How Does a Pop Up Camper Lift System Work?

pop up camper

[box type=”info”] If you’re now curious about the lift system included with your own camper, then read on. I will explain what a pop up camper lift system is, how it works, and how to maintain yours.[/box] Some pop up campers might not look like much, but that’s only because they haven’t fully opened yet. With a pop up camper lift system, it’s possible for some camper models to expand, raising their roof. Not only does this look cool, but it makes the interior of your camper roomier.

If you’re now curious about the lift system included with your own camper, then read on. I will explain what a pop up camper lift system is, how it works, and how to maintain yours.

What Is a Pop Up Camper Lift System?

A pop up camper lift system is a series of metal parts, much like a large frame, that can open or close your vehicle’s roof. Whether you want to sit inside your camper and relax or simply have more room to sleep at night, being able to raise your vehicle’s roof is a function you’ll use again and again.

How Does a Pop Up Camper Lift System Work?

Now, onto the big question, how does a pop up camper lift system work? Well, it depends on what type of system you have. There are two: the older hand-crank system and the much more convenient powered lift system.

While hand-crank lift systems are pretty much antiquated, if you have an older camper, this might be what you’re stuck with. To raise or lower your camper’s roof, you’d have to turn a handle manually, repeating this as many times as necessary to get your roof in just the right place.

That’s why many campers have a powered lift system instead. This will use your vehicle’s battery power to open and close the roof. It’s important then that you closely monitor not only the life of your battery but how much juice other appliances and items are using while the lift system is in operation. Otherwise, you could have a lift system that runs out of battery power midway through raising your camper roof!

With a powered lift system, you only have to press a button or turn a switch to open or close the roof. There’s no need to strain your arms and hands with cranking, exhausting yourself before your camping trip even starts. Plus, there are no sore muscles the next morning.

Unfortunately, powered lift systems are more likely to malfunction than hand-crank systems are because they have more parts and electrical components that can break down. That’s why they’ll typically include a backup hand-crank system. This is so, even in worst-case scenarios, you can get your roof up or down and get back on your way until you can get your powered lift system fixed.

How does the lift system know how far to raise the roof and how much to lower it? That’s due to what’s known as a limit switch. This tells the lift system how high is too high and how low is too low. This too can break, leaving your camper roof stranded way too far up or sending it plummeting to the ground.

How Can You Maintain Your Lift System in Pop Up Camper ?

As you can gather from reading the above sections, camper lift systems can break in many ways. This isn’t necessarily a common occurrence, but regular maintenance can keep the lift system working its best, whether it’s a hand-cranked or powered system. Here’s what you can do.


If you have a hand-crank lift system, then regular lubrication is key. You want to focus on the winch’s main bushing as well as the main drum and cable spool. Be sure to avoid the lift system’s leather disc, keeping this free of lubricant. Otherwise, you could damage the limit switch.

For a powered lift system, apply some paraffin wax to the lifter arms if these are straining. Also, use a lubricant on the winch, drum, and cable spool. You may have to remove the lower pan first.

Crank Socket Replacements

If your hand-crank system refuses to turn, it could be due to the square winch socket moving out of place or breaking. By replacing this, you can quickly get back to raising or lowering your pop up camper roof.

Battery Checks and Charges

You’ll probably have to charge your camper battery more often if you have a powered lift system than you would if you didn’t. Remember that as battery life begins to hit the 50-percent mark, it’s time to charge your batteries. If your batteries have too little juice, you might not be able to raise or lower a powered roof lift system.

Powered Lift System Motor Checks

There are a lot of issues that can affect the motor of your powered lift system. If it’s not the batteries, then it could be a loose switch connection or two. You might have to go into your lift system and check the wires, moving or reconnecting them. Not everyone will be comfortable with even this minor degree of electrical work, and that’s okay. An electrician can get your powered lift system up and running anytime if you prefer.

You could also have a dead internal fuse. This is replaceable, but again, it involves going into your electrical system and removing several components first. That’s why it’s much better to give all parts around the motor a once-over a few times a year to ensure they’re in working condition.

Limit Switch Tests

Every six months or so, you’ll also want to raise or lower the roof as far as possible so you know the limit switches are working. If they’re going too high or too low, you can access your lift system and readjust the switch yourself or call an electrician.


[box] A pop up camper lift system lets you raise or lower the roof of your camper at will. You can either do so with the push of a button/switch (powered lift system) or by hand (hand-crank lift system). By understanding the components of your lift system and maintaining them, you can enjoy yours for years to come.[/box]

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