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Old 04-09-2009, 08:40 AM   #1
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Year Round Use Improvements

I have 2006 Wildcat 31QBH that I will be starting to use fulltime. I will be not be traveling a lot but using it fulltime in the Arlington TX area because of work. It will be parked at a campground with full hookups the majority f the time. I have done a lot of winter camping in it up north in PA and MD, but only for short stays. Because of financial concerns, I am not in a position to buy an ew trailer, and quite frankly do not like the price tags on the "Four Season" or "Full Time" rigs. I was wondering if there are any improvements I can make on the current trailer to make it more suitable for living fulltime. I am going to upgrade the AC from 13.5btu to 15btu because of the Texas heat. I was thinking about upgrading the windows to dual pane or Thermopane, but do not know how difficult or expensive it would be. The insulation R value of the Wildcat is pretty good (comparable to the full time units), but the windows are only the single pane safety glass, so a lot of heat and coolng loss there. I will be adding the Dirt Devil devil central vac and a few other things to make it more comfortable for living, but my biggest issue is the heating and cooling, Any tips and insight is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 04-09-2009, 09:47 PM   #2
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In an effort to conserve heat, much money is thrown at solutions. I would first try single-cell bubble sheeting W/ foil backing inside windows and especially ceiling vents/skylights. It will block all light, but it should keep your 5er much cooler. If it doesn't, you haven't spent much money yet.
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:01 PM   #3
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Get Reflectix as the previous poster suggested. Cut it plenty big to provide good coverage and use heavy duty velcro sticky back tape all around. Also, consider putting a skirting around the bottom of your camper. You will want to invest in a space heater with all of the safety features - this will save on propane consumption. If the temp will be below freezing, consider getting heat tape and pipe insulation for your water line OR filling your fresh water tank and unhooking the hose on really cold nights. Keep the rear bedroom closed and close off heating/cooling vents to it. I also have insulated pads I put in my vents in the winter time.

Hope this helps!
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Old 04-10-2009, 11:18 AM   #4
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insulate and seal ducts

In all the 5ers I have owned the ducts from the furnace to the plenum or resisters are neither sealed or insulated and they run through in an unheated crawl space. I have always replaced these cheap "spiral flex unheated dryer vents" with spiral flex insulated duct using mastic at joints and aluminum tape at all seal points to prevent leaks. Buy it Lowes or Home Depot. They are generally sold in 25 foot lenths in a box and one box will do your entire RV. It's just insulated duct in usually 4 or 6 inches diameter with a built in isulated jacket and an outside vapor barrier. After all duct connections are taped and sealed, carefully use quality duc tape and tape up the vapor barrier and finally wrap the ends with fiberglass insulation. Use bubble wrap or fiberglass on all exposed boots and registers to prevent heat loss and seal every leak to promote better distribution of heated air. Treat your 5er just as you would the heating systems in your house. Insulate and seal all air returns and ducts

After doing this I saw a 25 degree difference before and after tests at 30 degrees outside coming from my registers. WOW!!! Next, insulate further any opening or space to prevent cold intrusion. In storage areas cut 2 inch rigid foam and install with screws to the underside of the floor and in the superstucture in thr bedroom under the overhang remove the screws and take a look see in there. Most trailer manufacturers simply wrap it with 1 inch fiberglass and cover it with painted aluminum. If that's what's there ,remove it and replace with rigid foam inside the metal superstucture and recover with the old aluminum.


Finally pull off or look under your trailer and see whats hiding there. Most have little or no insulation under their darco covers. Pack it with R19 or R30 if there is room. Bubble wrap, insulation, rigid foam, and fiberglass are all available very inexpensivly. Remember too that a recent HVAC study conducted on the east coast reported that 30% of heat loss is through the HVAC distribution system through leaks and tears in the duct in todays homes. Seal everything twice. Once with mastic and again with tape and mechanically fasten duct junctions with zip screws or strapping to prevent it from working loose on the road. The first line of defense against the cold is your heating system. Don't lose 30% of it's cabability through bad workmanship. Trailer manufactures cut any corner they can and generally are not known for superior workmanship. Just look at their idea of a heating system with no insulation and unsealed duct work.

For about 100$ you can buy all I have suggested and generally increase any heating system by 30% with attention to detail and some time and for ever afterwards reap rewards. After this is all finished then look for other more effective methods of controlling heat loss through the windows and doors because they will be far more costly and difficult to repair with little return for $ invested.
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Old 04-17-2009, 01:04 AM   #5
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Hello Rick
You may want to think about adding 50 amp. sev to your trailer if you don't all ready have it, and putting that 13500 up in the bed room. The new 15000 will do a good job, but when it's around 100 out side in the mid-city's it is hot.
You could also look for a camp spot that has shade in the afternoon.
Hope this helps
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Old 04-17-2009, 12:49 PM   #6
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I have been in my coach going on a year now. We wintered in PA and survived snow and ice storms. We used the silver reflective insulation in the bedroom and large LR slide windows. We had orderd this coach with cutains, so we kept the curtains closed too. The curtains also keep the heat out in the summer too. I'm sure the reflective insulation would help there too if you want to leave it in. The kitchen windows only have blinds so we used the plastic window seal kits sold in Home Deport/Lowe's/ Wally-World to seal those windows. That did a great job reducing the cold air from permeating thru the glass. I also put insulation in the FantasticVent fan opening but I had an issue with condensation there. I called FantasticVent and they sent me a doublepane dome which resolved the issue.

My coach already had an enclosed underbelly. I simply crawled under there to make sure there were no openings. I had to patch a few spots where sealent was coming loose at seams. Because there was potential for severe, blowing cold (even with an enclosed underbelly) I had a vinyl skirt mae up that I attached to the perimiter of the coach. This kept cold air, or blowing snow, from blowing or accumulating underneath the coach. I think this helped a great deal. After we took the skirting off we had a couple of cold days and I could feel the difference.

The other thing we did was call a local LP dealer. They installed a 100 gallon (420#) cylinder. They connected it to the hose from one of the 30# cylinders so I still had a 30#'er in reserve. Now that warm weather is here, I had them take the big tank off and I'm back to 2 30#'ers.

The other changes were creature comforts as this is our home now.
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Old 04-20-2009, 09:06 PM   #7
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For summers in Arlington, 1 15k AC may not be enough without total shade--I couldn't camp in the area from about Mid June to late Aug with only one AC, thus I went to Colorado to camp. I now have 1 15k and 1 13.5k and a well-insulated trailer.
And there will be some times in winter you will have to heat strip the water line or disconnect it. I think we had several nights of below 25 this last winter, and not much warmer in the day. A good space heater (Vornado) will help to reduce propane consumption.
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Old 04-28-2009, 01:44 AM   #8
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I'm no expert on the hot stuff, but I'm decent at the cold having just survived a full winter in upstate NY.

As far as that electric heater and propane consumption:

I cut my overall energy consumption by getting rid of my electric heater. It all seems so stupid now, but I had my electric heater placed too close to my thermostat, played all sorts of heck with the furnace. I turned off the electric heater and my propane bill went up by 5 dollars and my electric bill went down by 89 dollars. I guess this also depends on if you are at a metered site or not. Also remember to always set your electric heaters to only help the propane furnace, not run instead of it. The furnace is what heats your underbelly and water pipes and all that.

Make sure your furnace is rated for the job. I think someone else mentioned 1000 BTU per foot of trailer.

Also, check where your water lines come into the camper. If it is not in a place where they are warmed (by the water heater or another appliance), then you may want to consider putting a 60-watt light bulb in there or getting some heat tape (plumbing section at home depot/lowes).

Skirts are VERY good for winter.

Slide outs seals are also popular places to loose air. You can add a foam gasket to help seal against air exchange.

Make sure you use antifreeze in the black tank and flush it whenever you can see temps above freezing (flushers help with making the frozen poo unfrozen). Also, keep grey water valves open. Or, add tank heaters, which are expensive and painful to install ones-self.

A can of expanding foam can do wonders for sealing leaks and other minor holes in your underbelly. Make sure you seal all places a mouse could get in through, they can do a lot of damage when they have a mind to.

Hope that helps some, good luck!
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Old 05-01-2009, 01:29 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the input. I am not so worried about winter time, as I have become an expert on that camping in the PA/MD areas for many many years in the dead of winter. I am more concerned with heat in the Texas summers. I will be upgrading to a 15K AC and doing the reflectix in the windows. It sounds like I need to put some insulation in the roof vents as well, but not sure how much that will help with keeping heat out. Wouldn't it be better to not insulate the roof vents since heat rises and it would allow some heat to escape? I will look into adding the bigger propane tank for winter. Not sure how the campgrounds will feel about a tank outside the trailer. Has anyone had an issue with campgrounds not allowing this?
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Old 05-02-2009, 11:32 AM   #10
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Rick

If you have a FantasticVent fan, contact them. They make a double-pane (or as they call it an insulated) dome. They sent me one. Works on the same principle as double pane windows.
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