How about full-time RV camping in the winter? Can it be done?
Absolutely! You can live in your RV in winter weather. You’ll need to take some extra steps and precautions, but
camping even in below zero environments is doable.
Winter camping is not for everyone, so before you launch yourself into the winter wonderland, make sure you
wouldn't prefer a snowbird winter down south.
For the hearty souls that don't mind a little ice and snow, go for it and enjoy the experience. The main thing is
to be prepared.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. If you’ll be parked for several months in sub-zero temperatures it is
advisable to put wide planks beneath your tires and jacks to prevent your rig from sinking as the ground
2. In sub-zero climates, or even consistently below-freezing temperatures, it will be absolutely essential that you
put skirting around the bottom of your trailer. If you don’t, you will have to probably tow your RV to Mexico and
wait a week or two for those frozen blocks - that used to your holding tanks – to thaw. If your tank is
relatively full, there is an excellent chance that a hard freeze will rupture it.
3. There are several possible ways to insulate the bottom of your trailer. First, you could construct a frame and
attach insulation to the inside and outside of the frame. At a minimum, you could use 2 X 2 lumber and staple or
screw on the best insulation you can get locally. Try to get the insulation slightly below ground level to prevent
drafts. Seal all possible openings to prevent cold air seepage. You could also attach snaps to the bottom of your
trailer and make a snap-on curtain from a heavy-duty waterproof material. Buy enough loose fiberglass batting
to fill the cavity beneath your trailer. Leave an empty spot beneath your holding tanks and put a heat lamp or
high-wattage bulb to generate heat. I wouldn’t advise putting an electric heater there because of the risk of
fire and the fact that it will burn too much electricity.
4. Remove all interior fixtures and stuff with insulation where it is missing. If temperatures are going to be well
below zero, you will want to either cut and install foam insulation board over windows, vents and doors, or make
some type of insulated blanket and attach over them. Tape up seams along windows and vents. You may want to leave
one vent or window available to open for venting.
5. You are going to have to deal with condensation. In freezing weather, you can find a sheet of ice on your walls
and ceiling. Since this is probably not a good thing, you may think about getting a dehumidifier to ease the
6. Go to your local discount or hardware store and buy electrical heat tape designed to be wrapper around water
hoses. This will help keep your water hose from freezing. Be certain that your inlet to the trailer and also the
outside water faucet are wrapped with the heating tape. If you leave the heating tape thermostat hanging outside
and don’t wrap it, you will get a continuous source of heat to help prevent freezing. Add a couple of layers of
insulation over the heating tape and then wrap with a plastic sheeting to waterproof. Finally, secure all of this
with overlapping wraps of tape.
7. Interior plumbing should be wrapped with insulation. Sometimes access to the pipes is impossible. In that case,
where possible, place 40 watt bulbs along interior compartments by your plumbing. Put a couple of bulbs in the
compartment with your dump valves. If you are using your freshwater holding tank instead of city water, make sure
you put a bulb in the cabinet with your water pump. Otherwise, winterize your freshwater tank with the proper
antifreeze an be certain that the solution is also in your water pump before turning it off.
8. Keep your gray and black-water valves closed until you are ready to dump. Gray water constantly allowed to drain
will eventually form an ice dam in your sewer hose. As an alternative, you could also try insulating and wrap heat
tape around your sewer hose if you want to leave the gray-water valve open. In any case, be absolutely certain that
your sewer hose is at a steep angle where liquids drain rapidly and are not allowed to stand.
9. Keep a couple of extra gallons of freshwater in containers in case all else fails and your waterlines freeze.
Plan on enjoying inventing new ways to thaw your water pipes.
10. If you plan on using a catalytic heater it is mandatory that you provide a source of ventilation unless you
want to risk dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.
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