If winter beckons you with its natural scenic beauties and you love moving around in your RV to hold glimpses of the icy lakes, snow-frosted mountains and the seas of white covering up the green pastures and trees, no amount of difficulties can deter you. But, still, then, it is always safe to be prepared! Because full-time RV living in winter is not a joke!
The tips and tricks discussed below are bound to prepare you better for your winter RV trip and to make the sojourn less trying and more pleasurable!
How Do You Protect Your RV from humidity and molds?
The feel of warmth and coziness is what you need during winter inside your RV. But if the same is accompanied by dampness and molds, the entire comfort is lost. Molds make their homes in sofas, cupboards and where not! Vents are essential in your RV as these are the windows of ventilation. But, it is through these vents that heat is lost and moisture and humidity get built up inside the RV.
If you want to put an end to this process of humidity built-up and mold formation, get hold of a vent cover. It will keep you warm and at the same time provide you with the much-needed ventilation. Further the cover will act as an extra insulation layer which will allow the moisture to escape but prevent the formation of mold.
Another solution to this problem can be the purchase of a dehumidifier. This device will keep the air clean and fresh within the confines of the RV. Also, it will decrease the humidity level inside the RV thereby keeping it dry and free from molds.
How is the size of the RV important?
If you have decided to camp frequently during the winter months, it would be wise to get hold of a smaller RV. This is because it is easier to warm up a smaller space than a bigger one and with less energy consumption. Smaller RVs can be run with less electricity or propane and are thus less expensive too!
Only if you are camping in bigger numbers, do you get the benefit of human warmth on account of body heat? So a large group can opt for a bigger RV as the fun, joy, laughter and cuddling will keep them warm!
Use the stove frequently for cooking
The more you use the stove for cooking purposes, say for baking a cake, the more the RV will stay warm. So prepare your meals on the stove to warm up the RV and then have it hot to warm up your bodies. The stove will act as an additional source of heat. After you are done with the cooking, turn the stove off but leave its doors open and the residual heat will keep the RV warm.
Purchase a skirt for your RV
An RV skirt will protect “underthings” of your RV from getting cold and freezing as it will keep the wind and chill out. With the vinyl skirting, the internal heat loss of the RV is minimized and you feel warm inside the motorhome. Moreover, with the skirt on, the effect of the strong winds will be minimized and your RV will rock less!
RV skirts are made from various materials depending upon the different weather conditions. You will require heavy-duty Velcro or zipper splice to attach the skirts to the RV. This way both removal and attachment of RV skirts are made easy! You may also use custom “mini” skirts to cover the top of slide-outs as it will help in insulation and protect the rubber seal.
Installing RV skirting is very important or else the wind blowing beneath the RV will suck out the heat and cause the water tanks to freeze. RV skirting will cut off the cold winds thus preventing the chill from entering or freezing the water tanks or damaging components of the camper.
How to make your RV water heater more effective in Winter?
The answer is your water heater requires insulation in this extremely cold weather and water heater insulation blankets will keep the water inside warm, as in the harshest of cold climates there is a possibility of water freezing inside water heaters. If water freezes, it will expand and this will pose a huge problem with tanks and pipes as these will burst or crack.
But, with an insulated blanket, the water inside the water heater keeps the ideal temperature and makes your showers or other water-related activities less tasking. But with the heater protected comes the issue of pipes. The water inside these pipes may also freeze making them burst. Also, you wouldn’t like the first water coming out from the tap be super cold? The pipes do not require to be hot but should maintain a temperature of 32oF.
Solar panels are an absolute must
Wherever you are RVing, other than Alaska, solar panels will be useful even in the worst of winters. Once these panels are charged, you can save your costly propane and use the electric space heater or better an electric blanket to give you the much-needed warmth!
But before you venture into buying your solar panels you need to do your research. It will depend on the places you intend to move with your RV. For those who are going to be boondocking, solar panels are going to be handy. Of the two varieties of solar panels, the monocrystalline is more efficient and expensive. But they score over the other variety being more flexible and aerodynamic.
Install RV Insulation and keep it Upgraded
Insulating your RV is a must as not only will it keep the vehicle warm but will also protect many of its components from damage. With proper base insulation, cold winds will not be able to damage the RV piping or suck out heat from the vehicle.
You may use foam board flooring or heavy rugs and carpets to insulate your RV floor to keep the cold air from coming up. The rug will also keep your bare feet warm.
Window drapes made of thick fabric will keep the chill at bay and keep the warm air in. The window curtains should preferably be fixed with Velcro or other fasteners to reduce air inflow. Those windows which are not required for light should be insulated with foam for the winter months. The seals on windows need to be examined and fixed or replaced as is the need.
Your RV windows can be insulated using window film and reflective foil as these can be cut to fit the windows and is also able to reflect the heat back into the camper. Foam insulation boards or bubble wraps will also help to keep the heat within the RV. Heavy thermal curtains on windows are one other way. But if it’s sunny outside keep the windows open and close them as soon as it sets.
Also, you may use insulated curtains to demarcate the living space from the cockpit so that the area to be heated is reduced.
Weather stripping around the outer doors requires replacement so that moisture or cold air does not leak in. Blankets or pieces of insulating fabric can be used to form a full-length curtain for the doors to keep the chillout.
How to prepare for the storage of winter clothes?
If you had not decided to continue your camping till winter but have stayed on or do not have enough storage for all your winter wear, consider buying these at your RV destination. This is because if this place is too chilly, you will get your jackets or mufflers at a throwaway price and will be saved from the storage issue.
Go for a thermal sleeping bag
The thermal sleeping bag will increase the temperature of your body and will not allow the body heat to escape. Care should be taken while buying your bag and it is always preferable to buy one that has a lower temperature rating than you are expecting to find. If you get too warm you can always vent the bag for more air circulation or maybe shed a few layers of clothes. Hooded sleeping bags will keep heat trapped around your heat from escaping.
Alternatively, you can use…
Electric Blankets for a good night sleep
If you want to make your cold winter nights bearable, electric blankets are a must. They make your sleep cozy and comfy. And at other times just place it over a sofa on a low setting and it will keep your entire RV warm
How to tackle the ceiling vents of your RV?
The ceiling vents are to be plugged and insulated with some material that will seal the vents but can be removed easily too and for the said purpose you may use factory-made vent plugs or rigid insulation cut according to the shape and size of the vent and then wrapped with duct tape to fix them.
How to manage the electrical and plumbing openings?
The electrical and plumbing openings are to be sealed – for small ones use caulk while for the bigger ones, expanding-foam is preferred. Low-expanding foams are better as more expansion may damage certain areas. Stuffing with fiberglass will only be effective if the air leaks are entirely sealed.
RV Plumbing – how to save it in Winter?
With the plunge in temperature, the water in the pipes and hoses will freeze and the expanding ice will result in cracks and bursts. How do you prevent this situation?
It would be wise to keep your freshwater tank empty and use bottled water for drinking, brushing or doing dishes. This way the trouble of water freezing in the tank gets minimized. But if you need to use freshwater, get the pipes insulated.
The freshwater hose and sewer hose is to be wrapped with heat tape to keep them from freezing. The application of heat tapes around connections and valves will prevent freezing.
For extra protection, foam insulation can be added to heat tapes. A small drip from the faucet will keep the water moving and thus fight freezing. The internal freshwater tank should be used as the main water source so that the freshwater hose can be disconnected and stored safely. If any plumbing is not insulated it should be drained completely to avoid damage from freezing.
How do you deal with the tanks of RVs in winter?
Heat should circulate around the insulated tanks. The kitchen and bathroom cabinets should be kept open so that the heat of the camper reaches the internal plumbing. Small electric heaters can also be useful. The tank should be isolated from the exterior with insulation.
The gray and black tanks should also be insulated. Electric holding-tanks are available and these are less prone to freezing. These should be emptied periodically and not continuously. The exterior drain pipes should be made from PVC to stand the extreme cold. You may also add very tiny amounts of antifreeze in the holding tanks to prevent the valves from freezing. A small space heater can also be useful in such cases but these should be kept at proper distances from RV machinery and vents.
How to use your propane tanks?
It is always advisable to draw gas from a single tank and keep one full at all times. When the one in use becomes empty, switch to the full tank and refill the empty one immediately and keep it handy. One filled tank should be kept in reserve for all sorts of adverse conditions.
Save propane with Space Heaters
With small electric space heaters you can cut out on the propane consumption and the heater will provide you with the much-needed warmth inside your RV. Heavy-duty heaters with undamaged electrical cords will do you a lot of good in the RV winters. Portable space heaters will not drain a lot of power but would be perfect to provide heat to the inner space and the tanks.
How do you care for your RV engine?
Before you hit the road, get your RV checked thoroughly. Tune it up, check out the batteries to see whether it would be able to stand the chill. In colder climes, the battery will not be able to hold the charge as long or as well. So a check is of utmost importance. The vehicle should be in top condition before it hits the road.
The engine and its components need more protection to bear the chill. The RV batteries should be free from any sign of damage or corrosion. The batteries should be completely charged and properly connected. The engine antifreeze requires a check and filling in with proper dilution. For extreme cold weather, an engine block heater would be ideal as it will warm up the engine before the start.
Handy Tips for Winter RVing
- The AC unit needs to be covered with an insulated AC cover as you would not need the machine now so that it remains protected and you are saved from the draughts.
- Place wooden blocks underneath the stabilizing jacks so that they don’t get stuck to the freezing ground.
- RV vent covers will allow the air movement in all weathers but won’t allow the rain or snow to enter. The air vents will prevent carbon monoxide poisoning if there is a heater running inside. Also the moist air can move out keeping the camper dry.
- The safety devices like fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors require checking and battery changing before winter trips to prevent any mishap.
- In the extreme cold plastic components like trim and levers may become brittle and would thus require more careful handling to stop breakage.
- It is always wise to hang a thick bath towel over the main door that leads out of the RV so that the heat loss is minimized when the door is opened.
- The outside main water line should be disconnected or if connected, it should be properly protected from the cold.
How to prep your RV Furnace for the Winter?
The RV furnace needs a thorough check before you venture on your camping. And if you have planned to visit some extreme cold locales, the checking should preferably be done by a certified RV repair technician.
A soft brush or compressed air may be used to clean the furnace from debris and dirt. The furnace vents need to be checked to find if any obstruction or damage is present that is stopping continuous airflow and that the furnace air return is not obstructed. A properly running furnace is an absolute must for RVing in winter.
Though you can use catalytic heaters or space heaters to warm up your RV, these will add moisture which can damage the engine or other RV components. Moisture and condensation will not only corrode but also result in the formation of mold. You would need a dehumidifier to remove the excess humidity.
With all this preparation, you need just one more thing – to be prepared yourself! Be mentally prepared to face the cold and be active! The chill will flee! Have food high on calories and you would get the much-needed warmth. And be careful that no harmful gases (carbon dioxide) accumulate within your RV so that your trip does not become hazardous! You may carry a fire extinguisher, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to keep you more prepared to face any extremity!