Cold weather camping - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-21-2018, 12:34 PM   #1
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Name: Bob
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Cold weather camping

I have a 1994 Bigfoot 17G trailer and am contemplating doing some camping in below freezing temps. I have a plan for keeping myself, gear, etc. warm but would appreciate some input from those more experienced in camping under such conditions:

Hot and cold water supply. If the interior of the trailer is always above freezing, it seems that the water heater (exposed to the exterior but largely inside) and hot and cold water supply lines should be OK.

Fresh water and holding tank issues. I am planning on putting 12-v heaters on the bottom exterior of the three tanks that are under the floor of the trailer.

Condensation. I am concerned about condensation forming in areas between the interior and exterior walls.

Any comments on my thoughts above, wisdom gleaned from your own experiences, and/or any other recommendations, especially about tank heaters, will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 10-21-2018, 03:13 PM   #2
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You will need shore power if you intend to use 12V heat pads on the fresh water tank. They will deplete your batteries in short order.
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Old 10-22-2018, 10:18 AM   #3
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It all depends:

How cold will it get?
How well are you able to stand the cold? Don't depend on the machine to keep you warm, Dress for the outdoors. Sleep in tour clothes if needed.
What sort of heater is in the trailer?
I would not have and water in tanks or water heater.
Carry drinking water in jugs in your car. move them to trailer once the heat is on in there.
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Old 10-22-2018, 11:52 AM   #4
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Depending on how cold it gets and for how long determines what you need to do. We've camped in our 13' Scamp in 5° weather without worrying about freezing the water system. All of our plumbing is inside the cabin and we keep the cabin no colder that 50° at night. Condensation is an other problem. We usually keep the ceiling vent open a bit along with a window over the cook surface. Air movement is the primary key to keeping condensation down.
I'm sure you'll have lots of fun.



FYI, If want some idea how much cold it takes to freeze stuff try to freeze some ice cubes in a domestic refrigerator. (typical freezer temps between 0° and 10°F)


The only problem we ever encountered with freezing was when we were hooked up and the water hose froze.
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Old 10-22-2018, 11:54 AM   #5
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Common knowledge is that ice will melt at 32°F.
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Old 10-22-2018, 12:03 PM   #6
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Uncommon knowledge. Not always.
For most substances, melting and freezing points are approximately equal. For example, the melting point and freezing point of mercury is 234.32 kelvins (−38.83 °C or −37.89 °F).[2]However, certain substances possess differing solid-liquid transition temperatures. For example, agar melts at 85 °C (185 °F) and solidifies from 31 °C (88 °F; 304 K); such direction dependence is known as hysteresis. The melting point of ice at 1 atmosphere of pressure is very close [3] to 0 °C (32 °F; 273 K); this is also known as the ice point. In the presence of nucleating substances, the freezing point of water is not always the same as the melting point. In the absence of nucleators water can exist as a supercooled liquid down to −48.3 °C (−55°F, 224.8 K) before freezing. The chemical element with the highest melting point is tungsten, at 3,414 °C (6,177 °F; 3,687 K);[4] this property makes tungsten excellent for use as filaments in light bulbs. The often-cited carbon does not melt at ambient pressure but sublimes at about 3,726.85 °C (6,740.33 °F; 4,000.00 K); a liquid phase only exists above pressures of 10 MPa (99 atm) and estimated 4,030–4,430 °C (7,290–8,010 °F; 4,300–4,700 K) (see carbon phase diagram). Tantalum hafnium carbide (Ta4HfC5) is a refractory compound with a very high melting point of 4215 K (3942 °C, 7128 °F).[5] At the other end of the scale, helium does not freeze at all at normal pressure even at temperatures close to absolute zero; pressure greater than twenty times of atmosphere of normal one is necessary.
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Old 10-22-2018, 12:46 PM   #7
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It's not just the temperature, it's the latent heat and large mass of the water in the tanks. A large water tank can be exposed to temps below freezing for extended periods before solidifying because the rate of change is so slow. So, temps can drop overnight to a very low point and not affect the water tanks, as long as it returns to above freezing during the day.

Like Byron, I've had my water hose freeze repeatedly at night when nothing else was affected.

The most vulnerable things are the exterior shower setup and any other water lines that are outside the shell.

Last winter we were away and our trailer sat outside without being winterized and with no heat on. Temps were down in the low 20s, or lower, every night and low 30s during the day. The weak link was the toilet water valve on the back of the toilet. It froze and broke, but nothing else failed.
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Old 10-22-2018, 12:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Uncommon knowledge. Not always.
For most substances, melting and freezing points are approximately equal. For example, the melting point and freezing point of mercury is 234.32 kelvins (−38.83 °C or −37.89 °F).[2]However, certain substances possess differing solid-liquid transition temperatures. For example, agar melts at 85 °C (185 °F) and solidifies from 31 °C (88 °F; 304 K); such direction dependence is known as hysteresis. The melting point of ice at 1 atmosphere of pressure is very close [3] to 0 °C (32 °F; 273 K); this is also known as the ice point. In the presence of nucleating substances, the freezing point of water is not always the same as the melting point. In the absence of nucleators water can exist as a supercooled liquid down to −48.3 °C (−55°F, 224.8 K) before freezing. The chemical element with the highest melting point is tungsten, at 3,414 °C (6,177 °F; 3,687 K);[4] this property makes tungsten excellent for use as filaments in light bulbs. The often-cited carbon does not melt at ambient pressure but sublimes at about 3,726.85 °C (6,740.33 °F; 4,000.00 K); a liquid phase only exists above pressures of 10 MPa (99 atm) and estimated 4,030–4,430 °C (7,290–8,010 °F; 4,300–4,700 K) (see carbon phase diagram). Tantalum hafnium carbide (Ta4HfC5) is a refractory compound with a very high melting point of 4215 K (3942 °C, 7128 °F).[5] At the other end of the scale, helium does not freeze at all at normal pressure even at temperatures close to absolute zero; pressure greater than twenty times of atmosphere of normal one is necessary.
CORRECT TERM. Transition temperature. There's also come conditions to meet the freezing/melting point of water is for distilled water at sea level and is approximate depending on barometric pressure.


Another point all solids have a melting point and point which they go to a solid or transition point. You think fire you don't have that, why? Fire causes a chemical reaction.



Furthermore ice coming out the freezer of anyplace is the temperature of the air in which it came from.
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Old 10-22-2018, 01:27 PM   #9
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I just did copy and paste. I didn't read it.
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Old 10-22-2018, 02:12 PM   #10
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We do a fair amount of cold weather camping, hazards and solutions differ according to conditions. Will you be offgrid or on shorepower, staying in one place or traveling around? And will temps be consistently well below freezing or warmer during the day?
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Old 10-22-2018, 05:10 PM   #11
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I just came back from a week of camping in temps of 0 C to -5 C overnight and into the morning.
I had no real problems but my little trailer is very simple.
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Old 10-22-2018, 08:12 PM   #12
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One can always buy a heated water hose a bit pricey but cool if you have shore power.
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Old 10-23-2018, 12:15 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel A. View Post
One can always buy a heated water hose a bit pricey but cool if you have shore power.
What I did was buy a simple heat tape for protecting pipes. Very cheap. Just tape it alongside the water hose and wrap insulation around it if you want to, then plug it in. The built in snap switch turns it on when needed.

I did insulate mine and I left it always plugged in here at home. It was maintenance free for about 10 years until we sold the trailer.
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Old 10-23-2018, 09:18 AM   #14
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We use our trailer during deer season often in temps below zero F
We don’t even attempt to use the onboard water system .
The trailer is winterized and we carry water in jugs .
The risk of damaging something from freezing is too great for me
As long as I have a warm place to eat my meals and sleep that’s all I need .
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Old 10-24-2018, 12:22 AM   #15
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Condensation happens when warm moist air hits cold surfaces that are at or below the dew point. You were wondering if that was going to happen between the inside and outside walls. The answer is if you have a good vapor barrier that prevents moisture from getting behind the interior walls then you won't have a condensation issue in that space between the inside panels and the outside wall. No moisture equals no condensation.
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Old 10-24-2018, 12:38 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobblangley View Post
I have a 1994 Bigfoot 17G trailer and am contemplating doing some camping in below freezing temps. I have a plan for keeping myself, gear, etc. warm but would appreciate some input from those more experienced in camping under such conditions:

.....
Condensation. I am concerned about condensation forming in areas between the interior and exterior walls.

Any comments on my thoughts above, wisdom gleaned from your own experiences, and/or any other recommendations, especially about tank heaters, will be greatly appreciated.
If there is no moisture between the interior paneling and the exterior wall then you won't have any condensation issue in that area between them. It takes moisture to make condensation; no moisture, no condensation.


You could carefully caulk all the joints in your paneling and then if the paneling is not already vinyl coated apply a paint that will act as a moisture barrier to the finished side of the paneling. That will be the simplest method for cost and labor investment you can use to prevent the condensation you are concerned about having. Are you willing to take some extra steps to make your interior paneling into a functioning vapor barrier.
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Old 10-27-2018, 11:58 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Collins View Post
It all depends:

How cold will it get?
How well are you able to stand the cold? Don't depend on the machine to keep you warm, Dress for the outdoors. Sleep in tour clothes if needed.
What sort of heater is in the trailer?
I would not have and water in tanks or water heater.
Carry drinking water in jugs in your car. move them to trailer once the heat is on in there.
Sleeping in your clothes may not be the best idea. During the day, your clothes absorb moisture from your body. It is warmer to sleep naked than in your damp daytime clothes.

If it is going to be really cold, take insulated underwear and change into that just before bedtime. Don't forget that your body puts out a lot of moisture during the night. If you keep the trailer closed tightly during the night, that moisture will accumulate and make for a clammy and cold morning. Avoid that by keeping your roof vent and a window open slightly during the night.

When it gets really cold (below zero Fahrenheit) good bedding is important. I use the same down bag that has served well for many years of high country backpacking.

For those necessary trips in the middle of the night, carry an empty laundry soap container. Cut out the spout and the opening will be plenty large enough. You can jump out of bed, take care of the necessity, and be back cozy and warm before your body even recognizes that it is cold. The next morning It can be easily emptied.

If you travel with a female companion, get her one of the devices designed to allow a woman to pee while standing. They are designed for female rock climbers to use when they are hanging off of the face of a cliff. A female can even use one of the long funnels intended for filling your automobile with fresh oil.

I never use the fresh and waste water tanks in my Casita while temperatures are extremely low so I can not comment on that. I do carry bottled water for cooking, etc and have never had a problem with it freezing in the trailer or in my tow.

The propane furnace in my Casita will keep it toasty warm when outside temperatures are well below zero, but I keep it at a low setting during the night so I will not wake all sweaty.
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Old 10-27-2018, 06:33 PM   #18
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Winter Camping (from Minnesota)

Incentives for winter camping include unmatched wildlife viewing, a variety of outdoor activities and breathtaking winter vistas. Help insure your good time by having your local RV dealer test your propane heating system before heading out.
Select a sunny campsite near a windbreak when possible. Being in the sun and out of the wind are real advantages. So take advantage of the sun for as much of the day as you can. Park your rig with the front or rear facing into the wind—never park sideways to it—as you want as little of your rig as possible exposed to the wind. Park your rig on boards about 2 feet long and 8 inches wide. These will keep you from sinking into your own ruts over time. Place boards beneath all jacks and stabilizers as well.
It's all but mandatory to have a site with electricity, so use winter camping locations that provide a good source of power. The battery alone will never furnish your power needs, especially the furnace, which uses considerable battery power to cycle on and off. If you're not plugged into power, you need a generator, solar system, an inverter, or some other method to keep your batteries fully charged. In addition, a little electric heater for winter camping is the perfect add-on, because it's much quieter than the propane furnace. Remember that free standing heaters can pull a lot of amps (improbable but possibly overloading your system) and they pose an increased fire risk. Only use heaters that have instant automatic cut-off if they are tipped over.
A strategy to consider is to run the furnace first thing in the morning to heat up the trailer, then shut it off and just run the electric heater to keep the chill off. You must have a back-up plan in place if a winter storm knocks out the electricity. For example, carry a Mr. Heater Buddy propane heater as a back-up heat system. If it's possible, add comfort and security to your camping by checking into a site that has a heated shower/restroom facility—that’s a real plus!
Honda (E2000i), Onan (Camp Power) and others have introduced compact portable generators which provide big RV power for smaller travel trailers, making power available for heaters and other conveniences throughout the year. Be sure that the portable generator you intend to purchase/use is large enough to supply the demand you intend to place on it. Bear in mind that electric consumption is typically higher in the winter.
An electric tea-pot is good for a constant supply of hot tea and/or hot chocolate, while a small electric warming pot is great for soups and stews (pre-made). A small George Foreman Grill is great any time of year for meats and fish—it cooks quickly and is easy to clean up.
Always bring an electric hair dryer to thaw things out that might freeze up. For example, occasionally a winter sleet storm and condensation will cause the door gasket to freeze to the trailer frame. It is easy to thaw the door gasket with the hair dryer from the inside. Lock de-icer is a good product to carry too, and a butane blow torch. If you use the torch, be aware that it generates a gigantic amount of heat is a very small area, even when it’s phenomenally cold out, so avoid burning the finish off your rig or your vehicle, or something worse.
A great way to sleep is to have an electric mattress pad, which is vastly superior to an electric blanket. They typically have ten heat settings so they can be adjusted to suit the temperature. Buy the "pillow" type that has extra padding on top so you don't feel the wires and you don't have hot spots. It’s a good idea to bring extra blankets as well. A new (or newer) warm-up jacket and pants (sweats) with a hood (hoodie) make ideal cold weather pajamas. Be careful that you designate and use one set for sleeping only (soiled, sweaty, and/or clothing inundated with your body oil do not insulate well). Add wool sox and a wool (not synthetic) stocking cap for your head as necessary. (Note: anything made from acrylic is poor for keeping you warm. Always use wool -- it insulates even when wet.)
Adding skirting over some form of insulation around the sides of your unit will help retain heat and keep you warmer. Place rugs over uncarpeted flooring and/or add another layer of carpeting to what you already have.
Condensation in an RV can be a problem. It can help to tape windows along the edges, as well as the frames of unused doors, and put plastic over the windows (inside and/or out). For a tight fit, use the kind of plastic that you heat shrink with a hair dryer. Cover or block the insides of roof vents with plastic and/or other insulation as well. A small dehumidifier may also help. Slightly open a window or vent for air circulation (especially in the bathroom and kitchen); close your blinds and drapes at dusk to keep in the heat, and put up heavier drapes to add a layer of insulation. Place desiccant crystal moisture absorbers in several places.
Never assume a campsite will offer freshwater hookups at this time of year—always check before you go. However, if it does and you think you want to hook up, you’ll want to protect that water connection by wrapping it in heat tape to keep things flowing. Go through similar motions with the sewer connection if you’re going that route. Bring gallon jugs of water for drinking, cooking, washing the dishes and sponge baths if water will not be available (and for emergency purposes, even if it is available). Be sure to store it where it will not freeze.
Leaving a faucet or two slightly open (moving water is tougher to freeze) is a must (you can catch the water in a cup). Keep interior cabinets open so they can share the RV’s warm air, and to get warmth to the plumbing encased in the RV walls. Hanging one or two 40-watt incandescent bulbs in the storage pods, cabinets, etc., and plugging them in when the temperature drops can produce enough heat to prevent freezing of the water lines. These may also keep your water tank in working order.
If you are bringing water, a good rule of thumb is to keep all tanks full, making them less prone to freezing and winter’s effects. Adding RV antifreeze to waste water tanks and plumbing lines as you go should keep them from freezing.
Alternatively, you can avoid the whole thing by emptying the freshwater tank and pipes and forgoing the freshwater scene altogether. You can always use bottled water for cooking and drinking and use the campground facilities for cleaning. This is one time when paper plates are very useful.
In cold climates, less is definitely not more. Not only will your LP-gas consumption increase, but you can expect big workdays from your generator and batteries, because output and capacities decrease in cold temperatures while demand increases. Don’t leave home without a full compliment of tanks (fuel, LP gas and freshwater (if you intend to use it)), and keep refrigerators and pantries full. Remember that the great American outdoors can act as your refrigerator—just place a cooler outside. Be sure it can close securely to prevent uninvited four legged guests from devouring your food.
Prepare hot, “feel good” meals—lots of soups and stews—that stick to your ribs. These can be pre-made and packaged before you go so all you have to do heat them up. Hot cereals, such as oatmeal, make a good breakfast. Adding dried fruit (raisons, apricots) and brown sugar gives it a special touch. In addition, adding ½ tsp of extract of vanilla or almond just before serving (for four) is an excellent variation.
Make sure you have at least one snow shovel, window scraper and some kind of ice chipper (e.g., an axe). Also pack one or two bags of rock salt (Ice Bite, sand, kitty litter) to sprinkle on walkways and to put around your tires in the event you get stuck in snow or end up on slippery patches of ice. If your state permits the use of tire chains bring them along as well. Garden kneeling pads or a piece of thick, high density Styrofoam with the edges duct taped is good for kneeling in the snow or sitting on a cold surface.
Finally, winter is an unpredictable season, so keep tabs on the weather. Monitor radio weather stations, and watch for sudden weather changes. Always carry winter survival gear in your vehicle, and a written record of local emergency telephone numbers.
How cold is too cold for such a trip? Your RV will tell you by its inability to maintain a livable temperature. Some people use the sight of their own breath when inside, but with the correct preparation and layering of clothing, for me the slight appearance of my breath is not too cold. However, if my breath is quite obvious then it’s too cold.
One last thing: when in the cold, never, never, never put your tongue on anything made of metal.
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