Guide to RV Windows,
It's All About the Glass

Who's this article on RV windows for? It's for folks who are RV shopping, folks who are replacing a window, folks who are designing their dream camper, and anyone who has any interest at all in the most important feature of any recreational vehicle, the windows!

The nice thing about camper windows is that they can easily be swapped out for new ones. You don't have to live with the window style, tinting, or single pane glass you already have. You can choose a style you like, in a tint you like, and upgrade from single pane to double pane windows for better insulation. Several manufacturers build replacement RV windows to match the dimensions of your old windows so they'll fit perfectly.

This guide will help you make the right decision when choosing windows for your RV. We'll go over window types, single and double pane windows, tinting, and RV window manufacturers.

There are lots of choices, so in the end, how you frame that beautiful scenery, is up to you...

Window Types

Will it be fixed pane, sliding pane, awning, frameless, or egress? Let's compare each style and talk about the good and bad points of each.

Fixed Pane

Fixed Pane RV Window
Fixed Pane Picture Window

Also called stationary or solid, fixed pane RV windows do not open. They are the simplest in design and lowest in cost, but do not provide any ventilation whatsoever. A "picture window" is also a fixed pane window, only larger in size to provide a better view.

Fixed pane windows are often available in egress versions, which do open to provide an emergency exit. Most of these do not have window screens as they aren't meant to be opened for ventilation - but there are a few that do feature quick release screens which can easily be removed in an emergency.

Sliding Pane

Sliding Pane RV Window
Sliding Pane Window, Horizontal Slider

Sliding pane RV windows, as the name implies, "slide" open on one or more sides. Due to their simplicity, they are more economical than awning windows, and usually more durable.

The downsides are that they can only be opened halfway (on some models even less) and unlike awning windows, leaving them open during a rain will leave your interior wet.

Sliding pane RV windows comes in several configurations.

  • Horizontal Slider - Window pane slides horizontally, with the sliding pane on the right or left side of the window.
  • Vertical Slider - Window pane slides vertically, with the sliding pane on the top or bottom.
  • T-Slider - A combination of a fixed pane and sliding pane window, with the upper pane being fixed, while one or more sliding panes are down below.

Awning

Awning RV Window
Awning Window

There isn't a standard name for this window type, which is also known as crank, louver, jalousie, slated, and torque. What they all have in common is one or more window panes hinged at the top that open outward creating an awning. Most open by cranking a handle. Due to the more complicated design and cranking mechanism, costs are higher.

Awning windows provide ample ventilation, as the entire window can be opened. However, some models incorporate fixed panes like the one pictured here.

Enjoying some fresh air during a rain shower won't leave you soaked, as the window panes repel water away from the window opening.

In the past, awing RV windows didn't have a very good seal to keep out the cold, so they were more suited to warmer climates. Today's versions have much better seals and they're also available with double paned glass, providing even greater insulation from the cold as well as the heat.

Frameless

Frameless RV Window
Frameless RV Window

What, no frame? With a frameless RV window the only thing you'll see on the camper's exterior is glass. This gives the travel trailer, fifth wheel, or motorhome a smooth and streamlined appearance, more like an automobile. It's the new style, and it seems to be catching on.

Frameless windows have a hidden hinge on top and open outwardly from the bottom, similarly to an awning or egress window. Since the entire window opens, ventilation is excellent. Like awning windows, rain is deflected when the window is opened, allowing for fresh air even during a rainstorm. Fixed pane and egress models are available too.

Egress RV Window
Egress Window

Egress

Egress RV windows are emergency exit, or escape windows. These windows are designed to open quickly and completely, so you can high-tail it out of there in case of a fire or other emergency.

Egress windows are hinged at the top and open outward from the bottom. Quick release latches, which are painted red, secure the bottom of the window. Egress windows can be ordered in all RV window types such as fixed pane, sliding pane, awning, and frameless.

Single or Double Pane Windows?

All RV window types mentioned above can be ordered with single pane or double pane glass. It then comes down to how much you want to spend, and how "close" you want to be to mother nature, whatever she happens to throw your way.

Single Pane Windows

Single pane windows in your travel trailer or motorhome offer a few advantages. For one, they are less expensive. Another plus is you'll be more connected to the outdoors. A single pane lets more of natures music in...babbling brooks, birdsong, and gentle breezes can be more readily heard. On the flipside, if that tune is road noise, high winds, or every whisper from the campsite next door, it may not be music to your ears.

A single pane camper window permits more cold or heat to sneak into your RV living space. These windows work well in moderate climates, but in cold weather a single pane doesn't provide much insulation, making your heater work double time. In hot weather, your air conditioner will work harder to keep the temperature down.

Due to the lack of insulation on single pane windows, condensation can be more of a problem. Cold glass in a confined space where humidity can build quickly creates an ideal environment for condensation to form. If it's cold outside you may have to wipe down the windows every so often just to see out of them.

Double Pane Windows

Double pane RV windows offer superior insulation from cold, heat, wind, and sound. Reduced condensation is another plus. Just as you would dress in layers to stay warm these windows hold an insulating pocket of air between two layers of glass.

Double pane windows cost more than single pane windows initially, but you'll save money later when heating and cooling your motorhome, travel trailer, or fifth wheel.

Another advantage is security. Smashing through two panes of glass will be more difficult than one. It will take a bit more determination for mischief makers to break through a double pane glass window.   

Window Tinting

Tinted RV Window
Tinted RV Window

In the past, all camper windows had clear glass. Today, tinted windows are commonplace on all types of RVs. You'll find varying degrees of tint as well as different shades of tint such as grey, bronze, green, and a reflective mirror tint often seen on frameless RV windows.

Why tint your camper windows? Tinted windows block much of the sun's heat from entering your RV, and they provide protection from UV rays that can fade and deteriorate your furniture. Darker tints block more light and heat. But go too dark and you'll have a tough time viewing the scenery.

Tinted windows will keep your camper cooler, which is great for hot summer camping, but not so great when camping in cold weather. Tinting greatly reduces any warmth provided by the sun.

Tinted windows are more difficult to see through, from both the inside and the outside. During the day, it is more difficult to see in from the outside, providing you some indoor privacy.

An alternative to window tinting is simply to use your window shades to block the sun's heat and provide privacy. Heavy window shades will block out a great deal of the sun's heat, and better insulate your camper from cold too. Other cooling options include putting out your awning to shade the windows and wall underneath, individual window awnings, or Carefree SunShades, which block the heat from the sun but still allow you to see outside.

RV Glass Glossary

When viewing product literature on RV windows, it's good to know the lingo, before deciding on a wingo...or window (Pardon the corniness. I was raised in Iowa!)

Clamp Ring: Refers to how the window is mounted. A clamp ring window has a one-piece outer window frame fastened to an interior trim ring. Mounting screws are on the inside, leaving a smooth appearance on the outside. Most all RV windows are clamp ring mounted, except for motorhome windshields.

Egress Window: An emergency escape window. This window is hinged on top and opens fully for quick exits.

Insulated Window: A double pane window.

Laminated Glass: Commonly used in automobile and motorhome windshields, laminated glass is a safety glass that holds together when broken. It has a tough interlayer sandwiched between two or more layers of glass. This interlayer is bonded tightly to the glass, holding it together.

Radius Frame: A window frame with rounded corners. There are both radius frame and square frame RV windows.

Safety Glass: Glass that is designed to minimize bodily injury when broken. This includes tempered glass and laminated glass.

Tempered Glass: Also called toughened glass, this safety glass has been strengthened using heat or chemicals. When broken, it crumbles into small chunks, reducing the potential to cause injury. This is the most common type of glass used in RV windows, with the exception of front windshields on motorhomes, which use laminated glass.

RV Window Manufacturers

  • All-Rite - All-Rite offers a wide variety of custom sized RV windows, as well as many other RV parts. On their website you'll find an online form where you can get a free quote on new windows.
  • Atwood - Atwood has been making camper windows for more than 30 years. They have an online form to get instant pricing on replacement RV windows.
  • Clear Vision - Clear vision has been making windows for specialty vehicles since 2003. They offer a full line of RV and bus windows, including frameless models.
  • Hehr - I've got a 1984 Fleetwood fifth wheel with Hehr windows, so I know they've been around for a while...actually since 1946. Hehr offers all window types, including several frameless all glass models.
  • Kinro - Kinro has over 30 years experience making RV windows. They have all window types, frameless too.
  • Motion Windows - Motion Windows builds custom windows for motorhomes, travel trailers, bus conversions, and Sprinter camper vans.

Handy Window Accessories

Here's some accessories for your RV windows that are worth taking a look at. The links will take you to Amazon where you can get more information on these products.

SunShades by Carefree
These window shades are mounted on your RV's exterior and block the sun's heat while still allowing you to view the scenery. They provide better shade and cooling than window awnings, as the entire window is covered.
Window Maxx Louvered Vent by Maxxair
Provides ventilation for sliding windows, even in the rain. Fits windows up to 33" tall and still allows you to completely open and close the window.
Door Window Cover Sunshield by Camco
Don't forget about the window on your door. This cover will block much of the sun's heat and provide insulation on those cool nights. It offers more privacy too.
RV Window Thermometer by Kleertemp
Clings to your window and gives you the outside temperature. Big numbers make it easy to read.
SunShield Reflective Window Cover by Camco
This portable window cover will cool down your camper and protect your furnishings from UV rays.

Related Articles

Awning RV Windows
They don't make 'em like this anymore...awning windows on my old Fleetwood fifth wheel

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