By this time of year, most people have gone through the procedural steps to winterize their RV and have tucked them away in hibernation for the cold winter months. OR they are down south, RVing by a beautiful beach with a beer in their hand, not to be seen until next year. However, for the adventure seeker and the avid RV enthusiast, the winter can bring a whole new season of RVing memories. Generally there are fewer crowds, and the snow filled mountains can be a beautiful sight. There are also plenty of winter sports and activities that will get you outside and enjoying the great frosty outdoors!
If you are willing to take the time to prepare your RV to face the cold, then winter RVing can be a fun experience. Here are steps you can take and things you should keep in mind when venturing out into the cold!
It is extremely important to make sure your unit is properly insulated, so your furnace does not have to work quite as hard to keep your RV warm, especially at night! Be sure to fill all of the little openings and even cracks in the floor with insulation, as you never know where the cold may slip in – you can use either Polycel, Monofoam or even bubble wrap to do this. You can also buy heavy-duty drapes to put on your windows and door, as these areas seem to let the most cold air seep in.
Not only does the inside of your unit need to be insulated, but there are also places on the exterior that can be susceptible to letting all of your precious warm air escape. We suggest adding skirting to the bottom of your RV, this will prevent the cold air from building up underneath and making the unit harder to warm up. You can create this skirting out of many different types of materials, such as metal sheets, foam board or wood. Be sure to note that adding skirting may also be creating a warm home for furry little rodents – so don’t leave your RV in this position for a long period of time.
It is not a must, but it is smart to invest in either a space heater or a propane heater for your RV in case your furnace either breaks down, or you just want to reduce wear and tear. In case of an emergency, bring extra bedding and emergency blankets, and consider using an electric blanket at night – this will also save propane. Lastly, park in the sun whenever possible, you’d be surprised at how much of a difference it makes!
This is your enemy when you are RVing in the winter! With the bodies in the RV, plus the heaters and furnace running, condensation can build-up and become a problem quickly. Be sure to keep one of your vents open during the day to prevent a condensation build-up. We also suggest investing in a de-humidifier! Run it in the unit a few days before you leave and then during your trip to maintain the lowest level of condensation possible. Thermopane windows can also help reduce a condensation buildup if you are willing to purchase them!
This is something you don’t want to run out of, especially if you are boondocking! We suggest supplementing your regular propane tanks with a 100lbs one. It is also important to cover the tank with some sort of insulated material, especially in freezing temperatures.
This is one of the trickiest parts of RVing in the winter, because it will freeze. If you are only planning on RVing for a few weekends, we suggest just winterizing your entire system all together and bringing a water tank with you for the toilets and to be used as drinking water – this will just save you a lot of hassle. Even if you do decide use your water system, bring a back up water tank, in case of an emergency. It is important to not leave your water hose connected for long, especially in freezing temperatures and ensure that the exposed hose is completely covered with insulation. In the worst case that your hose does end up freezing, our friends Jason and Nikki at Gone with the Wynns, suggest thawing it with a hairdryer or hot air gun – but let’s hope you don’t get to this point!
This is something you do not want to have an emergency with in -30 degree weather! Unfortunately, regular RV sewer hosing will become brittle in freezing temperatures and will crack when flexed. Invest in some heavy duty hosing to prevent this from happening. We even suggest covering the hose with insulation – just to be safe! It is also a smart idea to cover the holding tank with heating tape or an insulated material to keep the contents from freezing.
Fuel + Motor
Believe it or not, fuel and oil will freeze in extremely cold conditions, so it is important to take precautionary steps to prevent this. Add a special additive to your diesel fuel to keep it from gelling or freezing. You can also purchase generator oil that will withstand colder and more extreme conditions than regular oil. It is also extremely important to warm up your diesel engine for at least 4 hours before leaving your destination by plugging in the heating element.
If you are using more than one space heater along with other electric devices, and not hooking up to an electric source frequently, your battery levels can decrease quickly. It is so important to frequently start your engine to recharge the battery and to check the water levels every so often. To keep your battery in tip top condition and fully charged we suggest purchasing either an inverter or solar panels.
You can find out more information about any of the materials or equipment mentioned above from your local RV Care dealership. Have fun!