How To Heat A Camper In The Winter

Trailer on the hill

Published Date: September 6, 2020

Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by Camper Front

Winter might not be the most favorable time to go on a road trip, but camping during winter could be a great way to experience various outdoor recreational activities like snowshoeing and skiing.

While that might seem fun, it can get freezing when your RV has no electricity to turn on the heater, which could literally suck out all the fun from your trip.

But there’s a way out!

In today’s guide, you’re going to learn how to heat a camper in the winter so you can enjoy your winter road trip and camping to the fullest.

Read Also: How to Heat a Camper Without Propane

How To Heat A Camper In The Winter

Useful Checklist For Winter Living

Below are the various ways you can heat a camper in the winter when there’s no electricity to power the heater in your RV trailer.

Insulate as much as possible

When camping in extreme weather, you need to insulate your RV, without keeping it warm, it could cause lots of problems.

When faced with extreme cold, your RV’s pipes could burst, and cold weather kills its batteries. You can insulate them by using bubble insulation, solar blankets, and foam insulation boards.

You also want to wrap your pipe in heat tape to prevent it from bursting or having your water line frozen, especially if you are connected to the city water connection, or better still, you can upgrade to a heated hose.

You also want to line your windows with heavy thermal curtains to help trap heat inside because open windows will deplete your warmth supply quickly. Also, try placing thick area rugs on the floor of Your RV.

This not only feels more comfortable underneath your feet, but it also helps to create an additional barrier that will prevent heat from seeping out due to the cold air and earth underneath your RV.

You can also use bubble wrap and foam insulation boards to line your windows in place of heavy thermal curtains.

Aside from that, using an insulated blanket will also help to maintain the desired water temperature because in extreme temperatures, even with the use of a water heater, your water still has a high potential of freezing. This could cause showers and doing dishes to be unpleasant activities.

Tucking your water heater in a cozy insulated blanket will prevent the water in the pipes to freeze and potentially crack the pipes; make sure to keep their temperature above 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Or if you are not down for the stress, you can leave your water tank empty and bring in bottled water for doing dishes, brushing, drinking, and, if possible, showering.

This is because when you leave your tank empty, you completely eliminate the worry of freezing water, causing any damage.

Water can be your worst Enemy

You want to make sure to keep the water out of your RV less if you start having issues with mold and mildew creeping up your walls and into your cupboards. Instead of using an open vent,

try purchasing a vent cover as they add an extra layer of insulation and allows moisture to escape, which negates the growth of mold and mildew; it also helps to prevent heat loss but still promotes ventilation, which will prevent condensation and humidity buildup.

A great way to also combat moisture is a dehumidifier; they help to lower the humidity level, keeps the air fresh and clean, and also help to keep the inside of your RV dry and mold-free.

Skirting your RV

If you are camping in sub-zero temperatures, you need to put your RV in a skirt; this will help keep the plumbing, battery bays, and other components warm.

RV skirts are made of different materials, and vinyl skirting is one of the most effective; this will reduce internal heat loss; which also aids the winterization process.

Using a skirt will help to keep the inside of your home warm and also protect it against strong winds; it will reduce the wind rocking and make it feel less like an earthquake inside.

Attaching this skirt to your RV is pretty easy as they come with heavy-duty velcro, or you can use zipper splice. To further strengthen the attachment, you can apply vinyl cement; this will help to secure the attachment and reduce the risk of it peeling off.

There are also custom-made “mini” skirts that can be used to wrap around the top of slide-outs, which further insulates and protect the rubber seal, which keeps the rain out.

Get Cozy

You can throw on a sweater or sweatshirt or even a heavy jacket, slip on some warm fuzzy slippers or a pair of socks, and don thick gloves.

While this is maybe a bit expensive, you can visit your local thrift shop as they could save you a lot of money since the clothes are to be used for only a couple of months,

when you buy winter essentials from a thrift shop, you are able to return them and recycle them; this not only saves you money but storage space; if you are a full-time camper, you know the importance of storage space.

Read Also: Can a Toyota Tacoma Pull a 5th Wheel?

Heating system

Most RVs come with two heating systems (HVAC), there is a heat pump built into the rooftop, and an onboard furnace that uses propane. This causes a lot of confusion to many campers, which do you use and when?

If the temperature falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to switch from the heat pump to your RV’s furnace, because heat pumps are powerful enough to warm your space down to a certain temperature,

if you try using it to warm a freezing RV, you run the risk of burning out the pump entirely.

Your RV’s furnace is the best option for warming up your space quickly and effectively because it makes use of propane, so if you are planning to stay a long time in your RV during winter, propane should be your first purchase priority.

You can also support your RV’s furnace with a space heater; they are an inexpensive option to prevent freezing damage to your RV’s plumbing system.

You may also need to open your cabinet door to expose the pipes to the interior heat, and this helps to ensure that your space heater is off as much protection as possible.

This is a pretty cool addition as this helps to keep your home warm even will you are away and saves you some costs on propane.

Solar panels

Solar panels in winter? Yes, the sun has powerful UV rays that can penetrate even the densest fog unless you are camping in Alaska.

There are two types of solar panels, and they have varying efficiency and prices; you want to carry out enough research before going for solar panels.

If you are going to be at a campsite with lots of electric hookups, or if you are not going to be stationed at one place and will be cruising around, you may not need solar panels.

You want to consider the factors surrounding your camping to avoid splurging a huge amount on solars you will end up not needing. As stated earlier, there are two types of solar panels; we have

  • Polycrystalline, with an efficiency of 13-16%, they are usually more inexpensive
  • Monocrystalline, with an efficiency of 15-20%, they are a bit more pricey

I know there have different efficiency levels, but they have the same energy levels and trust me, your appliances won’t know the difference.

The only edge monocrystalline panels have over the other is that they are available in flexible forms, and this allows them to conform to the curves of your RV. They also don’t require you to drill holes into your homes, and they are even more aerodynamic than raised panels.

Useful Checklist For Winter Living

how can you heat a camper in the winter

There are a few winter accessories you need to add to your purchase list because living in a travel trailer during the winter period can be quite challenging regardless of the steps you apply. Consider adding these items to your packing list:

  • Heavy coats and other winter clothing
  • Boots and heavy-duty winter shoes
  • A freeze-proof heated water hose
  • Thermal curtains, heat tape, and other items necessary for insulating your RV for winter living
  • An RV skirt
  • Engine antifreeze, for the motorhome’s engine or your tow vehicle
  • Space heater, which can help you keep the interior of your RV nice and toasty and protect your plumbing pipes and other systems!

Read Also: How Much Does a Small Camper Weigh?


When you are warm and comfortable, you will be able to explore the beauty of nature in its coldest form, from icy lakes to green trees turned to beautiful seas of white, the winter is a fantastic time to camp and explore.

But the cold can be almost unbearable, by following the above-mentioned tips, you’ll be able to know how to heat a camper in the winter while enjoying its beauty.

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