Types Of RV Stabilizer JacksAnthony Day
If you are planning on RV camping, then you should get familiarized with stabilizer jacks, as there are various types available for recreational vehicles.
As the RV industry continues to expand, we are seeing improved technology introduced to these vehicles - with new types of stabilizer jacks hitting the market. However, you may find that one type of stabilizer jack is going to suit you and your RV needs better than another.
There are two primary classifications for RV stabilizer jacks: manual and automatic. Manual RV stabilizers are usually either scissor jacks or tripod jacks. Whereas automatic RV stabilizers utilize either a hydraulic or electric system.
The RV camping season is on the horizon, which means that it is time to start getting geared up for your next trip. If you are new to traveling in an RV, then it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of components and functions that are attached to these vehicles. You have to consider that an RV is much more dynamic than a regular car and if you want to enjoy yourself on the road, it would be wise to get as acquainted with your vehicle before you go camping. An important aspect of this is learning about stabilizing jacks, as these are a critical component of your RV. However, the old traditional stabilizing jacks that were once standard on every camper are becoming less common these days. The RV industry has modernized itself, which is why there are various types of stabilizing jacks on the market, which are designed to make life on the road more practical. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at the different types of RV stabilizer jacks.
After extensively researching RV stabilizing jacks, I have been able to gather enough information to determine the different types that you can use on a camper. My research has shown me that although RV stabilizer jacks vary in design, their function is universally the same for all classifications.
What Are RV Stabilizer Jacks?
RV stabilizers are jacks that you install onto your camper once you have fully parked and leveled your vehicle. However, a lot of modern campers come with RV stabilizer jacks pre-installed for ease of use. These jacks are connected to the frame of your RV and make contact with the ground.
Leveling Blocks Vs Stabilizing Jacks
When you park your RV camper, you need to always go through a leveling process to ensure that your vehicle is secure. This is a standard procedure that must be done with every RV and you need to utilize leveling blocks and stabilizing jacks to get the job done properly.
Although leveling blocks and stabilizing jacks tend to go hand-in-hand, their actual functions are quite different from one another. Leveling your RV is going to be critical and your leveling blocks are what enable your vehicle to reach an optimal balance for the area that you are parking in.
As you park your vehicle in a prime camping spot, you need to evaluate the terrain of the area. Ideally, the area should be as flat as possible, which is especially easy to find when you are parking at official campgrounds - making the leveling process a lot easier. However, that is not always the case, as campsites can vary, and sometimes that means that you have to park on an uneven surface.
That is where your leveling blocks come in. Your leveling blocks can be placed underneath your tires and tongue jack so that you can find an optimum balance for your site and camper. Leveling blocks are stacked on top of one another based on the surface that you are parking in. You can then make adjustments with your leveling blocks as needed until you find the ideal balance.
Stabilizing jacks, on the other hand, are not used for leveling out your vehicle. It is a common misconception that stabilizing jacks are part of the leveling process but in actuality, they are what you install once the vehicle is already balanced. Much like the name implies, stabilizing jacks are intended to keep your vehicle stable.
When newbie RVers first hit the road, one of the biggest mistakes that they make is thinking that they can rely on their stabilizing jacks to support the weight of their vehicle - falsely associating these components with leveling. This results in stabilizing jacks, quite literally, cracking under pressure and breaking, which is why you want to use your stabilizers appropriately.
How Are Stabilizing Jacks Used?
Stabilizing jacks are essential components of your RV. After you have parked your RV and made it level using leveling blocks and your tongue jack, you can install your stabilizing jacks.
Stabilizing jacks are installed onto each side of your frame so that your vehicle can stay stable while you are camping. What you will find is that without stabilizing jacks, your RV camper is going to rock around quite a bit - especially when you are moving inside of it. This can cause strain on your camper and even potentially pose some safety risks.
By dropping down your stabilizing jacks, you are adding additional support to your camper and ensuring that it does not move. Aside from securing the integrity of your RV, your stabilizing jacks are also going to make camping a lot more comfortable. Instead of feeling your RV shift whenever you move around in it, you will feel totally secure and content in your vehicle.
Although stabilizing jacks work independently from your leveling system, they do help support your RV staying level when camping. If you have leveled your RV properly, then you should not encounter issues with it sliding around too much. However, if you are camping on a poor surface or find that you move around a lot in your RV, then stabilizing jacks are going to assist your vehicle in staying level by keeping it firmly on the ground.
Automatic Vs Manual Stabilizing Jacks
RV technology in the modern age is becoming much more advanced and practical, which is great for any traveler that wants to minimize the amount of manual labor involved in camping. These days, so many of the manual tasks that required tools and physical strength, can now be achieved with the push of a button - making RV camping easier than ever.
We have seen this take place with a lot of new model RV campers that have automatic stabilizing jacks. Once you have made your vehicle level, all you need to do is press a button inside of your RV and each of your stabilizing jacks will drop. This makes the process of parking your camper considerably more efficient and takes away a major hassle of RV travel.
Automatic RV stabilizing jacks are powered electronically but they may still vary in the type of mechanism that enables stabilization. Although these are popular with a lot of RV travelers, they are considerably more expensive to install, which is why a lot of folks prefer to have manual stabilizing jacks when on the road.
Manual stabilizing jacks perform the exact same function but they require a bit more effort from your end. You will need to have your stabilizing jacks handy when on the road, which you can install using a crank or drill. As you extend your manual stabilizing jacks, you want to crank them out until you feel a firm grip on the ground, but not too much as they are not designed to support the full weight of your camper and merely add stability.
Common Types of Camper and RV Stabilizing Jacks
With the RV industry continuing to grow, we are seeing more and more stabilizing jacks come on the scene. This is great given that each RV traveler can choose a type of stabilizing jack that suits their camping style. Let’s dive into the different types of camper and RV stabilizing jacks.
One of the most common types of stabilizing jacks that you see these days is scissor jacks. These rely on a mechanism that extends and retracts similar to a pair of scissors - hence the name.
Once you have found an ideal spot to park and have begun installing your scissor jacks, you must attach a crank to the jack so that it can extend and add stabilization to your RV camper. These are a particularly popular option with a lot of RV travelers given how easy they are to use and install.
Although they are manual, scissor jacks can be installed in minutes. A few simple cranks and your RV is set. Scissor jacks are also very dependable, as their design and alloy steel material make them reliable for long-term use. In addition, a lot of people prefer scissor jacks over most other manual options given that they are a great value and are priced very well.
A great innovation within stabilizer jack technology has been the implementation of hydraulic jacks on a lot of modern RV campers. These utilize a hydraulic system that is powered automatically to stabilize your camper.
Once you are parked and leveled, you can extend your hydraulic jacks, which are generally powered by a system located on the outside of your camper. When you open up the panel for your hydraulic stabilizers, you will see the hoses that are wired to your jacks.
All you need to do is flip a simple switch and your hydraulic stabilizer jacks will start to extend. The way this system normally works is that a single jack will first make contact to test the level of the camper, which will then be followed by the rest of the jacks.
As the next jacks reach the ground surface, the entire system will work together to find the optimum level of pressure and balance for your camper. Although this kind of system is considerably pricier than a manual scissor jack, it does make RV camping a whole lot easier.
Electric jacks are another great form of automatic stabilizers that can be found in a lot of modern campers. These have become a standard on a lot of the new RVs being released, as they make camping so much more practical.
The electric stabilizer jacks are connected underneath your camper and you can trigger them by flipping a switch on the side of your RV. As you flip the switch, the stabilizer jacks extend and make contact with the ground.
Much like with hydraulic stabilizer jacks, generally, one side of the jack system will drop down first to test the ground. Once the first jack has made contact the second one will follow suit and stabilize your RV fully. If there is ever a scenario where the system is not responding adequately to the environment or simply due to a glitch, you can take out the crank rod that comes with the stabilizer jack so that you can easily drop it down manually.
These are incredibly innovative and intuitive - taking a lot of the painstaking manual labor out of camping. The design is durable and the alloy steel system makes this a very rugged stabilizer jack that can take a beating.
A tripod jack is a manual stabilizer that is commonly used on Fifth Wheel campers. You position the tripod jack on the front end of your camper to add better stability to the camper. These are used in combination with a stabilizer jack system that you have on your RV.
You attach the tripod jack to your camper trailer and then drop down each leg of the tripod to get an optimal level of stabilization. As the tripod stabilizer jack hangs, you can extend each leg individually by adjusting the key mechanism.
Pull out the leg to the appropriate level where you have firm contact with the ground and then lock the tripod stabilizer jack in place. These have a habit of getting weathered faster than stabilizer jacks located underneath your RV camper given that they are left without cover, which is why you may need to spray the mechanisms with WD-40 from time to time.
You can repeat the procedure for each of the tripod stabilizer legs. Although the tripod jack is manual, getting your RV camper stabilized with this kind of system is very intuitive. The mechanism can be operated by virtually anyone and there is not a lot of brute force required to get the system in place - simply extend, fasten, and lock it.
Most Durable Stabilizing Jack
There are a lot of different types of stabilizing jacks out there, which can make choosing the best one for you rather difficult. The design that you choose for your stabilizing jacks should really be left up to personal preference, one thing that should be synonymous with every option that you consider is durability.
Although stabilizing jacks are not designed to support the full weight of your RV camper, they are going to need to withstand a good amount of weight - especially if you want to get as many years out of them as possible.
A key component of this comes from the material that the stabilizing jack is made out of. If you want the reassurance of durability when picking out your RV camper, you should always try to get a tough material like alloy steel. This is a very hard metal that will not let you down. If you take care of your stabilizer jacks, you can make them last a lifetime.
Alloy steel stabilizer jacks can be found in virtually every type of jack on the market. We have found that some tripod stabilizer jacks are less durable than others but this is generally due to how they are intended to be used - as a backup stabilizer jack on the front of Fifth Wheel campers.
With that being said, if you want durability that lasts, you need to take care of your stabilizer jacks. The most important thing that you need to do is avoid adding too much weight to the jack. These are designed as a support system - not as a leveling mechanism, which means that if you put the full weight of your camper on these jacks, they will break.
Regardless of which jack you end up getting, make sure that when you drop them down, you are not over-cranking. This can result in considerably more weight being added than needed, which will eventually lead to it breaking - no matter how durable the material is. Lastly, never unlevel your camper before retracting your stabilizer jacks, as this is the number one cause of these components breaking early.
Where to Put a Stabilizing Jack
When it comes to installing your stabilizer jacks, you are probably going to be working in the same spot each time - especially if you have got an automatic system. Your stabilizer jacks should be installed near each corner of your camper.
All you need to do is find an ideal point underneath your camper and get your stabilizer jack in position to be mounted and installed. You can then begin tightening the jack in place with whatever kind of system you have in place. The exception to this would be a tripod stabilizer jack that gets mounted on the front end of the camper.
About THE AUTHOR
Hi, my name is Anthony, and RVs are what I'm passionate about. I bought my first RV when I was 21, and I've been hooked ever since. I'll guide you on how they work, how they can be used in different environments, and how they fit into our everyday lives.Read More About Anthony Day