Where to Put a Level on Your Camper: Best Practices

A level camper is key for comfort and for proper operation of appliances like the refrigerator. But with so many potential leveling spots to choose from, it can get confusing figuring out the best place to put your level.

As a long-time camper myself, I’ve tried leveling from just about every spot under the sun over the years. And let me tell you, it makes a difference! I’ve woken up feeling like I was sliding out of bed, battled swinging cabinet doors, and stressed about my perishables spoiling. Leveling your camper adequately takes some trial and error, but this guide will walk through the key things I’ve learned so you can avoid my mistakes.

Start with the Refrigerator

The number one rule of thumb when leveling your camper is to focus first on getting the refrigerator as close to level as possible. Unlike your residential fridge, RV refrigerators don’t have compressors and instead rely on ammonia gases flowing through tubes. Leveling allows gravity to naturally circulate these gases, which is what enables the fridge to cool properly.

If your fridge isn’t level, the tubes can get air pockets that prevent circulation. And no circulation means no cooling. Not exactly ideal when you have a cooler full of steaks for the weekend!

So when placing your level, putting it inside the fridge is the most precise option. But this isn’t always convenient if you don’t have an easy way to read the level once the fridge door is closed.

My solution? I place my 3-foot spirit level right outside the fridge on the floor. This lets me monitor it while I jack up the stabilizing jacks and gets me an accurate read of how level the fridge itself is.

If your fridge isn’t near the floor, don’t fret. Simply place the level on the counter as close to the fridge as possible. This will still give you a good idea of how level the fridge is without having to hold the door open.

Consider Comfort Too

Now that you’ve got the fridge dialed in, it’s time to think about your own comfort. A sloped, unleveled camper can make for a restless night of sleep and cause general annoyance (just try cooking on an unleveled stove sometime!).

Here are a few spots I like to place a level to gauge overall camper comfort:

  • On the floor near the bed. Even a few degrees off can make it feel like you’re sleeping on a slope. Get this area level for peaceful ZZZs.
  • On the counter near the kitchen. Level countertops make preparing meals much less messy and frustrating.
  • In the doorway. If the camper is level, doors and drawers should operate normally without drifting open or closed. Try placing a level right in the frame of the main doorway as a test.
  • On a table or flat surface. Level seating equals level meals and game nights.

Some people even place levels on the toilet lid or directly in the shower to check that their waste water will drain properly. I’m admittedly not this meticulous, but it can’t hurt for the truly level-obsessed RVers out there!

Leveling Outside the Camper

Alright, so you’ve chosen your optimal indoor leveling spot based on the fridge location and your own priorities. Now you need a way to monitor this spot from outside so you can actually do the leveling.

Exterior leveling indicators make this process a breeze. Simply place them on the outside of the camper wall directly opposite your chosen indoor leveling spot. There are a few options:

  • RV Precision Levels: These ingenious devices use weighted arms that automatically swing to show you when your camper is level. Install them near a window so you can easily see the arms.
  • Clear RV Levels: These plastic stick-on levels make it easy to see your interior level while outside.
  • Digital Level Apps: Use your phone’s sensors to determine level on your app of choice. Displays degrees for precision leveling.

Level Multiple Spots

Here’s a rookie mistake I made: obsessing over getting a single spot perfectly level without considering the rest of the camper. It may look flawless on your indicator spot, but be totally out of whack elsewhere.

The solution? Check multiple spots before you start adjusting your jacks. I like to place levels in 3 key areas: the fridge, the bedroom, and the main living space. Once all 3 are reading level, I know I’m dialed in.

This is where having multiple levels or a digital level app on your phone really pays off. Take readings at all your checkpoints before making any adjustments.

Level Side-to-Side First

When actually leveling your camper, there are two components:

1. Leveling side-to-side (getting rid of that “tilted” feeling)

2. Leveling front-to-back (raising one end higher than the other)

I’ve found it works best to start with side-to-side leveling before addressing front-to-back. If your camper is very unleveled left-to-right, it will throw off trying to get it front-to-back.

To level side-to-side, place your level lengthwise on a flat surface like a counter or the floor. Raise the jacks on the low side until the bubble shows level. Easy enough!

Front-to-Back Takes Finesse

Here’s where the real leveling finesse comes into play. For proper drainage and appliance operation, you want the front of the camper slightly higher than the rear. But you don’t want too much of an incline or it will be uncomfortable.

A good rule of thumb is to get the rear 2-3 degrees lower than the front (roughly 1/4 bubble on your standard level). You can place levels inside lengthwise on the floor or counters to gauge this front-to-back slope as you level.

Getting this perfect angle takes small jack adjustments and multiple level checks at your chosen spots. Don’t obsess if it isn’t exact, but do take your time getting it dialed in.

Let It Settle Before Going Inside

Alright, you’ve meticulously leveled and your indicators show green across the board. Can you finally relax inside your newly-leveled palace on wheels?

Not quite yet!

Before cracking open that first beer, it’s crucial to let the camper fully settle into position on its jacks for 5-10 minutes. As it settles, you may notice it slightly shifts or sags. This can throw your once-perfect level out of whack.

After allowing it to settle, I do one final walk-through with my levels just to be sure I don’t need any minor jack tweaks. Nothing worse than thinking it’s level and then waking up nearly sliding off the bed!

Level Frequently While Camping

You got it perfectly dialed in when you pulled into your campsite…but what about 5 days later after running the water pump, taking showers, and loading the holding tanks?

Even if you’re parked in the same spot all week, the weight distribution in your camper can change subtly over time. To keep your fridge cooling and sleep comfortable, I recommend re-leveling every 2-3 days during longer camping trips.

This doesn’t need to be as elaborate as the initial leveling process. Just a quick check of your chosen indicators will tell you if it’s still in spec or needs a tweak.

Consistent re-leveling is clutch for a relaxing, well-functioning camping experience. Don’t skip this important step during multi-day stays!

Don’t Overcomplicate It

Leveling your camper can seem daunting at first, but don’t get overwhelmed. Focus on the fridge, go for overall comfort, check multiple spots, and take your time making adjustments.

About Author