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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2003
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    264
    Location
    Rocky Mountains
    Tractor
    JD790

    Default Question for experienced RV\'rs-use in cold weather

    We're thinking about buying a 5th wheel unit and were curious about the practicality of using an RV in cold temperatures. Are the insulation, windows, and heaters adequate for sub-freezing temperatures? Also what happens to the water tanks? Are there heaters for the tanks (propane or do you need an 120V electric hookup?). Any info appreciated. Thanks,

  2. #2
    Super Star Member Egon's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    17,574
    Location
    Nova Scotia, Canada

    Default Re: Question for experienced RV\'rs-use in cold wea

    Almost all RV'S are not suitable for winter operation. Some have large enough furnaces that they can be kept warm in winter but the water systems have to be drained and winterized.

    There are a few which are built for cold weather. My camper works down to -10C without having the water freeze but this means the furnace must be operational. When travelling this is not possible unless it is for short times only. In the winterized mode we have slept in it at -45C last winter. No undue hardships. Water has to carried in a bottle or jug. The toilet is flushed with windshield wiper anti freeze. The floor is cold.

    After a days driving it will take about an hour for the 12000 BTU furnace to warm up camper and start to cycle in normal fashion.

    There are some units designed to -40 specifications but they were well beyond my wallet or truck capacity.

    Egon

  3. #3
    Super Member RobS's Avatar
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    Jun 2000
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    6,235
    Location
    SW Michigan
    Tractor
    John Deere 790

    Default Re: Question for experienced RV\'rs-use in cold weather

    Most of the higher end RVs can be opted with a winter package. Typically includes floor insulation and tank heaters (fresh, grey and black). Even with that option though, I would not live in one in the cold. Perhaps travel through the cold and maybe an overnight or two but even the best RVs are well short of a house for insulation etc.

    We have an entry level fifth wheel which we love. Have used it in weather down around freezing and it is fine. The heater runs a lot but it does keep it warm. Condensation is a big problem as the space is small and insulation is poor. Single pane windows with aluminum frames get very drippy in the cold. All of our plumbing is exposed on the underside which makes me nervous as the temps drop. Right now it's safely tucked away at the county fairgrounds anxiously awaiting next summer's trips [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    I'll bet Bird chimes in with much more advice for you [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  4. #4
    Super Member JDgreen227's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
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    7,740
    Location
    Central Michigan
    Tractor
    4210 MFWD Ehydro--'89 JD 318

    Default Re: Question for experienced RV\'rs-use in cold weather

    There are numerous premium name fifth wheels made by companies such as Travel Supreme, Alfa, Holiday Rambler, etc. that have extra insulation and heated holding tanks but they are very expensive when compared to standard level models. You may wish to visit www.rv.net.com for more information.

    As for us, we have a 30 foot entry level Jayco, anything below 40 degrees and the furnace is working full time just to keep the interior warm. I would not even consider using it below that temperature except in an emergency.

  5. #5
    Veteran Member
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    Jul 2003
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    Default Re: Question for experienced RV\'rs-use in cold weather

    Here in Florida we don't have to worry about it, so we expect to use our units year-round. This complacency led to some pretty severe problems for a friend of mine who stayed in North Carolina just a little longer than he should have, a couple of years ago. Frozen holding tanks and burst pipes were just the start.

  6. #6
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Mar 2000
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    37,358
    Location
    Texas

    Default Re: Question for experienced RV\'rs-use in cold weather

    Well, Rob said I'd chime in. Yes, you can use (live in) an RV in cold weather if you know what you're doing and have the right RV and right equipment. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] [img]/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img] My brothers both lived in RVs (one in a motorhome and one in a 5th wheel) through the winter in Anchorage. And on my last trip to Alaska, it was -5F when I crossed from Canada into Alaska. And we were also living in that 5th wheel trailer around Christmas 1989 when we had a record -1F here in Texas.

    As has already been stated, some RVs have heated and insulated water tanks and some do not. The same applies to the holding tanks (grey water and toilet holding tanks). The water heater also may or may not be a problem. Our 5th wheel had the water tank where it would not freeze and we continued to use it, but the holding tanks were not insulated and heated, so we added antifreeze to the holding tanks and continued using things normally while we were parked here in the cold weather. However, when traveling, a gas water heater will not likely stay lit, so we drained the water system and used jugs of water on that trip to Alaska until we got to our destination. And while it generally is not recommended by many, we left the furnace on all the time, even driving, so it was warm in the trailer when we stopped and we had no problems with that. Our motorhome had both water and holding tanks that were protected from freezing, and there was a bypass valve, so the water heater could be drained and still use the rest of the system.

    As has been previously stated, condensation can be a problem with metal framed single pane windows, but that, too, is quite easily solved. 3M, and perhaps some others, make a "heat shrink" film that works great. We, and my brothers, used it. I believe you can get it at Sears and WalMart, as well at a lot of hardware stores. It comes in a roll that looks almost like the clear plastic wrap used in the kitchen, along with a roll of double sided tape. You simply put the tape around the windows (and roof vents), cut pieces of the film to fit, stick in place as straight as possible (doesn't have to be too straight), then heat it with a hair dryer. It will shrink to a tight transparent fit and you'll have less condensation than most houses. It's cheap and easy. We always left one roof vent with the exhaust fan uncovered just in case we wanted to blow any stale air or smoke out. And I like their tape because it all comes off easily in the Spring without removing paint or leaving marks where it was applied.

    If you're going to stay in one place for a long period of time in extreme cold, then it's a good idea to add some kind of skirting around the RV to keep some of the cold from getting underneath, although that's usually done only in the most extreme cases. I've seen vinyl and plywood used for that purpose, and square hay bales also work well.

    If you're considering buying an RV to use in cold weather, hopefully you'll find a knowledgeable dealer that's familiar with using them in such weather.

  7. #7
    Platinum Member rdam's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
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    512
    Location
    North Florida
    Tractor
    Kubota 3240 DT

    Default Re: Question for experienced RV\'rs-use in cold weather

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( Here in Florida we don't have to worry about it, )</font>

    yeah, right.... Last February we camped in our Coleman Pop-up in White Springs (Stephen Foster SP). Temp got down to the upper 20's. next day we went to Wal-Mart and got one of those ceramic heaters.

    We had a great time !!!!!

    Anybody who wants a nice State Park in North Florida...Stephen Foster is it !!!!

  8. #8
    Veteran Member
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    Jul 2003
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    Default Re: Question for experienced RV\'rs-use in cold weather

    I've been to the Stephen Foster park; it is a really nice place. However, it's just an accident that it's part of Florida, it really is supposed to be Georgia (just like the Western panhandle is really Alabama).

    I try to never go any further North than Sebring in the Winter; it gets too cold up there.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2003
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    264
    Location
    Rocky Mountains
    Tractor
    JD790

    Default Re: Question for experienced RV\'rs-use in cold weather

    Appreciate all the responses. It sounds like an appropriately fitted motorhome is probably better in the cold. However I have a suitable pickup was leaning towards a 5th wheel. Anyway I've got some ideas for further research. Thxs.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    214
    Location
    NE Missouri
    Tractor
    Kubota BX1800

    Default Re: Question for experienced RV\'rs-use in cold weather

    Check out the Arctic Fox / Nash brand of trailers. The dealer where we bought our Rockwood carried them and they are nice units for cold weather rving.

    Arctic Fox Trailers

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