It’s hard not to gloat. But here in California, the weather is mostly beautiful year-round. However, we realize that most people are not so lucky. Here is a definitive guide for those people who experience bitter-y cold snow, sweltering summers–hats off to you, as we Californians are generally terrified by a couple inches of rain. By taking the steps to prep your trailer for winter and summer, you may not only prolong the life of your trailer, but also be ready to go on any trips where weather might be volatile or extreme. Also, what’s the point of buying and having a trailer if you can’t use it year round regardless of weather conditions?
Winter is Coming (But Not for a While)
If you live in an area where there is snowfall during the winter and you generally don’t want to step outside, try to winterize your trailer before the freezing temperatures hit. But there are also legions of trailer owners and campers who embrace the cold, and use it as an opportunity to hit the road. However, keep in mind that during a blizzard, things will get pretty uncomfortable regardless. If you prepare and prep your trailer for winter well, you can alleviate the effects the nasty cold will have on the comfort of your trailer haven. Most trailers, especially old ones, are not designed for freezing temperatures, so they will require some special preparation. However, don’t let this stop you from taking trips out in winter wonderland. Here are some tips to successfully prep your trailer for winter so you can enjoy the snow without too much hassle.
Windows & Doors
To improve the heat retention qualities of your trailer, consider buying storm-window kits–clear plastic sheets that you stretch to fit over windows, then seal with the heat of a hair dryer. You can find these at hardware and home improvement stores. If your trailer did not come with a “cold weather package,” (which usually includes double-pane, gas-filled, or purged windows) consider taking this small, easy step in order to help your trailer retain more heat. Also, having a hair dryer around is very useful for several other tasks during the winter–like emergency pipe defrosting.
As for doors, bubble-type insulation and Fome-Cor Boards come in handy, especially because trailer doors often have less insulation than the walls and single-pane windows. As for slideouts, consider retracting them when snow is falling so you don’t have to worry about cleaning off snow and ice buildup.
Power & Heat
Get a reliable electrical converter because you need multistage charging and you’ll be relying on batteries and generators. With an AC generator, “house batteries,” and a hardy electrical converter, you can keep toasty in your trailer for winter.
Unless your trailer comes with a multistage charger that can produce at least 14.2 volts during a bulk charger phase, ignore the above. If not, look into buying a multistage charger or similar high output chargers; the goal is efficiency–running the generator less while enabling rapid battery recharging.
Portable catalytic heaters are probably the most important tool for keeping cozy in your trailer. Some can operate with a portable gas source or be connected to the trailer’s LP-gas system. Some can be installed inside the trailer, as well.
You can assess your trailer’s winter capability by inspecting the water routing from the inside and out, or in the basement. All of the pipes should have some sort of access to the heated interior of the trailer. They need to be warmer than 32 degrees F in order to prevent freezing–which is of imperative importance because burst pipes are expensive to fix and repair. Water in drainpipes usually will not freeze because the water is constantly moving and flowing.
With additional air vents, you can improve warm air circulation within the inner recesses of the trailer. Additional insulation may be needed in order to retain heat, especially in outside compartments. Here are some effective options for insulation that you can find in your local hardware stores:
- Fiberglass batting: as long as you don’t let it get wet, fiberglass batting is useful for packing into basements and compartments.
- Polyurethane foam spray: this can seal corners and gaps effectively–as it emerges from the nozzle, it will expand and take on the shape of whatever area or orifice you apply it in.
- Bubble insulation: reflective insulation can be used in compartments.
- Foil-covered styrene Fome-Cor Board: using adhesive to attach the board, you can insulate interior and exterior storage cabinets.
- Automotive undercoating: protect exterior tanks and undercarriage structures from ice, snow, and water.
- Electrical heating pads: these are very handy and effective for keeping tanks, pipes, and water lines insulated and protected.
That’s right. After all the work you put into keeping your trailer insulated and warm during the winter, there is really not much work to be done when summer hits–simply inspect your trailer and possibly find ways to keep the trailer cool if you plan on taking trips to hot climates and desert areas and the like. As long as there was no damage while it was in winter storage, then reinstall the battery, and check to see if the brakes and lights still work as they should. Because trailers are not as well-insulated as normal houses, interior temperatures can creep up to uncomfortable levels. Here are a couple simple tips to keep cool in your trailer during the summers (luckily, it doesn’t require nearly as much work compared to winters).
- Reflective roof coating: the majority of rays that contribute to the warmth in the trailer are absorbed through the roof. By re-roofing your trailer with a reflective coating, you can deflect some of the rays away from the trailer. Look for ones that contain more aluminum granules–you can find these at home improvement stores.
- Paint the exterior walls a lighter color: more ultraviolet rays penetrate through darker colored walls. Consider painting them a white or cream color.
- Solar screens: you can apply these to your windows to prevent the sun’s glare.
- Air conditioning unit: this is the obvious, and most effective option. If your trailer doesn’t have one already, get one and you’ll be grateful–especially if you’re in a climate where it reaches 100 degrees F and over.
With these tips, you can be ready to take your trailer out any time of the year. Though it may not feel like it, there is beauty to be found in the forces of nature–whether it’s pristine, powdery snow or the dry vastness of a desert. Why not go out there?