Last Updated on December 1, 2019 by Tanmay Sarkar
If you do not travel in your RV in winter then you miss the adventure and the scenic beauty of winter. Yes, things absolutely change during winter the scene, clothes and even the way of living.
If you like to travel in the RV in the cold then you have to get ready for it before you ride your RV. Lower temperature makes life uneasy so let’s prepare for it.
Use these tips to live comfortably in your RV during cold winter and enjoy your RVing.
1. Insulate The Windows And The Floor
Windows can be a place for heat loss during cold especially if you have a single-pane window.
You can cover the windows with a bubble wrap, foam insulator or even plastic wrap will do the job. Just remember the plastic wrap should be thick enough to trap the heat.
If there is sun outside try them do not block the sunlight let it come inside, in this way you will get natural light and extra heat. Keep in mind to cover the window, before the sun goes down.
To make things better you can also use heavy thermal curtains to cover the windows, this will maintain a high temperature inside.
One downside of covering the windows is blocking the beautiful view but it’s important to keep yourself warm too. Here I have found a window insulator kit that you can use.
For the floor you can add rugs or thermal curtains, it will not let heat escape outside. It will also be comfortable to walk on it if you do not have carpet on the floor. Remember there is cold air blowing underneath your floor so you have to take steps to keep the heat inside.
2. Use Dehumidifier
Humidity acts like an enemy for RV, this is one of the problems that come with perfect insulation. The mold and moisture start damaging the interior stuff. If there are few people inside the RV there will be humidity.
Vents are vital for dehumidification but during cold weather, you can’t dare to keep open it. The heat will escape from it. So, what to do?
The best solution is a dehumidifier that does the work without disturbing your comfort. It lowers the humidity level within the RV which keeps inside dry and mold-free.
Buy a dehumidifier like this one which automatically shuts down when the water tank is full.
3. Use Smaller RV
Small is better in winter, why? Because smaller spaces tend to get warmer quickly and also consume less energy. If you are not camping with lots of people prefer to choose a smaller RV, believe me, it will be helpful.
if you already have your own camper then you can’t do enough but if you rent an RV then select a smaller one if possible.
For me, it is better to sacrifice a bit of space for warmth during winter. A smaller RV will use less electricity or propane which will also save extra money.
4. Eat Hot Food
Yes, eating hot food will keep you warm during the cold. Don’t believe me, try once at least.
When you eat cold food it brings down your body temperature because body heat is used up to heat up the food. So, when you eat hot food your body will not have to work so hard on it.
Also, try to eat food which keeps your body warm, food like nuts, eggs, meat, chocolate and all seasonal food that grows in winter are good to eat. Nature knows which food should be good for you.
Whenever you cook it heats up the RV so cook often as cooking during traveling makes enjoyment double, especially with good hot food.
5. Use A Thermal Sleeping Bag
Commonly, sleeping bags are used inside a tent or under the sky but you can use it inside RVs too.
The benefit of sleeping in a sleeping bag is that it will keep your body temperature higher. An added benefit is that you do not have to keep the heater on, it will save electricity or propane for other use. It will also save you money.
Remember, to choose a sleeping bag which has a lower temperature rating than the place of visit. So, if you are going to visit a place where the weather will be 30 degrees Fahrenheit then select a bag that can tolerate 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you feel too warm then you can sleep with fewer clothes on or simply vent the bag.
Always choose a sleeping bag with a hood as it will cover your head from where a large amount of heat escapes out like this portable sleeping bag that you can carry anywhere.
6. Reduce Heat Loss
There are many ways by which you can reduce the amount of heat that is lost due to bad insulation. Let’s discuss them one by one.
The first thing that you can do is use an RV skirt if you want to stay warm. This thing is enough to fight most of the problem that comes along with freezing temperatures.
If you are asking what is an RV skirt? Then the answer is RV skirt is a fabric usually made of insulating material to keep RV warm in winters.
It helps to keep the cold away from entering the RV. Vinyl skirting is best in reducing internal heat loss and keeping the warmth inside. It protects the RV during strong winds, keeping the RV stable. They also help to keep the pipes and tanks from freezing.
RV skirts are made of a variety of materials keeping in mind the different weather conditions. In order to use fit them to your RV, you have to use a Velcro or zipper splice. It becomes very easy to remove and attach the skirt with them.
You can also add vinyl cement in order to attach the skirt securely to the RV. It will ensure that it remains on the RV even in strong winds. You can get an RV skirt from this company.
The walls of the closet are generally poorly insulated than the rest of the RV. It makes the environment inside the RV very cold.
You can use a moisture-resistant adhesive foam panel product like this one to prevent heat escaping. It also looks good and increases the beauty of the interior.
3. Slides Out
Even if you attach a skirt around your RV then also the floors of the slides will remain cold. If you measure the floor temperature with a thermometer you will find a good difference between floor and room temperature.
So, in order to fix that you may use a foam board and fix it with duct tape or glue from outside of each slide. It will make a huge difference in temperature and now heat will not escape from the floor of the slides out. You can use HVAC tape as it performs better in all weather conditions and does not leave a mark on removal like this one here.
Further Reading: 9 Proper Ways To Insulate Your Trailer
7. Electric Propane Tank Blanket
One issue with propane tanks is that it freezes in low temperature that makes it difficult to use. if you use propane for energy then you may know about it.
You can use an electric propane tank blanket which keeps the propane tank from freezing like the one here with a good rating.
8. Stay Physically Active
Body temperature tends to decrease when physical activity is less especially during cold weather. So, it is not in your favor to sit inside a blanket, after all, you are RVing to enjoy.
Its time for some physical activity or games which engage your body and mind. Do, you know? That after some physical work our body feels less cold for a good amount of time after that. You don’t agree then do some jumping jacks for 5 minutes, you will definitely put off the jacket for sure!
It time to play some games like badminton, catch and others, switch on your child mode and move your body.
9. Work On Your Plumbing
Excessive cold is not good for the plumbing as you may know that it can rapture your pipes and tanks. In the middle of your trip, you do not want a plumbing failure and all that trouble. These tips will not actually help to warm your RV but it is a part of the whole thing so I thought to bring this up.
Here are some tips that will help you.
- You should bring bottled water for daily use and keep the freshwater tank empty if you do not have anything to stop it from freezing.
- When you keep your freshwater tank empty then you prevent any risk of damage caused by freezing water.
- You should use antifreeze for the black and grey tank and also pour it down the drain and flush down the toilet to eliminate any risk of freezing.
- If you are using water hookups or city water supply then remember to insulate the pipes. To protect the water line from freezing you can use this product Pirit Brand Heated Hose. You can also wrap your regular hose with Heat Cable and pipe insulation.
- Do not let your black tank to freeze to avoid the mess.
- To protect the tank from freezing you can use tank heaters like this one if you are going to a place where the temperature drops to freezing point.
10. Always Have One Smaller Propane Tank
This tip has nothing to do with warming up the RV directly but will help you in saving a lot of time.
Most of the RVs have a large built-in propane tank for heating and cooking use but the problem with them is that you have to drive the RV to the filling station and they are not nearby, always.
Smaller propane tanks can be used as a reserve and at the time you do not have to rush to the filling station. if you use a smaller propane tank often then you will be in a habit of saving gas because of its availability.
11. Portable Space Heaters
Portable space heaters are better because they do not drain the battery too fast and they are only 250 watts. Get for yourself from here.
You can use them inside for heating purposes or if anytime temperature falls you can use them to prevent tanks from freezing.
If you are on propane only then it will cost a lot, by using electrical heaters you will save money and time.
If you have an RV skirt on, then place the heater under the RV it will do its job and prevent tanks from freezing in an enclosed space. Always use safety measures before working with electrical appliances.
12. Invest In Solar Panel
If you have a space heater then a solar panel like this one is must as the sun is everywhere to charge it. Even the densest fog cannot stop UV rays from the sun.
You won’t have to burn propane or diesel to run the generators. By using solar panels you will be able to run the space heater and keep the environment warm.
If you mostly camp at campsites where you have access to electricity then you probably don’t need solar power. But, if you travel a lot in the wild or away from urban facilities then it will be an important investment.
Always, do research before buying a solar panel as to how much power you need. Depending upon your needs you should bring a good one.
There are two types of solar panel available:
- Polycrystalline: 13 to 16% efficiency that is less expensive.
- Monocrystalline: 15 to 20% efficiency that is more expensive.
The power output of both the solar panels will remain the same, efficiency only means that the monocrystalline one can charge the battery faster than the polycrystalline one. Your electric appliances will never know the difference!
Monocrystalline solar panels are available in flexible form and panels are more aerodynamic than the raised ones.
13. Maintenance Of RV Is Important
Cold weather means rough weather, you cannot take chances with it. During summers you can sleep through the night without AC but believe me there is no chance of surviving in winters.
Your RV health should be perfect to fight off the cold or you can land in trouble. It is better to check the RV, do its maintenance before you start your trip.
While driving the battery gets charged but in cold weather, it won’t last long so you have to be ready.
Many RV shops offer full winterizing services that your vehicle(home) needs. Keep your RV in the best condition possible.
14. Cold Weather RV Features
If you have all-weather RV then you may never want a tip on how to get ready for winters. Your RV should have a feature that is discussed below to withstand cold weather.
- Extra insulation on the walls and doors.
- An enclosed underbelly for maximum protection.
- Heat ducts and vents in the storage bay area, where most of the plumbing is located.
- A water connection point with heater vent blowing into the enclosure.
- There should be vents on the roof to get rid of the humidity.
- Double pane window for better insulation.
If you have already purchased an RV then try to make it wintertime feature-rich and if you are planning to get an RV then get a four-season RV to avoid discomfort.
Other tips for winterizing the RV are:
- You can use spray foam at the bottom of the camper but make sure to leave the place where you might need any repair. It will provide insulation and keep the heat trap inside the camper.
- Try to put reflectix on the backside of a storage bay access door.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it possible to live in an RV in the winter?
Yes, it is possible to live in your RV in the winter if you do take precautions and get ready with your RV for winters. There are many people who live in their RV full time as we live in our house.
Generally, RVs are designed and have thin walls and less insulation that is not good to withstand cold. You have to upgrade the RV first so that it can provide you an excellent shelter in winter.
The rest of the knowledge always comes with experience, as you will live in it you will come to know how you can live in it better.
Some tips that will help you with that are:
- Insulate windows, door, floor, and vents.
- Use space heaters
- Good antifreeze or tank heaters are good for black, grey and freshwater tanks.
- Use an electric blanket or sleeping bags for added precaution.
- Insulate your plumbing.
2. What is the best camper for cold weather?
If you like to travel in winter and want to know the best campers for cold weather then here is the list of 10.
- Keystone Montana
- Northwood arctic fox
- Heartland bighorn
- Keystone raptor
- Heartland LM Arlington
- Jayco 327CKTS Eagle
- Lance 4 Seasons Travel Trailer
- Jayco Redhawk 26XD
- Windjammer 3008W Travel Trailer
- Forest River Arctic Wolf
3. Can you legally live in a camper?
The answer is both yes and no, as there is no direct answer and every country and state has its own laws. If you are planning to live in your RV full time even if it is standing on your own land then also you may be breaking some laws and there are laws that may prohibit you from living in it.
In rural areas laws are not so strict as in urban places, so, you have to ask it with your local authority before falling in trouble.
4. How do you flush antifreeze out of the camper?
The best way to flush the RV antifreeze out of the camper is through running freshwater via the water system. You can do it either from the city water inlet or from the freshwater holding tank by using a water pump.
You have to keep open all the faucets whether it is hot or cold and run fresh water through the system till it becomes clear. All the RV antifreeze will move into the holding tank that you can empty at a dump station.
If you have added antifreeze to the freshwater tank then you need to drain it before filling it with fresh water. Most of the antifreeze is biodegradable and safe to the environment but still, you should check the label.
5. Is RV antifreeze toxic?
Yes, most of the RV antifreeze is non-toxic but still, you should check the label for more detail.
There are basically two types of antifreeze either it is ethanol or propylene glycol. Antifreeze work by raising the freezing point of water.
6. How to insulate RV underbelly?
It is always better to insulate the RV underbelly because it traps the heat inside the camper. Here is step by step instructions as to how to insulate RV underbelly.
Step 1. First, take measurements of the RVs underbelly.
Step 2. Detach the underbelly.
Step 3. Install the new insulation material.
Step 4. Put everything that was removed from the underbelly.
Insulation material that you can use for insulation is rigid foam such as ISO, EPS, and XPS.
Watch This Youtube Video: How to Winterize An RV
Winter changes the scenic beauty and many people feel excited to make a trip even if it is cold out there. If you feel the same then do not get scared of it.
Winter is just another season that should not be missed out. With better and proper preparation you can enjoy your winter trip to your RV.
Make sure you have done all the pre-required thing before leaving. As you will grow in experience you will know what works for you and whatnot.
By following the above steps I believe you will enjoy this winter in your RV for sure.
Happy & Safe RVing!