Winterizing your RV

(basic guidelines)

Why winterize? Because water left in the lines and tanks will cause damage. Just draining the lines isn’t good enough, because small amounts of water will be trapped in the most unlikely places, inside the pump, filters, faucet’s, water heater, drains, and holding tanks. You have to flush it out so that it can’t freeze.

You will need:

  • Non-toxic RV antifreeze Three gallons usually will be plenty.  Large motorhomes can take 6 gallons or more
  • A water heater by-pass kit, if not already installed.   Otherwise you will need an additional 6 gallons of antifreeze
  • A water pump conversion kit, or a hose to connect to the suction side of the water pump.
  • Basic hand tools to remove the water heater drain plug and fresh water tank drain cap (if equipped with a cap).

RV anti-freeze is colored pink and is non toxic.

  • Bypass the water heater.  You may have one, two or three valves to turn.  You may have to disconnect the water heater and install a bypass hose if you don’t have a bypass kit installed.
  • Connect a hose to the suction side of the water pump, or turn the bypass valve and place existing suction hose in antifreeze  container.  Turn pump on.
  • Starting farthest from pump: open the hot and cold valve on each of the following until pink antifreeze flows:
  • Outside shower / outside faucet
  • Toilet & toilet spray wand
  • Shower
  • Sinks
  • Turn off pump, reconnect pump supply line, leave water heater bypassed
  • Pour a cup of anti freeze down all sink and shower drains to protect the p-trap
  • Leave all faucets open
  • Open hot & cold low point drains
  • Drain the freshwater tank
  • Drain water heater
  • Drain gray and black tanks
  • Drain your drinking water hose
  • Prop your refrigerator doors open (Norcold doors have deadbolts to lock open. Dometic doors come with plastic clips to hold them open)
  • Remove any liquids or food that may be damaged if frozen

Another method of winterizing your RV is by dumping anti freeze into the fresh water tank and then   pumping it through the system. This method is expensive, uses 10-15 gallons of antifreeze and flushing the tank in the spring can be difficult. 

RV anti freeze will freeze to a slushy consistency and can stain if left for long periods.  Especially on white surfaces.

Consult your owners manual for winterizing an icemaker, washing machine, water filter, dishwasher, tankless water heater, water softener or anything else unique to your RV.

 

What RV manufacturers produce the best quality RVs?

Many RV manufacturers seem to have decided, after the Great Recession, that they should stop making good products and start making good money. Year after year quality slips and the price of an RV creeps up. However, consider this: RV’s are built for recreation. If every manufacturer built their product to last forever, RV prices would soar and many people would not be able to enjoy the lifestyle.

Before we can answer the question of who builds the best RV we need to know a little about the differences between brands.

Thor and Forest River combined build about 83% of the RV’s sold today. Let’s take a look at how many brand names are covered by these two companies.

Thor subsidiaries include:

Airstream 
Bison Coach 
Breckenridge 
CrossRoads RV 
Cruiser RV 
Dutchmen RV 
DRV (Mobile Suites) 
Entegra Coach 
Heartland RV 
Highland Ridge 
Jayco, Inc 
Keystone RV 
KZ RV 
Livin Lite RV 
Redwood RV 
Starcraft 
Thor Motor Coach (Four Winds International and Damon Motor Coach) 
Venture RV

Just to point out how many brands are included in each one of the above subsidiaries, I will breakdown Keystone’s fifth wheel brands:

Keystone RV fifth wheel Brands include:

Cougar 
Copper Canyon 
Everest 
Fuzion 
Hornet 
Laredo 
Montana 
Mountaineer 
Raptor 
Springdale 
Sydney

With two companies building about 83% of the RV’s on the market, there is little quality difference among the brands. Each production line has been streamlined and the profits have been maximized across all of the brands. The typical warranty period is one year on a new RV.

Consider this: If you buy a new RV but aren’t quite ready to full time yet and that RV sits through a long winter, you may have already lost half of your warranty period and have yet to use or test your new RV.

Some of the best quality used RV’s (no longer in business) are:

Teton Homes 
Nu-Wa Hitchhiker 
Excel 
King of the Road 
Country Coach

Some of the best quality new or used RV’s (current manufacturers) are:

New Horizons RV 
Tiffin 
Winnebago

Which is better: Fifth-wheel or gooseneck?

They are simply two different ways of towing a trailer that managed to become popular due to personal preference.

A typical gooseneck (ball) has a capacity of 25,000 pounds. A typical gooseneck ball can be released from the truck bed by simply pulling a single lever. Then it can be lifted out and dropped back into its socket upside down. This allows the truck bed to be used, unobstructed, for cargo.

A gooseneck coupler (the part of the hitch that is attached to the trailer) is easily replaced if you desire to have:

  • A cushioned ride with rubber pads built into the coupler
  • A cushioned ride with air bags built into the coupler
  • An extended reach to provide additional room between the truck cab and the trailer for tight turning or maneuvering.

A gooseneck coupler can be easily adjusted up or down if connecting to a truck that is taller or shorter than what the coupler was previously set for. Just loosen the two set screws (pinch bolts) and slide up or down.

Gooseneck trailers can be difficult to connect to the truck because the coupler has to be lined up directly above the ball inside the truck bed.

Gooseneck hitches have a lot of room for movement on the ball when the truck tilts side to side or up and down due to uneven roads.

Gooseneck hitches cost less than a fifth wheel hitch.

A typical RV fifth wheel hitch has a capacity of 16,000 pounds but some models have capacities in the lower 20,000 LB range.

Fifth wheel hitches can be removed from the truck bed (usually by removing 4 pins). The hitch is heavy and the mounting rails typically remain in the bed and can get in the way of cargo.

Fifth wheel hitches can be upgraded to include air bags or extended reach designs by replacing the entire pin box. The pin box is the steel structure that extends out from beneath the front of the camper and holds the king pin.

The pin box height can be adjusted by removing the mounting bolts and moving the pin box to a different set of holes. The hitch inside the truck bed can be adjusted in a similar manner.

Until the early 1990’s fifth wheel hitches did not pivot to allow for uneven roads when the truck is tilting side to side. Current models do pivot.

It is much easier to connect a trailer to a fifth wheel hitch. Simply make sure the pin box is at or just above the height of the hitch and back up. As long as you are lined up fairly straight, the hitch will align the king pin Into its latch.

Which is better: Fifth wheel or gooseneck? It depends. Traditionally, horse trailers and flat bed utility trailers have used a gooseneck design while camping trailers have used a fifth wheel hitch. Adapters exist to convert fifth wheel to gooseneck and vice versa. It comes down to personal preference.

 

What happens if you connect a solar panel in parallel?


It is acceptable to connect solar panels either parallel or in series.

In parallel, the voltage will not change regardless of how many panels are connected together. Each additional panel will add amperage to the system. This would be beneficial if your usage demands more amperage but requires the lower voltage. If you wish to recharge a bank of 12 volt batteries, parallel would be best. The use of a charge controller would also be necessary.

If you have 3 panels that produce 5 amps at 12 volts each, the (parallel) output of your system will be 15 amps at 12 volts.

In series, the voltage will increase but the amperage will remain the same. Those same 3 panels would now produce 5 amps at 36 volts.

Series wiring is beneficial if you need to run wiring a long (e.g. 100 feet) distance. Smaller gauge wire can be used due to the lower amperage flowing through the wire.

If wiring in series, all of the panels should be of the same brand, size and age to maximize your efficiency. A series wired solar array is only as powerful as the weakest panel.

What type of solar panel would you recommend installing on an RV?

Any panel made from monocrystalline or polycrystalline. Stay away from any solar panel that is described as amorphous. Although they are priced much lower than monocrystalline panels, they are only 6%–9% efficient. Monocrystalline panels will usually have a blue color and when looking at the panel, you will be able to make out individual cells (usually square, hex or octagon shaped). Amorphous solar panels will be brown / tan and and will look like all one cell with straight lines running from end to end.

Because most RV roofs are rubber. We do not recommend any panel that is glued to the roof.