14 Dec 10 Tips for Living or Traveling in a Skoolie in Winter
Living or traveling in a skoolie in winter makes me say, “Brrr!” Not really because the skoolie is cold but because I really don’t like to be anywhere cold in winter. If you enjoy seeing your footprints in fresh fallen snow, or seek adventure exploring the beauty of winter while living in your skoolie there are a few things you must know.
1. Drive South for the Winter
We love to follow warmer weather when we are traveling or living in our skoolie. One year our goal was to head to Big Bend, TX for warmer temps. On our way, we were caught in an unusual winter storm. We woke up with our pipe frozen and by noon discovered that the black tank was slowly dripping poop. So, we learned that we should plan for winter even when traveling south.
2. Park in the sun
When you are picking a place to park, find a place where you will get as much sun as possible.
3. Keep the Pipes Warm
For the interior water lines you can use a foam pipe insulation. Also, leave the cabinet door open during the night so the pipes are exposed to the inside heat. If you are in extreme temps, insulate – insulate – insulate. This means insulate your pipes and around all your tanks.
For the exterior plumbing use the foam pipe insulation or heat tape on the water lines under the bus. Don’t forget the lines leading to the gray and black tanks. Wrap the tanks in reflectix or use a RV tank heating blanket. Be sure to purchase a heated water hose that will connect from your city water to the inlet. If you are looking for ways to prepare your pipes for cold weather during the conversion process check out How to Convert a Bus Ready for Winter .
If you are on full hookups, make sure your RV sewer hose is off the ground and is a on a slant. You want to make sure the water/waste will flow quickly out of the hose. Depending on the temperatures you may want to shut off the valves and just dump the tanks once the temps start to rise.
Pro Tip: If you are using your freshwater, turn off your water pump at night in freezing temps. This way if your pipes do freeze it will not burn up your water pump.
4. Decrease the Draft
In the winter, it is important to look for any areas where cold air can sneak in and heat can escape. I like to lay rugs on the floors for a little extra insulation.
My Mom made us some insulating curtains for our first skoolie. It was amazing how much they helped.
If in extreme weather, cut some Reflectix for the windows. It may not look beautiful but it will keep your skoolie warmer. Don’t forget about the windows in the front.
One reason we replace the bus door with an RV door is to help with insulation. If you choose to keep your original bus door, seal any cracks with weather stripping, add Reflectix and place a blanket at the bottom of the door before closing the curtain over the door at night.
When you are adding the Reflectix, be sure to put some to cover the interior part of any skylights or vents that you do not need.
If you decided to leave in your original bus ceiling, now is the time to get creative. If you can add a beautiful fabric on the ceiling during the winter, it will help keep the heat inside instead of the metal absorbing the heat.
5. Heat the Inside
There are several options for heat. The 3 common options are wood heat, propane heat, or electric heat. Of the 3, wood heat is the least expensive and the driest. Electric is the easiest and the most expensive. Propane will produce the most moisture and is economical. If using propane heat be sure to cover your propane tanks with a propane tank blanket and use a dehumidifier.
6. Reduce Condensation
Whatever option you take you will be producing some condensation. To prevent this, it is important to keep air circulating. In addition, as contradictory as it sounds, leave a window cracked or crack the vent fan. Be sure the vent fan has a vent fan cover as this will help in insulating and keep the snow off the vent.
The use of a dehumidifier is helpful to keep the moisture out of the air.
DampRid Moisture Absorber is another option if you don’t want to use or store a dehumidifier.
7. Place Skirting around the exterior
Use the foam board on the backside of treated plywood to make a skirt around the bus. Be sure to build it in front of the tires. The goal is to keep cold air from getting under the skoolie.
If you don’t want the expense of supplies and are in deep snow, you can use the snow to your advantage and pack it up around your skoolie.
8. Remove the Snow
It is important to keep the snow off the roof of your skoolie. This way when the sun comes out it’s rays will heat up the roof.
Also, be sure to remove the snow from the solar panels so they can capture the sun’s energy.
9. Winterize the Bus
When talking about living or traveling in a skoolie during the winter, we must not forget to protect the bus from the freezing temperatures. Did you know that diesel fuel starts to gel (freeze) around 20 degrees? To prevent this add Anti-Gel Diesel Fuel Additive to the fuel tank. Here is the one we use on our skoolie.
Be sure to add the STA-BIL to the diesel generator if you have one.
Most diesel buses are equipped with a block heater. Jeff will plug in our bus when it is going to drop below 32 degrees.
10. Add Comfort
Be sure to have extra blankets. We love to use an electric blanket. The one I like the best is the Biddeford Comfort Knit Fleece Sherpa Electric Heated Blanket.
We love to keep a heating pad that we can pop into the microwave for a few minutes. This is mainly because I, Missy, can NOT stand to have cold feet and hate to wear socks to bed.
Keep plenty of non-perishable food for those days that you just do not want to stop the winter adventure to head to the store.
Oh, don’t forget to keep delicious hot beverages on hand. Flavored coffee is my favorite!
Please remember these are just tips. The weather can shift and catch you off guard just like it did when our black tank froze. Even with planning, things happen; so, make sure you have a back up plan.
Do you live in your skoolie in the winter or love to find winter wonderlands to visit? Share you tips in the comments below, we would love to learn from you.