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Old 10-10-2009, 06:49 PM   #1
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Thermostat Temp Setting For Winter Camping

Having recently sold our stickhouse, we will be staying in our 05 Winnie Voyage for (3) months + while another house is built and have just had a 100 gal propane tank delivered and set up to help with the MH heating. Does anyone with the same rig or similiar have any recommendations for what to set the thermostatstat temp at to hopefully minimize freezing the waterlines. This isn't my idea of fun camping and am not sure what the cold temp tolerance of our MH is so I want to minimize the chance of any problems. Any other suggestions for doing this would be appreciated.
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Old 10-10-2009, 11:27 PM   #2
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Having recently sold our stickhouse, we will be staying in our 05 Winnie Voyage for (3) months + while another house is built and have just had a 100 gal propane tank delivered and set up to help with the MH heating. Does anyone with the same rig or similiar have any recommendations for what to set the thermostatstat temp at to hopefully minimize freezing the waterlines. This isn't my idea of fun camping and am not sure what the cold temp tolerance of our MH is so I want to minimize the chance of any problems. Any other suggestions for doing this would be appreciated.
you don't say where you are located.
we are in sw wash. where the temps occasionally get to the lower 20's.
i installed 3 inside-outside temperature gauges to monitor the water compartment temps: in the fwd water tank/water heater compartment, in the middle water tank compartment, and in the aft water service compartment. i found that the fwd water tank/heater comp stay toasty with just the 110v water heater or the propane water heater on. i use a 110v drop cord trouble light with 100w bulb in the other 2 compartments for heat to keep them from freezing.
we primarily use 3 small 110v box heaters set on 750w for heat in the moho with propane for backup.
i read somewhere (on this forum i think) that a 55 deg thermostat setting for the propane furnace would keep the lower compartments from freezing. my 28 gal tank only lasted 2 weeks the first winter.
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Old 10-11-2009, 03:51 AM   #3
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We've used mechanics lights with a 100 watt bulb to keep the undercarriage of our motorhome a little warmer. However. if the temperature drops below freezing for an extended period of time and/or the winds are significant, you may find that your heating system isn't enough.

If at all possible, use polystyrene blue board to skirt your motorhome and be sure to eliminate any gaps. You can use hay bales or even fence stakes to keep the boards in place. That way, your heating system will have half a chance at keeping your pipes from freezing. If that fails, look into buying a long spool (at least 25 feet) of heating cable. Its basically like wire except that it gets warm. You cut off the size you need, connect it to a special terminal and plug it in. You can run (the cable) along vulnerable water pipes and then wrap the pipe in insulation to keep the heating cable in place. You'll find this stuff at The Home Depot or Lowe's.

On the other hand, if you're going to be staying in Northern Maine, North Dakota, or some other north country backwater, come up with Plan B. We did it once and it cost us thousands of dollars to fix the broken pipes, the leaks, and the damage from ice. Trust me. Motorhomes were not designed to handle long harsh winters in extreme climates. For us, it would have been cheaper, easier, and warmer to rent a cheap apartment than to fight the elements in our 34-foot Brave. Great rig but everything has its limits. Best of luck.

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Old 10-11-2009, 06:48 AM   #4
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A Winnebago customer service guy told me that if the thermostat is set to 72 degrees my coach will be okay down to 20 degrees.
I have verified that on several occasions.
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Old 10-11-2009, 05:10 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by DAN L View Post
you don't say where you are located.
we are in sw wash. where the temps occasionally get to the lower 20's.
i installed 3 inside-outside temperature gauges to monitor the water compartment temps: in the fwd water tank/water heater compartment, in the middle water tank compartment, and in the aft water service compartment. i found that the fwd water tank/heater comp stay toasty with just the 110v water heater or the propane water heater on. i use a 110v drop cord trouble light with 100w bulb in the other 2 compartments for heat to keep them from freezing.
we primarily use 3 small 110v box heaters set on 750w for heat in the moho with propane for backup.
i read somewhere (on this forum i think) that a 55 deg thermostat setting for the propane furnace would keep the lower compartments from freezing. my 28 gal tank only lasted 2 weeks the first winter.
We are located in the Kansas City area where historically the temps for Oct, Nov, Dec will usually not get colder that the low 20's. Starting in Jan, all bets could be off for reasonable temps but hopefully the house should be done by the middle of the month. We have dipped to 30 +- a couple of times and the water connection compartment has not gone below 43 degrees. I have a couple of drop lights with 75-100 watt bulbs that I will use and intend to disconnect the water line and run off the onboard tank if necessary. If I use a small electric heater inside the living area as indicated wouldn't it prevent the thermostat from turning on the furnace. At night the stat is usually set at 70 which keeps it somewhat tolerable inside and allowing for just enough heat to warm the under compartments. Now I've got to figure out where to find a 1-2 ft heat tape to wrap around the 1 ft above ground water spigot.
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Old 10-11-2009, 08:34 PM   #6
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jc2
you are right, it is either electric or gas for heat. the gas heat will not come on if the room is warmer than the thermostat setting. you can use either gas or electric or both for the water heater at any time. i now use gas as a backup in the moho in case the electric power fails.
my point was that we used gas exclusively the first winter and it was expensive.
remember to blow your water hose out with air when it is below freezing.
whenever i leave my moho for a few hours, i turn off the water pump and bleed the pressure off at a faucet in case of a leak while we are gone.
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Old 10-11-2009, 08:42 PM   #7
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If it is really cold, well below freezing, it is also a good idea to open any cabinet doors where plumbing is located. Sink in kitchen, bath, shower, toilet room if separate, washer/dryer and water heater. It can get cold in those places where the cold radiates from the outside walls into the cabinet/plumbing space and the cabinet doors keep out the heat from the rooms.

It gets really cold here sometimes down to 50 or 60 degrees (joke). We did live in a MH in the mountains in Colorado one winter while we were having a house built and I did not open the doors on a really cold night. The water lines froze under the kitchen sink. It did not burst, but from then on when cold I opened the cabinet doors and never had the problem again.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:42 PM   #8
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As expected from members of this site, the information has been helpful and very much appreciated. If I may indulge everyone in one more question along the same path. The water supply line that is furnished is a 1/2 inch copper that sticks up above the ground about 12-15 inches and has a standard type house type connection for your RV hose. Trying to find a 1-2 ft heat tape can be challenging to find as the shortest I've found so far is 3 ft. If I were not to use heat tape and wrap this 12-15 inch connection with water line fiberglass insulation wrap, then the foam insulation followed another layer of the fiberglass and finally duck tape and finally cover with a plastic bucket with more fiberglass insulation, what temperature protection could I possibly expect this way.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:57 PM   #9
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You may want to use heat tape all the way from the base, up the water pipe, faucet and hose to your MH connection. In that case, a longer heat tape would not be a problem. Another thing I have seen used is one of those Styrofoam coolers turned upside down over the faucet.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by JC2 View Post
As expected from members of this site, the information has been helpful and very much appreciated. If I may indulge everyone in one more question along the same path. The water supply line that is furnished is a 1/2 inch copper that sticks up above the ground about 12-15 inches and has a standard type house type connection for your RV hose. Trying to find a 1-2 ft heat tape can be challenging to find as the shortest I've found so far is 3 ft. If I were not to use heat tape and wrap this 12-15 inch connection with water line fiberglass insulation wrap, then the foam insulation followed another layer of the fiberglass and finally duck tape and finally cover with a plastic bucket with more fiberglass insulation, what temperature protection could I possibly expect this way.
i would use the 3' one. leave some hang off at the top and bottom?
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:46 PM   #11
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As expected from members of this site, the information has been helpful and very much appreciated. If I may indulge everyone in one more question along the same path. The water supply line that is furnished is a 1/2 inch copper that sticks up above the ground about 12-15 inches and has a standard type house type connection for your RV hose. Trying to find a 1-2 ft heat tape can be challenging to find as the shortest I've found so far is 3 ft. If I were not to use heat tape and wrap this 12-15 inch connection with water line fiberglass insulation wrap, then the foam insulation followed another layer of the fiberglass and finally duck tape and finally cover with a plastic bucket with more fiberglass insulation, what temperature protection could I possibly expect this way.

The suggestions from Jim S & Dan L will be seriously considered but anyone care to venture a guess on how low a protection I might get with no heat tape but just insulating the pipe as I described above.
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:41 PM   #12
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I have a visual of a copper pipe coming out of the ground about 12-15 inches with a regular outdoor water faucet plumbed to the end with fittings. I also know that copper is a very good conductor of both heat and cold. I know that in some parts of the country the frost level can go as low as 36-48 Inches.

If you do nothing, the best possible outcome is that the insulation method you propose would keep the water at the temperature it is in the pipe, no loss or gain in temperature. If the pipe below the ground is the same and is unprotected and it freezes below the ground, the insulation would act like a cooler and keep the pipe cold. So my guess would be in cold weather with a heavy ground frost, slightly below 32 degrees.

When I had a weekend place in Northern Michigan, they built a little insulated wood box about 3x4 feet around and 4 feet tall. They dug a hole around the water pipe and placed the box in the hole and mounted the pump near the bottom. They then placed a light bulb in the box and told me to leave it on during the winter. The box then had an insulated top that was placed on it. The water line ran 4 feet underground about 20 feet until it came up under the cabin and through the floor below. About 12 inches was exposed. I kept heat in the cabin. The first really cold night, the pipe froze and burst at the 12 inch section above ground that came into the cabin.

Now the other option is to insulate as you describe and when it gets cold leave the water running slightly, normally moving water will not freeze. I would not take a chance however. Any system is only as good as it's weakest link. (I hate clichés)
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Old 10-13-2009, 06:59 AM   #13
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The suggestions from Jim S & Dan L will be seriously considered but anyone care to venture a guess on how low a protection I might get with no heat tape but just insulating the pipe as I described above.
i am in CO right now (We visit here each year in the fall before we head down to AZ) and I am using a fiberglass filled 5 gallon bucket as you described.
It has withstood overnight temps down to 15 degrees in past years. Note that I have a heat tape on the hose that is connected to the faucet and it provides some heat inside the bucket.

Regarding the hose, based on local advice here in Grand Junction CO where they have a lot of oilfield workers and sell a lot of heat tapes, hoses, etc, I bought a black polyethylene water hose and a heat tape at a True Value hardware store.

Be sure to check the instructions with the tape, because some specify that the tape should not be spiral wrapped, but simply taped along the length of the hose.

I used sections of foam pipe insulation with sticky edges - there is a plastic strip that keeps them from sticking until you are ready - to cover the hose with after installing the heat tape. I covered the butt joints with duct tape.
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Old 10-16-2009, 06:22 PM   #14
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Thanks for everyone's input. Have decided to get a long enough heat tape to cover both the spigot and hose. Will then cover with fiberglass insulation and rubber foam covers. Let the cold/snow begin.
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