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The summer time for many is the best time to travel. Sunny skies, cool breezes, and beach adventures. Its the perfect quintessential RV experience. Yet, sometimes it can be a bit intense. Especially if you are traveling to a place known for their hotter summers. In that case, it’s important to take precautions, primarily from the sun.
So, what are the best ways to protect your RV from the sun?
The most harmful thing from the sun to your RV are UV rays. Preventing UV rays from constantly beating down on your rig is the best way to prevent sun damage. RV covers, tire covers, roof maintenance and more are all ways this can be accomplished.
Let’s further explore each of these protective methods.
Should I Cover my RV In The Summer?
While most people realize that they need an RV cover for winter, they often overlook RV covers for the summer months. You wouldn’t do so while camping as that may be inconvenient unless you’re staying at one spot for a very long time. However, when storing your rig during the summer or simply having it parked near your home exposes it to the sun all the time. Covering it in those cases becomes almost essential.
Some RV covers come in the form of these long tarps that you can drape over your rig. These are not actually proper RV covers, but rather just a temporary form of minimal sun protection. They are better than nothing, but now what you’re looking for when choosing a proper RV cover.
Instead, what you’re looking for is a protective cover made specifically to protect your RV from the elements. They are lightweight, yet durable while also being breathable. This allows them to shield your RV from all weather anomalies than can occur in the summer, not just from the sun.
The most important thing you’ll want an RV cover for in the summer is protection from UV rays. The sun’s UV rays is the form of radiation responsible for creating Vitamin D and is responsible for tanning. While it has its benefits, UV rays in excess can be incredibly damaging.
For people they can cause skin damage, sun burn, premature aging and in severe cases, skin cancer. For your rig, it can cause your roof to crack, sealant to weaken (which leads to an expensive reseal), your paint to fade and potentially overheat appliances. If your RV’s roof is made from rubber, the sun poses more dangers to it and can weaken it even faster over time.
The rubber can shrink overtime due to sun damage and this will damage many of the appliances installed on the roof. Your vents and even AC unit can be impacted. With this in mind, An RV cover with polypropylene or polyester are what you’d want. Those materials are great for deflecting UV rays and make them perfect for a summertime RV cover.
Sunny days are not the only thing you’ll encounter in the summer. Depending on where you’re located, the summer can have a ton of humidity and even strong overnight rains. Heavy rains can cause water damage overtime, especially if your roof is not adequately prepared for it.
Moisture and condensation from humidity can also collect in small cracks on your RV, the perfect environment for mildew to grow. A tarp rather than an RV cover is a common cause for this mildew growth. The lack of breathability and adequate protection traps moisture onto your RV rather than dispelling it.
Dirt and Debris
An overlooked aspect of summer protection is dirt and debris. Just being parked under a tree can cause problems for your rig over time. First accumulating on the roof can begin to affect appliances and decrease the effectiveness of your roof vents. Low hanging branches and falling debris can damage, scratch and scuff up your RV. On top of all that, who wants a dirty rig and who want to be spending all their time constantly cleaning it? After all, camping is meant to be fairly relaxing.
An RV cover will not only protect your rig from all the problems associated with first and debris, but it will also save you from having to frequently clean it.
RV covers are a fantastic way to protect your RV from all the summer elements. However, it is not the only thing you can do to protect your rig.
Your rig’s tires are just as susceptible to the sun as the roof and frame. It’s super important that you take the time to protect them as the are what makes your motorhome a home on wheels.
If you have ever looked at older RV tires, you have probably noticed lots of cracks, tearing, bleeding and general wear and tear. You may assume this is due to just constant use, and while that definitely plays a part, a major culprit are UV rays. Just like your roof, UV rays can eat away at the rubber of your tires, causing the visible damage that you typically see in older ones.
Tire covers should be used when camping at one spot for a while or storing/parking your RV, just like a regular RV cover. They are easy to wrap around your tires and will do a lot to increase their longevity. Its a fantastic investment to make as they are very cheap compared to the cost of replacing tires.
The price of RV tire covers ranges around $30-50 each. This comes out to a few hundred for all of your tires. In comparison, one RV tire typically costs around $200. Easily meaning you’d be spending over a thousand dollars to replace most if not all your tires. Additionally, it is safer as by protecting them you decrease the risk of blowouts.
Another way to protect your tires from the sun is to spray them with sun protectant. These sprays can be used on most rubber, plastic or even vinyl surfaces, so they can even be used on your roof if it is made from rubber. However, considering the size of an RV roof, using it on the tires is far more practical. For extra protection, you can even spray your tires before covering them.
Protecting your tires from the sun is super important in keeping your RV in its best possible condition. However, one of the most crucial aspects of protecting your rig from the fun is to start with the roof.
How to Protect Your RV’s Roof From The Sun
The part of your RV most exposed to the sun is the roof. This makes it most prone to UV ray damage. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to specifically protect your roof the sun.
Keeping It Clean
Frequently cleaning your RV’s roof is a great way to protect it from sun damage. This may seem strange, obviously keeping the roof clean is a good thing but how does it specifically help against the sun?
Well, unkept roofs become damaged overtime due to environmental debris. They can create and exasperate existing cracks and holes and break sealant. This then weakness the structure of the roof, making it less resistant to sun damage. Cracks caused by lack of maintenance and cleaning can also be worsened by UV rays.
Keeping your roof clean goes beyond just UV ray resistance, but also in the ability to apply sealant. Sealant is in most cases going to be your roofs first line of defense against the sun. Sealant helps to not only add a protective layer for your roof, but keep it conditioned against natural wear and tear. In the case of rubber roofs, the sealant is great in patching cracks, which helps maintain the integrity of the roof and prevent water damage.
It is important to gently yet thoroughly clean your rig’s roof before applying sealant otherwise it won’t be nearly as effective. First and grime gets inside cracks, widening them but also making it inaccessible for sealant. Cleaning the roof clears them out so the sealant can do its job. Furthermore, it provides a clean slick surface for the sealant to remain on the roof. When using sealant, you have a few different options.
The most common are silicone based sealants. These are a good option as they are compatible with most roof types, however, they tend to retain moisture. If not careful, this can lead to excessive mildew and mold growth. When using a silicone sealant, it becomes extra important to use RV covers rather than tarps to allow for breathability.
The next are rubber and fiberglass roof coatings. Each is designed to be specific to the type of roof your RV may have. Rubber coatings should be used on rubber roofs and fiberglass coatings should be used on fiberglass roofs. Lastly comes dicor roof coatings. These have the added benefit of not just protecting your roof, but cooling it as well. This makes it a great option for those camping in extremely hot climates where cooling your rig becomes difficult for your AC unit to accomplish alone.
How To Keep My RV Cool In The Summer?
Speaking of cooling your RV roof, another way to protect your rig from the sun is to simply keep it cool. Protecting your rig from the sun’s UV rays is super important, but so Is keeping your rig from overheating. The sun can really begin to wear down on many of your appliances over time. Overheated electrical appliances can lead to wiring issues, power shortages, blown fuses, and in severe cases, electrical fires. Additionally, it can cause your AC unit to work beyond capacity which will quickly diminish its lifespan. With that being the case, let’s look at how you can keep your RV cool in the summer,
The AC Unit
The most obvious method in keeping your RV cool is the AC. However, there are some things you should be doing to keep it as powerful and efficient as possible.
The main thing you can do is keep the filters clean (assuming you’ve already purchased an efficient brand). Over time, the filters can become heavily clogged with dust and this affects the AC’s ability to adequately cool down a space. While your AC can run all day, forcing it to work harder for longer to achieve the same result is counterintuitive. It may even affect how cold the air of your AC can get.
All of this is not what you need on those sweltering summer days.
Being aware of how your RV’s ventilation works is crucial in both keeping it cool and keeping your AC effective. Having your windows option is a great way to circulate fresh air and cool your RV on warm days. However, in the summer when you need to crank your AC, do not do so with the windows open.
This is incredibly counter-productive as it forces your AC to constantly work against the influx of hot outside air. It becomes even worse if you are running your roof vents. Your vents are not traditional fans, they work to replace air by creating a vacuum in an enclosed space.
For your AC, this means the cold air its producing is constantly being replaced. Rendering it nearly entirely useless. Using your roof vents in conjunction with open windows is a great last resort if your AC is unable to work. However, as long as your have an AC unit, let it do its job.
Sunlight and the heat it carries often enter your RV through the windows, especially the main one in the front. While you definitely need it unobstructed while driving, the RV’s front window can be covered with reflective insulation to keep out all that excess heat.
At its best, reflective insulation can prevent around 95% of the sun’s heat from entering your RV. This in conjunction with your AC, is bound to keep you cool in the hottest summer days.
Summer travel is a time to make amazing memories and enjoy great weather. Its always important, however, to prepare for when that weather becomes a bit more intense. To keep your RV in good condition, and to keep your adventures as exciting as possible, taking the necessary precautions will go a long way. By making sure your RV is protected from the sun, you’ll be able to do nothing but enjoy the sun!