There’s a reason why RV manufacturers recommend that you winterize and store it when the temperature falls below freezing. These homes-on-wheels simply aren’t made for winter weather. The comfort of insulation against the cold would come at the cost of weight—pretty much defeating the whole idea of mobility.
While it’s not recommended, a growing number of people have taken the challenge of a winter RV adventure. If you’re not prepared or know what you’re doing, it can be a very bad idea. But if you’re up for an adventure and the weather is just cold—rather than below freezing—here are some helpful tips.
Everybody MUST Stay Warm
It’s not just the humans that can be harmed by cold weather. You will definitely experience problems with your RV is you don’t keep it warm, too. Most RV owners are forced to come up with a storage solution for the winter months. Climate controlled garages are what’s needed, but they can be costly. It’s why a growing number of RV and 5th-wheel owners are investing that rental money instead into a metal and steel building right on their own property.
Many RVs now come with optional thermal packages that offer additional insulation. This is a help, but it is not a solution. It’s extremely important to invest in an RV skirt if you plan on taking your RV out in weather that even approaches freezing temperatures. Most of the RV’s important components are located underneath, so the skirting keeps battery bays, plumbing, and even storage warm.
Most RV windows were not made to keep the winter temperatures out of your cabin area. RV adventurers who like to take winter trips recommend purchasing sheets of insulation at your local home supply store, and cutting inserts to cover the windows. It’s not very practical for the massive windshield, so you may want to instead purchase heavy-weight thermal curtains for large expanse of glass.
Lastly in the warmth department, it’s likely that your RV has a heater. Be sure you understand its requirements. Even a single night of running it to stay warm may be enough to train your onboard propane tanks. Some high-end RVs have heat pumps. While these may not use propane, they stop working efficiently below certain temperatures. Don’t go out in the cold weather with your RV unless you are sure you know the limitations of its heating system.
Big-Time Water Concerns
A burst pipe can do more than ruin an adventure. It can destroy your RV, or at least cost many thousands of dollars’ worth of repair. For this reason alone—and especially if you’re brave enough to consider an RV trip in temperatures below freezing—many RVers choose to simply drain their water tanks.
Yes, that means you’ll be taking along no water with you for all those things you need it to do—like brushing your teeth, washing dishes, and even flushing the toilet. Stock up on that bottled water, for sure!
Even if you empty the water tanks, you’ll have to winterize them with antifreeze. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consider looking into RV tank heaters. Your energy usage will go up, but it may be just what you need to take that winter adventure after all.
Don’t forget your black tank. Sure, it’s the tank we like the least, because basically it’s a giant chamber pot under the RV. All the more reason to make sure you protect it from freezing! You don’t want to deal with that mess.
Why would anybody put up with all the extra work to take an RV out for a winter trip? Peace and quiet. Chances are, you might have the entire campground to yourself.