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How to keep a camper warm in the winter

As #vanlife continues to trend and your social media feeds are flooded with images of people living their best lives in camper vans, you might get tempted to take the plunge.

It’s all well and good in the summer when the weather is nice, but without adequate preparation then you may be exposed to freezing temperatures during the winter months.

Cold temperatures are not only unpleasant, but they can lead to you becoming ill and lethargic. Winter traveling has its perks too – you often get your pick of sites and parkups are much easier to find.

We have rounded up a selection of the best ways to keep your camper warm during the winter so that you do not have to cut your trip short.

Insulation

Insulation is your best friend when it comes to staying warm. This will help to trap the heat generated inside your van, rather than allowing it to escape into the outside environment.

We recommend installing an insulation board along the floor of your camper, as well as the ceiling and walls.

If you have any nooks and crannies inside your camper, we suggest stuffing them with insulation. This could be an expanding foam insulator or recycled plastic insulation. This does not only help with the temperature in the winter but will help your camper stay cool in the summer too.

To further reduce draughts, we recommend sealing around the doors and windows. Check the caulk and replace it if necessary. You should also look at your weather stripping around the doors, as this is integral in keeping your home warm.

Another, more aesthetic form of insulation, is to install a rug on your camper’s floor. This will add a pop of color and a sense of homeliness to the van while helping to trap heat inside.

Windows

A lot of heat can be lost through the windows on your camper van. An easy way to keep the heat inside is to cover up the windows. Your camper may come with inbuilt window screens, or you can opt to use a material like silver screen or Reflectix.

You can also consider making some curtains for the windows. For added insulation, use a thermal material to create a backing layer.

If money and time are not much of a concern for you, you could consider replacing your windows altogether. This will allow you to install dual pane windows, which have an additional layer of glass to increase their insulating capacity. This is an area where you do not want to skimp on the costs as they are guaranteed to be of a worse quality at a lower price point.

Heater

If you have a decent amount of space in the living areas of your camper, we strongly advise purchasing and installing a heater. This could be a propane, butane, or diesel heater. Look at the specifications for each type of heater and make an informed decision based on your budget and needs.

Many of these heaters have the ability to set a temperature limit. This means that if the thermostat level drops below a certain point, the heater will automatically turn back on to heat your camper.

Alternatively, you could install a log-burning stove. This is growing in popularity due to the aesthetic, but they can be very dangerous. There is a large risk of the open flame spreading to other areas within your van, and of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Hot water bottle

A simple and old-school method of warming yourself up is the classic hot water bottle. There’s not a lot to say about these that hasn’t already been said.

They are a great source of concentrated heat and can be moved around so that the heat is always near you.

Thermals and blankets

Again, these are fairly obvious solutions. Wearing layers of thermal underwear underneath your clothes will help to trap extra layers of air close to your body. They make a real difference when it is cold, and you will wonder how you ever survived without them.

Blankets are a great way to keep yourself warm as you can adjust the number depending on how cold you are. They can also be wrapped around you like a cocoon for when you need to be up and doing things.

You could even purchase an electric blanket to be used in the camper. This is a great way to maintain your temperature all night and ensure that you do not freeze.

Cover your air conditioning unit

In the winter months, it is very unlikely that you will require the use of your air conditioning unit. The ventilation system can allow cold draughts to enter your camper from the outside when not in use, which can cause the internal temperature to drop quickly.

We recommend that you cover your air conditioning unit with an insulated cover, designed specifically for that purpose. This will keep your AC unit clean and your camper warm.

Park in the sun

This may seem obvious, but it is easy to overlook when you’re not thinking about it. Uncover the windows and allow the sun’s rays to shine through. This will warm up your camper naturally and for free.

Shovel away snow

If snow falls on your camper it is likely to end up settling on the roof. This is not ideal for 2 reasons. First, it puts a lot of stress on your roof and can cause it to weaken or become damaged.

As well as this, the cold snow will suck the heat from the inside of your camper and make it colder.

It is a good idea to remove any snow that settles on your camper as soon as possible.

Skirting

This is a form of insulation for the underside of your camper. You can purchase some ready-made skirting, or create some yourself. This can be done using a variety of materials including plywood and foam boarding.

There are hundreds of instructional DIY videos on this process on the internet.

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