Summer is the popular time for road trips, although it doesn’t mean you need to pack up your camping trailer at the first sign of frost.
Some of the most beautiful times of year are in the winter, so it makes sense to make full use of these quiet times.
One issue is that camper trailers and RVs don’t come with sufficient insulation. Luckily, it can be an easy task to either insulate your camper or RV and to winterize your vehicle as you are on a trip without too much aggravation.
By the end, you’ll be able to find out more about trailer insulation, camper insulation and how to insulate RV underbelly so your feet and the rest of your body will be warm, regardless of the conditions outside. (Learn How to Clean RV Awning)
What is the Best Insulation for a Camper?
RV insulation needs consideration besides just following the R-value. You’ll learn this is the thermal resistance rating and indicate how good your insulation will be.
RV insulation comes in a couple of types, which are fiberglass insulation and foam insulation, although you will discover foam insulation comes in many types. Each type of insulation has its own pros and cons, as you can see here.
Fiberglass RV Insulation
Fiberglass insulation is the industry standard and will be found in most RVs from the manufacturer. Fiberglass is among the best for maintaining consistent temperatures because of its higher R-value.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean it is the best. It comes with a high R-value rating and is sought by RVers spending time in hot or cold climates. Sadly, it also comes with a shorter lifespan than other insulation.
Once any moisture seeps into the insulation, it expands, and thus reducing the R-value. A more concerning issue here is because of moisture saturation; insulation can start to go moldy. Besides the musty smell, it is dangerous to your health.
- High R-value,
- Cheap and easy to install
- Standard on most new RVs
- Wears down
- Damaged by water
- Susceptible to mold
RV Foam Insulation
Foam insulation comes in two types, each of which has a varying style and function. You can find rigid foam or spray foam.
Rigid foam insulation comes in boards with different thicknesses and cut to be placed in any space.
Rigid foam needs to be inserted inside walls as solid sheets to be effective. It will also need to be fastened to studs in the vehicle, so it could mean replacing RV walls with doing this job. Rigid foam insulation can be moisture resistant and durable.
- Long life-span
- Resistant to moisture
- Durable with high tensile strength
- Mid-to-low R-value
- Hard to install
- Not found pre-installed on new RVs
Spray foam insulation offers an R-value similar to rigid foam yet is easier to install. It does, however, need some skill, or at least the advice of an expert.
Spray foam is loaded in applicators where it can then be sprayed directly into your RV walls where other insulation would sit. Spray foam can be the cheapest motorhome insulation and easy to apply.
Using foam seals your walls so long as you distribute it evenly and make sure to fill all the cavities inside the walls. Spray foam bonds with itself to create an airtight barrier for temperature, moisture protection against cool weather and also cut down on noise.
- Long life-span
- Moisture resistant
- Low cost
- Low R-value,
- Can smell after installation,
- May need professional installation
How Do You Insulate the Underbelly of a Travel Trailer?
When winter arrives, heat always tries to escape from RVs. You’ll discover spaces like your RV single-pane windows and others, yet many RV owners overlook the underbelly and often find out the hard way.
It is a key area for comfort, so here’s how you can go about your RV insulation underbelly steps.
Step one is to control the heat you have. Thus, you need to improve the insulation. The less efficient it is for the cold temperature to move between the RV underbelly and outside weather, the easier you can maintain decent heat.
RV experts advise foam board insulation form your RV underbelly during the winter. It may not appear a good option for winter, though you can fasten moisture-resistant foam board for the inside of your RV. Doing this will add insulating qualities with minimal interruption to your RV.
Step One: Locate any hardpoints for your jack. These will be attached to the frame close to the wheel well, and you’ll find one on either side.
Step Two: Get two to four jack stands.
Step Three: Position a jack under the hardpoints.
Step Five: Repeat on the other side.
Here you can raise your camper to give you more room to work. If there is anything you can remove, you’ll need to do so, and also, you’ll need to work around your water lines.
When you get to areas that cannot fit the boards, you can use insulating bubble foil. Put your boards in position and use ring shank nails with large plastic washers to hold them in position.
How Do You Insulate a Travel Trailer for the Winter?
If you have none, or the insulation is insufficient, the pipes can burst in cold weather. Besides this, the cold can kill your RV batteries. Even with four-season RVs and additional thermal packages, and extra insulation, this still may not be enough. (Read Our Full Time RV Living Tips)
One of the best things to do is to put your RV in a skirt. Skirting your RV keeps batteries, plumbing, and other vital components warm and out of the cold wind.
Skirting around your vehicle stops cold air from blowing underneath and causing discomfort or damage. If you can’t get an RV skirt, you can lay items around the bottom of your RV to stop this icy wind, and even snow piled up is enough skirting you need to do the job.
How Do you Winterize a Camper While Living In It?
If you are in the cold weather and find your RV getting colder, you can do things without pulling off the road to have some major insulation changes.
Here are the best ways you can retain the heat you have tried so hard to create.
Standard trailer doors are as thin as the walls; however, RV insulation doesn’t extend to the doors. You can easily hand a heavy curtain over the door on the inside, though old weather-stripping needs replacing as this can let a cold stream of air inside. To improve weather stripping, you can use foam insulation tape that bridges any gaps.
Most trailers have single-pane RV windows and do nothing for insulation. If you can’t get the dual-pane glass, there are still things you can do.
Blackout curtains are heavy and will deflect heat back into your RV. You can also find shrink wrap insulation kits that could help create that dual-pane feeling.
Standard window shields are great for keeping the sun out, yet they can also help avoid heat loss from your RV windows.
You don’t want to deal with frozen pipes; not only can it cause damage, but it also makes you colder. Insulating the underbelly may not be enough, so insulate any exposed pipes. You can tape insulation around pipes or buy products specifically for the task with adhesive.
Spray foam insulation can be used in tight areas that other insulation won’t reach. (Learn How to Unclog a RV Toilet Holding Tank)
Vents are often an oversight as they are high up and used to help warm air escape after cooking.
Uncovered vents result in substantial heat loss. Insulate your vents externally with a vent cover, or you can do it from the inside with styrofoam of insulation board cut to the size that will force fit in the opening.
Stop High Humidity
Successfully insulating your trailer will mean you are keeping the trailer environment stable.
The goal is to stop outside air from getting inside. One thing campers overlook are the effects of too much insulation. Your RV needs to breathe, or you quickly face the downsides of insulation. Humidity can do lots of damage, and you can find it as condensation.
The problem will be highlighted in the cold rather than the summer, as you won’t want to open your doors to let a breeze inside.
Storage compartments can be a culprit if they are not insulated or packed too tight with your gear. Every area inside should be able to breathe, and one solution is to use a dehumidifier.
An insulated motorhome is great for cold weather, but you need to be sure your space doesn’t get damp through heating more as temperatures drop, and any exposed cover could cause condensation and thus mold.
Read more: How Long to Keep Fresh Water in RV tank