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Old 11-15-2021, 05:06 PM   #1
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How cold is too cold for Interstate without hookup?

We boondock a lot and would love to camp in winter. Eastern Sierra is our favorite place but the temp there can fall below freezing point at high elevation in winter. Since we are new to Airstream Interstate, I wonder - without hookup or turning on tank heater etc - what is the low temperature folks have experienced that's safe for the pipes and tanks? Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 11-15-2021, 05:50 PM   #2
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Easy: If youíre out in freezing weather, winterize and use the van like a tin tent.
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Old 11-15-2021, 06:54 PM   #3
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I know in TT, they run furnace ducts to protect all the tanks. We've been in 14F degrees for four days, and the only down side was our tank valves froze (no issue after they defrosted). We had to run a dehumidfier, but other than that, it was very cosy.

The big question on the Interstates are:

* Where are your holding tanks (and water heater) located, and is there any heating provision?
* Are any of your water lines to sink/bath in uninsulated spaces? (Outside showers are especially vulnerable!)
* Wind is NOT your friend. If you are in a more protected area, you'll do a lot better than if you're in a howling wind storm in winter.
* I'm assuming you have the option of running your generator - how long can it run on a single fill up?

Just my two cents!
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Old 11-15-2021, 07:16 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by bigben2020 View Post
. . . Since we are new to Airstream Interstate, I wonder - without hookup or turning on tank heater etc - what is the low temperature folks have experienced that's safe for the pipes and tanks? Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
I once stayed overnight at a campground in Taos, MN in February. The overnight temperature dropped to 13degF. I had power with the tank heater on but the outside shower on my Interstate froze to a solid block of ice from an apparent slow leak due to cold. Drove to lower altitude where it was warmer during the day. Ice melted with no damage to shower fittings - I was lucky.

If the overnight temp drops significantly below freezing there is always is a change your van will freeze up.
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Old 11-16-2021, 12:52 AM   #5
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We go to Mammoth Lakes (eastern sierra) almost every month in the winter to ski in our 2021 Interstate 24GL.

It's not designed for extreme winter.

Fresh / Grey tanks and most drain pipes are exposed.

Black tank is in the van under the toilet.

Water heater inside the van has freeze protection valve that starts to open at 36F i believe. once it opens, water will start pumping out under the water heater. it will close once temp recovers.

We once camped without the furnace on, and inside temp dropped so low and it kicked in.

The lowest temp we ever camped in this van was -20F with wind chill. the tanks seem to be fine with tank heater on.

Don't dump when it's cold, the pipes and the macerator pump are probably frozen. they are not heated.
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Old 11-16-2021, 10:16 AM   #6
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Hi

How much room is there on the charge card?

Any time the van is un-winterized and it's below freezing, there is a risk of damage. Folks see damage at 28 degrees. Frozen is frozen, in terms of the damage done, it's no worse at -40F than at 30F. In both cases the ice forms and it breaks things.

If you pull out of a heated garage into -40 degree weather, the van will cool down faster than at 30 degrees. Leave it out for 24 hours at either temperature (with no heat) and it's going to get pretty cold in there. What freezes first depends on which way the wind is blowing.

How lucky do you feel?

Bob
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Old 11-16-2021, 11:13 AM   #7
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Easy: If youíre out in freezing weather, winterize and use the van like a tin tent.
Agreed. There are a few considerations.

Full propane tanks, as the furnace will be on a fair bit.

You can use the toilet, by putting some antifreeze in the tank, to be dumped when you're back in warmer weather. Do a manual flush with a water bottle.

But no running water. Bring a lot of water bottles and jugs. No showers. Either get by without or camp in a CG with showers.

Interior condensation is a problem. Leave a window or vent open a crack. Best to leave snowy jackets and boots outside (weather permitting) or in the shower stall.

Would you have to drive in the snow or on any icy roads to get there? How roadworthy are you for winter mountain driving?

It's a fun way to camp, but just a lot less convenient.
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Old 11-16-2021, 12:00 PM   #8
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The above advice is certainly fine, but to clarify, when we camp in our winterized "tin tent" we don't run any water or antifreeze or anything else in the unit. We leave the plumbing 100% alone. We use the campground restrooms and showers for everything. We use disposable plates / utensils and/or wash out coffee cups in the campground sinks. Seriously. Just like it's a nice, warm, cozy tent, with zero available plumbing. It can be done. We've done it. Yes, less convenient, but a lot less expensive than risking frozen / cracked plumbing components. If full-on totally convenient winter camping is important for your enjoyment of your RV, then you should probably shop around for a true four-season camper (perhaps the Winnegabo Ekko or something like that).
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Old 11-16-2021, 12:01 PM   #9
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Agreed. . . Do a manual flush with a water bottle. . .
Do a manual flush with RV anti-freeze in winter. I keep the gallon jug right next to toilet all winter.

I use our Interstate year-round as a second vehicle. In the winter I drain all the water, blow the lines with air and add some RV anti-freeze to drains and tanks.

Here in central Maryland, it will get to 70degF this week, but turn to winter cold next week. Time to winterize the van.

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Old 11-16-2021, 03:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark of SJC View Post
I know in TT, they run furnace ducts to protect all the tanks. We've been in 14F degrees for four days, and the only down side was our tank valves froze (no issue after they defrosted). We had to run a dehumidfier, but other than that, it was very cosy.

The big question on the Interstates are:

* Where are your holding tanks (and water heater) located, and is there any heating provision?
* Are any of your water lines to sink/bath in uninsulated spaces? (Outside showers are especially vulnerable!)
* Wind is NOT your friend. If you are in a more protected area, you'll do a lot better than if you're in a howling wind storm in winter.
* I'm assuming you have the option of running your generator - how long can it run on a single fill up?

Just my two cents!
The tanks are underneath the camper and exposed. I prefer not to run generator for heaters. So I'm testing the temperature limit.
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Old 11-16-2021, 03:25 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by mike2016 View Post

The lowest temp we ever camped in this van was -20F with wind chill. the tanks seem to be fine with tank heater on.
This is good to know. Thanks!
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Old 11-16-2021, 06:19 PM   #12
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The tanks are underneath the camper and exposed. I prefer not to run generator for heaters. So I'm testing the temperature limit.


Itís your rig and your money, so test away.
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Old 11-17-2021, 04:28 PM   #13
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Itís your rig and your money, so test away.
Ok I should've said I'm testing it by doing a survey here

I owned a class C before and had camped at freezing temperature (low 30s). But I don't want to run unnecessary risks with a brand new interstate.
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Old 11-21-2021, 02:59 PM   #14
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I feel like what you can camp in and what youíd want to camp in are two different subjects.

To directly answer your question, weíve stayed in probably 20-15 degree weather and itís doable, but not super comfy.

With our lounge, thereís a lot of window surface area. We use a heater which keeps air moving and warm, but the drafts still hit your head while you are sleeping. No matter a lounge or GT, the back doors present a problem where air infiltrates the cracks. If I were to do it again and/or stay in one for more than a night during any kind of weather around freezing or below, I think Iíd figure out a blanket configuration to hang across the back to stop some of the cold air from coming through. Same with the cab area.

We used our Interstate last year, late into the fall/early winter as more a transportation bubble due to COVID. Picked up a cordless shower pump for hand washing (using a little bucket to wash into) which helped to keep water out of the gray tank therefore, not needing to flush out the tank and antifreeze during freezing temps. Worked pretty well. We also had a really late winter than usual.

As far as your tanks and other systems, everyone covered what needed to be said.
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Old 01-13-2022, 12:22 AM   #15
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In newer Interstates with lithium batteries, is there enough power to run tank heaters and furnace overnight? We are planning to boondock some nights in Moab area (Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef) in mid-March. Average highs/lows in that area appear to be upper 50s/mid-30s. Iím assuming we should be fine if it dips not too far below freezing overnight even without tank heaters onÖ but if they were needed, curious whether anyone has any experience with stock lithium batteriesís ability to power them for a night.
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Old 01-13-2022, 07:29 AM   #16
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I think winter camping success depends on your location and your campsite, whether you’re in a travel trailer or a motor home. This is especially true if you’re planning to use the water in the camper. We camped last spring in our trailer in weather that was well below 20 degrees at night with no problems. However, our campsite was sunny and the temperature was close to 50 degrees during the day. We kept the furnace running at night (which heats the tanks), kept the water heater running, and slightly opened one of the rooftop fans/vents for a little ventilation. We had no issues. If our site had been heavily shaded or if the temperature during the day had remained below freezing, it might have been a problem. In this case, we camped for about a week and we burned through a large amount of propane keeping everything warm.
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Old 01-13-2022, 07:38 AM   #17
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In freezing weather the water lines and the macerator should be oneís biggest concern, as they would freeze before the tanks. This is definitely not a four season van.
That said, a brief dip down to or just below freezing overnight should not be of too much concern, as the microclimate under a heated van will be slightly warmer than the surrounding area. Maybe stuff something insulating into your outside shower compartment and into the macerator hose compartment. Also, make sure youíre not connected to city water as that hose could easily freeze and damage the van.
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Old 01-14-2022, 07:56 AM   #18
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Hi

The tank heaters are really designed for "in motion" use. If they clearly say that somewhere, it's very well buried. Since this is "never the same twice" AS, one can only guess at what your specific heaters pull and if they have any sort of thermostat on them. Again ... this is a guess.

Say they pull 10A. Is that each or for the pair? Say they don't have thermostats. (some that I have seen do not, there may be ones that do). In 12 hours of run, they will pull 120 to 240 AH out of your 200AH battery bank. Assuming you are also running a furnace .... not going to work.

As mentioned above, there are multiple issues with being out "wet" in sub freezing temperatures. None of the AS RV's are noted for their ability to run wet for days with the temperature always in the teens or below. Couple hours in the middle of the night and then back to the 40's all day long - sure.

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Old 01-14-2022, 11:35 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SWH View Post
In newer Interstates with lithium batteries, is there enough power to run tank heaters and furnace overnight? We are planning to boondock some nights in Moab area (Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef) in mid-March. Average highs/lows in that area appear to be upper 50s/mid-30s. Iím assuming we should be fine if it dips not too far below freezing overnight even without tank heaters onÖ but if they were needed, curious whether anyone has any experience with stock lithium batteriesís ability to power them for a night.
According to user's manual, the battery lasts about 4 hours without hookup, if you have 200Ah. The heaters have sensors for tank contents that switch them on below 44F and off above 64F.
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Old 01-14-2022, 11:44 AM   #20
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In freezing weather the water lines and the macerator should be oneís biggest concern, as they would freeze before the tanks. This is definitely not a four season van.
Some suggested winterizing. Does that protect macerator?

We are going to Yosemite later this month. The temperature drops to low 20s at night. I plan to winterize my camper for the trip.

This may be a dumb question - can I leave the tanks and pipes empty (no water) rather than fill them with antifreeze?
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