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RV covers – Are they a good thing?

By Chris Dougherty
Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is a question he received from several readers while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor.

To cover or not to cover? That is the question. I’m often asked if it’s a good idea to cover an RV during the winter.

There are a number of commercially available RV covers. Some are better than others, as the better ones allow for evaporation of moisture and are tear resistant. Some even have zippered doors which allow entry to the coach while covered. In some cases, the cover is made specifically for the coach it is going to cover.

There are pros and cons to covering an RV during the winter, and here are a few.

On the pro side, a cover will certainly keep environmental fallout from coming down on the coach. In the snowbelt, accumulated snow won’t have an opportunity to melt and come into seams on the coach. Leaves, pine needles, branches and so on won’t find their way onto the coach. When you remove the cover in the spring, the coach is, in theory, as clean as when you put it away.

On the opposite side of the scale, covers can be difficult and, indeed, dangerous to put on, requiring climbing all over the coach and on the roof. Tarps, especially, can hold moisture underneath them from condensation, which can lead to mildew if the cover is left on too long in the spring. Tarps can be difficult to keep on the rig through the winter: they often blow off, or shred, unless tied down very thoroughly.

If you are going to use an RV cover, here are a couple of suggestions. First, make sure your coach is clean and dry before applying the cover, including the awning(s). Second, make sure the cover is secured properly. Protect the cover from any sharp corners, like from solar panels, brackets, etc. Put any antennas down flat against the roof. Keep roof vents open a crack to allow air exchange. I know some folks who use chemical dehumidifiers inside their RVs with good success.

If you’re using a commercial RV cover, be sure to follow their directions for securing the cover to the coach. Don’t leave the cover on too long, so mildew doesn’t form underneath. In the southern climes, I definitely recommend purchasing one of the commercial covers with the breathable fabric to help eliminate the mildew factor. Perhaps even put an electric dehumidifier in the coach to help keep it clean and dry.

So, to cover or not to cover is basically up to you. Armed with a few facts, you’re sure to find the best way to protect your RV when you’re not using it.

Related:

Ask Dave: Should I cover my RV when stored outside?
RV covers on Amazon

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DW/ND
1 month ago

I bought a cover for our 34′ Class A several years ago – it’s still in the box. I have a couple questions about covers: 1. How do you wash or clean it? and 2. How do you shovel the snow off? Living in ND we get copious quantities of snow and I, (normally) shovel or brush off several times a season to reduce the weight. I also have to wash the roof spring and fall – how would you wash a 35′ cover? I think another “con” is how many people it takes to put it on and take it off and how do you roll it up and store it in the off season.

Also, I use the chemical dehumidifier buckets; have no problems, however typically ND humidity is very low in the winter.

Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  DW/ND

Fred in NW Minnesota here. I’ve never found a need to wash our Adco cover. We remove it in the spring when the ground is dry and roll it up the best we can and stow it in a big plastic wheeled trash can. I remove snow using a 10′ aluminum step ladder and a modified aluminum roof rake. I shortened the rake part from 24″ to 17″, making it much easier to maneuver on the roof. I also cover the TV antenna with a plastic tub turned upside-down. My wife helps me putting the cover on and taking it off. Our motorhome being 24′, is most likely much easier than dealing with your 35′. I’ve never found a need for dehumidifying in winter. I just crack a window and a roof vent for ventilation. Good luck!

Kathy Niemeyer
1 month ago

I have used pool noodles or pipe insulation covers on the corners of my motorhome. This is an area that the RV cover always seems to rip. This worked great for many years. Now with my new motorhome I keep it in a covered garage.

Irv
1 month ago

If your RV has colored gel coat sides, you absolutely need a cover to minimize oxidation of the gel coat.

Donald N Wright
1 month ago

I used to cover my Aliner popup trailer, not for our winter storms, but for the Texas summer heat. One problem is the square corners of the Aliner cut through the fabric. Everything changed when I learned it was better to leave the Aliner set up instead of closed down when parked. Closed, the springs either lose their “lift”, or the cheap wood the springs are attached to might split, and the springs pop out through the sides of the camper. Best to store set up in a closed garage where the mice can live in it.

cee
1 month ago

I purchased an ADCO cover specifically designed for my 25′ MH. I live in the north where the snow that falls in October doesn’t melt until May so a cover is necessary to protect your investment. It’s an effort to put the cover on but it certainly pays off by protecting against possible/probable leaks.

But as of 2 months ago I can say good-bye to the cover. I built what I refer to as the “bus barn”, a 36′ x 36′ shed. I had a 30/50 amp pedestal installed. I could have bought a lot of covers for what it cost, it was definitely worth it. So very happy with it! And the cover prevented short winter camping trips… not anymore. I had a 30/50 amp pedestal installed.

Last edited 1 month ago by cee
Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

In over 25 years of RV’ing with travel trailers I have never put a cover on our trailer. We’re in northern Nevada. One of the biggest “cons” for me is, if the trailer is covered we’re not taking any spur of the moment trips. Too much of a hassle to get the cover off, and then put it back on.

Fred
1 month ago

Here in NW Minnesota, we’re in our sixth winter season using the SAME Adco cover for our 24′ class C. I protect wear areas (ie: rear ladder, exhaust pipes and rear bumper ends) with foam pipe insulation strapped on. Granted, the motorhome is fairly well protected from winds, and I pull accumulated snow off the roof. For us, protecting the investment with a commercial cover is smart maintenance.

tom
1 month ago

In the Coastal South, an Electric Dehumidifier is a must. In storage, mine runs all the time. Empty it about by routing the drain into the black water tank.