ok - it's a little more than two cents, but it might be useful to anyone that does this already or is thinking about doing it. There's a lot that goes into a permanent winter camp when you're fulltiming, but it becomes second hand after the first winter.
Probably twenty different ways to do each thing, too - some work better than others of course, but each is valid in it's own right.
Last year my pass through storage hatches froze shut. That's where I store my shore power cord. I've added a 120 outlet with a switch inside the RV. I'll leave a 700 watt fan type heater plugged into the outlet in the storage compartment. If it freezes up I'll easily be able to "melt it" open by using my inverter and battery bank, or shore power. I'll rely on the 12 volt lights for the other compartments for thawing them out.
I have added a cord to power just the converter and added an outlet by the converter. I am able to run the converter and an 800 watt heater. This will leave the full 30 amps for running other heaters inside the RV.
This modification allows me to work around any low voltage situations as the converter will work right down to 90 volts (at reduced output, of course). It essential makes the RV power system into an uninterruptible power supple. Here is how I use it when there is just one 15 amp circuit:
1. plug in only the converter (and heater if it is cold)
2. plug shore power cord into an outlet powered by the inverter
3. turn on the inverter.
I've added a second thermostat to control just the furnace, so I can run both the heat strip and the furnace at the same time.
I came across this suggestion in a yahoo group and thought it quite innovative.
"Install Valve and fittings necessary to recirculate H2O from Water Heater to Fresh H2O Tank. Per NeonJohn: Here's what I've done to my MH for single digit camping. I installed a valve that lets me run hot water from the water heater back into my fresh water tank. I also installed an indoor/outdoor thermometer with the bulb hanging down into the fresh water tank. When I'm camping in sub-freezing temperatures, I watch the temperature of the water. When it reaches 32 degrees, I open the valve which sets up a recirc loop between the water heater, the water pump and the fresh water tank. I let it recirculate until the water heater has brought the fresh water tank up to 70 degrees or thereabouts. Even in the coldest weather that I've camped in, I've only had to do that a maximum of twice a day. More usually once a day. This is, of course, using propane to heat the water so you'll need a decent supply. My rig has an 80 lb frame-mounted tank so I'm good to go in that regard. I've been using this system for better than 10 years and have never had any freezing problems. This was probably my favorite suggestion – so logical and simplistic."
Use the extra outlets on the pedestal for heavy duty extension cords and space heaters. Run the cords through the slides for dedicated power sources for your heaters (ceramic, oil filled, etc.). Most heaters recommend not using extension cords but a properly sized cord can be used. Check your owners manual.
For those that use ceramic heaters, make sure and vacuum out the elements for built up dust. The built up dust can be a fire hazard and can greatly reduce the life of your heaters. Even though most have built-in temp sensors, this is should be added to your routine maintenance. Don't wait until your heater is overheating to do the cleaning.
Some very gbood pointers! I have a question's for you. First, I am going to living in my motorhome(1997 Coachmen) in Florida for the winter and wanted to travel up to Maine where I used to live in the spring and thru the fall or longer. However I don't seem to find any camp grounds that accet extended stays , let alone possibly staying thru the winter....any suggestions? Woodalls doesn't even have a Maine section in their campground directory!
Any help will be appreciated! Thanks!
Hi, I work at Woodall's.
A lot of people get a little confused when they first open the Directory because they don't realize that we have our Eastern and Western sections split. So the Eastern states are in the back of the book. I hope that helps you find Maine!
I'm a cold weather RV'er and wanted to test the limits of what temperature differential I could maintain with 8000 btu's (about 2350 watts fan based heaters), between outdoors and inside the RV.
The RV is a Class C 28'5" Kustom Koach with enclosed tanks, and dual pane windows. Three vent cushions are in use but there is a skylight over the shower--and another one in the main living area.
The delta T, with 8000 btu's of electric heaters, between outside and inside the RV appears to be 20C (or 38 F). For example at 7 pm it was -7C outside and the temperature inside the RV was 13C. At midnight it was -8C outside and inside was 12C.
I'm testing the limits of what temperature differential I could maintain with 9980 btu's (about 2925 watts total between fan based heaters, and one oil filled of 484 watts), between outdoors and inside the RV.
The RV is a Class C 28'5" Kustom Koach with enclosed tanks, and dual pane windows. Three vent cushions are in use but there is a skylight over the shower--and another one in the main living area. I need to rig a covering for the sky lights.
The delta T, with 9980 btu's of electric heaters, between outside and inside the RV appears to be 23.2C. For example the temperature out side is -8.2 and the temperature inside the RV is 15 C.
This suggests about 430 Btu's per 1 degree delta T, or about 126 watts of heating.
Interesting notes on the temp diff/btu pianotuna. Just a side note when thinking about heating - definitely look into solar for daytime use. Simple window collectors can provide as much as 800BTU/sq ft per hour during peak hours, less with lower sun angles, which by your measurements would provide at least a 1*C temp difference throughout the course of a day considering the added differential between outside/inside temp and the spread over both peak and off-peak solar gain.
I currently have some cardboard spray-painted black, apx 4'x2', covering about half of my kitchen window providing up to 12000btu each sunny day here in central NM. With the temp at 45*F outside, I'm getting upwards of 105*F air temp inside, and for the price of running a clip-on fan to distribute the heated air, I can bring the ambient air temp to 73*F throughout my 26' 5er on just that alone. It goes a long way toward cutting the chill without spending much green. Remember also that any excess heating in the day will have carry-over, via thermal mass, into the nighttime heating, cutting costs/energy use there as well.
I had a MUCH more efficient system, fully automatic using a thermostat, set up while wintering in central New Hampshire, so a more similar sun angle to yours, a few years ago:
The premise is to monitor the air temp inside the collector using a thermostat designed for use with an air conditioner - when the temp in the collector is above the threshold, the thermostat sends the 7V signal to cool...the 7V is then just routed to the computer fans to blow the hot air into the camper. The one problem experienced there was on partly cloudy days, the system would continuously kick on and off, on and off... Additional thermal mass inside the collector could solve this problem, such as the use of heavier collector plates (I used 1/32" wood sheets).
A little thinking and a lot of experimenting can make for some pretty neat ways to save money and increase comfort levels.
For the skylight, try this: Remove the inside casing and stuff wads of crumpled scrap plastic in the space. Place a plastic sheet covering the inside portion of the vent area and brace it with the replaced casing. Roll up the edges of the sheeting to provide a seal when replacing the casing. This works doubly well - not only are you sealing off the majority of drafts but the wads of sheeting act as primitive insulation.
* This post was
edited 11/20/10 02:38pm by flyingdog *