Brave the Cold: Tips for RV Camping in the Winter

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When is it too cold to camp in your RV? Most people claim that between 32 to 40 Fahrenheit (0 to -15 Celsius) is about the coldest they could handle living or camping in an RV.

Though some people have reported that they were able to camp or live in an RV at -40F/-40C with windchill factors at -58F/-50C and made it through with an internal temperature of their RV at 69.8 F/21C for the whole cold period. They implemented strategies on How To RV in Winter to keep their RV warm through the winter.

This is amazing since most campgrounds are closed by the fall as the temperatures start to drop, yet you can find campgrounds that are open in Anchorage, Alaska, which can get as cold as 5°F /-15°C, but I could not find any winter camping in yellow knife, Northwest Territories, which can get as cold as -60°F/51°C, so I guess there is a limit to how cold where one might opt not to stay in their RV!

Most of North America winters will not see these kinds of extreme temperatures throughout the winter.  We also must consider at what temperature each person can tolerate and consider as “cold” and “too cold.” What’s important is that it’s good to start preparing your RV way before temperatures drop below 32°F/0°C.

Can It Be Dangerous When your RV gets too Cold?

It’s only dangerous for your RV in extreme cold when it has not been properly winterized. Pipes can freeze and burst, your hot water tank, freshwater tank, grey tank and black tank can crack due to the build up of frozen liquids. However, if your RV has been properly winterized there shouldn’t be any problems. Winterizing your RV involves removing those liquids from the pipes and tanks and adding antifreeze to prevent the freeze up of an RV’s water system, as well as the house batteries. Follow these steps outlined to properly winterize your RV and prevent a leaky water system come the springtime. The electrical system and furniture typically should not typically be at risk. It is possible that if there is a leak in your roof or a leaky vent there could be some rot that develops.

Can it be dangerous for you, if your RV gets too Cold?

When the internal temperature of your RV drops to below zero, then it would get quite uncomfortable and unsafe as one could slip into hypothermia especially if the core of the body drops below 95 degrees. So, it can be dangerous if one is not prepared and has taken the necessary steps to insulate their RV and be prepared for the coming fridged winter temperatures. It’s important to keep the temperatures in the cabin of your camper at a reasonable temperature to prevent the effects of extremely cold weather.

What Should you Do if you are camping and it is too cold?

If your RV furnace is just not able to increase the internal temperature of your RV, it’s critical that you are making the right choices to get your body warmer and increase the temperature in your RV.

Add another layer of clothing

The first step is to add more clothing on as you do not want to allow your internal temperature to drop further. The added layer of clothing will help with the loss of internal body heat. This is the fastest way to keep the heat in.

Add extra insulation to your RV

There are several ways to add extra insulation to your RV. Adding extra snow on top of your RV or adding more insulation on your walls and windows can slow the loss of heat from the inside of your RV. Some people even add extra ridge insulation on the walls and ceiling of their Camper.

Drink warm liquids and eat hot foods

After you have added more clothing and drink warm liquids, such as soups of other foods, this can help to elevate your internal temperature by adding more calories for your body to help warm those extremities and get your core of your body warmer.

Add more heat sources

In the next step your will what to get the internal temperature of your camper higher with other sources of heat such as adding electric heaters and electric blankets. Increasing the basement temperature will also help to elevate the internal temperature of your RV.

Warm the basement of your camper

The best way to warm up the basement of your rig is to wrap your RV with a skirt and add an electric heater underneath. The heat build up underneath will radiate up into your RV. Not only will your floors feel warmer to walk on, but it also helps with the reduced heat loss from your Rv.

Be cautious of the type of heat sources

Some people opt to use buddy heaters, use their RV stove or light candles, these are a bod idea if you do not have fresh air ventilation for the ignition and running of those heat sources. If the temperature is really cold outside, you may not want to use these sources for heating. I have an article on the dangers of buddy heaters if you want to read more about it.

Reduce the humidity

Humidity is great, but not when it is extremely cold outside. When you cook or add more humidity to the air be sure to get that extra moisture out of your RV by opening a window or vent to let it out. The extra humidity can quickly stick to walls and windows and run down and create mould problems and rotting inside your RV.

How Cold Does It Have To Be For RV Tanks & Pipes to Freeze?

It will take the ambient temperature to dip below 32°F /0°C for relatively 24 hours for RV pipes and tanks to freeze. But note that this is dependent on multiple factors like if your rig and pipes are insulated or how protected your RV’s underbelly is with a skirt to keep the cold winds from robbing the heat from underneath.

What Can you Do if your RV Tanks & Pipes Freeze?

The best method to get your RV tanks & pipes to unfreeze is to warm up the internal temperature of your RV to at least 70F/21C or warmer and the basement of your camper to above 50F/10C degrees, by wrapping a skirt around your RV and add an electric heater or two underneath. The next step is to add heating cable or heat tape on the tanks and your pipes this will quickly increase the temperatures to melt the tanks and pipes. The skirt and heater will also prevent further freezing if the temperature drops further.

What is an RV skirt?

An RV skirt is a wrap or covering around the bottom of a camper to prevent the loss of heat from underneath by wind or circulating air. This enclosure wraps around the bottom of the RV and can be vinyl, Styrofoam, wood, hay or anything that can trap the air underneath the underbelly of a camper.

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