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Revised on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 by Herb
Lazy Daze Winter Insulation Tips
Living the northern NJ, and with a camping schedule that is tied to the kids school schedule, lead to the desire to use the motorhome during the kid breaks during the winter months.
Since we all like to ski/snowboard, and the kids have learned to like cross-country skiing I tried to figure out how to best weatherproof the coach so that it could be used in full winter conditions.
We have winter camped 3 weeks from Acadia National Park in Maine, to the ski resorts of New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York State. Temperatures have dropped to the low single digits, and we have been safe and warm inside our Lazy Daze. However, some considerable modifications were done to insure a snug coach.
Overhead Vents and Overcab Windows Insulation
Starting from the top of the coach - at all overhead vents, I made insulative insert panels from the pink Styrofoam stuff that is sold at Home Depot for this purpose. (Any foam insulative panels should work fine, and maybe next time I'd use the silvered stuff for better appearance and performance as well)
The front, overcab emergency exit got a full 2" thick panel, while the rest of the vents could just fit a 1" thick panels. This stuff is pretty easy to cut with a razor blade or utility knife. The edges can be touched up, and depressions made for handles by using a soldering pencil to melt the foam. Over the foam went the Lazy Daze insulative Naugahyde and foam panels that were secured by snap pins and Velcro.
The same foam was used for the overcab windows at either end of the kids bed, and covered with the Lazy Daze Panels. The overhead bed was always kept in the down position.
Between the Cab and Living space we always hung a very heavy wool blanket. There was often a 40 degree differential in temperature between these spaces.
Bath and Shower Insulation
The shower skylight was insulated with a piece of clear Plexiglas that set into the frame under the skylight. It was secured with double faced tape around the perimeter and kept a nice layer of insulative air between the Plexiglas's and exterior skylight plastic. This has worked so well that I keep it attached permanently, and it keeps the coach bath appreciably cooler in the desert summers.
Originally I also had a 2" foam insulation below the Plexiglas, but the bath became too dark. Anyway, the bath needs to be vented anyway when taking a shower; otherwise the coach will fill up with steam.
The bath window was insulated with a similar Plexiglas window cover that had ¼" foam weather stripping on the perimeter, which was held in place against the window using the same glass clips that are used to mount the bathroom mirror. Tighten them just enough to make as seal, as they will need to be removed when you want to access the toilet through the window (to rinse the holding tank).
Coach Windows and Side Door Window Insulation
The remaining windows; kitchen, dinette, side coach door, and the 3 rear picture windows were all insulated using double faced tape, and good quality stretch film window insulation.
This was a bit of a challenge to install, as you need to find a good surface for the double faced tape to adhere to - and then attach a correctly sized piece of clear plastic. One that's done, you use a hair dryer to shrink the plastic to drum tightness, and trim away the excess.
It was a bit of a job, but well worth the effort if minimizing heat loss from the windows was the criteria. In addition, while everyone else camping with un-insulated windows was looking through steam coated glass, we had windows that were as clear as the summertime.
I keep the window insulation on the window over the sink, and coach side door on year round, as it helps keep the coach cooler in the summer. The rear picture window also lasted for 1 year before someone stuck their finger through it.
Exterior Storage Door Panel Insulation
The same 1" foam insulation was used to make panels that were attached to the outside storage compartment doors that access the storage areas under the rear couches, and under the dinette seat. These were secured with double faced tape, and remain in position year-round.
In addition, we have an outside shower - and this too got a 2" thick insulative foam insert.
Water and Holding Tanks
I removed the access panel under the sink (for the water pump and tank), and made a quick release attachment out of Velcro. This way, we can easily check on the "actual" fresh water capacity (very important when you need to camp for a week on one fill) - and also to let the coach heater keep the water tank warm on those very cold nights.
The holding tanks got extra RV antifreeze added at the start of the trip, and we tried to limit water use by using campground showers and toilets wherever practical. However, we dry camped in Acadia in January (had the whole Blackwoods campground to ourselves) and everyone was treated to a shower after a day of cross-country skiing along the cliffs.
I expect that the tanks probably at least partially froze, but no damage was done that I could tell. This is probably an area where you are tempting fate, but unless you have heated the tanks, you probably won't be able to dump them until it's above freezing anyway.
What we did in NJ, was wait for a few days above freezing, add some hot water to the tanks, and them dump them.
Pelonis 1500 watt Ceramic DiscFurnace
The propane tank will probably have more than enough capacity to heat a nicely insulated coach for a week or more. However, I would still recommend the purchase of a small portable 120v ceramic heater like our 1500 watt Pelonis.
If you have a winter AC hookup, then it's nice to be able to use the portable heater to add that little extra coziness where it's needed most. In addition, the heater can be positioned to help dry the kids ski clothes, boots, mittens, etc, so they can get back on the slopes in the morning. Bath towels dry nicely too.