Van conversion - making it more comfortable for Winter use

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by Minxy Girl, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    I thought I would let people know how our van performed at the Newark show when we stayed in sub-zero temperatures - some 'adaptations' made it much more comfortable, especially since some people don't think that van conversions are suitable for winter (spring!) use.

    Background info: I have a 2012 Autocruise Accent (front half-dinette kitchen/washroom in the centre, and rear transverse lounge/bed). I was a bit 'concerned' before we bought a van conversion as to how comfortable it would be in cold weather as they are not supposed to be as well insulated as coachbuilt motorhomes which is one reason why it has taken us so long to get a van instead, even though we've wanted one for some time, especially since I really DO feel the cold and can be affected by it quite badly! Anyway, we had booked to go to the Newark Motorhome Spring Fair, from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th March so we kept an eye on the weather forecasts leading up to it and knew it would be cold so in the preceding week on a dry and 'warmish' Tuesday I decided to do some additional insulation etc jobs on the van which I'd been planning for a while but due to the bad weather hadn't managed to get done. This is what I did then and had already done beforehand to make the van more 'cold weather' friendly and how it performed afterwards:

    1. External heating pipe - for some reason the heater pipe runs across from the boiler to the washroom and then for some unknown reason goes out under the floor of the van and then comes back up into the base of the dinette seat to 2 vents (I don't understand why it doesn't simply run underneath the moulding in the washroom!). As this pipe obviously is exposed to the weather, despite it apparently being a 'double layer' pipe, the insulation is minimal so much of the heat would dissipate before reaching the front of the van. I therefore wrapped the pipe in 2 layers of bubble wrap and then wrapped it all in a good layer of gaffer tape to ensure it stayed put and protect it all from the weather.

    2. Freshwater tank pipework - despite the tank itself and pipe from it leading into the van being insulated, the 45 degree 'elbow' that attaches the pipe to the tank itself wasn't, and neither was the drain pipe leading to the drain tap, nor the pipe from the water filler cap to the tank, so it wasn't totally 'insulated' as I thought it was supposed to be. I therefore used some domestic pipe insulation (the sort of foam tubing stuff you use for lagging pipes in the attic) on the drain pipe and the 45 degree 'elbow' and covered it all in gaffer tape. I didn't do the water filler pipe as I didn't have enough foam piping and, although I could have used some more bubble wrap and gaffer tape instead, by this time I couldn't feel my hands anymore as it had turned very cold! This is something I will rectify next time we get a bit more 'warmer' weather ... whenever that may be!!!

    3. Window covers - I used some old 'silvered' slightly padded sunscreen material and cut out covers for all of the acrylic windows so that they fitted snugly against the inside of the windows and still allowed the internal blinds to be closed (ie the silvered screens were the 'filling' in the sandwich).

    4. Windscreen cover - I use an external padded windscreen/cab door cover and a set of internal padded covers too which sit on the inside of the windscreen and cab door windows and still allow the blinds to be closed, if necessary both the internal and external screens can be used together.

    5. Curtains - as our van doesn't have any curtains at all and our bed runs along the rear of the van I made some curtains to go across the full width of the rear door and hang on rings onto an expanding curtain pole which is held in place with a couple of spring clips and the whole lot can easily be removed totally if necessary (ie in summer when they won't be needed).

    6. Roof Vents - I had already made covers for the roof vents using the same type of material that internal padded windscreen covers are made of. I did find, however, that there was still quite a draught coming from the roof vent over the bed so I shall have to investigate this further and may have to put in some additional 'padding' - whilst I appreciate the need for sufficient ventilation, there's nothing worse than having fresh cold air being 'blown' on your head all night!

    So how did we get on?


    Firstly let me say that we never have the heating on overnight so I was a bit concerned how well the van would perform as this was to be the first time we'd use it in such cold weather and our previous coachbuilt motorhomes weren't exactly warm overnight!

    Well, on Thursday night we were a bit chilly but we hadn't used the window covers (I couldn't find them but knew they were in the van somewhere!). On Friday though I found the covers and put them on and we were definitely warmer even though it was below freezing and snowing. We also had 3 duvets on the bed instead of the 2 we'd had on for Thursday night (we'd bought a new one at the motorhome show as our existing ones were a bit small for the bed anyway) and we were lovely and snug, in fact so much so that several times I threw off the duvets altogether to cool down a bit. The ONLY thing that was still a 'problem' though was the draught from the roof vent over my head but that'll get sorted shortly.

    On Saturday morning we awoke to it still snowing and high winds. When I took one of the window covers off to peak out I could really feel the difference in temperature and the window soon got condensation on it with the snow on the outside melting and sliding off - to me this proved that having the covers on had certainly prevented the cold from coming in and the heat from escaping. There also wasn't any 'breath' signs which you get when it's cold, which again we used to get in the coachbuilt motorhomes on occasion, and even without the heating on it wasn't freezing in the van either.

    So, overall, now that I've done my 'bits and pieces' I'm more than happy with how well the van stands up to the cold weather and won't worry about going away in it again when there is a prospect of snow and freezing temperatures!

    The only disappointment was that NO ONE would have a snowball fight with me! :cry:
     
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  2. Chockswahay

    Chockswahay Funster

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    Hi Minx, any particular reason for this? Surely with the heating on low you would be a LOT more comfy wouldn't you :Eeek:
     
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  3. grasscutter

    grasscutter Funster Life Member

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    I have to agree with your comment re. the thermal improvement with window and roof vent covers. I made some from Wickes foil insulation and we have certainly noticed the difference in cold weather.
    We do however have our heating on low overnight. It helps with the night time forays to the wc :Rofl1:
     
  4. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    We never have the heating on overnight, in the early days of having campers they didn't have any form of heating so it wasn't an option and we've never bothered putting it on, not even when we've been on sites with electric hook-up. We don't have the heating on at home overnight either.

    Having the heating on in the 'van would make it warmer that's true but we'd just be heating the van for the sake of it which is a waste. We get well wrapped-up and are therefore snug, and the dogs are wrapped-up with their blankets too. In the morning the heating can easily be put on as the control is just under the side of the bed so hubby can easily switch it on - it doesn't take long to warm up so it doesn't delay him making the morning cuppa toooooo long!:Laughing:
     
  5. jb0371

    jb0371 Read Only Funster

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    I agree with your comments but I cant see why you wouldnt have the heating on low.

    Oh wait I minute I have just seen your location. All is now clear:BigGrin:
     
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  6. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    :Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1:
     
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  7. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    Eh-up lad ... we ain't southern softies up in t'north ya know!!! :BigGrin:
     
  8. jb0371

    jb0371 Read Only Funster

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    Southern to me, my parents and whole family are geordies, fortunately I was born and raised in the south.:BigGrin:
     
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