Not all RVs can easily drive through winter weather. This is why there are specific winter items and accessories for RVs in the market. However, there are actually some RVs that are specifically designed to withstand cold temperatures. These are often called four seasons RVs because they are often equipped with arctic or winter packages. Having a winter package on your RV may benefit you from matters of convenience to safety and security. You do not want to be trapped on an RV during the cold climate with no heaters and dehumidifiers ready to be used.
What Is An RV Winter Package? The winter or arctic package may include furnaces, heated compartments, insulated walls and floors, and dual pane windows. Dehumidifiers, winterized pipes, RV skirts, and water heaters are also included. These are RVs that have specific setups to survive cold conditions.
Let us go through the different winter packages among Class C RVs. Some RVs that are labeled as “four seasons” sometimes fail to live up to their name. Thus, we need to discuss reputable four-season RVs that have winter packages. It is also important to go through the benefits of having items such as water heaters, furnaces, and insulated walls integrated into your RV. Learning their respective importance to your RV winter experience allows you to personalize your RV setup to cater to your needs.
Find Reputable Four Season RVs With Legit Winter Packages
There are some RVs that are promoted by manufacturers to be four seasons or all seasons. These RVs are designed and constructed to withstand the extreme cold temperatures. However, some RVs still fail to cater to your needs in the winter climate. This is where brand reputation comes into play.
Aside from the brand reputation of the RV claiming to be four seasons with a winter package, it would be best if you personally looked out for standard things that make a good winter package in an RV. For instance, start checking the pipelines under the RV because these are the first things to be compromised when temperatures drop. An RV with a good winter package must have perfectly enclosed pipes; some even have added insulation to prevent it from freezing.
Jayco Greyhawk Prestige
Jayco Greyhawk Prestige is a Class C Motorhome well known to have an excellent winter package. Jayco is a renowned brand within the RV industry, so you can be assured that you are buying an RV from a reputable brand. Among its top features for the winter climate is its built-in 9,000 BTU Burner to keep you warm inside the RV. It also boasts a queen size bed to match!
Like all RVs with a good winter package, the pipes underneath the RV are well enclosed to prevent even the slightest drop of cold water. Despite being classified as a Class C Motorhome, this RV measures 32 feet long. The newest iteration 2020 Jayco Greyhawk Prestige has a listed price of $134,572, although you probably get better deals online!
Winnebago Minnie Winnie
Winnebago is a brand almost synonymous with RVs, especially camper trailers. So you could definitely expect an RV with good quality and flexible floor plans. Like its fellow Winnebago RVs, the Minnie Winnie line is known for having a good winter package. Some floor plans have queen-size beds, while some have double foam beds.
This RV has thermopanel sidewalls which are perfect for retaining heat and preventing the cold air from the outside to enter. In short, this is one well-insulated RV to make sure you do not freeze inside. The price range of this RV depends on the model and floor plan, but you could expect its price to range from $90,000 to $160,000.
This RV is manufactured by a brand that has been around since 1973. Simply put, this RV has a good reputation in the RV industry. The Coachmen Leprechaun boasts thick walls that are proven and tested to be watertight and heat insulated. This will not only prevent cold air from entering but also prevent moisture from building up inside.
The plumbing and pipeline system in this RV is also certified to be leak-resistant. Trust me, you do not want to have frozen dirty plumbing water messing up your pipes and tanks. This RV has a price range that goes from $68,000 to $120,000, depending on how brand new the model is.
An RV With A Winter Package Should Have Insulated Walls
An RV that claims to have a winter package or perhaps as an all-seasons RV should have at the very least well-insulated walls. RV walls can be well insulated by a number of ways, such as having thicker walls and reinforcing them with insulating materials. When purchasing an RV with a winter package in mind, always try to ask what kind of insulation material they used or how thick the walls are. Never take the manufacturer’s or seller’s word for it, they are expected to speak highly of their product.
The walls are your primary protection from the cold air outside during the winter season, especially in blizzards and snowstorms. No matter how hot your furnace is, if you have poorly insulated walls, you are going to freeze over. Furthermore, a well-insulated wall will prevent the heat generated from your furnace from escaping out.
Types of Insulation
It is important that you have an idea of what types of insulation an RV with winter package should have. First off, look at the R-Value of the RV because this will show how well insulated the walls. Wall density, thickness, and insulation materials make the R-value higher.
Spray Foam vs Rigid Foam
Let’s start with the foam insulation; this type of insulation may either be rigid foam or spray foam. Rigid foam insulation is known to be long-lasting and moisture resistant. This type of insulation generally provides mid to low R-value. On the other hand, spray foam is an insulation material known to be lightweight and low-cost, with a low R-value rating.
Both foam insulation requires professional installation, especially the spray foam. The rigid foam works well for RVers who travel across places with different climates while the spray foam is better for single climate RVers. In super cold temperatures, it’s best to choose the rigid foam.
Fiberglass vs Radiant barrier
Fiberglass stands as the best insulation material because it has a high R-value rating despite being relatively cheap and easy to install. This material is also easy to replace and will not require professional expertise to do so. However, this material does not work well with RVers who go from places with different climates. Climate changes easily wear down this material, well nothings perfect!
Radiant Barriers is another good insulating material for your RV. This insulation material may not be as popular as the others but actually does well in insulating your RV. It can be installed on the walls, windows, floors, and on the roof.
Parts That Need Insulation
Obviously, your RV walls will require the most insulation because it occupies a majority of the RV. The walls serve as your protection from the outside cold and also as your barrier to prevent generated heat from escaping outside. Next to require insulation is your roof because they tend to be susceptible to leaks. So aside from insulating the roof, you need to make sure your roof does not have crevices that allow cold air and moisture from entering in.
RVs are already well insulated, especially the ones with winter packages. However, adding additional insulation, such as door sealing and vent insulation enhances the heat retention inside the RV. This will make your RV livable even in harsh cold temperatures.
Winterized Pipes And Tanks
Those RV pipes and tanks should be winterized and sealed properly. When water freezes into ice, it expands. This ice expansion cracks and breaks the pipes and tanks. To prevent water inside the pipelines and tanks from freezing, they must be sealed and insulated properly to avoid cold air from entering.
Furthermore, there are antifreeze solutions in the market that can be run through the pipes and tanks to prevent them from freezing. These antifreeze solutions change the water’s freezing point in the pipelines to prevent them from freezing at the ordinary freezing point of 0 degrees Celsius. The antifreeze solution or coolant could cost around $50 to $150 per gallon, depending on the brand.
Water Tanks Should Always Be Functional
Having no running water inside the RV could be very dangerous because a good hot shower can save you from freezing over when temperatures drop. Aside from that, dumping frozen water in your tanks could be very difficult and stressful. There is a good chance that you will need a new water tank if its contents froze over.
Most RVs with winter packages have winterized tanks. These tanks are designed to retain heat and prevent it from freezing over. Regardless, a DIY winterized water tank could also be easily done to maximize effectivity. For instance, you can install heating pads on your tanks! The costs of winterizing your water tanks heavily outweighs the impending costs of fixing or replacing frozen water tanks.
Costs of Buying A Heating Pad For Water Tanks
Heat pads for water tanks tend to be a bit expensive. An electric heating pad would average around $250 to $300. Although you would only need one to do the job. The bigger the water tanks are, however, the bigger the heat pad you would need!
Pipes And Hose Are The First To Freeze
When buying an RV, always go for vans that have winterized pipes, especially if you would be predominantly using the RV in cold places. Even if the pipes are not that winterized, as long as the pipes are perfectly enclosed, then it would suffice. You would have to DIY winterize the pipes by running antifreeze coolants on the pipes and faucet lines. Aside from the coolant, the only other thing you would need is a water pump to pump the coolant into the pipe system.
A single cracked pipe could easily mean no water supply to your faucet and shower systems. The pipes that tend to get easily compromised are the ones that are exposed in the underbelly of the RV as they also get directly exposed to snow and ice. Always watch out for these pipes’ conditions whenever you are thinking of driving your RV in snowy conditions.
Number Of Gallons Needed To Winterize The Pipes
In general, at least two to three gallons of Antifreeze coolant shall be sufficient to winterize your pipes and tanks. Although the bigger the rig is, the more antifreeze you would need. This is because you need these coolants to cover every space of the pipe and plumbing system. A single drop of water could freeze and destroy your pipelines.
Since antifreeze normally costs around $50 to $150 per gallon, you would need a budget of at least $200 to $500 to winterize your pipelines fully. When compared to the costs of fixing the pipelines, this is much cheaper! A ruptured pipe could cost around $1000, including labor costs.
Other Items That Every Winter Packages Should Have
Having winterized pipes, tanks, and insulated walls/roof is not enough because you would need a direct heat source inside the RV. This is where furnaces and heaters come really handy. Aside from that, the moisture build-up can also occur in cold temperatures. Moisture trapped inside causes molds to grow inside the RV, gross!
Trailers and campers tend to be the most vulnerable to frozen pipes because they do not have engines that generate heat beside the pipes. After all, trailers are meant to be towed by a truck. An RV skirt will perfectly solve this dilemma by further insulating the underbelly of the RV.
RV Underskirts Are Important In Below Freezing Temperatures
RV underskirts are a way of protecting RVs, especially campers and trailers when they are parked outside in cold conditions. This RV underskirt provides an airtight lock around the camper. It also prevents ice from building up on the pipes of the RV.
The most common method of RV skirting is the “channel system,” which uses a channel made up of aluminum. The material allows contraction around the channel. It is better to buy a tailor-fitted RV underskirt because going DIY would be very difficult. If you insist on going DIY, go for Vinyl or Aluminum as they are materials that effectively trap heat.
Electric Heaters, Propane Heaters and Gas Heaters
A portable electric heater will provide you much needed heat energy at the cost of your batteries. You can buy portable electric heaters with 1500W at around $20 to $120, depending on the brand. If you are tight on battery supply, you could go for propane heaters or gasoline heaters.
A portable propane heater will normally be more pricey than an electric one because they tend to heat faster. You could expect a price range of around $120 to $200, which may either be 4000, 9000, or 18000 BTU per hour. That is a lot of heat, which really comes in handy during the winter season. The problem with propane heaters is that you would need to resupply on propane regularly, and along with the fact that you always need to check up on your propane leak detectors.
Gas heaters are almost the same with propane heaters because they need replenishment every now and then. They generate the same amount of heat and are both at risk of starting a fire when neglected. Always be mindful of your heaters, even if some have fail-safe measures installed.
Having a winter-ready bed is also helpful when temperatures drop. If you are planning to drive your RV in winter town, ready your thickest comforters because you would need them to retain as much body heat as possible when sleeping. During the night, temperatures can suddenly drop to even below the freezing point.
So if you plan to sleep through the night, have your comforters ready because hypothermia is not a joke. People die from going into shock due to the cold temperatures. This is not just about comfort, but also safety! Better play it safe and always check the room temperature for sudden drops.
A shower system is common among RVs, especially the bigger ones like Class C and A Motorhomes. However, not all have hot shower systems in place. A hot shower during the cold night will help you fight off the cold, especially if you plan on sleeping through the night.
You could go for professional installation, which may cost you around $4000 to $6,000, including labor. As an alternative to hiring professionals’ high price to install a hot shower system, you could DIY and personally install a water heater somewhere under the RV. It would cost you around $2,000 to $3,000 to install the system, including the price of water heaters that normally go for $2,000.
Dehumidifiers are now important appliances to have on your RV because they prevent molds from building up inside. Aside from preventing molds’ build-up, dehumidifiers make your life more comfortable by reducing humidity in the air. The standard humidity to maintain is 60% at most; if it exceeds that limit, it becomes too uncomfortable for you.
A portable mini humidifier will cost around $40 to $80. You do not need a big dehumidifier; even a mini one does the job sufficiently. Avoid staying and sleeping in an area, especially the RV, with high humidity because it causes health problems, aside from low energy and lethargy.
Recommended RV dehumidifier
Brands like Alen and Danby are both highly recommended for RV usage because of the range and flexibility their products have. For instance, you could choose the 70-pint DDR 7009REE because it could access even the most inaccessible areas of the RV. You could also go for the Delonghi Dehumidifiers, which are known for their lightweight, small portable size, and quiet operations, albeit the fact that they are quite expensive!
To conclude, a winter package is not to be expected in all RVs, even if they claim to be classified as all seasons or four seasons. A winter package would normally involve RVs with sealed and enclosed pipelines, heavily insulated walls, roofs and floors, and fitted with heaters, furnaces, and dehumidifiers to make life inside the RV comfortable. In extremely cold conditions, the issue is no longer comfortability and convenience because it now involves safety and security matters. You do not want to go hypothermia, or perhaps have frostbites, in the middle of the road inside your RV. People die from extremely cold temperatures, especially when the body fails to adjust to sudden temperature drops. You might think that your RV is holding up well, but when temperatures suddenly drop or snowstorms hit, a winter package could save your life!