid for an RV was the fact they all need batteries and electric plants.

Woops your wrong.


Here are my 2 bits.

Lets get rid of that 300hp powertain and the componets needed to keep the engine cool ie. coolant, motor oil etc. This will reduce the RV's weight to approx 1/2 tonne. If we include the luxury such as fridge and microwave, let say the total weight comes to 1 tonnes.

Any high school kid can tell he has seen a bicycle performer carrying 10 adults.. which means an adult human can easily push approx 100lb x 10 = 1/2 tonne. The above engineless RV weigh about 1 tonnes needs 2 human to power it.

Problem solved. Until we hit a slope. This is another topic, though.

Imagine if you will... An eight wheel Skid steer arrangement. Use Prius rear drive assemblies, four per side. Battery bank as ballast below floor as well as grey/white reservoirs and fuel storage. Propane powered fridge, cooking, and A/C. Flexible Solar panels on top of RV and Awning. Two micro VAWT's in rear compartments with ducting feeding and leaving to supplement charging. Dual turbo diesel motors ie smart car that run on SVO or Biodiesel also modified with propane injectors for hills (propane is like nitrous to gas engines) Heat generators on exhaust manifolds (there is a product you put on woodstoves that uses the heat to produce electricity). Tip up 25' mast that can be mounted on top of RV that the VAWT's can be stacked on with lightning arrest and grounding pad/rod. LED lighting throughout. Water saver faucets and water reclamation system. Icinolet or Composting toilet. If you know what the Army cots look like imagine a collapsible version in which the sides fold back toward the center, the back is attached to the wall and the front has a fascia piece that when collapsed looks like the finish on the wall, drop down nylon loops from the ceiling support outside corners. Non Immersive HMD based entertainment system with multi output block for multiple users. Bike rack with two bikes and rechrgeable electric assist motors and collapseable trailer for bikes stored in outside side compartment. Slide outs could be incorporated. RV would be made out of composite materials and an engineered tube chasis to reduce wieght. Walls would be sprayfoamed to min 1/4 inch thickness (you trust a styrofoam cup between your legs with scalding water?) Well just my $'s worth. If you wish to discuss further feel free to email me.

This sounds like a really good idea. If the economy weren't so bad, I would say, go write up a business plan. Get some venture capital. People want Eco-Rvs

If anyone has seen the movie tank girl, how about an air shower? Is it feasable and what would the energy requirements be? As for my top posting you would need a discharge diode for excess power which converts excess power to heat which could be used to distill the greywater as was suggested above by a previous poster. Also to to clarify the skid steer would produce energy as you were turning as you are applying braking pressure on either side to turn, also remarkbly easy to drive once you get the hang of it.

These might be overkill, but for those looking for potential chassis and powertrains for a custom job, you might consider some of these:


And there are some lightweight material concepts here:


Just found this: http://coachmenrv.com/assets/pdf/news/2007-08-30-Environmentally-Friendly-RVs.pdf

A roof top tent on a Prius will get you a high MPG RV. See: http://www.cartopcamper.com

Then take it to the next level (with a pair of overload springs and hitch.) In development is a reasonably lightweight camp kitchen that mounts to a trailer hitch receiver called the HitchKitchen. See: http://www.hitchkitchen.com.

This combo should get you a 40+ mpg semi-self-contained RV.

Well, interesting topic Brad...obviously it is also a pressing matter considering crude will never be cheap again, and probably won't stop at 200 bucks a flippin barrel...Hybrid engines lack giddie up, and some truck hybros do have horse power, but lack in necessary torque to manage backweight or load hauls. RV's weigh so much, i wonder if it is feasible in the next 10 years to develop them.

So here's my 2 cents...I part own, and broker mobile luxury toilet trailers across the southwest US. I travel anywhere from Guadalajara, MX to Spokane Wa...right now I pull these trailers with a 1 ton...and ohh by the way I do use alternative fuel....bio diesel...the exhaust odor is awful, but I can refine it at about 1.90 a gallon

I am currently developing restrooms and showers on wheels, converted from an old liner I stripped...of course i want to run it on bio diesel, but the hybrid technology is quite interesting...let's wait a few years and see what happens! thanks

Dunno, I think this might do the trick from a towing standpoint:


The link below has better towing info:


Just saw this for propulsion, it could probably be adapted:


Hybrid RV powerplants sound great. But they have to be adopted by industry first I belive(comercial trucking and bussing) as the RV industry isn't big enough to get any sort of economy of scale. Current RV's are build on either heavy Bus or Truck, or light duty Van/Pick chassis. Also for many RV users it wouldn't save much gas money (even at $4 prices).

Why? Go look at a used RV. Lots of 15 year old RV's with 50k or less miles on them. The addative cost of a diesel engine (when I bought my class C it was 44k with gas and 55k with diesel) wasn't worth the extra fuel economy gained. This was before diesel had gotten totally out of hand (back when it was about the same as mid grade).

Someone suggested dumping the sink in the bathroom. I thought this way too for a long time. But many times the kitchen sink is being used for food prep, washing dishes or letting dishes dry, I don't want my kids washing dirty hands in that sink... But for some it might be fine.\

LED lights are great, as someone suggested. But they are quite pricy, especially with the number of lights in an RV. This is why you don't see much adoption of them yet. Face it, I can run the 12v lights in my RV for quite a while off of two Trojan T-105's. You see a lot of LED lights in sailboats that people have outfitted for liveaboard at anchor, as power is very scarce. Most RV's don't live where power is scarce, they plug in to a 50amp supply and away they go. Boondockers tend to be far more watt aware, but they are a much smaller segment, and usually just need enough battery to run the furance through the night, in the morning they fire up a small gennie to charges the batts while they let Mr. Coffee do his work.

RV's have lots of room for improvement but I think industry consolidation and perhaps a new player will have to take it to the next step. No RV's that I am aware of are actually Mass produced. They are made much more like a trailer. Each one is a bit of a snowflake, even things like wire routing can change from unit to unit. I think a more modular approach, with a much higher amount of automation is requried for RV's to make the next leap

While reading this blog article and comments I noticed several things:
1) there are a lot of people intrested in a product such as this
2) most are concerned with how the power will be generated, and the weight of the vehicle issue
3) other energy conserving devices

Well, as for the being interested in such a product, my wife and I will purchase something like this in the future (after we retire in 20 years or so) but we would rent one much sooner if it where available. I do not find the initial price of such a vehicle an issue because they tend to be quite costly anyways and with the price of fuel being what it is the difference will not be much when doing a lot of traveling like we will.

As for how the power will be generated and the weight of the vehicle issues, as a few posters have noted bio-diesel generators/power assist engine or an ethanol (not E85) assisting engine would most likely give the best economy. As for the wieght issue reducing or removing the black water storage via a composting device (which would produce high nutrient "dirt") would be the first step. Next would be reducing wieght by the use of carbon fiber and other composite materials. Not to mention reducing the fresh water resivoir and the grey water tank (or removing it completely)

Finally, other energy conserving devices, another poster stated that "LEDs are good, though if they had wanted to conserve power they would have gone to vibration-protected flourescents a long time ago as they are even lower power than LEDs, and cheaper." (I would like to know your source) I would have to disagree with you on this LEDs last upto 60,000 hours and it is possible to find regular shaped bulbs that work in your home that only use 1.5 watts instead of 13 watts of a CFL with increased luminecence. As for the cost issue yes they do cost about twice as much but they last twice as long as well so it all works out better in the end taking into account the energy savings involved. As for other energy saving devices there are thousands on the market that would help reduce weight and energy consumption. One other device that maybe included is a wind power generator, which tend to be more efficent than solar for its size. where as solar could be used while traveling for powering AC and possibly charging batteries if needed.

For more information on going green please see my blog at: Going Green?

Consider that the best solar cells only get about 20% or so efficiency. So, you now take that 20% of engery as electricity to heat water, which probably a 10% effient process. So, now you are looking at a 2% efficient process to heat water for a shower? You could get much higher efficiency by putting a passive solar hot water system in your RV (10% vs 2%). Also, you could tap all the wasted heat from your engine's exhuast manifold to both heat your water showering and superheat water for distilling the water and reducing sewage to steril solids -- many times more efficient that using electricity (especially from solar electricity). Passive solar water heating and reclaiming heat from the engine is much "greener" than solar cells.

As for hybrid technology, I drive a Prius. Yes. I like it. But, that does not mean the same kind of technology would work as efficiently in larger vehicles at reasonable cost. For example, the Toyota hybrid SUVs get about 2mpg better than the non-SUV models. The Prius doesn't get better milage just because of the hybrid engine. A lot of the milage improvement comes from better aerodynamics, ligher construction materials, an low friction tires. The SUVs have terrible aerodymics, have very heavy chassis, and big fat tires. You could get a lot more milage in an RV from better aerodynamics, building the chassis with lighter materials (e.g., aluminum), using air matresses instead of spring mattresses, etc. For example an aluminum chassis would cost a lot more money, but probably give better milage than a hybrid engine. Are you really willing to spend $10-20K more for a hybrid engine to get one or two mpg in a big RV?

George, your assumption that using electricity to heat water is "probably a 10% efficent process" is incorrect. Electric heating, whether you're talking about space-heating or water-heating, is in fact a 100% efficient process. (Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_heater#Environmental_and_efficiency_aspects)
This might change your analysis of PV solar vs. passive solar water heating. Your idea of using exhaust heat has a lot of possibilities for sure.

As far as whether a 1-2 MPG gain is worth the additional cost in an RV, consider the following comparison:

- A 2001 Toyota Prius cost a base price of $19,995 and had an EPA estimated fuel consumption of 41 MPG (highway).

- Compare this to a 2001 Saturn S-Series Sedan. At a base price of $11,485, EPA highway tests found this car to get as high as 40 MPG. Anecdotally, I have experience with these S-Series sedans getting right around 43 MPG on the highway. Or maybe compare to a 2001 Honda Civic DX. At a base price of $12,760, the EPA estimated fuel economy is 37 MPG highway.

Here you're looking at a very small increase in fuel economy (1-4 MPG) in something that already gets 35-40 MPG so you'll see an increase of 2.5% in the case of the Saturn (or 17% in the case of the Honda), and the cost for this improvement? ~$7500-$8500. How many miles would you have to drive at a 2.5% increase in mileage to make up this difference in initial cost? A lot.

If you're talking about an RV that only gets maybe 6 or 8 MPG to start out with though, getting 1-2 MPG better is a whole different story, as it would represent a much more substantial 12%-33% increase in fuel economy. And for "only" $10k-$20k added to a base price of, what, $75k-$1M? that might be a pretty good deal! (esp. if you were going to do much cross-country driving!)

EPA/MSRP References:

Almost all heating processes are highly efficient -- if looked at in the wrong way. Saying electrical heat is 100% efficient is very much the wrong way, because electricity has to be generated. The normal ways to generate it involving using heat -- usually 3 times as much heat as you will get out of it if you use it for heat.

With solar panels electricity is generated without heat, but the sunlight also contains lots of heat. If it is heat you want from sunshine, there are much more efficient ways to get it than to use solar panels and electric heaters.

Great ideas abounding, I must say, I do like the cut of many jibs here, something to note on the sprinter diesels is that they will only use the special low-sulfur diesel, not bio or veg oil after 2006 I think, so be aware of that...

The stirling engine is a great idea, especially if you coupled it with a magnetic suspension axle for almost zero friction...

There's a solar paint being developed, not sure of it's efficiency.

Anyone know of a way to attach and utilize banks of smaller electric motors (say 2-3 horsepower) to assist / hybridize a standard transmission engine configuration? I have access to a fair number of free ones if I could only figure out; a) a way to easily hook them into the drivetrain that wouldn't cause more problems than it solved, and b) whether that would be efficient enough to be worth doing... I'm a backyard engineer with no training for the math of that sort of thing... I can weld a little, so it's possible I'll feel crazy or po'd enough as gas prices rise again to eventually try this...

this is keeping me up way too late, is there a way to subscribe to this... lets see... must be a way to do it w/google, it does just about everything else...

Well like everyone one else here I had this brilliant idea... and in my case much longer than many of you. The 3 point summary a few posts above mine does a good job at identifying the main points of the discussion... although I have some thoughts and comments, none are really substantive. However, I do have a question.

Is anybody doing something about this? Anyone know anybody high up in the chain at an RV company?

Sorry, I misspoke... my first sentence was supposed to say "... and in my case much LATER than many of you".

I was fortunate enough to get a good deal on a View. It was almost a year old and only had 5K on it. The diesel engine gets over 17 mpg at 60 mph. As for the little vanity sink I believe it would be nicer to have a larger one, but I would not do away with it. As said above it provides for space above and below. The shower is larger than my older Ford V10 Shasta. Also the shower door is inovative. As for enough hot water, I use the 110 electric hot water heater, it keeps the water hot throughout the shower and you don't run out of hot water. I truly enjoy my 2006 View.

There are health laws requiring a toilet to have a sink nearby, but not used for food preparation. So, 2 sinks are necessary, one for food the other for toilet use.

Its all cost vs ROI, the RV builders have no incentive to vastly improve the motorhome designs and functions. The people who are spending $500k plus want all the technology but there is a limit to the actual cost vs perceived value to the customer, would I pay an extra $40k for a hybrid drive system that gets 10% better mileage,no. Like all vehicles RV's lose a tremendous amount of their value at the time of purchase, so where is the pay back in spending extra at time of purchase. I have a class A that is 5 years old and has lost most of its value even though the miles are low and the condition is very good.
The market for RV's is very low right now and those that are trying to sell are really hurting because of low resale value, its all supply and demand. Lowering operating cost and cost of ownership will bring more people into the market, but as long as the cost of RV ownership and use remains high its going to be a hard time selling them.
Fuel prices effect everyone, even the high end class A owners.

Try a Gulf Stream Montaj.They're green and have luxury amenities of any other Class A RV.They're supposed to be very livable.The gas engine kicks in when the hybrid engine runs out of power.They go about 25 mpg on gas and can be driven like a RoadTrek,SUV,or a Class C RV . Go to http://www.gulfstreamcoach.com/index.htm.

i thought of the idea that a big semi truck would deliver a load of batteries if their were lots of them and the truck had a big electric motor with a wire to the batteries would it run

I recall a story about a guy with a Dodge Ram PU with Cummins TD who was off-grid and hauled a half a bed of deep cycle batteries with him to work. in the 90 minutes each way, they charged enough to power his trailer when he got back home. There were some details like a belt-driven 120V alternator and charge controllers, high-current disconnects, securing the batteries, plugging the truck in at work to keep charging, etc.

Batteries work best when you need a little bit of power over a long period or a medium amount of power briefly and not too often. Charging shouldn't happen too fast either if you want to get a long life from the battery. Most deep cycle batteries are rated at 1/20 discharge, meaning that discharge is over 20 hours. Charging ought to be less than at a 1/10 rate. Unfortunately, people live on a planet with only 5 good hours of solar power to charge their battery and 19 hours to use it. Something has to give more and it is usually an internal combustion engine turning a generator an hour before dusk to try to get a decent charge in an under-sized battery bank.

Personal virtues of endurance and being cold while sitting in the dark only goes so far. Everyone gets wool hats and will learn night vision scanning techniques from the US Army Ranger Handbook. Ha.


Some cities are not at all friendly to DIY house improvements or safe and NEC+ electrical changes that are not "conventional", BUT zoning and codes that apply to a house for solar-electric/co-generation/backup power don't apply when done to/on/inside an RV parked on a pad.

As noted in an above post, Class-A really-big RV's are getting much less expensive as the economy gets worse and depreciation kicks in. Many of these rigs are in good shape with low miles, but take half a paycheck to tank up for a 10 hour drive.

Thanks for the link to the incinerating toilet. !800W is not a huge deal if a generator is running. I'd never pull that much power from a battery bank,even if it was possible, if I could help it. A toilet like that in a remote location that allowed much less water consumption and no sewer connection would pay for itself quickly or even make an impossible thing work. I don't like military-style field sanitation over trenches, or any of the "humanure" concepts. In a basement or bunker, it's golden.

Getting a completely legal and safe power disconnect installed in a house after the meter and before the main breaker panel is not a problem (even less of an issue if doing an upgrade to the panel). The official explanation is to allow the house to run from an auxiliary generator without back-feeding the grid during a power interruption, which is true.

The reality is that with quite a bit of care about loads, a house can run on a 3KW inverter. Not an electric clothes dryer, 240v welder, electric baseboard heat, electric hot water heat and the rest of the modern all-electric house, but the low-load stuff like lighting and computers as well as a central heating ignition and fan.

The RV is going to be the aux generator. All of the complexity of the solar panel install/charge controller/inverter/battery bank/RV gas generator that would normally cause a city inspector to demand an engineering review (to CHA) will be none of his business and not his jurisdiction because it's attached to a "vehicle", even if the RV sits on stands (tires are expensive!) for 2 decades and is not tagged for road travel.

If it's a 36'+ model, there's probably plenty of room to make an office, art studio, or guest room in addition to power generation. Isn't this what most people do with their parked RV's?

In my brief searches, I have not seen solar panel brackets that allow tilting the panels to get a little more output from the sun angle. Lots of flat roof mount systems available for RV's, though. I'd want to drop the panels flat against the roof before moving the rig, and forgetting to do this is why no manufacturer wants to sell hinged brackets like this.

People who accept Fed/State subsidy of their house grid-tied PV installs may find themselves legally restricted from removing the panels. If I was running a subsidy program, I would require repayment plus interest if the house is sold without the complete working system paid for by the taxpayer. Of course, it's a give-away program for now.

Another neat thing about putting the valuable parts of a PV/inverter system on a vehicle is that it can be moved to your next house. Unplug the RV from the house power system, pull out and show the next owner how neat it is to be able to run a generator safely away from the house (noise/exhaust, etc.) and give the key to the disconnect box.


Hybrid engines lack giddie up, and some truck hybros do have horse power, but lack in necessary torque to manage backweight or load hauls. RV's weigh so much, i wonder if it is feasible in the next 10 years to develop them.

As for the being interested in such a product, my wife and I will purchase something like this in the future (after we retire in 20 years or so) but we would rent one much sooner if it where available. I do not find the initial price of such a vehicle an issue because they tend to be quite costly anyways and with the price of fuel being what it is the difference will not be much when doing a lot of traveling like we will.

As for other energy saving devices there are thousands on the market that would help reduce weight and energy consumption. One other device that maybe included is a wind power generator, which tend to be more efficent than solar for its size. where as solar could be used while traveling for powering AC and possibly charging batteries if needed.



Here is an undersized example of a guy that added an electric motor and an extra wheel to push his first generation Insight assisting the gas engine when needed. I think this could easily be scaled to handle a motorhome.

I have been in combat robotics for years. The dc brushed motor controls I used are full h-bridges. That means that have regen built in. I took my combat robot and converted it to a self balancing scooter, aka Segway. When I tilt the scooter backwards to slow down, it regens current back into the pack automatically as a design of the motor controller, to slow down the scooter. For RV use, a joystick could be added to the dash to control the current going to the motor or push the current back into the batteries.

One comment I want to make about driving, is that the world is not flat. If you have ever owned any hybrid vehicle the instrumentation shows clearly when you are getting regen or when you are getting assist. RV's may travel long distances but the use of gravity to push power back into a pack or use power to help push the RV up a hill will have a serious benefit. Granted, RV's mostly weigh a lot, but after 30 years of driving large automobiles, most of the gas wasted is from just getting the vehicle moving from a stop. The one place an electric motor rules is at zero mph/rpm.

I have some OSMC motor controls that can handle 169 amps peak, but with heat sinks and a fan can handle lot of current for a long time. I think the OSMC and almost any electric motor geared down from about 4:1 to maybe 10:1 or so will give an RV a nice increase in starting torque from a stop. If the RV is used for long trips, then the regen or assist feature could be used the entire time while driving. I have not looked, but will be looking soon, at the bottom of as many RV's as I can fine to see how much room is available for holding a wheel and it's brackets and motor assist assembly. The big brother to the OSMC is the MC-1. The MC-1 handles 450 amps at 42v. Both are out of production, but are not that hard to find used. Any h-bridge based motor controlled with have regen as a side benefit.


PS I am going to the San Jose Fair grounds to the RV show probably Monday Oct 11th, 2010, if anyone wants to discuss this. Email me if you want to connect. mikep_95133 at yahoo.com.

If you want all that in an RV then why don't you build one yourself. The folks who convert highway coaches (expensive shells), school buses (affordable shells) and various styles of cargo trucks and vans use LEDs, tankless water heaters, solar panels, water recyling (grey water used to flush a regular RV toilet which only uses a pint or two of water) among other energy saving products. Did you know that RV appliances do not get energy rated? Anything that goes into a sticks & staples manufactured RV has to be certified for use in an RV. Most of the stuff you folks have mentioned aren't. The RV market isn't profitable enough to warrant spending the time and bucks to test for an RV. This is what was explained to me by a residential use tankless water heater manufacturer, even though the company pres, most of management and designers had their tankless water heaters in their RVs. We built our conversion with regular house type products (except the Shurflo Classic water pump and the vintage Mansfield Traveler china toilet). My residential hand held shower head doesn't drip either.

What you will find is space is at a premium in a mobile residence... ESPECIALLY if it is a Residential Vehicle as opposed to a weekend warrior type thing. Once you stick fresh, grey and black holding tanks, batteries, LP, storage for holding hoses and electrical cords, the generator and a small spot for tools & spare parts in addition to the space the engine and fuel tanks eat up, there's not much space left. And if you need a RO filter system and/or water softener, there goes more of your precious space.

So build your own. Your max usable interior floor space will be about 32 ft for a 40 ft long bus. And you end up with a better built, longer lasting RV than if you bought one. Check out skoolie dot net for lots of school bus converters.

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