While these cooling tips are valid for all RV’s, I’ll be focusing on off-grid camping and boondocking. Those of us that frequent regular campgrounds with all their amenities have it much easier.
It is always difficult to stay cool in the Heat of Summer or warm when the temperature drops. The best we can strive for is a comfortable experience anytime we’re in our RV. But what do you do in a small van or Class B RV?
Before we talk about lifestyle changes, we have to discuss the structural composition of the vehicle. Unfortunately, many factory-built RV’s are still manufactured with little insulation, but with a custom van conversion we can add as much as we feel is necessary. The transfer of heat is a major concern, yet can be addressed with a variety of thermal insulation products. Continue reading 10 Cool Ideas To Lower Temperatures In Your RV
Thermal curtain between cabin and living area for more privacy and heat insulation from Fiamma.
PREVIOUS: Passive Cooling
This discussion here is not about the solution to the great insulation debate among RV’rs, but my personal view of the many topics involved when insulating an RV. The decisions I take are based on my preferences, my budget, my location(s) and how I’m going to use the van, thus your selection will definitely be different.
I’ll focus primarily on boondocking, where temperatures are mostly unregulated; if you’re spending most of your time on campgrounds, you may opt for more or less insulation materials.
A highly contested subject is the use of vapor barriers in an RV. I regard the outside metal skin of the van as the main vapor barrier, others would like to add a separate layer. The skin of the van will always sweat and some airflow is needed, for this condensation and the existing moisture inside the van, to escape, otherwise it will lead to moisture, mold and rust problems. An extra vapor barrier doesn’t make sense. Continue reading Insulating Your RV: Thermal Insulation
PREVIOUS: Acoustic Insulation
Insulating is only one approach to avoid heat gain/loss. Passive cooling techniques were developed for the home, yet also apply to recreational vehicles.
Cooling is enhanced through natural breezes or by fans that move the air; improved evaporation exposes the skin to dryer air as long as the humidity is not too high. Rising warm air flows out out the vehicle through the roof-mounted vent and that pulls in cooler air from lower ventilation openings.
To boost air movement, exit locations in the form of roof vents can be found in most RV’s, yet low placed entryways are virtually non-existent. Windows and doors take their place, but doors are often closed and windows are located fairly high in the walls of the van. A better solution may be to introduce a floor vent at the opposing end of the vehicle and away from the roof vent. Relatively cooler air from the permanently shaded area below the vehicle would be able to enter the vehicle here, move through the interior to the other end of the van, to exit at the roof vent location, either naturally or mechanically. Continue reading Insulating Your RV: Passive Cooling
Insulating an RV is a controversial subject among RV owners. With such a great variety of products and even more opinions about the ones to use, it’s unavoidable that individual choices will lead to multiple solutions, customized to local climates and personal convictions. But in the end, if it works for you, then it works great!
Cooling the RV starts with minimizing heat gain by using lighter colored vehicles to reflect as much heat as possible. Parking in the shade will reduce direct solar radiation and insulation limits any radiated and conducted heat gains.
To me, insulating an RV or Cargo Van involves more than just applying a layer of fiberglass insulation; attention should be given to both sound & temperature insulation. Several of the new European style vans are already equipped with some sound-deadening materials and combining them with temperature regulating insulation that has good sound vibration limiting properties is the ultimate goal. Continue reading Insulating Your RV: Acoustic, Thermal & Passive Cooling
RV fridges come in all sizes, and more importantly as a single 12V or three-way unit.
For years, the three-way fridge has been the traditional unit for use in RV’s, yet it had two major drawbacks:
- The absorption type fridge requires leveling of the vehicle.
- It has complicated power source requirements: 12V + 120V wiring and propane tanks.
That all changed with the advent of the Danfoss compressor. Refrigerators equipped with these compressors are energy efficient, highly reliable and compact. Connected to batteries, as a 12V power source, these fridges can run for days and indefinitely when connected to solar panels. No more restrictions when traveling through tunnels (propane) and more opportunities to build a propane-free conversion van. Continue reading RV Fridge Checklist: How To Store Your Food On The Road
When you’re seriously considering to transform your cargo van into a full-fletched RV, you really have to pay attention to your SAFETY during and after the conversion. You know, whether you’re clumsy, impatient or don’t know how to hold a hammer. In that case, this undertaking is not for you. Go and buy a fully converted van from a professional or just put a mattress and porto-potti in the back of your van.
Continue reading Cargo Van Conversion: Safety First!
In planning the upcoming conversion, one of the first issues I have to look at is insulation. While insulating an RV tends to be against heat loss and cold, more and more conversions nowadays incorporate some sort of soundproofing.
Very popular materials are Dynamat, Fatmat and the poor man’s Peel & Seal. Popularized with car audio installations, these products are finding their way into the RV business. High-end audio listeners appreciate the sound improvements these products can offer in passenger cars or trucks where they mainly dampen the redistribution of sound through vibration.
Continue reading Is RV Soundproofing Really Essential?
How To Stay Warm In Winter
STAYING COMFY IN A RV DURING THE WINTER MONTHS IS ALWAYS A CHALLENGE. EVEN THE SNOWBIRDS THAT GO WAY SOUTH ARE SOMETIMES CONFRONTED WITH A COLD SPELL OF A FEW DAYS.
Staying warm during such a period can be difficult, yet good planning of your van conversion will keep your Cargo Van and you nice and cozy.
Heating issues are common in RV’s, where manufacturers seldom make an extra effort to upgrade the wall, floor and ceiling insulation, which leaves the occupant vulnerable when no electricity is available. With full hook-ups there is seldom a problem, yet many of us with smaller sized RV’s frequently like to boondock and are struggling to stay comfortable.
Continue reading Heaters for the RV
Before continuing with the other side of the van interior, it’s time to put the wall and window above the bed, back together again.
Two issues remain: the battery cables and the solar controller cable need to be installed. The other is the decision I have to make, whether to go ahead with batting as insulation or choose a foam product.
Despite some negative comments about the batting material, it has served me well over the years. On the other hand, spray foam would do a better job in filling all the little air pockets in the walls. Some people, however, have mentioned a squeaking noise while driving. Have you any thoughts about it?
The original wall panel is still around. The covering is removed and the plywood base is what we have to work with. I could copy it to a new, one-piece sheet of plywood, but it is in a condition to be reused.
Continue reading Bed, Wall & Window