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Old 09-02-2014, 05:10 PM   #1
Richard6959
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How cold have you camped with the Polar Package

So just what is the temperature rating for the Polar package? More importantly, how cold have you camped with your Keystone TT and what did you do to make it safe and warm?
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Old 09-02-2014, 05:43 PM   #2
Festus2
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So just what is the temperature rating for the Polar package? More importantly, how cold have you camped with your Keystone TT and what did you do to make it safe and warm?
First of all, I would forget about the "Polar Package" and all the hype surrounding it. At best, it's an advertising gimmick by Keystone to lead you to believe that you can be warm and cozy in prolonged freezing temperatures.

There have been volumes written on the forum about these various labels that Keystone sticks on their units so if you want some entertainment this evening, do a forum search on "Arctic Package", "Polar Package" and other similar labels.

Unless one does some serious modifications to the existing unit, your RV is a 3 season camper. You didn't say where you plan on taking it that could be described as "cold/freezing, etc". What kind of temperatures are you talking about?

Will you be hooked up to utilities? Are you going to be dry camping? How long will you be in below freezing temperatures?

All of these are pretty crucial to know before I would attempt to properly answer your questions.

Again, try do some research on the forum about this topic and see if you can find what others have done to make their unit safe and warm.
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Old 09-02-2014, 05:54 PM   #3
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We did a weekend where it got down to 28F at night and we were fine but I left the water dripping. Would not out out for long in much colder weather than that.
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Old 09-02-2014, 06:06 PM   #4
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GaryWT, Howdy;

In my former TT (a 1995 Cobra, they went out of biddness in 96),
I used to live in Central Utah, Sanpete Co. where it gets in to the
minus 40'sF in the Winter and stays cold for months at a time. It
takes a lot of preparation and propane to survive... Moved to New
Mexico since I have the Cougar but still utilize skirting, heat tape AND
foam insulation for the water hose, and still a lot of propane, I get a
small 125 gal. bulk tank and have the 'experts' hook it up. Here it generally
only gets into the teens once or four times a Winter and am exploring the
methods to transport this rig to Tahiti ... figure the propane will last longer
there...

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Old 09-02-2014, 06:34 PM   #5
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Tahiti??? I didn't know Cougars could swim.....

Last fall, during deer season, I dry camped with our Cougar XLite. It got down to 20F a couple of nights, usually it was around 30 at night and up into the low 40's during the day. With two 6 volt batteries and full propane tanks, we made it through every night with no issues. Of course we were running the generator every afternoon for about 5 or 6 hours to recharge before the evening hunt.

While we were warm inside, I wouldn't want to dry camp for any length of time in those temps without having supplemental heat and electricity. I'd think that with unlimited propane and electricity it would be easy to adapt the trailer to be comfortable down to the low 20's as long as it was above freezing during the day.

Adaptation, in my view would include skirting, some way to create dual pane windows, a regimen of removing moisture through cross ventilation during the warmer parts of the day and doing the cooking/bathing during that time frame.
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:48 PM   #6
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Here in B.C the first winter living in the trailer it hit -22 @ night and most days it was below freezing and it wasn't a problem. I went through a lot of LP and before we get cold again the floor will be insulated.
I also think it depends on what you call cold as I like the cold so it never really bothers me.
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Old 09-02-2014, 09:40 PM   #7
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What has been said previous is true. The "Thermal Package" on my Bullet is "covered underbelly (covered - NOT INSULATED), larger BTU furnace, and heated tanks (by this they mean a 2" heat duct from the furnace directed haphazardly into the underbelly)". There is no extra insulation above and beyond what they would put in a non-Thermal Package unit.

Now for my experience in cold weather. We stayed in an RV park in Fernley, NV just east of Reno last Oct. through Dec. It got uncharacteristically cold. Down to 0 degrees for several night in a row. We used a lot of propane. What we found that worked best during really cold spell was to use the freshwater tank, filling every day or so, and dumping at the same time. We did not leave water dripping. That can cause other problems. Like a frozen waste water hose. At that point you can't do anything even if your freshwater is usable because your tanks fill up and you can't dump cause your drain hose is froze. Happened to some campers in the park.

Oh, we also used a small electric heater to supplement the furnace. Notice - I said supplement not use in place of. You still need to run the furnace in order to supply that heat to the underbelly for the tanks.
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Old 09-02-2014, 10:08 PM   #8
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Oh, we also used a small electric heater to supplement the furnace. Notice - I said supplement not use in place of. You still need to run the furnace in order to supply that heat to the underbelly for the tanks.
True. If the furnace isn't running, then no warm air will be produced and find its way through the 2" ducting to the underbelly.

I am wondering, however, how "warm" the air is by the time it travels via an uninsulated duct into what is essentially an uninsulated underbelly and to the uninsulated tanks. In addition, we have numerous small openings in the coroplast where water lines and electrical wires enter/exit. Some of these are plugged with foam but the underbelly is not airtight by any stretch and allows cold, outside air to find its way into the underbelly and to the tanks.

In theory, the idea of the furnace pumping warm air into the underbelly and keeping things from freezing sounds good. It would be interesting to take temperature measurements at various spots within the underbelly. I would guess that they are not at all "warm". I can't see this system being very efficient or effective.

If you are interested in finding out more information about insulating the underbelly, the "go to" member is geo.. He has been deservedly dubbed the "Lord of the Underbelly" for his extensive work in this area. Look up geo and search for his posts on this topic -
Insulating the underbelly.
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Old 09-02-2014, 10:24 PM   #9
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Festus2,

On my Bullet the 2" duct is a very short one so it does dump a good amount of warm air into the underbelly. It dumps in between the waste tanks. Now the fresh water tank is at the front of the TT so the benefit from the duct is dubious at best. I would say in general that it does more good than not being there at all but added insulation to the underbelly and closing off the holes in the frame would help also.
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Old 09-03-2014, 04:37 AM   #10
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I know it can be done and if you set up for the long haul there are things you can do. For me it was just a weekend and we were fine but I would not camp in colder weather without doing more. We were hooked to water etc. we also only have 2 20lb tanks so I did not want to run out of propane at 4 AM.
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Old 09-03-2014, 05:20 AM   #11
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I dry camp the TT up in the mountains here in Washington each October for Elk season.

It gets down to the upper 20's at night.

I have never had an issue with frozen water or drain lines. At night I put the furnace on 50* and also run a catalytic heater, a small one that runs on the small propane bottles.

Each morning I turn the furnace up to knock the chill out of the air for breakfast.

Recharge batteries about every other day.

My other hunting partner leaves a burner on the stove lite on low all nite in his RV. I keep tell'un him he's go'un to wake up dead if he keeps it up. Every now and then his carbon monoxide detector does off

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Old 09-03-2014, 05:20 AM   #12
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One point to consider about "heating" the underbelly is that there is more than "just a 2" duct" down there. All of the heat ducting, both the 4" aluminum foil round ducts and the square aluminum ducting to the floor registers is "open" to the underside of the cabin floor. This transitions in most fifth wheelers (and some travel trailers) to a large aluminum duct under the bathroom floor. These "uninsulated" duct systems "leak heat" into the sub-floor and that heat then "leaks" into the underbelly. So, it's not just a 2" duct heating the tanks, but, by design inefficiency, the entire heating system "leaks" into the sub-floor and underbelly.

Certainly not an efficient way to heat, but as much heat is "lost" to the underbelly as radiates up into the cabin from those uninsulated duct runs. Of course the hot air that remains inside the ducts does directly heat the cabin, but much of that heat is lost through those uninsulated duct runs into the subfloor.
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Old 09-03-2014, 07:21 AM   #13
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At night I put the furnace on 50* and also run a catalytic heater, a small one that runs on the small propane bottles.

My other hunting partner leaves a burner on the stove lite on low all nite in his RV. I keep tell'un him he's go'un to wake up dead if he keeps it up. Every now and then his carbon monoxide detector does off

Lee
Lee-

You too need to be careful about having your catalytic heater on all night ....make sure you allow enough fresh air into your unit while you are sleeping. If the heater is a "Mr. Buddy" or something similar that has a low-oxygen shut-off, I am not sure that I would trust it. You'd never know if it doesn't work.

If your buddy leaves a burner on low all night, he won't wake up at all. He needs to give his head a shake.
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Old 09-03-2014, 11:55 AM   #14
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Spent last Winter in a park here in Oregon where we had a nasty cold spell that lasted almost three weeks. I, too, have the "Extreme Thermal Package" and wondered how well it would do in the cold. I was hooked up to water and electric the entire time, so I can't speak about boondocking...

I had no skirts (am planning on making up a set before the cold sets in this year as well as insulating the underbelly) but did have heat tape and hose insulation on the water supply, supplemental electric heaters (the radiator types) and the propane furnace.

The facts as recorded (because I wanted to be all scientifical-like):

Everything worked just fine down to 25* - the nighttime temps fell to as low as 9* on a couple of nights and that meant my water supply froze in spite of heat tape and insulation. As long as the daytime temps got above freezing things thawed out pretty well, but I had to be resigned to three days with no running water when the daytime temps didn't top 27*. Yes, I did keep track of daily highs and lows

Two tanks of propane lasted 3 days and not a minute more when keeping the furnace on at 60*. The furnace would come on, run for 10 minutes and go off for 20, round the clock. I could feel the heat seeping out of the coach in those 20 minutes. The electric heaters could not keep up.

When I left the kitchen faucet running at a trickle, the drain line froze right up. Turns out that particular pipe is OUTSIDE the coroplast underbelly covering, right out in the wind. Will be insulating that pipe this year.

While the water did freeze up, there were no breaks or leaks when it came back on. I did take the precaution of turning the water off at the faucet when I saw the pipes were all but frozen and ran the faucets to empty out the system as best I could.

It was freaking cold. The floor was cold, the walls were cold, my toes and nose were cold. It was certainly livable and my long-haired dog was thrilled, but I really prefer my world to be ten degrees warmer than I was able to keep it.

The best investment I made was an electric blanket. Srsly - get an electric blanket if you're full-timing in the cold. You won't regret it. They use very little electricity and the warmth is pure bliss on a cold Winter day.

Anyway, it can be done and I hope to make it easier this Winter with a few modifications and upgrades.
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Old 09-03-2014, 07:54 PM   #15
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Last spring we camped at the Grand Canyon. We moved from a dry camp to a full hookup after the first few days. Most nights were mid to low 20's F. One night it was 12F. Mid 50's daytime. No winds. No problems incountered and nothing special done to our FW system. I checked it in the wee hours a few times. The furnace ran a reasonable amount of time actually less than we expected. As long as daytime temperatures got above freezing I would feel comfortable in doing the same thing in the future. Add wind and I am not so sure.
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Old 09-07-2014, 12:27 PM   #16
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Lee-

You too need to be careful about having your catalytic heater on all night ....make sure you allow enough fresh air into your unit while you are sleeping. If the heater is a "Mr. Buddy" or something similar that has a low-oxygen shut-off, I am not sure that I would trust it. You'd never know if it doesn't work.

If your buddy leaves a burner on low all night, he won't wake up at all. He needs to give his head a shake.
My first elk hunt in Colorado about 1978, we saw an ambulance go up the road. Found out later it was a hunter running the camper stove for warmth. DOA.
Be careful.
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Old 09-07-2014, 03:32 PM   #17
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My first elk hunt in Colorado about 1978, we saw an ambulance go up the road. Found out later it was a hunter running the camper stove for warmth. DOA.
Be careful.
I hope your friend listens to you. Otherwise, he too at some point, will be loaded into an ambulance ----DOA.
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Old 09-09-2014, 01:51 PM   #18
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Last December, we went to Pasco, Washington. It was below 0 some nights. So for 2 1/2 weeks I had everything running. Heater, had to get propane about every five days, inside fireplace on high during the day, a portable heater in the front end, and a portable heater in the basement. We were comfortable the whole time, no freeze ups on anything. I can tell you I'm not doing it this Winter, once is enough. At least until the DW says we are doing it again. The daughter lives up there.
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Old 09-20-2014, 01:32 PM   #19
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...

We currently have a 2004 Cougar 294RLS that has the "Polar Package". I might try some ND dry camping with it this winter just to see how it does. I don't expect much, and all internal water systems will remain disabled and winterized. If we do it, we'll be down to jugs of water, pans for washing and a port-a-potty.

I did a blackwater tank repair earlier this year and had to remove the plastic (solid, not Corroplast) underbelly for both cleaning and in-place repair. Our main heat duct is located above a secondary, tarped floor above the waste tanks, which are in the all-cold basement, which is just the center of the enclosed steel frame. This is fine with me, as I disapprove of circulating humid cabin air in the cold basement area (condensation problems).

If I were to full-time and try to use the waste tanks and FW, I would mostly worry about sealing belly air infiltration and secondary about adding some insulation only directly to the tanks area (in which waste are in close proximity to one another). The best ultimate insulation is bubble wrap with foil. It is superior to the best styrofoam in the same thickness and flexible to boot. It also cost more, but I feel it would likely be worth it.

Condensation is the major problem for most RVing folks in the winter partly because of the tendency to keep the RV roof vents closed and partly because, unlike cold-climate homes, there is no vapor barrier inside the warm side of the interior walls/ceiling (The floor is often protected by vinyl flooring, even under the carpet areas). Therefore dry water vapor migrates very rapidly when the outside walls are exposed to extreme cold. Proper roof ventilation works well because water vapor is lighter that air and collects near the ceiling unless stirred by a fan. Even then, dry vapor floats like oil on water with most vapor near the ceiling.

With most older RVs sided with a modified wood product called Filon, the excess moisture travels to this cold exterior where it condenses to wet, liquid water and collects in the Luaun (a Philippine mahogany) wood fiber. The painted-on exterior Gel-coat (pigmented polyester resin) greatly slows the migration down, forcing the H2O to accumulate there in wet, condensed form. When the warm sun comes out and recreates a comparatively rapid vapor pressure, the Gel-coat film sometimes lifts and bubbles, or the wood warps and pulls loose from the wood or aluminum studs. This is, incidently, the same process that once caused oil based paints to blister so bad on homes years ago. Latex paints are more resistant to blistering since they breathe vapor and Latex housepaint would make a slightly more durable coating than Gel-coat... but definitely wouldn't look as nice. Sparse random strands of fiberglass keep the wood grain from popping through as cracks on the surface and reinforce either Gel or Latex.

Because of expensive past warranty issues, many newer RVs are sided with a similar, but non-H2O-absorbing Gel-coated product, called Adzel, that is not wood based. These RVs resist delamination from cold weather use. At any rate, Keystone owners manuals warn against lack of proper ventilation, possibly leading to refusal to warranty.

One rather ridiculously elaborate way to modify a typical RV would be to layer thick styrofoam over all interior outside walls (and the ceiling) with bits of double-sided tape, and cover that with 6 mil polyethylene sheet since this is the prime vapor barrier used in full-size homes. Small, downsized styro cutouts may be made over windows and the poly continuously stretched right over it at wall/styro surface level to produce a dual pane window effect. With a speedy install, and without any permanent structure modification, I think it could reduce heat loss by over half and seal against damaging vapor migration as well.

Use of unvented heaters (and subsequent CO, carbon monoxide) will probably continue to kill people because they don't get it. It kills more people than any other poison, making it the ultimate Darwin Award. When oxygen levels drop, all heaters began to produce CO. So a heater with low oxygen shut-off will probably not cause an explosion from propane, but will produce more and more amounts of CO before the safety kicks in... if it does. What people don't get is that their blood will absorb any CO they can breathe. Considering death occurs after just a few breaths at a little over 1% air content, it is almost true that the body system prefers CO to good oxygen. Oxygen constitutes about 21% normally. CO is certainly not detectable when sleeping, and only marginally detectable when awake, because it first makes its victims stupid and often not alert enough to realise something is wrong. That said (ranted?), there are many vented heaters that are safe. There is a vented catalytic heater that power-vents combustion gases through a plastic hose, yet uses very little power and is only a bit less efficient than an unvented catalytic "murder weapon".

My wife and I have dry camped at -15F below in an uninsulated truck camper. It was a '70's Mapleleaf 8' cabover unit. The simple vented propane convection furnace required no blower, but it did not keep up either. Although it ran constantly, we did not run out of propane (20#er). We kept marginally warm by using lots of quilts, but the compressed thin mattress allowed an annoying significant heat loss below us. Besides the 1 inch left of mattress, there was only 1/2" plywood and aluminum skin between us and the outside. A 3/4" layer of foil covered styrofoam would have done wonders. Most of the stove heat rose to near the ceiling where we slept, but a paper cup of water froze on the counter. Our toilet was a plastic 5 gallon bucket that resided in the ultra-narrow rear closet (A port-a-potty would not fit). The bucket froze, but not hard enough to break considering the additive and salty urine in it.

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Old 09-20-2014, 01:43 PM   #20
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Wes - Thanks for your very thorough and thoughtful explanation. It provides all of us with a better understanding of the effects of moisture, "cold", and RV construction and the effect of each on cold weather camping.

The warning about non-vented catalytic heaters is appreciated and something everyone needs to pay close attention to now that some may be headed out hunting and trying to stay warm.

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