The RV Industry Association (RVIA) is predicting total shipments of RVs will once again exceed 500,000 units in 2022. Annual RV shipments have hovered between 500,000 and 600,000 units for the last five years. While this is fantastic news for the RV and camping industry as a whole, it is putting strain on campgrounds across the country during peak travel months. As a result, more and more RV owners are looking to avoid the crowds of Summer and expand the use of their RVs into the cooler months of the year. For these travelers, heating systems become a critical requirement to ensure their safety and comfort while camping in lower temperatures.
Truma developed the first portable heater for caravans in 1961 for the European market, and we have been designing and perfecting the technology of RV heating systems ever since. One of the many things we have learned in that time is that the technology is only as good as its implementation. The size, layout, and structural materials of an RV affect the heating system’s performance and the unit’s ability to retain heat.
Developing an RV that can withstand cold temperatures takes a collaboration of resources. Truma offers our RV manufacturing partners the opportunity to test their units in our state-of-the-art climate chamber. The chamber in our Elkhart, Indiana, is large enough to accommodate vehicles as large as Class A motorhomes and gives the ability to simulate virtually any climate. The climate chamber allows us to put the RV in frigid temperatures to either confirm the design and layout are performing as intended or test the unit for Truma’s Cold Weather Certification.
Using tests based on international standards for certification, RVs can receive either Gold Standard or Silver Standard Certification. An RV that meets the Gold Standard starts in the chamber at 5°F (-15°C) and reaches an internal temperature to 63°F (20°C) in 4 hours or less. An RV that meets the Silver Standard has a starting temperature of 32°F (0° C) and reaches an internal temperature to 63°F (20°C) in 2 hours or less. These certifications show the consumer the level of quality behind the construction of the RV and that they can count on reliability and comfort when they find themselves in any conditions while traveling.
All tests begin with a complete exterior and interior evaluation to ensure the RV and all of its systems are in good operating condition. Then, we place up to 22 temperature sensors throughout the RV in critical locations to ensure that the system is distributing heat evenly to avoid hot or cold spots. Once we prepare the RV for testing, we “temperature soak “the RV for a minimum of 10 hours in the climate chamber until the interior temperature of the RV matches the ambient temperature of the chamber.
The actual test lasts a minimum of 4 hours to get the RV up to the desired temperature. We use the readings from the sensors to chart a graph of the atmosphere inside the RV and how long it takes for the RV to reach the set interior temperature. This first confirms the ability of the vehicle to hold the heat the heating system is producing into the living areas. We also measure airflow from each outlet to confirm the balance of the layout and even distribution of heat. We then use thermal imaging to highlight areas that may need attention.
All data is then recorded by our testing team and presented in a full report to our manufacturing partners, along with recommendations for improvement if needed. In some cases, Truma’s experienced technicians can make modifications on-site for immediate retesting to ensure the RV and heating system are meeting the expectations of our team, our manufacturing partners, and ultimately the RV owner.
Owners of RVs that have earned the Truma Gold Standard or Silver Standard certification can rest assured their RV, and Truma heating system will exceed their expectations. Their RV will keep them safe and warm even in cold weather conditions, opening up the possibility of year-round camping and an increased return on their investment.