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Old 01-17-2022, 09:33 PM   #1
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Winter Camping in Jay Feather Micro

Hey folks. I have a 2022 171BH and it includes the optional Heat Pads. Iím not an expert and donít know how effective they are. Can I camp in Temperatures below freezing and the Heat Pads will keep the tanks from freezing? I just donít know how effective they are. One friend told me the will only help if the temp drops below freezing during the night for a few hours. Another friend said Iíd be fine if the temps were regularly below freezing. Iím not talking 0į, but rather teens and twenties. Thoughts from the more experienced? Thanks. Andy
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Old 01-18-2022, 04:20 AM   #2
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We did plenty of cold weather camping when we lived in the midwest. Our experience is that your tank heaters will prevent freezing within the tank at the temperatures in your post.

The place likely to freeze is the discharge pipes from the tanks to the dump hose connection. The farther away from the tanks your coneection is increases the chance of freezing.

I used to wrap the discharge pipes with an electric pipe wrap (something like this: https://www.amazon.com/WRAP-Pipe-Hea.../dp/B0002YWM2I), and then stuff an old blanket in the vee the pipes made.

That worked well for us at temperatures into the 20's.

Edit: Much of it was done at Hueston Woods SP, Eastfork SP, Rocky Fork SP and Cowan Lake SP. All not too far south of you. When it was below freezing and Grumpy drove through the campground he probably thought we were crazy.
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Old 01-18-2022, 09:37 AM   #3
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This is a fairly common topic. There is a lot of posts on this subject.

How cold do you plan to camp? Does your Micro have an enclosed underbelly? Do you plan to have an electric site?

We camp below freezing most years each spring and fall. We do not have any tank heaters, nor an enclosed underbelly. So far we have not froze up anything. The coldest overnight temps has been about 20 degrees, with the daytime highs on those days in the low 30s. I have to admit, I was a little concerned we would freeze up the tank that two nights (5 day dry camping trip). Normally we camp with overnight lows in the mid 20's with the daytime highs above 40 degrees. If you are going to camp for extended time below freezing (daytime highs are close to or below freezing) I would recommend dry camping.

Except for the tanks and FW tank low point drain, all our plumbing runs inside the TT.

Tips:
  • In the cool weather we make sure our FW tank is full, do not keep any hoses connected to the TT. The hoses will freeze first, and will take hours in the morning to thaw out. Disconnect your hoses, drain them, and coil them up and put them in your store hold.
  • Keep cargo hold doors closed and latched.
  • Cabinets with plumbing running through them, keep the doors ajar to allow a little more heat to access the plumbing.
  • FW tank, fill it full of water. Water has a lot of thermal mass, and freezes slowly from the top down, and will take a long time to freeze once the air temp reaches 32 degrees. Think about puddles.

Normally in cold weather the DW likes having an electric site. So we tend to heat with electricity, normally it keeps our TT nice and toasty during the day, and at night the TT can cold off a bit (we have a hybrid with tent ends). At night if one of us gets up to use the bathroom, we might turn on the gas furnace for a few minutes to help warm things up.

As for tank heaters. They are a silicone flexible pad. They have a tendency not to stay attached to the tank, due to the poor choice of adhesive. Most people say do not use them if the tank is empty. We use these pads at work on many of our processes, and we have not had any issues with them failing due to a lack of being attached to something or an empty tank.

Pipe fittings tend to be the first thing to fail if the plumbing freezes. The pex tubing can flex a lot and tends not to fail. The FW and waste tanks are big, if they are full, there is a lot of thermal mass, and will take a long time to freeze. Water Heater, if it is not being used, make sure to bypass it, and drain the tank. If your using it, it will not be an issue.

FW tank low point drain valve; I have been surprised, I have not damaged this valve. I am sure the water has frozen within this cheap valve many times.

If your daytime highs are going to be close to or below freezing, I would recommend draining the system, and dry camp.

Have fun cool weather camping
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Old 01-18-2022, 10:52 AM   #4
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There are extra precautions you can take like I am doing. I have a portable heater plugged into a thermostat plug that kicks on at 38 degrees sitting in my under belly and another in the basement where all my water connections are. I live in Kansas and have sustained the winter so far with temps well below what you are asking. Get yourself a really good water hose cuz the cheap ones fail to often.
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Old 01-18-2022, 04:36 PM   #5
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I should have added this in my post above: We didn't use our fresh water tank in those temperatures. The fresh water system was winterized and not used. We drank, cleaned, and flushed with bottled water.
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Old 01-18-2022, 10:31 PM   #6
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Thank you all for responding. And to answer a few questions, yes I have the heated tank pads and I have an enclosed underbelly. The sites we are planning to use have electricity so that sounds like a good thing from what I’ve heard. I’ve heard the same thing from folks that say they use their gray and black tanks, but not their fresh water. Bottled water only. And like a few mentioned, if you use your Fresh Water Tanks, fill them all the way up. And dump once, at the very end. I’m not planning on long trips, mostly 2-3 nights. I guess I’ll need to check the weather and decide if it’s ok to fill the water. Thank you all for responding. Andy
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Old 01-19-2022, 10:19 AM   #7
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I am not 100% sure as it seems a bit odd and different from all other trailers, but it says on our Micros the tank heaters are 120v (not 12v). So, if this is truly the case you would either need shore power or the generator or an inverter to run them all night/day.

Can anyone confirm if they are in fact 12 or 120v?
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Old 01-19-2022, 11:41 AM   #8
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I think I screwed up. Iím sorry. The Heated Tank Pads are not 12V. They are 120V so you would need power. In my case, thatís not a problem as Iím staying at state parks that remain open (most of them) but offer Electrical sites only. For others that are boondocking, you would need some other power source, such as a generator. I did not mean to mislead anyone! Sorry.
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Old 01-20-2022, 07:52 AM   #9
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I am officially confused with the standard tank heaters, not sure if they are 12v or 120v. I had the opportunity to go visit the trailer in its storage location. While there I wondered, can I turn them on. Well, sure enough yes.. at least it looks like yes. When I flip the little red switch the light comes on. I am going to reach out to Jayco about this as it would appear that they might be 12v. More to come (unless someone else has already confirmed with them one way or the other?)
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Old 01-20-2022, 08:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomC_AZ View Post
I am officially confused with the standard tank heaters, not sure if they are 12v or 120v. I had the opportunity to go visit the trailer in its storage location. While there I wondered, can I turn them on. Well, sure enough yes.. at least it looks like yes. When I flip the little red switch the light comes on. I am going to reach out to Jayco about this as it would appear that they might be 12v. More to come (unless someone else has already confirmed with them one way or the other?)
In the aftermarket world you can buy 12V DC and 120V AC tank heater pads.

From what I can tell, currently Jayco is using 120V AC heating pads. There was a time, when Jayco did use 12V DC heating pads. They can drain a battery fairly quickly.

The lighted switch does not mean much. The switch is powered via the 12V system and so is the little light. If it is a 120V AC pad (or water heater) there is a relays at or near the device it engages so the 120V AC circuit turns on. No 120V power, the light turns on, the relay flips but you have no 120V power to run the pad (or electric water heater element).
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