Tips for RV Winter Storage with Power
Are you one of the fortunate part-time RVers that has power during the winter storage months?
Then you are in luck! There are some awesome advantages for you, having an electrical hookup during winter. Or solar, if snow doesn’t block the panels.
Let’s get to the tips and extra gear you’ll want to use if you have RV winter storage with power.
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Winterizing Your RV
Down here in the South, I can go pretty late into the winter and still RV tailgate.
The college football regular season lasts through the weekend after Thanksgiving (let’s just call that end of November). The conference championships are the next weekend (first weekend in December) and bowl games start shortly thereafter.
The NFL season lasts until the end of December with playoffs through January and the Super Bowl the first weekend in February.
So it’s likely that I’ll be using the RV throughout winter.
What I do to protect my RV in the winter between trips:
- Empty the black and gray waste tanks. Rinse the black water tank. Add a small amount of water to tanks as normal.
- Drain the freshwater tank and water heater.
- Open up the faucets and drain the pipes. Open the low point drains as well to further drain the water.
- Setup heaters as discussed below.
If the weather is going to get real cold (talking snow or hard freeze) then I’ll also blow out the lines and add some RV antifreeze to the drains.
But I also live in Atlanta where the days below freezing can usually be counted on one hand. The days in the teens or below are pretty much non-existent.
Heat Prevents Frozen RV Pipes
The biggest advantage for those RVers that have power is that you can run the heat.
Now, you could run the furnace but this will eat up all your propane. Why do that when you have electrical power?
If you aren’t living in the RV, then your goal is to keep the temperatures above freezing.
I allow a bit of margin of error so I try to aim for about 45 degrees Fahrenheit inside my RV.
Use Space Heaters for the RV
In the Tiffin 34PA, the floor plan is actually quite useful for winter storage. The bathroom is directly across the RV from the kitchen sink. This means that all the plumbing is concentrated in a very small area, in the middle of the RV.
I can open up the cabinet doors and leave the bathroom door open and get heat to all the indoor plumbing areas pretty easily.
I use a 1500 watt space heater for the interior.
The heater has dual heat capacity. Usually, I can leave it on low, unless I know that a hard freeze is coming. Then I’ll kick it up to high just to make sure that it can keep up with the heat loss.
This one also has an adjustable thermostat control. Now, it isn’t done by numbers like the regular thermostat, so it might take some time to figure out where 45 degrees is on there. Start in the middle and adjust as necessary.
The 1500 watt heaters typically also have tip-over protection, so that you won’t burn up any carpet. I do leave the space heater away from any linens or similarly soft surfaces for added protection. It’s on the hard surface on the floor with no curtains nearby.
If your plumbing is spread out, say a bathroom in the back of the RV, you may want to get two heaters, one for each area. One would probably be enough to keep the RV minimally warm, especially with the slides in. But having a second one for the back bathroom will ensure that there is enough heat.
Wet Bay Space Heater
When you are running the furnace, you get heat into the wet bay of your RV. But for many RVers, that’ll mean using your propane. And by the end of winter, that may mean you are out of propane. We don’t want to do that, especially since we have electric power.
For more RV 101 on basic RV terms: A Guide to Common RV Abbreviations and Slang
In my experience, a 250 Watt Personal Heater is sufficient to heating the small space in the RV wet bay.
Fortunately, because you don’t need to heat as much space, you don’t need as much energy to run a smaller heater. Unfortunately, the smaller heaters don’t come with built-in temperature sensors. These 250 watt personal heaters are either on or off.
That’s where the Ice Free Cub Plug comes in. It is a small plug that comes on at 35 degrees and goes off at 45 degrees.
This will save you extra money on your electric bill since you’ll only run the heater when it actually needs to be run.
Remotely Monitor Temperatures Inside Your RV
Now that we have some basic heat in the RV, we don’t necessarily want to go out and check it every day or night when the temperatures drop. Because that means that we have to get out in the cold.
Instead, let’s use the same remote temperature sensors that we used to monitor the dogs in summer.
Many of these systems have two or more temperature sensors. I like to leave one inside, under the kitchen or bathroom sink and then one in the wetbay. But neither right next to the heater. As far from the heaters but still in the area to be protected.
This helps us to know that the heat is protecting the entire plumbing area.
I usually aim for a temperature about 40-45 degrees, well above freezing but not so much that we are running up the electric bill too high.
Cold air generally doesn’t hold as much moisture as warmer air.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a humidity problem. Because instead of the air holding the moisture, the water will turn to condensation in the winter months.
This condensation then drips onto things like carpets and wood in your RV. And then you’ll get mold.
The wood in the cabinets and doors can even swell and warp, leaving more places for water to get in during a snow or rain storm. And since you have a heater running, that frozen precipitation is likely to melt, right into your RV. And again, eventually cause mold damage.
A Small dehumidifier may be necessary to keep humidity low in the RV.
Just remember, too low of humidity can also be a problem. So get a dehumidifier that is programmable to set an ideal humidity level.
Read More: How to Control Humidity in Your RV
Repel Mice, Ants, Pests in RV Storage
Another great thing about having power during winter storage is that you can run an ultrasonic pest repellers.
These little gadgets plug in and run on very little power, but produce ultrasonic sound waves that annoy the ever-living-crappola out of the pests like mice, rats, ants, spiders, and more. But they don’t annoy most household pets (gerbils and the like will be annoyed. Dogs and cats will be fine.)
I have an ultrasonic pest repeller plugged in my kitchen year round to ward off unwanted mini guests.
A Word About Power Consumption
Your biggest energy consumer will be the large space heater, but I usually run it on low. That’s only about 750 watts.
This means I can usually run everything on my household electric 120 volt supply and not require a dedicated 30 or 50 amp power supply. It would be better, but that also costs some money and not recommended for DIY installation unless you really know what you are doing.
If there is a really cold freeze warning coming through, I may disconnect the dehumidifier and run the large space heater on high. This is just out of an abundance of caution to not overload the power cord or adapters. Or trip the breakers in my house.
RV Power During Winter Storage is Awesome
In summary, here is the gear I run during winter storage since I have power to my RV:
- 1500 Watt Space Heater
- 250 Watt Personal Heater
- Ice Free Cub Plug – On at 35, Off at 45
- SensorPush Remote Temperature Monitor
- Small Programmable Dehumidifier
- Ultrasonic Pest Repellers
As you can see, having power to your RV during winter storage is downright awesome. You can protect against frozen pipes, problems from humidity, and even repel pests.
But don’t forget to take basic winterization precautions to also protect your RV!
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