Winter is upon us, and even in the warmer areas of the country, the nights can be quite chilly. So if you are considering living in your RV for the duration of the winter or if you just want to use some vacation time to camp in the winter, you will need to prepare a bit more than a typical camping trip.
Unless you want to be a popsicle.
So here are some tips for making your RV winter livable and cozy.
1. Eliminate Drafts
Most vehicles aren’t very well insulated, and though RV’s are more insulated than the typical vehicle, it can still get quite drafty. This is because RV’s have the challenge of needing to be functional for living as well as driving.
Though it might not be possible to permanently insulate your RV, you can do some temporary changes to eliminate drafts while you are parked.
Most of the drafts come from the windows, especially the windows from the cab. The best way to keep cold air out is to have double or even triple layers of insulation where you can. Some great methods for insulation are:
- Sun shields
- Thick blankets
- Thermal curtains hung from tension rods
It might not seem very glamorous to have all of your windows covered in your RV while you are camping, especially if you are parked somewhere with an excellent view. However, if you have these layers of insulation up, you won’t have to work so hard to keep it warm. You can always spend a good amount of time outside or keep one or two small windows free of coverings during the day so you don’t feel like you’re living in a cave.
Many RVs that have been updated have laminate flooring instead of carpet. Though this makes it very easy to clean, it can also get extremely cold in the winter. Invest some money in a nice, thick rug to keep out drafts and keep your feet cozy.
2. Heat Sources
Some people have really modernized their RV’s with solar power, but even that efficient system can have hiccups in the winter. If you have several cloudy days in a row, which you frequently do in the colder months, you might not get as much power, so it’s good to have a back up plan.
Batteries are great if you have your furnace hooked up to it, but that can be very draining if you rely on that solely for heat. RV’s are most often used in the summer months, so the furnace is not really meant to run that high for that long.
Portable Buddy Heater
The most efficient and ideal way to heat your RV is with a portable buddy heater. These heaters are meant to be run inside and they run on propane. You will need to refill your tank about once a week if you are running it regularly. It’ll cost under $150 to get the heater, the connectors, and the initial propane tank.
3. Warm in Bed
During the day it can be pretty easy to keep toasty if you work at it. You can fill up on warm drinks, wear warm clothes, and keep your level of activity high. However at night time, it can be difficult to stay comfortable as the temperatures drop, and it can be dangerous to be sleeping in the cold.
Here are some ways to keep warm in your bed:
An electric blanket is a purchase you will never regret if you spend even one night sleeping in an RV. These blankets are efficient and they keep you warm all night long. You can always layer up on clothes, but for those who have a hard time sleeping with several layers, an electric blanket is invaluable.
Wear A Hat
Bed head is no joke if you sleep with a beanie on. But it keeps your body so warm, so it is worth every bad hair day.
Many times your bed will lay right up against the exterior wall of the RV. If you have a window especially in this area, you can keep warmer and eliminate drafts by layering pillows against the exterior.
4. Insulate Undercarriage
There are many creative methods to eliminating cold drafts from the undercarriage of the RV, and it depends what materials you have available to you and how long you are planning on parking. Here are two of my favorite:
If you are living in your RV for a long term, a permanent insulation option could be layering hay underneath the vehicle.
If you are going on a short trip, then skirting the RV with insulation boards is an easy, lightweight, and portable option for keeping your pipes from freezing and drafts from coming up.
5. Winterize Pipes
Of course one of the big issues that winter RV campers run into is frozen pipes. Here are a few ways to avoid issues with your pipes and tanks.
Install Pipe Insulation
Any hardware store will have pipe insulation on stock and it is very easy to install. You just need to make sure you measure all your pipes and get the right size. It can also get very tedious, so stick with it until it’s completely covered.
Making sure your pipes are empty in an RV is very easy and basically guarantees that you won’t have any bursts or leaks. All you have to do is turn off the water pump and turn your faucets on until they stop running. You can even leave them open for more peace of mind. Make sure you don’t stop at the kitchen sink; run your faucets in the bathroom sink, shower, and toilet too. It will take less than a minute to empty all of them and should be done each evening as the temperatures drop.
Make sure that you never have any of your freshwater, grey, or black water tanks full to capacity at any time during the winter. This will insure the tanks don’t crack.
In The Morning
After a freezing night, it will take a while for your pipes to thaw out and be useable again, but you still might need water. The best thing to do is fill up a pitcher of drinking water in your refrigerator and a bucket of water for the toilet or sinks before you empty your pipes at night.
As long as you put a bit of thought and preparation into your RV trip, you can have a terrific time camping during the winter months. You can enjoy breathtaking views, solitude and lower traffic, or you could just save money by ditching a mortgage.
How many of you have dipped your toe into winter RV adventuring?