Cold Weather RVing Tips & Warnings

Fall is that perfect in-between season that many people love and may even prefer over summer. For RVers, reservations are easier to make last minute and campsites are far less crowded. There’s also the added incentive of fall festivals full of cider, pies and changing leaves. However, there is a big difference between the weather in late September and the chill that sets in around November and December. Before these chilly months, you will need to prepare yourself and your motorhome for any cold weather RVing.

In some areas, it can get cold even before Thanksgiving with temperatures dropping below freezing. The way you prepare an RV is different for freezing temperatures because you’ll have to winterize your RV. If you haven’t yet purchased your RV but know you’ll be doing lots of cold weather RVing, ask your dealer about arctic package options. Some vehicles have better insulation, heated holding tanks and other equipment designed for winter RVing. Remember that not all RVs are built for colder temperatures. If you’re not sure, ask your dealer or the previous owner of your RV.

How Can I Keep My RV Warm Without Using a Generator?

The most cost-efficient way to heat up your RV is to expose it to the sun all day. Park in such a way that the front or end of your RV is facing the wind. Before your trip, install plastic film over all of your windows. You can buy these kits at most hardware stores and they are very simple to install yourself. Some people also create skirts for the exterior of their RVs. This works to prevent cold air from getting beneath the belly of the RV, which will leave your entire rig much colder. Also, as simple as it sounds, electric blankets really do wonders!

Other Heating Options

  • Hatch vent insulators. You can also install hatch vent insulators to the hatch vents on your RV roof. You lose a lot of insulation from these vents which are usually made of thin plastic.
  • Window insulation. At night, close the blinds or use insulated curtains. Most RV windows will allow cold air in. There are also several products, like Reflectix, which help to insulate windows.
  • Weather-stripping. Also, see if the weather-stripping around doors and windows is in good shape. This will make a big difference in how much heat escapes.
  • Forced-air furnace. If you need heat at bedtime, use the RV’s forced-air furnace. Always take care to run your RV’s LP furnace at 45 degrees. The furnace consumes gas or propane, so you should make sure to fill up before a trip. Use a second source for heat too. It’s cheaper and more efficient to turn up your electric space heater if you’ll be at sites with electric hookups.

How Cold Does It Need to Be to Winterize an RV?

If you even suspect that temperatures will dip below freezing wherever you may be traveling, it’s vital that you winterize your RV. If you do not winterize and there is water in your RV’s water system, your pipes and water heater tank will freeze. This would cost you thousands of dollars to repair. So, do not take chances and make sure you know just how cold your destination will be so you’re prepared to take the proper precautions. Also, make sure your wiper fluid is made for winter conditions. Use a diesel fuel supplement if your RV is diesel. Otherwise, you might experience gelling, which is not a good thing.

You should always learn how to disconnect water lines from your tanks in case an unexpected freeze sets in while you’re camping. You’ll also need to drain the water from these lines to prevent freezing or add RV antifreeze. If you don’t, you’ll have some expensive damage to your water and waste systems.

Can I Use My Winterized RV?

Yes, you can absolutely travel in a winterized RV. That includes your RV’s winterized water system. Just take lots of 1-gallon jugs of water to use in the toilet. Also, if you do not have heated holding tanks, you’ll want to make sure there is RV antifreeze (the pink stuff) in the tanks. Add the antifreeze through the toilet and black water holding tank. Make sure to do the shower for the gray water too.

Remember, you cannot drink any of the water with antifreeze in it. Bring plenty of bottled water for drinking and cooking as well as brushing your teeth and washing up. For more cold weather RVing tips, visit here.

How Much Antifreeze Should I Use?

RV antifreeze usage is based on how large your tanks are and how much is in the tanks. You need to add more as waste-water accumulates so that the antifreeze is not too diluted. Also, keep in mind to empty your tanks frequently unless they are heated. You risk having the contents freeze and damage the tanks if you don’t. Again, each time you empty you must add antifreeze to the holding tanks.

More Cold Weather RVing Tips

  • Pack the right clothes. This especially includes shirts that you can layer accordingly. It may be 70 degrees during the day and then drop to freezing temperatures at night. Bring jackets, fleece sweaters and sweatshirts and warm socks.
  • Cold weather drains batteries. Make sure your RV’s battery is in good shape before you head out into the cold.
  • cold weather rvingExpect cold showers. While cold weather RVing, it takes cold water longer to run through the pipes and send the hot water from the water heater to the nozzle.
  • Insulate your sewer hoses. You can do this with heat tape or some sort of heavy-duty insulation to prevent ice from forming inside. Try to use them only when you dump. Then, clean and store them in a heated compartment. If they freeze, they will split when you disconnect.
  • Use a heated fresh-water hose. Doing this will prevent splitting and freezing during cold weather RVing trips.

Remember to not only protect your RV with proper maintenance, but also with the right RV Insurance. If you have any questions about getting a policy that fits your lifestyle, contact an Insurance Specialist at (866) 501-7335.


The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. It is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here.

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