Extensive Guide to Insulating An RV

Extensive Guide to Insulating An RV

by

George Cummings
November 19, 2021
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Insulation is one of those crucial things that can make or break the comfort level inside of an RV, even if nobody can see it.

Just like in our regular homes, the insulation treatments and methods at work in your RV are responsible for regulating the temperature and preventing it from getting too hot or too cold.

How do you insulate an RV? Most RVs are built with fiberglass or foam insulation, but if you want to add more or replace them there are other options for doing so.

You’ll need to focus on all areas of the RV including the underbelly, walls, windows, doors, and roof to ensure the best insulation practices.

With the right insulation in place, you’ll find RV living a lot more comfortable and cheaper, too.

This guide covers everything you need to know about insulating your RV, why it matters, and tips you achieve the most pleasant temperatures inside your camper, no matter the weather outside.

Why Does Insulation Matter?

Why Does Insulation Matter?

Insulation is a critical part of RV and home ownership but one that’s often overlooked.

With insulation, you’ll ensure that the inside of your RV is at the desired temperature no matter the weather, and it helps to keep things warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

In addition to keeping the temperature at a nice level, correct insulation methods can also be used to drown out the noise, which is a huge bonus when you live in an RV.

As the insulation is doing the work of regulating the temperature, there’s also less need to rely on power-chugging HVAC systems like the heater and air conditioner you have in your RV.

Older models of RVs haven’t been insulated as well as the newer ones, and even some of the newer models aren’t built to the same standards.

It’s important to assess the insulation of your camper at regular intervals to ensure it’s working for you as well as it could be and make upgrades where and when necessary.

How RV Damage Can Affect Insulation

How RV Damage Can Affect Insulation

In the process of upgrading the insulation of your RV, you might neglect to notice the things that could already be affecting it.

However, seemingly small things like cracks in the roof or gaps in the door frames and seals could be having more of a negative impact on the internal temperature than you realize.

Before you set off on the insulation process, you’ll want to rectify these issues.

Spend some time carefully inspecting the RV for signs of damage and wear, like cracking, warping, and peeling and fill them in with caulk or gap filler.

If needed, you might have to perform larger repairs like replacing the roof or having new windows installed, but investments in these areas will pay off dramatically.

Insulating the Walls

Insulating the Walls

The walls of a camper can have a lot to do with the interior temperature and depending on the style of your RV, you might need to take a different approach.

However, most campers today have either fiberglass or foam insulated walls already, but it’s their R-value that you need to be concerned about.

RVs with slide-outs are usually less insulated because they don’t feature the permanent walls, and if you’re trying to stay warm in winter, we’d recommend not opening them.

It is possible to add a foam insulation board to the bottom of them to prevent drafts, but this is only needed in extreme conditions. If your RV’s insulation is lacking, it’s possible to add more to the walls.

The two main options are using fiberglass panels that can be installed by a professional or spraying insulation foam into the leaks and crevices where air might be escaping.

However, check with the manufacturer before you do, as these types of repairs and modifications can void the warranty on your RV.

The Doors and Windows

The Doors and Windows

The RV’s doors and windows are one of the simplest areas to improve insulation on, and also the ones most responsible for messing with the interior temperature.

The best place to start is by applying weather stripping to the door that prevents air from getting in around the edges and seals, and then using a thermal curtain to cover it.

For the storage bays and baggage compartments of the RV, you can also apply weather stripping.

If you want to take it any further, apply a panel of fiberglass or foam insulation at the back of the storage cabinet where it backs onto the interior of the RV, and this will prevent the outside weather from getting in.

The windows of the RV are another weak point for insulation and may need upgrading to double-pane or triple-pane glass.

Otherwise, replacing the caulking and seals around the windows as needed and getting new thermal window dressings can be helpful and are easy DIY jobs that will make a noticeable difference.

RV Underbelly Insulation

RV Underbelly Insulation

You might not realize it but underneath the RV needs attention when insulating.

With some carefully applied skirting you’ll keep the underbelly of the vehicle protected and ensure that cold air and drafts don’t travel up from underneath and into the cabin.

RV skirting can be purchased to suit the exact make and model of your vehicle, or customized to suit whatever dimensions you need.

If you’re handy, there are DIY options for skirting that will save you some money, but the installation of the skirting needs to be done just right so that no drafts can make their way into the RV.

Venting Choices

Venting Choices

The vents of an RV are useful for providing fresh air inside of the cabin but they can also be a source of poor insulation.

During summer and winter, there may be different needs for the RV’s vents that can help you regulate the temperature, as the hot and cold air can easily leak through them and inside.

The easiest approach is to cover the vents at the top and sides of the camper during winter and summer, or as needed.

This keeps the warm air inside during winter and stops the heat from getting in during summer. There are customized vent covers that you can purchase for your specific RV make and model, and they slip over easily as needed.

How to Regulate Humidity

How to Regulate Humidity

High humidity levels in an RV are nothing new and if you’re fond of traveling in summer like everyone else, it’s something you need to manage.

The best place to start is by equipping your RV with a hygrometer that can monitor humidity levels, and if you notice that the humidity is creeping above 50%, you’ll need to act fast.

Having a dehumidifier on board can be a lifesaver as it offers a fast and efficient way to remove the water vapor from the air and improve ventilation.

There are RV-friendly humidifiers that suit the unique needs of this environment, and they’re now smaller and more powerful than ever.

Pro Tips for an Insulated RV

As your traveling home on wheels, you want to do whatever possible to keep the conditions of your RV as pleasant as possible.

To help you get the temperature sorted, we’ve got some helpful tips on insulating your RV that’ll make it a whole lot easier.

Insulate for the season

Have a plan in place for winter and summer travel in your RV and work ahead of time insulating the areas that need it while storing the rest of the gear on board.

You don’t want to be halfway around the country in your RV before you realize that your camper doesn’t have the protection it should, otherwise the costs of fixing it will be exponential.

Add warmth to the floor

During winter, consider adding some additional floor coverings that can warm up the place.

A few carefully placed mats and rugs can not only be warm for your feet but they’ll prevent any cold air from rising up from underneath the camper and making its way inside.

A savvy investment

Don’t be shy about spending money on insulation measures now, as they’ll only work towards reducing the amount of energy you use later.

Some wise investments in insulation treatments tailored specifically to your RV will pay off with hundreds of dollars in savings later, and a lot more comfort on your next journey.

Park wisely

Park wisely

Choose the parking position of your RV wisely to benefit from the natural insulation of your environment.

Think about where the sun will be hitting at different times of the day and what sources of shade you can use, then you’ll let nature take care of the hard work for you.

Speak to the pros

Have a licensed professional come and give you an assessment of your camper before you start installing any insulation treatments.

They’ll be able to tell you the R-value that your RV currently has and highlight areas that you need to target to strengthen the insulation of the camper.

DIY or don’t

Knowing which jobs are easy enough to DIY and those that require a professional can save a lot of time and money.

A simpler application of insulating foam and some caulking touch-ups are simple to do yourself, but if you’re thinking about installing new fiberglass panels in the walls, we recommend using an expert.

Go for the blackout

If you’re traveling and unable to find thermal curtains for your RV, a simple pair of standard blackout curtains will do.

You can cut them down to size so that they fit your RV’s windows, and attach them with Velcro around the edges of the windowpane so they can be easily removed later.

Insulating for Greatness

Insulation is one of the best preparation methods you can do for your RV, and a little bit of work during this stage will mean a lot less money and time spent trying to get your RV to an optimal temperature.

Whether you go the fiberglass route or prefer to mix it up with a few different treatments, you’ll notice a huge difference in the comfort levels inside your RV once your insulation is sorted.

Related Questions

The insulation of your RV is just one part of keeping the temperature comfortable, as there are other HVAC methods to consider as well.

If you want to find out more about how to live comfortably in your RV no matter the weather outside, we’ve answered a few commonly asked questions that can help.

Can I Have a Heater in My RV?

Some heaters can be dangerous when used in an RV, so you’ll need to make sure it’s designed specifically for the space and wattage requirements of these vehicles.

The best approach is to start with insulation to avoid any cold air or wind from getting to the cabin and then layer this with a heating system.

Can You Run An RV Air Conditioner All Day?

Can You Run An RV Air Conditioner All Day?

It is possible to run an RV air conditioner all night and day if the vehicle is hooked up to a 50 amp power supply without using too much energy.

Using a gasoline generator to power up the air conditioner may be less efficient but still doable, but should only be reserved for when it’s really needed.

What Does an RV Fan Do?

An RV is usually installed on the outside of the RV and its job is to pull the hot air that’s created by the refrigerator so that it travels outside.

In such a confined space, appliances like this can quickly heat up the RV, so having a fan on the side or roof of your RV can make a huge difference.

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George Cummings

George Cummings enjoys connecting with nature, meeting new people, and making friends from all over the world. RVing and camping create the perfect opportunity for [him/her] to take part in these activities. After spending several years on the road and exploring the great outdoors, George Cummings shares some of his best pieces of advice on how to make the most of your time while camping. TourTheOutdoors is his way of helping outdoorsy individuals like [him/her] start on a right footing with amazing recommendations and buying guides.