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Determine the weight and payload of your motorhome

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It is very common to be overloaded with a motorhome. No wonder, since the manufacturers often irresponsibly provide for little available payload. Nevertheless, in the end you are the victim if you violate the traffic regulations or even impair your driving safety. So that this doesn't happen to you, you should Payload of your motorhome know exactly. Best you calculate this before you buy your motorhome. This article will teach you how to do it. You also get the right tool for calculating the motorhome weight.

The load problem

Many new motorhomes are being offered in the 3.5t class. That is only logical, because most interested parties only have a normal car driver's license up to 3.5t.

Why the 3.5t class of motorhomes is becoming more and more important

In the past, motorhome manufacturers could still rely on their target group being in Germany with a driving license class 3 was allowed to move up to 7.5t. In Austria and the Switzerland However, the B driving license has always been limited to 3.5 tons, and the uniform ones have been in place in Germany since 1999 EU driving licenses forgive. This means that in Germany the youngest owners of class B driving licenses (up to 3.5t) have already passed their mid-thirties and are therefore clearly part of the target group of manufacturers.

Why the 3.5t class offers many advantages

If it were only about the driver's license, the problem could be easily fixed. But vehicles heavier than 3.5t have to reckon with disadvantages, for example in Austria:

  • Go-Box instead of vignette (often higher, kilometer-dependent toll costs)
  • Speed ​​limits
  • Overtaking bans

RVs are well motorized these days and cruising speeds of 120km / h are not a problem. But that would not be allowed anywhere in Europe over 3.5t.

Driving bans for motorhomes over 3.5t?

Incidentally, driving bans do not necessarily apply to motorhomes over 3.5t.

In Austria, trucks are vehicles for the transport of goods, and cars are vehicles for the transport of people. A motorhome over 3.5t is therefore only covered by a driving ban if this generally applies from 3.5t, but not by a driving ban for trucks from 3.5t. For the toll, a motorhome is still considered a truck and needs the go-box on the motorway.

3.5t motorhomes are often unrealistic

It is therefore all the more astonishing that a large number of motorhomes with 3.5t approval are thrown on the market, but have by far no realistic payload reserves.

A motorhome with a ready-to-drive weight of 3.3 tons for 6 people? It does exist, but it cannot work. The ready-to-drive weight usually contains (depending on the manufacturer) fuel, the driver and a few liters of water. We assume a total of 140kg for the passenger and two children, then there are now 60kg left. If you actually take two additional people with you, you have to travel without luggage and you are probably still overloaded. Four people can consume 60kg in one fell swoop, e.g. with a realistic amount of drinking water, two bicycles with a carrier or even just a motorcycle stage (without a motorcycle). There is no longer any space for clothing, groceries, everyday items and camping furniture.

It is important to remember that you can only trust the weight that the manufacturer certifies for you to a limited extent. You have to be charged for the weight including extras when purchasing, but this information may differ by 5%. 5% means a lot in this weight class. That can be the difference between usable and unrealistic usable camping vehicle.

Empty tanks, then everything is ok?

A trader is now arguing that you should drive with empty water tanks and waste water tanks. You could refill at the campsite at the destination.

Well, past reality again. For this usage scenario, one is more likely to buy a caravan than a motorhome. A motorhome is meant for self-sufficient travel. On a Greek island there is not even a supply and disposal point everywhere. Especially not where you might find your place to stay. So you have to keep water in the tank - and even if it is only 5km from a water point to the parking space, then that is not legal either.

Nor can you simply empty the waste water tank before departure. Where should the gray water go before you start moving?

Of course, you can also go on holiday with the motorhome at the campsite, no question about it. And if you've only planned that, it is certainly justifiable to fill up with water on site (and thus save fuel on the journey). Moving in a species-appropriate manner, you may take a few days to get there and make a few stops. And then you also need water in the tank. For a pure camping holiday, I don't know why you need a 120l water tank if you already find sanitary buildings. Motorhomes with 120l tanks are clearly designed for self-sufficient use and must also be allowed to be moved (legally) with a full tank.

Take axle loads into account

Not only the total weight is important. Also the Distribution of weight in the vehicle (and thus on the axles) is relevant. You can find the axle loads intended for your vehicle in your vehicle documents. If you exceed it, this can be objected to during controls, even if the total weight is in the frame remains.

But the axle loads are not just a legal requirement. In the interest of you own security you should pay attention to the distribution of the load:

If you load an axle too much, this can lead to damage. But it is precisely the load on the rear axle that can also relieve the load on the front axle through leverage. This is also not conducive to safe driving behavior and can lead to traction problems. If you plan to transport heavy objects at the rear, you should definitely consider the axle load.

Load the motorhome?

Anyone who has perhaps bought a motorhome with a gross vehicle weight of 3.3 t can add up to 3.5 t. This is usually possible with little effort.

It can make sense to rely on a reinforced chassis. At Fiat, this is available under the name "Maxi" or "Heavy", for example. Although the “light” chassis can now also handle 3500kg, the “heavy” chassis has larger axle load reserves and is better prepared for a possible increase in load. In return, the heavy version is 40kg heavier, which reduces the total payload.

However, if the motorhome is already registered for 3.5 t, the need for a C driving license is also required when the vehicle is charged (exception: old class 3 driving licenses in Germany). You can find out more about charging at Kawalife.

Motorhome overloaded?

Many motorhome drivers expect a certain tolerance from the authorities, but this is not necessarily the case. There may be a 5% tolerance in Germany, but in other countries there is sometimes no tolerance at all. If you want to get through carefree on a longer trip through several countries, you should stick to the loading limit.

Weigh the vehicle

This article is primarily about calculating the estimated weight of a new motorhome. The manufacturers, however, allow themselves a 5% tolerance in terms of weight. It is to be hoped that these are seldom exhausted, as this would of course destroy the most beautiful calculation.

You can be sure that you are moving within limits by weighing your vehicle. The first way after you've bought a motorhome should be on a scale so that you know exactly the possible payload. The best thing to do is to weigh your motorhome again before you go on holiday, when you have packed exactly the way you want to be on the road.

Check on the weighbridge

A calibrated weighbridge allows simple and precise control. Many municipalities offer such scales in commercial yards, and you can also find what you are looking for in companies, garbage dumps, gravel works, etc.

Checking the weight of your motorhome at home

However, if you want to save yourself the trip to the weighbridge, the following caravan scale is an option for weighing at home. It is important that you stand as straight as possible on the scales, and not with swing on the raised scales. This distorts the results and probably explains the negative reviews.

Reich 22670 camping equipment, standard
  • The total weight of the vehicle can be checked on site with the caravan and motorhome scales. Determine the vertical load of the left and right side weights.
  • Safety and driving behavior are optimally guaranteed.
  • Handy format. Battery operated, 3x1.5V micro batteries (not included). The version for 1500kg is also suitable for tandem axles. Temperature range 0-50 ° C.
  • very easy to use - recommended by our customers
  • Dimensions (LxW): 36x7cm, color: orange, total weight max .: 1500kg

Calculation of the necessary payload of your motorhome

In order to calculate your estimated total weight to the best of our knowledge and belief, we have developed a structured method:

  1. Set your Target value (Example: 3500kg. However, the principle is the same if you have a class 3 driver's license and therefore 7500kg is your personal limit)
  2. Determine the possibilities of the vehicle
    • Weight in roadworthy condition do research
    • Manufacturer-specific definition of the ready-to-drive condition do research
    • Empty weight to calculate
  3. Extras and research and calculate their weight
  4. The total weight of the passengerspeople to calculate
  5. Weight of the required charge to calculate

This allows you to also use RVs and panel vans objectively compare different manufacturers. We eliminate disruptive factors, such as the different calculation of the "weight when ready to drive". Of course, we are always dependent on the correctness of the information provided by the manufacturer.

Weight in running order

RV manufacturers meanwhile indicate the “weight in running order”. The idea is praiseworthy in itself, because at least no curb weight is given, but the weight of the vehicle included

  • Standard equipment
  • 75kg for the driver
  • water
  • fuel
  • A gas bottle
  • A cable drum

The problem with this is that manufacturers indicate different amounts. For example, Knaus has filled water tanks, but Pössl only has 20 liters of water. Of course, this makes comparing vehicles difficult. In addition, the standard weights are not very helpful if you deviate from them in reality.

  • A 100kg driver is nothing like a 75kg standard driver.
  • A self-sufficient camper does not start with a 20l standard filling
  • If you are out and about in winter, you may need two gas bottles instead of one

Calculation sheet

So that you don't have to calculate comparable values ​​manually, we have prepared a free Excel document. With this you make sure that you do not forget any important factor and that your chosen motorhome is actually suitable for you and your requirements.

You can get the calculation sheet here.

Instructions for calculation

Did you receive the calculation sheet? Great, then it goes on!

(If you encountered any problems, please leave a comment below or send us an email!).

Sample calculation (comparison of three motorhomes)

The calculation sheet opens with a Sample calculation.

I have compared three vehicles with my special requirements. I need a lot of sports equipment:

  • Two mountain bikes
  • 3 surfboards, 7 sails, etc.

On the one hand, I am comparing the Pössl Roadstar 600L Revolution and the Roadcruiser Revolution, which might allow me to store the sports equipment inside the vehicle. On the other hand, the R640 road car is on the shortlist.

The Pössl variants are heavier because of their fold-down bed, but with the roadcar, the luggage would have to be distributed over the rear rack and roof rack. This in turn requires beams with a corresponding additional weight, which would not be necessary with the Pössl models.

Which model is more suitable for my requirements is only shown by an exact calculation of all weights.

With "New calculation" you get to an empty worksheet. Alternatively, you can of course also modify the existing calculation.

Enter target weight

First enter your target weight in cell B8 (e.g. 3500kg for driver's license B holders)!

Enter vehicle models

You can compare three vehicles with each other. Enter this in line 10. You can also enter the desired motorization in line 11.

Find and enter weight in running order

Now it's time to research. Best of all, you load up

  • Manufacturer-Catalog as
  • Manufacturer-Price list

from the Internet. You may also have received these documents from the dealer. There you will now find the “weight in running order” for your desired model variant and engine. You enter this in line 12.

Research the manufacturer's definition and enter correction factors

Next we want to calculate the curb weight based on the weight in running order. For this we need the Definition of the weight in running order for the respective manufacturer. You can find this in the Fine print in the manufacturer's documents.

Depending on the information there, you are now wearing negative correction amounts in lines 13 to 17 a. Pössl, for example, indicates 20 liters of water when it is ready to drive, so you enter "-20".

The calculation sheet automatically outputs the calculated empty weight in line 18.

Extras and options

Next you have to enter all extras that you want to select in column A.

If you want to compare several motorhomes with each other, you should configure extras as equally important as possible. If a manufacturer offers a 120 liter fuel tank, but the comparable manufacturer does not, then you should limit yourself to a 90 liter tank. Otherwise, your first comparison will necessarily be more difficult, which in this case is not an objective comparison.

It gets complicated when you intentionally compare different vehicles. For example, you might want to compare a short box van that requires a heavy wheel carrier with a larger box van where you can stow your bikes inside. Then you must of course not include a wheel carrier with the long version. With the short version, however, since you won't be using it without a wheel carrier.

For the extras, you will find weight information in the manufacturer's documents. You now enter these in the corresponding columns.

Insert your own extras in the calculation sheet

If you are lacking options, you have two options:

  • You can easily find options in the calculation sheet that you do not need replace and rename
  • You can have options Addby simply new lines insert

Think about motorhome extras

Tanks: Different manufacturers offer different tank sizes, both for fuel and for water and waste water tanks. It is of course up to you how much you fill up for the trip. Not being able to refuel legally is not ideal, however. To be able to compare different motorhomes, it makes sense to choose the smallest common tank. However, you have to keep that in mind when making the final selection: If you finally order a model with a larger tank, you have to think again whether you will actually be able to fill up with it.

water: How much water do you want to travel with? Freestanding users need more, campsite holidaymakers less. If you compare vehicles with different tank capacities, it makes sense to limit yourself to the same (lowest) value for all vehicles. This is for comparability. But remember here too that by filling up you could possibly exceed the permissible total weight.

gas: You can save weight on gas if you have a compressor refrigerator. Then you only need the gas for heating and cooking. In the summer you can probably get by with a 5kg bottle for weeks. You can further reduce the gas requirement with a diesel heater. Then you don't need a large gas supply in winter either.


Finally, you need to consider all of the RV accessories that you need for a successful trip. Laptops, camping furniture, kitchen supplies, books, clothing, food add up to a considerable weight, which should not be omitted in the calculation. You enter these weights in the lower part of the worksheet.

The result will be most accurate if you weigh all the items you want to take with you with household scales or a personal or luggage scale.You can find our weighing list here.

Result of the weight calculation

At the bottom of the worksheet you can now see your result: Green means the weight is within limits. Red means you are no longer legally traveling.

Save weight in the motorhome

You can find some tips for saving weight in the motorhome here.

However, these are optimizations that can usually no longer save a bad buy.


Calculating the total weight of your motorhome in advance is extremely important in order to avoid a bad buy. With the calculation sheet you won't forget anything and you have a tool to objectively compare different motorhomes in terms of weight.

Gerfried was already there when he was three in his parents' mobile home. The camping fever has not left him since then.

With over three decades of camping experience, he reports on motorhome trips on the WoMoGuide, tests camping products and writes advice articles for newcomers to motorhomes and experienced motorhome travelers.

He and his wife Olya prefer to travel to windsurfing spots in the south of Europe and the undiscovered spots of the Balkans, but he has also taken Italy, France and Spain into his heart. More about the WoMoGuide team.

Last update on 05/18/2021 / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API