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Old 09-02-2011, 04:50 PM   #1
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Winter in a Motorhome???

I bought a 2011 Itasca Sunstar 35F in April, I plan on using it year round but I have some concerns about the insulation factors in the walls & ceiling. I have been looking for the insulation info and I can not find anything about it. I was told when I bought it at the dealers "Winter, no problem" That makes me a little nervous. I hope there is someone out there that has first hand info on this. Winter is coming and I am planning to be on the road or in RV parks in Canada and the mid west states. I travel alone so I do not want maintenance or freezing problems with the plumbing.
Thanks Flaco
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Old 09-02-2011, 04:58 PM   #2
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AFAIK RVs are not designed for winter use. Some have features that prolong the season like heated holding tanks but I don't believe that it is practical to camp in one in extreme winter conditions like we have here in central NY. Most campgrounds in our neck of the woods close down in mid October due to freezing water supply problems. We go south to remedy that.

I have read that people do ski weekends in their RV by insulating the fresh water hose and putting lead lights in basement compartments for heat but you will run through a lot of LP trying to heat your rig if it is below freezing for long.
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Old 09-02-2011, 05:00 PM   #3
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now i have a atic fox sub zero model that said in my class a i run a electric heater propane comes on 2 times when i shower i turn heat up
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Old 09-02-2011, 05:35 PM   #4
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I have no experience in cold weather RV living. Just some thoughts:

1. The "Wet Bay" is very vulnerable to freezing unless a constant supply of heat is available. Loss of the heat source could cause some very expensive damage.

2. Possible solution would be to winterize the plumbing system just as you would for storage. Use bottled water stored in the living area for drinking and cooking. Then use external toilet facilities just as if you were in a car.
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:36 PM   #5
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Thanks all, winterizing the water system is what I would normally do. The insulation factors are what I am concerned about. I was in 28 degree weather early last April and it seemed ok. Maybe it would be better to stick with the West coast from November on. Thanks for the insight.
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Old 09-03-2011, 01:38 AM   #6
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We 'wintered' in our RV this last year. The Seattle area has a generally mild winter, but we did have 4 cold snaps over a 4 month period, low temps in the low teens, and once at single digits, shortest was 3 days, longest was one week. Nothing like the long term cold farther north, but still, a good indicator.

We did have an insulated water hose, and placed a 100w bulb in the water compartment for extra heat. The outside water faucet had a 110v heat tape wrapped around it.

We also had a couple of small automatic 110v electric space heaters inside to help out. And we monitored the outside temp and water compartment temp with remote thermometers.

Our experience was that the heat pump worked well till we got below about 37 degrees outside. The small electric space heaters did well till about 30 degrees outside. If you used the propane, all was toasty, both inside and in the water compartment, clear down to our single digit temperatures.

We chose to only use the propane when absolutely needed as we didn't want to drive the rig out to get the tank filled, but it really did the job when called upon.

We did keep a bedroom window slightly open, as well as the two roof vents, just slightly open, to keep excess moisture from building up inside the coach. And we had one small fan in the front of the coach that was on, to keep air slowly circulating to even out the heat distribution.

Seems like a lot of steps to do, but we were actually quite comfortable, not only on the cold and snowy days, but also the 4 months of gray, drizzly, rainy, 38 degree days.

One thing to watch though, if you are moving the rig, be prepared to de-ice the slidetoppers, and slide seals, they can and will ice up.
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Old 09-03-2011, 06:35 AM   #7
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Just my opinion but cold weather rv ing is great for short spurts but not prolonged living. Especially in cold climates like 20 degrees and below all winter. You will going through a lot of propane. After a while it becomes a hardship if you are not up to it. Nothing thats exposed to the outside works right in freezing cold weather, pipes freeze, locks freeze, hoses get brittle, slide awnings crack, if there is snow on them they must be cleaned before retracting etc etc. Inside there is a big condensation problem plus keeping floors clean with snow and ice is hard not to mention the roads with snow and ice. If you must go for it but be prepared. The wheels are on it for a reason, they take you to the good weather. Good luck
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaco View Post
I bought a 2011 Itasca Sunstar 35F in April, I plan on using it year round but I have some concerns about the insulation factors in the walls & ceiling. I have been looking for the insulation info and I can not find anything about it. I was told when I bought it at the dealers "Winter, no problem" That makes me a little nervous. I hope there is someone out there that has first hand info on this. Winter is coming and I am planning to be on the road or in RV parks in Canada and the mid west states. I travel alone so I do not want maintenance or freezing problems with the plumbing.
Thanks Flaco
In winter in Canada is ONLY ONE area : LOWER MAINLAND or the south of Vancouver Island. In the rest of the country you have to winterize and sit on the furnace
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:40 AM   #9
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I have been in weather down to about 14 degrees and I used 1/4 tank of propane per day! The propane furnace will heat the water tank, holding tanks, water pump and water compartment - nothing else will, but it will not heat it enough to keep it from freezing. You need trouble lights in the compartments to prevent freezing. It will also be chilly in the slides inside the motorhome. These things are NOT designed to be used and be comfortable below about 30 degrees. Dual pane windows helps with the condensation and adds insulation over single pane windows but you would probably want aluminum coated insulated foam boards to cover all windows and vents. This makes it like you are living in a cave however. Of course you would need heat tape and pipe insulation on your water supply hose. Your sewer drain hose will freeze up over a period of time as you use it unless it gets above freezing during the day. Basically, I would not recommend living in most RVs during the winter in Canada and the northern states. It's too da** cold!
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:16 AM   #10
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Why don't you just come here to Florida with the rest of the great white North? We got plenty of room....
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:51 AM   #11
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Best idea so far, south is good. I am re thinking my winter this year.
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Old 09-03-2011, 10:20 AM   #12
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We live in North Dakota and leave for the south the first week in January. However, I keep the motor home above freezing until we leave. I don't have experience in our new 38' Adventurer, but with the 35' Brave a single 1500 watt electric heater would keep it 15 to 20 degrees above ambient outside temperature. We do get down to sub zero temperatures in December and I then run two 1500 watt heaters. I winterize in October and de-winterize on the way south, usually 1000 miles south of home. While traveling we use bottled water and flush with RV anti freeze that we buy when it goes on sale. We never use more than two gallons in the 2 to 3 days we need to use it. 1 heater costs us 9 cents per hour to run, two cost 18 cents per hour. It probably averages out to about $70/mo for November and December. The sun makes a big difference and on 20 degree afternoons with the sun shining we maintain 40 to 45 degrees with out the heaters. I have the thermostats set to 40 degrees. This year I will have the heat pump in the basement air and it may be more efficient, but possibly not as there is no wasted heat in the electric heaters, but there is in the heat pump.
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Old 09-03-2011, 10:48 AM   #13
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We spent last winter in Baltimore Maryland in a CG on the Bush River, which is a body of water that flows into the Cheapeake about 20 miles north of the city. We had temps from single digit to 40 on average, I would say 50% of the days were above freezing, the nights were usually just below 30'f. Here is how we handled the cold.

We installed a "extend -a-hose" for the propane tank, then purchased 100 lb bottles from the CG, $81 per bottle. My wife is very, did I say very, conservative on using the propane or electricity. She was here by herself 85% of the time. She would turn the heat down when she went to work to about 60'F, then back up when she came home to about 68'F. When she came home she would turn it down to 50'F. She & I would only turn on the hot water heater which is only propane, just prior to needing to use hot water for shower or dishes, usually done at the same time, then turn off after shower. We would leave the cabinet door open to remind us it was on. We do not have basement heat or heated storage tanks. We went thru a 100 lb tank every 10 days.
We purchased a heated potable water hose by Pirit Pirit Heated Hose-The Only Cold Weather Heated Hose. This hose gave us no trouble at all. However the water gets a slight rubber taste so we used bottled water for drinking. I insulated the faucet with foam pipe insulation & the cg insulated the other end of the faucet & water pipe with heat tape. I purchased a insulation blanket about 5-6ft long by 1 1/2 ft wide & stuffed it into the water service bay. This blanket helped but was not enough, I had to install a 60 watt incadesant trouble light in the bay also. we never had a frozen water line after that. If you do this be careful that it hangs without touching anything in the bay, even though it is in a cage type holder I worry that it could melt plastic or even cause a fire.

Our hot water heater is in a closed compartment under our bathroom vanity, I removed the panel that accesses the tank & plumbing & left it off. This did 2 things, 1 this area would be at room temp when the tank temp was nuetral & when the water was heated the heat would radiate into the bathroom area a little. we opened the cabinet under the kitchen sink at night also. When we left for extended times 2-3 days we would shut off the water outside at the faucet.

We found that the dash area & the slide area would be colder than the rest of the MH & even have some drafts. We placed 2 20'f sleeping bags over the dash to the floor covering the engine doghouse. On the side walls we placed our camping self inflating sleeping pads against the sidewalls. Now these didn't fit tightly but you could tell they made a difference. I would think some of the styrofoam 1" or 2" boards form Lowes would do the same.
Then we also used quilts just like as if we were in our stick built for this time of year. We made it, it wasn't the best of times, but you do what you have to do. I have seen some RV's with underpinning wrapped around to keep the wind from coming under the rv. We didn't go that far, thought about it , but decided against it, not sure the cg would allow it either.
By the way the CG staff told us we had the cheapest electric bill of the whole cg each month. They were surprised. We were happy.
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