August '18

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58 • RV PRO • August 2018 rv-pro.com O R I G I N A L E Q U I P M E N T However, Northstar's Willett says that in many cases the weight savings prob- ably isn't going to balance out against the added cost of the acrylic windows. "If a person has four or five windows in a camper, is it worth the $2,000 in value to have the lighter windows in it?" he asks. "The way business is in the United States, we're still trying to cut amenities or cut costs. It's different thinking in Europe." Aesthetic Marvels And, make no mistake, acrylic win- dows can be more expensive than stan- dard glass ones. "It's a more expensive product to build," acknowledges Dometic's Boyer. "The acrylic material is more expensive. It's a product that has to be tooled, so it's more complicated in the manufacturing process. You aren't just bending a frame and putting glass in it." He adds that there also are some bar- riers to the market in terms of becoming a manufacturer, and currently it's also a product that's imported. However, for the North American OEMs that use acrylic windows in their models, the advantages the win- dows offer far outweigh the price they're paying – and those companies say their buyers seem to agree. nüCamp's Hubble says his company began utilizing acrylic windows in its T@B and T@G lines of teardrop trailers, as well as its Cirrus truck campers in large part because of the aesthetic, which includes soft lines and different tints. "The aesthetic we present across our lines is fairly unique and different, and the lines of the windows are actually very similar to the lines of our trailers," he says. "It's not just a flat, straight line." Dylan DeHoff, director of oper- ations for Uniontown, Ohio-based Liberty Outdoors, agrees. He says that company couldn't achieve the look of its Mini Max and Max teardrop units without the acrylic windows. "We had these custom-made to match the curve, which is a huge ben- efit," he says. "It lets us do things we wouldn't otherwise be able to do. The large window in the back of the camper is over the main bed and we're letting in tons of light back there." Meanwhile, Michael Gordon, pur- chasing supervisor for Cambridge, Ontario, Canada-based Erwin Hymer Group North America, says his com- pany is adding them to its towable trailers because of their styling and light weight. Rodabaugh admits that often what sparks initial interest in the windows is their looks. "They say, 'Hey, that looks nice; it's new and it's interesting,'" he says. "They see that they look sleek and they look modern. Some of it is simply wondering how we do it. It grabs a customer's atten- tion right away." And, the fact that acrylic windows can be custom-made to fit the shape of a vehicle doesn't hurt, either. "From a practical perspective, you can place windows in areas where a conven- tional window would be too expensive to fit," Rodabaugh adds. "We can follow the shape of the vehicle, and that can let in more natural light and more ventilation." European RVs like the one pictured here have been outfitted with acrylic windows for decades. Styling is one reason RV makers in Europe have embraced acrylic windows, but another big factor is manufacturers value the weight savings acrylic provides compared to traditional glass windows.

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