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Beware of the Secrets Behind Four-Season RVs

If you’re shopping for a four-season RV, there’s a good chance that the dealer or manufacturer is keeping secrets from you.

Unfortunately, most manufacturers don’t build or inspect them as well as you might think. As a result, you could be wasting money on features by falling for fancy sales language.

Today, we’re uncovering the secrets behind four-season RVs and what you need to know before you buy.

Let’s uncover the truth!

What Is a Four-Season RV?

Some salespeople refer to these RVs as four-season and others as all-season. Whatever you call them, they’re a type of recreational vehicle designed for year-round use. They often claim to be capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and weather conditioners.

Unfortunately, there’s no universal standard for classifying these types of campers. Manufacturers usually enclose the underbelly or install tank heaters and then give it a premium price tag. They also may take an extra step and install more capable insulation.

It won’t take long to discover these features aren’t enough to keep you toasty when the mercury plummets. Sadly, one of the best-kept secrets is that a four-season badge doesn’t mean much.

5 Secrets You Need to Know About Four-Season RVs

Builders love to cut corners if it’ll save them some money on the front end, but they won’t tell you about it. Be aware of the secrets surrounding four-season RVs when shopping. If you don’t, you could experience buyer’s remorse in a hurry. And, if your rig doesn’t meet your expectations, you won’t be a happy camper.

#1 Most Four-Season RVs Are Really Three-Season RVs

One of the biggest secrets of four-season RVs is that they’re less capable of surviving winter than you might think. Most can barely handle mild winter weather, let alone severe situations like hard freezes and storms.

When temperatures drop, your propane usage will skyrocket. It’s common to spend a couple hundred dollars during colder months just to stay warm. Additionally, in places that experience more extreme conditions, it can cost even more.

Not only will you spend more on gas, but it’ll also be difficult to get comfortable. You know it’s bad when ice forms on walls, and the floor feels like you’re walking on a glacier. No amount of heat can make up for a lack of insulation, but we’ll get into that later.

#2 Your RV Fridge May Not Work in Freezing Weather

Another secret manufacturers and dealers have in their four-season RVs deals with refrigerators. Most campers use gas absorption fridges because they work efficiently to get the job done. When it gets nippy out, though, your appliance might not be equipped to handle it. 

Some owner’s manuals reveal that units fail in temperatures under 32 degrees Fahrenheit without additional equipment. So, unless your fridge has a cold weather kit installed, it could throw in the towel when it gets frigid outside. 

Luckily, it won’t typically do permanent damage to the unit and should return to normal operations once it warms up.

#3 RV Insulation R-Values Can Be Misleading

When discussing RV insulation, manufacturers are like magicians. They rely on distractions and illusions to convince you that their product is better than it is.

Most construction gets assigned an R-value, which indicates its ability to transfer heat. The higher the number, the more stable your rig’s temperature. When some salespeople claim a camper has an R-21 roof or R-11 walls, this is what they’re talking about.

Unfortunately, just like there’s no standard for what makes a four-season RV, the same holds true for these ratings. While it might look good on paper, with holes cut for wiring, plumbing, and venting, it’s likely 10 to 50% of the quoted value. 

#4 Dual-Pane Windows Might Not Be Worth the Trouble

If you plan to enjoy cold-weather camping, it makes sense to purchase dual-pane windows. But another of the secrets of four-season RVs is that these premium upgrades might not be worth the trade-off. 

While they may provide more insulation, it’s generally insignificant. During extreme conditions, you’ll likely feel chilly air penetrating your camper anyway. 

One problem with dual-pane windows is that the seals break due to vibrations from traveling. When this occurs, fogging will begin to appear on the glass. If left unaddressed, this causes permanent damage and requires replacing the glass materials.

For the increased weight, hassle, and price, they might not be worth the trouble.

#5 Your Four-Season RV May Not Handle Snow Load

While you may not plan on it snowing during your adventures, Mother Nature can have other plans. In this situation, it’s easy to overlook its impact on your camper.

Snow can weigh between 20 and 30 pounds per cubic foot. The wetter it is, the heavier it’ll be. If you have a large rig, a storm could dump hundreds, potentially even thousands of pounds, onto your roof. 

Unless designers made it to handle the extra weight, it could cause severe damage.

What Features Do Quality Four-Season RVs Include?

There are several features manufacturers won’t keep secret with four-season RVs. While there’s no standard, there are several common characteristics of campers with this classification.

One of the most frequently employed is an enclosed underbelly. This layer helps protect the plumbing and other sensitive components from cold air. A handful of brands include an extra layer of insulation to provide more protection than others.

Another standard item you’ll find is heated holding tanks. By wrapping the holding tanks in a heated blanket-like material, it reduces the chances of them freezing. Many include thermostats and will kick on when they detect temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s also typical to see beefier heating and cooling systems onboard. Sometimes, they’ll also route ducts into storage compartments and the underbelly. Doing so helps to pump warm air into the space.

How to Modify Your RV for Four-Season Use

Whether you purchased a four-season RV or not, there are secrets to modifying it to perform better year-round. Luckily, most are relatively inexpensive and easy to do.

For starters, the entry door is one of the biggest culprits for letting in cold and warm air. You’ll want to inspect it and fix any weather stripping issues. On a windy day, you shouldn’t feel a breeze coming through. If you do, replace it as soon as possible.

Additionally, many owners overlook the negative impacts that skylights and vents can have. These gaps, usually covered by a thin plastic sheet, let heat escape. Retailers have vent pillows that fit these holes perfectly. One side usually has a reflective layer for use during the summer to prevent heat from getting in.

If you’re staying in one spot for a while, it’s essential to consider the elements. Help your camper stay comfortable by staying in the shade during the summer. During cooler months, consider parking near a wind block during the winter. 

At home, you can install an RV cover to keep the sun off your rig. In addition, skirting around the undercarriage helps block wind from blowing all around your trailer and causing damage.

Is a Four-Season RV Worth It?

RV dealers and manufacturers might be keeping secrets about their four-season RVs. Even if their features aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, they’re still worth considering. Many models are well-equipped and capable. 

A healthy dose of skepticism and access to online reviews while shopping are essential. And, if you don’t like being lied to, you can always take your business elsewhere.

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