The pages listed here can be viewed from the buttons to the right or from the top menu drop-down list. Following is a brief description of each modification, including an explanation of why this modification is useful to you. As an avid RVer for 20 years, and an aerospace technician and engineer for 46 years, be assured that every modification was accomplished using top-quality tools, parts, and installation techniques. As my wife would say, "Is it airworthy?" As mentioned on the cover page, this RV is priced higher than the general market value for similar models of the same year to cover some of the cost of these extensive upgrades, but at a fraction of the actual material cost of the upgrades. This translates to real value for you.
Winegard DirecTV Trav'ler: This automatic satellite antenna is the only RV satellite antenna compatible with DIRECTV HD programming. Built tough, this fully automatic, one button on/off antenna features the unique ability to receive programming from more than one satellite at a time. Any program can be watched on any TV at any time which is nice for families or RVs equipped with multiple TVs where simultaneous television viewing is desired. Now compatible with enhanced DVR capabilities. DIRECTV HD receiver and programming package required for HD viewing, sold separately. Bring your DirecTV HD or SD receiver or DVR from home, plug it in to the supplied cables in the lounge entertainment center, and watch all your favorite programming and recorded shows just like you were home. This antenna is the RV satellite antenna for RVs that provides all of this capability for DirecTV. There is even an HDMI switch to send the programming to either the lounge TV or the patio TV (but not both at the same time). [Estimated material cost $1,700]
Bedroom Storage and Sleep Number Mattress: This RV comes with an upgraded Sleep Number R5 Mattress and bed platform modifications. Whether it's enjoying the open road or a day of sightseeing, feeling well rested is important to your life on the road. The Sleep Number® R5 bed adjusts on each side to give you and your partner individualized comfort, for the deep, restful sleep you both deserve. The installed whole-house inverter powers the Sleep Number control unit, allowing you to inflate/deflate the mattress when not connected to campground power. A high-end Sleep Number warming blanket is also include for those brisk evenings, all with hidden wiring, and powered by the inverter to take the chill off before hitting the sack when boondocking. See the additional information at the link provided for improvements to the bed platform, including a hidden two-layer storage compartment under the bed platform and additional storage shelves in the wardrobe. [Estimate material cost $2,100]
Solar / Inverter / DC Power System / 120 VAC Power System: The installed system includes a 340 watt permanently roof-mounted solar panel, a top-quality MPPT solar controller with remote battery monitoring, a 2000 watt sine wave inverter that will power most any appliance you can plug into a standard 120 VAC 15 Amp outlet, and two maintenance free, deep cycle, 225 Amp-Hour AGM 6-volt batteries (225 Amp-hour total capacity at 12 VDC). Also upgraded is the battery charger / converter, with a high-performance 45 amp Xantrex 3-stage charger with remote control/display. The pass-through storage mounted mechanical battery cut-off switch has been replaced with a remote control electronic battery switch, whose control switch is conveniently located in the Grand Design installed Convenience Center just inside the main entry door. If your this RV is stored outdoors in full sunlight, you will never begin an RV trip with dead batteries, and the solar can supply adequate DC power for modest use throughout the day when not connected to campground power. [Estimated material cost $3,000]
On the 120 VAC side, a Progressive Dynamics 50 Amp Energy Management System has been permanently installed to protect the RV electronics and systems from power surges, over-voltage, and under-voltage events. Other upgrades to the 120 VAC power system include relocation of the 50 Amp campground power inlet port to the rear of the trailer, closer to most campground power pedestals, and a dedicated 15 Amp connector on the rear of the trailer dedicated to power just the battery charger from a smaller portable generator. While the Grand Design trailers have an abundance of 120 VAC power outlets, there never seems to be enough. To that end, several additional outlets have been installed for appliances like the Sleep Number Bed, entertainment/computer equipment, pass-through storage, and rear exterior locations. [Estimated material cost $800]
HVAC Modifications: Grand Design (and many other manufactures) install one or more Dometic Brisk series air conditioners in their RVs. These newer Dometic AC units utilize an "improved" Capacitive Touch (CT) control digital thermostat to manage both air conditioner cooling temperatures as well as LP furnace heating temperatures. My personal experience with these thermostats is that they are temperamental to operate (erratic controls) and do not maintain the cool or heat set temperature well. In an effort to improve the furnace response, and due to the poor location by GD of the Dometic digital thermostat on the hutch wall above the furnace, I installed an additional Honeywell analog thermostat on the side of the galley island and connected it to the furnace in lieu of the furnace control wires from the AC unit control board (see wiring diagram). The relocation solved the problem of heat soaking from the furnace residual heat. Air conditioner control is also improved by using the Honeywell analog thermostat to control the AC temperature setting. See the page at the HVAC link if you are interested in the technical details of this modification. If you are not into those details, just be assured that both the furnace and AC units maintain a much more comfortable environment after the completion of this modification.
Mounted between the thermostats is a La Crosse V10-TH Weather Station which monitors indoor temperature and 2 Remote Sensors for outdoor and refrigerator (or wherever you want to put them). The temperature and humidity parameters can be remotely monitored with a smart-phone app if the RV has a WiFi hot-spot installed. Great for monitoring the refrigerator temperatures or the inside temperatures for the fur-babies when you are away.
Finally, the MaxxFan that was installed in the lounge (with wired remote control) was moved to the bathroom to replace the factory basic fan which was difficult for vertically challenged persons to operate. A new MaxxFan 4500K with wireless remote and rain sensor was installed in the lounge. [Estimated total HVAC material cost $430]
Micro-Air EasyStart: Both Dometic Air Conditioner units have been upgrade with the Micro-Air EasyStart air conditioner Soft Starter. EasyStart can deliver 65-75% start current reduction as compared to an unmodified air conditioner. EasyStart is the perfect solution that allows an air conditioner compressor to operate on a generator or limited utility power (20-30 Amp campground power) when it would otherwise not have functioned. Under some conditions, it is possible to operate two AC unis from a 30 Amp campground power pedestal. [Estimated material cost $540]
Dinette / Couch Swap: Having a 2018 Grand Design 297RSTS travel trailer, I have always fraught with the seating space with the free-standing dinette. I believe this issue is common in many RVs, not just the Grand Designs. At 6' 2", there is just not enough room for two people to sit comfortably at the table, much less for 4 people, as intended by GD. During a recent camping trip, I was looking at the interior and got out a tape measure and found that I was able to swap the L.H. side dinette and rear couch positions, providing a larger dinette area. In addition to the larger seating area, we can now install a longer table. A 55" x 24" table (even a 72" x 24" would fit) allows 4 to sit at the sides of the table in real comfort. Furthermore, because the dinette table is now on a flat floor, a 5th person can sit at the end of the table. Viewing the TV from the L.H. side of the table is excellent, and the dinette now has a terrific view out the large rear panoramic window instead of the neighbor's patio, which is a deal-breaker for some RV shoppers. An additional 120 VAC outlet (with dual USB charging ports) and two additional USB charging ports offer accessible power for electronics, cooking appliances, or Janet's sewing machine. The table and chairs are easily secured for travel with the supplied moving blanket and bungee cords. If this change is not for you, we can easily swap the couch and dinette back to the original configuration, but I think you will simply love this configuration. Also included is a matching bonded leather cross stitch ottoman with internal storage space. [Estimated material cost $275]
Blue Ox Sway Pro Hitch: Included with the purchase of this travel trailer is the Blue Ox SwayPro weight-distributing hitch. In reading the reviews, the hitch seemed to be a solid solution, especially in regards to sway control. I have towed over 3,400 miles with this hitch, and I believe that the Blue Ox SwayPro hitch is one of the best on the market, especially for the reasonable investment. I have never experienced any excessive sway or pitching and the trailer pulls true and level. Note that the included Sway Pro hitch comes with a 2-1/2" shank (the part that slides into the truck's receiver). Most newer heavy duty trucks are equipped with these 2-1/2" receivers (Class V), but some older trucks may have a 2" receiver. If the buyer of this RV has a 2" receiver, the seller will work with you in getting the hitch set up for the 2" receiver. etrailer.com has a terrific video review of the Blue Ox Sway Pro. [Estimated material cost $645]
Water System: It's a little thing, until it isn't. Grand Design trailers are typically delivered with two water pump control switches (wired like 3-way light switches), one in the Convenience Center in the lounge and one in the pass-through storage area in the Nautilus Panel. But what if you are in the bathroom and need to turn on the water pump? I borrowed the water pump wiring design from Winnebago motor homes, which use a water pump electronic control module that can be controlled from any number of switches located anywhere in or around the RV. The simple press of any of the momentary switches toggles the water pump from ON to OFF or vice-versa.
A water accumulator tank has also been installed to reduce pump cycling, smooths water faucet pulses, and provides a cup or two of water without cycling the pump.
The bathroom sink faucet (which did not have enough reach to wash under) was replaced with a matching Delta long-reach residential faucet with a swivel head. Now the water flows to the center of the sink, instead of the back side of the bowl.
A Culligan EZ-Change Undersink Drinking Water Filtration System with matching single handle drinking water faucet was installed in the galley island for convenient safe drinking water.
[Estimated water system material cost $330]
Goodyear Endurance Trailer Tires: Nothing is more important to your family's safety when RVing that the trailer tires. That's why i upgraded from the OEM imported tires to the US made Goodyear Endurance ST225/75-15 Trailer Tires from Discount Tire. These tires have a Speed Rating "N" (87 MPH) and Load Index "117" (2833 lbs each), providing plenty of reserve capacity for the Grand Design 297RSTS travel trailer. The Goodyear Endurance is a durable trailer tire that provides towing stability, heat resistance, and high load carrying capacity for trailers, toy haulers, and RVs. It features a tough internal construction and specialized inner liner for load stability and resistance to air loss. The hardworking Goodyear Endurance has Durawall® technology for resistance to cuts and punctures. Whether it’s for work or play, the Goodyear Endurance trailer tire is designed so you can tow with confidence. [Actual cost installed $698]