RV-ing this Winter? Here’s How to Stay Warm!
Think RV-ing is just a three-season activity? Those who are full-timers as well as RV-ers who love to travel during winter months would disagree. But there are certain factors to keep in mind if you plan on hitting the road during those cold months, especially if you’re traveling where snow, sleet and icy roads can present a challenge.
We’ve pulled together a list of tips and techniques from some great sources on how to keep your RV warm and cozy while it’s rolling through the winter weather!
Insulate! Insulate! Insulate!
KOA’s Winter RV Camping Guide: Tips For Cold Weather RVing says installing insulation is “one of the best and simplest ways to keep a camper warm in the winter.” The benefit is not just for the inhabitants but also for the RV, since it protects vehicle components and piping from damage and block cold winds.
Start by replacing any damaged or weak seals or caulking, then use window film or reflective foil on the windows to reflect heat back into the camper. Other tips from KOA are to hang heavy drapes, insulate the floor with foam board flooring or heavy carpets, and install RV skirting or foam boards to keep the wind from under your RV.
To keep the pipes and hoses from freezing (which can lead to cracks or bursts), wrap your freshwater hose and sewer hose with heat strips. You can also use heat tape on valves and connections most at risk of freeze-ups, says KOA.
Fight the Freeze
Knowledge is power, and when it comes to winter RV-ing, you need to know what’s happening outside and inside in terms of the temperature. The Ultimate Winter Camping Guide suggests buying a temperature gauge with additional sensors to monitor the inside temperature, the outside temperature and the temperature at your camper’s underbelly. Another tip is to install roof vent covers to allow for proper ventilation, even if there’s snow on your camper’s roof, to allow for fresh air and help reduce condensation and humidity.
In How to RV in The Winter Without Freezing to Death!, RV Share points out that the bay that holds your tanks must always be kept above freezing, and recommends installing a mini-space heater in that space to maintain that temperature. Another tip from RV Share is to use a PVC pipe for your sewer hose since it’s less likely to freeze.
Speaking of freezing, if ice or snow builds up on slide-out awnings and the slide gaskets, you may find you can’t retract them, says Reserve America. Keep them clean and retract the slide the night before you leave to make it easier to roll it up and head out onto the road. The same goes for your stabilizing jacks, says KOA. The last thing you want is for them to become frozen to the ground. Prevent this by setting them on wooden blocks or boards.
Test the System
It might sound obvious but don’t wait until you’re parked at a campsite to make sure your heating system is operation. In What You Need to Know to Take a Winter RV Camping Trip, Reserve America says give your furnace a good cleaning to get rid of dust, debris and insects, then test it to make sure it works.
Using a heat pump or heat fins? Reserve America notes they don’t function well in below 40-degree temps, so you may want to consider an additional heat source. A portable electric space heater or catalytic heater can keep you warm—just keep a window slightly open for ventilation. Also, if you use propane to heat your camper, the cold weather can reduce its lifespan. Either bring some extra bottles or know where propane refill stations are located on your route.
Now that you’ve got your heat needs covered, spare a thought for your engine block—especially if you’re heading into extremely cold locations. Install an engine block heater and turn it on at least three hours before you start your engine, recommends Reserve America.
Finally, condensation and humidity can be an issue, so add either a container of moisture absorbent or an electric dehumidifier to your must-buy list to avoid any risk of mold or mildew.
Need more tips? Check out these videos:
- Keep Your Dream: Winter RV Camping: The Ultimate (How To) Guide
- Gone with the Wynns: RV Tip – Prepare the Inside of an RV for Freezing Winter Weather
- RV Geeks: How To RV in the Winter
Also, be sure to check out these other posts on our blog:
- Winter Camping Tips for RV-ers from Lonnie and Guntars Asmanis-Graham [link to come—this one is coming as soon as they send it back to me]
- Why You Should Take a Cirrus Truck Camper Skiing
- Winterizing Your TAB 320 and 400