When we were planning our build, we had all kinds of questions about insulation: What’s the best material to use? Your incorrect with the issue of mood and rock wool. Where did you use it and how? Foam does not offer sound insulation and… Read more », I work at Eco-Building Products where I represent several product lines, including natural insulation, and we have more sheep wool customers every year who are using it for van, bus, and RV conversions. So glad this was helpful, best of luck with your build! Do we need a vapor barrier? Now, you can opt for either blown-in insulators that will be evenly spread under the caravan (just like when insulating the roof) or for some roll insulation with proper R value (like rock or glass wool). Both good things to note, I’ll make sure to update the post soon. Reflectix is a primarily a radiant barrier. It’s also more expensive than both fiberglass and sheep’s wool. Closed-cell polyurethane spray foam comes in two varieties: the big spray kits that professionals use to insulate houses, and the smaller cans of spray foam like Great Stuff. However, if research came out that ceramic paint is indeed effective, we could see it being used in conjunction with standard insulation as an exterior coating to prevent the metal body of your van from absorbing heat in the first place. Sheep’s wool is a sustainable product that insulates well, naturally manages moisture and condensation, and even helps purify the air in your van. Polyiso and XPS have much higher R-value per inch, can stand up to vibration, are moisture impermeable, and are generally far better choices. And here is a chart comparing the R-values of insulation that includes cork… Cork… Read more », How much do you recommend for a 136″ promaster? When warm, moist air from the living space reaches the colder metal of the van walls, it condenses into water and gets trapped, potentially causing rust and other problems over time. This is just plain wrong. Having thicker insulation on the ceiling helps keep this heat inside during cold weather. TL;DR: There’s a ton of great info on insulation in this post (including helpful charts and graphics!) Something went wrong. Truly above and beyond anything I’ve seen (and I’ve looked)! And when you’re building a van, R-value per inch is supremely important. i just duct taped my insulation between the van ribs instead of gluing it. You will also want to reduce thermal bridging as much as possible to prevent as much heat from escaping as you can. You could just cut… Read more », We are building out a Sprinter 170 and wondering about using Thermacork as insulation. VERDICT: There’s zero evidence this stuff works. Have found your blog so helpful, thanks for making all this information available! It’s very effective at reflecting radiant heat, but this goes out the window as soon as you put something on top of it. The chart below compares the R-value per inch and relative cost of some of the most common and most talked-about campervan insulation materials out there. If you plan to stay outdoors for most of the day consider leaving your heating on low. There are three types of heat transfer: radiation, conduction, and convection. If you’re somewhere without natural shade, you can create your own with an awning. Rather than gluing it directly to the wall. Thanks for the suggestion! We always appreciate input and new information! Hi Peter, thanks for reading! How much should we budget? I plan to live in a van near Fairbanks AK so this article was extremely interesting. On hot summer days, putting up your window coverings with the reflective side facing outwards will reflect radiant heat away from your van. You may also want to consider using a glycol-free caravan anti-freeze. [cladding] - both walls and roof. Can I ask how many cans of the 3M high strength 90 you ended up using? But, on the plus side, no HFCs are released in its production, so it’s relatively environmentally friendly! It’s also naturally resistant to mold and mildew, has some sound deadening properties, and even helps purify your air. This insulation setup should work very well for most people in most climates. However, they can use up a lot of energy so you may want to look for a cheaper alternative. Lizard Skin costs upwards of $180 for a 2-gallon bucket (you would likely need 8 gallons or more to insulate a van). All smooth wall, no cabinetry. Although XPS is slightly cheaper than polyiso by the sheet, it also has a slightly lower R-value per inch. Buddy heater. So the inside edges of the ribs are pretty much straight (vertical), the opposite edge follows the curve of the van wall top to bottom. Great stuff. But you say otherwise, so I’m a bit… Read more », Hi Kevin, getting things to conform to curvy walls is certainly one of the great challenges of building a van. So helpful! Thank you for a great site and all the great information. But yes, you can walk into a hardware store now and buy cork insulation! I am insulating my VW T5 and I am dealing with big empty spaces in the frame itself. Preventing the Waste Water From Freezing. One major drawback of denim when it comes to van builds is that it easily soaks up and holds onto moisture, so you definitely don’t want to get this stuff wet. I am using just a little spray foam in a can along the roof line edge to give the van roof sheet metal more support from the inside of the wall tops that don’t quite… Read more ». The best way for you to prevent these things from happening is to ensure your caravan is completely insulated and warm. There are a ton of different insulation materials available, from standard building insulation to experimental space-age compounds. And if you use rigid foam board insulation (polyiso or XPS), it’s entirely possible to fully insulate a van for less than $100. It is R-4. A well-insulated van is easier to heat and cool, stays warmer in the winter, and won’t heat up as quickly in the summer (although, preventing radiant heat from getting in through the windows is even more important in hot weather). We installed our fan before insulating, and insulating around the fan was a matter of cutting the insulation to shape (we used polyiso foam board). The manufacturer may let you visit the factory so you can check the quality of the build and the insulation being fitted. In truth, if there’s only one idea that you embrace for keeping a caravan warm in winter, this is the perfect solution. Get started today so you can get out there on the road! Here is some advice on how to insulate an RV in four key areas that’ll make your RV more energy efficient and save you money on propane, generator use, and electric hookups. Convection is how heat moves through a liquid or gas (like the air in your van) – think of warmer air rising to the ceiling while cooler air sinks to the floor. A good vent fan like the MaxxFan Deluxe 5100K is your best friend when it comes to moisture control. As we are going to be there in the winters, I would like advice on how best to add insulation. How to insulate a van with polyiso foam. The van will be primarily based in Southern California and most likely road trips during the summer months in warmer west side states. Hi Cara, thanks for commenting and glad the article was helpful! What Does Grade 3 Insulation Mean? I’m in the process of updating it to be more comprehensive and helpful, and I appreciate the info and the input. Even if you use polyiso as your primary material, we recommend using XPS under your floor because of its higher compressive strength. ?I would welcome any ideas,thanks in advance. It's on Hayling Island Hampshire. It’s too late for us to put sound deadener in the living space, but we plan on adding some to the cab in the future. We neglected to sound deaden our first time around, and immediately regretted it when we heard the road noise on the highway. The good folks at Havelock Wool have been working hard to reduce shipping costs for smaller “vanlifer” orders, and they are currently down to about 15% of the order total. But its only real upside is that it’s cheap. Hi! On cold winter nights, facing the reflective side inwards will reflect radiant heat back inside. If you can’t find polyiso in your area, we recommend going with extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam board. How many inches of wool batt thickness do you recommend? Thank you. Hi DHK, thanks for commenting! 1. to externally use boards or rolls of insulation materials, with battens and then waterproof with ? Putting something that doesn’t suffer from that as the very outer layer might make sense. Hi there– wondering how to properly insulate the ceiling (and therefore the entire van) with the presence of a ceiling fan. Fiberglass has a fairly low R-value per inch, meaning you need more thickness to get the same insulating value as foam board. Polyiso has the highest R-value per inch (R-6) of any common insulation, it’s non-toxic, easy to work with, and isn’t terribly expensive. Hi Lisa, Thermacork can be an excellent insulation material and it has many benefits. Caravans & Motor homes. They are about 1/2 ” thick and I have enough to cover most of the areas in need and even double it in some if needed. Hi Molly, there’s zero squeaking sounds from our insulation while driving. For the cab, we have a retractable Eclipse Sunshade mounted to the windshield and reflective coverings for the driver/passenger windows. Originally designed for use in clothing, Thinsulate has become increasingly popular in van builds of late. VERDICT: Better than fiberglass, but it’s too absorbent and mold-prone for general use in a van. Hi! Hope that clarifies! That’s crazy that yours has 4″ of rib space in the middle! It also sucks out hot inside air and pulls in cooler outside air, which basically takes the insulation out of the equation when it comes to heat escaping at night. It also won’t stand up to vibration as well as polyiso or XPS, and generally isn’t as durable. Rock wool is a more effective insulator than fiberglass, and it does a better job dealing with moisture. It also works well for insulating large cavities like the interior of door panels, because there will naturally be an air gap that allows it to hold heat in. So you can still mount things to the ribs, you’ll just have an extra layer in between – similar to screwing into studs through drywall in a house. While there are a lot of options out there, not all of them are good choices for insulating a van. I’m working on insulated window covers for the cold. If in cold weather: absolutely. VERDICT: An affordable and effective choice for insulating your van. I don’t know what they did after but that seems like a good idea to start with? Many people are happy to camp out all through the year and caravan sites all over the country are staying open for longer. Even in cold weather, it’s a good idea to run your fan every so often to pull out moisture. Your van’s windows are the biggest sources of both heat penetration in the summer and heat loss in the winter. Water is not absorbed by the product and I’ve never found told on the insulation even where told is present on the covering material. But the concern here would be if there is an air gap behind the foam insulation that could potentially trap condensation, which could cause rust over time. I’m curious, does the reflective side need to be exposed for the benefit – or if it’s covered with fabric, will it still work similarly? And it is any good for sound deadening in general for the van? But we’ve learned a bit since then, and here’s our updated step-by-step: Pro tip: Keep all your templates! Basically, you would make sure to measure/mark where exactly the ribs are, then you can use longer screws to go through your walls (or whatever else you’re mounting), the outer layer of insulation, and into the ribs. But because it’s so absorbent and relatively expensive, we don’t recommend insulating your entire van with it. Thanks for putting it on our radar! Most kerosene heaters fall into this category and can also run diesel if kerosene isn’t readily available. The EPA does not recommend using these products in place of bulk insulation, and there are even tales of quixotic homeowners insulating with only ceramic paint and having severe heating and cooling issues with their homes – not to mention pissing away thousands of dollars in the process. Hi John, thanks for your help. Just camping trips and long extended trips. 1/2 inch underlayment for a Sprinter van costs about $125. The big downsides for cork at this time, though, are cost and availability. We didn’t put any sound deadener in our van but we wish we had because the road noise is pretty loud (although some of that is due to the old, leaky door seals). If you’re concerned about VOC’s, air quality, and condensation inside your van – and if you prefer to use natural materials – then sheep’s wool is an excellent choice. It’s tough to give specifics without knowing the product you’re working with. Hope that helps! I agree that insulation alone doesn’t cut it most of the time, but I think insulation definitely has value, particularly in cold weather. One big benefit of sheep’s wool insulation is its breathability and moisture control properties. My Caravan is 36x12 2010. I’d personally choose vibration dampening mats + thinsulate for a cargo van conversion, not polyiso. I am in the planning stages of a cargo trailer conversion and have been researching for three months now. Hi Greg, thanks for commenting! We cover just about everything you need to know - from planning, to insulation, to solar and electrical, to picking appliances, to essential tools. You can't use multiple times the same shortcode. I had read that about polyiso but I had not heard that about XPS. In this post, we answer the questions that come up most frequently about insulating a van for vanlife. Argument 2: You don’t need a vapor barrier because permeability and proper ventilation will allow any moisture to escape. Insulating this thick will cost you some interior space, but if you typically find yourself in very cold weather then that may be a worthy tradeoff. Every insulation material has an R-value, which is a measure of the material’s Resistance to heat transfer. How do we go about installing it? At the bare minimum, we recommend installing curtains made out of insulating thermal fabric. I intend on having these sections fairly, if not completely sealed off from the living area, because they’ll be under wood paneling and other insulation, but you listed how toxic some things can be and how they can hold onto moisture, so which is best, just for door paneling? In a nutshell: Attach the foam to your walls with great stuff and screw in furring strips within 5 minutes of application to keep the great stuff compressed.. You can find polyiso at most big box hardware stores these days, but it can still be a bit tougher to find than other types of insulation. 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