Here’s the truth about living fulltime in an RV in winter from my perspective. Today, I’m sharing my experiences, successes, and failures in coping with the cold, wet climate here in Western Washington. I’m not going to lie, over the past few weeks there have been many times I’ve asked myself, what fresh hell is this?
Airstreams are not four-season trailers but I was and still am determined to make this work. I spent weeks preparing myself for living full-time in an RV in winter. If you’ve been following along you know I had a well-thought-out plan and did all the work to make this winter in the Pacific Northwest as painless as possible.
Winter RV Living Preparations
- RV Skirting RV Skirting for Winter – How To Skirt Your RV On The Cheap
- Insulated Winter RV Living – Creative Ways To Keep Your RV Warmer
- outside storage bays
- bed platforms
- water inlet and outdoor shower compartments
- waterhose and water spigot
- screen door
- Added area rugs inside
- Dehumidifier Control Nasty RV Condensation – 9 Tips and Tricks
- Space heater
- Added weather stripping around the entry door Cozy Full-Time RV Living in Winter – 5 More Simple Tips
- Added insulating covers to the ceiling vents
Unfortunately, nothing could have prepared me for the reality of winter RV living over the past two weeks.
We started winter with a bang and over a foot of snow which is fairly rare in this area. It’s our norm to get a few inches and have it melt within hours or at least a couple of days. We have also had many days of temperatures below constantly below freezing. Notable low temperatures have been 10 and 11 degrees.
I find myself in a continual battle with condensation. From the time I wake up in the morning until I fall asleep at night, I’m working to keep condensation under control.
Before you ask, yes I have and use a dehumidifier. I keep the air at a fairly constant moisture content of 45 to 50%. I’ve experimented with lower moisture levels but that has not helped with condensation. It’s simply a matter of cold air on one side of the window and warm air on the other.
Where RV Condensation is Accumulating
- Inside all the windows (my most challenging issue)
- Around some windows
- Inside the closet
- Inside the furnace compartment
- Around some interior wall seams
- Around the entry door
- Behind the dinette/couch cushions
The most challenging problem is condensation on the inside of all the windows. I’ve been able to adapt to it and keep it somewhat under control by being a detective and with fans, lots of fans. Be sure you check your RV’s hidden places frequently for moisture.
Window Insulation and Why I Had To Remove It
Once the temperatures began to plummet, it became clear the window insulation I had installed was more a problem than a solution. For some reason I can’t remember, I pulled the couch cushion away from the wall and discovered there was a lot of condensation behind it.
This led me to dismantle the entire area to check for moisture. It was pretty bad. The insulation over the inside of the window trapped the condensation and filled the channel at the bottom of the window. The moisture seeped through the window frame, down the wall, and onto the floor.
I have removed the window insulation to allow airflow and have a fan under the couch blowing toward the wall. This controls the moisture well enough to keep the walls dry but it still builds up on the windows.
The back windows which curve around the trailer are the worst area. Partly due to the large amount of real estate they take up and partly because my cozy seat is right there in front of the windows. Since I’m full of moisture (and hot air) being close makes it worse. One morning there was ice on the inside of the window.
The front of the trailer has the same windows as the back but they have acrylic rock guards covering them and it really seems to help with the condensation. There must be just enough of an insulating factor to help keep the condensation to a minimum.
My morning routine is to get up and open all the curtains and blinds and dry the windows with microfiber rags. After they are dried off, I place small fans in the windows with screens on the inside. I can’t dry them off without going outside and opening the windows.
One of my bedroom windows gets a lot of condensation and when it runs down the inside of the glass it collects around the latch and drips inside the trailer. I discovered this and started checking for more moisture. I found the water had dripped down the wall and onto the bed soaking the bedding. I’ve kept a small rag wrapped around the latch to soak up the water and change it as needed.
Air Circulation is Your Friend
I’ve learned air circulation is the best way to keep the condensation to a minimum. I have four fans running in my little trailer right now. All of them are directed toward windows so they stay as dry as possible. It’s a battle though.
Other Joys of Fulltime RV Living in Winter
In addition to condensation, I’ve had my furnace go out twice but I’ve been able to get it up and running again both times. The other day I discovered I have a propane leak in one of the tank hoses so that one is shut off while I wait for replacement parts to come.
My water faucet froze once but we got it thawed out and running again. It’s been insulated better and has been fine since.
One of the only two power outlets in the bedroom stopped working the other day. I checked the breaker and it was off. After turning it back on I heard snapping and popping and smelled something burning so I turned the breaker back off.
I thought perhaps it had gotten moisture inside like almost everything else in the trailer so I took the cover off and pointed a fan toward it for a couple of days then tried it again. More sparks! I could not get the outlet out of the wall but with the assistance of my big brother, discovered there were “dog ears” holding the outlet in place.
Once we were able to get it out we found the problem. It wasn’t water-related at all. It looks as though over time the wire rubbed against something during movement and eventually exposed the wire. The wires themselves were not damaged, but the protective coating has been worn off and they were touching and causing a short.
This is a terrible photo but you can see that it got hot and is a bit charred. Fortunately, it popped the breaker before anything worse happened.
I wrapped the individual wire with electrical tape and then wrapped the entire wire to patch it up temporarily. I will replace that wire when I can.
I’ve finally found a space heater that is adequate for my needs and I absolutely love it. I have learned how to balance the use of the propane furnace and space heater to keep my plumbing from freezing but minimize my propane usage. This takes some experimentation because every RV will have different needs.
Fortunately, it’s above freezing now and I can rely on my space heater, and when the temperatures are above 40 degrees, my heat pump.
This is my new and fabulous space heater.
I have a new respect for people who deliberately spend the winter RVing in a brutal winter environment so they can enjoy winter sports. I have no idea how they manage. I’ll just be here basking in my fond memories of Arizona last winter.
Other Posts Related to Living Fulltime in an RV in Winter
The following are links to my other posts related to winter RV living and the preparations I made to make it a more comfortable experience.
If you like this post, please pin it.