Translated in English 30.3.2021
Now we already have winter experience of our Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ (so-called Scandic model, 2020) -camper van from two trips (The first winter trip: 9 nights and the second one: 20 nights in Finnish Lapland). So we can share the experiences with you also. We have received some questions related to winter use via Instagram, so I think that the subject is interesting. ? Our little 2-year-old adventure son has visited in Finnish Lapland already 3 times and he brings his own addition and needs to our trips !! ?
The topics listed below are covered in this blog post
- Use of the water system of the camper van during minus degrees
- Emptying the water system before switching off the car’s heating in winter conditions
- Heating of fresh and gray water tanks
- Recommendation how to use Truma while driving in minus degrees
- Insulated and heated gray water tanks
- Frost guard for boiler
- Safe temperature limit for using a camper van’s water system
- Could you also use the water system of your camper van during winter time in minus degrees?
- The convenience of the Truma iNet system
- With the Truma Level Control system, gas level can be easily checked
- Thermal blankets
- Carpets on the floor
- Drying of clothes and shoes
- Chassis rust protection
- Mud flaps, fenders and plastic bottom armor
- Webasto engine heater
The purpose of this blog post is to highlight things that you should pay attention in winter use. Please send a message if you have some tips for us or other issues which are missing from the list. I can add them to here in order to get a comprehensive information package for those, who are thinking about buying or already having an own camper van for winter use. ?
Our first winter trip with Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ -camper van
This trip was made with the Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ (Scandic, 2020) -camper van between 29.10.-7.11.2020 (Thu-Sat, duration 9 nights). We made a road trip to North of Finland and got the first winter experience of the van life. We stayed all the nights at free parking spots.
We were surprised at how convenient it is to be on the road with a camper van even in winter weather with a small child. ?? Outside temperatures varied between about -10 … + 10 degrees during the trip. You can read the feelings of the trip here, if this more technical side does not inspire so much. ?
Our second real winter trip with Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ -camper van
From mid-January onwards (17.1-6.2.2021, Sun-Sat, 20 nights), thanks to paternity leave, we got a possibility to go on an adventure with a camper van to Finnish Lapland for three weeks. Could you imagine? 3 weeks of van life in Finnish Lapland!!! And after a long break, we got also to snow kite on Pallas fells. ???❄️ More postings are coming related to this trip and you can read the first one. ?
On this second trip we had challenges with the water system of the camper van, but the trip was a really amazing experience and I can tell you that if it would have been possible to stay in Lapland all this winter 2021, we would have lived van life the whole winter and explored the Lapland more!!! ???
On this second trip, the outside temperature varied between -8 …- 22 degrees approximately and the maximum wind speed was about 18m/s in Pallas fells based on the measurement data of Ilmatieteenlaitos (Finnish meteorological institute).
Using of the water system of the camper van during minus degrees
Here’s explaned the background on the subject shortly. This blog post is based on our own experiences and information and tips got from the other campers, as well as information got from the seller of our camper van (ProCaravan). ?
The first winter trip 29.10.-7.11.2020
We were in Ylivieska, Finland, when we checked the forecasts for the north and for the next night (Fri-Sat). It was expected to have about -10 degrees below zero. We had thought in advance that in Oulu, it will probably be necessary to empty the water tanks so that they do not freeze. We were encouraged by ProCaravan’s service in Ylivieska not to empty the tanks now.
I had also asked in one Facebook group about it and also there a friendly man encouraged us to leave the water in the tanks. They both said, it is enough to keep the inside temperature of the camper van warm, and the water system can be used even in winter time. ?
The second winter trip 17.1-6.2.2021
Before this trip, we also thought that we could use the water system normally. And then we could save money, if we can stay at the free parking spots. Many had said also in different Facebook groups that they have had water in the camper vans also in the winter time. However, I did not notice to ask how they have used the water system. ? Now I have heard that at least some only use the kitchen tap and they put the “dirty” dish washing water into the canister which is located inside the van. And they have not used the drains and the shower at all in winter time.
From many Facebook group I’ve read that some have had water in the water system of camper van up to -28 ..- 30-degrees below zero. ? Now I would like to ask from them how they have used the water system in their vans during that condition and if they also used a shower. I would like to learn and see if there are some differences e.g. between the different brands of the camper vans. Or if they have some tips for us if we e.g. should put more insulation to the water pipes etc.
I have also read those comments that all of the campers do not use a shower of the van even during the summer time. So there is a huge possibility for misunderstanding if someone says that he or she uses the water system normally also in winter time. I would recommend to ask how they use it normally before you get too excited about it. ? You can read our experiences and feelings from this second real winter trip when I will get it translated in English. ?
Why would you like to use the water system of the camper van also in winter time?
I can tell you now at the beginning that it’s really difficult to describe that feeling when you take a warm shower at the end of a day of outdoor activities and the temperature is about -7 degrees outside the car !!!!! ??? And it is really handy also when you can eat breakfast near the ski lift in your camper van and you can handle the dish washing easily when the water comes out of the tap. These experiences are from the road trip in North of Finland in October and November 2020 .
We stayed the night near to ski lift and it was really convenient when you are already next to the hobby place in the morning. ?? In addition, I am still at home with our son and we can get on the road more often when we spend the nights in the free parking spots. Then you don’t need to have so much money for the trip compared to the situation that you are at home. Additional costs are the fuel and the gas. Depends, of course, on what you do on the trips. If you go to kite board and explore the nature, it costs nothing if you already have the equipment. You can read more about kite boarding here and someone could say that it is not just a hobby, it is a way of life.?
Emptying the water system before switching off the van’s heating in winter conditions is very important to remember to do
It is clear that the water system and water tanks must always be emptied before the heating and water tanks heating of the camper van is switched off. But it is also worth checking the issue if it is also recommended to blown the water system of the camper van in winter time after emptying the water tanks. We have heard that there can be still water in the water systems of the camper van without blowing it empty, depending on the structure of the system. It is also a good idea to blow the taps empty, as they can break if the water freezes inside the tap’s structure.
Someone says that you should never blow the water system after emptying the tanks that you can break some parts of the water system by using compressed air for blowing. You can get different instructions for emptying the water system of Weinsberg camper van, depending on from who you ask. I can’t say what is the reason or if it is related to those different interior solutions or the manufacturing year of the car. Or if everyone just has an own way of emptying it. We are still learning these things after we have only had the car for just a little over 6 months. ? But it is quite confusing from the user’s point of view, if you cannot get a clear instruction and you just have to hope that you have done the emptying with a correct way.
Our recommendation: If you use your camper van all year round and you have the water in the tanks even during the winter time with minus degrees, then it would be a good idea to always check the correct instructions for emptying the water tanks from the seller or their service so that there is no water accidentally in the water system.
Heating of fresh and gray water tanks
In addition to the indoor heating, we have in the toilet of our camper van (Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ so-called Scandic model, 2020) a line shown in below picture, where you can turn on the heating of the fresh water and gray water tanks. This water tank heating must be on during winter conditions (minus degrees). When the tank heating is on, warm air is blown between the tank’s insulation and the shell. The heating is on in below photo. ?
While driving, this water tank heater blower is probably not on if Truma is not blowing either. We have usually about +13 … +15 degrees set in Truma (the offset setting is not set, so the factory setting is used and it is in reality warmer inside the van). The appropriate setting for Truma depends on the outside temperature and the wind. We have used +13 … +15 setting at nights when we have all three thermo blankets in use (they are shown in later in this post). So it comes too hot at night if the setting is raised higher than +13 … +15.
Truma usually doesn’t blow any warm air at all while driving a camper van, when the Fiat Ducato’s own heater keeps the interior enough warm (so above the Truma setting) at least still with outside temperature -22 degrees. In reality, the car is warmer than that +13 … +15 degrees, because you can be inside with a normal clothes which you use also at home.
After a longer drive, you can notice that the toilet is much colder than the rest of the car. Truma’s temperature sensor is located on the wall of the kitchen. I wonder if someone is driving from southern Finland to Lapland (1000 kms) in minus degrees e.g. with an one stop tactic, then there may be a risk of the water system freezing. And this is suspected as one of the reasons why we did not always get water from the taps on road trip made in January-February 2021 after the water system had been put into operation by the Caravan Center Reatalo in Rovaniemi.
Recommendation how to use Truma while driving in minus degrees
We therefore recommend that you keep the car’s own heating (e.g. Fiat) low enough, at least during longer driving periods in frost conditions, so that Truma also heats up while driving. And the Truma temperature setting can be increased if necessary. If it feels like the car is getting too hot while driving, then Truma’s nozzles can be closed from the living space and, for example, just keep the nozzles open in toilet/shower and in the trunk under the bed if it is possible. So direct the blow to the car’s toilet / shower and the trunk. We got this tip when asked about it by a more experienced campers! Big thanks again if you read this story!?
Even if these nozzles are closed and the air cannot enter the living space of the car, the heating pipes are still warm and therefore they also heat the water pipes. The wind during the driving cools further and if the water pipes are located to the floor surface or next to the walls of the van, then maybe there is a risk of freezing. Truma’s heat pipes go at least in our car next to the water pipes (we can see the pipes under the kitchen) and thus they heat the water pipes when Truma is blowing warm air.
These are our tips and we certainly can’t say if the freezing of the pipes was due to this. But a big recommendation, at least for testing this, if you’ve faced a similar challenge. ? At least, no guidance has been found in the Weinsberg’s manual in this kind of issue.
Insulated and heated gray water tanks
This may be an obvious issue, but maybe it is a good reminder to each other. ? We got also a tip that if you keep water in the water system in minus degrees and you are using the drains and the water goes to the grey water tank, then you should keep the tap of the gray water tank open and put the canister under it.
Unfortunately, we did not get any experience of this from the really winter weather on this second trip, because the tap of the gray water tank was on the ice during the second trip all the time. We could not get it open by heating it with the shoe dryer. We have not had any other heater with us on the trip, but we added a hot air blower to the shopping list for next winter. ? Therefore, we did not dare to use the shower at all on this second trip. After this second trip, more insulation was added by ProCaravan to water pipes shown under our van, but they may not be tested until the next winter 2022.
At least in our Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ -camper van, the water pipes going to the gray water tank are prominently located under the van. So maybe we don’t dare to test how they work in lower temperatures if we go e.g. to the shower<aq.
One notice also more: if the van is even slightly skewed, water can stand in the bends of the pipes and then it can freeze. So the pouring of the water pipes don’t go as planned.
Frost guard for boiler
Our Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ (Scandic model, 2020) -camper van also includes a frost protection for the boiler. I have heard that there is a spring system that detects if the water temperature drops below a certain limit (the limit is about + 3… + 5 degrees), and then it empties the boiler automatically. This frost protection can work also unnecessarily if the fresh water tank is filled with enough cold water. In order to avoid this kind of situation it is recommended to heat the interior of the van properly before filling the fresh water tank in winter weather with low temperatures.
Safe temperature limit for using a camper van’s water system
Unfortunately, I cannot say this limit and maybe no one else dares to say it exactly. We currently have experience of max about -7 degrees below zero when we have taken a shower in our camper van and everything worked just fine then. Everyone has to take responsibility for when they still dare to keep water in their camper van. We have not found from Weinsberg’s website any information what is the temperature limit for using the water system of our van. On this second winter trip, the water pipe etc. was frozen in about -14 …- 15 degree weather, but it’s really hard to say exact temperature because we hadn’t any measurement device with us and we have noticed that the wind also probably affects the situation.
We stayed many nights at Pallas parking spot on this second trip (30.1-4.2.2021, Sat-Thu) and except for the first two nights, the car was parked right in the wind, but then water came all the time from the kitchen tap and also the toilet flush button worked. The shower tap were not used on this second trip at all. The wind was max about 18m/s measured at the top of the mountain and the car was approximately parked so that the wind came towards the windscreen and it was about -13 degrees. It could also help if you would have some thermal blankets that you could put to the car so that the wind couldn’t blow under the car while parked. In this case, from 30 January to 4 February 2021, the car was driven no more than 2 times from Pallas to Levi and back (approximately 45 minutes per direction), when replacing the gas cylinders and taking a shower at Levilehto Apartments.
Many things affect to the frost limit, e.g. the brand and model of the camper van and the locations, heating and insulation of the water tanks in the van. The interior layout may also affect how the water system and piping are designed. You can try to ask the minimum temperature limit for using your camper van’s water system from the seller or their service. Or you can decide that you don’t use the water system in winter time at all.
Could you also use the water system of your camper van during winter time of minus degrees?
We recommend that you check this issue from the seller or their service. Based on our experiences of Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ (Scandic edition 2020) it seems that at least at the small minus degrees/at night frosts it is possible to use the water system and go also to shower. It was really convenient on our road trip in the October-November 2020 in North of Finland. We even surprised ourselves by finally being all 9 nights in the free parking spots with a toddler as I already told!!! That is why we are now trying to encourage others to go on the road also in the winter time. And yes, the second 3-week winter trip was also awesome, even though the water system was not in use all the time and the shower was not used at all !!???
Even without water, you can live in the van if you don’t want to use the water system in winter. You can take a shower at campsites, etc. e.g. every other day or every three days and otherwise clean yourself with baby wipes, for example. ? We made those trips during Pasi’s paternity leaves and he got the money for child caring and that’s why I couldn’t get it. But I am studying and I can get a little support for the studies. We saved money when we stayed the most of the nights at free parking spots. And then it is possible to be on the road more often. ??
The convenience of the Truma iNet system
If you have a Truma iNet system in your van, you can remotely control e.g. the heating with a free Truma App via SMS. A mini SIM card for the Truma iNet is also required for remote control. Inside or near the camper van, you can also use the App via Bluetooth without a SIM card and a prepaid subscription. More information about Truma iNet can be found here.?
With the Truma App, you can turn on the heating (Remote control) as shown in below picture and you can set the desired temperature for the heating. And for the heater fan (Fan Setting) you can select the desired operating mode. We have used the ECO mode.
Water heating can also be switched on remotely (Water temperature) and you can select either the ECO or HOT setting. In addition, you can choose to heat with gas or electricity or a combination of these (Energy selection). We have 6kW Truma system which works with gas or you can heat also with electric modes. It’s worth to note that if you’re in a campsite in cold winter conditions and your camper van is connected to an electric pole, then electric heating alone (EL1 and EL2 modes) isn’t enough to keep the interior warm enough. So it cannot keep it at the temperature you have set, and you might wake up cold at night.
The risk of the water system freezing also increases if you use the water system in winter and the heating is used with electric heating only and you even go skiing and the weather suddenly cools down. If the Truma iNet box has a SIM card and a prepaid subscription, you can enable warning messages from the Truma App. In this case, you will receive a warning message on the phone if the temperature inside the car has dropped unexpectedly.
In cold winter conditions, it is recommended to use the so-called combined modes (mixed modes MIX1 or MIX2), which use both electricity and gas for heating. The choice of MIX modes is affected by how much power is allowed to be taken from the power pole. See More information from Truma’s manual.
We have used Truma App with both, Bluetooth and remote control, and controlled e.g. the interior temperature of the camper van and also put the shower water to warm up. That indoor temperature control with the phone app is a luxury, if you wake up for too hot or cold at night, then you don’t have to get out of bed when you can change the temperature setting by phone. ? We have usually had too hot if we have woken up. Nowadays we have learned which setting is good for us and we can sleep all the night without waking up.
On the first winter trip in the October-November 2020, 16..17 degree setting for Truma heating was a suitable setting for the night. ? In this case, we had only the thermal cover used for the rear doors. On this second January-February 2021 trip, all three thermal covers (rear door, side door and front window covers) were in use, so the Truma temperature setting was about +13 … +15 degrees. Based on this experience you can probably save gas when using those blankets. Unfortunately we don’t know how much.
In addition, you can see the status information (indoor temperature, water temperature, the voltage of the interior batteries) from the Truma App. There is 7.3 kg (11kg gas cylinder) of gas left in the front gas cylinder and the rear gas cylinder is full. More information related to Truma Level Control is found in the next section.
With the Truma Level Control system, gas level can be easily checked
We only had one Truma Level Control device at the beginning, but on the first winter trip we bought another one for the other gas cylinder. The Truma Level Control has magnets inside that attach it to the bottom of a steel gas cylinder. With the free Truma App phone application, you can monitor how much gas is left in the gas cylinder and how long it is still enough with the same gas consumption. See more here.
Now we can also see how much gas is left also in the back gas cylinder to prevent the situation that both gas cylinders are empty in the winter time and the water is in the tanks. We usually sleep well and I am not sure when we would wake up for cold if gas has run out. And in the Finnish Lapland, a new gas cylinder may not be available right away, so it helps to know how much gas is still left. And we have the automatic changer in gas system so you can see also from Truma App when it has changed to use the another gas cylinder. It would be awesome to get to Truma App a feature that you could get a message to your phone when the first gas cylinder is empty and it has changed to use the another one. ? Or it could be great if you could set the limit by yourself.
A tip for you: you should always test with Truma App that it correctly identifies and displays the amount of gas from a new gas cylinder before putting this new gas cylinder to its place. Sometimes it has happened that Truma Level Control has been somehow bad connected at the bottom of the gas cylinder and there is an error message shown in the Truma app. Unfortunately, you have to take the gas cylinder again out of the van in order to get that device better in its place.
As it was told before we have an automatic changer in the camper van’s gas system and that is currently set so that the first front gas cylinder (in Finnish “pullo 1” in the below picture) is used empty at first and then the changer switches to use the rear gas cylinder (“pullo 2” in the below picture). You can see from Truma App when the front bottle is empty and you can always try to change it to a new one as soon as possible, so you don’t have to touch the back gas cylinder so often. The place of the gas cylinders is quite cramped and I can tell you that you are happy if you need to replace only the front gas cylinder, at least in winter conditions e.g.-22 degrees. ?
Truma App shows how much gas is still left in the gas cylinders 1 and 2 (pullo1 & pullo 2 in Finnish) in percent (Fill level) and kilograms (Gas volume). And in addition, it shows an estimate of how long the gas will last with the current consumption per gas cylinder (Remaining time). In addition, you can also see how much battery is left in Truma Level Control devices (Sensor battery).
On the first winter trip from October 29 to November 7, 2020, we only had a back cover shown in below photo. In the fall, a little traction began to be felt on the bed when you were lying on it. The back thermal cover/blanket completely removed this feeling of traction. In addition, the blankets reduce gas consumption in winter use, which is an important feature for us when we stay night often in a free parking slots.
In addition, we have nowadays also a thermal blanket for front windows of the camper van which is put outside of the car. You can see more photos here in the first blog post of the second winter trip (now only found in Finnish, I will translate it). And nowadays we have also a thermal blanket in the side door and those we tested on that second 3 week winter trip made between 17.1.-6.2.2021. A lot of cold air comes from the side door when you open it and you have also a feeling of traction in colder conditions without that thermal blanket. And it also helps to prevent snowstorms from entering inside when passing through the door. ?
Verliz in Keminmaa made this thermal cover for the side door, and it has been really convenient. It is enough to open only one of those zippers from the door of the thermal cover, and you can go inside. It was a little weird at first when you couldn’t see to the right from the back seat at all while driving. But now when you have already used to it, it is not a problem and if you want you could roll the door up and then you would see. Or probably Verliz would also make a window into the kitchen or door if desired. ?
And that trough mat for shoes has been really handy, when the snow melts into it. You can find it from Motonet from the spare parts desk by requesting a suitable size. ?
Carpets on the floor
We use our camper van around the year and also for everyday driving. I usually sit with our son in the back seat, where our son has a safety car seat located in the window seat. We leave the shoes always near the side door while driving and during the fall the floor started to feel cool. We switch Truma heating on only during trips when we also stay night in the camper van.
So, we bought a carpet material from roll in K-Rauta (a local store here in Finland) and we made stencils/templates from cardboard and cut the suitable sized and shaped of carpets for the living space according to the templates. The carpets helped a lot and the floor no longer felt as cold as it felt without the carpets. We have not yet tested the electric floor heating with carpets because we have not needed it. And we cannot use the floor heating so often because the car needs to be connected to a electric pole. ? We should do the carpets still to the trunk under the bed. In the cab, we have Fiat Ducato’s own rubber mat.
Drying of clothes and shoes
During the winter trips, it was noticed that the clothes and shoes, for example, dry really well in the toilet of the camper van. We have Truman 6kW heater and one blow nozzle is located in the toilet. This also allows the toilet / shower area to dry quickly after a shower.
This drying feature is really handy when traveling with a child when outerwear gets wet quite often. ? And you can also dry your wet suits and my and Pasi’s outdoor clothes there. And if you wash some small clothes by hands, I’d think they’ll get dry too. ? The snowboard shoes also dried well when you placed in front of the Truma nozzle and took off the inner shoes. ?
For drying shoes, you can also buy a shoe dryer, where a tube comes inside the shoe. We have one, but it has never been needed yet for drying shoes, because the clothes and shoes have been dried without it in the toilet. However, it could be handy for drying neoprene shoes and gloves in coming Spring time. Our shoe dryer needs 230V electricity, so it requires an inverter if you are not in camping area etc.
Chassis rust protection
For the bottom of the camper van, the rust protection is recommended, at least for the winter weather in Southern Finland, when you drive often on salted roads. I have heard that the rust protection is recommended also for European maritime climate, if you spend a lot of time near the sea.
Lohjan Ruosteenesto -company made the rust protection for our camper van. Camper van was there 3 days (November 23-25, 2020) and everything went nicely. We took the van there already on Sunday and the owner of the place came to open the hall door to get the camper van behind the locks for the night. The location is a bit remote, so it was nice. ?
On thing is recommended to keep in mind when the rust protection has been just made, the whole van stinks for a while and then the interior also stinks strongly. So you may not want to plan a trip for the very next day or weekend so that you are going to stay there night also. However, the smell disappears over time. ?
Mud flaps, fenders and plastic bottom armor
We have the fenders mounted on the arches of the front tires and those have integrated mud flaps as well. The bottom rust protector told us that these guards are definitely worth having because there are some seam points in the arches where a lot of dirt accumulates without guards.
Unfortunately, in our camper van, the tires caught on to these plastic fenders at a harder speed, for example when turning on a ramp. We mentioned this issue to the man who made the rust protection and he heated those plastic parts at the same time and bend them so that they would no longer touch to the tires. ? So the bending helped. The rust protector also told us that the design of the fenders has recently changed a little.
In addition to the fenders and mud flaps, a plastic “bottom armor” was placed in the camper van to protect the engine space from dirt. This was recommended and the seller of the camper van told us that it is also a requirement for a warranty if the car is used in the Nordic countries.
Webasto engine heater
In our Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ -camper van, Webasto engine heater was also installed by ProCaravan in September 2020 just before we got the van. Unfortunately, always when we use Webasto, the engine light (Check engine) comes on a little after the car is started.
We asked about this from ProCaravan (the seller) and they told us that there is no practical harm in turning on the engine warning light, although it is not too nice to have it in a brand new car. In other words, Webasto should work normally and heat both the engine and the interior. ProCaravan has received this information directly from Fiat.
At first we considered what to do with Webasto, but we heard that Fiat has planned to make some correction to this. So we decided to wait for that update because winter use of the camper van is really important to us. We hope that the car works also if it is -30 degrees. And now (14.1.2020), when it is colder here in Finland and we got also a lot of snow in this winter, Webasto has been really convenient. ?
Then let’s go to the road with camper vans also in the winter time too!! ??❄️??? We cannot wait for the next longer trip, but unfortunately it is not possible right away because Pasi already used all the last paternity leaves. We are lucky here because we have 9 week paternity leave in Finland and I study remotely and take care of our son so we both can get some money support. ??
Other camper van related blog posts for you
- Here you can read our first feelings about Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ (Scandic, 2020) -camper van.???
- If you don’t have a camper van yet, but you are dreaming about it, then this blog post could be just like made for you ?
- Awesome Maps coloring map is so amazing in a decor of a camper van ??
Kitesurfing related posts
You can get to know us more here and here you will find information about where the camper van dream came about and how it finally came true, even though I am still at home with our child. So it is really possible that your dream can also come true. You just have to find the way. ?
Have an amazing day!! ?