Living in Your RV for the Winter – Happy Trails RV Tips
Remember first and foremost, RVs are not designed to be lived in at sub-zero temperatures. Through necessity, individuals will use them under any circumstance, but you will have challenges along the way.
Here are some helpful hints that customers have passed along to us over the years that may help you.
- Remember that propane gas turns to liquid at approximately -40 Celsius. When this happens, your RV appliances will not work. It is essential that you insulate your LP tanks to prevent this from happening. This can be done by wrapping the tanks with fiberglass insulation and duct taping the insulation into place. Applying heat tape or pads is also an option.
- Custom made skirting for the RV is another good idea. It can be made locally to fit your trailer, and bubble back vinyl skirting is your best bet. It costs a little more but will add insulation. After application, try to insulate any gaps with insulation to eliminate wind chill and heat loss.
- Before the skirting is attached, one can also lay down a blanket of insulation or Styrofoam sheets on the ground to help stop the frost from coming up into the trailer as well.
- Small ceramic heaters can be installed, but with the price of electricity, this can be very expensive. This is not recommended because it may create a fire hazard…BE CAREFUL!
- Heat pads and heat tape on plumbing lines and tanks is essential, including the sewer and fresh water lines coming into the coach.
- Fiberglass insulation tucked in and around all slide out seals will help eliminate drafts and heat loss.
- Insulate any holes and gaps in the underbelly with spray foam
- Thermal pane windows help eliminate condensation but do not provide a lot of insulation. Aluminum window frames will suffer from condensation, and ice can form on the inside of the coach on the frames. To help stop condensation and add insulation, cut out foil backed foam insulation to fit against the glass and seal with a storm window or perhaps plastic window seal. The object here is to keep the warm air inside the coach away from the cold frames and glass, which creates the condensation.
- Condensation is a huge problem with winter living. It can be so bad that you actually begin to think you have a water leak in the roof, but in fact, it is condensation dripping down from the ceiling vents and outlets. When living in the coach you are having showers, washing dishes, boiling water on the stove and simply breathing, which all adds moisture to the air. Ventilation and air circulation is the key to eliminating excess condensation. Use a dehumidifier, ceiling fans, portable fans or even the built in air conditioner fans to keep the air moving. It is also a good idea to open the ceiling vents a bit to allow the moist air to escape. Keep your cupboard doors and drawers slightly open to allow better ventilation throughout the coach. Continuous air circulation and ventilation is the key!
- Your RV fridge is an absorption fridge and works off of heat and cold. Your challenge here is to keep the cooling unit and thermostats warm enough that the fridge will actually turn on and operate properly. All of these controls are on the back of the fridge, which is vented to the outside, and when the temperature drops below zero, the fridge senses that it has reached its cooling temperature and will not turn on. A simple light bulb installed by the cooling unit can be enough to keep it warm. Remember not to block off the chimney and air intakes as the fridge does need venting and air circulation to work properly. If your cooling unit freezes, the fridge will not work and may take days to actually thaw out. It may even have to be removed and put on a work bench inside a shop and be tested. If this should happen, be sure to turn off the fridge as soon as possible to prevent any further damage.
Please use extreme caution if you are going to use your RV in the winter time. We cannot guarantee that these modifications will work all of the time, and every RV is different in floor plan and insulation values.
Happy Trails RV does not endorse living in RVs during sub-zero temperatures.