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Old 01-05-2017, 12:00 PM   #1
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The Winter Camping Thread

I wanted to start a thread about winter camping in your motor coach. There are many threads about how to winterize your coach, all sorts of winter storage issues and how fast to drive down south when it gets a little chilly outside, but a thread about how those of us who live in our RVs where they have real winters might help out a lot of people. Full-time or just a week or two, doesn't matter much since many of the solutions are the same. If you look out your window on a winter wonderland and worry about your water bay temperature, this is your thread.

Add any helpful information you have about your coach, what equipment you have that works, things you do to be comfortable and suggestions for others who may be wondering about this sort of unusual lifestyle.

For those who want to post about how warm it is down in over-crowded and expensive south Florida or Arizona, knock yourself out if it makes you feel better.
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Old 01-05-2017, 12:31 PM   #2
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I will start out. We are wintering full-time at 7000' at the KOA in Flagstaff, AZ. It is 36* right now, cold rain, 2-6" of snow forecast before the morning. DW took a great job in the cardiac unit at the local hospital so we will be here for a while, taking a break from our travel plans. A couple snow storms so far (10-12" from the last one), usually in the low 20s at night but several single digit nights.

We have a '04 Newmar Mountain Aire 4016, 400ISL, three slides. Great insulation, heated basement, dual pane windows, traditional propane furnace, two roof AC/heat pumps.

The things that have worked for us are:

1) The big deal we did was to have a local propane company bring out a 100# propane tank and connect it to the coach. At night we set the furnace thermostat to 57* and are very comfortable sleeping and the tank is only down to about 67% after nearly two months. This overnight setting in the coach keeps the vented water bay in the low to mid 60* range even when it is cold outside (small volume to heat so it warms up more than upstairs), the rest of the basement stays in the upper 50s. When the furnace runs, the water bay gets up in the 90's. The propane company come out about every 3 weeks to check and refill the propane tank if necessary. The first fill was $2.19/gal, $60 annual lease for the tank.

2) A Camco "Freeze Ban" heated water hose and heat tape on the metal pipe on the fresh water spigot. I power them off the power pedestal using a Thermocube outlet (turns on when it gets down to 35* and off when it gets up to 45*). I also put an orange Home Depot bucket over the spigot to keep the electrics dry and to hold in a little heat over the spigot. So far, this has worked to keep the water flowing even when it gets down into the teens. In single digits, I turn off the water as a precaution and use the water tank (always keep it full), but no problems yet.

3) We bought a dual analog control heated mattress pad at Penny's. Keeps things very comfortable at night.

4) We have a 1500 watt electric heater that we use to keep the coach warm during the day and at night. I keep the furnace at 60-65 during the day, but it very seldom runs, more for back up. The wiring in our coach does not get warm using the electric heat, but I do monitor it. Electricity is included in the site cost ($195/week including water, sewer, 50amp, cable tv), so I use it during waking hours.

5) For back-up, I keep another electric heater in the basement plugged into another Thermocube (I also keep a spare Thermocube, "just in case"). This heater has manual controls so it comes on when the electricity comes on. Electric controls have to be turned on manually every time. I set it to the low heat level and its thermostat set pretty low. If the basement gets too cold because of a problem with the furnace, this should keep things way above freezing. I also have a spare electric heater in case one or the other doesn't work.

6) I do keep the dump hose connected and dump when full, as normal. I do "walk the hose" to make sure all the water drains out. It hasn't had a problem. If it is buried in the snow, I dig it out so the sun will heat it up when it is not cloudy (we get a lot of winter sun here).

7) When we get snow, I go up on the fiberglass roof and sweep it off with a push broom. I do not want any ice to build up. I do not wax the roof before the winter so it is not very slippery. I have one of those folding ladders and use that to get up on the sides high enough to clean off the slide toppers.

8) We monitor the indoor, outdoor and basement temperature and humidity with two displays from Walmart and a couple remote temperature sensors. I pay a lot of attention to these to be aware of what is going on.

9) When cooking or taking a shower, I run one of the Fan-tastic roof fans or the microwave/convection vent to control the humidity if it gets too high. Most time the humidity stays in the low 30% range. I did use some Reflectix on the windshield but found that traps too much moisture and the insulation builds up ice on the inside of the glass. For the last several weeks, I just close the pleated front curtain. I close all the other day/night pleated shades at night. During the day, I open all the south facing shades to take advantage of solar warming. Oh, I also carefully selected the site at the KOA that gets the most sunshine, especially morning sun.

10) The best thing is to have a good attitude. DW grew up in Chicago and I grew up in Minnesota before moving to Colorado nearly 50 years ago. We both love winter. The dogs love it too.

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Old 01-05-2017, 01:24 PM   #3
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Thanks

I'm going to be camping in Atlanta for the "great snow storm". Thanks for the info on how to keep things going.
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:13 PM   #4
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Good advise you have, we were up in the White Mountains over Christmas and New Years and saw some good snow and cold weather. I bet your campground is not too crowded.
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:36 PM   #5
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There are about 6-8 rigs here for the winter but a surprising number passing through and stopping for a night or two. Crowds are not a problem. That is why I was able to pick a spot with great sunshine.

One other device we have is an Ivation "mid-size" dehumidifier from Amazon. It fits on the back of the counter top, under the upper cabinets. It is quiet, provides some air circulation and keeps humidity around about 35%.
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:54 PM   #6
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There are about 6-8 rigs here for the winter but a surprising number passing through and stopping for a night or two. Crowds are not a problem. That is why I was able to pick a spot with great sunshine.

One other device we have is an Ivation "mid-size" dehumidifier from Amazon. It fits on the back of the counter top, under the upper cabinets. It is quiet, provides some air circulation and keeps humidity around about 35%.
Love winter camping. Lived in a 40' fiver a couple of years up here in Alaska back in the day…. You are smart to watch the humidity like you do. Due to the high cost of energy here, lots of people turn there heat way down at night, even in there homes. I caution newcomers that anything under 60 invites mold and mildew into those tucked away places. I would be especially concerned in the walls of a coach. Curious as to why you don't run electric during the evening?. Safety I'm guessing but many think propane is as, or more, dangerous than electricity. ….Great thread. Thanks…...
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:09 PM   #7
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We have stayed at that KOA several times, Nice manager and nice park. It looks like you have the i's dotted and the t's crossed. Good thread and several ideas I put in the notebook.
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:54 PM   #8
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It may be the best time of year. Got our first accumulation of snow. Beautiful. Campground sparsely populated.
I've got remote thermometers for wet bays and one for outside temp. Heat lamps in wet bays with thermistor outlet-on 35d,off at45d. Has worked well with low teens so far. Use ceramic space heater in salon and oil filled in the berth. Furnace set at 62. Never seems to run much. Kick it on to shower or on wake up if.needed. Elect is included and monthly was boosted $35 as owner knows we are all using space heaters. Don't know if I can afford $315 a month LOL. Darn lucky and I thank the man every time I hand him the check. I also have an external 120 gal tank I am connected to used 40℅ so far since mid Oct. Most used until I got control of this winter thing
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Old 01-05-2017, 05:39 PM   #9
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Curious as to why you don't run electric during the evening?. Safety I'm guessing but many think propane is as, or more, dangerous than electricity.
The big reason is that I want to be sure that the furnace comes on enough overnight to heat the basement and water bay. I worry that I don't know how to balance the space heater and the furnace thermostat. This way I know the furnace will cycle on enough overnight so I don't have to worry about the basement staying above freezing. It is worth a little extra propane $. In the future, I will figure out that balance.
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Old 01-05-2017, 06:01 PM   #10
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You will have to figure your propane usage. I have e a 35,000 btu furnace and a 8,500 btu water heater. I turn it n as needed.There are approximately 95,000 BTU's in a gallon of propane. My furnace, as I remember cycles about every 8 minutes, with a burn time of 2.5 minutes when it's low 30's, upper 20's. Fan comes on before ignition and stays on after shut off. From this I can calculate how long (as an uneducated guess) I have until I must unhook and run for propane. Hence, the 120gal tank and space heaters. These tanks can be hard to come by for some reason. I know that trying to get one at the last minute was not intelligent.
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Old 01-05-2017, 06:07 PM   #11
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WOW!!!! That picture reminds me of a winter we spent in norther NM. After an evening snowfall, my dog and I would track the footprints of local wildlife.

In your "10 Points" of preparedness, you appear to be very well provisioned. But what I like best is Item #10 "The best thing is to have a good attitude. DW grew up in Chicago and I grew up in Minnesota before moving to Colorado nearly 50 years ago. We both love winter. The dogs love it too."

ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 01-05-2017, 06:59 PM   #12
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The big reason is that I want to be sure that the furnace comes on enough overnight to heat the basement and water bay. I worry that I don't know how to balance the space heater and the furnace thermostat. This way I know the furnace will cycle on enough overnight so I don't have to worry about the basement staying above freezing. It is worth a little extra propane $. In the future, I will figure out that balance.
Thought that might be the reason two minutes after I posted. Cheap insurance for sure.
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