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Old 01-08-2019, 10:46 PM   #1
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Roughing it in the cold!

Well,
I love winter camping and we just got back from a two week jaunt in the Nevada Desert. Most nights were 13-18 degrees. Coldest was 7 degrees. Worst thing was needing to be plugged in the batteries up. We did spend 5 nights with no hook ups and just barely kept ahead of the battery charging with our 300 watts of solar.....just a little too much cloud cover. There is one spot somewhere that freezes on our water system. Will need to figure that out. All in all, a great trip to shake out the cold weather bugs.

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Old 01-08-2019, 10:54 PM   #2
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Congrats! Sounds like a truly fun cold weather shakedown.
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Old 01-08-2019, 11:35 PM   #3
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vintage, did you take any precautions for the cold--like opening cabinet doors or having the heater on all night? Were you warm?
I'm curious about the winter temps and the trailer.
Hope you had a good time.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:25 AM   #4
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Glad to hear you had fun. Yeah, the lack of sunlight sucks when trying to charge with solar. What were the daytime highs?
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:41 AM   #5
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We used to winter camp all the time.
No crowds.
It was a pita to de winterize and get everything going but we took the kids snow tubing and had campfires in the snow.
Had a Southwind with heated basement but they ran the water line outside the basement and it froze.
Had to use snow in the toilet to flush.
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:33 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Blazing zipp View Post
vintage, did you take any precautions for the cold--like opening cabinet doors or having the heater on all night? Were you warm?
I'm curious about the winter temps and the trailer.
Hope you had a good time.
When we were plugged in I ran the heater all night @ 65 degrees and I opened the cabinet door that leads to the area that I think froze..................Though it is not exactly a direct lineage to the pipes that I think froze............When we weren't plugged in I left the heater on @ 55 degrees and It would cycle 4-5 times a night for 15-20 minutes. Coldest was 7 degrees one night. Average was 13-18 degrees at night and it warmed up to an average of 30-34 deg. during the day with one day at a smoking 46 degrees.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:46 AM   #7
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We just returned home after 2 1/2 weeks. The temps were similar this year as your experience. Last year we had temps down to -7* at night. Stayed toasty warm with the same furnace settings as you.

We carry our water in Jerry Cans including a can for the grey water. No pipes to freeze. I intentionally converted the toilet to a composting one, so nothing to freeze either. The side benefit is the added grey water storage, a total of 120 gallons. That came in handy during our five month trip, I didn’t need to use the sewer tote during the whole trip. We also didn’t need to fire up the genny, nor plug into any electric. How ever we had to be conservative during our winter holiday trips even with the larger capacity battery storage. The furnace is the biggest power hog. We intend on getting a propane catalytic heater when we start doing more winter camping. The catalytic heater will alleviate the power drain caused by the furnace, with the side benefit of more consistent heat.
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:25 AM   #8
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We just returned home after 2 1/2 weeks. The temps were similar this year as your experience. Last year we had temps down to -7* at night. Stayed toasty warm with the same furnace settings as you.

We carry our water in Jerry Cans including a can for the grey water. No pipes to freeze. I intentionally converted the toilet to a composting one, so nothing to freeze either. The side benefit is the added grey water storage, a total of 120 gallons. That came in handy during our five month trip, I didnít need to use the sewer tote during the whole trip. We also didnít need to fire up the genny, nor plug into any electric. How ever we had to be conservative during our winter holiday trips even with the larger capacity battery storage. The furnace is the biggest power hog. We intend on getting a propane catalytic heater when we start doing more winter camping. The catalytic heater will alleviate the power drain caused by the furnace, with the side benefit of more consistent heat.
Right now we supplement with a Mr.Heater Buddy during the evening and morning hours. I hope to get an Empire tile heater to mount on the wall to further simplify the heating situation. Only issue I'm going to have with the Empire is my wife is not compfy using it when we go to sleep. I know you just need to keep a vent open and they have low oxygen shut down. In reality they only emit moisture and carbon dioxide when they are burning correctly, but it's still not a sale I can make to my bride. I've been researching a lower amp draw furnace to replace my 25000 BTU Suburban. Mine uses 7ah. Suburban makes a unit that is 19000 BTU and only uses 2.7ah. The dimensions are just different enough to cause some concern for replacing the existing unit in the same location............but I'll figure it out!
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Old 01-10-2019, 10:09 AM   #9
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Right now we supplement with a Mr.Heater Buddy during the evening and morning hours. I hope to get an Empire tile heater to mount on the wall to further simplify the heating situation. Only issue I'm going to have with the Empire is my wife is not compfy using it when we go to sleep. I know you just need to keep a vent open and they have low oxygen shut down. In reality they only emit moisture and carbon dioxide when they are burning correctly, but it's still not a sale I can make to my bride. I've been researching a lower amp draw furnace to replace my 25000 BTU Suburban. Mine uses 7ah. Suburban makes a unit that is 19000 BTU and only uses 2.7ah. The dimensions are just different enough to cause some concern for replacing the existing unit in the same location............but I'll figure it out!
To be clear if they don't burn properly they give off carbon monoxide.
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Old 01-10-2019, 12:40 PM   #10
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Right now we supplement with a Mr.Heater Buddy during the evening and morning hours. I hope to get an Empire tile heater to mount on the wall to further simplify the heating situation. Only issue I'm going to have with the Empire is my wife is not compfy using it when we go to sleep. I know you just need to keep a vent open and they have low oxygen shut down. In reality they only emit moisture and carbon dioxide when they are burning correctly, but it's still not a sale I can make to my bride. I've been researching a lower amp draw furnace to replace my 25000 BTU Suburban. Mine uses 7ah. Suburban makes a unit that is 19000 BTU and only uses 2.7ah. The dimensions are just different enough to cause some concern for replacing the existing unit in the same location............but I'll figure it out!
The catalytic heater can’t replace the furnace. It can only supplement it. We turn the furnace down when we sleep as you do. We had a Mr Heater Buddy also and used it down to -35*, living in a camper while we were building our house. It was a small camper but still struggled to offset the heat loss. Moisture was an issue. We turned it off at night for the same reasons. We also had Carbon Monoxide detectors. My current set up allows me to be less concerned with my basement freezing up.

I just installed a direct vent propane heater 12k BTU in a large common area of the house. They make an 8k BTU unit, makes me wonder?
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:05 PM   #11
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...Well, There is one spot somewhere that freezes on our water system. Will need to figure that out...
Right now we supplement with a Mr.Heater Buddy during the evening and morning hours.
See that's what's held me back from supplementing the furnace. Supplementing the furnace adds heat to the living area but not to the underside of the trailer (where some of the plumbing is). Because while the furnace has a duct to the underbelly, the supplemental heater does not. But the furnace thermostat is in the heated portion which is warmed by the supplemental heater. So the furnace will run LESS, which means the enclosed/insulated portion of the trailer is going to be colder because it gets less heat through the furnace's heat duct. Next time you go out, try sticking a thermocouple into the enclosed underbelly and monitor the temperature...
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:48 AM   #12
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I agree with shane, two heat sources controlled by their own thermostats are problematic as they end up fighting one another. Installing a furnace with less capability isn't going to help matters either as it will be running longer and more often. IMHO you'd be better off keeping the furnace that came with the trailer, forget the Buddy, winterize your plumbing system, and just carry potable water. If dry camping and solar alone can't keep the batteries charged get a small generator to supplement it. Yes ORV markets them as 4 season capable but they have their limits.

I should also add for more even heat with very little temperature swing between cycles change the factory thermostat out for a residential one like a Honeywell and program it for electric heat.
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Old 01-11-2019, 08:23 AM   #13
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See that's what's held me back from supplementing the furnace. Supplementing the furnace adds heat to the living area but not to the underside of the trailer (where some of the plumbing is). Because while the furnace has a duct to the underbelly, the supplemental heater does not. But the furnace thermostat is in the heated portion which is warmed by the supplemental heater. So the furnace will run LESS, which means the enclosed/insulated portion of the trailer is going to be colder because it gets less heat through the furnace's heat duct. Next time you go out, try sticking a thermocouple into the enclosed underbelly and monitor the temperature...
My experience has led me to think itís problematic to believe that these trailers are four season wet campers; maybe 3 1/4 seasons. Although I live 14 miles south of the Canadian border, if I lived further north I would gladly just admit these are simply three season campers.

We added a 12v heating pad to the fresh tank and dumped antifreeze (the good stuff) in the grey tanks for our October and November part of our 23,000 mile venture. As we are fruit and vegetable farmers normally we are camping mostly from October through April, this last summer excluded. Rather than tempt fate we decided to eliminate the need for any water, fresh or grey in the basement. This renders the heating the basement moot. Instead, the main effort is keeping us warm and comfortable, as well as the nano carbon batteries. The composting toilet can easily be removed come Spring and the normal toilet reinstalled if desired.

If I had to have a wet basement, then as 60 says, insulate the crap out of the basement, run a larger not smaller, (we have the 35k BTU) furnace. Then find a way to supplement your electric supply.
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Old 01-12-2019, 01:39 PM   #14
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If you are serious about real cold weather camping look into a water circulation pump similar to what they use in areas of the country with water use regulations. They use very little energy and simply recirculate the water in the supply lines and return them to the fresh tank. The best systems I have seen have one pump each for hot and cold. The hot pump does not need to run as much but the warm return to the tank keeps all the water above freezing.
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