How to insulate a camper trailer for winter use (7 Tips)

How to insulate a camper trailer for winter use (7 Tips)

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Living in RV full time needs you to tackle all the challenges during winter. Full time rving can be difficult due to very low temperatures if you live in such states. Thankfully you can get RV’s that can keep it warm inside.

But, not all RV’s can be fully insulated inside. Specially, travel trailers do need special considerations to keep it warm.

With windows or doors and floor not being fully insulated the heat may escape or colder air may enter inside. Various methods and strategies can be applied to keep the RV insulated.

So, what all elements in RV you need to insulate? Lets explore all options to keep the camper trailer fully insulated for winter usage.

Cover the windows

When the temperature is going below 32 degrees, it can get hard for you inside the camper trailer. Windows, if having any open areas can make the RV more colder even when you have the heater on.

The heat will escape through the openings and the camper temperature will start to drop. Specially, if your RV has single pane windows, it can become difficult to prevent the heat loss unless you try some methods and cover the window properly.

Lets check some methods that can be used to cover windows thoroughly.

1. Make plexiglass window : One can use plexiglass for RV windows to insulate it better. This can be a little expensive method but it can work effectively. Normally plexiglass is used for commercial houses or building. Its a material that adds strength and withstand storms and also adds great insulation. You need to add the plexiglass to the windows for your RV carefully and skillfully for effectiveness.

2. Use plastic covers : A shrink plastic can be used to insulate the windows during freezing cold. The plastic covering can work effectively but if you have many windows then this can be a job that you will not like much. The plastic need to stuck to the windows using tape. You can either put the plastic on the interior or externally as well.

3. Use bubble wrapping cover : Window glass can also be covered with bubble wrap. The bubbles need to be laced on the glass side. This too can be stuck with the help of tape on all sides.

4. Use velcro window covering : This may not be a perfect method to seal all fully but in moderate weather this works good. And you also get the option of pulling it up when you feel so. In other methods above, you are left with no option but to keep it covered all the time until temperature settles down after winter. Check this velcro product for your RV on amazon.

5. Insulating curtains : One can also try various insulating curtain from retail shops like home depot or Walmart. This one on amazon is also an awesome for this use. Various material are used in making such curtain that are mostly multi layered coverings. This can keep the RV warm but you have to sacrifice on the natural light as it will cover the windows dark.

6. Use Reflectix : This is insulating product that can be bought online or from retail shops. You can buy it here on amazon. It comes as a big roll of around 25 inches in width. You can cut it as per needs and use it to insulate the RV windows. Its light in weight like a paper calendar. It looks like a aluminium foil and has bubble layer in between.

So as to put it on window you would need something that gets it fixed. For this, you can either use some kind of duct tape and put it on all the four sides or one can also use some kind of clips to affix it.

Depending on the size of the window you can use number of clips to get it fixed. Reflectix is in-fact known as the secrete of rvers who camp in winter. Its good as an insulation product but you need to find the best way to get it fixed on the windows.

You can also use Velcro on all four corners of the window and get the reflectix piece fixed. Relfectix can not only be used for window insulation but also to insulate other parts or appliances or items in the RV. It can be wrapped around items that you feel need insulation.

Replace the windows

If the Rv is equipped with a single pane window then one a permanent solution you can do is replace them. A single pane window not only allows cold air to bring in but also the heated warm air could escape out. No doubt it can be little more costly for you to get them replaced but this will save you from insulating every season.

A travel trailer or smaller RV will normally have single pane window. The reason for this is because they may not have good vibration suspension handling capability.

Bigger and costlier motorhomes like class A or class C are mostly built with double pane windows. So, there is a point to remember before going ahead with this option. The double pane windows in smaller travel trailers may not be capable of handling vibrations.

Insulating the RV door

One of the challenges in full time rving is obviously living during winter. A lot depends on what kind of RV you own. A towing RV like pop up camper or a travel trailer means you are in real need of insulating it as much as possible. Luxury motorhomes like class A or class c and you don’t have to bother much.

The door in RV can be insulated using covers or reflective covers which can be bought from online retailers like walmart.

One can also try covering the RV door using blankets temporarily but may not a good solution. Making sure caulks are applied to RV door to keep it from leaks can be a preventive way.

Thermal curtain can also be used to cover the RV door. This can be really effective way to keep the cooler air out and also prevent warm heat going out. These are generally made out of polythene and good thick layered are good for protecting the RV from cold temperature.

These are similar to what one would use in a house. One can check for RV special curtain just to be sure you aren’t getting something that isn’t suited for the vehicle.

Some people also try “shrink wrapping” of the RV door. This basically can help if the sun is out as the sun light will come in due to screen door cover and result in heating. But, may not work great all the time.

A cooler air coming in can make the temperature fall more. This could be done using a plastic thick layered cover. This will be more of a DIY project and if you are good in making such thing then sure go ahead and try it out.

Insulating RV roof

Windows and door insulation is much more important and there can be gaps that bring direct cold air. A small gap or a hole can make it double difficult to keep the RV warm. And you don’t really take that chance when the mercury isn’t coming up.

Roof of the travel trailer or your RV is another place which can actually make it cooler. A good roof may not have leaks or gaps but by chance if there any then it can really get difficult. Also with roof vents and air conditioner there can be gaps that may allow cooler air to skip in. This can get real tough as you cannot place a curtain or cover directly like for a window or a door.

RV vents are great during summer as it helps keep the air flow and allow some sunshine as well. Air circulation is important in such a big vehicle with so many appliances and other living amenities.

But, the vents can be your source of problems when it comes to winter RV use. The vents need to covered fully during winter. One can use ready made vent covers which can work well both during summer as well as winter.

The reflective surface will keep the sun out and during colder season the cold. Lot of companies make these, camco is one popular brand that makes such insulators.

While vent cover can make it easier for you to insulate vents, the rv roof overall can also be covered on the top. This can not only help in insulating the RV roof further but can also make it soundproof for rain or snow.

A tarp can be placed on top of the roof to cover it fully. You would need a good thick one for this. But yes, with this the roof vent will be of no use as they will be covered. Its upto you if you want to go ahead with this method, it mostly depends on how bad the weather is. Covering the RV fully is a debated topic as some people find it of no use.

Insulating rv floor

A RV floor insulation is much more critical and has much more effect on how warm the camper can remain. The height of the floor from the ground is also important. The more close you are to ground more cooler it is going to get. Getting the floor of the RV with a good insulation can help a lot in keeping the trailer or RV warm.

The main point to be considered is the material to be sued. It basically to with the R-value if the material. Materials like Polyisocyanurate provide good resistance. Other materials like polystyrene, aerogel can also be used. aerogel provides better thermal capability.

When you put such a insulation you need to consider things like the total head room n the rv, whether there are any cables or wires to be laid out underneath.

Also, remember with insulation one has to also consider about proper ventilation. When you add such a thick insulation do consider about proper ventilation so that is not totally covered or at-least one can make way for air as and when needed.

Insulate RV walls

In states that do not receive high snow one can easily camp during winter. But, if the temperature is way below freezing then you need to take extra care while living in RV. Your trailer or RV walls can be insulated using insulation material. This is obviously extra safe and will make it easy for you during falling degrees. One can get the rv walls insulated from a RV professional.

So, what kind of material do you add as insulation. It depends on the r- values of the material. R-Value is nothing but the thermal resistance the material adds. Highers the R-value, better is the insulation capability. Lets have a look ate what different option you get.

1. Spray foam : This type of foam insulation is a low cost and easy to install. It however provided less R-values and thus may not be very good in insulation. They however can last very log as compared to other types mentioned below. If you are going to RV in very low temperatures than its better to go for any other type of insulation like fiberglass.

2. Fiberglass : they have high R-value and thus provide better insulation. They however can catch of mold in humid climate. And thus, one who frequently RVs in different climate should probably avoid this type of insulation.

Fiberglass insulation is also not long lasting and you may end up having to spend on repairs or replacements. The main problem with this type of insulation is it gets hold of moisture and over time this may result in molds and other issues.

It will either go bad or will slowly result in becoming less protective in terms of insulation. You do get RV’s that are pre-built with this kind of insulation.

3. Rigid foam : This type of foam based insulation provides an R-value that is lesser than a fiberglass type. That means an insulation that isn’t of high quality but, they can last longer and are better than fiberglass in humid environments. Its also little difficult to get them install. RVs normally wont come pre-installed with this type of insulation. Getting this type of insulation on the RV can be tedious and you would be working on walls yourself.

So, what insulation will be ideal for you. It totally depends on where you RV. Is it going to be extreme temperature on either side or will it it moderate one. Depending on the temperature range and how it varies during summer and winter, you can chose the type.

A moderate temperature conditions and you can go with foam based. But, for extreme conditions fiberglass is better one. Another point to keep note of is once you touch your walls or even other parts of the RV as an DIY project, you may be going against the warranty policies.

So, if your RV is in warranty better take note of their policies before making any such changes. Also, getting a proper four season RV with better insulation can help a lot and you don’t have to go through all DIY projects.

Towable RV’s like travel trailer or pop up camper wont be four season RV’s. They would always need you to insulate them one way or the other.

Skirt your RV or Travel trailer

Can skirting help in insulating the RV? Well, the answer is obviously yes. It helps in keeping the underside of the trailer or rv protected and insulated.

While skirting is not only for insulating the RV from cold temperature, it can be of really great hep to maintain the temperature. What it does is, it keeps the coder air out and stops inner heat from escaping.

This not only keep the rv warm but also helps in making the RV energy efficient as you spent less propane on heater. Freezing water can also destroy piping in the RV and keeping the RV warm overall protects pipes from freezing.

Skirting not only help in keeping the warm but also provides handful of other advantages. The underneath space can be turned into a storage space, tires get extra protection so you don’t have to get separate tire covers. It blocks wind and keep RV safe and warm.

Different materials can be used in making the RV skirting. How much it protects the cold from entering the RV from underneath depends on how good insulating material is used.

Various companies make RV skirts/material and claim to be preventing heat loss . You have to make sure the skirting fits your RV properly and a RV professional can be of great help before going ahead with the installation.

Using any of the above ideas for insulating the camper should be implemented for comfortable living during winter. Getting a good RV in itself can also be a point to consider. A true four season can be hard to find and also a little costly.

What else to keep the camper warm

  1. Keep the RV refrigerator insulated and use it to minimum
  2. Get your oven turned on to bake a cake or so. This will keep the rv warm during camping
  3. Portable space heater keeps it warm inside the RV. Electricity run heater can be great and make it really warm.
  4. Avoid continuous external water connections in you motorhome or camper
  5. Smaller is warmer. Bigger Rv’s not only need more energy to keep it warm and also difficult to heat. Smaller RV makes it easy to keep it warm.
  6. Buy a true four season RV. If you haven’t bought one yet, do thorough research in getting a RV that has better insulation all round.
  7. Insulate your RV water tanks with various means like tank heater or thermal blankets.
  8. Keep the furnace in good condition. Buy a better efficient furnace for your rv.
  9. Wear clothes that provide better protection against cold will help staying warm inside RV
  10. RV cabinates can also be insulated for better living during winter inside RV

G. Yoganand

A RV enthusiast who spends countless hours researching and learning various things related to RV camping. He believes in spending time doing Outdoor activities.
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