Winter camping in Travel Trailer

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lpranger467

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Dec 8, 2021
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Traverse City
Hello, We need to use a camper in northern Michigan over this winter while we build our home. We are trying to buy an "artic" version and likely wont use the water lines (I'll have jugs of water for flushing the toilet).

Will the onboard furnace be enough to warm the eunit in most cases in winter ? I'm very hesitant to leave my wife/cats alone in the trailer out of fear of a fire. I was wondering if electric baseboard heaters would work as well.

Any advice, experieces would be welcome
 

SpencerPJ

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Midwest
Norther Michigan. No disrespect intended, but you need a different plan. I guess define your camper?? but 99% of travel trailers etc are hard pressed to survive a dip to zero, that is the norm up there. There are some that can and do it, think Grizzly Adams type people that live off the land.
 

uchu

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Ontario, Canada
Agree with Spencer. Other than water lines, the main issue is insulation. RVs, in general, are not exactly built to protect you from harsh weather (extreme cold or heat). I think it's possible to do it, but I'm not sure it would be all too pleasant or even safe (for your health).
 

bzerull

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Hello, We need to use a camper in northern Michigan over this winter while we build our home. We are trying to buy an "artic" version and likely wont use the water lines (I'll have jugs of water for flushing the toilet).

Will the onboard furnace be enough to warm the eunit in most cases in winter ? I'm very hesitant to leave my wife/cats alone in the trailer out of fear of a fire. I was wondering if electric baseboard heaters would work as well.

Any advice, experieces would be welcome
I agree with the others in this post. I live in Wisconsin, Milwaukee area and I would never even consider your idea. Yes, rent an apartment, much cheaper, safer and you will be warm.
 

steveblonde

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calgary alberta
I agree with others - you will freeze to death or spend a zillion keeping warm. So you plan to flush the toilet with water? What will you do when the black tank freezes? Most rvs are not winter friendly
You need a new plan
 

lpranger467

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Dec 8, 2021
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Traverse City
Sorry I guess I forgot to include an important detail, we have 7 cats and I cant find anyone who will even consider renting to someone with cats
 

Mark_K5LXP

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Nov 17, 2018
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Albuquerque, NM
Not sure how having one untenable situation somehow justifies another. There are always solutions, some better than others but almost surely none of them will include living in a camper during the winter in Michigan. Something's got to change, either the camper part or the Michigan part.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 

1blue78

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Calgary
or he get a trailer with dual pane windows, heated tanks w/heat pads, skirting and probably be just fine. Many people do. Will he need a lot of propane and electricity... yes but that is easy enough to do (unless they shut down line 5).
 

Kirk

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There have been RVs built for that use and still are a few. The Teton trailers were built for use by construction workers and have a great track record but they have not been manufactured in some time and used ones that are in good condition are difficult to find. The DRV claims to be built for that use as do some models of Arctic Fox.

In your situation, I suggest that you take a look at the Ice Castle website as they still build them for use on frozen lakes and such. Another such RV is from Firebrand as is Core Ice. These are not cheap but they should work and there will be a resale market for them where you live. You may even find some used ones available there.
 

lpranger467

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Dec 8, 2021
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Traverse City
There have been RVs built for that use and still are a few. The Teton trailers were built for use by construction workers and have a great track record but they have not been manufactured in some time and used ones that are in good condition are difficult to find. The DRV claims to be built for that use as do some models of Arctic Fox.

In your situation, I suggest that you take a look at the Ice Castle website as they still build them for use on frozen lakes and such. Another such RV is from Firebrand as is Core Ice. These are not cheap but they should work and there will be a resale market for them where you live. You may even find some used ones available there.
Thanks very much, I appreciate those who are offering god advice. We have no choice but to move (job issue) and we will be building just as soon as it thaws but we are out of options otherwise..Leaving the cats isnt an option we'd even consider
 

UTTransplant

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Cedar Falls, IA
People live in trailers in North Dakota. It is not easy, but it can be done. As others have noted, there aren’t a lot of trailers suited, but in addition to the ones listed, look at Outdoors RV and Northwoods Manufacturing. Built in Oregon, they are tougher than most. They are also more expensive and not distributed widely east of the Rockies. Skirt the trailer, find a propane company to deliver and refill a big tank, and buy a heated water hose. Only connect your waste hoses when dumping, then remove them and store. You will need to be careful about condensation, so you need a dehumidifier or venting. Best of luck in a tough situation,
 

Jkoht

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Why not find a mobile home park with an open unit? That's got to be a better option in terms of insulation and plumbing, and one that should allow cats. On an aside when it comes down to where or how a human should live, cats dogs or anything other beast shouldn't be the deciding factor, just my .02.
 

lpranger467

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Traverse City
Why not find a mobile home park with an open unit? That's got to be a better option in terms of insulation and plumbing, and one that should allow cats. On an aside when it comes down to where or how a human should live, cats dogs or anything other beast shouldn't be the deciding factor, just my .02.
We called several with no luck. I agree this would have been a better option for us but no luck.
 

Kirk

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I'm very hesitant to leave my wife/cats alone in the trailer out of fear of a fire.
RVs today are required to have working smoke, propane, and CO alarms so that should not be a major problem. We lived fulltime in an RV for 12 years and many have done so and continue to do so. There is a degree of risk but that is true in any type of home.
I was wondering if electric baseboard heaters would work as well.
In order to do that you would heed to put the heaters in yourself and do a lot of wiring as few if any RVs have enough electrical capability for them and it would be a major project to put them in.
We have no choice but to move (job issue) and we will be building just as soon as it thaws but we are out of options otherwise.
Do you plan to stay in an RV park or on land that you buy? Traverse City has some very nice RV parks but I don't know if they are open all winter. It may be difficult to find an RV park that is open.
 

lpranger467

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Traverse City
RVs today are required to have working smoke, propane, and CO alarms so that should not be a major problem. We lived fulltime in an RV for 12 years and many have done so and continue to do so. There is a degree of risk but that is true in any type of home.

In order to do that you would heed to put the heaters in yourself and do a lot of wiring as few if any RVs have enough electrical capability for them and it would be a major project to put them in.

Do you plan to stay in an RV park or on land that you buy? Traverse City has some very nice RV parks but I don't know if they are open all winter. It may be difficult to find an RV park that is open.
We found a campground in Cadillac thats open year around and reserved a site for January. My job is actually north of Traverse (which is where our property is) but Cadillac is the closest we could find. We figured we would stay there until we had our electric drop on our property (spring) then we would move it.
 

Alontheway

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Alageorgia
Do you have electricity?
Are you planning to live at the construction site or a campground with full hookups?
If at your home then there should be electric at least on a pole in your yard you can hook to, or get that put in first as you will have to eventually.
Use an electric space heater or two if you do. You would burn a lot of propane in such cold weather. You will need a 100gallon tank or something or you will be changing out the little bbq ones too often.
A fire hazzard is not your biggest concern. Those propane furnaces run decades for a million RVs and have few issues, but you should use a CO detector, and if it goes off with just the cats inside, well...
Put down a heating pad under a blanket and the cats will find that to be their favorite spot to sleep and stay warm.
A skirt about the base to keep cold air from under the floor will help some, even leaning wood around the base will do something.
Cardboard on the windows at night to insulate them will help a little. Insulate the roof vents too. The walls will still be cold to the touch and most of your heat loss is there.
Your black tank will be useless, so either run the waste water straight out into a catch container or do not use it. There are heaters for the black and gray tanks that stick on and heat the bottom of the tank to try to keep it from freezing, but you would really need the skirt for that to do much.
IF your skirt is effective then you might can use the water tank and the waste tanks. The fresh water might be inside which means you can keep it warm. If it is under the floor then , with a skirt and a light bulb, you might be able to keep it above freezing temps.
It comes down to mainly the water that is the issue in cold temps.
 
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Kirk

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We figured we would stay there until we had our electric drop on our property (spring) then we would move it.
You will need water and a septic system in order to stay on the property in any degree of comfort. While an RV had tanks, they usually don't last for much more than a week or so, if that long. You will also need propane delivery.
 

Jkoht

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Jul 24, 2017
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FYI tank heaters might keep your black tank in a semi liquid form, but the drain pipes will freeze right at the valves and you won't be able to dump them until thawed.
 
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