Winter RVing - January Update

Thu Jan 21 2021

It's been a month since the winter solstice, and we're now in the midst of winter - and we haven't given up yet! Here's how things are going in our RV.

Winter RVing - January Update
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Before we jump in, I just want to take a minute to welcome you if you're new here. We've had lots of new subscribers in the past week, and we're excited about sharing our journey with you - welcome!

Basic Solar

Many of our newest subscribers joined us after seeing my Basic Solar presentation at the 2021 Online RTRs, hosted by the Homes on Wheels Alliance.

It was my first ever live streaming presentation on YouTube, and I was a little nervous about it! It seemed to go well though, and judging by the comments and messages we've received, people really enjoyed it.

"Wonderful presentation! I have a much better understanding of solar systems." - Susan Williamson
"Super! Even a dummy (me) can understand with a presentation like that. Thanks!" - Carmie58

So if you haven't seen it already, and are interested in learning a little bit about solar, be sure to check it out!

2021 Online RTR: Basic Solar

Solar brings the promise of free, silent, and off-grid energy - but is it really that simple? Join me as I take a look at the basics of RV solar, including what makes up a solar system, the pros and cons of solar, and how to get started.

2021 Online RTR: Basic Solar

The feedback has been really inspiring and helpful as I continue to work on the RV Electrical Essentials course that we're hoping to launch in the very near future. I'm really excited with how it's progressing, and look forward to sharing more with you very soon!

RV Video Production
Turning our RV into a filming studio!

It was also a great opportunity for us to test out our new setup for filming in the RV!

Camera Gear

Want to know what gear we use for our photos and videos? We share it all!

Camera Gear

If that presentation inspired you and you want to learn more, in the meantime check out a presentation I did last year at the Xscapers' Annual Bash, all about RV Electrical Upgrades.

YouTube Video Player
RV electrical basics & RV solar explained (RV Electrical Upgrades talk at Xscapers Annual Bash 2020)

Winter Update

When we were looking at the long-term weather data before arriving in Vermont, we found that the coldest temperatures were typically in late January. And that's where we are now, so I think of this as being close to "half way" through the winter.

So this seemed like a good time for a bit of an update.

First, a disclaimer. As I talked about a few weeks ago, according to the National Weather Service, this winter has been unseasonably warm. Good for us in the RV, but not so good for skiing!

I'm (Still) Dreaming of a White Christmas

Despite New England's reputation for brutal winters, things didn't turn out quite the way we expected them to this Christmas.

I'm (Still) Dreaming of a White Christmas

The graph below shows the last 30 days of temperature data from some of our sensors - just look at that outside temperature on Christmas Day!

RV Temperature Monitoring
Temperature data from the last 30 days. The green line is outside, orange is under the RV, blue is near the tank valves in the underbelly, and red is inside.

The green line is the outdoor temperature, and you can see it's been really quite stable most of the time. We've had overnight lows reaching down to 3°F, but it's been hovering around freezing for much of the last 10 days or so - although that it about to change and temperatures are forecast to plummet in the coming days.

Single Digits

Ever wondered what it's like to live in an RV when the temperature drops below 10°F? Will things freeze and break? Well, this week we had the chance to find out!

Single Digits

Meanwhile, the orange line shows the temperature under our RV, behind the skirting. Just look how stable it's been! Our skirting is really doing it's job, keeping the cold wind and outside air from causing problems under the RV - the temperature hasn't dropped below 37°F under there.

RV Skirting with Foam Board

Skirting your RV makes a big difference in cold winter weather, and we chose a DIY option - installing foam insulation board around our travel trailer.

RV Skirting with Foam Board

Our RV has a sealed underbelly - a layer of coroplast that provides some protection from the extreme cold for our tanks and plumbing. The blue line shows the temperature in this cavity, near our tank valves.

In addition to the protection afforded by our skirting, this area also has ducting from our furnace, meaning the temperature here hasn't dropped below about 43°F, so no danger of our tanks freezing. In fact, it actually gets pretty toasty under there when the furnace is on - sometimes spiking to over 80°F!

Outside the RV, our heated fresh and sewer hoses are working great. I've been keeping an eye on power consumption and it's been pretty steady - around 60-70W for our sewer hose, and around 100-110W for our (longer) fresh hose.

It's been interesting to see how the snow forms and melts around the hoses. The insulation on these hoses is clearly working compared to our neighbor's non-insulated heated hose.

NoFreezeWaterHose Fresh & Waste Hose Installation

If you're looking for the ultimate heated hoses for winter camping in your RV, then look no further - we've installed and reviewed the NoFreezeWaterHose fresh water and waste hoses.

NoFreezeWaterHose Fresh & Waste Hose Installation

As we predicted, controlling humidity has been critical this winter. We bought a 35-pint residential dehumidifier before we arrived in Vermont, and we'd honestly be in trouble without it. It's been doing a great job, pulling up to about a gallon of water out of our RV each day.

YouTube Video Player
25 things we did to prepare for WINTER in RV

Even that hasn't always been enough though. In the morning after a very cold night, or particularly after showing or cooking, we often find a small amount of condensation on the windows. But, our small USB fan quickly solves the problem.

5 Tips for Winter RVing

Winter RVing can be amazing IF you can handle the cold! Here are our top tips to stay warm and cozy in your RV, even during the coldest winter weather!

5 Tips for Winter RVing

One of our top tips for winter RVing was to always have a backup plan. A couple of times so far this winter, the water in the RV park has been shut off temporarily for maintenance and repairs. No big deal for us - we prepared for it by filling our fresh tank 2/3rds full. We just switch on the water pump and we're back in business.

We're fortunate that we haven't had any major power outages yet this year, but we have had a couple of blips for a few seconds. Fortunately, our hybrid inverter has kicked in each time and kept everything running, and our batteries will keep us going as a backup for quite a while if necessary.

RV Electrical Upgrade: Part 2 – Battle Born Lithium Batteries & Victron Inverter

In Part 2 of our series on upgrading the electrical system in our RV, we're going to be jumping straight in with the biggest components - the Battle Born Lithium batteries and a new Victron MultiPlus inverter / charger . We'll also be laying the groundwork needed for installing the remainder of the system later on in the series too.

RV Electrical Upgrade: Part 2 – Battle Born Lithium Batteries & Victron Inverter

But the worst thing you can do with a backup plan is never put it into action and check that it works! So, last week we switched off our shore power and ran the batteries down to about 50%, just to make sure everything is working the way it should - all good! Going forward, this is something we'll add to our regular SYLO day task list.

Sort Your Life Out (SYLO) Days

A year ago, we set ourselves the goal of spending one day each month focused on life admin tasks and the results have been so fantastic, it's time to share our approach!

Sort Your Life Out (SYLO) Days

In my newsletter last week, I touched on our electricity and propane consumption. We'll do a thorough analysis of the data at the end of our stay here, but here are the highlights for anyone who missed the email.

In January, we're averaging about 0.85 gallons of propane and about 24kWh of electricity per day, which works out at roughly $65 per month for propane, and $120 per month for electricity. Since the weather is a little warmer than expected, I think our budget of $80 for propane and $150 for electricity was a pretty good guess!

Upcoming Fridge Mod

Last week our fridge was getting pretty empty and it seemed like a good time to defrost our fridge. As a reminder, RV fridges can struggle in a cold weather, so keeping the cooling elements free of ice will help keep things running smoothly.

Norcold Cold Weather Kit in Action

The Norcold Cold Weather Kit is an easy upgrade that allows Norcold RV fridges to operate down to 0°F. We monitored ours to see how our RV fridge performs in freezing conditions.

Norcold Cold Weather Kit in Action

For a while, I've been considering adding a fan inside our fridge to help distribute the cool air around. Not only will this help prevent ice from building up on the cooling elements, but will also help prevent such a large temperature differential in the fridge where things at the top can freeze.

After talking with our friend Tom Morton (from Mortons on the Move), aka expert on all things fridge-related, I decided to shun the RV-specific fridge fans which seem insanely expensive, and instead go for the DIY route.

So, this week I ordered a cheap but silent 92mm computer fan and mounting bracket for a fraction of the price. I'm looking forward to getting it wired in and hopefully improve our fridge's efficiency!

Tea Stains

Last, on a lighthearted note, we've been really struggling with something lately. You may have seen in several of our videos that Diana and I like to drink tea from our Outdoors RV stainless steel mugs. Unfortunately, tea bags never got the memo that they're not supposed to stain our stainless steel - especially my black tea!

It's really hard to clean off, made worse by the mugs being so deep, making it hard to reach all the way inside to scrub properly. This is a problem that's been plaguing us for a long time, but has been worse recently - whether we've just been drinking more tea, or the water here is causing us problems, I'm not sure.

There has to be a better way. There has to be a gadget to help. There is.

I present to you: a modified toilet brush connected to an electric drill.

Electric Drill Stainless Steel Mug Cleaning
I promise you this has never, and will never, go anywhere near our toilet!

You can laugh, but this thing is legit! It takes less than a minute to remove even the most stubborn tea stains from our mugs now. Just, whatever you do, don't pull it out of the mug while it's still spinning unless you want brown water flung everywhere. Yeah, I learned that the hard way!

Clean Stainless Steel Mug
Much better!

Anyway, that's all for this week - time for a cuppa!

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