Introduction to Van Insulation

So, before I dive into how Pamthevan’s insulation was done, I would like to give you a very quick introduction to why you might want to insulate your van and which options are available out there. I had absolutely no clue when I started.

WHY INSULATE?

  1. Condensation:

To make you understand why insulation is important, think about this scenario: it’s cold outside, you are waiting for somebody in your car and they are bloody late. You wait 10mn, 15mn, 20 mn. By the time your patience is nearly gone and you are ready to go imprecating, condensation will most likely have formed on the inside of your windows and passers by will be thinking you’re having a wild time in there.

Well, as you can imagine, sleeping all night inside a van (especially when cold) will produce LOADS of condensation. The last thing you want is to wake up at night with water dripping on your forehead and sleeping rolled in a cold, moist duvet. Cooking also produces water vapour, so even if you are not planning to sleep in your van but you are going to cook in it, insulation is a good idea.

2. Warmth / Coolness:

Insulating your van will help you keep it warm in winter and cool in summer.

3. Soundproofing:

Insulation will somewhat soundproof your van to a certain extent. This added benefit is great if you are considering using your van in more built up and urbanized areas and/or if you are a van party animal.

HOW?

There are loads of different material that can be used for insulating your van. Most people use a combination of two materials: a heat screen and a vapour barrier.

Heat screen:

  1. Natural wool used for lofts insulation.  This seems a very popular option as it’s relatively cheap, it’s found easily and is simple to fit. The main disadvantage of using wool though, is that it can have the opposite effect of trapping condensation. This can in the long term rot your van inside out. Not something I was particularly keen on doing.  Here is a van insulation done with wool insulation.

2. Rockwool used for lofts insulation. Cheap and easy to find but itchy, unpleasant and can lead to respiratory problems. No thanks.

3. Recycled plastic bottle loft insulation. This seems to combine the best of both natural wool and rockwool. It’s cheap, easy to find relatively eco-friendly and resistant. In fact why did I not use this instead?

4. Rigid panels such as Celotex. Those are great for larger areas like the sides and the roof. As the Kangoo is rather small,  has two sliding doors and four windows, the use of rigid sheets seemed quite unpractical.  They can be quite pricey, but if you have the budget they seem like one of the best option out there for medium to large sized vans. Here is an example of roof insulation done with Celotex.

5. Airtec insulation. Expensive but probably one of the best insulation materials in the market. It’s very thin but supposedly one 3.7mm layer corresponds to 65mm of Mineral fiber. Seems fairly easy to handle and very durable.

6. Expanding polyurethane foam.  Easy to use even in hard to reach areas, comes out of a can and just needs to be sprayed. It can be quite expensive but it’s supposed to be a very good condensation reducer. You will be spraying chemicals though, which to me does not sound like the greatest thing for your lungs. Here is a van conversion using this method.

7. Foam camping mats. Maybe the most unconventional material to use, but also one of the most cost effective in my opinion. Camping mats are cheap, made of foam but unlike rigid panels they are easy to cut and fit. They are not likely to absorb much water vapour.

Vapour barrier:

Double sided bubble wrap seems to the king here, as it’s very effective very easy to use and fairly cheap. I found mine at Homebase for £10 a roll (more information on Pamthevan’s insulation material here).

Other sites you might find useful:

-another insulation introduction from buildacampervan.com here;

-forum discussions on best insulation materials here and here.


 

-A ridiculous amount of coffee has been sacrificed to write this blog post so if you are feeling particularly generous, you can buy me one HERE .

You can also support Pamthevan’s adventures by visiting my Etsy shop HERE 


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