Winter RVing presents a unique set of challenges. Among these is the necessity to keep the vehicle's underbelly warm to prevent pipes and tanks from freezing. Skirting an RV is a popular method to mitigate the cold, acting as insulation around the base of the vehicle. But while skirting plays its role, some RV owners couple it with DIY heating methods that can be unreliable at best and at worst, be unsafe. This article explores the practice of RV skirting and how it interacts with heating, particularly comparing unsafe methods to the Xtreme Heater.
RV Skirting: An Overview
What is RV Skirting?
RV skirting is a material that covers the gap between the bottom of the RV and the ground. It creates a barrier that keeps out cold air, reducing the amount of heat needed to keep the underbelly from freezing.
Common skirting materials include:
- Vinyl Skirting: Durable and waterproof, vinyl is one of the most common skirting materials. It's easy to clean and relatively simple to install.
- Plywood or Foam Board Skirting: Offering a sturdier barrier, these materials can be cut to fit and then secured around the RV's base. They provide decent insulation but may require more effort to set up. It is also more of a hassle to store when not in use.
- Hay Bales: A more rustic approach, hay bales can be stacked around the RV. While they do offer insulation, they can also attract pests. If you decide to use hay bales, be sure there are no unsealed openings into the RV from the bottom or could could end up with some fuzzy company over the winter.
- Tarps or Canvas Skirting: More makeshift but still effective, heavy-duty tarps or canvas can be draped and secured as skirting.
Unsafe Heating Methods Often Coupled with Skirting:
Many RV owners add heating methods inside the skirted area, not always fully understanding the safety implications of their choice.
- Household Space Heaters: Placing these within a skirted area can lead to overheating and fire risks, especially if close to flammable skirting materials. Household space heaters operate at temperatures that can easily ignite surrounding materials. Using the "high" setting draws a significant power load which can put a strain on the camper's electrical system unless wired direct to the shore power pedestal. The thermostats on typical space heaters are typically extremely inaccurate and as a result it can take some tinkering to find the right setting.
- Heat Lamps: The intense heat from these lamps can be a hazard, especially if the skirting material is flammable or if lamps get knocked over. Heat lamps can
- Open Flames: I've only read a couple of examples of this being tried in the form of candles or small propane heaters, but an open flame in a confined, skirted space is an obvious danger and should be avoided under your RV.
The Xtreme Heater: A Skirting-Friendly Solution
Compared to the above, the Xtreme Heater offers a much safer heating solution for skirted RVs. The root of Xtreme Heaters products is in the marine industry. Our heaters were designed to not only operate safely, but maintain reliability in the extreme environment of a boat's engine compartment. The design has been tested to rigorous Coast Guard and Military safety and durability standards. Twenty years of refinement has resulted in the most refined, reliable and safe product of its kind.
Compatibility: Designed to withstand moisture and impossible to overheat, it fits well with the needs of skirted RVs in mind. A powerful fan maximizes circulation and even heat distribution within the confined space. The automatic thermostat offers much better control, maintaining temperatures above freezing while not heating to unnecessarily high temperatures in non-living spaces.
Safety Features: Xtreme Heaters heating elements are proprietary to our products. They are designed to maintain a surface temperature than cannot ignite fumes or overheat. Further, the elements are insulated from the heater case, which never gets hot to the touch. Exit air temperature of our heaters will not burn, melt or dry out nearby surfaces. These qualities make our heaters a reliable choice for heating skirted areas.
Efficiency: Even within a skirted space, the Xtreme Heater uses power judiciously, ensuring optimal warmth without wastage. Our self-regulating elements reduce power draw as the incoming air temperature rises, using only enough energy to maintain the element surface temperature, reducing energy usage.
Skirting is a great way to keep the RV's underbelly insulated during winter. However, coupling it with unsafe heating methods can be perilous. The Xtreme Heater, on the other hand, offers an efficient and safe solution, ensuring RV owners can enjoy a warm and secure winter adventure.