Motorhomes ready for RVing in winter in a lot.

RVing in Winter: How to Stay Warm & Keep Your RV Safe

When most people think of camping, they picture hot summer weather, shorts, flip-flops…and lots of other campers. One way to beat the crowds is to camp in the off season. RVing in winter can be a great way to experience your favorite parks without the crowds. It may be a chance to visit a park or campground that is so popular in the summer that you haven’t been able to get a reservation.

Maybe you enjoy ice fishing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, or are looking for a new adventure. Maybe you just love winter. No matter your motivation, with the proper planning you can hit the road and experience winter up close and personal and experience nature in the “off” season.

Make Sure Your RV Is Sealed Tight

Losing the heat you generate is a big issue. If your heat just goes out the windows, walls or door, you will end up in a crazy cycle – like a hamster on a wheel – spending unnecessary money on keeping warm. Efficient heating not only means energy savings, but a cozy camping experience.

 

If you plan to spend a lot of time RVing in winter, consider aftermarket insulation. There are three general types: spray foam, rigid foam and fiberglass. Your insulation choice will vary depending on your budget and region. The R-value of the insulation is important to keep in mind, the higher the R-value, the better the insulation. All three types have their pros and cons. If you plan to do the work yourself, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Keep your budget and skill level in mind, as well as the region(s) you’ll be doing your winter camping in, and choose your insulation accordingly.

 

You can also look for any potential gaps that may cause heat loss from windows and try to seal them. Plastic insulating film is fairly inexpensive and kits are available in stores or online. Insulating windows inside and out offers the best protection.

 

If you are looking for a quick, affordable, and reusable way to insulate your windows (and don’t mind an obstructed view) bubble wrap can be cut to size and applied to windows with a fine mist of water. It creates an insulated barrier against cold, winter air. This is a great temporary method if your winter camping trip will be short lived. And you can save the pieces for use the next time you camp in the cold.

Close Off Roof Vents

Since heat rises, roof vents are helpful to keep you comfortable in the summer. However, heat still rises when you’re RVing in winter, which means lost heat and cold camping conditions if you don’t close off those roof vents. You can purchase RV vent cushions that fit snugly in to help seal roof vents and keep warm air from escaping.

Stay Dry

Another way to stay warm is to stay dry. Cold is bad, but cold and wet is worse. Be careful about rising humidity and related issues with condensation. Since you have done such a good job insulating your RV by closing the vents and sealing the windows, the warm air you do keep in can cause condensation.

 

Remember, damp air makes everything colder. In the long term it can even invite mold growth. Simply breathing releases moisture into the air, but we don’t recommend you stop doing that! You can avoid cooking inside your RV to reduce the moisture in the air, or use a vent fan when cooking or showering to pull the humid air out of your camper. Another solution is to find a place for a dehumidifier in your RV. If running a dehumidifier is not your go-to option (as in a boondocking situation), you may opt to use a desiccant dehumidifier. These small containers, which can sit out of the way, trap excess moisture in the air and are refillable.

Water Risks

One of your biggest risks when RVing in winter is water. We just looked at the problems water, in the form of condensation, can have inside your camper. However, on the outside, your RV will likely be assaulted by cold and snow from most sides. Even if precipitation is not an issue, dropping temperatures and bitter winds can wreak havoc. It doesn’t take long in sub-zero weather for frozen plumbing, tanks or hook-ups to all become a problem.

 

Just as added insulation inside is helpful, other insulation outside can help as well. Pipe covers or heat tape can protect your pipes from freezing. If using heat tape on PVC pipes be sure it has an automatic thermostat to avoid overheating. Pipes may become damaged if the heat tape becomes very hot.

Be Mindful of Your Black Tank

In addition to pipes, keep your tanks in mind, especially your black tank. This is one tank you don’t want to let freeze. It’s not a fun problem to deal with! One step you can take is to invest in a PVC pipe for the sewer hose that won’t freeze as easily. If you leave it hooked up, you must do something to insulate it! While there is no guarantee that pipes and tanks won’t freeze, wrapping an insulated pipe cover or using heat tape as mentioned above can help eliminate freezing the tank where you eliminate. To keep the black and grey tanks from freezing as they fill up, you can pour RV antifreeze into the toilet and shower drain.

Skirt Your RV

Adding a skirt can help prevent cold from sneaking in while you are RVing in winter weather. RV skirts keep cold out from under your RV. Skirting can be insulated which increases the warmth in your RV. Remember that cold air can sneak in, so be sure to anchor your skirt to the ground to prevent drafts.

Bring a Space Heater

When RVing in winter, space heaters are a relatively inexpensive way to keep you warm. They generally heat up quickly and come in a wide variety of sizes. Three main types of space heaters are: infrared radiant heaters, ceramic convection heaters, and propane space heaters. The propane space heater is a great solution for those who enjoy dry camping or boondocking. Space heaters can also be used near areas that are at risk for freezing. But never leave them unattended! Always keep an eye on space heaters.

Contact RV Wholesale Superstore

The professionals at RV Wholesale Superstore are ready to help you find the perfect RV for you and your family. Visit us in-person at 5080 W. Alexis Road, in Sylvania, OH or call us at (866) 640-9871

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