Innovation Fuels Lippert Products Debuts

Innovation Fuels Lippert Products Debuts

Jarod Lippert wearing a light blue plaid button up shirt and slacks smiles while standing alongside a OneControl display showing the wealth of functions the device now controls
Jarod Lippert, Chief Marketing Officer for Lippert, alongside the company’s OneControl display showing the wealth of functions the device now controls.
The RV supplier giant introduced a number of unique components prior to the 2023 Elkhart RV Open House
By Bruce Hampson

nyone who’s been involved in RVing for any length of time is familiar with the Lippert family of products. As the largest supplier to the RV industry, Lippert’s impact on the travel trailer and fifth wheel markets is measured in “average product content per unit” — and, for 2022, that number came in at an amazing $6,090. And that was in a year that tailed off sharply near year’s end as the industry began “right-siding” annual production after record COVID-fueled sales.

But that’s just on the manufacturer level. Not as well-known, perhaps, is the strength of Lippert in the aftermarket. While the Elkhart, Indiana-based company is involved in industries as diverse as building products, marine, commercial vehicles, automotive and even hospitality — Lippert is the leading manufacturer of premium mattresses — it’s extensive rollcall of RV brands includes CURT (hitches), Furrion (appliances), Duncan systems (windshields), Girard (awnings), HappiJac (bed-lifting mechanisms), Luverne (grille guards), Solera (fabric solutions), Thomas Payne (furniture) and a lot more.

Not surprisingly, Lippert also is the industry leader in product development, committing huge resources to research and development, going so far as to establish a Lippert Corporate Innovation Team to create OEM and aftermarket products for the RV and marine industries. And, among its executive team you’ll find a senior vice president of aftermarket engineering and product development, a vice president of innovation, a chief technology officer and others.

interior view of Lippert’s Elkhart, Ind., headquarters, in the center of the room a specially outfitted Lippert chassis is fitted with many of the company’s latest products
Inside Lippert’s Elkhart, Ind., headquarters, where a specially outfitted Lippert chassis was fitted with many of the company’s latest products.

What’s all this mean? For RV owners, it’s simple: better and more intuitive products designed to enhance your camping experience. In fact, just prior to late September’s Elkhart RV Open House Week — the industry’s largest trade show — RV Enthusiast visited the new Lippert headquarters, where Lippert Chief Marketing Officer Jarod Lippert showed us what the company’s been working on. Nearly a dozen new products — from flush-fit baggage doors and windows to new takes on fifth wheel pin boxes, suspensions and toy hauler ramp doors — were on display. Some, like the company’s Integrated Parking Brake, seem to be simplicity itself (tensioning a pad against a wheel), while others such as the new Chill Cube HE RV rooftop air-conditioner by Lippert’s Furrion division, are designed to optimize camping comfort.

What makes this year’s crop of new products especially noteworthy is their aesthetics; Lippert designers and engineers didn’t just improve product performance, they refined the appearance of the component in many instances.

Here then, in no particular order, is an array of Lippert new products that will begin appearing on 2024 RVs that definitely will score highly in innovation.

  • Helux™ Coil Spring 5th Wheel Pin Boxes

Few aspects of fifth-wheel towing are more aggravating than the inevitable “chucking” between the fifth wheel hitch and pin box. Manufacturers — including Lippert — have tried to dampen this through the addition of rubber isolators and even air bags and shocks, with limited success.

the CURT Helux Coil Spring 5th Wheel Pin Box demonstrated on a bright red chassis
The combination of redesigned coil springs and a shock absorber, said Jarod Lippert, “has given us a lot more dampening properties.” Initial testing during extended evaluation on the rough roads at the Navistar Proving Grounds in New Carlisle, Ind., said Lippert, yielded impressive results. “We’re still getting back the actual numbers,” he said, “but the ‘feel’ of the system tells us that the ride has drastically improved.

Tested for safety with SAE J2638 standards and compatible with RVs using a “space saver” chassis, the CURT Helux Coil Spring 5th Wheel Pin Box will be available in several configurations for use by fifth wheels up to 21,000 pounds. The new system will also be offered in a gooseneck version.

“We will maintain the warranty on the chassis so long as it’s used with our tested gooseneck version of the Helux pin box,” said Lippert. “It will look exactly like this, with the coil spring and shock, but will have a gooseneck adapter instead of the standard fifth wheel pin box adapter.”

The Helux system will be available both at the OEM and aftermarket levels.

  • Titan Leveling Systems

The newest version of Lippert’s automatic hydraulic leveling system, Jarod Lippert noted the new Titan system will be found on mid- to high-end 2024 fifth wheels as well as many motorized RVs.

“We launched Level Up back around 2008-’09, which has become an industry standard for hydraulic leveling — but outside of some upgraded features we really hadn’t innovated anything around the product itself,” he said. “So, about three years ago, we set out to build a better system.”

The new Titan Leveling System — which, let’s face it, looks much cooler than the current product — requires 50% less hardware for installation; there are only two connection points (hoses) to the cylinder rather than the current four. It also includes larger footpads, with injection-molded covers around the jack and footpad for better traction. Another major upgrade is the use of a single easy-to-use control module, offering a single sensor for leveling. An upgraded “premium” version with built-in Bluetooth technology allows for full operation from a smartphone along with the addition of integrated LED lighting beneath the jack for illuminating nighttime operation; the lights also include “light” or “dark” modes.

a leg featuring Lippert’s attractive and simplified new leveling system attached to a bright red chassis
a leg featuring Lippert’s attractive and simplified new leveling system alongside a leg of its current Level Up system
Lippert’s attractive and simplified new leveling system alongside a leg of its current Level Up system
  • Undermount RV Steps

When it comes to RVing, sometimes little things mean a lot — and the introduction of entry/exit steps that lower to the ground for drastically improved stability rank among the best designs of recent years. As Lippert found with its SolidStep, however, they are not without their drawbacks: complaints ranged from having to lift them to debris from the steps falling inside the unit.

3/4ths view of the Lippert SolidStep attached to a bright red chassis; second smaller image of the Lippert SolidStep folded flat beneath the bright red chassis
“As a chassis manufacturer, we always knew that building the steps under the chassis was the best option — but how could we do that and still save space?” Lippert asked hypothetically. Lippert’s solution calls for the steps to fold flat when lifted for storage, which then allows them to be stored securely beneath the chassis using a patent-pending “infinite range” locking mechanism. The steps also feature adjustable legs for added stability and anti-slip treads. No chassis cutting is required for installation, though Lippert noted that company engineers will need to stay in touch with RV designers to ensure that the steps do not compromise placement of under-chassis components such as plumbing and holding tanks. Built of heavy-duty aluminum, the steps will be available in sizes up to 36 inches wide.

  • PRX2 Power Ramp Door

According to Lippert, throughout the history of the company making toy hauler ramp doors, it’s always toyed with the concept of using power ramps “but for one reason or another, the industry has never gravitated towards a power option.”

The pieces were put in place to make a power door a reality, Lippert said, when the company was able to integrate cable tensioning wires inside the doorframe while still bearing the weight of the ramp door as it lowers at a gentler pace.

close up of the control button for the Lippert PRX2 Power Ramp Door
full view of the Lippert PRX2 Power Ramp Door in the open position
The PRX2 Power Ramp Door offers 12-volt, push-button motorized operation, allowing for the extension/retraction of the ramp door in just 25 seconds or less. Featuring heavy-duty 150-pound steel construction with black textured coating, the door fits industry-standard 3×4-inch (OD) square-tube door jambs and is manufactured with weep channels to deter water intrusion; manual compression latches ensure closure.

  • Independent Suspensions

When Ember RV debuted in late 2021, it quickly made a name for itself by introducing a number of innovations to its travel trailer lines. Chief among them was the use of the new CURT Independent Suspension, a higher-performance, axle-free design. It didn’t take long, Lippert said, before the Lippert/CURT brain trust began to wonder if the IS system could be adapted to a larger single- or tandem-axle trailer.

view of a bright red chassis with a focus on the suspension area

While the additional weight of the bigger units required further design of the suspension — in the Touring Edition, for example, the dual-axle fifth wheel system retains the axle tubes as well as a triangulated trailing-arm design to improve and maintain the suspension geometry, along with coil springs and shock absorbers to extend suspension travel — Lippert said the system was extensively tested at the proving grounds and yielded a “night vs. day difference” in dampening road vibration. “It creates one of the most stable rides anyone will ever realize with a towable RV,” he added, keeping interior gear and belongings secure.

The Lippert/CURT IS is available in two configurations — the aforementioned Touring Edition and the axle-free Adventure Edition with a toe and camber adjustment system for tire alignment and adjustment. Both feature polymer bump stops to prevent over-compression of the coil springs and a powder-coat finish.

And, while Lippert noted that at present the system is designed to hit “the meat of the market,” a triple-axle configuration isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

  • 4000 Series Frameless Windows

“No one wants a big black frame around their windows anymore,” said Lippert, “but frameless windows have been available for a while — so, again, we tasked ourselves with coming up with something different.” Taking a cue from its European companies, Lippert designed an automotive-style square frameless window — and integrated a shade within it to eliminate the need for window valances inside. The top-hinged windows also allow for opening along the bottom — and also are available in colors to complement the exterior appearance of a coach.

“We’ve got an amazing glass innovation facility in Bristol (Ind.) that can do a lot of these cool new concepts,” Lippert added.

a rolling display that features Lippert designed automotive-style square frameless windows
a rolling display that features two Lippert designed automotive-style square frameless windows, one with blue glass and another with orange glass
  • ‘The Fort’ Hideaway Series Rooftop Tent
the Lippert pop top demonstrated on an Ember RV travel trailer at Lippert’s product showcase

The “pop top” originated in Italy, said Lippert, where one of its companies made the product for the Class B market. In short order, Lippert also was making it for stateside Class B OEMs. “Then someone said, ‘Wait a minute: if we can make a pop-top for a Class B, why can’t we make one for a travel trailer?’ Demonstrated on an Ember RV travel trailer at Lippert’s product showcase, The Fort mounts to the top of the RV wall structure to minimize fasteners and weight on the roof. Providing additional sleeping space via an inside ladder, it also features three integrated screened windows for airflow, top and bottom insulation, and optional exterior and interior lighting, solar mounting kit, exterior ladder and USB port. It’s available in two sizes: 84 x 48 inches (with foldable mattress) or 105 x 63 inches (compatible with a queen-size mattress).

  • Quick Drop Stabilizer Jack
the Lippert Quick Drop Stabilizer Jack mounted to the rear of a travel trailer

Towables tend to suffer greatly from movement anytime someone inside so much as shifts their weight — especially travel trailers. Some are equipped with jacks at all four corners, which helps — but doesn’t eliminate — this “boat on the water” effect. While some RV enthusiasts have taken it upon themselves to create crude stabilizers out of 2 x 4s and a ratchet strap, Lippert’s new Quick Drop Stabilizer Jack mounts to the trailer frame and utilizes its Quick Drop A-frame jack technology to quickly deploy with a non-impact power drill. Easily adjusted for optimal stability with a 500-pound weight capacity per leg, the jacks create a triangular support — “the strongest shape in nature,” said Lippert. “And, with their adjustable feet, you can create the most stable position possible.”

  • OneControl Upgrades
close up of three Lippert Platinum Series OneControl monitor panels on a large OneControl display
“OneControl is one of our broadest product lines from a technology standpoint,” Lippert pointed out. “And we’ve made a number of upgrades to it.” Included are interior-mounted Command Center screens that combine both touch control and easily deduced buttons for all major systems.

“We were challenged to create a board that has certain ‘old school’ features because we found a lot of users like having switches, they like buttons,” Lippert explained. “So we’ve introduced new monitor panels to a lot of OEMs that include both physical buttons and touchscreens.”

Lippert’s OneControl, said Jason Lippert, can basically control every single product the company offers that can be user-adjusted, from rear-view cameras and keyless Bluetooth door locks to tire pressure monitoring systems and tank sensors. That includes Lippert’s new Anti-Lock Braking System and True Course Sway Mitigation.

“That hardest thing to show people is our analog braking system,” said Lippert. “Ours is a dual system that includes not only analog brakes but also sway control — and it senses what is happening while in motion. If the vehicle operator starts swerving, for example, the system will apply the brakes without locking them up. We’ve tested it in wet conditions, on ice — and it tracks behind the tow vehicle. People that have witnessed what it can do just walk away saying ‘I can’t believe this isn’t standard on every RV built.’”