Living In An RV In The Winter


Living in an RV during winter isn’t for the faint-hearted, but for some people, even sub-zero temperatures can’t keep them away from adventure on the open road. Winterizing your RV isn’t just about making it through the season; it’s about thriving in an environment that can be challenging for you and your vehicle.

Read on for tips to effectively winterize your RV and safety tips if you’re traveling in the winter.

Tips to Effectively Winterize Your RV

Winter RV living begins with adapting your environment to the extreme conditions outside. Remember – the winter isn’t only brutal on you but the delicate parts of your RV, too. Here are several tips to ensure your RV works as it should in even the harshest winter conditions.

Choosing the Right Type of Heating

Selecting the most efficient and effective heating system for your RV is essential. Not only does the heat keep you and your other travelers warm, but it also keeps the RV parts warm enough to prevent freezing and other malfunctions due to the weather.

Most RVs come with heating systems that run on propane, which can be effective if you have a small RV and enough propane available for all your needs. Propane heaters burn through their energy source quickly, so on-site access to propane or clear road access to refill your propane tank is critical. 

If you’re on the road and unsure of what propane access you’ll have as you stop at various places (not to mention how things like ice and snow might prevent you from getting propane safely), you might need a heating option that’s a bit more reliable and flexible.

Look at the most popular types of RV heating to determine which option is best for your winter trip.

  • Propane Heaters: Portable, efficient, and safe for indoor use, propane heaters are a popular choice for RVers. However, access may be limited.
  • Electric Space Heaters: These are best suited for when you have access to shore power at a campground or RV park. Some electric heaters also include a fan to provide cool air during the summer, so consider your year-round RVing needs.
  • Solar-Powered Heaters: Some electric heaters can be connected to solar generators, which run using solar power. Even if it’s cold out, if the sun is still shining, this can be a great option for repeated use without paying for electric hookups or propane fuel.

Installing an RV Skirt

An RV skirt, usually made of heavy-duty tarp or RV-specific materials, is essential to winter preparation. It protects the often-exposed undercarriage from freezing temperatures and insulates the space beneath your RV, helping maintain a stable temperature inside and preventing pipes from freezing.

The RV skirt encircles the entire vehicle, attaching to the bottom to create a barrier between your RV and the ground, keeping the machinery warm in cold temperatures.

RV skirts are easy to find at camping and outdoor stores. They’re available in different sizes, so make sure you know how large your vehicle is to find the right fit. Some options attach to the RV with snaps or adhesive strips, but others are inflatable and don’t require additional adhesives.

Want to avoid buying a pre-made RV skirt? Do you prefer the DIY route? You can easily create your RV skirt with foam insulation boards or heavy plastic. First, measure the height and width of your vehicle. Then, cut your foam boards an inch or two higher than the height of the space between the ground and your RV. Install the boards around the base of the vehicle, using zip ties to secure them together.

Pro Tip: Before you set up camp at an RV park, check their policies to see if they have any rules about what types of RV skirting are allowed.

Protecting Pipes and Water Supply From Freezing

Running water in your winter RV is essential. Use pipe insulation and heat tape to protect your fresh water and waste pipes.

Running a tank heater or small space heater in the compartment can prevent freezing. Other options include a heated hose, a great way to fill your water tanks. Once you finish using it, remove the hose from the stopper to prevent water from freezing inside the hose.

Keeping your fresh water tank filled up at all times is critical; keeping a hose connected for long periods runs the risk of freezing up your supply. Additionally, the more water you have in your tank, the lower the chance of freezing (as long as your RV is skirted correctly).

Keep your grey and black water tanks closed until it’s time to dump them if temperatures only dip below freezing at night. If it’s colder than that in the daytime, invest in a tank heater kit with thick heater pads and an elbow pad for the water pipes.

To keep your sewer hose from damage caused by freezing, keep it off the ground and disconnect it when the weather dips below freezing. Or, if you plan to be stationary for most of the season, invest in a sewer hose with a thicker material and place it on a support system to prevent freezing.

Considering Solar as a Reliable Energy Supply

Solar generators are an excellent option for those who want to minimize reliance on traditional energy sources. Solar energy can power your lights and space heater, charge devices, and even run small appliances. The size of your RV and the amount of energy you need will influence what kind of solar generator you get.

For example, a small EcoFlow RIVER 2 Pro can still power 80% of appliances but is small enough that it won’t take up too much space in your RV. It’s great for backing up a few essential devices.

The EcoFlow DELTA 2, on the other hand, works well for extended winter road trips and offers expandable storage capacity when you pair it with an EcoFlow DELTA 2 Extra Battery or EcoFlow DELTA Max Extra Battery. Connect the EcoFlow DELTA 2 to a few solar panels 400W and under, such as EcoFlow 100W Flexible Solar Panels or EcoFlow 400W Rigid Solar Panels, and you’ll have a powerful solar generator system to keep your RV warm and comfortable.

Another fixed option is the EcoFlow Power Kits, which provides modular off-grid electricity generation and storage. It has many customizable options, making it perfect for RVs.

Minimize Moisture Inside the RV

In colder climates, condensation can become a big problem inside your RV. Moisture builds up on windows and walls when the warm air from inside meets the cold surface of the window or wall. Too much humidity can lead to mold growth and damage to your RV’s interior, not to mention colder temperatures as the water cools due to the drastic temperature drop outside the vehicle.

To minimize moisture inside your RV, use a dehumidifier, like a DIY one with calcium chloride, to remove moisture from the air.

Maintain Your Batteries

RV batteries don’t last as long in the winter due to the cold weather, so keeping up with battery maintenance to keep them warm will help improve performance. A heating pad is one option to keep the battery warm enough to accept a charge from the converter. A pad with ambient temperature sensors will only turn the heat on when the temperature dips below freezing.

Use Antifreeze

Antifreeze is an excellent addition to your RV’s inner pipes and grey/black water tanks. It prevents your wastewater from freezing and bursting pipes – a dirty mess you don’t want to deal with. You can also run a bit of antifreeze through your internal shower, toilet, and faucets and pour some down P-traps.

Safety Tips for Travelling During Winter

Winter weather can create hazardous travel conditions. Stay safe on your journey with these tips.

The Benefits of Planning Ahead

Stay ahead of the weather by planning your trip details in advance. Keep a close watch on the forecast and be ready to adjust your route if necessary. Make new plans if a snowstorm is coming in your travel path’s direction. With a bit of foresight, you can avoid major issues and use the flexibility of an RV to adjust your journey.

Find Suitable RV Campgrounds

Not all campgrounds are open year-round, especially in colder climates. Find listings of campgrounds that are winter-ready and contact them to confirm availability and any special requirements. Winter-friendly campgrounds include ones with easily accessible roads that will be plowed if snow comes in, access to electricity hookups, etc.

Choose the Right Tires for Winter Conditions

Tires are your RV’s only connection to the road. Ensure they’re suitable for winter conditions and are properly inflated. Consider investing in snow chains for added traction in snowy or icy environments if you know that your travel route will see these wintery conditions.

Practice Safe Driving

Take it slow and steady. Brake early and smoothly, and be prepared for slick conditions. Keep an emergency kit in your RV that includes blankets, food, water, and a means of communication. Remember: If your car slides on ice, steer into the skid, not away from it, remove your foot from the gas pedal, and avoid slamming on your brakes. Overcorrecting can often make it worse.

Use Heated Blankets and Layers

Protect yourself indoors or outdoors with heated blankets and warm and cozy layers. Protect your toes and fingers with thick socks and gloves. Don’t stay outside in freezing temperatures for too long – remain indoors where you have a bit of warmth and insulation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Possible To Live In an RV in the Winter?

Yes, it is possible, but it requires thorough RV winterization and strategic driving practices to stay warm and safe. Start with insulation and an RV skirt, then find a good heating source, such as an electric space heater and solar generator. Adjust your travel plans to avoid significant snow or ice.

Do I Need to Winterize My RV if I Live In It?

Absolutely. Whether you’re on the move or staying in one place, your RV needs to be prepared for winter conditions. Basic winterization includes finding a reliable heating source, using an RV skirt, protecting the pipes and water supply, minimizing moisture, and maintaining your batteries.

How Cold Is Too Cold for RV Living?

It’s a personal preference, although any conditions below freezing will make RV living difficult. You’ll have to prevent your water from freezing, and your battery may not hold a charge well in low temperatures. But, as long as you have the means to stay safe and warm inside your RV, it’s possible.

Final Thoughts

By following these tips and guidelines for living in an RV in the winter, you can enjoy a unique travel experience with safety and comfort. However, preparation is critical, including having a reliable energy source such as EcoFlow’s DELTA 2 Portable Power Station. It’s an off-grid power solution that’ll keep you warm and your RV running smoothly in even the coldest conditions.

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.

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