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Old 04-10-2014, 02:11 AM   #1
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Exclamation Importance of R-Values on RVs?

I'm interested in feedback on the importance of R-values on RVs…

How much did and/or does the stated R-value influence your buying decision when you purchased your current camper? What are the R-values of your walls / floor / roof / etc.? What is your expectation of any RV manufacturer or brand in terms of R-values or insulation properties?

Do you consider your RV to be 4 season or all weather? Why?

Did you also research or purchase dual pane or "thermopane" windows? Opinions on these windows?

What about 12V heated tank warmers or any other "4 season" or "polar package" add ons?

Does your current RV or camper you're interested in have radiant barrier or "astro foil" insulation? What is the stated R-value of that insulation?

Thank you in advance for your responses! Very interested to hear what people here have to say!
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:06 AM   #2
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Our 5th wheel has alot of windows so we ordered it with dual pane windows. They really do help when running the furnace in spring/fall and the AC in the hot humid summer. If the radiant/foil barrier was available we would've gotten that too. Our 1st consideration was floorplan.
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:18 AM   #3
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Ours has R38 in the roof and under belly and R9 in the walls. I have mostly bought trailers with this R rating and it really helps weather it is cold out or hot. I only have one A/c unit and never had a problem in the summer. During cold weather camping the heat does not seem to run as much and less drafts. I did add dual pane windows on my current trailer and would not go without them again. We have no moisture on the windows on cold mornings, less drafts, and seems to keep the RV cooler in the summer.
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:28 AM   #4
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Ours has R38 in the roof and under belly and R9 in the walls. I have mostly bought trailers with this R rating and it really helps weather it is cold out or hot. I only have one A/c unit and never had a problem in the summer. During cold weather camping the heat does not seem to run as much and less drafts. I did add dual pane windows on my current trailer and would not go without them again. We have no moisture on the windows on cold mornings, less drafts, and seems to keep the RV cooler in the summer.
Dual pane windows are the one thing I wish I had on our Silverback. When we were in Gulf Shores (high humidity) on chilly mornings we would wake up to windows with so much condensation on them we couldn't see out. Much of that condensation puddled on the bottom of the frame overnight. I used a lot of paper towels on those mornings.
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:49 AM   #5
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I do consider R values important. One of the reasons we purchased our 3025 was because of the insulation and thermo pane windows. It makes for more comfortable camping winter or summer since we go camping year round. I also upgraded to the ac/heat pump unit.
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Old 04-10-2014, 09:18 AM   #6
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We have been camping for several years and have owned many RV's including 3 diesel pusher class A's plus a Sprinter based class B.
Yesterday we purchased our Wildcat 24RG travel trailer, and YES, R value did play a part in our decision as to which trailer we purchased. We have had broken valves/pipes on our class B while camping in the winter near Dallas,Tx.
Many other factors naturally played a big part in our decision--floor plan, construction, features, cost, amenities.
As to dual pane windows, yes they are nice, however, on our 2005 Allegro Bus "pusher", we has several fog up due to bad seals and they are costly to replace.
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:20 PM   #7
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Our trailer was an RV show purchase, so the specific unit’s R-value had little impact and truthfully would matter little as a practical purchase factor.

An RV has so many thermal bridges and air leaks to make the specific insulation value of a portion of the walls and ceiling to be useless as a measure of overall insulating efficiency. Insulation is presented mostly as an advertising gimmick since you are told you have R-this or R-that in specific pieces of the wall, ceiling, or floor, but not a measure of the as-built unit.

True, you need to have insulation, but unless you redesign and add more weight, you will not be effective as a system. You cool or heat based on total BTUs—the more the better.

Construction techniques, rather than advertised R-values, matter more. The few construction cross-sections I have seen are not particularly impressive from an insulation perspective. Effective advertising of design benefits across all RV systems is lacking.

I would have liked double pane windows from the condensation reduction aspect. A low-E version would be effective in the south.

Our current 12VDC tank heaters were not advertised, but were just a standard feature that a Florida dealer knew nothing about.

The floor radiant barrier was installed uselessly above a supposedly heated enclosed basement but then hidden behind/above a vapor barrier making it useless. Improperly installed, it is useless.

Here is my unit's advertised numbers. Can you spot the errors?


  • Sidewalls: Block foam (R9)
  • Roof: 2 layers of R7 batt (Fiberglass)(R24) and radiant foil insulation (R38)
  • Main Floor: Foam backed radiant foil insulation (R38)
  • Sub Floor: 1/4” honey combed plastic with aluminum radiant foil insulation and forced air heat
  • Front Cap: Fiberglass insulation and radiant foil insulation (R38)
  • End Wall: Block foam (R9)
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Old 04-12-2014, 08:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Narboza View Post
Our trailer was an RV show purchase, so the specific unit’s R-value had little impact and truthfully would matter little as a practical purchase factor.

An RV has so many thermal bridges and air leaks to make the specific insulation value of a portion of the walls and ceiling to be useless as a measure of overall insulating efficiency. Insulation is presented mostly as an advertising gimmick since you are told you have R-this or R-that in specific pieces of the wall, ceiling, or floor, but not a measure of the as-built unit.

True, you need to have insulation, but unless you redesign and add more weight, you will not be effective as a system. You cool or heat based on total BTUs—the more the better.

Construction techniques, rather than advertised R-values, matter more. The few construction cross-sections I have seen are not particularly impressive from an insulation perspective. Effective advertising of design benefits across all RV systems is lacking.

I would have liked double pane windows from the condensation reduction aspect. A low-E version would be effective in the south.

Our current 12VDC tank heaters were not advertised, but were just a standard feature that a Florida dealer knew nothing about.

The floor radiant barrier was installed uselessly above a supposedly heated enclosed basement but then hidden behind/above a vapor barrier making it useless. Improperly installed, it is useless.

Here is my unit's advertised numbers. Can you spot the errors?
  • Sidewalls: Block foam (R9)
  • Roof: 2 layers of R7 batt (Fiberglass)(R24) and radiant foil insulation (R38)
  • Main Floor: Foam backed radiant foil insulation (R38)
  • Sub Floor: 1/4” honey combed plastic with aluminum radiant foil insulation and forced air heat
  • Front Cap: Fiberglass insulation and radiant foil insulation (R38)
  • End Wall: Block foam (R9)
I'm very impressed by this post, pointing to much of the confusing information that has been presented to RV consumers in recent years. There's a growing number of RVs using very high R-values and questionable insulation-enhancing construction and features. Before I go into any further detail, I'd love to hear more about other people's thoughts on R-values and insulation...
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Old 04-12-2014, 08:45 AM   #9
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Honestly if an rv had a true r9 rating everywhere, that would probably be adequate.
Im sure everybody knows the walls roof and floor are not where the issues of heating and cooling are at for the most part. Its the doors, windows, slide seals, roof vents (1/8" transparent plastic) and sky lights.
I think that if steps are taken to better insulate these, great steps are made towards better efficiency. Just try some bubble foil or vehicle sunshades on a skylight....makes a huge difference (of course makes it darker too).

We have a completely spray foamed house, and it is extremely energy efficient, but we have the air gap, window and door energy losses that are always gonna be more of an issue.
If given the chance on a camper, would I option up on insulation and dual pane windows...yes and I have. But if it only had an r6 it wouldnt make it a deal breaker, as mentioned you have more bigger efficency issues in other places.
Thats just me, I look at the overall realism of a situation.

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Old 04-12-2014, 11:26 AM   #10
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I'm interested in feedback on the importance of R-values on RVs…

Thank you in advance for your responses! Very interested to hear what people here have to say!
Firstly I would have to say, there is no truly 4 season RV built by any manufacturer in North America! Not one that can be used north of the 49 th parallel. Not in the sense that it may be used as comfortably in the winter as it would in the other seasons. No hassle water lines and tanks freezing, cold spots or having a furnace run non-stop!

I believe the advertised R values are a bit mis-leading as are the buzz words polar or Arctic package. There are materials available today to make RV's more energy efficient however it's all about cost, and the willingness of the consumer to pay for it.

We have a silverback with dual pane windows and I wouldn't purchase another RV without them. Energy conservation is a big thing these days, and the more energy we save the better. Patiently waiting to get out start camping.
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:39 PM   #11
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There's a growing number of RVs using very high R-values and questionable insulation-enhancing construction and features.
The big numbers for our trailer are for the radiant barrier. The radiant barrier installation techniques make it useless. In any case, it is for "radiant" (think infrared) energy, and not conduction like the foam/fiberglass. R-value equivalency in this manner is poor. An air leak results in convection energy loss.
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Old 04-13-2014, 07:10 PM   #12
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My 344QB is in the shop having the back exterior panel replaced. I stopped by to check on the progress and saw what the inside of the wall looked like because the panel was still off. The insulation is patchy at best. Looks like the manufacturer just put scrap pieces of insulation in there. Most ofthe pieces don't even fill up the stud spaces and the insulation was only about an inch thick batting.
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Old 04-14-2014, 07:22 PM   #13
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My 344QB is in the shop having the back exterior panel replaced. I stopped by to check on the progress and saw what the inside of the wall looked like because the panel was still off. The insulation is patchy at best. Looks like the manufacturer just put scrap pieces of insulation in there. Most ofthe pieces don't even fill up the stud spaces and the insulation was only about an inch thick batting.
Did you request them to add some additional insulation to the wall while it was being reassembled? Pack that puppy full while it is easy to get at.
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Old 04-14-2014, 08:08 PM   #14
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I asked for them to fill in the gaps. They said they'll check to see if they have any insulation around.
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Old 04-16-2014, 07:47 PM   #15
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It's all in the research. Find a unit that has vacuum bonded walls including the slide and rear. Lots of rear trailer walls aren't bonded but just sandwiched with a large window or whatever else is back there. After you get them home, grab a can of spray foam and start sealing all the air gaps.
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Old 08-21-2014, 08:48 AM   #16
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I've been in talks with our suppliers about other ideas for truly increasing R-values in RVs. I'm still very interested in customers' thoughts on this topic -- any input shared here will surely be put to good use!
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Old 08-21-2014, 12:19 PM   #17
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Using the new Astro-Foil and then overstating the R values it gives is not right. All makes do it. By just putting Astro-Foil in they rate the walls higher than they really are. How does a R-14 wall go to R 38 by adding Astro-Foil? Astro-Foils site only gives it an R-5 value and also states you need an air gap for it to work. All walls, floors and ceilings are made without air gaps. The roof could but they're not built like a house with an attic. Even doubling the foil still only gives it an R-5 value. Smoke and mirrors. IMO high R values are nice but it's all the air leaks that de-rate the whole trailer. More care needs to be made in how they do cut outs and don't patch them up. Everything looks good just standing in the trailer and looking around. But start doing some digging around behind doors and drawers or pulling off some access covers and you really see how it's built. It a shame on the RV industry that they get away with this. R-ll walls, R-34 roof and R 34 floors are all great but when you have to go around and patch the air leaks then what's the point of the numbers.

JMHO but there should be an industry wide test for all makes so the buying public doesn't get duped into thinking they have a 4 season trailer when they don't. I think most would be glad to pay the extra $$ for a certification test showing the true R values. The RV industry gets away with too much period.
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Old 08-21-2014, 01:22 PM   #18
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I would like to see better insulation if the R values used were standardized by a standards body so I could make equal comparisons. I would probably use them in making a decision but it would not be one of the most important factors. Unless there was a glaring difference between models it would be more of a tie breaker.

I would like to see more efficiency in the living envelope. With all of the gaps into uninsulated areas and open vents above various appliances air infiltration is the main problem we have with maintaining inside temperature. I would also like to see some type of energy reflecting material on the exterior walls to reflect some of the summer sun's energy away from the trailer (this might be getting back to increasing R value). It seems to me I would get more bang for the buck by having better control over air infiltration. After all the most efficient wall in the world is useless if the exterior air gets behind it. If I had some way to evaluate a trailers tightness it would definitely rank higher than r value in the decision process.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:23 AM   #19
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Need insulation between the frame rails Under floor. The heated and barely enclosed underbelly are a joke. We froze in sub freezing temperatures.
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Old 09-07-2014, 12:50 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Wildcat Chris View Post
I'm interested in feedback on the importance of R-values on RVs…

How much did and/or does the stated R-value influence your buying decision when you purchased your current camper? What are the R-values of your walls / floor / roof / etc.? What is your expectation of any RV manufacturer or brand in terms of R-values or insulation properties?

Do you consider your RV to be 4 season or all weather? Why?

Did you also research or purchase dual pane or "thermopane" windows? Opinions on these windows?

What about 12V heated tank warmers or any other "4 season" or "polar package" add ons?

Does your current RV or camper you're interested in have radiant barrier or "astro foil" insulation? What is the stated R-value of that insulation?

Thank you in advance for your responses! Very interested to hear what people here have to say!
Chris,
just wondering if you got my private message, haven't heard back from you.

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4 season, all season, arctic, astrofoil, block foam, construction, dense foam, dual pane, enclosed underbelly, four season, insulation, polar, polar package, r-value, radiant, radiant barrier, radiant heat, radiant shield, thermopane, furnace

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