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Old 07-23-2015, 01:24 PM   #1
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Question Full Time Motorhome Living In Winter

Hi forum I have recently been doing a little researching about living in my motorhome full time, even through the winter months... (Home base is Fort Collins, CO) - and have found some good info. It still seems to be a task, but its one I am going to have to embark on because I don't plan on moving somewhere warm during winter for a while.

I am actually thinking about doing the complete opposite; the idea of heading up into the mountains for the winter months has entered my thoughts and I'm highly considering it - that is - if my motorhome will last up there.

What do the rest of you full timers do during winter months to keep your coach in tip top shape / working condition? Should I stay down in fort Collins (where it gets cold but not as cold as in the mountains) or if I prep my RV correctly should I be ok up in the frozen mountains?

I've read about insulating all the pipes, prepping the fridge, buying a removable insulator for around the bottom / outside of the coach... etc; but I was hoping you all had more advice from personal experience?

Either way I am toughing the winter out in the coach - but cant decide exactly where I want to be and if the RV is capable of being in the cold of the rockies for months on end.

Also as far as tank heaters go - would I need to get one for each of the tanks? Fresh water, black, grey, etc?

Any advice / comments / personal experiences / etc welcome here! Thanks guys
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Old 07-23-2015, 01:55 PM   #2
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The best way to do it is to rent a garage the MH will fit in then heat the garage to 40deg.

Get an extend a stay fitted to your gas line. You will need large refillable/swappable tanks. Consider that something like each 3 degrees in temperature rise doubles the fuel use in heating. Assuming you have a winter capable unit you will be using a lot of both propane and electric for heat.

Look for a small dehumidifier. They may be on sale now or soon as they are summer items for most folks you will need one to help manage the moisture in winter in a MH.

You will need to keep all 3 tanks warm and you will need to figure out how you are going to dump the tanks fairly often. I'm not sure about CO but in NY most places are closed in winter.
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Old 07-23-2015, 02:25 PM   #3
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In Palisade CO (abuts Grand Junction) we were forced to spend the last of Feb along with Mar once and all of Nov a few times. I think Palisade is warmer than Ft Collins and is certainly warmer than the mountains but I never want to do that again.
In Feb I was using a 40 pound bottle of propane in about 5 days.
My tanks are heated by the furnace and are good down to about 18 degrees if the thermostat is set to 72 degrees. I put an electric ceramic cube heater set to hold 40 degrees in the service bay. That bay is open to the metal compartment under the floor that holds all of the tanks and the sewer outlets are in it.
At night I turned the furnace down to 60 degrees. Nothing froze when the overnight temp got down to 9 degrees.
During the days we used two electric heaters to help keep the living area warm. We have MCD American Duo shades throughout the coach and when we put both day and night shades down in the evening you could sure feel the difference close to a window.
We used a heated hose and left it connected all the time. The input end of the hose was screwed onto a hose bib in an insulated box on the wall of the house we were parked next to and the end on the heating tape and thermostat (taped to the hose end) was in the box. The other end of the extra tape on the hose was wound around the water filter in the service bay.

We did not have skirting around the bottom and I am sure that would have helped.
I am very glad we were not there in the dead of winter when the temp gets down to 15/20 degrees below zero and the daytime temp stays in the teens.
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Old 07-23-2015, 02:47 PM   #4
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How To Prepare Your RV for a Winter Adventure

This site might give you some ideas. They love winter RVing.
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Old 07-23-2015, 03:56 PM   #5
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The MH I have came from CO. They ordered it with tank heaters for gray and black along with heated mirrors. I have a switch located in the bathroom that turns on the tank heaters. You will want some good windows that seal out the cold.
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Old 07-23-2015, 04:14 PM   #6
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A RV, no matter the price tag, is not built for a cold winter living suite.
It is a 3 seasons home on wheels.
Just by their construction and insulation factor, no way thet you'll be confortable in any RV in cold weather; the walls are 3" thick if you are lucky just like the ceiling, so you do get 2" of insulation
Forget about the floor insulation, other then the carpet, there is nothing else insulating the floor of any RV; if you have an heated basement, it will save your pipes from freezing but won't give you the confort inside the RV.
If you plan to use your RV all year long, just head south east or south west states or Mexcico from early november and don't come back up north til mid april.
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Old 07-23-2015, 05:07 PM   #7
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we stayed in Ct thru Feb .Was a learning experience.Filled tanks and disconnected hoses.Drained tanks and removed hoses.While using electric heaters to supplememt the propane we found the furnace was tricked into not running so no heat to the tanks.Leaving tank drain hose outside made it too cold to use cause as soon as the water from the tank hit the cold hose we had an ice dam.That was in 10degree weather.
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Old 07-23-2015, 05:53 PM   #8
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Thanks for all your advice, comments and personal experiences.


Unfortunately this year I don't have the option to move to a warmer climate so I will be doing everything possible to make my living conditions, live able, lol.


Thanks for the website link twogypies I will check it out


The more I think about it staying in fort Collins is probably the best option. The night time gets cold here and it snows a decent amount but up in the mountains most days don't get over 20 degrees and... I don't think it will workout ;-/
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Old 07-23-2015, 06:38 PM   #9
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When I lived in Steamboat Springs we always had a few winter visitors who insisted on bringing their RV up for their ski vacation.
Winter in an RV is more like surviving rather than enjoying. But it makes a big difference whether your winter conditions are +20 with only a foot of snow every couple weeks, vs -20 temps and 3 ft of snow every night like we got in Steamboat.
I agree with most everything in the Wynns videos, but of course they chose a bright sunny day for the video, instead of one at -20, no sun and snow coming down faster than you can shovel it.
I would recommend you use Ft Collins as the base for the RV. Otherwise you'll need skirting, window covers, and 100 lb propane tanks. Also if you park in the mountains all winter, you need to plan your exit, unless you stay till the spring thaw completes, you may need to hire a front end loader to dig you out. In Steamboat my big picture window would look out into an 8 ft wall of accumulated snow & ice until May.
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Old 07-23-2015, 10:53 PM   #10
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When I lived in Steamboat Springs we always had a few winter visitors who insisted on bringing their RV up for their ski vacation.
Winter in an RV is more like surviving rather than enjoying. But it makes a big difference whether your winter conditions are +20 with only a foot of snow every couple weeks, vs -20 temps and 3 ft of snow every night like we got in Steamboat.
I agree with most everything in the Wynns videos, but of course they chose a bright sunny day for the video, instead of one at -20, no sun and snow coming down faster than you can shovel it.
I would recommend you use Ft Collins as the base for the RV. Otherwise you'll need skirting, window covers, and 100 lb propane tanks. Also if you park in the mountains all winter, you need to plan your exit, unless you stay till the spring thaw completes, you may need to hire a front end loader to dig you out. In Steamboat my big picture window would look out into an 8 ft wall of accumulated snow & ice until May.
Yeah the more I think about living in the mountains in an RV the less appealing it sounds. Fort Collins is definitely a better choice as far as winter conditions go, because like you said it gets cold and it snows but not feet upon feet everyday.

Thank you for your comment! It helps me semi-cement my idea of staying on the plains for this winter and making sure I can even keep the RV going strong here, let alone in mountain conditions.

Happy travels
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by normandlegra View Post
A RV, no matter the price tag, is not built for a cold winter living suite.
It is a 3 seasons home on wheels.
Just by their construction and insulation factor, no way thet you'll be confortable in any RV in cold weather; the walls are 3" thick if you are lucky just like the ceiling, so you do get 2" of insulation
Forget about the floor insulation, other then the carpet, there is nothing else insulating the floor of any RV; if you have an heated basement, it will save your pipes from freezing but won't give you the comfort inside the RV.
If you plan to use your RV all year long, just head south east or south west states or Mexcico from early november and don't come back up north til mid april.
Haven't looked closely at the construction features of good Type A MH have you?
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Old 07-24-2015, 12:42 AM   #12
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Many remarks have been made one of which is that you should stay in Ft. Collins so you could get away with out "Skirting" ............. Let me Impress this upon you
You Can Not Get Away Without Skirting and Expect to Be Comfortable Under Any Circumstance!!!!!!!! Period...

That is a fact. If the wind can whistle under your unit you Will be cold and your tanks Will Freeze and you Will have a heck of a time keeping things from getting worse and worse!
The Belly is the weak spot on men, beast and RV's!
OK now I'm getting Dramatic but it's true don't be fooled, that's where all your tanks and liquids are, that's where the pump is that's where the Batteries are (they get cold they loose power fast!) In many units there's the weak spots in insulation. with a little bit of research skirting can be done for little money effectively and safely.
Just don't do it without!

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Old 07-24-2015, 01:28 AM   #13
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Many remarks have been made one of which is that you should stay in Ft. Collins so you could get away with out "Skirting" ............. Let me Impress this upon you
You Can Not Get Away Without Skirting and Expect to Be Comfortable Under Any Circumstance!!!!!!!! Period...
Ed
It all depends on the conditions of each specific area. In areas where the overnight lows near 0 F or worse and the winds regularly blow over 20 MPH, I would agree with you. But Ft Collins Co lows in the 3 coldest winter months are only 18-20 F on avg and the winds rarely blow over 10 MPH. I've spent many winters in those conditions with no skirting and no frozen pipes or tanks. In my experience its just as important how much it warms up during the day. If it stays at 20 F all day and all night, you're in for a rough time. But in Ft Collins its typical to be 50 F and sunny during many of the the days, even in the middle of winter.
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Old 07-24-2015, 04:25 AM   #14
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Haven't looked closely at the construction features of good Type A MH have you?
YES and they are built in very similar ways. Just a detail, in their brochure, when they mention that the coach is 102 or 101" exterior width and the inside is 96", how thick do you think the walls are including the outside and inside finish ? There is'nt much left for insulation between the two, don't you think !
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