Caravan abbreviations, acronyms and jargon... explained!

Caravan abbreviations, acronyms and jargon... explained!

Hobbyists love jargon, and caravanners, camper van and motorhome owners and enthusiasts are no exception!

Acronyms, abbreviations, slang terms and phrases – it can be a minefield.

But fear not, because here’s a definitive list of the above, decoded and made sense of… so, time to swot up!

12-volt DC A caravan or motorhome’s electrical system. 12-volt direct current is supplied by on board batteries for lights, fridge, stereo, water pumps and other equipment.
240AC Electricity supply which you receive when on a hook up; the same as the power you receive at home.
ABS Either anti-lock braking system, or acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (a type of plastic used in the exteriors of some caravans).
A-class A motorhome where the cab and living area have integrated bodywork.
A-frame Area of chassis which sits between the main body of a caravan, and the hitch.
Aire de Service Often just “Aire” – these are motorhome and caravan service areas found in France, permitting 1-2 days stay, often with fresh water and waste disposal.
ALW Stands for “actual laden weight” – the combined weight of a caravan and its contents when being towed.
Auxiliary battery Another name for a leisure battery; the 12V battery which powers your 12-Volt DC supply.
B&E UK driving license category, relating to the towing of a caravan.
Base vehicle Refers to the vehicle upon which a camper van or motorhome has been based.
Berth The number of people a caravan or motorhome can accommodate, e.g. 2 berth, 3 berth, 4 berth.
Black water Polite term for toilet waste.
Blown air Caravan heating system where warm air is distributed throughout the cabin by a fan via ducting.
BTU Stands for “British thermal Unit” – the quantity of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Caravan equipment is sometimes rated in BTUs.
Captain’s chair In motorhome terms, a driver/passenger seat which swivels to face the living area.
CC The Caravan Club.
CC&C The Camping & Caravanning Club.
CDP Chemical disposal point; area of a caravan site where waste water, including toilet waste, can be disposed of.
CL Certified Location; caravan sites limited to 5 caravans or motorhomes, for exclusive use of Caravan Club members.
CRiS Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme.
CS Certificated Site; smaller campsites for the exclusive use of The Camping & Caravanning Club members.
Dinghy Colloquial term for the vehicle you tow behind a large motorhome.
Disco Nickname for Land Rover Discovery, a popular tow car amongst caravanners.
Drop plate Adjustable fixture which enables lowering of the tow ball to improve compatibility with a caravan’s hitch height.
EHU Simply stands for “electric hook up”.
ELCB Earth leakage circuit breaker.
Elsan point Another name for chemical disposal point; area of a caravan site where waste water, including toilet waste, can be disposed of.
ESC Electronic stability control.
ESP Electronic stability programme.
Farside Equal to offside; the side of the caravan opposite the entrance door.
Grey water Waste water from a caravan or motorhomes sinks and showers; not toilet waste.
GRP Glass reinforced plastic, a material used in the outer shell of many caravans.
GVW Gross vehicle weight.
Hitch Another name for a caravan coupling head; used to attach a caravan to the towbar of a car.
Hook-up Electricity supply point on a caravan or motorhome site pitch.
Inverter Converts 12-volt direct current to 240-volt alternating current, allowing use of TVs, phone chargers etc. via your caravan or motorhome’s leisure/auxiliary battery.
Jockey wheel The small wheel attached to a caravan A-frame, used to stabilise the caravan once it has been unhitched (but before the corner steadies have set).
Kerb weight The total weight of a tow car without luggage or passengers.
Leisure battery Another name for an auxiliary battery; the 12V battery which powers your 12-Volt DC supply.
Levelling Act of levelling a caravan on a pitch (necessary for water/waste water connections to be made).
LPG Liquefied petroleum gas; available in two types – propane and butane.
MAM Stands for “maximum authorised mass” – the maximum towing weight for a caravan, when fully laden with luggage and other belongings.
MAW “Maximum authorised weight” – as above.
MCB Miniature circuit breaker.
MiRO Stands for “mass in running order” – the weight of a caravan minus any added weight of belongings or luggage.
MTPLM “Maximum technically permissible laden mass” – what a mouthful! See MAM or MAW.
NCC National Caravan Council.
Nearside Opposite of farside, or the entrance door side of a caravan.
Noseweight The weight exerted on a car’s towbar/ball by a caravan’s hitch.
Optional equipment payload Or “OEP” – weight in addition to the “MiRO” of a caravan through manufacturer added additional fixtures and fittings.
Outfit Term used to describe a caravan and tow car pairing.
PDI “Pre-delivery inspection” – checks a brand new caravan undergoes before being delivered to a customer.
Pigtail Curly breakaway cable attachment found on some towbars.
Pitch The area of a caravan site allocated to an individual caravan, camper van or motorhome.
Rangie Nickname for Range Rover, a popular tow car amongst caravanners.
RCD Residual current device, or residual current circuit breaker – a device which instantly breaks an electric circuit to prevent serious harm from an ongoing electric shock.
RV Largely US-term, stands for “recreational vehicle” – typically refers to a larger model motorhome.
Snaking Snaking (zigzagging) of a caravan while towing, often caused by high wind, or excess speed. Often scary, good to learn how best to counter it, should it occur.
Static vertical load Or “SVL” – the weight exerted on a car’s towbar/ball by a caravan’s hitch.
Subfloor Basement floor of a motorhome; storage space below the main floor area.
Sway Less pronounced “snaking” of a caravan on tow.
Toad Colloquial term for the vehicle you tow behind a large motorhome.
Torque Basically the “grunt” created by a tow car – often higher in diesel tow cars than petrol ones.
Tug Colloquial term for a tow car.
Twin axle A feature of longer or heavier caravans; two sets of wheels positioned closely together on each side, rather than a single wheel on each side (single axle).
Unit A generic term used by caravan sites/parks to refer to any caravan, motorhome, camper van, etc. – for example, “capacity of 100 units”.
Unladen weight Same as the “MiRO” – the weight of a caravan minus any added weight of belongings or luggage.
User payload Basically, the weight of your belongings!
VIN “Vehicle identification number” – a unique number which can be used to identify a caravan, used in HPI and CRiS checks.
Weighbridge Usually a council operated facility which can be used to weigh vehicles and trailers.
Yaw Somewhere between “snaking” and “sway” – see above.
Zig unit Control panel brand name, now largely synonymous with any generic control panel – see “hoover” and “vacuum cleaner” for another example.

And there you have it! You might have 72 problems, but a caravan acronym or abbreviation won’t be one!

Got another term, abbreviation or acronym which you’re unsure of, or often see misrepresented or otherwise misunderstood? Leave a comment below!

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