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Old 06-10-2014, 02:40 AM   #1
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Winter camping

Some of you in WA seem to camp all winter . How do you keep the trailer from freezing ? Is it winterized ? Or do unwinterize it when you camp ? Would be nice to do a little winter camping.
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Old 06-10-2014, 04:59 AM   #2
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If you are close to the coast, the ocean moderates the climate. We have a fair number of weeks where it does not get below freezing in the winter. When it does go below freezing it doesn't usually go that far below or stay down there that long. The really cold part of the winter is shorter. That means a trailer does not need to be winterized for as many months as one in another part of the country.

I know a guy who camps one or two weekends every month all year. He normally only has his trailer winterized for a few months. Then he gets hookups so he has electricity for heat. He drinks bottled water and uses the campground restrooms/showers so he can leave the trailer winterized.

The other trick is to pick your destination and time carefully. Temperature decreases with altitude so camp low. Go when rain is predicted since a clear sky means a cold night. Avoid known cold spots. Don't go when high winds are predicted so you don't get a tree on your roof.
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Old 06-10-2014, 08:51 AM   #3
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One reason I got a 15A was to keep it simple; not much winterizing needed, so I can get it out of storage and go any time the weather looks good. It would take more than a few nights at freezing temps to freeze the water supply in my heated trailer.

That being said, when my son decides to winter camp, he drains the anti-freeze, flushes the water lines, goes camping, and re-winterizes his trailer when he returns home.
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Old 06-10-2014, 01:56 PM   #4
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We have camped in January and February in Washington State Parks when temperatures were below freezing. This was not a problem at all.
  • The trailer was winterized
  • We had a site with an electric hookup
  • We had a small electric heater
  • We kept water for drinking and washing in containers in the trailer
In April we camped in the high desert in Oregon and overnight temperatures were below freezing, but we had hookups and it warmed up during the day. No problem.
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Old 06-10-2014, 04:40 PM   #5
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Hello Fox Hunt;
Winter camping is a big draw for us. We are using tents now but are looking forward to the luxury of an Escape for our future camping.

The plan - untried at this point - consists of:
1. Adding almost all the insulation upgrades that Escape offers.
2. Adding RV antifreeze to the grey & black tanks as they fill.
3. Keeping the furnace running enough to keep the water lines fluid.
4. Adding some plumbing to route hot water from the hot water heater back into the fresh water tank. I talked to Reace about this and he thinks it would be fairly simple to add a 3-way hand-operated valve and splice a line into the fresh water vent line. Run the pump for a few minutes and dump 6 gallons of 140 degree water back into the fresh water tank. Should be enough to keep it warm all night. Theory for now, of course.
5. Stay home when the weatherman calls for sub-zero F.
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Old 06-10-2014, 05:08 PM   #6
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Hi Allen,
Nice to see a fellow winter camper on the site. We are betting that the Pex plumbing and fixtures will be resistant to breaking even if frozen--although my wife informs me we are not going to test that hypothesis. I think I am correct that all the plumbing is within the heated space of our 17b and should not be a problem so long as that space is heated. My plan for the gray and black tanks is to add a bit of pink stuff after dumping such that it settles in the exposed dump valve and keeps that from freezing solid.
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Old 06-10-2014, 05:37 PM   #7
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It is my belief also that the pipes are all within the body. So, if we leave cabinets and bathroom door open at night, it will look the same as our home in Colorado! We probably have the same unpleasant winter low temperatures as you have in Vermont. It was 38 F. in Arvada Sunday night and we aren't even in the mountains. My wife and I intend to be camping all year, but now with a furnace and a mattress. See you out there when the bugs and crowds have gone home!
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Old 06-10-2014, 06:28 PM   #8
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I suspect the interior pex pipe is not the issue in colder weather, Things like the dump valves , exterior shower, city water connection one way valve are what concern me. typicaly when we here of a freeze related failure its not the pipes as much as its the faucettes and the toilet valves that fail. I personaly on our last trailer had the kitchen faucette burst.
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
It is my belief also that the pipes are all within the body.
Almost, here's a shot of the underside of my 5.0TA before the foam insulation, as you see, both hot and cold cross below the trailer body.
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:32 PM   #10
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Almost, here's a shot of the underside of my 5.0TA before the foam insulation, as you see, both hot and cold cross below the trailer body.
Yes, but once the foam insulation is applied, those lines will be within the heated space, assuming there is no insulation above the lines pictured.
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Old 06-11-2014, 01:04 AM   #11
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Almost, here's a shot of the underside of my 5.0TA before the foam insulation, as you see, both hot and cold cross below the trailer body.
Ouch! I was not hoping to see that.

I wonder where those two lines originate and terminate? Maybe something that can be drained and not used in winter? Or with luck, perhaps will receive a good thickness of spray foam. Looks like another conversation with ETI is coming up.

Thanks for posting that.
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Old 06-11-2014, 01:16 AM   #12
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Really interesting posts! I live in WA so we don't have very cold weather but we do get a few good freezes. I get my trailer in Sept so it would be nice to do a few trips I would like to up the coast a little mostly it will be just wet on the trip more worried about frozen lines in my drive way.
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Old 06-11-2014, 02:31 AM   #13
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Almost, here's a shot of the underside of my 5.0TA before the foam insulation, as you see, both hot and cold cross below the trailer body.
Do you have the standard dinette at the rear on your TA unit?

I know that on my 19 with the rear u-shaped seating option that the hot and cold water lines still make it across to the sink in the interior via the rear bench. I'm guessing that the 5.0 TA shares the rear driver side equipment layout with the 19 (pump & water heater).

That should mean that the TA's with that option could also have interior water lines running over to the passenger side. That would definitely be a preferable arrangement to those of us camping in real winter conditions :-)
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Old 06-11-2014, 02:44 AM   #14
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I can understand adding insulation and keeping pipes and tanks warm when it is below freezing outside, but what do you do when you are driving in subzero temperatures?

The simple solution for us is to winterize the trailer before doing winter camping which means there is no water in any of the water lines or tanks. When winter camping we bring water into the trailer in containers for washing and cooking and dump them when we travel.

When there is a possibility of freezing overnight (such as in the Oregon high desert in the spring and fall) and we had water and power hookups we have managed quite well by leaving the hot water tank on bypass and still winterized and just hooking up the water for the kitchen sink even though the outside supply line sometimes froze. During the day it usually thawed and we had running water.

I can see that our solution would not work for everyone.
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Old 06-11-2014, 06:29 AM   #15
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Robert, we have the U dinette.

FWIW, with our hybrid camper, we just dry camp if it's going to be cold leaving the system winterized. Not a big deal at all as long as the CG facilities are open for business.
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:43 AM   #16
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Robert, we have the U dinette.

FWIW, with our hybrid camper, we just dry camp if it's going to be cold leaving the system winterized. Not a big deal at all as long as the CG facilities are open for business.
Agreed, totally accurate long range forecasts are a godsend, but then there are those unexpected cold snaps in the shoulder seasons

What's in the rear benches preventing the pipes from taking the inside route around the U ? I would understand the piping routing I'm seeing in the pictures if the standard dinette is in the rear.

I still don't understand that routing decision with the double glazing/extra insulation/u-dinette options and nothing technically in the way of the preferred piping location for a trailer set up for a better shoulder season experience.
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Old 06-11-2014, 10:09 AM   #17
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Are you also planning on getting the tank heaters? Dumping hot water back in the tanks sounds like a good idea, but it might be easier to just run tank heaters with the extra insulation when it gets cold. If you are concerned about the extra battery draw then you could get an extra solar panel on the roof.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
Hello Fox Hunt;
Winter camping is a big draw for us. We are using tents now but are looking forward to the luxury of an Escape for our future camping.

The plan - untried at this point - consists of:
1. Adding almost all the insulation upgrades that Escape offers.
2. Adding RV antifreeze to the grey & black tanks as they fill.
3. Keeping the furnace running enough to keep the water lines fluid.
4. Adding some plumbing to route hot water from the hot water heater back into the fresh water tank. I talked to Reace about this and he thinks it would be fairly simple to add a 3-way hand-operated valve and splice a line into the fresh water vent line. Run the pump for a few minutes and dump 6 gallons of 140 degree water back into the fresh water tank. Should be enough to keep it warm all night. Theory for now, of course.
5. Stay home when the weatherman calls for sub-zero F.
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Old 06-11-2014, 12:09 PM   #18
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Are you also planning on getting the tank heaters? Dumping hot water back in the tanks sounds like a good idea, but it might be easier to just run tank heaters with the extra insulation when it gets cold. If you are concerned about the extra battery draw then you could get an extra solar panel on the roof.
Actually I wasn't planning on getting the tank heaters, based on the following logic:

The math just doesn't work out for us. If we were plugged in - which I don't anticipate very often - then there would be no problem.

But assuming we run off batteries as suggested. The big dual 6V batteries could supply 250 Amp Hours at 12V which equals 3000 Watt Hours. 3000 W-H = 10,200 BTUs. And that is under best case conditions. In real world conditions batteries should never be asked to supply 100% of capacity; 50% is more reasonable. Plus cold weather reduces the battery available total output. And high current drain will also reduce total available output. And to make matters worse, the winter output of any solar system is way down from theoretical max. So maybe 6000 BTUs can be pulled out under normal winter conditions.

Compare that to a standard 20 pound bottle of propane at 430,000 BTUs. A clear winner in my mind. Heat from battery power is a dicey proposition.

But I am also reading in the previous discussions about the possibility of running the pipes through the U-shaped dinette. If ETI would do that, then a major concern would be eliminated since a few inconspicuous vents could keep the storage compartments close to the interior temperature. Then all we would need to do is plan our long drives in above freezing temps or to start out with empty pipes/tanks. (Its impossible to avoid below freezing weather over the Colorado high-country in winter, so a water fill in Moab is likely.)

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Old 06-11-2014, 12:25 PM   #19
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We also elected for all of the optional insulation and dual pane windows. However, like Alanmalk, chose not to get the heating strips on the tanks. We appreciate the extra insulation in the shoulder seasons where temperatures may hover at or just below freezing. Our winters can get very cold here, and at this time I have no desire to be in the camper in -30 temperatures. If we did use our Escape during extremely cold weather, it would be dry camping only and would not involve use of the fresh, grey, or black tanks, as there is just too great a risk in our area of freezing things up.
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Old 06-11-2014, 02:46 PM   #20
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We have not run our tank heaters yet since we just recently got our trailer, but I am envisioning those late fall and early spring trips where it just drops below freezing in the early morning so the tank heater would not be on very long since it automatically turns on at 34F.

Plus how are you keeping the grey and black water tanks warm enough, since you would run out of fresh water really quick if you were dumping that much in the gray tank every night?
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