top of page

How to Live in an RV in the Winter? 10 Tips to Winterize RV

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Living full-time in an RV in winter is no joke. Learn how to keep an RV warm in winter plus tips on how to winterize your RV.

how do you winterize an rv

The summer season may be the most popular season for RV camping, but that doesn't mean you can't RV in the winter as well. There are many advantages to RV winter camping; you get to enjoy the snow and go for activities like skiing and snowboarding. Plus, it is a great time to escape the crowds and spend some quality time with the family (or with yourself).

But how do you keep your RV warm in the winter? How to prepare your motorhome for the harsh weather? and where to head for winter camping? Read on to learn more about how to winterize your RV.

Can you Live in an RV in the Winter?

The short answer is, Yes, you can. But it isn't as simple as that. RVs aren't built to be weatherproof which means you have to go the extra mile to make sure your RV gets and stays warm. There are other considerations as well, for example, a larger RV would require more effort to heat. Some motorhomes aren't built for harsh winters, for example, a small campervan may not be able to survive a boondocking adventure in the snowy mountains. The weather can be unpredictable so you have to be prepared for every eventuality (always remember to carry road safety gear when winter camping).

winterize RV trailer

But that doesn't mean you can't have a great time RV camping in the winter. Read on for some helpful tips on how to prepare your RV (and yourself) for surviving the winter without freezing.

How to Winterize Your RV? 10 Handy Tips and Tricks

Winterizing your RV means preparing your RV for the colder months. You want to make sure that your RV stays in mint condition and is warm enough for you and your family for winter living. Here are some easy tips to winterize your motorhome.

  1. Plan Ahead

  2. RV Insulation is Key

  3. Keep Your Motorhome Dry

  4. Cook Your Meals Inside

  5. Invest in RV Skirting

  6. Stock Up on Propane (or install Solar Panels)

  7. Protect RV Plumbing and Tanks

  8. Keep the Engine Safe

  9. Pack for the Cold

  10. Head to Warmer Places

using rv in winter

Plan Ahead

Winter RV living is all about being prepared and planning ahead. Make a checklist of all the things you will need to keep your RV and yourself warm in the winter. Stock up on items for daily use, for example, always carry extra drinking water. A large part of planning ahead is mentally preparing yourself for the cold. Even if you've winterized your RV properly, living in an RV in winter is going to be vastly different than spending the same season in a brick-and-mortar home. Plan for eventualities like water pipes bursting and batteries losing their life more quickly and have backup plans ready in case your go-to doesn't work.

RV Insulation is Key

Insulating your RV is the single most important step in making sure your RV stays warm and protected in the winter. Start by insulating the door/s and windows of your motorhome. There are many different kinds of insulators you can use; foam, sealant, and bubble insulators are examples. Check for any cracks and damages to the walls and roof of the RV, and apply sealant where necessary. Install window coverings like a sun shade cloth and RV windshield shades to keep the warmth trapped inside the RV. Insulate the floors with foam or use RV rugs to keep the floor warm. Use a skylight insulator or duct tape or waterproof tape on the seals of the skylight to keep moisture at bay. The idea is to locate every inlet of cold air and seal it so that your RV doesn't get freezing cold.

Keep Your Motorhome Dry

Cold and moisture are the two biggest RV killers. You need to make sure your motorhome stays as dry as possible during the winter season, in fact, all year round. How to keep moisture out of the RV in winter? There are two basic ways to make sure your RV remains moisture-free; 1. Cover all the inlets of moisture within the RV so that nothing can get inside. 2. Use dehumidifiers to ensure the air is free of condensation. You can also invest in some RV vents to allow proper ventilation of dry air in your camper.

Invest in RV Skirting

A lot of important equipment is located at the bottom of your RV; pipes, batteries, and other components that need to be protected from the cold. An RV skirting can help protect the underside of your motorhome from a lot of weather damage. Good quality RV skirting can help keep the cold winds at bay. You can also get customized 'mini-skirts' for RV slides and other additions.

Stock Up on Propane (or install Solar Panels)

Propane powers everything in your RV, and it runs out faster than you think, especially in the winter. It is always a good idea to stock up on propane when you head out for winter camping. Another way to make sure your campervan or trailer remains warm and energy-efficient is to install solar panels. Solar energy isn't just feasible for summer, you can use it to power smaller appliances and even your entire RV during winter as well. The trick is to install the right size and number of solar panels as per the size of your RV and your power requirement.

Protect RV Plumbing and Tanks

Winter is harsh for all RV systems but the cold is especially brutal for your RV plumbing and holding tanks. Many winter RV campers drain their fresh and grey water tanks entirely for the winter to make sure the tanks and piping system remain safe. But there is more to winterizing RV water systems than that. There are two ways you can winterize your RV's holding tanks; 1. You can use an RV antifreeze winterizing kit to run antifreeze throughout your plumbing system (make sure you use the right antifreeze and NOT the one you use for your engine). 2. You can blow compressed air through an RV blowout plug to blow out your RV’s water lines and dry them out.

Here are some other ways to protect the RV holding tanks and pipes:

  • Wrap heat strips around your freshwater and sewer hose and valves and connections to keep them warm and prevent freezing.

  • A small drip from faucets can keep the water moving in pipes to prevent freezing. You can also open the cabinet doors in the bathroom and kitchen so that some of the warmth from inside the RV can keep the pipes warm as well

  • Fill the internal freshwater tank and use it as your primary water source. This allows you to disconnect and safely store your freshwater hose.

  • Dump tanks only when they are full to prevent freezing.

  • Use space heaters placed at the right distance from vents and pipes to keep them warm

Keep the Engine Safe

If you plan on camping during the winter months in a stationary RV, it is very important that you regularly check your RV engine. Make sure the RV batteries don't have any corrosion or damage and are fully charged and properly connected. Partially charged batteries will drain quicker in the cold. Check your engine antifreeze levels and top it up as you go. Your engine will need antifreeze to survive during harsher winter months.

Pack for the Cold

Winterizing your RV is important but it is also important that you pack appropriately for the weather. Here is a list of items you should pack for winter camping:

  • Warm clothes, hats, socks, coats, and more

  • Warm sleeping bags

  • Insulated gloves and mittens

  • Snowboots

  • Proper skiing or winter sports gear

  • Shovel

  • Tire chains

  • Heaters and other RV heating equipment

  • Extra food and water

  • Warm blankets

  • Blow dryer to defrost pipes and tanks

  • Extra batteries

  • Emergency lights and flashlights

Cook Your Meals Inside

Cooking your meals inside the RV is a great way to keep your RV warm in the winter. The heat generated by stoves, ovens, and other cooking equipment during meal prep can help increase the temperature inside your RV. Proper ventilation can help keep the heat inside and overpowering food smells out if that is an issue for you. As seasoned RVers would tell you, everything in your RV needs to be good at at least two things at the same time. Getting a heated RV and a warm meal seems to be a good bargain.

Head to Warmer Places

Winter camping is not for everyone. Some of you snowbirds might prefer to head to warmer pastures when the temperature gets too cold in one place. There are many places you can head over to enjoy a little warmth during the winter months. Here is a list of campgrounds snowbirds can head to for the winter:

The Last Word

Winter camping is great fun if you're up for some adventure. Winterizing your RV will look different based on the type of RV you have and where you're headed. Luxury motorhome owners may not have to do much while Class B RV owners may need to do a lot. At the same time, a smaller campervan is easier to heat and keep safe than a larger trailer. But no matter which RV you have, the right mindset and preparation can help you have a happy winter camping experience.

1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 commento

20 mar

it seems like you enjoyed the article, and if you're looking for more information about how to winterize a camper to live in you can check out the instructions in this article: 

Hope it helps:

Mi piace

DISCLAIMER: Some links in our blog posts may be affiliate or paid links. We may earn a commission if you click on these links and make a purchase. Your support through these links helps keep our blog running. Thank you!

bottom of page