OK, so I’ve added additional insulation to our Travato. But how do I know if it did any good? Take a bunch of infrared pictures – that’s how!
I rolled in late last night from a trip to AM Solar in Springfield, Oregon (more on this in a later post). The temperatures were expected to dip down below freezing overnight, but it was too cold and dark (and I was too tired) to think about winterizing. So, I plugged in, set the Truma to keep the temperature at 68 degrees, turned on the tank heaters, and called it good.
When I woke up, I found out a couple things. First – the Truma had NO TROUBLE keeping the rig warm even on just the “Electric 1” setting. That’s good news. I also found out that the tank heaters ROCK the heat. (You’ll see that later.) And finally, I found out that taking IR pictures from the outside let me see where Lance was losing heat. I used a FLIR camera add-on for this. So without further ado – here we go:
This first picture shows the back of our Travato. I had insulated the panels on the door, and those seem to be OK. Where I seem to be losing heat is where the two doors come together. There are no empty spaces to insulate there, so I don’t know what I can do to improve that, besides shove towels or something between them after I close the doors. Also, you can see that the windows are the big losers here. They’re single pane automotive windows, so I expect this, and I could cut something to fill the windows if it becomes a problem. Also, you can see that (for some reason) the bumper is very cold. This lines up with what I could see from the inside:
You can see in this picture that the bottom of the door is very cold. This is where the bumper on the outside is. The big thing I’m taking away from this picture is to not forget to winterize the external shower that sits back there.
Also, from that first picture, you can see a glow underneath the RV. That’s from the tank heaters.
Here you can see the black tank, with its heater pad on, on the right. There is also a pipe heater pad cranking the heat towards the left of the picture. What I’m learning from this picture is that the pipe heaters are very localized, and the heat doesn’t spread far through them. The tank heaters do a better job of heating the whole tank contents, especially when the tanks contain liquid.
This picture shows the grey tank, with its heater cranking away. But the other thing I noticed in this picture was the floor. It seems to be quite warm, and if I had to pick some other part of the Travato to insulate, this would be it. Not sure what I can do to improve the insulation here now that it’s already built, but it’s something to think about.
The first thing that jumped out at me on this one was the wheel well. THAT is something that is accessible and I can insulate. Also, you can tell that the Truma is hard at work – even though it’s exhaust is cool enough to touch, it’s glowing white hot in this shot. Also notice the high up Seitz window – it’s double-paned and doing a fantastic job of keeping the heat in.
Another thing I notice in these pictures is that I can slightly see the ribbing inside the ProMaster. I don’t know that there’s much I can do about this, but it’s interesting.
Moving forward we can see that the real heat loss is coming from the windows. Some of this was reflected from the sun (which had just started rising), but we’ll see the same kind of thing on the other side. The insulated shades provided by Winnebago for the cab do a better job than the MCD shade on the side window of keeping the heat in. Also – the refrigerator was NOT on, so I don’t know where that heat leak is coming from.
Here we can see that the windshield is actually not as bad as I might have thought. The insulated shades are doing a good job here, except for around the top where there is some leakage by the rear view mirror.
Front Passenger side. Here you can see, again, that the windows are the real culprits. The slider window seems to be a bit worse than the cab window. I attribute that again to the insulated cab shades vs. the cloth shade I have on the slider window. Also, you can see that the B-pillar seems to be quite warm. I’m not aware of a way to insulate that, but I could look into it.
Moving towards the rear on the passenger side, you can see the insulation I added to the sliding door seems to be holding its own, and the windows are the real culprits. You can see what appears to be a horizontal rib running back towards the bathroom. The bathroom itself seems to be fairly well insulated.
This is also the side of the vehicle with most of the water piping, so I’m particularly interested here. I had insulated underneath the galley where the pump is, and I don’t see much heat loss here. But just to be sure, I went inside and pulled the bottom drawer to get a look at what’s back there.
The water lines themselves seem to be warm enough, but where the floor peeks through, you can see that it’s quite cold. Again, I don’t know what to do yet about the floor. I suppose I could insulate under here from the inside. But then I also have to contend with things like this:
None of the rest of you will have this, but this is where the water lines run through the floor of our Travato. Right now, they don’t look like they’re in any danger of freezing up. But I can tell you, those metal cover plates felt COLD. I don’t think there’s room in those channels for insulation, so heat tape of some sort may be called for. The real cold spot in this picture though is the bottom part of the sliding door.
Other things I saw on the inside were interesting, but not really surprising. For example, you can really tell where the Truma system heater vents are.
And I’m losing quite a bit through the vent fans
And from this last bathroom picture, the one thing I’m taking away – again – is to make sure to properly winterize the exterior shower – it looks to run right through that coldest part of the bathroom.
So there you have it.
This was my first attempt at doing this, so I’m sure my technique will improve as I get more familiar with my IR camera. From my initial look at these, the four main things I’m looking into are:
- Properly winterize the exterior shower, and possibly add a shut-off for wintertime use.
- Insulate the driver’s side rear wheel well, which seems to lose a lot of heat.
- Possibly add additional insulation (Polyiso boards?) to the windows.
- See what I can do about heat loss through the floor.
But, I guess the big question is – if the Truma can keep up with freezing temperatures with only 700 watts of input, and the pipes don’t freeze, does it matter how much more insulation I add? I mean, sure, the floor could be a little warmer, but that’s what we make socks for, right?
Interested to hear your thoughts.