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Old 09-08-2023, 08:07 PM   #1
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Questions on using motor home to live in this winter

Hello all,
I have a 1998, 39 Fleetwood Bounder diesel pusher motor home. Freightliner Chassis. Will be living in this full time in a park in Kettle Falls, WA. Snow and below zero temperatures. Also will be using the space heater radiator style electric heaters to heat the motor home, not the builtin propane furnace. Electric is the cheapest in the nation here in Washington State. Will I need to leave the water running in the faucets slightly to keep from freezing the water lines? Light bulb in each storage area to keep the water flowing? Vance
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Old 09-08-2023, 08:36 PM   #2
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Recommend skirting, and string a couple of 60w incandescent bulbs under the rig. That’s likely to give enough warmth to keep stuff from freezing. But of course it’s also best to glue 12v thermostatic mats onto the tanks. They come on and stay on until ambients are 40F or higher. And they’re pretty cheap. Do not leave city water connected. Use water from fresh water tank. Don’t leave a stinky slinky connected.
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Old 09-08-2023, 08:54 PM   #3
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Will you be camping in below zero or freezing temperature. What will be daytime average temperature?

We camped in our fifth wheel trailer for 2 winters in South Lake Tahoe, CA where we experienced similar conditions. We used electric oil-bath radiator heaters to maintain interior temperature, electrically heat traced and insulated the shore water riser and supply hose to mitigate freezing and covered the vents to mitigate snow load.
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Old 09-08-2023, 09:03 PM   #4
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Leaving water dripping is waste of good water and just causes grey water to freeze

Fill your fresh water tank and use the on-board pump....drain stow potable water hose after filling/refilling your tank

Propane Furnace is your friend in freezing temps regardless of how cheap electric is.
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Old 09-08-2023, 09:20 PM   #5
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The temps there are not that drastic. You should be able to maintain with the on board heater and a few light bulbs in the compartments. I would skirt the coach and would not leave the hoses (sewer & water) out during the coldest part of the winter. For sure, I would not leave the faucets dripping overnight
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Old 09-08-2023, 09:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Old-Biscuit View Post

Fill your fresh water tank and use the on-board pump....drain stow potable water hose after filling/refilling your tank

Propane Furnace is your friend in freezing temps regardless of how cheap electric is.
I FULLY CONCUR.. And..Service your onboard generator before winter... It's not a matter of "IF, but a matter of WHEN the power may go out..possibly for days at a time, so have the RV fuel tanks and propane tanks also full....
Lastly, get ahold of a propane supplier/jobber [Suburban or similar] to set a 120 and help you plumb it in.. that way you have a good cushion for when winter really sets in..
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Old 09-09-2023, 08:24 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Old-Biscuit View Post
Leaving water dripping is waste of good water and just causes grey water to freeze.
Amen. Nothing is more fun than being outside in sleet and snow with a hair dryer trying to thaw out a frozen dump valve with water backed up into the shower and overflowing onto the floor.

And the sewer hose is trashed. Freezing breaks one many places.

Originally Posted by Old-Biscuit View Post
Propane Furnace is your friend in freezing temps regardless of how cheap electric is.
Another Amen.

I cannot find specs on your rig, and I know refilling propane in a motorhome is a PITA. If you cannot find some willing to come to your site to refill it, you have to remove all your winterization and drive it to a propane retailer. Or supply a large external tank like in the photos above outside that you can have a professional install to bypass the smaller tank built into the rig.

However, I'm assuming you have a 30 to 35,000 BTU propane furnace. To replace the output of a common 34,000 BTU propane furnace will require 9,964.75 watts of electrical power - which is 83.04 amps.

I don't think that rig is set up with 100 amp power.

You can't provide enough electrical heat to match 1/2 (50 amp rig) or 1/3 (30 amp rig) of the heating that propane does.

Supplemental electrical heat - fine, useful. But propane will be essential.
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Old 09-09-2023, 08:48 AM   #8
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When we winter camp, we use small electric heaters in the compartments with water or pipes. The advantage is they only cycle on when needed. The key is to buy units that have a mechanical thermostat. The electronic thermostat heaters reset when the power goes out.

Our black tank has two valves, one near the tank the other at the dump connection. After dumping, we leave the valve near the dump connection open and the cap off. This way the cap or valve wont freeze closed. Both tanks have 12v tank heater pads.
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Old 09-09-2023, 09:12 AM   #9
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Hopefully the weather may not be quite that bad. This is a good site to check:

Frozen fresh water line, frozen sewer line, heavy and wet snow on the roof, heat loss through windows and the windshield, there are a lot of considerations for sub-freezing weather living in an RV.

How is your hot water produced? AquaHot, Oasis, tankless, standard water heater, or what?

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Old 09-09-2023, 10:39 AM   #10
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Buy an Indoor/Outdoor thermometer and mount the outdoor unit the basement. This way you can check on temps and KNOW what's happening overnight.
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Old 09-09-2023, 11:04 AM   #11
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They need to make a vacuum squeegee for RVers who overwinter. You will need it every morning to keep the windshield and other large glass areas cleared of condensation. Be prepared to have rolled up bath towels along the windshield bottom. The sweat on cold surfaces will be overwhelming.
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Old 09-10-2023, 10:16 AM   #12
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TandW makes a great point.

We run a small dehumidifier when camping in the winter. It keeps the air inside dry enough to limit the condensation on the cold windows.

Since our unit is not 4 season equipped, we use 1" foam gym mats on the floor to limit the cold from the floor.
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Old 09-10-2023, 05:52 PM   #13
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Not sure on your basement area and where the water is plumbed.

I lived in my coach in Northern Michigan starting in late March 2011. Saw many days in the low teens until May. Actually had 2' of snow in April. This is what I did.

My basement is fully enclosed but Monaco didn't do a great job of sealing the front and the rear where all the hoses, power, etc go through. I bought some foam and foamed everything good.
I installed a remote temp monitor in the basement where my water tanks are on the back side of where the small bay heater is.

Knowing it was going to get cold I decided to mount a small electric heater in the basement pointing back toward where the water pump is.

I did not put my slides out, I left the in.

I had a radiant type heater in the LR and on cold nights I'd leave the lower cabinet doors open.
I did not want have to worry about running out of propane so I was very conservative on usage. Set it on a low temp just in case I lost power.
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Old 09-13-2023, 08:18 PM   #14
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I know lots of people do it but living in a motorhome for extended periods in sub zero cold is not my idea of fun! The people suggesting use of your propane furnace are spot on though. No way electric heaters are going to do the job.
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