Monday, August 5, 2019

How to Weatherize Your RTTC Camper

I recently wrote an article, "How To Beat the Heat in Your Tiny Trailer," on managing the heat in my RTTC Polar Bear--focusing on the particular challenge the Green Goddess has of off-gassing a chemical smell if the trailer is too heated. The results of my efforts were mixed. I discovered that direct sunlight on the camper in significant heat (mid 90s) created a situation where I could not find a "sweet spot" where both the heat and off-gassing were managed. Solution? Don't camp when it's too hot, or make sure the trailer is in deep enough shade to ensure that the sun does not bake the unit. Then I can close up the trailer enough with the air conditioner on to sufficiently cool the unit.

Lynn Keel also owns an RTTC trailer, a Kodiak. She recently put up a couple of extended FB posts on the Rustic Trail Teardrops Camper Owners Group about how she sealed her Kodiak to keep the ac cool air inside during a hot day. Now, Lynn is thorough in her description and procedures, so this post is pretty close to being guest authored, except for my introduction and ending remarks.

Lynn's Procedures:

My recent trip provided me with a list of things that I want to correct / upgrade in the Kodiak. Today I turned my attention to cooling the camper (and by default, what should also aid in heating the camper this winter).

Door insulation

First step: Limit the area being cooled in the summer or heated in the winter. That meant sealing as many “air leaks” as possible. I placed rubber insulation around the door and A/C, all which had major gaps and / or thin spots. Also placed a piece of Reflectix to close off the storage area under the bed.

AC cavity insulation

AC insulation


Second step: Bought an Air Wing Fin to channel air from the A/C more effectively into the cabin, that is, up in the air rather than just the floor. (Thanks to Karen Landon and Tom Kepler for this idea!) Amazon delivered it only 12 hours after ordering.

AC air flow deflector

Third step: Vacuum clean the ceiling fan and A/C plus carefully remove, wash, and reinsert the A/C air filter. Both were quite dirty from traveling down dirt roads and camping at sandy campgrounds.

(GGG's note: The filter removal is on the right hand side of the unit, but the wall is close to the ac filter removal slide-out. Lynn removed the filter in the following manner. "The filter holder is slightly flexible, so I very slowly pulled it out a third of the way, then began to curve it until it came out. I curved it to put it back in." A different owner's solution was the remove the front piece's screw [Phillips] on the lower right and then the top screw in order to remove the entire front piece of the unit. To do this, an offset screwdriver is necessary.)

Results: The interior was at 78 percent humidity and 86 degrees at the start of the test. Twenty-five minutes later, these numbers dropped to 50 percent humidity and 64 degrees. Outdoor temperature was 86 (a cool day since it rained a lot today). There was excellent interior air flow and cooling improvement over what we experienced during our recent trek.


Lynn's Day 2 Update

This is an update to yesterday’s post on cooling the camper. Please read that first to see what I did to my all black with silver roof Kodiak to help keep it cooler in the summer (and by default, warmer in the winter).

The external temperature at 2:54 pm during today’s test: 93 degrees with heat index of 108.
Internal temperature in Kodiak parked in no shade on concrete driveway: 104.4 degree (not a typo), at 52 percent humidity.

Recorded after turning on A/C at 2:54 pm to high with ceiling fan (vent closed) on number 2 setting:
  • 3:24 pm - 77.4 degrees at 44 percent humidity
  • 3:30 pm - 75.6 degrees at 45 percent humidity
  • 3:39 pm - 73.6 degrees at 44 percent humidity
  • 3:47 pm - 72.1 degrees at 47 percent humidity
  • 3:54 pm - 72.2 degrees at 47 percent humidity
The exterior temperature during this one hour test remained at 93 degrees with the heat index dropping to 106 degrees. I did move the thermostat toward the rear of the camper where the temperature registered around 78 degrees. Then I moved it back to the front, where it recorded 70.7 degrees. It was comfortable throughout the cabin, but I'll seek ways to further improve the front-to-rear air flow. I hope that these two posts aid you in your quest for inside the cabin comfort.

Lynn clearly reveals that sealing the air leaks in your tiny trailer can have a significant effect on your air conditioning (or heating) efficiency. No different than your house, folks. It should be noted that Lynn was able to close all her windows and vents in this test of her trailer's cooling capacity. She stated that she either does not have significant off-gassing in the heat or that she is not sensitive to the smell.

This narrative is how one tiny trailer owner--an RTTC owner--significantly improved the efficiency of her air conditioning. Although her suggestions are specific to a particular trailer builder's products, the general idea and general checklist of activities applies to anyone who wants to have a more effective ac/heating solution for their trailer.

So now how many of your are heading to the local hardware store for a few basic supplies?

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  1. Great suggestions! We will definitely get a baffle for the AC in our Polar Bear model. Our second camping trip in our new camper was to Reelfoot Lake (west TN) in January of 2018. We found our feet freezing when we sat at our table, from air from the space under the bed. Flexible solution was to purchase an inexpensive bath rug the width of the opening, then tuck one short end under the mattress edge, and drape the rug over the opening and onto the floor, with the rubberized side facing the opening and the floor. Worked fine and stayed put. Our camper wasn't built with the second hatch opening, so sometimes we may need to reach through to get stored equipment. Works well for us.
    We will weather strip before making another summer trip to California from Tennessee, might try the Reflectix, too.
    Thanks for the good suggestions!

    1. I've heard of other people closing off the space under the bed for more warmth. Glad it worked! For colder weather, you may also be interested in reading my article on condensation. Search "condensation" on this blog or copy and use the following URL:

      Glad you enjoy the Polar Bear!