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Old 08-24-2016, 01:49 AM   #1
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Winter in an RV

Have a 2014 Itasca Ellipse and am planning on wintering in PA. Looking for feedback on others that have wintered in their RV and the issues faced.
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Old 08-24-2016, 05:32 AM   #2
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I wintered one year in Kansas City in a Winnebago Class A. As I remember, it took several modifications to be comfortable. We hard connected the sewer with PVC pipe so the hose didn't freeze. I had to have an external propane tank delivered because you will burn thru the propane. I also used a 60 watt bulb in my refer compartment so my Norcold would work properly. Electric wrap on Waterhose. I also purchased some fiberglass panels and installed all around the coach to help with the wind blowing under it. That also helped with freezing pipes and cold floors. It was fun but I was a lot younger!
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Old 08-25-2016, 07:56 AM   #3
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It can be done, just takes some planning and depends greatly on how cold it is actually going to get. We wintered in Georgia where we had temps that went down into the mid 20s and really had no issues. In Northern Illinois, we use ours as guest accommodations over christmas and its a whole different story when temps get down into the teens or single digits. We use electric heaters to avoid using the propane as much as possible but on those cold nights, you burn through it like crazy. I can go through a remote 20 pound cylinder in a night.
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Old 08-25-2016, 03:19 PM   #4
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Head on down to the local big box store and pick up a roll(s) of Reflectix insulation for the windows. Stuff looks like a bubble wrap aluminum Mylar sandwich. Works very well to keep the heat in and cold out. I pretty much keep the sleeping area windows covered during the summer to keep the heat out. Also cover the shower skylight.

Electric space heaters will help. Just watch your circuit loading so your not tripping breakers. When the cool weather kicks into over drive pull the slides in. It will reduce the over all exterior surface area exposed to the cold, reduces interior volume to heat and the slides seal better when in keep the coach draft free. You'll need to modify the propane plumbing by adding a T for an exterior propane take to connect to the coach. As mojoracing stated you'll burn thru propane fast. On site delivery to refill the coach tank might be difficult but refilling a rental tank won't be a problem.

Electrically heated potable water hose is a must. Not sure what the best practice is regarding dumping the tanks. If you can keep the gray open then there's no worry with it but the black might be a problem. If your coach has tank heaters problem solved. My one concern is keep the dump valves warm so a light near them but be a good idea.

TomandGloria comment about the fridge is also a good one. There is a cold weather pack for the fridge but the light bulb idea would probably work just as well. Also, as TomandGloria mentioned, enclosing the underside of the coach will help.

Good luck.
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:33 PM   #5
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In 20 degree temps on my 15 Ellipse with diesel AH I did the following:
- On a 50 amp power supply ran the fireplace and a 1500 watt heater (in the bedroom)
- Set the AH to 68
- Kept the storage bays' heat setting at 50 degrees
- Retracted all hoses - filled the fresh water tank and dumped grey/black only as needed
- Retracted the slides overnight when the temps got to < 24 - extended during day time temps > 24 (this was my chosen temp point versus some known temperature effect)

Lowest overnight temp experienced was 18 degrees for about 3 - 4 hours ... and it all worked ...

Glad to take questions ... good luck ...
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:38 PM   #6
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Whoops ... and importantly ... opened the pantry door to the left of the frig and put a small fan behind one of the bottom drawers to circulate air behind the frig ...
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:57 PM   #7
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I would invest in at least a 30# external propane tank. You can run through a 20 pounder in one really cold night. In the 20 degree range, we too run our fireplace and a 1500 watt electric heater. With those running and the thermostat set to 68, the propane furnace rarely runs. You can also use something like reflectix on the back wall of cabinets. You will be amazed when you open a cabinet how cold it is in there compared to the rest of the coach. Works good in the summer too to keep heat out. I would also lift up the carpet flap on your slide and inspect the gap. There is often some rather large openings that allow cold air to poor in. Depending on your chassis, I would also make sure your dash hvac is set to off otherwise your dash vents can be another direct source of cold air. Get the little pillows they make to stick up in your roof vents and insulate your shower skylight as well. I have a 100# spare tank that I fill in the fall and between that and the onboard tank, it lasts quite a while. With the 100# tank, the propane folks will send the truck out to refill it or exchange it also. When the 100 pounder runs out, I switch over to the main tank and call for a delivery. Sorry its so choppy, im typing as things come to mind.
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:58 PM   #8
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Oh yea! If you happen to have a heat pump and a fireplace in your unit, your in luck! Until the temps drop below about 38 degrees, combined the two units will keep the coach toasty warm without burning a drop of propane.
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:00 PM   #9
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If you happen to have a dometic power awning, make sure you bring it in before the temp hits 35 degrees. They have a safety mechanism that will not allow them to run once the temp drops to 35. Might be 32, I cant remember. I love winter/cold weather camping! I see it as a challenge. I like to see how comfortable I can keep it, still using all the coaches amenities and how little propane I can use. Must be a guy thing like trying to see how far you can go once the needle on the gas gauge reads empty!
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:07 PM   #10
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Your site choice also matters. If you can find a site with trees or bushes that block the wind as well as give you great exposure to sunlight, your in business. Its amazing how much warmer a coach stays when you get a good dose of sunlight. Many mornings we would wake up with our heat sources cranking and a couple hours later, they were shutting down even though the outside temp hadn't changed much. Open your shades during the day and let the sunshine in.
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:26 PM   #11
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Top up the diesel tank and be prepared to add diesel if you are using the AH and staying for an extended period of time.

I would seriously winterize the unit by skirting the unit including the slides. Keeping the cold from freely blowing under the coach will make the entire coach warmer. Heat tape on the water and sewer pipe will keep you "going".

Big issue IMO is going to be ventilation. There will be serious buildup of frost if you are showering and cooking inside. A dehumidifier would be something to consider.

It can be done and you should be quite comfortable if you prepare properly.
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Old 08-26-2016, 10:02 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Dewald View Post
,,, Big issue IMO is going to be ventilation. There will be serious buildup of frost if you are showering and cooking inside. A dehumidifier would be something to consider.,,,
Forgot about that one. My windows becomes a water fall with condensation as soon as the sun comes up. A dehumidifier in the shower, without the drip tank, draining into the gray tank will make a difference. You need to find the happy zone of humidity. Too dry gets uncomfortable, too wet and everything condensates.
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Old 08-26-2016, 11:05 AM   #13
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What kind of temperature do you expect?
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Old 08-26-2016, 02:56 PM   #14
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I spent last winter outside Chicago from mid Jan until mid April. Granted it was a mild winter as far as winter goes in the midwest but we still reach single digits a few times with the lowest being zero once or twice. In addition temps kept below freezing for multiple days at a time. I had an external propane tank to draw from but usually only averaged about 3 gal a day. I kept the thermostats set at 65 when I was in the coach and dropped it down to mid 50's when gone.I also used a portable electric heater at night in the bedroom in addition to a heated mattress pad which made a world of difference. This still kept everything underneath from freezing up. My coach does have a 12 volt bay heater but no heating pads on tanks. I kept thermometers in all bays to monitor temps ......in the water bay I added a small ceramic heater attached to a temp controlled plug for added warmth.
As far as water and tank dumping went it was simple. I would fill up fresh water and dump when needed. I do have a heated hose but why go through extra work and add to possible problems as it only takes a few minutes to hook up the hose and fill up. I will also add that this is my first time owning an RV as I just purchased last Sept and went full time. I was nervous and not sure what to expect during the winter but was pleasantly surprised that I really didn't experience any major issues or problems.
I am looking forward to next yr when I purchase my next coach with AquaHot and heated floors......
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