Whirlibird: The devil IS in the details.

Precisely. There are a lot of little things that we simply take for granted, which (in SHTF scenarios) will simply cease to exist.

Spend some time living in a third world, and you’ll gain a MUCH greater appreciation for simple things like hot water on demand (or just running water in a house), washing machines, clean dishes and glasses, and that internal feeling of safety and security. Take away the internet access, cell phones, TVs with 100+ channels and even your favorite music on the radio… in other words, live like it’s the 1800’s and you’ll quickly find out how things REALLY are.

I worry for my kids, because they’ve known all this crap all their lives: IPads, internet, DVDs and television, all the other stuff that is designed to keep you entertained and preclude intelligent thought. When that entertainment is stripped away, they’ll have a tough time adapting to a life where their whims are NOT instantly satisfied… It won’t be easy for them, that’s for sure.

Another aspect of living in the RV in the colder months, is the heating.

Even newer RVs typically use single-pane windows, which means in the cold weather, the windows tend to build up condensation on the inside, and let the heat out at the same time. As well, RVs typically are NOT well insulated, so in either very hot or cold weather, temperature control to keep your rig livable can be problematic. Now, I don’t consider “livable” to be 72 degrees inside during the high-heat of summer or the dead of winter. I’m saying keep it at <80 during the worst of summer, and >65 during the winter, when temperatures get down into the 30s or 40s. Even THAT is a challenge.

I mentioned the insulation of RVs, even new ones, is terrible. Air is a terrible heat-transfer medium. To improve its effectiveness, we typically use fans to blow air over heat-transfer surfaces (such as the radiator in your car); to further degrade its effectiveness to transfer heat, we trap the air, and keep it from moving at all. That’s what insulation does. So insulation effectiveness increases with the thickness of air trapped in place, which is why R-30 insulation is significantly thicker than R-20 insulation that you’d find at the local Home Depot. More trapped air, less heat transfer. This all matters on RVs, because the walls of RVs are typically 2×2 studs, with 2″ of insulation in between the inner and outer skins. The outer later is typically either aluminum (excellent heat transfer medium) or fiberglass (good transfer medium), a tiny amount of usually fiberglass insulation, and then a 1/4″ sheet of wood. In other words, it’s not a good means of sealing out the heat or cold. You CAN replace the fiberglass with foam sheeting, which will help, but that requires gutting and re-walling the interior of your rig.

Short of that measure, you’re limited to using your internal (propane) heating system, which will quickly consume your on-board store of propane, or you have to find another means of heating your rig. In our case we decided to use two ceramic heaters, narrow models that stand 2 feet tall and draw 1500 watts at maximum load. With 400 amp-hours (assuming 80% depletion) at 12.5V, that means we could run one heater for 3 hours 20 minutes before the batteries are done. And one cold nights, that one heater will be running all night, pretty much nonstop, to keep the RV >65F. Such a solution is easily possible when using external “shore” power, but without it…? Hmmm. Clearly something needs to be done, but I’ve not yet determined a feasible solution for a SHTF situation. Short-term the obvious answer is more blankets, right? But that takes more storage space, which is already in short supply, another compromise solution which clearly isn’t the best. Better would be to insulate the RV better, but that would be seriously labor intensive and not guarantee sufficient results.

Still working on it…