Can You Live in a Class A Motorhome in the Winter?


Living or even having a motorhome is an awesome experience. You get to experience different parts of the country in different seasons. But for those of you who live year-round in an RV, can you live in a Class A motorhome in the winter?

Here’s what I’ve learned from living in mine:

Yes. In most cases, you can live in your Class A motorhome during winter. This is especially true for more recently built motorhomes. The primary factors are the temperatures where you’ll be, the amount of snow and ice, and how well insulated your RV is.

But that just scratches the surface.

So in this article, we’re diving deep into RV living, winter tips, and how to know if it’s a good idea for you to live in yours during the winter season.

Motorhomes are great but there is always something new to learn, even for the most experienced motorhome enthusiasts.

That is where we come in, for everything you need to know about motorhomes in the winter, keep reading.

Living in a Class A motorhome in the winter: 3 things that you need to know


Unfortunately, there is no straight answer to the question of whether or not you can live in your class A motorhome during the winter.

Some things need to be considered before answering the question. Let’s get into it with my top 3 things you need to know.

  • How cold it gets during the winter.
  • How good is the insulation of your motorhome?
  • Risks to your RV in harsh winters

For this section, we are going to take a look at all three of these factors in more detail.

Location: How Cold Is It?

Winter is different for everyone depending on where they stay.

So, someone in Florida might tell you not to worry about the winter while someone in Vermont will stress the importance of staying warm.

If you live in the area that you will be staying in, this should be no problem but if you are going somewhere that you haven’t been to before, it could be tricky.

Be sure to do as much research as possible regarding the weather conditions.

Once you have determined the average winter temperatures in the location or state that you will be staying in, you can start looking at your insulation. Basically, you will be able to determine if your motorhome has sufficient insulation.

Risks of living in your RV during harsh winters

Before we even get into it, we should acknowledge that motorhomes, specifically class A ones are literally built to withstand the elements.

But you may still need to modify your RV or add accessories to help keep you warm and keep the RV functioning.

Here is a short list of things that could happen if your motorhome is not up to standard:

  • The pipes of the motorhome could freeze – this will happen if the motorhome has been standing in temperatures less than 23 degrees Fahrenheit for over 24 hours. The stronger the quality, the better it will handle lower temperatures.
  • Your motor’s cooling system could freeze
  • You may need to add thermal curtains or insulate the interior of your RV in other ways
  • Finally, the body of your motorhome can take some damage from the elements such as heavy rain, snow, and especially hail

How do you live in an RV in the winter?

To live in an RV during winter, prepare your RV with antifreeze, check and seal any loose or broken seals on doors, windows, and hatches. Regularly flush water lines & tanks, and consider getting thermal curtains too to minimize the heat loss through your windows.

But again, that’s just a quick snapshot.

Just before you start going into winter, there are some things that you should do to prepare. Being prepared can never hurt. These preparations will be mainly for very cold winter conditions.

Get Antifreeze

Getting a good antifreeze is one of the first things you should do.

The one that you get for your engine will be a more greenish color and the one for your plumbing will be a pink color. As its name suggests, the antifreeze will prevent your pipes from freezing up when the weather gets to below freezing.

Make Sure Your motorhome Is Properly Insulated

If you have a class A motorhome, chances are, it has a good insulation value but you can take some extra steps to make it even better. If you aren’t sure how well insulated yours is, ask your dealer.

Fiberglass insulation provides the best R-value, which is the measure of how well insulated something is. If yours has any other kind of insulation (spray foam or rigid foam), it will NOT be as well insulated.

  • For anything that opens, check all the seals to make sure they are sealing properly – this includes your windows, doors, sunroofs, and just about anything that opens.
  • You have to make sure that you check the insulation from the outside and the inside. You don’t want cold air penetrating the motorhome and you do not want warm air to escape the motorhome.
  • If you do not have double pane windows, you should get thermal curtains and keep them closed from when it starts going into the evening.
  • Take warm clothes and sleeping equipment just in case it gets extra cold. A thermal sleeping blanket should suffice.

In extremely cold weather, do not let the engine of your motorhome sit for too long. Make sure that you run the engine at least once a day.

At what temp will pipes freeze in a camper?

Generally speaking, as with your pipes at home, pipes in an RV will freeze about 24 hours following the temperature dropping below 32° F.

As with your home, it’s best to take precautions with pipes if you’re living somewhere below freezing.

These precautions can include: 

  • Leaving the water pump on
  • Dripping all faucets
  • Adding insulation around exposed pipes 
  • Flushing your tanks daily

Ultimately, what you want to avoid is water sitting in a pipe without movement when the temperature around the pipe drops below 32°.

What is the best motorhome for cold weather?

The best motorhome for cold weather is the Newmar Dutch Star. It features a hydronic heating system that provides instant hot water, radiant heating in the floor, electric heat, and the option for adding heat pumps to the unit’s AC systems.

Best, of course, is subjective.

Also, this article is specifically about Class A motorhomes, but of course, there are some great options in trailers, 5th wheels, and Class C RVs also.

It’s also worth pointing out that many RV manufacturers offer Cold Weather packages, not just Newmar. (source)

Other contenders for best RV for cold weather include:

  • Jayco Redhawk – Class C RV – features a winterization drain system and optional Jayco Climate Shield which protects your RV down to 0° F.
  • Keystone Montana – 5th Wheel – features a double-insulated laminated rear wall, insulated in-floor water lines, enclosed and heated low point drains, and an optional Four Season Living Package.
  • Northwood Arctic Fox North Fork – Travel Trailer – thick 1-piece roofing membrane for added insulation, heated enclosed holding tanks & dump valves, 4-season insulation is a combination of rigid foam, foam batts, and reflective foil.

Conclusion

Living in a motorhome in the winter can present certain challenges depending on how cold it is.

If you are prepared and understand the weather where you will be staying, you should not have many or hopefully any problems during the winter.

Be sure to bookmark this page as a reference and read through it again just before it starts going into winter. This way, you will be more prepared and be able to take on the winter in your motorhome.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell travels on and off with his 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. He writes extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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