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Old 12-01-2013, 08:45 PM   #1
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Winter Operations???

Greetings everyone, been a long time viewer and let me just say you guys rock. Proud owner of a 2014 390BH that we took delivery of in May and we positively love it. We live in SoCal currently and are planning a trip "home" to the Midwest for the holidays and would love to take the Berk. Never would have dreamed of it with our last MH but with heated tanks I figure why not investigate it, right? So, questions is if there is no bitter cold (low teens and below) forecast what do you all think? And if so what would we need to do or be careful of? Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-02-2013, 11:19 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by JMosley33 View Post
Greetings everyone, been a long time viewer and let me just say you guys rock. Proud owner of a 2014 390BH that we took delivery of in May and we positively love it. We live in SoCal currently and are planning a trip "home" to the Midwest for the holidays and would love to take the Berk. Never would have dreamed of it with our last MH but with heated tanks I figure why not investigate it, right? So, questions is if there is no bitter cold (low teens and below) forecast what do you all think? And if so what would we need to do or be careful of? Thanks in advance!
Your furnace and/or heat pump will run 24/7 and you'll still be VERY cold inside. "R" Value in these coaches is almost nil unless you have something called an "Arctic Pack" as an option. I don't think it's available on the Berk; don't know much about the AP option.

I wouldn't do it myself, but I HATE cold anyhow; even for a few days.

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Old 12-02-2013, 11:42 AM   #3
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When I camp in cold weather, I use ceramic space heaters and they work great. My furnace doesn't even turn on and I don't waste my propane! Usually put one small one in the bedroom and a larger one in the main living area.
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:06 PM   #4
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Greetings everyone, been a long time viewer and let me just say you guys rock. Proud owner of a 2014 390BH that we took delivery of in May and we positively love it. We live in SoCal currently and are planning a trip "home" to the Midwest for the holidays and would love to take the Berk. Never would have dreamed of it with our last MH but with heated tanks I figure why not investigate it, right? So, questions is if there is no bitter cold (low teens and below) forecast what do you all think? And if so what would we need to do or be careful of? Thanks in advance!
Go for it. We camped in our travel trailer for a week over Thanksgiving here in N.C., and temps got in the mid-teens most nights. We didn't get cold. Nothing froze. We do NOT have an arctic pack. Unless your holding tanks are full with no room for expansion, a little overnight freezing isn't going to hurt them. We use a heated fresh water hose. That's it. We've camped year-round for 8 or 10 years with no cold-related problems. Don't let others scare you away from winter camping.
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:07 PM   #5
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When I camp in cold weather, I use ceramic space heaters and they work great. My furnace doesn't even turn on and I don't waste my propane! Usually put one small one in the bedroom and a larger one in the main living area.
The Ceramic Heaters work very well. We bring the room temp up to where we want it with the furnace, then set the ceramic heater to just come on at that temp, then lower the thermostat for the furnace to a few degees less. In very low temperatures, the (small) ceramic heater we use will run pretty much continuously, and if it can't keep up, the furnace will come on for short periods. Could probably use (2) ceramic heaters like JTNB posted, but with only 30amp service on our Solera, would be pushing the limit. If you have 50amp service, you could use two, but make sure they're on separate breakers.

We love winter camping - problem being to find campgrounds that are open during coldest months! (Good excuse to go south!)
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:11 PM   #6
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Driving the MH in the snow is not fun at all and if your on a tight schedule would plan on a few extra days on the road just in case of ice or snow. As to keeping warm you need to plan on a few electric heaters, even when driving down the road with generator on due to the dash heater not putting out much heat. Last year coming back to CO, we hit a snow storm and ended up going about 30MPH for several hours. Also if your water filter freezes it will break, been there and done that one and not easy to find.
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:29 PM   #7
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Thanks all. Anyone know more about the water filter and those connections in that compartment? That appears to be the weak link to me. I understand the tanks are heated but as water gets in those smaller individual pipes at the "control center" and in the filter I can see issues. Had a guy at dealership tell me to just leave the light on in that compartment when it's really cold???? Not so worried about the temp inside as far as comfort goes as we will be parked at my parents house just don't want any costly repairs from me forgetting something.
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:32 PM   #8
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Thanks all. Anyone know more about the water filter and those connections in that compartment? That appears to be the weak link to me. I understand the tanks are heated but as water gets in those smaller individual pipes at the "control center" and in the filter I can see issues. Had a guy at dealership tell me to just leave the light on in that compartment when it's really cold???? Not so worried about the temp inside as far as comfort goes as we will be parked at my parents house just don't want any costly repairs from me forgetting something.
If the compartment light is an LED, it won't put out hardly any heat. You might consider a drop light on an extension cord.
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:42 PM   #9
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With any luck your parents house is wired with a RV outlet either 30 or 50 amps, just do not plug in to their dryer or welding outlet, it will be 240 and will fry your electronics. take some extra heavy duty extension cords so you can run put to the motorhome for space heaters. Drive careful and enjoy your trip
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Old 12-02-2013, 01:07 PM   #10
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lol from here thats kinda funny

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its -29c here today with severe snowfall warning im in Dawson Creek British Columbia. which is 1329km or just under a thousand miles north of spokane. I work up here and stay in my fifth wheel year round. An electric heater will help from burning alot of propane but the furnace needs to run when below freezing heating your living space will keep you warm but not the piping most trailers the water will run somehwere near the furnace ducts as well as the water filter compartment has a heat vent i have it insulated and have had no problems with my filter freezing even at -38 c (-36.4f). Because of where i am my trailer is skirted in with insulated vinyl, with two heat lamps and a small electric heater under the trailer, after all heat rises! a heavy duty water hose insulated heat taped and insulated again keeps the water flowing and an insulated heat taped sewer hose keeps u know what flowing as well, i just bought this unit two months ago, but knew where i was going to be so it has heated tanks and insulated windows winter camping is way better than hotel rooms and other ppls cooties.
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Old 12-02-2013, 01:44 PM   #11
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Now that is winter camping arcticrvr..
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Old 12-02-2013, 02:57 PM   #12
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Go ahead and enjoy! We LOVE winter camping. If you have heated tanks you're already ahead of the game. Augment the LP furnance with ceramic heaters or an oil filled. Keep the vents cracked open and keep that air moving to avoid any condensation.
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Old 12-02-2013, 03:18 PM   #13
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Thanks all, that settles it! Kansas here we come. Christmas in the Berk!! I'm excited!!
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Old 12-02-2013, 10:38 PM   #14
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I had to stay the night in Raton, NM with outside temps in negative single digits. The pass was closed due to a storm. I set up a wireless thermometer in the wet bay manifold area and charted temps. If memory serves, the wet bay temps were very near freezing. I was running my generator to power two small ceramic heaters, the tank heater and I ran both furnaces. Inside temps were in the low 60s range. Slides were in. We used heavy blankets . If you think about it, there was a 65 degree temperature differential that had to be maintained. In summer it's only like 35 degrees differential max!!

My black tank valve froze shut on that trip and I had to use a hair dryer to thaw it to dump before I got home!!

Somewhere in here there is a project by one of our forum members where he ran power down into the wet bay so he could plug in a space heater. I think that's a dandy idea and I plan to copy that someday. Just make sure the space heater has adequate space around it and fix it so it won't tip.

Also, be careful with the ice maker line. It's rather exposed and is quite messy and hard to fix if it breaks. Electric wrap heated water line is needed too.

Don't forget to plug in the engine block to warm it several hours before you plan on starting the engine. You might need diesel additive for anti-gelling, especially with that nasty cold front coming through this week.

Have cold weather contingency plans ( and winter coats, etc) in case you get stuck somewhere.

That's about all I can think of
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Old 12-02-2013, 11:30 PM   #15
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I echo the sentiments stated earlier about camping in the winter. Our feeling is that there is no better time to do it. We bought our 2013 Berk in October last year and used it all fall through January. We live in Iowa, so it's similar temperature to Kansas. It's been cold here this fall but it hasn't stopped us from enjoying the motorhome! We went to Anaheim last Christmas, and with 2 kids under the age of 4, traveling without water was not an option! It was 8F the first night in SW Iowa, 5F the second night in Yukon, OK and -5F on the last night in Green River, UT. We survived without any modifications, but we did have to make some adjustments. In Utah, all four slides were out, and it was 70+F in the bedroom and 57F up front with both furnaces running and 2 electric heaters.

1. Run the rear furnace! While parked, you should have no problems down to about 0F, but as stated earlier, it is important that you actually run the rear furnace. This will ensure that you are providing heat to the water compartment. (There is actually a heat vent in the top of the compartment). My experience on our coach was that just using electric heat in the living area didn't provide really good heat in the water area.

2. Provide air flow to the back of the water heater! The water heater has a valve that prevents water from freezing in the heater by cycling automatically when the water temperature drops too far. However, the lines to the heater run between the closet and the engine radiator compartment. These lines are susceptible to freezing when driving. (Yes this did happen to us, but they quickly thawed after stopping with no harm done.) To resolve this, remove the access panel to the water heater area below the washer/dry cabinet while driving. This will allow enough warm air to get to that area. If you have a fan or heater, you may consider placing it between the slide and this door, but typically that isn't a requirement. The 2013's and 2014's are different in the water heater area to allow for the stacked washer/dryer. Due to that I would think this step is more important for you.

3. Add heat to the water compartment while driving! I now have a wireless thermometer stuck above the hot water manifold inside the water cabinet with the readout placed on the dashboard. 2 weeks ago we camped in Illinois with outside air temperatures never getting above 32F during the day and as low as 14F at night. While traveling the temperature in the water compartment read as low as 30F. Once we parked, in the morning the temperature read 50F. A couple of hours below freezing won't hurt anything, but if it's like that all day, you might have the water freeze in either the pump or manifold. I've seen lot's of advice to add a light or ceramic heater to the water compartment, but no one suggested how to do this when driving (which is when you really need it!) If your like most of us, you've already asked yourself "What was Forest River thinking when they placed the exterior electric outlet!" (For at least my '13, you can't actually plug anything in outside the coach without running the cord through a door opening!) And obviously there's not outlet in the water compartment handy either. So what we did last year was to connect a cord to the outlet in the front passenger compartment, ran it out the door (I use 12GA flat cords), opened all of the cabinets, draped the cord over the top of the metal loops where the door latches strike, closed the doors and lastly ran the cord into through the water compartment access door. The rubber seals on both doors will allow the cord to pass without any issues and the strike latches on the center doors keep it from dragging below the coach. In essence, the cord sets in the location between the inside door panel and the rounded door bottom. The trick here is pulling the cord tight before closing the front door. Now you have an outside outlet in the water compartment that you can plug your light or preferably a heater into. We're heading to Florida this year on Christmas day, and I now have made a couple of modifications to resolve this issue for the long term.

I think you'll find that you'll want to use electric heat in the coach when driving to keep your passengers comfortable, so running the generator to provide extra heat below won't be an issue. One caution on where to plug heaters into. On my coach, the bathroom outlet, 2 outlets next to the captains chairs up front and the outside outlet are all on the same breaker. As such, if you use a heater outside, don't use the other outlets for one inside (like the wife's hair dryer or curling iron!) Also, even if you plug the heaters into circuits that utilize separate breakers on your inside panel, it is possible to trip the generator breaker before you use up all your generator power. It'll be easier to figure out which arrangements of outlets work best for you prior to departing to ensure you don't trip breaker. Trust me, it isn't fun to exit a perfectly warm coach to go out in the cold and pull the generator out just to reset the breaker (I've done it!)

One last cold weather driving tip. On every motorhome I've had, I've struggled with keeping the side windows defrosted in cold weather. This coach isn't any different. It's worse when coming down the mountains because the engine isn't working hard enough to develop a lot of heat to deliver to the dashboard. Unfortunately, Freightliner decided to run the A/C compressor in every setting except the floor setting, making the problem worse. The side defroster outlet delivers air in every heat setting also. I have found that warm air is more valuable than "dry" air and I drive a majority of the time with the heat set to the floor or mid level vents (with the side vent pointed towards the window).

Have a Merry Christmas and good camping to you!
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Old 12-03-2013, 02:11 AM   #16
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Wow. I thought my reply was verbose
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Old 12-03-2013, 02:18 PM   #17
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Beipers thanks a for that great write up. For us northern owners it gives helpful ideas. I will be using them.



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Old 12-03-2013, 09:42 PM   #18
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I have drop lights in 4 compartments - battery, holding tanks, water management compartment and in basement.... Each of these lights holds a 75W bulb.... This generates enough heat to keep them above freezing.... Used this method for years with complete success....
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Old 12-04-2013, 06:30 AM   #19
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I thought about just leaving my plugged in but that all relies on one big assumption--that the power is going to stay on. When the weather gets cold and especially icy, the chances of losing power go up. I winterized mine and can sleep good at night.
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Old 12-04-2013, 08:07 AM   #20
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You're using drop lights in those compartments while driving?
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