class b rv winter performance

What’s it really like to live in an Advanced-RV? Our client Sue shares her experience with her Advanced RV’s winter performance. This was originally posted on Facebook. Read on to learn more about full-time life in Pebbles:

Here’s another round of ”data for the shoppers &/or the curious.” Since I’m a full-timer, a big question for me when I was B shopping was how a van would do in comparison with my Class A when the temps dropped.

Sprinter motorhome

I just spent the past 6 weeks learning the answer to that question. The middle 4 weeks or so was driveway surfing in MO plugged in to electric (50 amp post, using a 30 amp pigtail adapter). The first & last week were on the road & not plugged in to electric. I winterized the water lines & macerator with RV antifreeze prior to heading north to MO, since the temps were expected to be very low & I kept them winterized until reaching AZ. However, I did use both the gray & black tanks the whole time (with tank heaters), flushing manually with RV antifreeze instead of water (no water pump). I did a dump station visit about week 3, when the temps rose above 45 F for a day. The only real concessions while winterized were showering somewhere other than the van & limiting dish washing; otherwise, living in the van while winterized was pretty much business as usual. I stayed winterized longer than really necessary because I had a bad experience with a Class A freeze-up, so I’m a bit paranoid. I also put Reflectix into rear window openings for a little extra insulation/draft prevention on the coldest nights.

Here’s the data:
Coldest night with full water: 22 F
Coldest night while winterized, but using gray/black tanks: 0 F, with a -9 F wind chill
Longest stretch of temps completely below freezing: 1 week
Coldest night without being plugged in to electric: 17 F, with 7 F wind chill

luxury motohome

Coldest temp the van was comfy using only the electric side of Rixen heater: about 30-35 F
Coldest temp the van was comfy using diesel side of Rixen: no lower limit reached — this heater is awesome. Even on the coldest windy nights, the van was toasty warm when using diesel (with or without the electric side). The 2 coldest days/nights burned about 5 gallons of fuel together.

Battery heaters kept the cell temps in the 42-48 degree range even on the coldest night (pic of battery status was taken when outside temp was 0 F).

custom motorhome

Bottom line: the van performed at least as well as my former Class A – maybe better. I would definitely be comfortable with full-water in the system down to at least 15 F (with RV antifreeze in the outdoor shower, shower drain, & macerator). I would also expect the Rixen/Espar heater to keep the van warm enough down to at least -10 F, since it was cycling occasionally even at 0 F.

Another Advanced RV owner had this to say:

Our first week in our motorhome, until we reached Arizona from Cleveland via Minnesota, was in constant temperatures day and night below freezing weather down to 0F one night at a Cracker Barrel. Other than our brief stop at home to stock up we were not plugged in. We had water in the fresh water tank and used it but did dilute its use in the toilet and sink with pink anti-freeze. The only issue was the exterior shower valve freezing up. It was similar to the inside shower valve and ARV switched them out to two separate cold and hot water quarter turn ball valves which we don’t worry about.

The glycol waste return line grooved down the side of the fresh water tank did the job. Firing up the Espar diesel-fired for hot water all the time did the trick. We didn’t run the heater side while driving.

In having two previous Class B Sprinters I can tell you the biggest difference for winter comfort is the insulation. To my knowledge no other converter installs the foil-faced Hushmat over the entire floor, wheel wells, walls, doors and ceiling and fully insulates with blue denim (ours) or Thinsulate in every cavity everywhere including behind cabinets and doors. Not only does that combination work for heating comfort but it makes a major difference for quietness when boondocking in places like Walmart. The insulation is so good that I can keep my motorhome comfortable while plugged in with a 1500w ceramic cube heater.

UPDATE: After reading this comment about leaving the water heater on to keep the fresh tank from freezing, I probably won’t even bother with removing fresh water from the tank & water lines in future, as long as I’m staying in the van. I’ll just add some antifreeze to the gray/black tanks & macerator, then leave the cabinets doors that contain plumbing open for air circulation when it gets truly cold (like you do in a house to keep pipes from freezing)…Yay!!

Anybody else want to chime in with your cold weather experience?

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1 reply
  1. David Olson
    David Olson says:

    Ditto on the excellent insulation in the Advanced RV. I find that my Airstream Sprinter has incredibly poor insulation, now that I’ve had a chance to poke around a little bit behind the slick facade. Likewise we were pleasantly surprised on a trip across Colorado this winter how resistant the RV was to freezing as long as the interior was kept heated. We just put a little antifreeze in the waste macerator pump.


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