It’s not easy staying warm when winter RV living in an RV in parts of Canada – especially in Northern Alberta where the temperatures get down to -44c or colder.
Before accepting delivery of his 2009 Sierra fifth wheel, Dean, a full time Canadian RVer made plans for winterizing his unit by preparing for the extreme cold.
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It started with research
Dean spent about a year researching and following many Facebook pages and got educated on how to live in Canadian winters in an RV seamlessly.
The biggest problems he saw were hoses freezing, breakers not being able to handle the load, frozen tanks, and condensation creating ice build up on the windows.
So he tried to eliminate these RV winter living problems and it worked.
Half way through the winter where the temperatures got down to -44c he reports no problems!
Preparing your RV lot in advance saves future problems
It was suggested that Dean place an insulated tarp on the ground under the RV, preventing the grounds dampness from raising into the RV and help keep the air under the RV warmer.
However, the ground his RV sits on is sand. He’s 50 yards from the south end of a lake in Northern Alberta.
He built the pad it’s on by bringing in 5 loads of clay and 2 of gravel. It’s crowned 2 inches each way from centre so rain runs down.
Steps Taken to Prepare his RV for Winter RV Living
- He had custom cut plexiglass interior storm windows made. Each piece has a 1/4 inch foam border for a tight seal. These clip in and out and take 1/2 hour to install all.
- He brought in 100 amps service adding 2 – 20 amp circuits – one inside and one underneath with two exterior and one in the pass through storage.
- He put a 750 watt electric heater behind fridge and sealed four of the six fridge vents.
- Placed a 1500 watt electric heater underneath the unit set at 8c. This heater can turned up or down remotely and he monitors the temps from inside.
- He has two – 1500 watt heaters inside the RV plus a fireplace. These both assist the 35k btu furnace.
- The RV is skirted with 2×6 and R20 insulation, a vapour barrier, then 2″ styrofoam. All joints are taped and sealed.
- He had two – one thousand gallon tanks put in the ground. One is a fresh water cistern, and the second one is for septic. Both have alarms to notify him when he has 200 gallons left for water or space for septic.
- In the winter he does not stay connected to fresh water. Instead he fills his 68 gallon tank on board and then puts the hose in the heated pass through.
- The sewer hose stays connected at all times with all the tank valves closed. They are all dumped at the same time.
What kind of heater do you put behind the fridge?
How do you empty and fill your buried tanks?
The tanks are filled and dumped by big trucks. 2 times a year. The septic and water cost is $780 a year which works out to be $60 a month.
He brought in lots of power – the same as if his RV was a sticks and bricks house. He doesn’t use a 1/3 of what power he has. I Now he’s prepared if he decides to build a little shop and have power there too.
How do the storm windows secure tightly?
The windows are cut to sit on the rubber seal surrounding the window. Plexiglass glass has a foam border that rests on the rubber, they are held in place with the plastic pressure clips that are/were used to hold mirrors to a wall.
Twist on. Twist off.
Does it affect the fridge or cause overheating ? Does it matter which 4?
At the temperatures Dean faces in northern Alberta sealing the fridge vents help a great deal.
He leaves one open on the bottom and one on top for air flow.
RV fridges work differently than a house refrigerator. RV refrigerator’s use ammonia to extract heat as oppossed to cooling. The ammonia will gel at extreme colds causing it not to circulate. His little 750 watt heater keeps it moving.
He said this took awhile to learn when doing his research and has found that all RV Techs he spoke with concur with his procedure.
NOTE: Remember this is for extreme cold. -25 and colder.
His plan is to unseal the vents in mid to late February when it is warmer.
Many Canadians are full time RVing during the winter months and not heading south as in the past. Dean has shown us it’s possible to do it and be warm and comfortable even in the coldest of weather. Pros and cons of full time RVing in Canada.