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Fresh water tank and freezing weather - Event Date: 07 Dec 2019

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Buffalohunter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Buffalohunter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Calendar Event: Fresh water tank and freezing weather
    Posted: 07 Dec 2019 at 4:46pm
Ok so I have a Toyota Taco V 6 and just bought a 2020 189 R-Pod. I use it for exploring the great western US as well as chasing after wild animals. I was told that it is a 4 season trailer by the salesman...I know they say anything you want to hear. The truck-pod are a good fit towing wise so I jumped on the buy.  Now looking at the pod I am wondering if it can Handel the freezing cold of an elk camp.  The fresh water tank is exposed under the chassis so in the butt cold of camp there is no reason why it would not freeze.  Anybody here have direct experience with this issue?  Should I carry bales of hay to enclose the underside?  Is there some kind of low voltage heater that can be installed?  What can be done to prevent the fresh water tank...as well as the black and grey tanks...from freezing during the winter forays into the mountains?  Or is this just a fair weather pod that must stay home when the weather heads into the lower 30’s range?  Inquiring minds want to know before it’s to late.  Any thoughts and or experience with this delima?
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StephenH View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote StephenH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2019 at 8:02pm
Congratulations and welcome!

If you search the forum, (using the advanced search to be able to expand the date range), you will find lots of prior discussions of this. In a nutshell, overnight temps below freezing are okay if the temperature gets above freezing during the day. Extended freezing temps mean that you need to winterize the water system. You can carry water inside in where it is heated, but the tanks can freeze since they are exposed (yes, the salesman told you what you wanted to hear which is not the same as telling you the whole truth).

That being said, we did camp in sub-freezing temperatures. We carried water in an 8 gallon Hydroller container and kept is in the Tow Vehicle (TV) when we were driving and took it into the 'Pod when we were inside it and the heat was turned on. We used RV antifreeze to flush #2 (not required for #1) and added some to the gray water tank. We used rest stop or other available facilities when available. In that regard, it was more like tent camping, but much more comfortable.

If the elk camp has facilities available, you can use the 'Pod for other things like sleeping, cooking, lounging, but be aware that you will go through a LOT of propane if you expect to keep it at a toasty 72F. When we were winter camping, it was down as low as 4F with a lot of wind chill. A 20 lb tank would not last long (a day or two) if we tried to heat the 'Pod like we were in the house. It is well insulated, but not that well. Keep the temps cooler (65F to 68F or whatever you can stand) during the times you are inside and awake and turn it down to 50F or thereabouts when you are sleeping and use a good sleeping bag to keep warm. If you winterized, then you can turn the heat off to save gas unless you do have a water jug inside, then keep it as low as possible to keep the temps above freezing inside. If you have electricity available, take advantage of that and carry a small ceramic block heater. That will save you from having to hunt up propane tank refill places as often.

Four season means enclosed tanks with heat pumped in via ducted heat. That may keep the tanks from freezing, but at the cost of a high propane use.

There is the option of enclosing the tanks yourself, either via bales of hay as you stated, or finding a product to cover the tanks. I remember reading abut one person doing so, but I don't recall reading how well that worked out. Others have made a water circulation setup that puts a pump at the water heater and a valve at the farthest faucet. Hot water is then pumped through and then it empties back into the fresh water tank. This is set up on  some sort of timer to let it run periodically. This gives instant hot water at the tap and helps keep the fresh water tank from freezing. Again, it is at the expense of much increased propane use. In the summer, the instant hot water is a big water saver since one does not have to waste that gallon or so of water trying to get hot water at the tap. I intend to make that modification one of these days.
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Tars Tarkas View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Tars Tarkas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2019 at 9:44pm
Pods are great little trialers but they are decidedly not 4-season campers by any reasonable definition.  I mean you can sleep under a tarp in -10 degree weather, so I guess you'd have a 4-season tarp, but depending on your attitude about it, I think you have complete justification in returning the Pod.  The salesman lied to you. 

All that said, what Stephen said is all good.  I stay in the pod in sub-freezing weather, but I have it winterized.  It's a toasty, comfortable place to spend the night, cook, watch TV, etc.  Depending on how cold it is, forget about plumbing though.  I wouldn't worry about overnight temps in the 20s if it warms up during the day, but in the teens or below for any time, you should winterize.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote lostagain Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2019 at 9:15am
Buffalohunter every state has different rules about salesmen's lies and how it affects the contract you likely signed.  Usually, in contracts there is a clause that disclaims any oral representations.  If you're not able to come up with a solution to your winter camping dilemma, then it'd be worth consulting a local lawyer.  

We camped in our Pod with temperatures down into the 20's with no problem.  But it was below freezing for only a few hours.  I added some foam pipe insulation to the water line from the tank to where the it entered the trailer to keep that part from freezing, but I haven't a clue whether it really helped.  As StephenH said, there are discussions, and even diagrams, of various recirculation systems that use the furnace as a heat source which you can find in the archives.  Provided you brought extra propane, which you'd probably need anyway, the circulation pump systems look like a pretty viable solution.

Our Sonoma has an insulated bottom and a heater duct sending hot air to the underbelly area.  No one made any representations about how low the temperatures can go before it is in danger of freezing and I'm not inclined to risk freezing the pipes.  I hope it'll extend the camping season a little, but don't consider it a 4 season trailer.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Olddawgsrule Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2019 at 2:07pm
Think of it as a hard sided tent in the winter. Hot water is from the stovetop, fresh water is in a jug, poop in the toilet with a trash bag lining it, Wag-Bag (cat litter is a good medium), pee in a bottle. I call it 'Winter Mode'! 


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Buffalohunter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Buffalohunter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2019 at 5:25pm
Thanks guys for the tips.  I wouldn’t hold the salesman libel for anything since he was just trying to make a living...and anybody knows salesmen lie.  The delivery tube is the week link in the freezing issue...so insulating that would be very helpful. I need to look into insulating the tank with something. Bottom line lots of good suggestions and things to think about. Where I go it is below freezing all day and night all day and all night. Therefore I need to get in harvest and get out. But I will let you know if I find a solution to insulating the water tank.  Maybe just not fill the tank and fetch fresh water everyday for my needs.  Extra propane is definitely a must to keep the pod from becoming a freezer. Really appreciate all your input...thanks 
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Buffalohunter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Buffalohunter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2019 at 5:30pm
Got that right...olddawgsrule...just my thoughts exactly...but I’ll piss outside and dig a hole to crap in...actually I have mounted a toilet seat on a 5 gallon bucket double lined with garbage bags.
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StephenH View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote StephenH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2019 at 9:15pm
There are very few trailers in the size  range of the RPods that are true four season capable. Lance (if equipped), Airstream, and Oliver (US brands) and Bigfoot (Canadian brand)are some I have looked at online. All of them are magnitudes greater in price than the RPods. All require that heat be running to have water in the tanks. It sounds like you have a workable plan for being able to camp dry. I hope it works out for you.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote TheBum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2019 at 12:14pm
You can buy stick-on 12V heaters for tanks and pipes. Amazon.com has quite a few.
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StephenH View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote StephenH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2019 at 5:42pm
The problem with the 12V heaters for the tanks is that if the refrigerator draws down the batteries quickly, the heaters would kill them in almost no time. This would only be feasible if shore power were available. If not, then this would only work while traveling if the TV's alternator and wiring could support the load such heaters would add.
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