Winter is a massive challenge even for those who have plenty of experience RVing. It is essential to prepare your camper both from the inside as well as outside if you want to spend a worry-free time in the cold.
In the majority of the cases, RVers head to the Southern regions such as Florida, Alabama, Lake Havasu or Yuma for warm weather. The others think about winterizing their RVs and storing it for the season. This guide is for those people whole love to live an adventurous life. There is so much to do in the snow-capped mountains.
The best time to visit a ski town is Jan to Feb because there is a lot less crowd and the snow is abundant. During these times the towns are usually filled with locals only because there are not many visitors around.
However, with adventure comes the challenge as well. Not being used to the cold and snowy conditions, RVing can quickly turn into one heck of a struggle. In this guide, we will share some important tips with you so that your whole winter RV living experience remains as comfortable as you can imagine.
Table of Contents
- Winter RV Living: An Adventure or A Challenge
- How to keep a Camper Warm in Winter?
- How to keep RV Pipes From Freezing While Camping?
- Water Tank Protection: Some Important Points to Consider
- How to Insulate RV Sewer Hose?
- Keeping The Inside Warm
- Protecting The RV Engine and Generator From Freezing
- Final Verdict
Winter RV Living: An Adventure or A Challenge
Winter RV living has its pros and cons. As you know, not many people like to go out during the cold, so the biggest plus point here is you are not going to find any crowds out there. There are so many activities that you can do in the snow. Above all, your motorhome or trailer doesn’t come cheap so you shouldn’t pack it away for over five months and wait for the winters to pass by.
Of course, winter RV living does come with some challenges but if you are prepared for them, we promise you that you won’t take your recreational vehicle to store anymore. There is a lot of snowy sightseeing and activities such as ice fishing, snowmobiling, hunting and skiing to do even when the temperatures go below minus.
However, if you don’t prepare yourself and your motorhome for your winter trip then you should not expect anything good in return. Without proper insulation, you won’t like the cold and your RV lines will freeze. You can put your health at risk and getting your camper fixed from this mess will be very expensive too.
If you have taken adequate measures to prevent yourself and your RV from cold then there is nothing that can stop you from having fun in the snow. Make sure to properly heat your RV from the inside and protect it from the cold of the outside. Take different types of anti-freeze agents and make sure to keep the water outside of your camper.
Have all the necessary gears and kits with you and you are all set for your adventure and take on any challenge that comes your way.
You may like: Preparing for full-time RV living
How to keep a Camper Warm in Winter?
No doubt winter is the time for getting out and having fun. But there are times when you need to go inside keeping yourself safe from the blistering winds. The last thing you want is to open the tap only to find that the lines of your camper are all frozen up.
If you are going to spend winters in your camper or motorhome then you need to properly insulate it. You can start feeling the chills in no time if there are no adequate RV freeze protection measures. For those of you who don’t know much about RV insulation, some of the important things to consider are listed as follows:
♦ Skirting around your camper
If your RV doesn’t have a trailer or any insulated bays then it will require skirting. Most of the RVs are not designed to handle extremely cold weather. If you are going to stay in cold climate regions then you should do this. Now the question is how to insulate camper underbelly!
In extremely cold temperatures you might also have to run a heater under the skirt to keep things warm but more on this later. You can find a good variety of RV winter skirting and of them is the skirting from Mobile Home Solutions.
- MHS RV Skirt
Available in a very eye-soothing color the dimensions of this RV skirt are 35-inch x 16-inch. It is a premium quality skirting from Mobile Home Solutions. Mobile Home Solutions has been around for some time now and it is known for its top-notch products for motorhomes. Your purchase will include 4 joiners (hook & loop) per panel. These will enable you to connect as many panels as you like.
That’s not all. . . The texture of this panel is resistant to scuffing and the company has used vinyl to provide it with high impact durability. You can also trim it and use it according to your needs. The panel not only provides you with convenience but it is also one of the most durable options that you can find for your recreational vehicle.
- RV WindSkirt
Another good option to consider here is from RV WindSkirt. It is known for good quality products that don’t require a hefty budget. Similar is the case with this RV skirt. This is a good cost-effective choice for your winter RV camping. It meets all the requirements and standards for skirting your 5th wheel or camper. It will keep the underbelly of your recreational vehicle from freezing in sub-zero temperatures and resolves the matter of how to deal with RV water lines in winter.
Furthermore, it will keep your socializing area free from debris and wind. You can also use it to store your RV as it will keep the tires covered too. The skirt is made of high-quality materials and it will last for many seasons to come.
♦ Insulate the door, windows, and floors
Being in large size it is important to insulate your RV floors, doors, and windows. There is a significant amount of cold air that seeps through the windows, stairwell, and doors. You will be able to keep the inside of your RV a lot warmer by covering them.
You can either opt for Velcro-strapped or fun curtains to keep them properly insulated. Some winter RVers go for bubble wraps R-Max foams. Both these options work very well but don’t look that good inside your recreational vehicle.
You can cut and use a board to insulate your stairwell by placing the board on the bottom during the day. At night you can cover your stairwell to keep the cold air out. A good option to explore here is Camco’s Sunshield.
- Camco’s Sunshield
Camco is a brand that doesn’t need any introduction. The Sunshield from Camco is an essential tool if you are looking to insulate your recreational vehicle. It works well in both summers and winters because it regulates the temperature inside of an RV. It is available in six different sizes and you can choose any of them to fit your doors and windows.
In addition, to keeping you safe from cold, the cover will also protect you from the harmful rays of the sun. You will also get your fasteners (hook & loop). It means that the installation of these covers is very easy. Above all, you can easily fold them for convenient storage.
- PetriStor Insulation Sheet
Another good option to choose from here comes from PetriStor. It is relatively new in the field of RV but that doesn’t mean you will have to compromise on quality here. This shield for doors and windows is very good in controlling and regulating the temperatures inside your camper. The dimensions of this shield are 16.2-inch x 25.2-inch. You can fold it away and store it when not in use too. There are eight fasteners (self-adhesive) that make the installation process very quick and easy.
For floor insulation, you can use Ez-Cool Insulation Kit. US Energy Products are known for their resilience and durability. The brand has developed its identity in more than one areas and it has a very strong customer base to prove its worth. This Ez-Cool foil from US Energy Products has the tendency to reduce sound and control heat in winters.
It can conveniently block 97% of radiant heat which means that your RV interiors will remain warm for a long time. It is extremely lightweight and the 100 sq ft foil is 25 ft in length. Furthermore, it is resistant to bending or crushing and is highly flexible.
♦ Look for cheap heating options
Space heaters are definitely not the right option for you because they run on electricity. The cost is going to be very high if you plan to live for a month or two. But don’t worry, there are a couple of cheaper alternatives available for you. One of them is a propane heater while the other one is a pellet stove.
- Propane heater
As the name suggests, this heater will run on propane unlike the furnace in your RV. It will be able to keep the inside of your travel trailer very warm. It doesn’t consume any electricity which is a big plus but it doesn’t come with any anti-tip shut-off either. This means that it is a bit dangerous for your kids or pets.
Another downside of this option is that it releases carbon monoxide which is toxic. You have to keep your vents open at all times if you want this heater to function properly. The Olympian Wave 8 from Camco is a good quality propane heater that will get the job done for you on your next trip.
Camco makes another appearance in this guide, this time in the propane heater category. With the capacity of 8000 BTU, this propane heater is a good option for you to use as a secondary seating option in your RV. It runs on low-pressure gas and you can either wall mount it or use it as a portable heater.
As there is no battery connection or electric drain, it means you can conveniently use it for winter camping. It doesn’t create any noise and works silently. It can easily heat up an area up to 230 sq ft and also features a safety valve to shut-off in case of any accidental discharge of fuel.
- Pellet stove
A pellet stove is able to heat up quicker and in a more efficient way as compared to any other heating option. One massive advantage of these stoves over the propane heaters is that stoves don’t create any moisture and they are very eco-friendly as well.
They just need a fraction of electricity as compared to any space heater. However, their installation is very tough, if you run out of battery and the fan shuts down then the inside of your vehicle will become full of smoke. It is the best option for large-sized RVs.
You also require a good amount of space to store the wood pellets. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a pellet stove for your RV then don’t forget to search for a stove with a removable ashtray. The HP22 from Comfortbilt seems to work things out for you.
Comfortbilt has a significant amount of experience under its belt to prove its worth. It has made its mark in the market in a very short time since its inception. Similarly, the HP22 pellet stove from Comfortbilt is all about quality. It has a capacity of 50,000 BTU and can conveniently heat up an area of 2800 sq ft. the carbon black color looks very elegant and it comes with a very powerful blower. The stove is certified by EPA and only requires 110V of electricity.
The hopper capacity of this stove is 55 lbs and it also features an auto-ignition along with a programmable thermostat. The best part is that it also comes with an ash pan for your convenience. Comfortbilt also provides good period of warranty on parts and components.
♦ Heated Water Hose
Another important measure that you should consider here is heating your water hose. You can easily manage it on your own with RV pipe insulation and heat tape. But in extreme temperatures, you might end up warming your frozen hoses in the bathrooms. Therefore, the best solution here is a good quality heat hose. If you don’t take these necessary steps to prepare yourself to see your camper water pump frozen. Now then, you can find a few from Camco here again but they do look like cheap. For a premium quality heated hose you should go for Valterra.
Valterra is one of the strongest competitors of Camco and its growing popularity in the market is an excellent indicator of this fact. The W01-5350 heated hose from Valterra is available in three different sizes ranging from 15-inch to 50-inch.
It will keep your water flowing in extreme chills due to the self-regulating heating source. The hose will operate at 120VAC and features installation cuffs with zippers at both ends for extra protection against freezing temperatures.
♦ Sewer Hose
Make sure to use a PVC pipe instead of the regular recreational vehicle drain hose for the sewer line. PVC can hold up very well in chilling temperatures. A constant supply of water is necessary and if you have then you will need to drain your grey water in an effective manner.
Just wrap the sewer line with extra insulation. If the freezing temperature continues for multiple days then you can use a 12VRV heat tape around the pipe too. However, it is best to use a specifically designed product to achieve all this. One of the best sewer hoses also comes from Camco.
The RhinoFlex from Camco is available in three different lengths including 10 feet, 15 feet, and 20 feet. The sewer hose comes with a bayonet swivel adapter, a translucent elbow, and a couple of locking rings along with a couple of storage caps. The fittings tend to swivel and are conveniently detachable. Camco has used polyolefin in the construction of this pipe and has reinforced it with steel wires.
♦ Keeping your beds warm
Don’t forget to invest in a good quality heated mattress pad as well. It will be your best friend during the cold winter nights. Instead of a blanket, you should consider this option because one of us always sleeps colder. Its preheat function will warm up your bed very quickly. If you use it at a normal temperature, with the gradual rise in heat, it gets trapped in the sheets and will provide you with very comfortable warmth.
One of the best options for your RV is Electrowarmth’s mattress pad. The size of this pad is 36-60 inches and it will take only 12V of electricity. The radiant heat from the pad will ease up your tired muscles and it will induce a restful sleep whenever you want. The best part is that the pad has nothing to do with any toxic fumes, vibrations or noise.
How to keep RV Pipes From Freezing While Camping?
If you are looking for information on how to keep your RV pipes from freezing during camping in winter then don’t look any further. In this brief guide, we will explain what you need to do to keep yourself away from any hassles.
First, you need to understand that slight freezing shouldn’t be an issue at all. The reason behind it is that most of the modern day RVs feature pipes made of PEX or cross-linked polyethylene. This is a very hard form of plastic that doesn’t wear out quickly. But you still need to prevent the water from freezing, right! Moreover, if you don’t use the water heater and fresh water tank then drain them out and keep the drain open. If instead of city water, you use your tank then look for large pads to work as RV holding tank heaters.
To keep things simple we need to differentiate the two kinds of RV pipes. The ones that are inside the camper while the others on the outside of it. Both these types require different kinds of protective measures to say operable.
- Pipes inside an RV
To keep these pipes warm you can use your furnace or portable electric heaters. If it is very cold outside then you can also use them both for the same purpose at a time. If there is no in-built furnace in your RV then look to buy a space heater.
These heaters will keep everything warm inside along with the pipes and the water will not freeze on you when you need it. Furthermore, keep the door of your bathroom open at night. Also, keep the doors and drawers open for the cabinets through which pipes run. Doing so will keep them warm up to an extent. If you are looking for a pad for RV pipe heating then Facon’s heating pad should do the trick.
This 3-inch x 13-inch heating pad works with 12VDC. You can either buy it in a pack of three or six. These pads will keep the water from freezing because their construction involves fibers of reticular carbon that will efficiently and evenly keep the water heated. With the self-adhesive, this pad is very easy to install and they also feature 3mm insulation of foam.
- Pipes outside an RV
As these pipes are outside, you have to make sure that they are adequately padded. The heating pads are extremely helpful to prevent the outside pipes from freezing. Foam insulation guarantees your hose to be no freeze water hose.
You can easily put these foams around the hose to keep it ice-free and well-warmed. Similar is the case with the faucets. Faucet covers are also available on the market that will prevent any freezing in the cold temperatures. Some of the no freeze water hose reviews are provided as follows.
If you want to purchase pipe insulation for your RV water hose then the 50144 insulation will work wonders for you.
The 50144 insulation for water hose has the ability to block heat and save energy. You can either use it on cold or hot pipes. This insulation will not only prevent the pipes from freezing but will also work on condensation in cold pipes.
If you want to cover your outdoor faucets then the covers from Fox Valley Traders will prove to be a wise investment.
This vinyl casing is excellent to use and it will easily fit over any standard sized faucet. You can conveniently secure this cover with the hook & loop strap. The cover features Thinsulate for insulation and its dimensions are 6-inch x 7-inch.
Water Tank Protection: Some Important Points to Consider
One of the primary issues to tackle in winter RV living is how to keep the water in the tank from freezing! Before we start recommending any products that you can use, consider the following points:
- One of the simplest ways to achieve this is to keep the inside of your RV well heated. Regardless, of how cold the weather is outside, it will still take plenty of time to extract all the heat out of the tank from the water and then freeze it.
- Another way of doing it is with the help of heat tape. Heat tape for water hose involves a system to retain heat and maintain temperatures. You can wrap your tank with it and prevent the water from freezing. Furthermore, you can use it along with the insulation tubing for better results.
- You can also leave your faucets of your grey water tank running to keep the water in your tanks from freezing.
- An important point that you must not overlook is disconnecting your tank from your local water supply. First, fill your tank with fresh water and then disconnect it and store the tank away from cold. Then, make sure to drain your grey water tanks and make a good room for waste. Don’t forget to close your sewer lines or you will lose your fresh water. Try to use the campground facilities more and restrict the use of your own water to a minimum. You can use heating blankets to wrap the tank or place a light bulb near the tank to keep it warm.
When it comes to wrapping the water tanks, there are a couple of products that we recommend. Both these products offer exceptional value because they come at a very good price and are reliable too.
This large heating pad is suitable for large-sized water tanks. The size of this pad is 7.25-inch x 25-inch and it also features thermostat control. Facon has designed this product to keep your RV water tank safe from freezing. It proves to be a huge convenience for the modern-day winter RVer.
The company has used carbon fibers (reticular) which ensures efficient and even heating. With the help of the automatic thermostat the pad can turn itself on/off as long as the electricity is available and the on/off switch is turned on.
This continuous cycle will keep the water from freezing in the tank the pad features self-adhesive 3mm insulation of foam which is very easy to install. However, the only problem with it is that it will only last for a couple of seasons and that’s it.
This kit includes a convenient bucket of six different products. You can find the Ban Front Antifreeze concentrate along with the kit for a hand pump and plug for blowing out. There is a small-sized dehumidifier as well as an odor eliminating bag included in the package.
Your purchase will also include a tool to keep your fridge door open. If all of this is too overwhelming for you then you can also take assistance from the Camco’s winterizing guide that comes with your purchase as a bonus.
This kit includes everything you will need to keep your water tank safe from freezing even under sub-zero temperatures therefore, you don’t even have to know that at what temperatures do RV water lines freeze or what is the freezing temperature for the camper. Some of the customers have complained about the quality of the kinked hose and plug for blowing out as they offer subpar performance.
How to Insulate RV Sewer Hose?
One of the biggest issues associated with using RV toilet in winter is that most of the RV sewers hoses are not made to withstand the freezing temperatures. You can either buy a winter sewer hose for your motorhome or you can insulate your current hose. In the above section, we have recommended an RV sewer hose for winters. So, here we will discuss how you can insulate your current hose that cannot tolerate chilling weather.
First of all, make sure that you only use PVC pipes for the RV’s sewer hose. PVC is very strong and it has a little chance to freeze even in coldest of weather. The best way to insulate your camper sewer hose is to wrap it with heat tape or insulation sheet.
This wrapping will prevent any development of ice dams within the hose. Some highly experienced winter campers only use their sewer hoses to drain their tanks. After that, they immediately clean the hose and place it in a preheated compartment. When you disconnect a frozen hose it will split in most cases. Also, make sure not to empty your tanks until you are leaving because it will prevent any ice formation.
Now you can either use a pipe cover made of insulating foam or you can go for a cable to heat your hose. It is also known as RV sewer pipe heat tape.
- Insulating pipe cover
These pipe covers are excellent when you want to trap heat inside. The covers are made of insulating foam and they can retain heat very well. These can work in both summer and winter seasons. One of the best products in this regard is from the Duck brand. This pipe cover measures to be 0.75-inch in diameter and is three feet long.
The pack includes four pieces and you will be able to insulate your sewer hose very effectively. It is safe to use at different temperatures. You can not only use it in the winter but in summer as well. These sticks are already slit for you to conveniently use and install on a variety of hoses or curved pipes.
It can easily fit on ¾-inch copper pipes. It is highly productive to prevent summer sweating and winter freezing. You just have to attach the pipe with the sewer hose and that’s it. There is no need for a separate insulating sheet here.
- Heat tape or heating cable
Another option for you to choose is a heating cable for your sewer hose. It is best to use this tape in winter seasons. The 4325 heating cable from M-D Building offers a good solution to this problem.
It is available in different sizes ranging from 6 ft to 24 ft. The heating tape comes with an automatic thermostat too. It can easily handle frozen sewer hoses below subzero conditions. The cable is very easy to install and there is a sensor light that indicates the working of the thermostat. Its thermostat is CSA and UL approved for preventing water freezes.
It is best to use this product on hard plastic and metal pipes. If you prefer wrap-around installation then the heat tape is going to be the best option for you. However, you will require wrapping an insulating sheet before you go with the heat tape.
Keeping The Inside Warm
Now comes, the all-important point of how to keep the inside of an RV warm. The best thing you can use here is a space heater. Space heaters are excellent particularly if you are using the RV park facilities. There is no need to spend extra money on propane furnaces when you have shore power to use. Now there are is a long list of brands that have their space heaters on the market.
The numbers are overwhelming but we have made it easy for you with our highlights for your consideration. For those cold, chilling weather, you can use two different types of space heaters within your camper. One of them should be near your bedroom while the other one should be near the front.
- Near the bed heater
For your camper beds, you should look to buy the space heater from Lasko. This 8.5-inch x 7.25-inch space heater packs quite a punch. The primary reason why it should be near your bed cause it doesn’t make any noise. There are a couple of Quite Settings and automatic feature makes it an ideal option for you to warm up a small space.
That’s not all. . . It also has a wide oscillation span and covers a good ground with its warm air throw. There is an in-built timer along with a remote control operation. Lasko has also integrated the heater with safety features and for this reason, the exterior of this unit stays cools even during operation.
It stays the same way even if it has been working for long hours. It is the best option for your winter RV living because it not only delivers performance but also comes at a very affordable price. However, the space heater doesn’t come with an automatic shut-off feature.
- Near the front heater
Kloudic Space Heater
For your near the front unit, you should consider buying the space heater from Kloudic. This small sized unit is very handy for you and you can use it anywhere you like in your camper. To keep the inside warm, it is best to place this unit in front of the pipes and lines. It will conveniently keep things warm inside and prevent your RV’s pipelines from freezing.
The best feature of this portable unit is its 600W energy saving setting. The ceramic heater is capable to quickly warm up your surroundings in no time. In addition to that, you are also able to use the auto-oscillation feature with just one push of a button.
The price of this space heater is also very convenient. Nevertheless, it is the best option for you if you have a small trailer. The unit is not big enough to warm up space in a larger recreational vehicle. Some users have also complained about the longevity of this product.
Portable Lasko Space Heater
If you are not entirely convinced by the above option then you can also go for Portable Lasko Space Heater. This space heater is one of the best selling units on the market today. It comes with three different quite settings and you can also use it in your bedroom. The best part is that you can use it anywhere you want inside your RV.
Like the previous one from the same brand, this unit also features an automatic thermostat and with the remote control, you can easily change your setting according to your preferences. It features a ceramic heating element of 1500W capacity and there are 11 different temperature settings from which you can choose.
Here’s more, there is a very convenient carry handle as well that enables to you move around with the unit in your hands.
In addition to that, this heater also comes with special safety features that keep it safe for you to use inside your RV even in the presence of kids or pets. The only issue with this space heater is that it doesn’t feature an automatic shut-off switch just like the previous one.
Protecting The RV Engine and Generator From Freezing
Now we all know that there are two types of motorhomes or recreational vehicles when it comes to fuel. Some of them run on diesel while others use gas. Diesel fuel has a tendency to freeze or become a gel at approximately 20°F. This gel can be harmful to your engine. Therefore, it is necessary for you to use and anti-gel supplement for your RV’s diesel to prevent all this from happening.
There are two most important parts of your camper without which you are not going to go anywhere: its engine and its generator. Both these components require fuel to work and fuel tends to become useless in low temperatures. Therefore, there should be an additive that you can use along with the fuel so that it doesn’t turn into a gel and destroy the machinery.
Fortunately, there are a lot of options here for you to explore as well. But of course, you don’t want to experiment on your RV because it is a huge investment. Therefore, you should carefully choose the correct product here to avoid mishaps.
- For the engine
If you are looking for an anti-freeze supplement for your engine then there are not many better than the Heet 28202 from Golden Eagle. This bottle is able to get rid of water as well as the gel formation of your fuel in no time.
Not only your engine stays clean but your fuel line along with the injector will come out clean as well. It is one of the best tools to have in your RV in the winter season. You can either buy a single bottle or a pack of 24 for the whole winter season. It has the ability to absorb over five times than most of the other gas dryers.
Because it eradicates water from your engine, the engine remains free of rust or corrosion as well. It is important that you check your engine and fuel lines regularly. In most cases, you will end up stranded if you don’t have fuel. Plus, you will also have to bear plenty of cost for this minor negligence.
- For the generator
If your RV running with diesel then this option is going to suit you well. The anti-freeze supplement from Zerex comes in 1-gallon bottle and it’s good for over 3 years. It can stop your generator’s diesel to turn into a gel and damage it.
The supplement meets the ASTM-D6210 performance standards along with EC-1 requirements for long life from Caterpillar. It works well with a number of RV’s too. If you are looking for a coolant that continues to perform for a long time to come then you should not look any further.
In most cases, the antifreeze agents or coolants are good for both engines and generators. Most of the RVers use a single coolant for both purposes. It can be cost-saving but there is no harm in taking care of your vehicle and your equipment. Both these investments are pretty hefty including your camper and the RV generator and you need to take care of them.
Always keep an eye on what is going on under the hood of your campervan if you want to avoid any serious inconveniences. If you have your motorhome up to date you will not face any issues on any of your next trips regardless of the weather. Even newly purchased RVs require regular maintenance and checkup.
Winter RV living is a fun activity to do but it also poses a few challenges. It is important to tackle all of them in a timely fashion. It means that you need to be well prepared for your winter camping. Not only that you have to get in a cold mindset but you must also get your vehicle ready for it.
Your heating equipment (all of it) should be ready. Even if you are not going to a cold climate, you might end up staying for a night in a cold region. Having all these facilities at your disposal will only going to make your trip worthy to remember for a long time. The crux of the situation is that you have to prevent all the fluids from freezing. For this, your RV’s inside pipes and outside pipes need to be properly insulated along with their hoses. Your space needs to be properly heated and your fuel should also remain free of any winter influence.
If you follow all the steps in this guide then we assure you that you will have a wonderful time in the outdoors. Keep everything under check and prepare ahead of your trip. Every minor detail is important here. In addition to all the gear and equipment we have mentioned above, make sure to take a first aid medical kit with yours. It should be readily available at all times so that you can take the necessary steps in case of an emergency. Similar is the case with all the safety gear. Try to make a list of everything and when you are done with something then check it off. This way you will be able to plan well for your winter RV living.
Let’s get rolling!