Now that we understand how basic heat transfer works, let’s take a look at the insulation materials we can use to slow it down. Take care to use the correct adhesive - contact adhesive, such as Evostick, is usually recommended. Excellent presentation. I’m anxious in a good way! We neglected to sound deaden our first time around, and immediately regretted it when we heard the road noise on the highway. [cladding] - both walls and roof. In the future, we hope to buy a cheap van shell and run tests on insulation materials and other things, so stay tuned! Installing a good ventilation fan will really help you control the temperature in your van. Because of convection, the heat inside your van naturally rises upwards. You can always add more after it sets. However, the Great Stuff also works really well as adhesive for the foam, and that’s what we would do today (in fact, we installed insulation in a buddy’s van using this method). I had read that about polyiso but I had not heard that about XPS. It has an impressive R-value per inch at R-6, it’s fairly easy to work with, and it’s affordable. And if you use rigid foam board insulation (polyiso or XPS), it’s entirely possible to fully insulate a van for less than $100. EPS works fine, and it’s super cheap. Any thoughts? This is why you should consider switching to propane. If you’re dealing with humidity or condensation, running your vent fan will help pull moist air out of your van. Do you reglectix over the ribs to break the thermal barrier? Denim has the same R-value per inch as fiberglass, but it’s quite a bit more expensive (although it’s cheaper than rock wool). What’s your opinion on putting a layer of sheep’s wool batting under the plywood floor? I understand what you’re going for here and that most people aren’t familiar with terms like “thermal conductivity”, but its important to understand as there is a little misguided information in this otherwise well-written article. If you… Read more ». Quality insulation is paramount for the unit’s lifespan. However, we may consider adding it to this comparison in the future. Then, install another layer of ½” to 1” foam board covering the ribs. We recommend using ¾” to 1” polyiso or XPS foam board to insulate your van, glued in place with either Great Stuff spray foam or 3M High Strength 90 spray adhesive. So I expect to spend time in some… Read more ». Fiberglass can be an inexpensive way to insulate, but there are some cons to be aware of. Sheep’s wool is a sustainable product that insulates well, naturally manages moisture and condensation, and even helps purify the air in your van. With a spreadsheet, of course! 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. Posted in Epic Guides / Heating & Cooling / Van Build, By John Serbell  /  175 Comments Last Updated July 21, 2020, This post may contain affiliate links. You will also want to reduce thermal bridging as much as possible to prevent as much heat from escaping as you can. Contact cements melts xps. The good news is an insulation bag can make a world of difference. Hi Brayden, in general we’re not the biggest fans of fiberglass insulation, but it ultimately depends on you and your build. VERDICT: Recommended for window coverings and large cavities. Hope that helps! We're always working to make our content better - and we're so glad you found it useful! Lizard Skin costs upwards of $180 for a 2-gallon bucket (you would likely need 8 gallons or more to insulate a van). It does a great job as a window covering, but as soon as you stick it behind your walls without an air gap it becomes effectively worthless as a radiant barrier and you only get the benefit of its low R-value. Excellent article. We have a Fan-Tastic Vent installed on our van that works well, but we recommend going with a MaxxFan Deluxe due to its built-in rain cover and lower profile. 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? The insulation itself will provide some sound deadening, but adding a dedicated sound deadener like Noico’s sound deadening mat to your van’s bare metal before insulating will help keep road noise to a minimum. Although XPS is slightly cheaper than polyiso by the sheet, it also has a slightly lower R-value per inch. renovating an old New Zealand camper from the 70s this video is doing a little bit of framing and a little bit of insulating with polystyrene insulation. Here’s How We Recommend Insulating Your Van: How much does it cost to insulate your van? Thank you for doing this. For example, 1/2 inch of Polyiso is about R-2.5, whereas 1 inch of Polyiso is about R-6. Not so expensive, but R value is big and it is really easy to instal. The pipes need the insulation tubes too. You could just cut… Read more », We are building out a Sprinter 170 and wondering about using Thermacork as insulation. So the space to be insulated varies from @ 2″ at floor, @ 4″ mid way up, to @ 1″ at the top. I do own caravan and it's 34ft x 14ft. Planning a van build? That’s crazy that yours has 4″ of rib space in the middle! TL;DR: There’s a ton of great info on insulation in this post (including helpful charts and graphics!) If you do not have or don’t want to purchase an insulation bag simply wrap it in old coats or duvets or even bubble wrap. Thanks for the comment! If you spend a bunch of time and money insulating but don’t do anything with the windows, your van just won’t be nearly a comfortable as it could be. Interested in vanlife? Out of interest, if you were to go down the ‘Extreme Cold’ route with a layer of insulation over the top of the ribs, how would you recommend attaching battens/cupboards/walls since there won’t be any surface area left? The best insulation cannot be effective if there are other ways for the warmth to escape. However, if you go this route it is vitally important to properly install your foam board so that there is no possibility of moist air becoming trapped behind it. It’s basically the same stuff as typical styrofoam. Do you run electrical wiring after insulating? It stands to reason that it would work well in vans also. I was thinking of using 2 1/2″ thick rock wool against the outside with 1/2″ foam board on the interior side and maybe a vapor barrier in between. Similar to Reflectix, there is a lot of opinion and “prevailing wisdom” floating around out there – some of which, on further reflection, may have potential flaws. how can i best insulate my static caravan? Insulating a static caravan Reasons to improve the insulation under your static caravan. Conduction is heat transferred through solid surfaces – think of when you touch a hot cast iron skillet and burn your hand. 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? But what if you spend most of your time in areas that are extremely cold or extremely hot? I’m in Yellowknife NWT Canada (quite cold in winter). This is actually one time you may want to consider using Reflectix with an air gap between your van’s metal walls and the Reflectix. At the bare minimum, we recommend installing curtains made out of insulating thermal fabric. I knew I’d like the blog when I scanned through it and saw your diagrams explaining the types of heat transfer, the importance of catering for condensation and the discussion surrounding vapour barriers. Having thicker insulation on the ceiling helps keep this heat inside during cold weather. What Does Grade 3 Insulation Mean? After all your insulation panels are installed, fill any gaps with spray foam. You guys have a YouTube channel to tune in to watch or is your blog your only out? Can you email me pls at soulgirl1961 at Message posted by Acesiena 03/9/2016 at 11:55am 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. Hi Olive, so glad our blog has been helpful! 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. And when it’s hot, a ventilation fan can suck out the warmer air near the ceiling while pulling in cooler air from a floor vent or cracked window. Hi TAK, you are correct, radiant barriers need an air gap to be effective. Because of its high R-value per inch and fairly low cost, XPS is an excellent choice for van insulation. Install each panel one-by-one. 1. Am I over thinking the insulation? Want to see where these numbers are coming from? If you choose to insulate your floor, we recommend using ½” XPS due to its compressive strength. **Note: While we generally think polyiso is the best overall choice for foam board insulation, if you’re regularly in extreme cold environments you may want to consider XPS instead. I think you’d be better off using rigid foam board (polyiso or XPS) rather than trying to mess with Reflectix and air gaps – it will be easier, cheaper, and will provide better insulation. Hi Jaclyn, thanks for commenting! Wander Pupdates by Nymeria: What Does a Dog Need for Vanlife? I've not seen them insulate over the top of a caravan like this, but I'm sure you could do it with a motorhome, and throw a … Foam insulation in general (boards, spray, etc) does help a bit with sound dampening, but if we did it again we would add some dedicated sounded deadening material directly to the metal van walls before insulating. Buying the ceramic additive and using it with your own paint is much cheaper, but there’s still no evidence that it does anything at all for temperature control (in fact, just the opposite). However, you need an air gap of at least 3/4″ for the foil to have any effect – and since air gaps are typically a waste of much-needed space in van insulation the foil will basically be a non-factor as far as insulation. Get started today so you can get out there on the road! Underfloor foil insulation, benefits caravan owners in many ways such as: Prevents moisture from penetrating the floor. While foam is poor at sound insulation, you can easily apply sound deadener material like Noico or Peal ‘n’ Seal prior to applying foam. If Installing EcoPro onto the walls of your Static Caravan we would recommend the following; Staple EcoPro directly onto the studwork of your Static Van. This also eliminates draughts and moisture from entering your living space. If you choose to use sheep’s wool insulation, you can find some helpful installation videos here. I am just starting my DIY conversion of my newly purchased 2006 140″ sprinter. My van is a 90’s cargo van with curved walls. If you’ve watched any van build Youtube videos, chances are you’ve seen someone insulating their van by gluing Reflectix up against the metal walls with paneling right on top of it. If you plan to stay outdoors for most of the day consider leaving your heating on low. Well, you may have to change things up a bit or put more focus into mitigating certain things. email me [email protected]. In extreme cold, you’ll also want some sort of active heat source like a Mr. Get 10% off solar and more with the coupon code GNOMADHOME, curtains made out of insulating thermal fabric, polyiso’s R-value decreasing in very cold temperatures, Installing a Vent Fan on Our High Top Conversion Van, When Positive Life Changes Bring Unexpected Obstacles, Why We Chose a Badass Truck Camper for Van Life, Being Like Water: Reflections on Fear, Obstacles and Life, Our Adventure Becoming South Dakota Residents. To answer these questions, it helps to understand a little bit about how heat transfer works. This would be a good choice for insulating door panels, but foam board is still a better (and cheaper) choice for the rest of your van. VERDICT: If you’re going with foam board, there are much better choices. Below, we dig a little deeper into each of these materials and their recommended uses. 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. That said, it’s… Read more ». This thermal bridge reduces the overall effectiveness of your insulation, since heat can go around it to a certain extent. It’s very effective at reflecting radiant heat, but this goes out the window as soon as you put something on top of it. It’s also much more environmentally friendly than XPS foam board, but not nearly as environmentally friendly as sheep’s wool insulation. 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. Best of luck on your build! Really hope that LizardSkin stuff turns out to be REAL. How to Insulate Windows. 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). Does the polyiso foil side face toward the van or toward the inside cargo area? VERDICT: Great product and good for nooks and crannies, but there are cheaper choices for the rest of your van. Radiators and Convectors. Rather than gluing it directly to the wall. The biggest sources of radiant heat in your van are the windows, which allow sunlight to pass through and heat the inside. Repeat these steps with each additional panel. How to insulate a van with polyiso foam. It also works as a sound dampener. The synthetic fibers it’s composed of do not retain moisture, but they do allow it to pass through – meaning Thinsulate will not trap condensation behind it. 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? Therefore, you should skip the vapor barrier and make sure your van has good ventilation and drainage, so that any moisture will just evaporate back into the living space. There are several vanlife-related Facebook groups that you can pose this question in, and hopefully someone there would be able to help. But because it’s so absorbent and relatively expensive, we don’t recommend insulating your entire van with it. ), Lizard Skin and Other “Insulating” Ceramic Paints. An excellent article with some great advice and tips that i will definitely be following! Your van’s windows are the biggest sources of both heat penetration in the summer and heat loss in the winter. Using foam board, you should be able to fully insulate your van for about $150 to $250 (we spent about $150 to insulate our standard wheelbase Chevy Express). In contrast, grade two insulation will keep the inside of a caravan warm when the outside temperature is 0 degrees. We can slow this process of heat transfer by insulating the walls and ceiling. When we’re in hot weather, we run our vent fan literally 24 hours a day and it works wonders. Most outbound links are affiliate links – we may earn commission. Hey there! Thinsulate is attractive because it combines decent insulation properties with sound deadening and moisture control. Any ideas how I can warm up my static day living caravan from the bottom up. Thanks for sharing the info. I am in Tennessee. Rock wool also has some emerging health concerns, so if you use this make sure to wear protective gear and seal it off completely from the rest of your van. No matter what kind of setup you have, we highly recommend installing reflective window coverings if you spend time in hot weather. You can … I’ll probably follow this exactly. Would you recommend some RockWool/or other stuff and close of the holes with aluminium tape? My question on the the gluing of the polyiso would you get a better radiant barrier if you had an airspace between it and the backside (exterior skin)? When you stuff insulation between your van’s frame ribs but don’t do anything to the ribs themselves, the frame then becomes a thermal bridge. So this is not expensive. I’ll look forward to your follow-up post! It’s also toxic and a pain to work with. If you choose the best coatings for your RV roof repair, you could save money in the long run. Sheep’s wool can absorb moisture in the air without compromising its insulation abilities, and it will wick condensation away from your van’s metal wall. Putting something that doesn’t suffer from that as the very outer layer might make sense. Spray foam is great insulation, and if you’re okay with the extra expense and installation process then it can be a good choice. A lot of static caravan parks experience high levels of ground water and this means that moisture underneath your van can cause problems inside if it permeates through the floor. When you put Reflectix directly against your van’s walls, you’re now dealing with conduction and the R-value comes into play. Hey just wanted to post a side note to the great stuff spray foam… make sure it’s a nice warm day and it sets up so that you don’t have it seeping from the walls later after it warms up. Then paneling. W_O_W! Hope that helps! Did you also look at the acoustic insulation properties of the various materials? We recently redid our floor, and we used this stuff called Peal and Seal for sound deadening, which is basically aluminum roof flashing tape that we picked… Read more ». It’s fairly cheap, has a high R-value, and will help slow heat transfer into your van through the metal walls. And the van will be traveling all over America, north central and south, for a full time living. But, that’s only really an issue if you don’t have any sort of active ventilation. Truly above and beyond anything I’ve seen (and I’ve looked)! You can reuse them later when you install your wall paneling and your flooring. I’m sure it would provide some insulation value, and would be especially good on the floor. Our Foilboard insulation sheets can be custom designed to fit perfectly under the floor of any caravan to ensure that the caravan regulates thermal temperature through the flooring. But if you instead used 1/2″ XPS foam sheets, you wouldn’t have to build a frame, you’d save 1/2″, and you’d… Read more ». For instance, in the dead of winter when pushed up against an ice cold metal van skin. Here are a few things you missed: Polyiso loses 25% of its R-value when the material gets really cold. Rockwool or spray foam are good choices for filling your frame (just be aware that spray foam expands drastically). The insulation in our van is R-5, and we’ve found that we can stay fairly comfortable down into the mid-low 30’s without kicking on our propane heater. We sent you an email to confirm your subscription (if you don't see it, check your "promotions" folder). There’s something to be said for Thinsulate’s moisture control properties, but in our opinion it’s just too expensive for general use in a van. Lol Great blog and the info is just laid out very well with descriptive details… Read more ». The big downsides for cork at this time, though, are cost and availability. I greatly appreciate the tips!!! If your ceiling fan is already installed, you can insulate around the fan opening. I can’t find any indirect coolers at 12v. Hi Zach, I would personally face the foil side in towards the ply, and make sure to seal any gaps in the polyiso with canned spray foam and foil tape. Windows in the colder months most people in most climates we recommend using fiberglass in your.... 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