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Old 09-19-2018, 01:18 PM   #21
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The non-integrated generator idea got me thinking about power, in general, and its availability.

I always see news reports of snow breaking limbs and taking down lines, freezing rain/sleet/whatever causing problems with transformers, and other such issues interrupting grid delivery in winter. For anyone camping in winter, have you noticed if power brownouts or outages are a bigger issue?
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Old 09-19-2018, 01:25 PM   #22
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The non-integrated generator idea got me thinking about power, in general, and its availability.

I always see news reports of snow breaking limbs and taking down lines, freezing rain/sleet/whatever causing problems with transformers, and other such issues interrupting grid delivery in winter. For anyone camping in winter, have you noticed if power brownouts or outages are a bigger issue?
Those types of things usually only happen for large blizzards or ice storms. In that case you wouldn't want to be camping anyway.
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Old 09-19-2018, 01:30 PM   #23
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You could always gather some firewood, and keep a small fire going...

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Old 09-19-2018, 01:41 PM   #24
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I live by the theory of "One Is None, Two Is one" (some know the origin). Camping in the extreme winter requires multiple layers and backups of everything. You are placing yourself in an environment to die very quickly if something goes wrong or quits working and everything is linked. The upside...death by freezing is mostly painless. Power and water are your most critical elements...food is the 3rd. Plan on and prepare for the worse and hopefully you can get through most issues comfortably. As for me, if I were doing this trek, I would carry two portable generators with enough gas to run one of them 24/7 for at least a week and this wouldn't be that much gas. Carry at least two electric heaters...amp matched to your generators...and plenty of water stored inside. Food options are abundant but canned goods and fresh meat are heavy. As long as you can drink water, eat once a day and keep from freezing to death you can weather this out. Plan as you're not coming back and it will be a picnic. How far from civilization or emergency services will you be camping? What is your 2nd and 3rd backup communication devices? Do you have portable Ham radio? Is there cell service where you are? Do you have survival plan if a limb crashes through the roof...tarps, large blankets, etc? A roll of compressed "Pink Panther" insulation is great if you have room to stuff one in somewhere. At -20F...expect and prepare for the worse scenario. You are camping in a bean can.
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Old 09-19-2018, 03:48 PM   #25
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look, there are plenty of folks living in RVs of all sort of sizes, types, and brands in the north and the 'great' North, during the whole of winter. A rv is just a house, with wheels.
I have a house in the mountains of NC and have to be 'aware' of what conditions can occur during the winter months(temp, snow, ice), and make sure that my water lines in the crawl space are properly insulated, and the space is properly sealed/heated, if needed. Within the house itself, if I keep the temp above freezing, with either electric heat, or propane heat, or wood fire heat... then everything inside is just fine.

Your original question sounds as though you are 'scared' that your RV somehow is to blame as to 'why' it's impossible, or hard, to 'winter' in an RV... but the RV is not the issue, it's how you decide to maintain it during those temps and conditions. Common sense rules.

Water lines are susceptible to sub-freezing temps... especially any outside the RV's heated space. If you're really concerned about an overnight low temp freezing issue, you can always use your low point drains to move as much water out of your water lines, at least for a simple overnight time frame. Leaving your water heater on and running hot water thru all faucets and the shower is another idea, several times during the overnight.
Sewer plumbing/tanks are only an issue for possible 'freezing' if they are outside the RV's heated space. You can easily stick a small electric heater, with a temperature control, in that area, to automatically come on, when needed.
Full fresh water tanks take much more time and lower temps to ever 'freeze'... plus as you use the water from time to time, the movement of the water, and thru the water lines, slows down any 'freezing' possibilities.

For general inside heating, your propane heating furnace is the best 'overall' heating source, as it's usually ducted, and may even provide heating into your storage basement/wet bay. Small electric space heaters are also great, if you don't like to run the furnace too often, or at least to supplement the furnace. Fans also provide air movement, which can help move warmer air around the space.
In really cold temps, keeping cabinet doors, and the bathroom door open can provide heat into areas you might not normally think about - but the water lines and plumbing are generally in these less accessible areas.

Using general pink insulation in certain areas is also a good idea in really long and low temp times - add it to the wet bay, and all underneath storage areas and possible 'holes' or places where air might infiltrate.

When you're living in an RV, with some heat, during the winter months, you're actually much less susceptible to major freezing than when the RV is in storage.
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Old 09-19-2018, 04:38 PM   #26
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Agree Turner, but this tin can RV isn't built like your home in NC and doesn't have underground utilities coming in and an endless supply of gas and water. What scares me is the temps he mentioned. -20F is very, very freezing cold and no amount of heat will make it warm and comfy. He isn't talking about camping in regular winter weather (if that exist). I lived in ND for three years and know what -20F is. My suggestions are based on worst case scenarios of 20 degrees below zero...which is what he stated. That's beyond cold in an RV!!
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Old 09-19-2018, 06:00 PM   #27
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Drain your fresh water. Use 5 gallon water bottles with push top pump spouts. Get that at Wal mart. Get your local propane shop to make you a hose that connects 20 lb bottles to your coach's tank fill port. Try installing a Wave 6 heater. Enjoy your winter trip. We do.
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Old 09-19-2018, 07:32 PM   #28
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I'll easily admit that I'm a bit scared/paranoid/worried and I believe that is healthy given the challenge. Anyone dealing with those temperatures, knowledge of frozen lines and the havoc they can cause, along with a healthy respect for hypothermia would be a bit scared or cautious and want to make the best decisions possible for the longevity of both rig and life while still enjoying the journey.

My to-do list for preparing based off ideas in the thread so far:
  • get a propane tee installed for external tanks (just darn good to have)
  • use cabin furnace and keep around 55-60F
  • get a couple desiccant dehumidifiers
  • get vent insulation inserts
  • consider insulation options (pink fluff or Reflectix) for between window and blinds
  • plan to only stay near a 30 amp feed, boondocking adds risk/danger in these temps
  • use electric heaters as a backup or supplement as needed
  • get the rig winterized and use the electric tank warmers anyway
  • flush with a 1:1 for rv antifreeze and water
  • insulate fresh water drain line (note to thor: improve this design)
  • bring a few freshwater cubes inside the cabin
  • stow a couple bundles of dry firewood JIC
  • the weather can change quickly, bring some spray deicer
  • don't forget tire chains and a shovel
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Old 09-19-2018, 08:06 PM   #29
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Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Just sayin...
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Old 09-19-2018, 08:22 PM   #30
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Sounds like the perfect plan...go for it! You've got it all covered. Don't forget the sunscreen. You've done this before, huh?
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Old 09-19-2018, 08:40 PM   #31
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You've done this before, huh?
Winter camping in a tent long ago as a boy scout.
Since then, not until, well, this winter. What a strange circle I've made.
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Old 09-19-2018, 08:47 PM   #32
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Plus you could get Lucky and it end up only being -15
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Old 09-19-2018, 09:55 PM   #33
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You've got a pretty good game plan nailed together!
As long as you keep on top of the situation: this will be a fantastic adventure!
So come back to us with lots of really good stories about how it all turns out!
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Old 09-20-2018, 03:32 AM   #34
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A few other points

You might need to check your oil. At those temps the standard oil might just turn to jelly.
If you have a block heater and can count on powering it ignore the oil concern. Fuel lines freeze too, so you will need to add a freeze preventative to the fuel. Also, batteries loose cranking amps as temps dip that low.
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Old 09-21-2018, 03:33 AM   #35
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I am looking at anti-gel for the fuel but have heard some brands gum up fuel systems. Not sure if this can be evidenced or if it is anecdotal. I also have an appt. to get a block heater installed which should remove the need for extra expensive oil changes on the sprinter.

I'm also considering a solar trickle charger as a just in case item.
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Old 09-21-2018, 11:21 AM   #36
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I've often been accused of being too blunt and honest...sometimes it's for the good...other times, not...but I sleep well. Several here say "it's no problem...we do it all the time...it's fun". I would like to hear from anyone here that's seriously and intentionally driven into a -20F situation with a plan to boondock for 3 days or more. I say boondocking because you must plan on failure of infrastructure (local power). I've winter camped before and in the snow...it's a blast. I've fought keeping campers thawed in +15F weather. For the supporters here...what is the coldest weather you've actually camped in with your motorhome or trailer that wasn't equipped with an "arctic package"? If you're suggesting he do this, back it up with personal experience and be specific. My Post #30 was somewhat sarcastic. If you really are planning this, call the local news or National Geographic...this would make a great story of survival. You are asking too many questions and following too many suggestions for me to believe you really know what you are doing or placing your family into. Good luck either way.
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:03 PM   #37
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Part of being prepared means knowing the scope of what I'm getting into. If I prepare for what I see is the potential it makes everything else much more pleasant.

"You are asking too many questions and following too many suggestions for me to believe you really know what you are doing or placing your family into"

Isn't that the point of asking questions; to know more about what I'm facing? To learn more so I may decide if the potential risk-reward ratio isn't in my favor? If I do not explore the ideas and experiences of others how am I to know what does or does not work for me with my equipment, situation, or potential plans? It seems like doing the opposite of what I'm doing would be more of an indicator of incompetence to me.

It would also make for a very boring story... guy camps in cold temperatures, nothing goes wrong, there was no drama, only good times to be had.
I wouldn't watch it.
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:06 PM   #38
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...It would also make for a very boring story... guy camps in cold temperatures, nothing goes wrong, there was no drama, only good times to be had.
I wouldn't watch it.
It's much better to end up with a successful event and a boring story: than come out of it looking like a failed attempt on Mount Everest...
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:17 PM   #39
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"Isn't that the point of asking questions; to know more about what I'm facing? To learn more so I may decide if the potential risk-reward ratio isn't in my favor?"


Excellent and pleasant response!! I look forward to hearing from those that have done this...who knows...may this will become Rally!! Interesting thread to be followed closely!! NOW...those with similar experiences at near -20F...your turn!!
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:24 PM   #40
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I have a Chateau 31E class C, and here is my experience camping in very cold weather. It wasn't -20F, but it was close to zero.



The furnace went through a lot of propane. Had to refill every couple of days. If you have shore power, then some electric ceramic heaters are helpful to reduce propane use.


I was not winterized, figuring that if the coach was kept at a comfortable temperature for humans then the plumbing would not freeze, and I had no problems with the interior plumbing. The external drain line for the freshwater tank froze, so de-winterizing after the trip was a huge pain.


I have heated holding tanks inside a compartment, so they were fine. However, the drain piping downstream of the tanks froze so I was unable to dump the tanks. Putting some anti-freeze in the tanks might prevent this, but I'm not positive.


The RV got covered with road salt during the trip, and I couldn't wash it well until the weather warmed up, and this resulted in a lot of corrosion under the chassis, corroded compartment door locks, etc.
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