The popularity of winter camping and caravanning has soared in recent years.
The main driver for this is recent improvements in caravan insulation, an abundance of resource online, and a growing trend of popular winter camping videos on YouTube from the UK and the U.S.
Poor insulation can lead to very uncomfortable nights, and damage inside the caravan. Surprisingly, it can be done with minimal effort or cost.
What is the best way of insulating a caravan for winter?
- Insulate Your Pipes with tubular pipe insulation or fibreglass strips
- Double glaze your caravan
- Drain the water tanks in winter to winterise and prevent freezing
- Insulate the roof
- Doors and Floors – Seals and Insulation
In this post I want to explain how these simple tricks and methods can save you from caravan cold, plus also the best tools for the job!
Best Ways to Insulate a Caravan
The best way to consider how to insulate your caravan is similar to how you might insulate your home.
Both work in a similar way, it’s just the size that’s different.
#1 – Insulate Your Pipes
It’s not surprising to hear that water freezes.
So therefore, it stands to reason that any water sitting inside a pipe outside your caravan in temperature lower than 0C (32F) will potentially freeze inside the pipe if left unprotected.
A frozen pipe is liable to twist or split, which is never good to find on your first caravan holiday in the Spring.
A quick way to insulate your exposed pipework, and protect it from the winter cold, is to fit a tubular pipe insulating sticks around them.
These come with a pre-cut opening which makes them really easy to install.
You’ll need to wrap some tape around the tubular insulating pipe once in place to hold it firm, but this can keep the water in your pipes from freezing.
Fibreglass pipe wrap can also be used. These long strips are draped over and across the pipes to create a winter blanket. Again secure these in place with tape, and the water inside shouldn’t freeze.
#2 Double Glazing is a Must
Many recent caravans come with double glazing as standard, but this is one of the best ways of keeping the heat in and the cold out.
Double glazing works by creating a small air gap that prevents air from circulating and transferring heat loss from the inside to the outside.
A single pane of glass in your caravan window, especially the old wooden type that is prone to rot, just isn’t up to the job.
Top Tip – If you are due to replace your windows, and decide to invest in double glazing, look at window-panes of different thickness on both sides. Not only is this considered better for insulation, but also considered better noise reduction.
#3 Drain the Water Tanks
As we’ve already mentioned, water freezes.
If you are planning to hibernate your caravan over the winter months you may want to drain out all the water from the tanks.
A complete preventative solution to stop any potential water freezing or pipe bursting in the cold.
This helpful video from West Midland Caravans shows you how:
#4 Insulate the Roof
All heat rises.
Even small amounts of any residual heat in the winter will naturally rise and if it can find a way, will leak through the roof.
We’ll come on to some other prime heat leakage spots shortly, but first let’s tackle the roof.
Fortunately, all new caravans come with insulation fitted as standard, but years ago this wasn’t common practise.
Trying to insulate a caravan roof isn’t for the novice. You need to get in between the ceiling of the caravan on the inside, and the roof of the caravan on the outside.
Unless you know what you are doing you may need to call in an expert.
#5 Doors and Floors – Seals and Insulation
When insulating your caravan, you need to consider all the nooks and cranny’s. Any potential gap from the outside to the inside.
The door can be a prime spot.
Over time the rubber insulation around your doorframe can rub and wear down through use.
On a windy day you can test the seal but standing inside your caravan, door closed and locked, and try running your hand around the edge of the door frame.
Any draft you feel is a sign your rubber seal needs treatment or replacing.
You could also test this by someone holding an electric fan (not a handheld fan) the other side of the caravan door.
Once you have your door completely sealed you need to look to the floor.
Now on to the caravan floor.
You may notice the underneath of your caravan to be cold. It can be a source of heat leak, but at the same time this can be normal.
Rather than expensive maintenance work to try and combat this, especially as the heat rises from above but generally speaking cold isn’t leaking in from the floor, you could opt for thicker carpets and underlay throughout your caravan – providing an extra thickness and layer to keep the heat in.
Why You Should Insulate Your Caravan
Insulation is a way of keeping heat inside your caravan and keeping your money in your pocket.
Insulation is the most effective way of saving money on your heating costs, as it reduces the amount of heat that leaks out through windows and cracks.
Being prepared for the winter months, winterising your caravan, not only gives you peace of mind, but also saves you money.
We’ve spent some time already looking in how you can insulate your caravan, but not really the reason why.
In the main this comes down to two factors:
- Protecting your caravan from winter wear and tear
- Save money on heating and running costs
Protect Your Caravan
Insulating your caravan can be likened to a service for your car.
It helps keeps things running and prevents damage.
We all want to get the most from our caravan. We know they cost enough. Parts and spares are not cheap, and neither are repair bills.
Some basic winter maintenance can increase the longevity of your caravan.
Save Money on Heating Costs
If you have poor caravan insulation you may as well just open a window and throw money out.
Heating a caravan is expensive, so why spend more than you have to.
Some caravan TLC now can save a small fortune in the future.
Other Ways to Stay Warm in a Caravan in Winter
Insulation can only go so far of course.
It can protect your caravan from the freezing elements and can help capture any remaining heat for a longer period of time, but it can’t heat a cold room.
For this you will need some kind of heating source, or ways to use your body heat to your advantage.
Portable Radiator or Heater
A couple of portable radiators or heaters can be one of the most effective ways to quick heat your caravan.
I have used the 2KW Portable Convertor Heater (available on Amazon) and it does the job really well. There are two levels of heat, using two switches, and that’s it really.
Simply turn on and within 15 seconds you will start feeling a good amount of heat coming off one of these small units.
Of course, larger radiators and heaters will emit more heat, but smaller units are also portable and means you can move them as you move around the caravan.
Many larger static caravans come with an electric fire pre-installed.
These are great and give off a good amount of heat, but these are often far from the bedrooms and can take a while for the amount of heat given off by an electric fire in the caravan lounge to reach the bedrooms towards the rear.
Using an electric fire for the lounge and a separate portable heater for the bedroom can offer the best of both worlds.
Sleeping Bag Under Your Duvet
Your own body heat can act as a defence against the cold – if you do it right.
This is where layers and your own local insulation comes in handy. Place your sleeping bag under the duvet, tuck the duvet underneath the mattress and climb into your sleeping bag.
Layers will be your best friend in the cold.
Throws, Cushions and Blankets
There’s a reason cosy winter scenes are often shown with a cosy log fire, comfortable sofa, hot drink and plenty of cushions and a throw.
You can probably feel it right now.
The right ambiance and mix of throws, cushions and blankets can bring a warm comforted feel to any evening in a caravan in winter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you insulate underneath a static caravan?
You can, but often it’s not really necessary. Heat rises, so the majority of any heat will leak from higher sources such as door frames, window seals and the roof.
What is the best insulation for a caravan?
There are different types depending on which element of the caravan you are trying to protect.
For pipes you should use tubular pipe insultation or drain down your caravan water if not in use over the winter months.
There are lots of reasons to insulate your caravan in time for the long cold winter.
Whether you plan to store or hibernate your caravan, or plan to do a little winter camping, there are options available.
It’s important not only for the protection of your caravan overall, and prevent damage, but also for cost reasons. Leaking heat is just wasting money and can so easily be avoided!