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Old 11-19-2019, 09:01 PM   #1
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Tank heating pads for very cold weather?

I have a question. But first some background.

Our daughter and her husband moved to Nashville a few years back when he received a very good job offer. Now we have a grandson, but we live south of Atlanta. They have a 3 bedroom house, but 1 room is theirs, 1 is the grandson's, and the spare is his computer office as he is an IT professional and works from home quite a bit. So no spare bedroom. Hotels in Nashville are crazy prices any time of the year.

Trailer helps out, as they have a double wide driveway. But we have not previously camped in very cold weather in our current trailer. It's already been in the teens there (early this year), and we would like to find a way to "camp" during winter in their drive. Power is not a problem as their main panel is just inside where we would park and I'll pay to put in a trailer outlet for full power.

Trailer has an enclosed underbelly and the furnace does duct into the underbelly, but I DO NOT have the electric tank heater pads.

So I'm wondering about installing tank heater pads now. How much protection do they actually give? Or are they mainly for protection while underway in very cold weather where the furnace may not be blowing into the underbelly?

Also our dump valves are not in the underbelly and there are black pipe runs that are exposed where they come out of the underbelly and go to the dump valves. So this is a freezing concern as well. I would think while underway the sloshing of any water or fluids in the tanks would circulate into any exposed dump plumbing outside the underbelly and help keep it from freezing, where this would not happen while stationary (A theory anyway). Here is a photo of the valves and the lines I'm talking about. Dump valves are just forward of the axles.




Is this a lost cause with the dump plumbing exposed? I know they make the wrap around valve heater pads also, but what do I do about the runs of exposed pipe? Or would it just be easier to put in cable released valves close to the tanks and protected in the underbelly?

looking for some suggestions on what others have tried in a similar situation.

An option might be some sort of skirting and just slide an 110v electric heater under there trailer to heat the skirted area. Since we are at their house, I could just plug it into another outlet so I still have my full power to the trailer. Or is this the simplest solution?
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:05 PM   #2
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If you add skirting, what about adding a couple of heat lamps??
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:11 PM   #3
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Im assuming skirting is not an option parked in the drive. If they don't mind the electric bill run a small spaceheater or heat lamp in under bay storage. The outside gate valves are the issue if sub freezing temps stick around days at a time. I would winterize and let myself into their house to shower and use restroom. (middle of the night emergency put a bucket under the dump valve and flush with a jug of water)
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
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Im assuming skirting is not an option parked in the drive. If they don't mind the electric bill run a small space heater or heat lamp in under bay storage. The outside gate valves are the issue if sub freezing temps stick around days at a time. I would winterize and let myself into their house to shower and use restroom. (middle of the night emergency put a bucket under the dump valve and flush with a jug of water)
I'm thinking skirting may be the thing to do. Heck I could pay their entire electric bill for the month and probably be less than a mid-range hotel outside Nashville for one night (they have natural gas heat). Or even a small skirt that just covers the area where the dump lines are exposed. A small electric heater with a thermostat set to low heat on the driveway on top of a concrete paver (to raise it up in case of rain/melting snow under trailer) should have no problems keeping a small area like that toasty. The furnace would heat the tanks inside the underbelly, or do I still need to add those underbelly heat pads to the tanks? I would presume all 3 tanks would need the pads if they are still needed?

Dumping is also not a problem as they have sewer not septic and there is an access port in the shrubs nearby and I already have a Sewer Solution from a prior trailer (which I've never used oddly enough).

So what do the heat pads actually gain over ducting the furnace in the underbelly? Anything?
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:52 PM   #5
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We camp at times in Gettysburg, Pa. There are camp hosts that are there all winter. They use skirting and foam sheets to block the wind and small space heaters to keep the chill down. Heat tape also helps. You can fill your fresh tank during the day and put the hose away for nights. We have camped down to 16 over night and 20s overnight in Alabama with no problem.
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:57 PM   #6
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How about wrapping the black pipes in the heat tape designed for mobile home water lines? Would that be less work/ electric than skirting and an electric heater. Jay .
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Old 11-20-2019, 02:17 PM   #7
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Pipes

How about wrapping w/ a water line heater, about $25 at Tractor Supply or Home Depot. Used for pump house/barn water lines
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Old 11-20-2019, 02:20 PM   #8
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How about wrapping the black pipes in the heat tape designed for mobile home water lines? Would that be less work/ electric than skirting and an electric heater. Jay .
This would be the best option as it's proven to work for Mobile Homes. Skirting would be a bonus for overall comfort while staying in cold weather.
As many on this site have pointed out, Double check that newly installed electrical pedestal connection for the correct wiring before plugging trailer up.
Sounds like a great time to introduce grandchild into the world of RV'ing and I'm sure you'll have some great times camping with Him in the future.
Enjoy your time.
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Old 11-20-2019, 03:01 PM   #9
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What is your time frame going to be there ? Are you planning on spending the whole Winter in the driveway ?

Looking at Weather.com the monthly averages during the day in Nashville are in the 40's and 50's for December and January that's not to say it wouldn't be colder then that or the nights are going to be below freezing but based on that I would just keep an eye on the forecast's while your there and plan accordingly with suggestions you get here on the forum but I wouldn't be worried about having tank heaters.
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Old 11-20-2019, 03:08 PM   #10
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I paid about 112 a night in Nashville at BW on a Saturday night with my military discount. But to answer your question, I don't think you will need tank heaters unless it gets below freezing and stays there for several days. It was 17 degrees over night on my last trip, and running a heat cable on my water feed line and putting a 350W heater in my wet bay kept me running just fine. I brought along an electric heat gun in case gate valves froze, didn't need it.
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Old 11-20-2019, 03:09 PM   #11
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Oh, I put pipe insulation on my low point drains and insulated my outdoor shower compartment too.
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Old 11-20-2019, 05:24 PM   #12
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Temporary skirting can be as simple as heavy boxboard or cardboard cut with a knife and taped in place.

Add 1 or 2 ceramic heaters connected directly to the electric service panel to keep the enclosed area above 32 degrees and your tanks and plumbing can be kept toasty warm. Your in Nashville, not the arctic.

Add a 120 volt thermostat and save money on electricity too.

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Old 11-20-2019, 08:45 PM   #13
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Why not (or keep) winterize and just use the shower, toilet, etc. in your daughters house?
That would give you a quiet, isolated area to hangout and sleep in without worrying about the plumbing.
We did this for a month or two when we were getting ready to go full timing, after we had sold the furniture and fixtures in the house, but not ready to get on the road.
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:07 PM   #14
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people get too worried about cold. I have had many TTs used as hunting camps until finally building a house for a camp. You do not need tank heaters or worry much as your furnace will heat the underbelly. Skirting will save a little propane but not so much after the cost of materials unless stored somewhere and used multiple years. Disconnect your water hose and protect exposed drains with a regular light bulb.
We had overnight temps to single digits but as long as daytime went to 40 we were fine in cheapest of old TTs. If days were to remain cold a couple more 40 watt bulbs were used overnight.
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:34 PM   #15
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I would think the convective heat from tank heaters would keep them liquid unless it is a constant sub freezing for days on end. Even so, the heat will travel. Even if it did ice, there is room for expansion. Simply insulating the drain lines is all that I would think is necessary.
I was worried about it in 15* nights with 45* days but the dog dish had no ice in the morning so I know none of my lines did.
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