XLS 23BHE Freeze Proof

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ChrisXLS23BHE

Newbie
Joined
Nov 13, 2021
Messages
3
Hi,
I am new to the forum and new to the RV world. I purchased a Grand Design XLS 23BHE. I would like to use this RV during the winter months but I can’t get a straight answer from anyone at the dealer as to what the factory min temp design is to prevent freezing. There is an underbelly and he grey/black water piping are exposed. They said add a skirt but it is not appealing to me and requires setup so I would rather spend the money to do it “correctly” to ensure freezing will not occur. My plan would be to add 12 Volt heat trace to the exposed piping and wrap with 1.5” thick arms flex insulation and PVC jacketing. I cannot get a straight answer on possible issue of adding approx 30 WATTS of 12 Volt heat trace and if the current solar system/batteries can handle it, i have 2 lead/acid batteries. I couldn’t get a straight answer on the holding tanks if they need additional heat or insulation for freeze protection.
I live in PA so I am thinking for a low temp of around 15 to 2.0 degrees F and there could be wind involved during the cold months as well.

This is for when it is being used and not just sitting stationary in storage. My goal is to take this hunting out in the middle of nowhere so i will need to rely on the solar system but i do have a generator as well if needed when my solar system fails.

Any input is much appreciated or even a resource i could be pointed towards.

Thank you for you time!
 

redbaron

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I have a 2021 grand design imagine. Built similar to yours.

You should have 12v tank pads.

In cold weather, fill your fresh tank and disconnect all hoses. Store in the bays. Only connect sewer when dumping.

Keep a 60w light bulb in all your storage bays.

Add a bit of rv antifreeze to empty black and gray tanks when flushing so that it's the last fluid in the pipes between flushing.

You should be good for 0F. Just keep an eye on things for the first few nights, and make sure you run the furnace heat, as that will help keep interior pipes from freezing. Keep cabinet doors open so that heat can reach the pipes.
 

redbaron

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London Aire 4551 (**ON ORDER**)
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2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
I don't think you can rely on solar alone. Make sure the generator is operational. The furnace will consume electricity to run fans.
 

Bob K4TAX

RVF Regular
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
196
Location
Tennessee
RV Year
2016
RV Make
Forest River
RV Model
Wildwood XL 253 RLXL
RV Length
25 ft or so
TOW/TOAD
Chev 2011 Silverado Crew Cab LTZ
Fulltimer
No
Hi,
I am new to the forum and new to the RV world. I purchased a Grand Design XLS 23BHE. I would like to use this RV during the winter months but I can’t get a straight answer from anyone at the dealer as to what the factory min temp design is to prevent freezing. There is an underbelly and he grey/black water piping are exposed. They said add a skirt but it is not appealing to me and requires setup so I would rather spend the money to do it “correctly” to ensure freezing will not occur. My plan would be to add 12 Volt heat trace to the exposed piping and wrap with 1.5” thick arms flex insulation and PVC jacketing. I cannot get a straight answer on possible issue of adding approx 30 WATTS of 12 Volt heat trace and if the current solar system/batteries can handle it, i have 2 lead/acid batteries. I couldn’t get a straight answer on the holding tanks if they need additional heat or insulation for freeze protection.
I live in PA so I am thinking for a low temp of around 15 to 2.0 degrees F and there could be wind involved during the cold months as well.

This is for when it is being used and not just sitting stationary in storage. My goal is to take this hunting out in the middle of nowhere so i will need to rely on the solar system but i do have a generator as well if needed when my solar system fails.

Any input is much appreciated or even a resource i could be pointed towards.

Thank you for you time!
If you have the "4 Season Package" then you have:

High Capacity Furnace
Heated and Enclosed Underbelly with Suspended Tanks
Designated Heat Duct to Subfloor
High Density Roof Insulation with Attic Vent
Moisture Barrier Floor Enclosure
Residential (Ductless) Heating System Throughout
Double Insulated Roof and Front Cap(R-40)
Heated and Enclosed Dump Valves

Otherwise, for winter usage be aware that prolonged exposure to temps below 30 degrees F will likely cause some freezing. You'll want to take care when using outside hoses for water and sewer dumps. Of course, depending on ground temperature, a hose laying on the ground may not freeze at 30 degrees or even a bit lower. If you are in one location where the temps are consistently below 30 degrees then I would be concerned. You can wrap plumbing and pipes with heat tape but this requires 120 volts for operation. Wind chill has no effects on items such as plumbing. Only on humans and animals. However, temps in the range you quote will require a good bit more than 30 watts of heat depending on exposure to the actual standing temps. Heat tape plus wrapped insulation is a good start. As to the tanks, if they are exposed, they will freeze unless heat is applied. In general, I don't view that RV's aren't winter usage items unless specially prepared for such. Thus one with the 4 season package.
 

redbaron

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The artic package is Coroplast underbelly, with furnace ducts running below to the floors, thus giving off radiant heat (not forced).

The tanks also have a 12v pad on the base.
 

ChrisXLS23BHE

Newbie
Joined
Nov 13, 2021
Messages
3
Good morning, I appreciate everyone’s input and certainly feel more comfortable going into the colder weather.
Redbaron, just so I understand your comment about the antifreeze. When grey/black tanks are full you dispose of the contents and then add antifreeze? I assume add enough that the exposed piping under the trailer is flooded with antifreeze?
Have you done this before and how long have you gone before you had to dump again? I ask because i would imagine, after a while, the grey/black water would dilute the antifreeze but maybe not as much as i am thinking since nothing is “mixing” the fluids, it is just sitting there.
How cold of temps have you operated in?

For peace of mind i want to make any changes needed to operate at 0 degrees. So I know I am good if i install heat trace at 3 watts per foot with 1.5” insulation, this will actually give me -20 F freeze protection. I am not sure what else i should be concerned with since i have not been able to see everything in the belly. I could be over thinking this but that’s just how I am.

I guess the other question is the warranty aspect. By adding additional heat trace, 12 volt and running it back to the batteries, will this be an issue?
Does anyone know that when connected to shore power that this will also charge the batteries? Scenario where there is cloud coverage/poor weather and I have to run the generator that it would charge the batteries. Or should i add 120 VAC heat trace and just plug direct to the generator?

As for the 60 WATT light bulbs I am able to get them in 12 volt. But i cannot find info on the electrical system and how much more load i can put on the system. Does anyone have a phone number for Grand Design, i was looking online and i did send an email so i hope to get a response that I can talk to an engineer or someone who knows their electrical system and maybe has insight to the overall temp design.

Appreciate it everyone!
 

redbaron

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RVF Moderator
Joined
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Messages
1,739
RV Year
2022
RV Make
Newmar
RV Model
London Aire 4551 (**ON ORDER**)
RV Length
45
TOW/TOAD
2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
Post up a picture of your exposed pipes.
 

Bob K4TAX

RVF Regular
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
196
Location
Tennessee
RV Year
2016
RV Make
Forest River
RV Model
Wildwood XL 253 RLXL
RV Length
25 ft or so
TOW/TOAD
Chev 2011 Silverado Crew Cab LTZ
Fulltimer
No
Good morning, I appreciate everyone’s input and certainly feel more comfortable going into the colder weather.
Redbaron, just so I understand your comment about the antifreeze. When grey/black tanks are full you dispose of the contents and then add antifreeze? I assume add enough that the exposed piping under the trailer is flooded with antifreeze?
Have you done this before and how long have you gone before you had to dump again? I ask because i would imagine, after a while, the grey/black water would dilute the antifreeze but maybe not as much as i am thinking since nothing is “mixing” the fluids, it is just sitting there.
How cold of temps have you operated in?

For peace of mind i want to make any changes needed to operate at 0 degrees. So I know I am good if i install heat trace at 3 watts per foot with 1.5” insulation, this will actually give me -20 F freeze protection. I am not sure what else i should be concerned with since i have not been able to see everything in the belly. I could be over thinking this but that’s just how I am.

I guess the other question is the warranty aspect. By adding additional heat trace, 12 volt and running it back to the batteries, will this be an issue?
Does anyone know that when connected to shore power that this will also charge the batteries? Scenario where there is cloud coverage/poor weather and I have to run the generator that it would charge the batteries. Or should i add 120 VAC heat trace and just plug direct to the generator?

As for the 60 WATT light bulbs I am able to get them in 12 volt. But i cannot find info on the electrical system and how much more load i can put on the system. Does anyone have a phone number for Grand Design, i was looking online and i did send an email so i hope to get a response that I can talk to an engineer or someone who knows their electrical system and maybe has insight to the overall temp design.

Appreciate it everyone!
A 60-watt 12V bulb will require 5 amps of current from the DC system. Thus 4 of those will require 20 amps. A 100 AH battery will be drained in about 4 hrs at this rate. And that is below the recommended discharge value.

With all the items, light bulbs, heat tape, and etc., you are planning to keep things from freezing, I suggest you get a knowledgeable RV person, one knowledgeable about RV electrical systems, to evaluate your electrical needs. Especially if you rely on solar and batteries to produce heat. **By the way, any heat produced by electricity is likely the most inefficient energy method. Of course, you may not have any other reliable choices.

**If one should doubt my statement, go to the nearest "big box" hardware store and look at water heaters. The yellow tag will show energy usage. Check the numbers for 40-gallon electric water heaters and then for 40-gallon gas water heaters. It is the laws of Physics where it is stated, it takes 1 BTU of energy to heat 1 gram of water 1 degree Centigrade. The bottom line, electricity isn't cheap and it isn't efficient to use to produce heat. But some may not have other energy sources as a choice.
 

redbaron

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I agree---going solar in the winter without a lot of expense is going to be a failure.

You need an expertly designed and maintained solar system. Winter months have the least amount of daylight, and you will need to be in full exposure to capture the most usable light for that time period. You also need to plan for storms and overcast where the sun is not exposed. Cloudy days ruin solar charging.

It *CAN* be done...it is just a lot of work to get there.

The easiset plan is to winterize your storage tanks, and only live off bottled water and an outhouse. It would be far eaiser to setup an outhouse than it would be to make all of the changes required for winter off grid camping.
 

RC & CindyBee

Newbie
Joined
Jan 1, 2022
Messages
1
We have many similar questions. Brand new Reflection 315RLTS w/4 Seasons package, but we continue to have freezing pipes in temperatures in the 'teens. First, the copper tubing at the water heater; dealer installed a heating pad on the tubing. Then freezing at the pump inside the Nautilus unit; we now leave the side panel off the Nautilus and run a small space heater in the storage area with the Nautilus. Anticipating very cold temps this week we added insultation along the piping inside the Coroplast belly panels from Nautilus in front to split for kitchen sink. This morning (New Year's Day) we have cold water but no hot; hot water piping does not pass enough flow to kick on water heater.
Any ideas would be helpful!?!?
 

redbaron

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Messages
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Newmar
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London Aire 4551 (**ON ORDER**)
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TOW/TOAD
2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
We have many similar questions. Brand new Reflection 315RLTS w/4 Seasons package, but we continue to have freezing pipes in temperatures in the 'teens. First, the copper tubing at the water heater; dealer installed a heating pad on the tubing. Then freezing at the pump inside the Nautilus unit; we now leave the side panel off the Nautilus and run a small space heater in the storage area with the Nautilus. Anticipating very cold temps this week we added insultation along the piping inside the Coroplast belly panels from Nautilus in front to split for kitchen sink. This morning (New Year's Day) we have cold water but no hot; hot water piping does not pass enough flow to kick on water heater.
Any ideas would be helpful!?!?
Hay bales around the perimeter of the trailer. You want to keep wind from blowing under it. Wrap bales with a tarp to seal it up better.

The area where furnace for water heater and coach air exhaust need extra protection to prevent the hay from getting caught on fire. A piece of osb on top of the hay should be good.
 

Looknow12

Newbie
Joined
Jan 12, 2022
Messages
2
Just had a cold night of 9 degrees with no wind. The wind can make a difference if you are hoping for a bit of radiant heat from the underbelly and the storage compartments. Remember the unit isn't air tight so excessive wind will take heat away.

Anyway I check this morning and kitchen sink faucet won't work. Lines must be frozen.bathroom if course fine since it has the duct right off the furnace.

I have temp sensors in several spots. See image below. Fortunately no leak. Should have kept the pump off though had I thought about it in advance.
 

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Looknow12

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Jan 12, 2022
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Btw I had complaints with grand design about lack of duct work to master bedroom. During the conversation with GD he actually said to me you should have bought a reflection.

Anyway, We had a plan to run a line from kitchen sink side to add second duct. In hindsight though it might take away from the underbelly heat making this worse.

This is not a four season camper.
 

redbaron

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I would add electric ceramic heaters in the back area, and open cabinet doors.

I am replacing the furnace with an aquahot. I will start a thread for this upgrade once I get going.
 

Jireh Financial

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Feb 25, 2021
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Holiday Rambler
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No
"but I can’t get a straight answer from anyone at the dealer as to what the factory min temp design is to prevent freezing."

This is because when something goes wrong, your dealer does not want to be responsible. You can never say "you told me so" if they don't comet to a temperature where freezing will occur. It's called CYA from the dealership. Notice I am not giving advice on this either (ha).
Let me know how we can help.
Ken
 
Last edited:

Bob K4TAX

RVF Regular
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
196
Location
Tennessee
RV Year
2016
RV Make
Forest River
RV Model
Wildwood XL 253 RLXL
RV Length
25 ft or so
TOW/TOAD
Chev 2011 Silverado Crew Cab LTZ
Fulltimer
No
There are too many variables to consider when asking the question "what is the minimum temperature design to prevent freezing". A simple answer for water is any temperature below 32 degrees F. Any line exposed will begin to show signs of freezing at or below 32 degrees. The amount of insulation around the line is very important. Just because it is enclosed inside a compartment is no assurance it won't freeze. If the line is against an outside wall there will be conduction of the cold and the line can freeze, although the compartment is above freezing. Physical conduction of temperature from one object to another is more efficient than air conduction. Usually, the inside temperature related to the outside temperature is about 10 to 20 degrees different. However, that does not consider "soak time" which is an important factor. If the temps briefly drop to a low of 20 degrees overnight that is not usually an issue. However, if the temperature stays at 20 degrees or lower for longer than 24 hours, one can be in serious trouble. Anytime the outside temperature is below freezing one can expect to need a heat source on the inside.

Someone asked about a 60 watt 12-volt bulb. That will draw about 5 amps from the 12-volt source. With a 100 aH battery, using 50% discharge as a safe level for battery survivability, that gives about 10 hours of operation for a single bulb. Do the math from here.

The best policy, good insulation, and making sure all doors, hatches, and such are securely closed and there are no cracks or crevices for the exchange of air to take place is the better approach. Keep cold air out, and warm air in.
 
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