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How to Survive in a Rialta when it’s 11 Degrees Outside

January 9, 2014

It’s 11 degrees OUTSIDE, but 65 degrees in here!


Olympian Wave 3 Catalytic Heater. We removed the stock heater and mounted this to the wall over the hole using the existing copper gas pipe that fed the old one.

One of the upgrades I’ve been wanting to do on our Rialta has been to replace our stock heater which uses electricity to fan-force the heat with an Olympian Wave 3 Catalytic heater.  The Olympian models use propane but zero electricity.  The heat is radiant, like the sun.  Sounds warm don’t it?  So after reading a zillion reviews and getting a few blisters on my knuckles from all the hand-wringing I was doing thinking about killing my family by using all the oxygen or blowing us all up or something, we ordered the Wave 3 and installed it.

Then a cold front came through and the forecast for the overnight low was 10 degrees.  Awesome.

Well, our Olympian Wave 3 Catalytic heater, it’s pretty sweet.  Since we NEVER plug in to shore line power and ONLY use electricity we generate by driving around, the fact that it uses none is a big deal for us.  But the sun, it’s NOT.  Truth is, I probably should have gotten this guy’s bigger brother, the WAVE 6!  I realized in a hurry that this thing wasn’t going to cut it as we headed for the teens.  So I went full on Bill Nye and reasoned that if I couldn’t INCREASE my capacity for heat I was going to have to DECREASE the amount of square footage I was trying to heat.


First move?  I got these AWESOME little clips from a department store.  They were fifty cents each, and have a hole in the handle.  Perfect.


I dug up a few self-tapping screws and screwed them right into the wall.  I cannot express how much I love what these clips do for my life.  Putting those five little clips up was like installing a hidden wall in a  traditional dwelling.  I just find the biggest, thickest thing available (in this case a quilt my mom made years ago) and next thing ya know I have about 25 fewer square feet to heat – most of it windows!  Huge.  And as a bonus, it’s super helpful not just for temperature control, but that blanket also acts as a black out sheet.  Our other snap-up skirt is good for basic privacy.  But at night we all become silhouettes behind that thing.  Not so with Granna Niemyer’s quilt!


Quilt-Wall! Goes up in about 20 seconds (not including the time it takes to dig the quilt out).

Unfortunately, on a few of those cold nights even quilt-wall wasn’t enough because as the temperature kept dropping our little heater still wasn’t keeping up.  Time to cut another 70 feet off my space!  So I grabbed one of the girls’ sleeping bags and with much less permanence managed to drape it across the rear third of the RV from wall to wall.  That did the trick!  We made it even more cozy by putting extra towels, blankets, and pillows in all the drafty spots where cold air might seep in, and by covering up as much of the wood floors as possible as well.  Next thing you know we’re holding steady between 60 and 70 degrees, which is MORE than sufficient, especially for sleeping!  It did help that Carissa was working overnights during the entire cold snap, so we had fewer bodies crammed into one small area.  But the girls and I survived pretty nicely, got up the next morning and drove around a bit to heat everything up and we’re none worse for the wear.  In fact, it was kind of a fun little adventure trying not to freeze to death in there.  Success!

Here’s a video of what it was like:


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