RVing in winter has its own charm as you get to view the icy lakes, the snow-frosted mountains, the pastures and trees becoming seas of white and many more such exquisitely beautiful scenes. But few people feel that the weather can pose as a deterrent for moving around in winter.
If you love adventure and want to experience and explore these scenic delights, the following tips will tell how to stay warm in the RV in winter so that your trip becomes enjoyable!
1. Insulating the Floors and Windows
You can trap the heat inside the RV with the help of rugs and curtains. There is only cold air and earth under your RV. When you add thick rugs to the linoleum floor it will act as an extra barrier and keep the heat from moving out. Also, your bare feet will feel the warmth when you walk around in your RV.
For rugs, you can choose the BalajeesUSa 9’ x 12’ Indoor Outdoor rugs Patio mat Plastic Straw Camping rug RV Picnic mats Wholesale Price Dark Nv Blue 4484 which is priced below $55 at the time of writing this review.
Again windows are heat stealers and will reduce the warmth fast if not sealed and covered properly. The windows can be covered with foam insulation boards or bubble wrap to keep the heat inside. If you are thinking about adding extra warmth, heavy thermal curtains can be used to cover the insulated windows. The extra curtain layer will allow maintenance of high temperatures within the RV.
When it is sunny, it would be wise to keep the windows uncovered so that sunshine can enter through them adding natural warmth and once the sun sets, recover the windows.
You can also go for a layer of RV sealants or caulk over the doors and windows of your RV to ensure they are weather-tight. All damaged and cracked stripping needs replacement.
2. Go for a smaller RV
A smaller RV is bound to become warm quicker and with much less energy. If you plan to RV essentially during the winter months, a smaller RV will not be a bad idea. With a smaller RV, you will need less electricity or propane to warm it up and this will also save money. This can always be done if your family is not too big. Again body heat is a huge thing. So you can always huddle together to make yourselves cozy. This will also bring more fun during your camping days!
Choosing the RV
The RV best-suited for winter living is one that is self-contained and as much insulated as possible. Though the huge motorhomes and travel trailers are made of sturdy, weather-proof substances, yet a smaller RV is easier to heat with less internal living space. Again some huge travel trailers like the fifth wheels have fireplaces that come very useful if you desire to travel during winter in extreme cold weather conditions. Also, it would be preferred that your rig has an onboard furnace.
3. Bake a Cake
Start cooking any recipe that needs the stove. The heat of the stove will add warmth and the edibles cooked will be hot and tasty that is bound to warm up your bellies. The stove will act as a supplemental heat source! When you are done with the baking and the stove is put off, you still keep the stove door open. By this, the RV will remain warm with the heat coming from the stove.
Again foods rich in fat takes a longer time to digest and you are bound to feel warm due to that. You can have a mug of hot chocolate with a stick of butter and this fat will definitely take a longer time to digest thus making your inside quite warm.
4. Using an RV skirt
If you want to keep your RV warm, skirting it would be a good idea. The skirt protects the ‘underthings’ from freezing so that the excess wind and cold are left out. If the vinyl skirting is used effectively, the internal heat loss will be lessened and this will keep you warm inside your home. Also, it will help in the winterization process and save you from the strong winds, reducing wind rocking.
RV skirts are made of various materials and can attach to your RV with a zipper splice or heavy-duty Velcro. If you attach the skirt in this way, you can remove it easily once it is installed. You will have to apply a vinyl cement to securely attach the zipper splice or Velcro to the exterior of the RV and this secure application will reduce the risk of peeling off.
You may also use custom ‘mini’ skirts which wrap around the top of slide-outs to aid insulation and protection of the rubber seal to keep the rain out. You may try the Mobile Home Skirting Vented White Panels Box of 10 16” Wide X 28” Tall Premium 40 Mil Thickness which is highly acclaimed and is priced around $40.
5. Insulate the water heater
You may use water heater insulation blankets which will keep the temperature of the freshwater warm. Though water heaters are supposed to keep the water hot, even the best in the market has the chance of freezing in extremely cold situations. When water gets frozen, it will expand and cause problems like bursting and cracking of tanks or pipes. If you an insulated blanket, it will maintain the required water temperature. Thus doing dishes and taking showers will become a better and pleasant experience.
Though the tank is insulated the pipes are exposed to extreme cold and will need to be covered with insulation. With insulation of the pipes, the water in the pipes will not freeze causing pipes to crack. The first water coming out will be less terrifying. So keeping the temperature of the pipes above 32 degrees Fahrenheit is essential.
If you are on the lookout for a popular water heater insulation blanket, you may try out Frost King SP60 All Season Water Heater Insulation Blanket, 3” Thick x 60” x 90”, R10 which comes from the house of Frost King and is worth $50 approximately.
6. Purchase Solar Panels
The powerful sun rays can penetrate even the densest fog unless you are RVing in Alaska during winter. So purchasing and installing solar panels is a very good idea as with these panels, you can run an electric space heater and thus save on the costly propane. The solar panels will also help you to use an electric blanket to keep you warm and lessen the use of energy than a space heater.
But before you purchase the solar panels, complete your research work. If you are putting up at a campsite where there is a full electric hookup, you will not need these panels. But if there is a lot of driving involved you will recharge the batteries by just moving down the road. But you need to consider the effects cold has on the battery life. But if you are going to be boondocking essentially, solar panels will definitely be a good option.
The two kinds of solar panels are –
- Monocrystalline: 15 – 20% efficiency (more costly)
- Polycrystalline: 13 – 16 % efficiency (less costly)
The energy level remains almost the same in spite of the difference in efficiency. Monocrystalline panels are more beneficial as being flexible these conform to the curves of your RV and are more aerodynamic too.
7. Keep the water out
You may love snuggling up on the sofa feeling cozy and warm, but if the mold starts to creep up the walls and makes their way into the cupboards it will not be very pleasant. Vents are essential for an RV but these also act as outlets for heat to escape. When you purchase a vent cover, it will keep you warm and at the same time promote ventilation so that humidity does not build up in the RV due to condensation. Vent covers are also like an extra layer of insulation which allows the moisture to move out preventing the formation of molds. There are lots of vent covers available in the market and you can choose the one that suits you the best from amongst the most praised by the customers.
You can also run the RV furnace for some time to blow out the moist air. Further, you may use an absorbent towel to wipe out the condensation. These towels come with plastic containers that keep them damp for months on end. You have to just wipe the window and then wring the towel dry and again repeat.
8. Use a thermal Sleeping Bag
When you use a sleeping bag inside an RV it is bound to enhance the temperature of your body and also the inside of the RV. When you choose a bag, you should go for one that has a lower temperature rating than you think you will come across. If you feel warm, you have the scope to just vent the bag and increase air circulation or maybe shed a few layers of your clothing.
A few of the sleeping bags come with hoods that trap the heat around your head and within the bag. Since we lose a lot of heat through our heads, you can prevent this heat escape just with the help of a hood. But you should choose the ideal sleeping bag in sync with the weather conditions you are to experience so that you can have a very good warm sleep.
9. The Pipes need readying
You need to increase the longevity of the hoses and pipes by preparing the plumbing for the cold winter times. This will also save the expensive repairs of ruptured pipes or tanks. The tanks, pipes, and hoses receive a lot of abuse during severe winter if not protected. Ways to keep the plumbing in proper order –
- The freshwater tank has to be kept empty and drinking, doing dishes and brushing teeth will have to be done with bottled water.
- The pipes have to be insulated if you aim to use freshwater or use water hookups
- Be aware that your black waste does not freeze
- When you leave the tank empty, you reduce the chance of freezing of freshwater inside thus reducing damage caused by water usage.
- Antifreeze can be used in black and gray tanks; just flush down the toilet and pour down the drain
10. Tune-up your RV
Take your RV for a check-up. It should be in perfect condition before you hit the road in the chilly weather. With proper tuning, you will be able to prevent accidents. Driving charges the battery but in cold conditions, the battery will not be able to hold a charge for long. Also when you use the electric space heater, it will drain the battery more quickly. As such, winterizing services for your RV is essential so that you do not face hazards during your trip.
11. Store Propane
Your furnace will be using propane on a huge scale to warm up space efficiently. So you need to store enough propane on board for your RV in winter. If you go out of the rig for the whole day, the thermostat switch should be left to switch on your furnace when the RV reaches a particular temperature.
12. Invest in Space Heaters
Invest in some indoor space heaters – propane or electric – to augment the furnace of your RV. They are quite cheap and will prove to be a good investment. It would be a good idea to keep the cabinet doors open so that pipes are exposed to the interior heat coming from the heaters. This is especially correct when you are outside the RV and the open doors will not come in your way. This is essential as the installed propane furnaces are often ineffective and the blower uses a lot of electricity. If you are to plug into electric hookups quite a lot and stay for only a few days at a time in most places you go to, buying a space heater would be wise.
13. Get Winter Accessories
A few winter accessories are necessary to keep you warm in your RV. These include –
- Heavy coats and other winter clothing
- Thermal curtains, heat tape, and other items for insulation
- Ice scraper
- Mini indoor space heaters
- Boots and heavy-duty winter shoes
- Freeze-proof heated water hose
- RV skirt
- RV antifreeze
- Warm blanket and mugs for hot cocoa
14. Use a Dehumidifier
A dehumidifier is essential to remove moisture and humidity so that molds do not form on the walls.
15. Stay under the Covers
Stay in bed as much as possible at least till spring comes knocking at your door with its bouquet.
16. Go for Vent-free Propane Heater
If you have decided to go boondocking in the southwestern deserts or maybe to Texas or Florida, an RV heater that can be used both by propane and electricity is good enough. But a vent-free propane heater is the best option. If you are undecided as to which propane heater to buy, you can try the Mr. Heater F274800 MH18B, Portable Propane Heater,Red,Regular which is quite popular amongst the customers.
17. Install of a Vent-Free Propane Fireplace
Installing a vent-free propane fireplace would be a great idea. The cozy and inviting fireplace produces a beautiful flame and is bound to be the feather in the cap of your RV.
18. Shrink-wrap the RV Screen Door
Cover the screen door with a thin layer of plastic and keep the big RV door open throughout the day keeping the screen door closed so that sunshine can fill your RV with warmth and light. The plastic on the door will let the warmth in keeping the cold air out. The installation and removal of the screen are quite simple and quick. To do this task, you will need a razor blade, the shrink film kit, pair of scissors and a hairdryer. You may try out the Duck Brand Indoor 5-Window Shrink Film Insulator Kit, 62-Inch x 210-Inch, 286217 as it has received a high star rating from the customers.
19. Orient the windows and doors of the RV towards the Sun
Find out the biggest windows of your RV and try to orient the RV in a way such that those windows face the sun for the maximum hours in a day. But this has to be reversed during summer. Try understanding the path of the sun before deciding on the orientation of your RV.
What not to do during winter RV living?
The following tricks and tips are to be followed scrupulously for winter RV living.
- Drain out the freshwater tanks totally and use bottled water for daily usage.
- The bay holding the tanks is to be kept above freezing. Mini space heaters use very little amperage and are inexpensive. It would be wise to buy one and stick it in the bay.
- RV antifreeze is to be used in gray/black tanks and plumbing. But never use it in your water heater or fresh water tank.
- Buy tank heaters
- Insulate the pipes with heat tape. Also exposed piping and any connection will need insulation
- A PVC pipe is to be used as your sewer hose as the chances of freezing will be less as compared to a regular hose. If the tank remains hooked up, a layer of insulation is required around the sewer pipe. It would be wise to keep the tank closed until it is necessary to dump.
- The holding tanks should not be dumped unless they are full or almost so that the contents do not freeze. Also, the gray or black outlet ports should be kept open if you are camping in an area that is connected to city sewer.
- Compressed air is to be blown out through the water lines of the RV to keep them dry and nice so that freeze damage is minimized. An RV blow out plug can be used for this purpose.