One of the wonderful advantages that separates Tiny House RVs from regular RVs is that you can design them to withstand an extreme cold climate. At Tumbleweed, we’ve even designed tinies for wintering in Alaska! Below are FIVE techniques that will keep your Tumbleweed toasty, even in freezing temperatures.
1). Start with a high R-value
Let’s begin with the obvious: the more insulation you pack into your Tiny House RV, the more efficient the space will be to heat and cool. For an extreme cold climate, we suggest using spray foam insulation in your 2X4 framing. On top of that, we advise that you add an extra inch of foam insulation (rigid foam works) to the exterior of your tiny (see diagram below).
*after adding exterior insulation, be sure to recalculate the overall width of your trailer.
SIPs are another high R-value option for DIYers. These panels are more expensive than traditional framing, but they are extremely energy efficient and save you hours of build time.
2). Splurge for triple pane windows
If you know you will be spending a lot of time in cold weather, it’s a good idea to splurge for triple pane windows. You may also want to consider having fewer windows in your overall design. We met one Alaska Tiny House RVer who decided to only have windows on the south facing side of his tiny (because the south side recieved the most hours of sunlight). It’s good to think ahead about your parking space as well.
3). Design your roof for snow and ice
If your future location receives a lot of snowfall, make sure you design your tiny roof to withstand the load. You may also want to reconsider skylights, as they can leak if not properly installed. You should also read this article on preventing ice dams through your roof design.
4). Prepare your appliances
A few extra cold weather purchases will save your appliances from freezing. Propane heat blankets and fresh water heated hoses are worth the money. Wood stoves will sometimes preform better with a longer chimney pipe that you can install after travel.
You should also develop an insulated fresh, grey and black water system if your parking spot is not already set up for cold climates. This may involve heated hoses, french drains, insulating your water spigot, etc.
5). Heat/Insulate your floors
The coldest part of your Tiny House RV is always going to be the floor. With the Tumbleweed trailer, you will have three inches of insulation in your trailer. You should also plan on skirting your trailer for more efficiency during winter. Another idea is to install electric radiant floor heating.
More Cold Climate Preparation articles:
- Cold climate design for Tiny House RVs
- Tiny House RV Skirting
- Tiny House RV Fresh Water Practices for Cold Climates
- Heating your Tiny House RV
- Off-grid heating options