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Motorhome use in the winter months


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I have just bought my first motorhome and hope to use it at weekends throughout winter - providing I can get it out of the car park and up onto the main road. I live in Bannockburn, Stirling and winter can be cruel. I read that I should keep the van heated - how do i do this? I have two bottles of red gas and a solar panel on the roof which is attached to two new batteries under one of the seats. I did not get any information about the solar panel, so have no idea how it works. Should i try and hook up to an electric supply?

 

I also have an oil fired De'Longhi radiator which i used to use at home - could i use this in the Motorhome?

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Shouldn't strictly be necessary but if you can hook up to electric then a oil filled rad to create some background heat wouldn't do any harm. Solar panel not much use for heating.

 

Best thing to do during the winter months is keep using the van! We do

 

Safe travels

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Hi

There will some good advice forthcoming from others on here,, from me:

If you are to use it regularly then still drain all water tanks/pipes during cold weather and just add/take water each trip.

If red is propane that's right as butane can freeze.

Maybe place bucket under open grey waste to prevent waste can freezing unless it's warmed/insulated.

Snow chains in back?

Oil heater good on hook up.

Solar panels will keep your batteries topped up.

 

I'll let you know if I think of anything else..

 

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It's always sound advice for anyone wanting to buy a motorhome to get on your hands and knees and have a good look underneath to see if the water tanks and pipes are insulated. I see so many punters looking inside just opening and closing locker doors when some of the most important issues are outside. AutoTrail for instance has just launched some new models for 2015 but because some are budget ones they don't have any insulation whatsoever underneath so in very cold weather the water system will freeze up causing untold problems. Even with good insulation it's always best to drain the system before laying up for ant length of time. There will no doubt be many others that are devoid of any insulation.
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If you intend to use it through the winter (we nearly always go away for Christmas in ours,to visit Family). Then,Yes, I would connect it to EHU, and leave your oil filled radiator on in the van, this will keep the interior from getting damp, and the interior pipework from freezing, but obviously NOT the exterior pipework or the Tanks if they are 'underslung' , so you would need to keep those drained until you actually use the van. It's a waste NOT to use the van in the Winter. Good luck Ray
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With the sort of winter temperatures that can be expected in Scotland the water in even the best insulated van would freeze after a couple of days left unused. For the average van the best course is to totally drain and carry just carry drinking water. It is rumoured winter sporting continentals don't bother with showers just use more de-odorant but I have never got close enough to find out.
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Hi looks like you have had some great advice.

 

I don't think anyone has mentioned cab blinds.

 

We used our mh over the winter and only had internal silver screens, all they did was cause masses of condensation in the cab.

 

This year we plan to get some external ones, as they are reported to be much better.

 

I would pack a shovel too.

 

Good luck

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No matter how well insulated and where the tanks and pipework are, a motorhome which is left without heating in winter will risk freezing up in some vulnerable way, so it makes sense to drain down completely, which is usually not difficult to do. This might be a fag if you will be using it frequently during winter so the alternative is to hook up and leave some background heating on, to maintain the temperature above freezing in all criticlal areas.

 

Our Hymer has tanks inside the heated double bottom and it (she?) lives in a garage when not in use. But even so the the automatic dump valve attached to the Truma heater has tripped during stoarage, showing that the inside temperature has reached the trigger temperature. Not a problem if we are on board, when we leave the heating on low overnight anyway in winter - we've slept in our MH comfortably with outside temperatures well below freezing. no problema dn no feexing up of anything.

 

If I dont want to drain down between trips I leave the heating on. Fortunately our Trauma blown air system has an electric element in the heater so we can simply leave it hooked up with that switched on, room thermostat low. It costs money to do this of course but nothing compared with the annual depreciation cost of a MH, so money well spent if it's needed.

 

Except that leaving heating on increases the risk of vermin infestation in an unoccupied MH over winter, as the little beasties seek out somewhere sheltered and warm (or warmer than a field) to reside/hibernate. We have come across evidence of mouse infestataion, even with the MH in the garage, although fortunately it has just been a few nibbles at a conker which got left in a locker rather than a mass occupation.

 

But it illustrated to us that mice can get into any MH, so don't kid yourself they can't. Mice got into my motorcycle's air filter housing up the air intake tube one winter and chewed the filter apart to make a nice warm nest.

 

Clearing the MH of any food which is not in sealed, mouse-proof containers is a must for winter storage, so no paper packets of bicuits and the like. Setting mouse traps here and there in the MH is a good idea too and I've just refreshed our stock by buying a few more for this coming winter. If you put them in overhead lockers try to remeber doing it or you could nip your fingers painfully come next spring. Probably best to just set them on the floor, where you will see them easily.

 

Mouse traps are cheap and easy to set and the old-fashioned wooden ones seem to work very well. Chocolate-covered raisins are best as bait, much better than cheese at staying on the pin - although since you will use very few for baiting the traps, unfortunately you find yourself eating the rest of the packet.

 

Hopefully rats are less of a risk and might find it more difficult to get into MHs. But rat traps work too if you are worried - but set them close to the walls rather than in the middle of the floor. Rats always make their way along the sides of a room rather than across it.

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Wasn't Me - 2014-10-05 9:49 AM

 

Hi looks like you have had some great advice.

 

I don't think anyone has mentioned cab blinds.

 

We used our mh over the winter and only had internal silver screens, all they did was cause masses of condensation in the cab.

 

This year we plan to get some external ones, as they are reported to be much better.

 

I would pack a shovel too.

 

Good luck

 

We aquired a set of external silver screens recently. Found that they did stop condensation. VERY pleased with them.

PJay

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In severe winter weather we use our Van in what we call "Dry Mode" i.e. no water at all in the tanks and everything fully drained down. Instead we carry water inside the van in plastic jerrycans separated for drinking and general use. We use a jug for flushing the loo and put a bucket under the grey waste outlet so that water doesn't stay in the tank. Main downside is that you can't use the heating system to heat water instead we just boil a kettle but otherwise heating is normally fully useable. The heating system uses electricity for the air circulation fans and ignition so in winter if you are off grid your leisure battery will last for a shorter time due to battery efficiency being lower as temperatures drop. Additionally you will have less hours of daylight for your solar panel to operate (and make sure it is clean and not covered by snow). Think of the solar as a trickle charger. It will help to keep your leisure battery charged but very slowly so unlikely to make up fully electricity used but will extend battery life off grid. It may also top up your vehicle battery depending on how wired etc.

A good duvet or sleeping bag (at least 12.5 tog) will add to your comfort and external screens (we use silverscreens) will make a BIG difference so well worth the investment. At Barnard castle on 5th January this year we were warm and comfortable in the van with no heating or water problems but outside it went down to minus 5C or less resulting in site water taps being completely frozen.

Take special care to drain down fully over winter leaving taps open in midway position because ANY water left in the system is a potential problem.

Propane (the red cylinder) doesn't "freeze" unlike butane (blue cylinder) we just use propane all the time to save worrying about seasonal changeover etc.

 

Good luck. Enjoy your van in the winter.

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If you can hook up good,leave the oil filled radiator on a low setting,drain the water tanks and leave all water taps open, mid way setting if they are mixer taps,make sure your water pump is off,try and get residue water out of the toilet flush too as that can freeze also,leave cupboard doors open and also drawers so warmed air can circulate. Better safe than sorry.some vans have drain off valves for water system and water heater if yours does open them and leavve them open till next use,all a pain I know but expensive to replace cracked frost damaged taps etc.Your solar panel if fitted properly needs no attention,it just keeps your batteries topped up with charge,but not always your engine battery,this depends on how the system was fitted,leave your on board battery charger on when on hook up and this will keep your batteries charged.Better if you can use your van during winter,I realise not all can,but winter camping is fun too.
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If you add Thetford Green to the toilet cassete it acts as anti freeze. I cannot remember just how far down at the moment.

 

We have both inside and outside screens bought cheap from previous owner. Outside almost eliminate condensation down to -5C and in summer keep it dark in morning and cooler in hot weather. Have used both once or twice in extreme cold weather.

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