Originally Posted by Goal15
I'm thinking you will be fine if the Interstate is inside an insulated heated garage with full hookups. But ask Protagonist for his thoughts.
You are too kind. Really. I live along the Gulf Coast, and while I've been winter camping in Louisiana where the temperature dropped below freezing, we're talking temperatures in the 20s, not the -20s! Completely different situation.
But having been asked, I'll offer my thoughts.
As the military folks I used to work for would say, bottom line up front— don't
try to live in an Interstate in Alaska in winter. There are a number of problems associated with the task.
First, while you have electric tank heaters that will keep your fresh and gray tanks from freezing— your black tank is heated by the furnace because it's half above the floor— that doesn't keep your macerator pump from freezing, or the hoses running from the tanks to the pump, or the discharge line that traps water in each coil as it's coiled up on the reel. You would have to add 12vDC heat tape to those features if you want to use them in winter. Also you can only run your tank heaters while you're plugged in or running the generator; if you try to run them off the house batteries you'll drain the batteries dead overnight.
Second, your on-board propane supply will not last very long if you're running both the furnace full-time. And unlike a trailer, you can't remove the built-in tank to get it refilled. To make matters worse, propane doesn't vaporize properly in extreme cold; propane liquefies at -45°F, so the closer to that temperature you get, the less propane vapor you'll have to run your furnace or generator or water heater. I have heard of (but not seen) propane tank heaters intended to keep the tank at a temperature of +35°F to ensure proper vaporization pressure, but your Interstate doesn't have one.
Third, the only parts of an Interstate that's well-insulated are the roof and floor; the walls have minimal-to-nonexistent insulation, and of course you'll lose heat like crazy through those big uninsulated windows all around.
Fourth, you'll need to add a block heater to keep the engine from getting too cold while parked. Even if you use #1 diesel (i.e. winter blend), it has a "cloud point," at which the paraffin in the fuel begins to crystallize, of about -40°F. The closer you get to that temperature, the thicker diesel fuel gets, causing problems for your fuel filter and injectors. But even worse, your DEF will begin to freeze at around +12°F, so below that
temperature you should not operate a common-rail fuel injected diesel engine that uses DEF for exhaust treatment. Alaskans and others from the Great White North should stick to older diesel engines that don't use DEF.
So, putting the bottom line back at the bottom where it belongs (take THAT, you green-suited ex-bosses!
) add a block heater, add heat tape to your DEF system to keep it from freezing, winterize the van very completely and very carefully, and just use the van as basic transport during the Alaskan winter, not
as living quarters.