7 RV Slide Out Mechanism Types for Maximized Space

RV slide outs revolutionize RV living with increased space and comfort. Types include rack and pinion, cable-driven, Schwintek, power gear, hydraulic, and manual/electric systems.

Camping in motor home in State Park campground. C class, cab over motor home with slide outs. Clamping. No People.

Imagine an RV that feels like a true home on wheels, complete with spacious living areas, a well-equipped kitchen, and comfortable sleeping quarters.

Sounds ideal, right? This is exactly what modern RV slide outs offer.

These ingenious inventions have revolutionized the recreational vehicle world by effectively increasing usable space, offering more comfort, and improving the overall RV experience.

Before we dive into the different types of RV slide outs, it’s important to understand what exactly an RV slide-out is.

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Simply put, an RV slide out, also known as a slide, pop out, or bump out, is a section of your RV that extends and retracts to increase the available living area.

There are several different types of slide-out systems, each with its own set of characteristics, benefits, and use cases. Let’s delve into each of them:

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Rack and Pinion System (Electric Through-Frame Slide Out)

The rack and pinion system is one of the oldest and most common types of RV slide-outs. This electrically driven system works by having pinions move over the teeth on a rack, extending the floor.

They are most commonly used with an electric motor, not hydraulic systems.

Benefits and Use Cases

The rack and pinion system is popular because it can create a flush floor on the inside of the RV, allowing for more efficient use of space.

Plus, being floor flush capable and more wall flush than cable slides allows for taller ceilings since the mechanism doesn’t have to be hidden inside the RV wall.

However, it does require regular lubrication to function correctly and is heavier than other systems.

Cable-Driven Slide Outs

v utilize a lightweight cable pulley system that allows for larger, heavier slide outs compared to other electrically driven systems.

They consist of cables and pulleys that pull the slide in and out, making them incredibly efficient.

Benefits and Use Cases

Cable slides are excellent for big, heavy, deep slides. They are extremely reliable and boast some of the best service records in the industry.

Even though they are the most expensive slide out system available, their ability to support large loads and resist corrosion make them worth the investment.

Schwintek Slide Out System

The Schwintek slide out system works by using worm gears and rails mounted on the top and bottom of the sides of the slide out to roll the slide in and out.

It’s an above-floor slide, freeing up some extra space inside the RV. However, it’s worth noting that this system is not floor flush capable.

Benefits and Use Cases

Schwintek slides are relatively inexpensive systems designed to support low loads and shallow slides like closets or sofas.

They are self-aligning, which is a great advantage if they’re bumped out of place. However, they may struggle with deeper slides and extra weight.

Power Gear Slides

Power gear slides are electric motor-driven slides known for their speed.

They’re lightweight, very close to wall flush, and ideal for slides that would be too heavy for Schwintek systems to support.

Benefits and Use Cases

Even though power gear slides are less common, they are perfect for situations where quick and efficient operation is necessary.

Their near-wall flush capability makes them ideal for creating a streamlined and seamless interior layout.

Hydraulic Slide Out Systems

Hydraulic slide out systems are typically used in large, heavy slides that hold things like kitchens and living rooms.

A motor-driven hydraulic pump uses hydraulic fluid to drive rams that push the slides out and in, with the direction controlled by a combination of valves.

Benefits and Use Cases

Hydraulic slides move faster than their electric counterparts and are less expensive if you have more than one slide out because the system only requires one motor.

However, they are more complex, and parts of the system can fail due to excessive heat or wear.

Manual or Electric RV Slides

Manual or electric slides refer to the method used to extend and retract the slide outs. Manual slides require physical effort to move in and out, while electric slides operate at the push of a button.

The choice between manual and electric often comes down to personal preference and budget constraints.

Benefits and Use Cases

While electric slides offer convenience and ease of use, manual slides can be a cheaper option and less prone to mechanical failures.

Therefore, they might be a good choice for those who prefer a hands-on approach and wish to save on costs.

FAQs about RV Slide Outs

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Now that you know the different types of RV slide outs, let’s answer some frequently asked questions:

What type of RV slide is best?

The “best” type of RV slide largely depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget.

Each system has its pros and cons, so it’s essential to consider factors such as the size, weight, and intended use of the slide out before making a decision.

What is a Schwintek slide?

A Schwintek slide is a type of RV slide out system that uses worm gears and rails to roll the slide in and out.

It’s an above-floor slide, meaning it doesn’t interfere with the main deck area, and is best suited for shallow slides like closets or sofas.

What is the difference between electric and hydraulic slide outs?

The main difference between electric and hydraulic slide outs is the mechanism used to move the slide outs.

Electric slide outs use an electric motor to drive a slide gear or cable, while hydraulic slide outs use a motor-driven hydraulic pump and fluid to push the slides out and in.

Electric systems are usually less complicated and less expensive, but hydraulic systems can handle larger, heavier slides and often operate more quickly.

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