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Winter Lay up

Vernon B

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Now that the Global Warming zealots have copped out at Cophenagen and we appear to be all set to experience the coldest winter for many a year I thought a discussion about hibernating your 'van might not come amiss.


It seems to me that having taken the basic precaution of removing perishable stuff, draining everything down, opening taps and valves and perhaps putting some bubble wrap around exposed water valves you have three basic options:-


a) Simply rely on the 'van's insulation properties but carry out regular checks including the state of batteries.


b) Leave the 'van's heating on a low setting and carry out checks as above making sure there is enough gas to support the heating


c) Put some ancillary background heating into the 'van such as a low wattage oil filled radiator.


Any thoughts or better still "best practice" suggestions


I know this topic has been discussed before but there are always new owners joining the forum and even old hands might be caught out by this particular cold snap. I'm particularly interested in views about "heating" rather than what I've called the "basics"








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Vernon B - 2009-12-19 5:14 PM ................. Any thoughts or better still "best practice" suggestions I know this topic has been discussed before but there are always new owners joining the forum and even old hands might be caught out by this particular cold snap. I'm particularly interested in views about "heating" rather than what I've called the "basics" V

In which case, try this link.  http://tinyurl.com/ykoks2j

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Options A and C for us.

We have a small oil heater in the van on a 'frost' setting ( or just above ) and have had no problems.


Also either remove seat cushions or move them so that air can circulate around them. ( First year we had some minor mould problems before we did that ).




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Hi V we have always adopted "C" stand all seats on end etc. we also remove our bed mattress and stack it onto 1 of our spare beds and the grandchildren thinks it great for the extra bounce.

As an aside (maintenance) I also remove the toilet and dismantle the trap entrance and spout get inside and give it a thorough cleaning with pads and spout brushes (from Lakeland) for getting between the blade and other awkward places, then left to air for some time before replacing and using silicone on the "O" rings and trap seal. It is surprising how much debris get trapped in very tiny places and no matter how you flush you will not remove everything, getting down into it is the only way.


*-) :-)

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Hi Brian thanks for the above link. I knew there would be other references but didn't realise there was one that recent.


Anyway your own contribution to that earlier post (yet again a tour de force) deserves, I think, repeating here especially as no one took up any of the implications of the interesting observations you make:





"If the weather is cold, and the van unheated, then everything in the van, including all of its structure, furniture, and furnishings, will tend to the general ambient (external) air temperature. You now have a cold and, because cold air contains little moisture, a relatively dry, van.


If the weather warms up two things happen. First, the van will begin warming as it gains heat from the warmer external air, and possibly (even!) the sun, but it will respond much more slowly than the ambient conditions because it is insulated. Second, as the external air warms, it will begin drawing moisture from the environment.


You thus now have warmer, but moister, external air, that will slowly permeate into the van. When that moister air gets to the relatively colder surfaces in the van, some of the moisture will condense. It may not be visible as condensation because, unless conditions are very extreme, it will be absorbed into furnishings and wood pretty much as quickly as it forms. The absorbed moisture will cause wood to swell slightly, and may cause mildew in furnishings, especially where traces of perspiration remain.


When the van has been warmed for long enough its structure etc will also warm, and the absorbed moisture will be re-evaporated back into the air. If this co-incides with a warm season, say spring, the moisture absorbed by internal finishes and fittings will evaporate permanently (or at least till next autumn), and the wood will shrink back to its original size, possibly opening joints slightly, especially in framed and panelled cabinet doors. Unfortunately, any mildew that has formed, will remain!


The point of installing heating is to keep the relative humidity of air inside the van low, by warming the air in the van, and so to gently warm all its internal surfaces, meaning that the invisible condensation does not occur, the wooden bits remain more dimensionally constant, and any furnishings left inside stay mildew free.


The alternative is to install a dehumidifier to allow the van air to chill down, but to extract any excess airborne moisture that permeates in from outside, so preventing condensation by that route. How much risk of condensation there is, and what the risk of mildew etc, depends on too many variables to be generally predictable in useful way. What can be said, is that either gentle heat, or dehumidification, will eliminate the risk. Other approaches may work under some conditions, but not under others, depending mostly on where you live"




So presumably Brian your own inclination would be to use either some form of heating or a dehumidifier to avoid the potentially undesirable consequences arising from the formation of condensation in the way you describe and which many of us have experienced.


If that is the case, and looking purely at using a heating system, I wonder if you have any strong views on what form this should take? It seems to me that given the circumstances you so graphically describe then a motorhome which has a double floor (and hence not one but two "internal" areas) the best arrangement would be to use the on-board blown air heating as this is most likely to provide an even distribution of heat throughout the 'van.


I guess it might be that the Truma blown air system was never designed to operate virtually continuously like this but what are your thoughts?






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Thanks Vernon.  I use a 500W, electric, thermostatically controlled, non-oil filled, greenhouse heater.  The stat is set quite low (I have never checked the actual temp), but so that the van feels just that bit warmer than ambient.  It was cheap, and is simple (crude, even!), light, small, easy to carry, and takes up little space in the van.  It is located approximately centrally, and so far seems to have worked well enough in two vans.

Simplest, with a double floored van - of which I have no experience - if there are internal traps into the underfloor void, lift them and stand your chosen heater (assuming it will fit) on the lower floor, leaving the air free to circulate around the whole volume.

If that is not possible, I'd consider one of those electric tubular heaters.  Dimplex, I think, used to make them in various wattages from as low as (if I remember) 40W, but in quite a range of lengths and outputs.  Just place centrally in the underfloor area, but away from any surfaces liable to be affected by the (quite modest) heat.  You may need to place a sheet of ply under the heater to protect vinyl etc. floor coverings, (would need a bit of experimentation and monitoring to check what happens in practise).  However, they are (were!) not thermostatically controlled; but a stat could presumably be added easily enough.

Hope this helps.

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spospe - 2009-12-21 5:59 PM


Do you guys heat your garden sheds as well ;-)


No Spospe - but for some reason, which Brian might be able to explain, the garden shed seems to keep bone dry, warm and condensation free - and it only cost around £150. Perhaps I should fit an engine and wheels!



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