How much payload do I need and what are the rules?


How much payload do I need and what are the rules?

A common concern when buying a motorhome, especially for an extended trip, is the payload. We discuss the average payloads and what this means for staying within the limits.

Typical Payloads

Profile Motorhomes

Lighter than full-integrated models, offering a higher payload. A 3500kg profile motorhome can have a payload of approximately 500 kg.

Full-Integrated Motorhomes

Often more luxurious and spacious, they generally have a lower payload due to their higher empty weight. A 3500kg integrated model can have a payload of about 400 kg.

Converted Vans

Valued for their compactness and manoeuvrability, their payload varies depending on the type of conversion and installed equipment. A 3500kg converted van can offer a payload between 500 and 800 kg.

What is Included in the Empty Weight

An important part of the equation is what is and is not included in the empty weight figure.

According to EU regulation 1230/2012, the empty weight of the vehicle includes the driver (75 kg) and the fuel tank filled to 90% capacity. Additionally, the basic equipment considered in this weight consists of a water tank filled (with a reduced volume for the journey), a full aluminium gas bottle with a capacity of 11 kg.

The empty weight includes lubricants such as oils or coolants, the onboard tool kit, the spare wheel, and a 90% full fuel tank. These items, therefore, do not need to be deducted from your payload.

How Much Do Items Weigh?

To give you a rough idea of the figures, here are some examples of additional items affecting the payload:


Full fresh water-tank: ~100 kg (120L average – 20L included in the empty weight at 1 kg per L)

Grey water-tank: ~50 kg (depends on the size and how often you empty it)

Second passenger: ~75 kg

Total: 225 kg

Personal Items

Bedding: 7 kg

Clothes: 20-30 kg (10-15 kg per person)

Electrical devices: 6-10 kg (assuming two devices)

Food: 30-50 kg

Total: 60 – 100 kg

After-market Extras

Solar Panel: Depending on the size and type, a solar panel can weigh between 10-25 kg.

Leisure Battery: A standard 12V leisure battery can weigh between 20-30 kg.

Awning: A lightweight, roll-out awning might weigh around 25-35 kg.

TV: Depending on the size, a flat-screen TV may weigh between 3-8 kg.

Air Conditioning Unit: Roof-mounted units can weigh between 20-50 kg.

Reversing Camera: These are usually lightweight, around 2 kg including the display monitor.

Total: 80 – 150 kg

Total Estimate

With full tanks, two people, lots of fitted extras, plus complete trip items, you’re looking at a range of: 365 – 475 kg, putting you comfortably under the average payload weight.

If you want a little extra peace of mind, go for fewer vehicle extras and only half-fill your fuel & water tanks. This could easily save you 100-200 kg.

When Additional Consideration May Be Required

Having done this process now with a large number of people, generally speaking, searching out higher payloads is only appropriate if:

  • You plan to carry a scooter
  • Require additional solar, battery power, water, and food for very lengthy trips off-grid.
  • Have a party of more than 2 people

Having Motorhomes Weighed

Generally speaking, dealers will not go to the effort of weighing a motorhome for you prior to purchase. The expectation is that you are provided the official vehicle payload figure from the registration document, and it is your responsibility to work to this.

It can be difficult to simply get replies to email, so attempting to have a vehicle weighed requires an unusually high level of customer service. Attempting this in the peak buying season of Feb-June is a no-go, asking in the off-season may be more successful but to date, the only client who has successfully had their vehicle weighed was conducting inquiries in person where you are treated as a much more likely buyer and therefore extended greater courtesy. A very French “non” is much more common.

Final Thoughts

There are many things that appear worrisome when doing your pre-trip research, and it can seem overwhelming to factor everything in. The advice would be to keep it simple; if you are planning an average trip, the average payload will be ample.