Your home on wheels may need extra protection to be livable in the harsh winter months.
If you’re thinking about spending 4 seasons in your RV, the proper arctic package is an extra variable you’ll have to consider when shopping for your camper.
Beyond bringing extra blankets and a portable heater, an Arctic package is a full-fledged pre-install or upgrade that keeps your RV livable in rough weather, dangerous roads, and the dead of winter.
Any RV upgrade requires patient decision-making. Your local RV dealer is focused on commissions, and before you believe whatever they tell you, it’s essential to grab second, third, and fourth opinions to ensure you’re getting the most out of your arctic package.
This article will help you find out what an RV or camper with an arctic package is capable of so you can feel confident that your purchase is providing the best bang for your buck.
Follow along as we take an all-inclusive look at the Arctic package to better understand what the package can solve and where it falls short.
What is the Arctic Package?
An arctic package makes your RV ready for winter. A proper package adds an extra layer of protection to every square foot of the inside and outside of your RV to keep all components of your mobile home working in the most extreme conditions.
Arctic Packages are alternatives to packing up your RV for the winter or migrating down south.
They can allow owners to spend time in the snow and comfortably live in their RV all winter long.
There isn’t one accepted industry standard for an Arctic package. There are tons of variables and options that can seem overwhelming when sorting out your package.
With a bit of research, all these options will begin to work in your favor, and you can build the package perfect for your needs.
What’s Included In An RV Arctic Package?
An industry-standard Arctic Package is all-encompassing. RV mechanics crawl all around your vehicle, adding extra materials and adjustments to insulate and protect your vehicle.
The options that we cover in this article are all essential aspects of an Arctic package.
If your dealer is offering you a package without one of these options, your RV won’t be fully protected from the elements.
Make sure you stay warm this winter by insisting on an all-inclusive camper arctic package that covers all these elements:
All the interior protection will mean nothing if the underside of your RV is exposed to the elements.
Cracks and crevices underneath the floorboards are cold air’s favorite secret entrance into your RV.
This insulation is so essential that without it, you shouldn’t be able to call it an arctic package.
The extra layer will also protect vital elements of your RV from being exposed to road salts often used to melt snow.
Underneath your vehicle lies your wiring, plumbing, and engine components.
An RV arctic package without underbelly insulation is the equivalent of bundling up for winter but going outside without shoes.
To further boost your underbelly, adding on a skirt will block cold wind bursts from getting to your exposed areas.
RVs aren’t different from traditional homes when it comes to freezing pipes.
The first thing that will feel the effects of winter in your RV is the water tank and pump system. The situation will go from bad to worse.
When the water freezes, you’ll be stuck in the cold with no access to water for boiling up a hot chocolate.
Worse still is the fact that when water freezes, it expands. Eventually, the expanding water will put a hole through your water tank or pipelines and stop your trip in its tracks.
To prevent this, ensure there is foam tubing and heat tape insulation in every inch of your water systems.
Follow your water lines from the tank to the sink and make sure they are never fully exposed to the elements.
PEX piping is cross-linked polyethylene material that has revolutionized the RV industry.
It’s an affordable material that is malleable and accessible, and it can sustain itself in freezing temperatures better than copper or PVC pipes.
These pipes have proven themselves capable of staying together in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you plan on spending some serious time in the winter, adding these pipes could be the difference between a success or a failure.
PEX comes at a cost, however, as they don’t do well in direct sunlight. Map out your RV’s water system and ensure that the areas being protected by PEX pipes are inside or in shady sections of your vehicle.
Every piece of insulation has an R-value attached to it, an industry-standard measurement of the material’s thermal resistance.
The R-value of your arctic package is the best indicator of what sort of conditions it can withstand.
The density, thickness, and construction material of your insulation will affect your R-value.
Every manufacturer who produces an arctic package will be aware of the specific R-value of their product, be sure to talk to the salesmen and get a number before committing to your package.
The best floors and ceilings in winter-ready RVs will have R-values as high as R-40.
The average number varies for each area getting insulated, but the higher the R-value, the better.
Thermal windows can mean a few things but the term is generally accepted as any piece of insulation that further boosts the R-value of your windows.
Even closed window spaces are the leading cause of heat loss inside your RV.
Thermal panes are standard in four seasons or arctic packaged RV’s. Instead of single paned protection, your RV will have double or even triple panned glass.
Argon gas is added between each pane in the construction process to prevent heat transfer. Think of it as adding on extra insulation layers for your windows.
Without the extra wall space for protection, wind and cold air can quickly move through a standard RV window and thwart any heating efforts.
Thermal or double-paned windows seek to stop the air leak and keep the cold air outside.
Protected Fuel Bays
Cold weather can wreak havoc on your RV’s coach and starter batteries. Propane gas can last half as long in cold weather conditions.
If your battery reaches negative temperatures, it won’t be able to function.
All the fancy heating attachments in the world won’t help if you have no batteries and no gas.
To combat this energy loss, arctic packages add features that insulate the battery and propane compartments to keep cold air out.
Find out the R-value of your fuel bays before committing to an arctic package.
More BTU’s in your Furnace
RV furnaces are the most common way to heat the interior of your mobile home. Most standard units churn out around 20,000 BTUs of heat and 15,000 BTUs of air conditioning.
These ratings may work for three seasons a year, but if you want to use your RV in Arctic conditions, your arctic package should boost your heating.
All season packages often offer high-capacity heaters that can provide up to 35,000 BTUs of heating relief.
These larger furnaces are spread across two roof units to maximize the comfort of the entire cabin.
Winter Proof floorboards
Standard vinyl flooring won’t offer much protection against the elements. In addition to allowing extra bursts of cold air into the RV interior, traditional floorboards can crack and lose shape if exposed to harsh temperatures.
To combat cracked floorboards, arctic packages provide vinyl RV floors with extra thickness and insulation to protect the floorboards and the interior of your RV.
Insulated floorboards will help you win the battle against cold air from the ground up.
No RV upgrades should come without a warranty. Half the point of working with a dealer instead of finding a used RV is the protection provided by purchasing your vehicle from the source. That same mindset should be a part of your Arctic package.
Your warranty should cover your vehicle and any upgraded arctic package for at least the first year of use.
Mistakes happen, and any manufacturer error will likely expose itself within one year.
Protect your investment by only buying an arctic package that includes warranty protections.
What the Package Doesn’t Accomplish
While the difference between an arctic protected RV and a standard addition is vast, arctic packages can’t cover everything.
These shortcomings of the packages are as important to consider as the advantages:
- Won’t boost the Drivetrain
- Not any easier to be outside
No arctic upgrade can change out the engine in your vehicle or the drive system.
If you have a two-wheel drive vehicle, you’ll still get stuck trying to drive in the snow no matter what your vehicle has enhanced on the interior.
While the package will make your night stuck in the snow a bit cozier, arctic upgrades don’t improve the engine or snow tires.
If you’re planning on navigating harsh conditions, you need to consider component upgrades of the engine, wheels, and drivetrain separately from your arctic package.
There’s No Awning for the Cold
Camping is all about being in the great outdoors. While arctic packages do wonders on the warmth inside your vehicle, there’s no manufacturer who has found a solution to frosty temperatures around the picnic table.
Arctic packages will undoubtedly help you warm up once it’s time to head inside, but there’s nothing on the market that will make cooking in the snow any easier.
Who Should Consider an RV Package?
Anyone who wants to spend 4 seasons inside their RV should provide their mobile home the extra protections necessary to live comfortably year-round.
If you’re hoping to camp through Christmas or park your RV on the edge of the slopes, an arctic package is the best way to get more out of your camper.
Luckily, You can install Arctic packages for RV after you have purchased and received your RV.
If you’re unsure about the necessity of the package, you can always upgrade your RV after you try it out in winter conditions.
Unfortunately, this kind of upgrade won’t be cheap. A good arctic package will require work on everything, from windows and ceilings to the underbelly mechanics.
The added resale value an arctic package provides, as well as the extra protection on offer, makes it a good idea to purchase your RV with the arctic package already included if you think you’ll need it.
There are a plethora of arctic packages on the market that offer varying levels of protection.
Juxtapose your budget with your expectations and your camping desires and find the right arctic package that’s right for you.
Expect a hefty investment to winter-proof your vehicle. When adding on a package as complete as this one, you want it done right the first time.
Ensure your arctic package has everything on this list, and you’ll be able to carry a warm night with you wherever the road takes you.