How Do People Live in a Camper in the Winter?

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A couple playing in the snow outside their camper thet they can live in in the winter

Most RV owners take their rigs for a handful of adventures, then park them in storage for the rest of the year.

However, some owners embrace their campers for full-time RV living.

While summer can be an exciting time to camp for most of the country, can you live in a camper in the winter? Let’s find out!

Can You Live in a Camper Year Round in Cold Weather?

Living in a camper year-round, even in cold weather, is possible. Most RV manufacturers do a pretty unfortunate job insulating and building RVs to withstand less-than-ideal weather conditions.

However, there are some things you can do to enjoy your RV, even in cold weather.

If you’re parking your RV in an area with extreme winter conditions, you’ll want to prepare yourself and your RV. No matter how much you prep your RV, it won’t be effortless to keep your RV warm.

You’ll use a tremendous amount of propane, and your electrical usage will likely skyrocket.

However, if it allows you to avoid a mortgage or rent payment, the savings can be worth it.

How Cold Is Too Cold for a Camper?

Pay attention to the temperatures, especially overnight, when the air starts to chill. Temperatures below freezing for a few hours overnight aren’t a big deal for an RV.

However, if your camper experiences freezing temperatures for 24+ hours, you’ll want to take a few precautions to avoid causing severe damage to your rig.

The lower the temperatures drop, the shorter the time you have before you start experiencing issues with your RV. You’ll likely notice your heater will run more often as the temperatures drop, and there’s the potential for frozen water lines.

However, if you take the proper precautions, you can withstand single temperatures in your RV.

How Do People Live in a Camper in the Winter?

The only way to live in a camper in the winter is by having the proper gear and taking suitable precautions.

You can’t wait to gather supplies and prepare for winter until the temperatures drop. You must be proactive. 

If you consider shipping delays and supply shortages, you may want to plan weeks or even months beforehand. Getting the necessary gear and equipment to help you stay comfortable throughout the winter will be essential.

Without certain items, you risk having a negative RVing experience. 

Tips to Live in a Camper in the Winter

Living in a camper in the winter isn’t easy, but it’s possible.

We’ll examine a handful of helpful tips for living in a trailer in the winter. Let’s get started!

A 4-Season Camper Is Better

A four-season camper will be incredibly helpful for living in a trailer in the winter. These units typically come with heated water tanks, heated underbellies, and better insulation.

Four-season campers make camping in the winter more manageable and comfortable. 

Can you live in a camper that’s not a four-season camper for the winter? Absolutely.

However, you’ll likely have a much more enjoyable experience using a four-season trailer. No matter which camper you have, there are some steps you’ll want to take.

A camper in the snow after the RVers learned how they can live in a camper in the winter

Get Your Interior Heating System Sorted

You may think the electric fireplace in your RV is excellent because it keeps your rig nice and toasty when it’s chilly outside. However, there’s a significant difference between chilly and freezing.

You also want to avoid using too many space heaters as they require more power and can overload your RV’s electrical system. They can be suitable for supplemental heat, but your RV furnace will need to do the bulk of the work. 

Your RV furnace will likely run off propane. You’ll want a healthy propane supply on hand if you want to stay warm.

The 20 or 30-pound propane tanks that often come with RVs will only last for a few days during extreme cold weather conditions.

Some RVers will rent larger tanks to help avoid having to refill their propane tanks constantly. If you see cold weather in the forecast, it’s best to top off your tanks before the cold weather arrives.

A family playing in the snow outside their camper thet they can live in in the winter

You’ll Need Trailer Skirting

Trailer skirting is a must-have item if you plan to live in your camper through the winter.

The skirting prevents the wind from flowing underneath your RV, which cools the inside of your RV and can cause damage to your water lines and plumbing system.

Costs associated with trailer skirting can vary considerably. A DIY skirt will cost $200+ for the materials, but a custom skirting will cost upwards of $3500.

They both do the same task but have a different look and feel. If you expect premium quality, be ready to pay for it.

We have seen some RVers use hay bales or straw to surround their RV. However, this isn’t the best idea. Bales of hay or straw will be a welcome place for critters to create nests and winter homes.

These bales are also very dry materials that can pose a fire hazard. RVs burn to the ground in a few minutes, and surrounding your RV with fuel for a fire will likely only expedite the process.

Get a Good Electric Blanket

The coldest temperatures will generally always be during the overnight hours when you live in a camper for the winter. As a result, we strongly recommend that you purchase a quality electric blanket.

This will help you stay warm and cozy throughout the night and avoid unnecessarily running your heater.

One of the best ways to use your electric blanket is to place it under your bed’s comforter. Walk in and turn the blanket on 20 or 30 minutes before you’re ready to climb into bed.

If you time it right, your blankets will be nice and toasty when it’s time for bed.

Pro Tip: Winter is coming! Protect Your RV From Cold Weather with these tips to get your RV ready for winter!

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Cold-Blocking Window Treatments Are a Lifesaver

You may love how much natural light your massive RV windows let into your rig, but they also let in cold air. Invest in thermal curtains or Reflectix sheets that you can put in your windows to help minimize the freezing air coming through your windows.

They can pay for themselves if they allow you to use less propane or lower your electric bill when you live in your camper in the winter.

Hiasan 100% Full Blocking Tieback Linen Textured Curtains Thermal Insulated Window Curtain Panels for Bedroom Darkening Energy Saving Drapes with Grommet Set of 2 Panels (W52 x L96,Tan)
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Prevent Condensation At All Costs

If you don’t have enough ventilation in an RV, you’ll get condensation on the walls, under mattresses, and in drawers. The best way to solve this is to use a large enough dehumidifier for your entire rig.

You can also use several small dehumidifiers throughout your camper to accomplish the same results. We also strongly recommend using Damp Rid in closets and other areas with minimal air circulation.

Condensation occurs for various reasons, but you’ll notice it more when using your propane furnace. Propane creates moisture when it burns, and it releases as the heat enters your rig.

If you’re constantly emptying your dehumidifier throughout the winter, then it’s doing its job.

DampRid Fresh Scent Hanging Moisture Absorber, 16 oz., 3 Pack - Eliminates Musty Odors for Fresher, Cleaner Air, Ideal Moisture Absorbers for Closet, 14% More Moisture Absorbing Power*
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Honeywell, White TP50WK Energy Star Dehumidifier for Medium Basement & living room up to 3000 sq. ft. with Anti-Spill Design & Filter Change Alert
  • Energy Star qualified dehumidifier removes moisture with less energy than conventional dehumidifiers
  • Removes up to 30 pints of moisture (50 pint 2012 DOE standard) from the air every 24 hours in a room up to 3,000 square...

A Heated Water Hose Is a Must

You’ll want to have a heated water hose. Some RV parks and campgrounds won’t let you stay connected to their water source in the winter months without one.

A standard hose will freeze after a few hours of below-freezing temperatures. However, a heated hose keeps the water above that level and can help ensure a constant water supply in your RV.

This is one of those items that you want to have on hand. If you wait until the temperatures drop, it might not arrive in time.

Even worse, you may order it and discover it’s out of stock. You’ll have to search all the nearby RV supply shops to track one down.

Camco Heated Drinking Water Hose, - 20° F, 25-Foot, 5/8-Inch ID
  • Provides Freeze Protection: Ideal for water line freeze protection down to -20°F (-28°C)
  • Includes an Energy-Saving Thermostat: Thermostat only heats as needed, saving money on your electric bill

Have Entertainment Options

One of the most complex parts when you live in a camper in the winter is that you’ll likely spend a lot of time inside. You’ll need to find creative ways to spend your time.

Ensure you have plenty of games and movies. You may want to create a list of shows you’ve been meaning to binge-watch.

If you want to invest your time, you can pick up a new hobby like reading, painting, or a musical instrument.

You can do many hobbies inside your RV while you wait for winter to end.

Keep in Mind: Cozy up with your furry friends in your RV and keep them happy with these Winter Products for Pets!

A woman who lives in her camper in the winter reading

You Can Live in a Camper in the Winter With These Tips

While you can live in a camper in the winter, it will not be a cakewalk. You’ll need to put in the effort to prepare yourself and your RV for the winter temperatures.

If you don’t prepare, you can be in a dangerous situation should the temperatures get too cold. Have a backup plan if things get extreme, and know when it’s time to throw in the towel.

Some RVers will check into hotels when they see extreme weather conditions in the forecast. Don’t let your pride stand in the way of your safety.

Will you live in your camper this winter? 

Last update on 2022-12-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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