RV living in winter

Discussion in 'RV Tips & Tricks' started by John Harrelson, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. John Harrelson

    John Harrelson New Member

    Well it's that time of year again and trying to be a good neighbor in our RVing community, I thought I would once again post my thoughts on getting through the winter while living in an RV..

    Please remember that this is not necessarily the right way nor the wrong way ... it's just my way of getting through winter.. :)


    I live in my 1995 30 foot Prowler 5th wheel all year 'round and have absolutely no problems with cold weather.

    Here in northern Nevada, the winters are about average for the middle USA. Temperatures range from 10 below to 30 degrees above at night and range from 20 to 60 degrees in the day. Moisture is fairly high because of the snow we get.

    I have never had any problem with moisture or frozen pipes. I do use a heat tape on the water line and I have the trailer under-penned with a canvas skirt to keep the cold winds from blowing under the trailer.

    I use only the trailer's forced air furnace to heat with, except the little space heater in the bathroom when I take my shower.. but I turn it off as soon as I'm out of the shower.

    Electricity cost to much to try and heat the whole trailer with space heaters. My electric bill runs about $35-45 per month during the hard winter months. (13.5 cent per KW)

    During the worst part of winter .. December, January and February, I used about 1 gallon of propane per 24 hour day.. during the milder months, my propane usage was less than a gallon per day..

    Last winter propane was $2.75 per gal and cost about .(+-). $80/100 per month for everything...Furnace, Water Heater and Baking/Cooking.

    On many RVs, the furnace heating ducts run along the same path as the water pipes.

    Plus many RVs have the heating ducts routed into or through the basement storage areas where the holding tanks are located.

    You should never use a space heater of any type, electric or gas, as the only source of heat in an RV.

    It may not push enough heat into those places behind the wall where the water pipes are or down into the basement where the tanks are.

    Remember the RV furnace is properly called a “FORCED AIR FURNACE”

    I keep the inside temperature at about 67 degrees when I'm up and about, like watching TV or working on the computer. I turn it down to about 60 degrees when going to bed.

    As for using a heat tape on the water line that feeds the RV,, here is the reply I made to someone else's question about using heat tapes on garden hoses.

    Maybe it will answer any question you have on that subject....

    Folks in the RV community know that a "Heat Tape" is a long plastic ribbon that is attached along a garden hose to keep it from freezing during winter time.

    It works just like an electric blanket does on your bed. It cycles on and off to maintain a temperature of about 40 degrees on your water hose so the water won't freeze during the winter.

    Contrary to what some people think... a heat tape that is Properly installed cannot and will not "Melt" a garden hose..

    simply because a heat tape has a Pre-Set thermostat that keeps it at about 40 degrees F... and I have never seen or heard of a garden hose the will melt at 40 degrees..

    Heat Tapes must be used in combination with some type of insulation. .. Trying to use a heat tape without insulation won't work very well..

    Try to get the heat tape model with "clear plastic bubble" on the end that has the plug on it.

    When the tape is plugged in, a little red light will glow inside the clear plastic bubble and you will know that it's working properly.

    Last year this type of heat tape were sold at Wal-marts and during my monthly shopping trip to Wal-mart last week, I asked if they were going to have them this year and was told they were on order..

    Heat tapes come in different lengths, simply measure the length of your water hose First.........

    and then buy the length of heat tape recommended on the back of the heat tape package for that length water hose.

    Heat tapes cost about $15 to $25 depending on length. But they will last for 20 years if taken care of properly. Most hardware stores and places like Wal-Mart carry them as well as the insulation..

    In my opinion, the best insulation to use are the "Foam Tubes" (about 99 cent each) with the split down the entire length and are designed to simply slip over the water hose.

    Most people then wrap some type of tape around the insulated hose about every 6 inches, so the wind won't blow the insulation tubes off.

    Very Important Notes:....

    # 1. Use only plastic "Electrical Tape" to secure the heat tape to the hose and also to secure the foam tubes to the hose..

    DO NOT use things like Duct Tape or plastic wire ties....

    The reason is that every time a faucet is opened and closed inside the RV, the water hose will expand and contract a little bit ...

    Electrician's tape will expand and contract with the hose.. but Duct tape and wire ties cannot and could wear a hole in both hose and heat tape over time..

    #2. Be sure to lay the heat tape flat against the hose... do not let the heat tape overlap itself or make contact with itself at any point ...

    and be careful to not "kink" the heat tape or make 90 degree sharp bends around corners..

    Either of these things could cause a "Hot Spot" in the heat tape and melt the hose and insulation and could cause a fire..


    I would not worry too much about getting through the winter folks, just use good old common sense and you will be alright..

    My 5th wheel is as warm as any "house" I have ever had and a heck of a lot cheaper living..

    and again... Please remember that I am NOT an expert on these things... and have never said that the way I do things is the only way or the correct way... it's just my way..

    Some of the stuff I have learned over the years, I've learned right here on the RV forums from other people like you.. and other things I learned the hard way... just like you did.. :) :)

    If you have any specific questions about what I did or how I did it,, drop me an email or contact me on the RV forums.

    I'll be glad to help in any way I can.. after all, that's what neighbors do... :)

    Best of luck,
  2. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Re: RV living in winter

    Great information John. Thanks for sharing :approve:
  3. yash

    yash New Member

    RE: RV living in winter

    Mr. John Harrelson!!

    I am really impressed from your writing because you have great knowledge of RV industry. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.
  4. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: RV living in winter

    Oh boy ...

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