RV News RVBusiness 2021 Top 10 RVs of the Year, plus 56 additional debuts and must-see units → ×
RV Trip Planning Discussions

Go Back   iRV2 Forums > CAMPING, TRAVEL and TRIP PLANNING > Boondocking
Click Here to Login
Join iRV2 Today

Mission Statement: Supporting thoughtful exchange of knowledge, values and experience among RV enthusiasts.
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 11-30-2020, 09:36 AM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 7
Cold Weather Boondocking

Hey all,

Looking to probe for thoughts & ideas for using the trailers water systems while boondocking in freezing temps.

Just got a new 2019 Winnebago 2100BH (havnt tried anything yet as we pick it up in spring).

Trailer has an enclosed/heated underbelly, which to my knowledge is just a coro-plast sheet underneath & a duct from the furnace into the underbelly. In our old trailer the furnace was super loud so we didnt like to use it, preferred a "blue-flame" style heater with roof vent & window cracked for air circulation.

Could use a heat pad for the tanks, though those dont help the plumbing at all, and would require a-lot of solar/battery/generator. Would like to find a low power / propane solution. Will likely think about adding some additional insulation under the trailer to help with whatever solution i choose.

Had an idea to use some PC fans to keep air circulating from inside the trailer to the under-belly, these shouldn't use much power though not sure if they could keep up to the temp loss.

Other idea was to use some pex tubing, sandwiched between the underside of the tanks & some insulation with a thermostat & circ pump to use the hot-water heater. Has anyone done something like this before?
Green23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 RV Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

iRV2.com RV Community - Are you about to start a new improvement on your RV or need some help with some maintenance? Do you need advice on what products to buy? Or maybe you can give others some advice? No matter where you fit in you'll find that iRV2 is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with other RV owners, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create an RV blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 11-30-2020, 10:04 AM   #2
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 674
The usual solution is to go south for the winter. People install skirting around the base of the RV to block the wind and allow heat to build up under the camper. Foam board insulation is commonly used. A hassle when moving tho.

Any kind of under body heating will be an energy hog and either use a lot of battery power and/or propane.
Agesilaus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2020, 10:11 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Posts: 1,714
Winter hardening an "All Season" TT

I have a Dutchmen Kodiak Cub that sounds like it is built like your TT. It was advertised as "All Season" and had "heated and enclosed underbelly". Water supply pipe to kitchen sink passed through the underbelly. It froze in less than 4 hours when temperature dropped from 34 deg F to 28.

$2500 to drop the plastic cover, seal frame to floor, seal frame to plastic cover, block off most space underneath, insulate all around, and add three tank heaters. Of course tank heaters don't work while underway.

I did additional work myself. Insulate steel wheel well under cabinets, close off pass through from water heater and pump area, arranged furnace return air to flow through sealed plumbing spaces, and more than doubled heat flow to belly.

Last night the temperature dropped to 26 deg F with high winds. We used tank heaters and small electric space heater. New hinged doors into previously sealed plumbing spaces are left open. Nothing froze.

I heavily insulated the short dump pipes and gate valves, and expect to be able to dump black and gray tanks in freezing weather. Fresh tank and low point drains may require application of heat from a hair dryer.

I have dry camped using the propane furnace in freezing weather using a pair of 100 amp hour AGM batteries for three days.

Hot water heating systems like you have described are used for floor heating in some Wisconsin homes. Controllers and circulating pumps are available but usually work on 120 volts. Winterizing for storage would be an issue.

I wish you happy trails ahead!
__________________
Paul Bristol
Kodiak Cub 176RD
Nissan Pathfinder 2015
Persistent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2020, 10:22 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
hilgert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Somewhere
Posts: 459
We have a hot water circulation pump in our Discovery.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Watts-HRWS-...g-Pump/3135231

The circulation pump works in a unique way in that it's designed with no dedicated hot water return line (for use in pre-built homes with no easy ability to run a new return line). I placed the pump at the hot water source (the AquaHot unit in our case...the hot water tank in your case). The pump basically adds a tiny bit of positive pressure to the hot water line (relative to the cold water line), and the thermostat allows (when below 98įF) a small amount of hot water to return via the cold water line until the temperature is back to where the thermostat will then close.

A side consequence is that when we want cold water we get a bit of warm water at first (especially in colder weather), but hot water is almost instant...so we like the tradeoff. If we were truly boondocking for several days (generator only during the day for example) we would unplug the pump and only plug it in when we wanted instant hot water (so as not not waste water while the hot line warms up). At some point I may run dedicated return lines, but it's been over two years with this setup and the wife has not complained (and we are full timers).

One issue for you (if boondocking) will be that the pump needs 120VAC to operate (the system is designed for stick-and-brick homes), but the power draw is very low, and would likely work overnight with an inverter and some 12V power source. You could add an additional battery or two in parallel with the current house battery (this would give you 12V for longer periods for this and other systems).

Another issue will be the use of propane (or electricity). As the water heater is depleted of hot water, from both circulation and normal heat loss, it will need to run (electric or propane) to heat the inbound cooler water. This would be the case with any circulation system. If you had an extend-a-stay propane hookup (called by various names...Amazon has several versions, as does Camping World) you could use readily available 20lb propane exchange tanks (available from almost anywhere there is a hardware store). We had this on a prior travel trailer, as well as a prior Class C, to avoid having to pull up camp to refill the onboard propane tanks...I just switched over to the 20lb tanks when stationary, and did a tank exchange every week or so (we had two 20lb tanks for this purpose). We camped for weeks with this setup before in the winter, both in the trailer and the Class C.

I think your larger issue (that Persistent covered nicely) is insulating everything else, as well as tank/valve heaters. If your propane heater heats the bays, and the tanks are in an area that will get that heat, the tanks should be okay. However, all the dump valves, pump connections, etc., unless heated with heat pads or propane heat, could freeze in really cold temperatures. We had that in our Class C...water/tank bay was heated, had decent insulation (which I supplemented), valve heating pads, etc.
__________________
2019 Fleetwood Discovery 40D
2017 Ford F-150 LTE FX4 SuperCrew Towed
Fulltimers since 2018
hilgert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2020, 12:27 PM   #5
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agesilaus View Post
The usual solution is to go south for the winter. People install skirting around the base of the RV to block the wind and allow heat to build up under the camper. Foam board insulation is commonly used. A hassle when moving tho.

Any kind of under body heating will be an energy hog and either use a lot of battery power and/or propane.
Generally my needs are for Whitewater Kayaking. Being in Canada, come spring all the melting snow makes for some awesome runs in rivers that are normally not navigable. Use the trailer every spring around April/March (whenever the snow melt peaks), generally above freezing during the day but can drop below at night. Traveling to warmer climates would defeat the purpose

Quote:
Originally Posted by Persistent View Post
I have a Dutchmen Kodiak Cub that sounds like it is built like your TT. It was advertised as "All Season" and had "heated and enclosed underbelly". Water supply pipe to kitchen sink passed through the underbelly. It froze in less than 4 hours when temperature dropped from 34 deg F to 28.

$2500 to drop the plastic cover, seal frame to floor, seal frame to plastic cover, block off most space underneath, insulate all around, and add three tank heaters. Of course tank heaters don't work while underway.

I did additional work myself. Insulate steel wheel well under cabinets, close off pass through from water heater and pump area, arranged furnace return air to flow through sealed plumbing spaces, and more than doubled heat flow to belly.

Last night the temperature dropped to 26 deg F with high winds. We used tank heaters and small electric space heater. New hinged doors into previously sealed plumbing spaces are left open. Nothing froze.

I heavily insulated the short dump pipes and gate valves, and expect to be able to dump black and gray tanks in freezing weather. Fresh tank and low point drains may require application of heat from a hair dryer.

I have dry camped using the propane furnace in freezing weather using a pair of 100 amp hour AGM batteries for three days.

Hot water heating systems like you have described are used for floor heating in some Wisconsin homes. Controllers and circulating pumps are available but usually work on 120 volts. Winterizing for storage would be an issue.

I wish you happy trails ahead!
I will likely be adding insulation & sealing up the underbelly as you have. I've strongly considered adding a hot-water heated floor to a travel trailer, which if I was building one from scratch I probably would, retrofitting into an existing trailer would be a pain. 12V pumps & thermostats are readily available so would definitely plan to go that route.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hilgert View Post
We have a hot water circulation pump in our Discovery.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Watts-HRWS-...g-Pump/3135231

The circulation pump works in a unique way in that it's designed with no dedicated hot water return line (for use in pre-built homes with no easy ability to run a new return line). I placed the pump at the hot water source (the AquaHot unit in our case...the hot water tank in your case). The pump basically adds a tiny bit of positive pressure to the hot water line (relative to the cold water line), and the thermostat allows (when below 98įF) a small amount of hot water to return via the cold water line until the temperature is back to where the thermostat will then close.

A side consequence is that when we want cold water we get a bit of warm water at first (especially in colder weather), but hot water is almost instant...so we like the tradeoff. If we were truly boondocking for several days (generator only during the day for example) we would unplug the pump and only plug it in when we wanted instant hot water (so as not not waste water while the hot line warms up). At some point I may run dedicated return lines, but it's been over two years with this setup and the wife has not complained (and we are full timers).

One issue for you (if boondocking) will be that the pump needs 120VAC to operate (the system is designed for stick-and-brick homes), but the power draw is very low, and would likely work overnight with an inverter and some 12V power source. You could add an additional battery or two in parallel with the current house battery (this would give you 12V for longer periods for this and other systems).

Another issue will be the use of propane (or electricity). As the water heater is depleted of hot water, from both circulation and normal heat loss, it will need to run (electric or propane) to heat the inbound cooler water. This would be the case with any circulation system. If you had an extend-a-stay propane hookup (called by various names...Amazon has several versions, as does Camping World) you could use readily available 20lb propane exchange tanks (available from almost anywhere there is a hardware store). We had this on a prior travel trailer, as well as a prior Class C, to avoid having to pull up camp to refill the onboard propane tanks...I just switched over to the 20lb tanks when stationary, and did a tank exchange every week or so (we had two 20lb tanks for this purpose). We camped for weeks with this setup before in the winter, both in the trailer and the Class C.

I think your larger issue (that Persistent covered nicely) is insulating everything else, as well as tank/valve heaters. If your propane heater heats the bays, and the tanks are in an area that will get that heat, the tanks should be okay. However, all the dump valves, pump connections, etc., unless heated with heat pads or propane heat, could freeze in really cold temperatures. We had that in our Class C...water/tank bay was heated, had decent insulation (which I supplemented), valve heating pads, etc.
Usually in the spring i'm only out with the trailer for 4-5 days at a time, really wouldnt worry about running out of propane for that timeframe.
Green23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2020, 12:41 PM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 74
You have two 20 lb LPG tanks on the front A frame right? That can heat your interior to about 60F at night- use more blankets to stay warm. Then when the sun comes up turn the heat up to 70F to stay comfortable inside.

With the enclosed underbelly and minimal furnace running as above you can probably keep the tanks and plumbing from freezing. You might have to put some extra insulation on the dump pipes as they usually protrude below the belly enclosure.

The problem you will have is propane usage and power. You can easily use 5 lbs each day, so with a total of 40 lbs you can only camp for eight days. The furnace will also be a power hog and with other needs you will probably run your batteries down to 50% quickly.

You will probably need to add 3-400 watts of solar to keep up. Fortunately if the temps are below freezing you usually don't have leaves on the trees around your campground.

Or you can run a portable Honda type generator for a few hours each day to recharge your batteries.

David
DavidEM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-01-2020, 08:48 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Southern California
Posts: 330
For whatever this is worth, we do a fair amount of cold-weather boondocking (down to about 20 degrees or so). I put Ultra Heat cables on the outlet tube on my water tank -- draws about 2 amps. We do fine with two group 31 batteries and a 120 watt portable solar panel. We don't run the heat at night -- we use a down comforter instead. (The Indians used buffalo robes, right?)

I also developed a Mickey Mouse hot water recirculator -- very simple and very effective. It ain't elegant, but it really works -- it got down to 12 degrees one night recently, and this system kept my lines from freezing:

The LMIC (Look Mom I'm Camping): Manual fresh water tank heater: just a hose from the hot water faucet to the tank, but it keeps the pipes from freezing

If nothing else, reading that blog post will probably make you laugh out loud.
__________________
2012 Fun Finder X-139 trailer (12 feet long!)
2013 Tacoma
profdan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2020, 07:07 AM   #8
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by profdan View Post
For whatever this is worth, we do a fair amount of cold-weather boondocking (down to about 20 degrees or so). I put Ultra Heat cables on the outlet tube on my water tank -- draws about 2 amps. We do fine with two group 31 batteries and a 120 watt portable solar panel. We don't run the heat at night -- we use a down comforter instead. (The Indians used buffalo robes, right?)

I also developed a Mickey Mouse hot water recirculator -- very simple and very effective. It ain't elegant, but it really works -- it got down to 12 degrees one night recently, and this system kept my lines from freezing:

The LMIC (Look Mom I'm Camping): Manual fresh water tank heater: just a hose from the hot water faucet to the tank, but it keeps the pipes from freezing

If nothing else, reading that blog post will probably make you laugh out loud.
Haha, I love super redneck solutions! Though I'm surprised with that setup the line feeding into your hot-water tank doesn't freeze solid being outside & exposed to the elements.

If I were to go the route of hot-water heating my black & grey tanks from below I would likely also have the line dump back into the fresh tank as you've done to heat that, would save the need for an additional pump. Would just then need to rig up a thermostat to a solenoid valve.

the trailers dump tank valves are mounted directly to the tanks with extension cables for operation, this should make things easy as i wont need to worry about the dump-pipes freezing at all. really only the fresh tank drain, & feed line to the pump.
Green23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2020, 10:14 AM   #9
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 74
An easier way to recirculate hot water

I read the post about the guy who hooked up to a faucet outlet and ran the hot water through a hose out of the trailer and then to the gravity fill port. I have a better way, assuming you have an outside shower:

Remove the shower hose and screw in the appropriate pvc fittings to hook up to a hose. Run the hose to the gravity fill port. It should be all downhill to avoid freezing up the hose when not flowing. If you can't do that or in really cold outside temps you might want to insulate that hose.

Turn your fresh water pump off and open the hot water valve on the shower. Then every time you want to circulate hot water, turn on the fresh water pump for a few minutes.

That should keep your water tank from freezing but that isn't all you need to do. Insulate the water line from the tank to the inside and install some 12V self regulating heat tape if really cold. Do the same with your grey and black water dump lines.

This scheme should keep you safe from freezing up down to maybe 20 deg and requires minimal power.

David
DavidEM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2020, 11:33 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Southern California
Posts: 330
Just to explain how the hose does not freeze, it runs downhill through the outside shower flap to the fresh water fill port -- so when I am done running the hot water through the system, I turn off the kitchen faucet and the hose drains itself via gravity. No water in the hose, no freezing.

And I am very honored that you called this a "super redneck" solution. To add to the aura of home-brewed engineering, there is one more secret to my hot water recirculation system:

Since it has to be run for a few minutes every couple of hours during the night, I always drink a lot of water before going to bed. So now I have to get up every couple of hours. I run the hot water, use the bathroom, take another big drink of water, and then turn off the hot water.

Yes, I could just set a timer on my phone. But that would wake my wife (bad idea) and it would be jarring to wake up to an alarm. So I use my natural alarm system instead!
__________________
2012 Fun Finder X-139 trailer (12 feet long!)
2013 Tacoma
profdan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2020, 11:53 AM   #11
GBB
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Alaska
Posts: 215
Another thing you'll have to deal with is condensation. We just spent two weeks in western Washington temps in mid 40's to 50's during the day dipping down at night..lots of condensation on windows and walls..bought a dehumidifier that took care of the problem. Our RV is four season rated but I think they mean four season in Arizona!
__________________
2019 ORV 24RLS Titanium
2020 Ram 3500 SRW Cummins HO Aisin
GBB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2020, 12:11 PM   #12
Senior Member
 
rarebear.nm's Avatar


 
Excel Owners Club
Winnebago Owners Club
Ford Super Duty Owner
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Posts: 4,568
In addition to regular waste tank heaters there are heaters made for the dump valves and drain pipes, like these:

https://www.omega.com/en-us/industri...E&gclsrc=aw.ds

Click image for larger version

Name:	Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 10.56.30 AM.png
Views:	8
Size:	300.6 KB
ID:	310017

No one solution will work for all RVs in all locations and weather.

On our Excel 5th wheeler I redid the insulation around and under the enclosed waste tanks. There is a furnace duct into the tank area. All of the pipe sand fresh water tank are in enclosed heater space. Even the dump valves are deep within the heated space, only the last short bit of dump line is exposed and it is gravity drained. The rig was factory rated to 0F and I've beefed it up some more. We have 1050 watts solar and even the furnace all night the batteries do not drop below 84% SoC. 230 AHrs of battery capacity. In the evening before bed we will run a WAVE 8 indoor propane heater to conserve on propane.

Our Minnie Winnie is mostly stock and we've had it down to 4F. The dump valves froze, but no other issues. At night we open cabinet doors under the sinks and open the compartment with the water heater and some pipes.

I've looked at using a 12v based pump for a hot water recirculating system much as others have described.

bayite BYT-7A006 DC 12V Solar Hot Water Heater Circulation Pump Low Noise 3M Discharge Head 2.1GPM
__________________
Fred & Denise (RVM157) New Mexico
2007 Excel Classic 30RSO & 2015 Mini Winnie 22R
2007 RAM 3500, Diesel, 6Spd Auto, SWD, 4x4, CC & LB
rarebear.nm is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
boondock, boondocking, cold weather



Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Boondocking vs. 'Boondocking' MonkeyClaw Boondocking 79 01-11-2021 10:08 PM
Aqua Hot Cold Weather Cross Country Boondocking Dbush Class A Motorhome Discussions 10 02-04-2020 08:01 AM
Bounder: Cold (Really Cold) Weather RV'ing Bounderoo Fleetwood Owner's Forum 15 10-31-2018 03:02 PM
Cold weather boondocking....help to narrow the search ModestMonk Going Green 12 11-30-2016 10:50 AM
Cold Weather Camping.....No, Really Cold Weather Camping arkaussie Winnebago Industries Owner's Forum 14 03-08-2007 02:44 PM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:12 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.