Tuesday, July 5, 2022


The mystery of the burning RV cover

By Chuck Woodbury
Now here’s a situation that you have likely never encountered: a brand-new RV cover, in this case a high-quality one from ADCO to cover a 37-foot travel trailer, that began to melt in an arc-shaped pattern across the cover for no apparent reason. See the damage in the photo.

This burning pattern stretched eight feet across the new trailer cover.

The next door neighbor of RV Travel reader Larry Lucas asked him if he had an idea of what might be happening. Lucas didn’t know. The men’s property is marked by a wooden fence.

The neighbor then called ADCO. They advised him to move the trailer. But “there was nowhere else he could park it,” said Lucas.

“It’s not a cheap cover by any stretch. I can’t believe this is the first time something like this has happened with ADCO with the thousands of covers they have manufactured.”

Finally, the two men solved the mystery. The sun, reflecting off Lucas’ upstairs window about 30 feet away, was causing this burn as the sun tracked across the sky. The photo illustrates how it happened.

The problem was solved, but raised a question in Lucas’ mind:

“I’m concerned as we have a ADCO cover, too. Could this happen from another RV parked next to ours or some other reflective surface nearby? Could this be a fire hazard?”

Have you ever seen something like this? If so, please leave a comment.

##RVT828 ##RVDt1404


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Stephen Willey
1 year ago

Yes, the sun reflecting off the rear facing curve f my motorcycle windshield made melt tracks across the plastic instrument panel. Took a while to figure that out. Now I cover the instruments with a durable panel, or put a helmet bag over the windshield every time.

Lorie Schink
1 year ago

We had this happen! It was the sun reflecting off of lights on a neighboring travel trailer that was stored behind us in the storage lot. It was quite the mystery for a while.

Dennis Babcock
1 year ago

I had this happen in the headliner of my 1998 Expedition. B4 back up cameras, I had a mirror (approx 5×8) I used to guide it into the trailer during hitch up. I’d clip to the back window with just enough rope to hold it at the right angle so I could see the ball in the rear view mirror. When I was done, I would always just toss it in the back. It was plastic so it had a slight curvature to it. Camping with friends one afternoon Bob says to me “Hey you have smoke coming out of your truck”. I looked, and sure nuff, I did. The mirror was positioned in the back such that the sun was hitting it and reflecting onto the headliner. You actually could see where it started wide and as the sun moved on the curvature it had focused it to a pinpoint. In a few more minutes it probably would have started on fire. Insurance company told me it was a first for them!

Ted DeGroot
1 year ago

Regarding the burned RV cover.
We had a mystery streak burned into a wood panel in our home. We always thought it was the result of the sun reflecting off something but could never prove it.

1 year ago

One year we had a dormitory fire, that thankfully was contained to one room. The girl had laid her eye glasses on the window sill and they caught the room on fire – just like using a magnifying glass to start a fire. The rest of the story: the room was totaled, all ashes. It was scooped out into a truck to haul off. The girl could not find her engagement ring. My wife and the girl sifted through the truck of trash and found the ring. I got to rebuild the room.

Vanessa Simmons
1 year ago

My son had vinyl siding put on his house. A few months later they noticed scorching on the siding. The sun was reflecting off the windows of the sun room and melting the siding. The siding company said that wasn’t supposed to happen…don’t know how but they fixed it.

Larry & Bev Lee
1 year ago

This is kind of a funny thing. Just last week, my wife almost burned her bible. She uses a looking glass to read her small bible. We had friends over for a visit when we notice a burn spot starting on the cover. We had a laugh move it inside. Might have actually burnt had we not been sitting there. hahahaha

Michael Gardner
1 year ago

I’ve seen it twice. One, a large window on an inside corner of the house “doubled” the light on vinyl siding and slightly melted it. In another, a window with a slightly concave surface regularly caused melted arcs in snow cover in the yard.

Scott R. Ellis
1 year ago

The odds of one parking their RV in the precise spot at the specific distance from a window/lens (focal length) require to do this are not zero, apparently, because here’s the photos. But the odds of it happening to you? Zero.

Donald N Wright
1 year ago

I have melted a strip of plastic siding on my house, I was using a solar oven, and the sun reflected off a reflector. With all the mirrored glass on hi rise buildings in Dallas-fort worth, there have been damages to buildings and cars.

4 years ago

This is exactly what happened to our ADCO RV Cover as well. We are using it to cover a 38 Ft Class A motorhome and started noticing burn marks that have just seemed to spread and couldn’t figure out what was going on with it. Seems to me this could be a fire hazard.

Chuck M
4 years ago

Campco Tire covers only withstand the sun for a few months.

4 years ago

There have been many worse cases of this, from Disney’s Concert Hall blasting neighbors, to this building that melts cars and ignites other buildings… https://www.nbcnews.com/widget/video-embed/46574659567

1 year ago
Reply to  Wolfe

Holy heck Batman. I had no idea those shiny glass buildings did this.

4 years ago

why do people use tarps , and things to cover RV’s and trailers ?
fix the roof and leaks !
its a better short term solution and leaves ur vacation ready to go in a minute

4 years ago
Reply to  G13Man

I cover mine between trips to save on the RV. My trailer is over 10 years old and it looks like new. Also it keeps it cleaner and less UV damage. Covering my camper has nothing to do with it leaking. Actually it saves on the caulk so I have less caulking repair to do.

1 year ago
Reply to  G13Man

Most people don’t put covers on their rvs to cover leaks on the roofs. They cover the rv to protect the finish from the punishing effects of the sun & wind over time. Especially in the south, the sun can destroy the finish on an rv over time. In the north, things like ice buildup during winter can also damage joints. Even the sun coming in a window can damage or fade window shades.

Ralph P
4 years ago

Fortunately, we did not have an issue with our RV but one day we noticed, while standing in our front yard about 50 feet away from a small oval, FLAT window on our second story, that we could literally feel heat due to the Suns reflection. Solar power….WOW!!!

4 years ago

My friend called me over to help him with a mystery. The foam pipe insulation he used to protect his hose from freezing was melted around his hose. No heat tape was involved, so he replaced the foam, only to find it melted in the same area. Finally traced it down to a neighbors mirrored window reflecting the suns rays on the foam.

4 years ago

I had a “high quality” ADCO cover for my travel trailer. It was used for two years from April through October in central Texas. The fabric on the sides of the cover, which was thick and seemingly of very high quality when new, became like tissue paper and ripped completely apart. I would recommend an ADCO cover only for RVs which are stored under a roof or indoors.

1 year ago
Reply to  Marmot

Same here in south central Virginia. After three years here it went into the dumpster. I have to replace the tire covers every four years.

4 years ago

I believe that the concave shape of the neighbor’s window glass (due to the vacuum between the panes) causes the reflected light to concentrate at the focal point of the curvature. moving the RV or placing a screen between it and the offending window would be the most effective solution to the problem.

Tom Gutzke
4 years ago

My son had a similar problem in his town house. A street light bulb was replaced and the globe was put back in a slightly different position. During winter the sun reflected off or through the prism-type globe of the street light and it reflected through his kitchen patio doors causing a burn pattern to his linoleum. It only happened a few days a year but you had to be home to see it.

4 years ago

My sister-in-law had an old barber chair in her living room in Pittsburgh. It was green vinyl with stainless trim. She began to notice burn marks on the vinyl. Finally figured out that at a certain time of year the sun was reflecting off the stainless and causing the burn marks. She covered the stainless trim on the arm with a cloth throw and problem solved. I have also seen news stories of vinyl siding being melted from a neighbor’s window reflection before. Not totally uncommon.

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