Living in our caravan full time means dealing with all weather conditions. Unfortunately, we can’t always follow the sun! And as we have discovered it can be a bit of a challenge keeping the van warm, especially in the middle of winter. For starters, caravans are no where near as well insulated as a house so the cold definitely seeps in. So if you are caravanning in winter, here are a few tips on how to stay warm.
INSTALL A HEATER
If you plan on doing any off-grid caravanning in winter you will definitely need a heater that you can run without 240 volt.
When we were building our NextGen caravan we were offered the option of installing a gas heater. And we are so glad we did. Ours is a Truma Vario and we love it. It is very quiet, easy to use and warms the van up in a matter of minutes. As it has a thermostat you can set the temperature wherever you want it. At night time we set it at about 10`. Running it all night like this uses hardly any gas. We have checked how much gas it uses with our Gas Bottle Monitor and it uses around 6% of the bottle for a night.
Another alternative is to install a diesel heater. These can be purchased quite cheaply and if you are bit of a handyman (or woman) then they are relatively easy to install.
We also have a small fan heater that we use when we are on 240 power. It’s great for instant heat or when you are having a shower of a morning.
KEEP THE FLOOR WARM
Caravan floors get really cold. There is lots of cold air that circulates underneath a van and in the scheme of things they are not very thick. We found adding some carpet floor mats make a huge difference to how warm our floor is. We have one that runs underneath our dinette and the other runs back towards the door. You could also add mats on either side of your bed as well. We got ours from Bunnings for around $15.00.
The key to keeping warm at night is having good quality bedding. We have a good feather quilt that is really warm. If it’s really cold we add a second doona that is lighter in weight (we swap them round in summer) We also have a good old fashioned woollen blanket on top of our mattress, which I think helps keep the mattress warmer.
When it is really cold, we use a flannelette quilt cover and we also have an electric blanket which we use when we have 240 volt. As I generally feel the cold more than Brenden, I also have a throw rug that I can add to my side.
GOING TO BED WARM
When it comes time to go to bed, don’t leave it until you are starting to get cold. If you have been sitting around the camp fire and you are nice and warm, that is the best time to jump into bed. If you are camping off grid, having a hot water bottle to pop into bed with you is another great way to start off warm. Also wearing warm clothes to bed such as flannel P.J’s or tracksuit pants and a top will keep the chill out.
KEEPING THE CONDENSATION AT BAY
Condensation in a van is a fact of life in winter. Condensation occurs when moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces such as your van walls. It releases some of this moisture onto the walls as water droplets.
If you can, running your heater overnight will help with this. If you aren’t able to run your heater, leaving a roof vent or window cracked open will help. We also keep a couple of moisture absorbers in the van over winter. You can pick them up for just a couple of dollars from places like The Reject Shop or Bunnings.
If you are camped somewhere, where the days are lovely and warm, open your van up and let it air out thoroughly. This will help prevent mould forming anywhere inside.
CLOSE YOUR VAN UP
If it has been a nice day and you’ve had your van opened up you will want to close it up as soon as you feel it starting to cool down. Close your windows and blinds and roof hatches. If you happen to have curtains pull those across too. You will be surprised how long the warmth will stay in your van for when you do this.
We have been really surprised how easy it is to stay warm caravanning in winter and in the last few weeks we have experienced some pretty cold nights but have managed to stay toasty warm.
So don’t let the thought of cold weather, put you off caravanning in winter!