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RV’s come in many different shapes and sizes ranging from huge and luxurious to tiny and minimalist. The size and class of RV you pick will depend on your wants and needs as well as where you want to go with it.
So, what are the average RV length, width, and height? The average size of a motorhome will depend on what class it is. All RV’s will be under 8.5 feet wide since this is the allowable interstate limit.
- Class A Motorhome
- 33 feet long
- 13.5 feet high.
- Class B Motorhome
- 20 feet long
- 8 feet high
- Class C Motorhome
- 28 feet long
- 10 feet high
Now, these are just averages for the different classes of RVs. You’ll want to know exactly how big your RV is so you can be confident while driving. Below, I’ll go into more detail the difference between the classes of motorhomes, how to measure your rig and what you should know about the length, width, height, and weight of your motorhome.
As you get more immersed in the world of RVing you’ll hear the terms Class A, Class B and Class C thrown around. For newbies, these terms may be confusing but once you get the hang of the lingo it’s crystal clear. But to keep you on your toes, a Class A typically the largest style of RV, then a Class C and a Class B is the smallest.
The type and size of RV will really depend on what type of travel you plan on doing, where you want to go and if you will be full time or not (learn why I love full time RVing) (learn why I love full time RVing) (learn why I love full time RVing) (learn why I love full time RVing) (learn why I love full time RVing) (learn why I love full time RVing). Many people start off with one style of RV then either upsize or downsize depending on how it fits their needs.
If you aren’t sure about how much space you need its a great idea to rent out a few different sizes for a week or two. This will help you decide if you can hack living with your loved ones in 200 square feet. You may be surprised at how little space you actually need.
Class A RV
A Class A is a large bus style motorhome with a flat front and is built on an RV specific chassis. Class A’s have a lot going for them in terms of comfort and storage. They are considered the more luxurious and high-end RV and come with a ton of different options in terms of layout and features.
Unfortunately, all these features come at a price; Class A’s are the most expensive class of RV. New ones can easily cost more than a brick and mortar house coming in at well over $100,000.
Maintenance is another expensive issue. Large vehicles, like RVs, cannot be serviced at many garages so you will likely have to pay a higher hourly fee to be serviced by either an RV specific mechanic or by a commercial truck mechanic. Before purchasing your RV call around to find out where you can take your rig for service and make sure you take to the mechanics directly. We’ve taken our small Class A to be serviced at a few places only to be told they couldn’t actually do the work even though we had confirmed with the garage and made an appointment.
Almost all modern Class A’s are equipped with slides. Slides are bonus space that literally slides out of the side or back of your RV substantially increasing the amount of living space. A slide can expand your entire kitchen or allow your room to walk around the queen-sized bed in your bedroom. Adding an extra foot or two to the width of your RV may not seem like much but when you go from 8 feet wide to 10 feet wide, it makes a huge difference.
Now it might seem intimidating to drive a large vehicle like a Class A but overall they easier to drive than expected due to the great visibility you have with the massive front windshield. To help you mount the daunting task of learning to drive an RV, check out my article The Top 15 Tips for Driving an RV.
The downside to Class A’s is they are basically a box on wheels. They are not required to be crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) whereas other motorhomes are. Class A’s also suffer from terrible fuel economy, ranging from 8-10 mpg.
Pros and Cons of a Class A
- Spacious interiors with lots of living space
- Slides for extra room
- Loads of storage
- Plenty of options and luxury features available
- Comfortable for long drives
- Expensive to purchase and maintain
- Poor fuel economy
- Not crash-tested
- Difficult to park due to size
Class B RV
A Class B is a smaller van style RV usually utilizing a panel van chassis with a high roof, commonly known as camper vans. Newer Class Bs are typically built on the Ford Transit, Dodge Promaster or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis.
These are the safest of the motorhome styles since they are fully contained within a commercial vehicle body. Class B’s have standard safety features like airbags and have to meet crash test ratings.
But the drawback is they are much smaller. This is both a positive and a negative. A smaller size means less living space, which works well for a single person or a couple but more than 2 bodies gets pretty tight. The upside is you can basically go anywhere with your RV and fit in a standard parking space.
You’d think that a Class B RV would be substantially cheaper since they are so much smaller and while they are cheaper than a Class A, a new unit will start at $70,000. But they do benefit from the best fuel economy of any of the drivable RV, around 18-20mpg.
There is another subclass of RV, the Class B+ this is a larger campervan that tends to be more luxurious and has added features like slides. Slides will make a small RV feel so much bigger and more livable.
Pros and Cons of a Class B
- Easy to drive
- Good fuel economy (for an RV)
- More reasonable than a Class A
- Safest motorhome
- Small living space
- Expensive for less space
- Less available storage
Class C RV
A Class C uses a truck or van chassis with an adapted wide body and is usually recognizable by the over-the-cab bed. Visibility in a Class C will be similar to driving a van since the cab is directly from one, usually a Ford E series. You won’t have the expansive view a Class A and you might feel a bit of tunnel vision due to the overhang from the bed.
Class C’s are subject to the NHTSA crash safety testing since the cab is right off a standard assembly line. Class C’s will be safer for the driver and front passenger than a Class A but the rear passengers will have the same risks since the body is added to the chassis by the RV manufacturer.
Class C’s are actually the least expensive of the RV classes starting off around $60,000 for a new model. They are still packed full of features and frequently include slide outs.
These RVs will probably sleep the most people of any of the RV classes due to the distinct over the cab bed. But you’ll probably want to save this space for the smaller people in your troupe since there usually isn’t much headroom.
If you have one of the larger Class Cs you’ll likely run into similar issues as the Class As in terms of maintenance and finding someone able to work on your rig. Fortunately, they are mostly built on a Ford E series cab so parts should be relatively easy to come by. Fuel efficiency will be better than a Class A but not as good as a Class B. It’ll depend on the size of your Class C but they tend to average 10-15mpg.
Pros and Cons of a Class C
- Least expensive to purchase
- Large living space
- Plenty of storage and sleeping space
- Expensive for maintenance
- Poor visibility
- Difficult to park
On the open road, the length of your RV will probably be the least of your worries. But once you start exploring national parks and looking for campgrounds, the length of your rig plays an important role.
Class A’s are the longest ranging from 25′ up to 45′. Class C’s are in the middle ranging from 21′ up to 40′. Class Bs are the smallest and can range from 17′ up to 23′.
Almost all states have a length restriction for how large your motorhome can be to drive on the roads. Maximum restrictions are between 40′ and 45′ in length while a few states have no restriction at all.
The following states all have a 40′ maximum length restriction: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, DC, Florida, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, Washington. All other states have a 45′ limit or above. At the end of this article, you’ll find a table of all states and their maximum size restrictions. In Canada, the federal legislation allows motorhomes up to 45′ (14m) on roadways.
Note: Please keep in mind laws and restrictions are subject to change and you should confirm the allowable length with your local jurisdiction.
If you plan on camping at any National Parks you should know that not all parks can accommodate large motorhomes. In fact, the national park average maximum restriction is 27′.
In National Parks, the average Class A motorhome, 33′ long, will fit in 73% of campgrounds, the average Class B, 20′ long, will fit in 93% of campgrounds and the average Class C, 28′ long will fit in 84% of campgrounds. Camper Report has put together a handy list of all the National Park campgrounds and the size of RV they can fit.
Some roads within the National Parks and National Forests also have length restrictions. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in California has multiple roads that limit the length of vehicles permitted to 22′. The Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park has a length limit of 21′.
Width is a little more straight forward than length since almost all federal interstates have a maximum width of 8’6″. So, in theory, an RV should not exceed this limit. For most states, the width restriction does not include your side mirrors or exterior safety features. Canada has a similar maximum width restriction as well.
Delaware, New York, Tennessee, and West Virginia all have a maximum width of only 8ft but the restriction excludes your side mirrors or other safety equipment. DC and Texas also have a maximum of 8ft, however, these two states do not have the mirror exclusion. Meaning your rig and its mirrors must be less than 8ft. At the end of this article, you’ll find a table of all states and their maximum size restrictions.
Now, these are just the maximum widths on interstates, smaller mountain roads may have smaller maximums due to tunnels and narrow lanes. One such road is the Iron Mountain Road, also known as Hwy 16A, in the Blackhills National Forest. This is a very windy road with some very narrow tunnels. The smallest tunnel is 13’5″ wide, that’s total width!
Another road to avoid in the Blackhills is the appropriately named Needles Highway, or state HWY 87. This highway has even narrower tunnels with the largest being 11’4″ wide and the smallest being 9′ wide! Definitely a road more suited to a small car versus a motorhome.
The height restriction for all states and Canada is at least 13’6″. Some states are even higher than this. When you are cruising along the interstate you shouldn’t have to worry about height issues, although occasionally you may need to use a different lane, these will be well posted.
Off the interstate is another story. Nothing is worse than the pit in your stomach feeling as you approach a low bridge and you look at each and think… will we fit?! You will want to know exactly how tall your RV is including any antennas, vents or airconditioning units.
The average height of a Class A is 13’6″, the average height of a Class B is 8′ high, and the average of a Class C is 10′ high.
Your RV manufacturer may include the height of your vehicle in its specs but pay close attention if that includes your A/C unit or antennas. Knowing the book specification for height isn’t so useful if you lose your air conditioner to a bridge.
If you approach a bridge that has a restriction suspiciously close to the height of your vehicle, err on the side of caution and find a different route. You never know how many times the road has been repaved and that 13’6″ clearance has been whittled away to 13′.
Tunnels are another thing to be aware of. I mentioned earlier the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road in the Blackhills National Forest. Well, the tunnels in these are also low as well as narrow. The shortest tunnel on the Needles Highway is 10’10” and the shortest on Iron Mountain Road is 12’4″.
Now it’s highly unlikely your RV will exceed any maximum weight restrictions while on major roads but from a safety perspective, it’s important to know how heavy your motorhome is.
The RV manufacturers provide a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) for every vehicle produced. This is the maximum operating weight of the vehicle and includes everything from cargo and passengers to engine oil and windshield washer fluid. Exceeding this weight is extremely dangerous since the structure of the vehicle, the brakes, and other safety features were designed and manufactured to work with this maximum weight. You are also at a much higher risk of a tire blow out if your rig is overweight.
Learn more in our article Why RV Tires Blow Out and How to Prevent It.
You can find your GVWR on the same informational plate as your tire pressure. Ours was stuck to the wall next to the driver, but due to age actually peeled off. Other vehicles have them on the inside of the driver’s door.
Another number that is important to know is your Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR). The GAWR will tell you what the maximum load each axle is rated for and help you to distribute the load properly.
The next step will be to get your RV weighed. It’s a good idea to weigh your RV both empty and fully loaded. This will help you get an idea of how you should distribute your load and also how much all the fixtures in your rig actually weigh. For your empty weigh I would make sure your fuel, propane and water tanks are filled. These are non-negotiable loads so you want to count them from the get go.
If you want to be ultra conservative have your fresh, grey, and black water tanks full. It’s unlikely you’ll be traveling with all three tanks full at the same time but it is a worst case scenario.
Many large truck stops have scales available for use. Some are free while others charge a fee, around $12 is typical. You’ll want to find one that can give you your RVs total weight as well as the weight of each axel. If you don’t have a truck stop nearby try calling local moving companies, gravel pit companies or any place that uses large trucks. They will either have one or know of somewhere you can get your RV weighed. You can also check out CATscale.com to find a scale near you.
Once you have your empty weight, its time to load up the RV. Put in EVERYTHING you would NORMALLY travel with. This includes food, clothes and obviously passengers including the furry ones. If you travel with a bike rack or storage rack then install them and load em up too.
Hopefully, you’ll be well under your GVWR and your GAWR, then you’ll be good to hit the road. If you are above your GAWR then you will need to redistribute your load by swapping lighter items with heavier ones.
If you are above your GVWR or even a little bit close to it then you will definitely need to unload some of your equipment. Once you’ve redistributed and removed some cargo you should get weighed again so you have peace of mind that your RV is at a safe weight.
How to Measure Your RV
I’ve talked a lot so far about why you should know the size of your RV and how to find the weight now I’ll go into the basics of measuring your RV. I’m sure it seems fairly straightforward but there are few tricks I’ve found if I need to measure my RV by myself.
To start with you will need to gather your supplies and ideally park your RV on a level surface. You want a level surface since you will be up on the roof to get your total height measurement and it’s much safer if your RV is level to start with.
Your supply list is fairly simple though you might need a few extra items if you’re doing your measurements by yourself.
- tape measure (make sure it’s long enough)
- long straight board
You can start with any measurement you choose but I decided to start with the length of the RV. I was also doing my measurements on my own.
Measure the Length
I lined my board up with the front bumper and marked a chalk line on the ground. Then I lined the board up with the rear bumper and marked another chalk line. I took my tape measure and measured between the two lines. Of course, make note of this number.
If you have any extra equipment on the back like a storage rack or bike rack now is the time to measure it. Start at the bumper and measure to the end extra equipment, if needed use the same trick with the board you can mark a line at the end and measure between the two lines. Now you can add up the two numbers to find out the total length of your RV.
Measure the Width
Next, the width, you’ll want to measure the width of the body of your RV as well as how far out your mirrors protrude. Follow the same method as before, make two marks using the boards at the widest point, likely the front or rear bumper. Measure between these two points and write it down. Then measure from the body to edge of the side mirrors. If you have any other equipment that may stick out past your mirrors then measure that as well.
If you have any slides it’s handy to know how far these stick out. This is useful when finding a campsite. If you know how wide you are when fully set up then you know how to position your rig best at a campground and not have to reposition due to a large, shady tree.
Measure the Height
Measuring the height gets a bit trickier especially if you are doing your measuring by yourself. I found it was easiest if I grabbed a hunk of wood or a rock to weight the end of my tape measure. I’m sure there are other ways but this is the one that worked for me!
Secure your weight to the end of your tape measure then carefully climb onto the roof of your RV, this is one reason it is very important to be parked on a flat surface. Once up there you’ll get nice and close to the edge and lower the weighted end of your tape measure off the side of the RV.
I lay on my stomach looking over the edge since I’m not a fan of heights and it helped me see when the tape measure hit the ground and to see the exact measurement. Once you have this number make note of it and you can reel in your tape measure and back away from the precipice.
Now, survey all the items on your roof. Find which one sticks up the most when everything is fully retracted. In our case this is our radio antenna but since this is sort of flexible I’m going to measure it as well as our air conditioner since this is the next highest thing.
Measure your tallest feature and make note of its height. Now you can carefully make your way off the roof of your RV. Once back on solid ground add together the height of your RV your rooftop unit and you’ll have the total clearance needed for your RV.
Now that you have all the important dimensions of your RV write these down clearly on a piece of paper and stick it to the dash. Putting it in a place that is easy for both the driver and the passenger to see will keep you from guess if your rig will actually fit.
- RV tire pressure monitors (Amazon) are an inexpensive and simple way to check your tire pressure quickly during your daily walk around. Make sure to buy ones that show the right tire pressure for your tires.
- Portable Air Compressor (Amazon) a real lifesaver when the nearest service station is an unknown distance away. This one is perfect for RVs can reach over 100 psi and can even be directly connected to your battery
Size Restrictions for Motorhomes by State
|Connecticut||40’||8’6” *||13’6” *|
|Iowa||45’||8’6” *||13’6” *|
|Minnesota||45’ *||8’6” **||13’6”|
|Nevada||Not Specified||8’6” *||14’|
|New Hampshire||45’||8’6” *||13’6”|
|New Jersey||45’||8’6” *||13’6”|
|New Mexico||45’||8’6” *||13’6”|
|New York||40’||8’ *||13’6”|
|North Dakota||50’ ***||8’6” *||14’|
|Ohio||45’ ****||8’6” **||13’6”|
|Rhode Island||45’||8’6” ***||13’6”|
|South Carolina||45’||8’6” *||13’6”|
|South Dakota||45’||8’6” *||14’|
|Tennessee||Not Specified||8’ *||13’6”|
|Washington||40’ ***||8’6” ******||13’6”|
|West Virginia||45’||8’ ***||13’6”|
*excluding mirrors and safety equipment, and appurtenances up to 6 inches
**excluding appurtenances, equipment up to 3 inches, turn signals, handholds, splash and spray suppressant devices, load-induced tire bulge, retracted RV awnings, AC power outlets and exhaust fans
***excluding appurtenances up to width of rear view mirrors or safety equipment
****excluding mirrors, safety equipment, carrying devices, and loading equipment up to 24 inches beyond the rear
*****excluding safety equipment, retracted RV awnings up to 8 inches, and appurtenances up to 4 inches
******excluding appurtenances up to 4 inches