Sometimes life drags us out into the cold before we are prepared.
That’s what happened in November 2022. Steve’s brother had recently passed away and all the family was traveling into Rawlins, WY from several locations. We, of course, would be driving our rig. We will be parked in the driveway and staying in Maximus allowing the rest of the family to leverage the house accommodations.
We can be well heated in the camper but this level of cold tested us and the rig. For heat sources, we can use our heat pump on either battery or shore power; we can use our diesel air heater; and we now can use our coolant heating system also known as a hydronic system. For water heating we can use electric/battery or we can use the coolant heat system.
This trip in this sub freezing temperature gave us the opportunity to really exercise the coolant system. Running the coolant system to heat the water tank is one of last years favorite upgrades, but we hadn’t really needed the air heating until now.
- THE GOOD: A couple things worked very well.
- Bunk Heating: When it is in the single digits at night, crawling into the bunk is not something I looked forward to. Even with our heated mattress pad (which is awesome) we felt the cold closing in on us. Now with the hydronic system, we get heat directly in the bunk. Within a short time the bunk was almost too warm.
- Hot Water: We can heat hot water by 100F in less than 10 minutes.
- THE BAD: The coolant system had a leak. A leak was outside in the wetbay and we’d wake up to pink snow and ice underneath our stairs.
- THE UGLY: Our water lines froze. We were unprepared to take Maximus out in sub freezing with our water lines not being insulate
Being a Truck Camper we have parts of the system that live outside of the heated cabin; much of it resides in our Wet Bay an external storage box which does get automatically heated before it drops below freezing. Here’s the system components that were outside and not freeze protected.
- Hot Water Tank
- Lines from Water Tank to Wet Bay
- Outflow lines from the camper (sinks and the shower) to the gray tank
- A maserator pump at the gray tank outlet
All these areas, froze and poor Steve had to thaw us out then start insulating and heating the exposed lines. Fortunately, he could take the rig into Mike’s shop and put it on a hi-lift. He didn’t have to work on it outside and had a much easier time working underneath the rig.
Freeze Protection Plan Diagram
Below is the diagram shown in the video. Click on it to download a PDF of the full file with additional documentation.
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Camping was never meant to be done in winter.
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In this case we had no choice. So it will happen. Plus you’d be surprised how many RVers love snow camping.