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Winter RV'ing


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Fellas! I could take some input from you on this. I'd like to hear what hints, tips you guys have on rv'ing in the winter! I want to be boy scout about this.If you have product recommendations, I will take that, too!

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Well, if you want to use an RV in the winter you need to look for one with heated tanks and an enclosed underbelly. Also look for one with the better windows. I know with mine at about freezing and just above it sucks up a lot of propane to keep it somewhat warm in it.

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Well, if you want to use an RV in the winter you need to look for one with heated tanks and an enclosed underbelly. Also look for one with the better windows. I know with mine at about freezing and just above it sucks up a lot of propane to keep it somewhat warm in it.

I have both on mine. The holding tanks are heated but the black tank is not. Unfortunately, I was looking for dual-pane windows and they did not have any. I'm gonna have to look into doing the whole plastic window insulation thing. I just did a little reading though, sounds like the "arctic package" is not much to scream about. Dang manufacturers, they just don't stop! I've been told by the locals here that a couple weeks out of the coldest part of the year it can get to be below 0. Some of these people here though, they are living in campers from the 70's!
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Not sure if your question relates to the RV you have now, in which case you could be looking at doing mods that are designed to give you more cold weather safety and/or energy efficiency. For these kind of mods I would recommend doing some research on this site as it is all about RV's. http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm This site has tons of information on various mods and ideas used by RVers. As an example if you are talking about boondocking there are mods to maximize battery life (like adding Solar so as to generate your own power to keep your batteries going for long periods without access to AC current or having to fire up a generator. If the need is to minimize the expense of high propane use for heat, then you might look at installing a catalytic heater. If you are tied to AC then there is electric heat that can be used in place of propane. The potential list of mods goes on and on. If you are looking for a different RV to use in cold weather then there are also lots of recommendations that folks have to offer on specific brands and specific features that are useful in cold weather conditions. You will likely spend a fair amount of time researching various links on this site but I think it is a valuable resource to use in your quest for useful help. Good luck.

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Like my old 1976 Dodge Jamboree Motorhome was a good RV for cold weather and held up really good to cold weather. Easy to keep from freezing and very little problems. My 2000 Jayco Eagle currently is horrid for winter weather. As soon as the temp falls near freezing the bathroom water lines start to freeze because the lines run outside the house and back up through the bathroom floor so there is about 12 feet of line that freezes really easy. So the only way I can winter camp is dry camping. All water has to be brought into the RV in 5 gallon jugs.

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I was staying in my very used SCAMPER 5er. prior to getting married (Dec 30th). Damn cold. The propane was not reliable. The campground was limiting the power so my electric heaters were not keeping up. I had the Quest piping freeze (I'd replaced the flared copper that a previous owner had let freeze) & pushed the couplings apart. I had much experience with Quest compression lines in boats & they still work fine... just not appropriate closed into walls. I went to dry camping after that as my now wife (with 2 young children) was a mile down the road. I had the tire on planks so it wouldn't freeze to the ground & within 2 days of our wedding I towed the trailer out through 12" of snow... with Chevy C30. The campground thought they were going to tag me for storage all winter! In retrospect, it was very unpleasant & there must have been a better way. Enclosing underneath in foam sheets would have helped a lot to cut the airflow underneath.My present Toyhauler is a California unit. OK for what we do. Not insulated underneath, exposed tanks. Not suitable for cold weather.

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When I first got my 5er I went to Home Depot and bought rigged foam insulation sheets with foil, some 4'x8'x2" and 4'x8'x4". I cut to fit and glued them under the floor and on the inside of the compartments. I used Liquid Nails for the gluing. I then pulled the front cap up and the cover under the sleeping area and installed R-13 insulation. The 5er came with tank heaters so that part was covered. I do have to let the water run so the hose from the bib to the trailer doesn't freeze.

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So long ago, I wrapped my water in line with heat tape & FG insulation wrap. For the amount of water I used, a 5 gal camper jug on the counter would have sufficed. I really wanted to keep water for the toilet... which is he line which froze! It pushed the fittings apart during the night. Thawed during the day. When I returned, the water was running out the door near the rear. I shut the in line off first. High water was about 6" in there. Later had to replace the bathroom floor. We kept the trailer a few more years but seldom used it & gave it away.

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Not sure if your question relates to the RV you have now, in which case you could be looking at doing mods that are designed to give you more cold weather safety and/or energy efficiency. For these kind of mods I would recommend doing some research on this site as it is all about RV's. http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm This site has tons of information on various mods and ideas used by RVers. As an example if you are talking about boondocking there are mods to maximize battery life (like adding Solar so as to generate your own power to keep your batteries going for long periods without access to AC current or having to fire up a generator. If the need is to minimize the expense of high propane use for heat, then you might look at installing a catalytic heater. If you are tied to AC then there is electric heat that can be used in place of propane. The potential list of mods goes on and on. If you are looking for a different RV to use in cold weather then there are also lots of recommendations that folks have to offer on specific brands and specific features that are useful in cold weather conditions. You will likely spend a fair amount of time researching various links on this site but I think it is a valuable resource to use in your quest for useful help. Good luck.

Yes, the question relates to the RV I own now. I'll look into the forum you provided. I'd prefer to not have to boondock. I would probably do it, if I was not married! The wife would do it if we had to, but we are not camping! I would like to add solar panels, but looking into it, seems too expensive for the amount of return I could get. My original thoughts were to add panels on the roof, but there are many problems with that idea. What do you mean by catalytic heater? I've seen the small coleman heaters in that design, but is there a bigger one or something? The RV park is very strict about AC for heat. They had a fire not too long ago from an electric heater in a trailer that burned down the clubhouse building that had the laundrymat, etc. I was told I could use some electric heat for supplemental heating, but propane heat has to be my main source. My biggest problem is still the amount of lies told to me about the trailer... Artic package is FAR from being anything ARTIC.

Like my old 1976 Dodge Jamboree Motorhome was a good RV for cold weather and held up really good to cold weather. Easy to keep from freezing and very little problems. My 2000 Jayco Eagle currently is horrid for winter weather. As soon as the temp falls near freezing the bathroom water lines start to freeze because the lines run outside the house and back up through the bathroom floor so there is about 12 feet of line that freezes really easy. So the only way I can winter camp is dry camping. All water has to be brought into the RV in 5 gallon jugs.

It would be no biggie for me if I was doing it for camping. But for everyday thing, big different story, haha.

Not sure if it would help the waterline issue, but these things are awesome for heat. http://www.espar.com/products/fuel-operated-heaters.html http://www.espar.com/products/fuel-operated-heaters/applications/rv.html

Now, this requires to run off a diesel engine that you already own, right? I don't have a diesel engine... lol.

I was staying in my very used SCAMPER 5er. prior to getting married (Dec 30th). Damn cold. The propane was not reliable. The campground was limiting the power so my electric heaters were not keeping up. I had the Quest piping freeze (I'd replaced the flared copper that a previous owner had let freeze) & pushed the couplings apart. I had much experience with Quest compression lines in boats & they still work fine... just not appropriate closed into walls. I went to dry camping after that as my now wife (with 2 young children) was a mile down the road. I had the tire on planks so it wouldn't freeze to the ground & within 2 days of our wedding I towed the trailer out through 12" of snow... with Chevy C30. The campground thought they were going to tag me for storage all winter! In retrospect, it was very unpleasant & there must have been a better way. Enclosing underneath in foam sheets would have helped a lot to cut the airflow underneath. My present Toyhauler is a California unit. OK for what we do. Not insulated underneath, exposed tanks. Not suitable for cold weather.

The underside of our trailer is covered with a type of corrugated plastic. I got under it the other day and found that not a LICK of the underside had a single square inch of insulation! WHAT! Artic package, my arse! I was told the tanks are heated, but who knows now. They told me the storage bay in the front is heated too. A single small vent from the furnace! Yep, heated...

When I first got my 5er I went to Home Depot and bought rigged foam insulation sheets with foil, some 4'x8'x2" and 4'x8'x4". I cut to fit and glued them under the floor and on the inside of the compartments. I used Liquid Nails for the gluing. I then pulled the front cap up and the cover under the sleeping area and installed R-13 insulation. The 5er came with tank heaters so that part was covered. I do have to let the water run so the hose from the bib to the trailer doesn't freeze.

I'm actually going to look at doing an batt insulation. If the underside ever needs serviced, it would be a hay day for any tech to remove the insulation to get to something! I'm gonna use foam insulation when and where I can when its prudent, but batt and maybe a spray foam will be best. My biggest problem will be my dump line and water line. I'd like to steer clear from going to a pvc dump line. I use the sewer solution for my dump line. I think I'm gonna get heat tape then cover it all with insulation for lines.
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You could run that heater off of a diesel fuel can. It doesn't necessarily have to be connected to the fuel source of your tow vehicle. They do make them in gas versions also, but i have never used one of the gas ones before. Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk 2

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Insulating the under floor is great if you can & certainly should try. Around here (New England) it's pretty standard technique for stationary trailers to have temporary skirts either wood or better, insulating board, from the trailer body to the ground. This stops the air flow under the trailer so the heat loss is reduced from the floors. The panels can be sectioned & joined with a wood strip & screws... can be removed & reused if you move the trailer. I've seen the skirts dug into the earth n small ditches & backfilled to close gaps. I've seen hay bales used the same. Dry hay is good insulation. I never looked into it as far as plastic sheeting over it or something. (Of course the mice will thank you for it.) It can be fitted around utilities. Because I knew I was moving my old trailer, I didn't do those things & paid the price for it.

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I had my old 5th wheel with open belly parked in Indianapolis many years ago in near 0* weather. Had lots of problems until I under pinned it. Since I was not going to be there but a month I used Tyvek. Taped it to the frame and nailed it to the frozen ground with 40 penny spikes. I also placed a ceramic heater under there and all my problems went away. The reason I brought this up is, under pinning for a long winter stay is a good thing. The tyvek worked, but foam board, plywood, hay or something more permanent like Russ mentioned is better. With the belly pan you have nothing else should be needed. Just cutting the wind off is a big improvement. One other thing I learned is thawing out "brown" icicles is no fun.

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You could run that heater off of a diesel fuel can. It doesn't necessarily have to be connected to the fuel source of your tow vehicle. They do make them in gas versions also, but i have never used one of the gas ones before. Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk 2

Wait, it has its own engine? I was kinda confused how the system works. I've seen it before but its been a while since then.

Insulating the under floor is great if you can & certainly should try. Around here (New England) it's pretty standard technique for stationary trailers to have temporary skirts either wood or better, insulating board, from the trailer body to the ground. This stops the air flow under the trailer so the heat loss is reduced from the floors. The panels can be sectioned & joined with a wood strip & screws... can be removed & reused if you move the trailer. I've seen the skirts dug into the earth n small ditches & backfilled to close gaps. I've seen hay bales used the same. Dry hay is good insulation. I never looked into it as far as plastic sheeting over it or something. (Of course the mice will thank you for it.) It can be fitted around utilities. Because I knew I was moving my old trailer, I didn't do those things & paid the price for it.

I've been thinking about skirting alot, but I also want it to look clean. Theres not alot out there to do the job. Atleast I did not find anything.. The hay idea has crossed my mind before. If I were anywhere else besides an RV park, I would be doing it. But the rules are strict here. Being in construction, the materials are not really a problem for me. Its the rules of the park and the weight and space consumption of the materials that are the problem. If I had mone to spend I woulda had a ton of different businesses by now, haha! So many different products that I have thought of that I felt would have made a difference...

I had my old 5th wheel with open belly parked in Indianapolis many years ago in near 0* weather. Had lots of problems until I under pinned it. Since I was not going to be there but a month I used Tyvek. Taped it to the frame and nailed it to the frozen ground with 40 penny spikes. I also placed a ceramic heater under there and all my problems went away. The reason I brought this up is, under pinning for a long winter stay is a good thing. The tyvek worked, but foam board, plywood, hay or something more permanent like Russ mentioned is better. With the belly pan you have nothing else should be needed. Just cutting the wind off is a big improvement. One other thing I learned is thawing out "brown" icicles is no fun.

:sick: NO brown for me! So I spent probably a couple hours at Lowes this evening thinking and pricing things out. I have to a conclusion that for the most part, PEX is the winner. I suppose I ought to propose my plan first. My plan first off is to eliminate the drinking safe garden hoses to cut down the length of travel my water has to make to the trailer. It would be a bear for me to have to insulate and heat tape all the hose I have currently. So when I was at the hardware store, I looked at a couple different options to go with this idea. I did not realize it until recently, but there is a Lowes here! I'm not a big fan of Home Depot... I talked to a pretty knowledgeable LADY about plumbing! I was considering copper piping initially, but found it to be too expensive and heavy. Especially with a few other disadvantages. I was just looking forward to learning how to sweat some fittings! I know, I'm weird! I want to use heat tape and pipe insulation, the lady initially said to go with galvanized pipe, but then consulted with a more know-how guy and said to go with the pex. She was concerned I couldn't use the heat tape with PEX. I looked at the PEX mostly, and found that the barbed fittings would be the cheaper route to take compared to the push-lock fittings. About $100 cheaper! Even when I still have to buy the cinch tool. I dunno if PEX is worth it or not or if something else is better to go with? I was looking at doing CPVC, but I have seen that crack and break before. I'm not a plumber or anything so I do not know the best route of action to take. Ultimately what I plan to accomplish with this idea is I will have a line running under the trailer that will feed from the end of the trailer or at the middle to hook up to the water source. Whichever one is not used will be capped off. Then I will have a tee near the dump outlet to feed water to my sewer solution. The rest of the travel will go to the panel and tee off to the water supply for the trailer and the black tank flush port. I will have an RV water filter hooked up at the water source and a 5-10ft. hose to the hard line on the trailer. Keeping the heater tape requirement to a minimum. All of the line will be insulated and have heat tape. I would hope that this would be enough to keep things from freezing up on me. I've also looked at ducting insulation, foam board and batt. Could not find the spray foam in a can that I was looking for. Sounds like I'm gonna have to source that one from work. But hopefully, all in all I can get ahead of the curve and make this doable. One thing I think I will have trouble with is the slides. I dunno how I would insulate the sides and top... I suppose if I can accomplish all of this, time will then tell me where all the other weak links exist... just as long as that does not make a catastrophic failure! :ahhh:
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How far is your water source from the connection on the rv? The longest hose i have ever had was 30'. It took 2 heat tapes. Ran one from each end. I taped the heat tape on with electrical tape about every 8" and used some unsplit pipe insulation from Lowe's. I got it big enough that it would easily slide over the hose and heat tape, taped all of the joints. I always leave enough heat tape at each end to get it on both the camp connection and the rv connection. Wrap those connection with more of the pipe insulation and duct tape the heck of them. Those connections seem to be the ones i have had the most problems with until I started wrapping them better. Bare in mind I am probably not seeing the sustained low temps you are on a regular basis, but it did work when I was in Indy that cold ___ winter.

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Pex is the only way to go. When I got my trailer all lines were frozen. I re-plumbed the whole thing. Get set up for the copper crimp rings. Also get the ring cutter, as you will make mistakes and you will want to save the fittings. I'm far from being winter freeze proof. Have lines that run under the trailer. I'm thinking for me that storing water in 5 gallon containers in the tub and not using the black and gray tanks. It takes a lot of power to keep tanks and lines heated with electicity. My only alternative would be to buy a trailer that's setup for winter. Not worth the cost to me. I got my trailer initially for $500. Have about $1,500 into it now. It's probably worth $5 grand.

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How far is your water source from the connection on the rv? The longest hose i have ever had was 30'. It took 2 heat tapes. Ran one from each end. I taped the heat tape on with electrical tape about every 8" and used some unsplit pipe insulation from Lowe's. I got it big enough that it would easily slide over the hose and heat tape, taped all of the joints. I always leave enough heat tape at each end to get it on both the camp connection and the rv connection. Wrap those connection with more of the pipe insulation and duct tape the heck of them. Those connections seem to be the ones i have had the most problems with until I started wrapping them better. Bare in mind I am probably not seeing the sustained low temps you are on a regular basis, but it did work when I was in Indy that cold ___ winter.

The connection from the rv is towards the rear of the trailer. I really hoped it would be more towards the middle. So in order to reach the connection, I bought 2 25 ft. hoses. If my connection shortens up, I would have only had one 25 ft. hose instead. So it depends on the distance. Maybe the whole idea of routing a permanent pex line is overkill? I was really hoping the pipe insulation would be thicker than 3/8's... So I plan on doing pipe insulation then wrapping it as well.
Thanks for the link Mike. Took a look and read the article.. Not too much more I have not read already, though.

Pex is the only way to go. When I got my trailer all lines were frozen. I re-plumbed the whole thing. Get set up for the copper crimp rings. Also get the ring cutter, as you will make mistakes and you will want to save the fittings. I'm far from being winter freeze proof. Have lines that run under the trailer. I'm thinking for me that storing water in 5 gallon containers in the tub and not using the black and gray tanks. It takes a lot of power to keep tanks and lines heated with electicity. My only alternative would be to buy a trailer that's setup for winter. Not worth the cost to me. I got my trailer initially for $500. Have about $1,500 into it now. It's probably worth $5 grand.

I guess someday if I ever get to build my own place, I will be set up to do my plumbing!
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I'd look into foam board for skirting. It's possible to roughen it & go over it with stucco for a nice look. Sheila did our outside foundation foam with stucco / cement finish & it's needed touch up thanks to chickens and mice but has weathered nearly 15 years. Any skirting should have a removeable access hatch built in. Screw panels are fine. I knew the knowledgeable prior owner of my long ago Scamper 5er... (actually my ex-inlaws). It was owned for a short time by another fellow who told me he had not used it. He neglected to say he'd not winterized it. The piping was all copper tubing with flairs & every piece of it was split. If I'd known that, I'd have not purchased at that price. What a Dip Fork!!I replaced the piping with Quest (squeak) compression fittings & tubing. The Quest (polybutylene) grey plastic tubing was subject to a class action lawsuit & recall when plumbers enclosed it in house walls (where the tubing leaked) instead of boats & campers where it was well suited and serviceable. The tubing is no longer available but the fittings can be had & if carefully assembled still work well. The fittings can use Pex tubing or copper or mates with standard plumbing threaded connectors

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You guys are getting to me about to the point of pulling the under belly off my RV and re-working it so I could use it nearly year round. Right now I've got really poor insulated sewage tanks and fresh water tanks. I'm sure with a bit a time and effort I could upgrade my own RV to meet Idaho's mild winter conditions say like 25-35*F realm without much help. Right now at 31*F I can freeze the bathroom right up tight. I've done it once already. :banghead:

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