Are caravans cold in winter? (7+ tips to keep warm)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Are caravans cold in winter? We will share some great tips to stay warm in a caravan no matter the weather.

Are caravans cold in winter?

Yes, caravans can get quite cold in winter, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot travel during the cold time of the year. As long as you are well-prepared, you can live and travel in a caravan no matter the weather. 

Follow these tips to keep warm in a caravan during winter:

  1. Adequate insulation – Proper insulation is the most important factor in keeping the truck warm. Before lighting a heater be sure to insulate your truck’s walls, floors, and windows. The more insulation there is, the less energy you need to keep warm. Spray foam and silicone caulking are your friends.

If you don’t have the money or wherewithal to do complete insulation, a quick and cost-effective solution is to buy insulation panels for your windows. Insulation panels are typically made of reflective sheet that can be glued to the glass.

A slight increase in the temperature of your van will be noticed with this simple step. Not to mention, isolation panels are great for privacy. No more peeping neighbours!

  1. Get prepared – A few must-have winter items can make a big difference to your comfort level.
  • Feet: Always keep a warm pair of socks or slippers nearby.
  • Wool: Wool is a tried and true material because it can retain heat even when wet. Wool fibres are also durable and made to last for years. The composition of the wool fabric allows for small pockets of air within the fibres, which increases the level of insulation significantly compared to cotton.
  • Head: Keep your head and feet covered against cold drafts. Your head loses more heat than the rest of the body when exposed, so don’t neglect this crucial part of the body!
  • Blankets: Store plenty of blankets and duvet covers inside the van. Many people choose to sleep in a high-quality sleeping bag that is rated for zero degrees.

Keep in mind that even the highest quality sleeping bags on the market are rated for survival. They are not classified based on comfort level. What this means is that if the sack is rated for 30-degree weather, it will not freeze at 30 degrees. However, this does not mean that you will be comfortable all night.

  • Layers: When planning your sleeping setup, wear layers. You can have a blanket that works well in summer, a sleeping bag for fall, and an extra duvet that you can pair with all three for colder nights.

Add this to a good hat and socks and you will be able to adapt to most situations.

Some alternative methods to heat a caravan in winter

Here are some original methods to heat a caravan in winter: 

Hot water bottle method

If you find yourself on a cold night with no heat nearby, hot water bottles are a cheap and easy way to stay toasty.

Simply boil some water and pour it into a water bottle or container with a lid that you can use to warm the bed or lie on the side. Water bottles can stay warm for up to 6-8 hours at night and can be all you need.

Cover the bottle with a towel or cloth while pouring hot water into it, being careful not to burn yourself. Make sure the lid is on tight so it doesn’t spill.

One word of caution: Don’t overfill the water bottle. ¾ full is all it takes to stay warm.

Electric heaters

If you’re parked at a friend’s driveway or have the luxury of a hook-up campsite, electric heating is a great option. Electric heaters are lightweight, soundless, odourless, and safe to use in tight spaces.

Ceramic heaters can be a great option if you have a power source.

Electric heaters produce a consistent heat output that can be easily adjusted. Plus, they’ll blow hot air in one direction, allowing you to direct the heat where you need it.

When using an electric heater there are a few things to be careful about. Many heaters have built-in protections to prevent overheating or tipping. When in a small area such as a vehicle, you must be aware of your surroundings to avoid burns. Also, not all electric heaters are quiet, so be prepared for a soft hum.

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Electric blankets

Electric blankets also use a lot of energy and are unrealistic to run overnight. However, if all you need is a quick warm-up a few minutes before bed, they may be a good option for work.

Some blankets come with timers to prevent them from running too long and eating up the battery.

Realistically, if you are going to live in a van full time, electric heating may only be feasible if you have access to energy. Otherwise, you have to carry a large capacity battery to keep you warm all night.

Wood stoves

If you can collect your own firewood, it will be practically maintenance-free. This sounds great, but wood stoves can be time-consuming.

To operate a wood stove, you need to constantly fill it with chopped wood. The size of the pieces of wood will depend on the type of stove you choose to buy. Some very high-efficiency stoves can heat up and burn with just a few small sticks.

Based on your level of activity, constant firewood gathering may or may not be a breaking factor. Not only is wood chopping labour-intensive, but wood also takes up space and you will need to store it in or near your vehicle.

Propane heaters

Propane heaters are an easily accessible heating solution popular with van dwellers. Because propane is often used as a fuel for camping products, you may already be using it for cooking!

Propane heaters will require you to buy disposable containers or refillable propane tanks to keep them working. If you are already using propane tanks in the van, you can take advantage of existing propane pipes to heat your vehicle.

Heating with butane heaters

Butane heaters are inexpensive and work much like propane heaters. They are currently not as popular with van dwellers and this may be due to the fact that butane fuel is slightly more expensive than propane.

Like propane, butane heaters are very compact, they can be easily moved and stored when not in use. These heaters require a constant source of fuel. If butane is used for cooking, the same canisters can work well in a portable butane heater. Individual canisters hold 226.796 grams of fuel.

Like propane furnaces, butane heaters push hot air in one direction. If you want air to circulate through the vehicle, you might want to install a multi-directional fan.

Heating with diesel air heaters

Diesel heaters heat up with a slow, steady blow rather than a furnace blast and should be very comfortable compared to some of the other heating options. Many people place these heaters just under the front passenger seat of the truck.

They are also one of the cheapest heating solutions once installed. 3.7 litres of gas can run the heater between 20 and 50 hours depending on its configuration.

Diesel heaters can be quite noisy and many have suggested purchasing a muffler to attenuate them. Diesel heaters burn externally. This means that you are not using or venting the atmosphere inside the truck. They have lower levels of condensation compared to other alternatives and significantly reduce the possibility of poisonous gas build-up.

You’ll still want to make sure you monitor your carbon monoxide levels, but the heater is probably not what triggers it.

The bottom line

It is possible to live in a caravan in winter, but you must insulate your vehicle well and make all the necessary preparations. 

Snow, heavy rain, cold or ice may be very present on the road. But you don’t have to worry, today’s caravan brands are prepared for all types of climates. What’s more, new caravans on the market are becoming better equipped to be able to use them regardless of the season of the year. 

Do you want to share any tips on how to keep warm in a caravan in winter? Let us know!

FAQ on Are caravans cold in winter?

How do I prepare my caravan for wintering?

Here are a few tips to prepare your caravan for wintering:

  1. Empty the water heater. 
  2. Empty and clean the toilet tanks. 
  3. Remove the gas cylinder (s). 
  4. Put the windows in the ventilation position. 
  5. Open the bathroom door. 
  6. Do not unscrew the feet. 
  7. Do not put plastic sheeting on the caravan. 
  8. Put the clean trailer in the garage.

Should you cover a caravan in winter?

Yes, you should cover a caravan in winter with good quality, breathable and light caravan cover. A caravan with a protective cover can be safely stored inside and outside, no matter the season, but especially in winter. 

How to protect a caravan in winter?

The first solution is the most economical: the protective cover. It covers a caravan that usually sleeps outside. It is never advisable to leave a motorhome outdoors for a long period, it is damaged and degrades more quickly (bodywork, gaskets, batteries, tires, etc.)