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More and more full-time vandwellers, people living the weekend warrior life and outdoorsy people are choosing the sprinter camper van as their adventure bus. And we can see why, we’ve already shown you some amazing Mercedes sprinter conversions such as the Mercedes Benz Sawtooth conversion, the sprinter conversion moving house and the Sith-style conversion that lets you live the Darkstar van life. So why are so many van life influencers and adventurers choosing the sprinter van over a more traditional RV or something like an airstream camper to be their tiny homes? Read on, and we’ll tell you why.
Why Choose a Sprinter Camper Van?
When you think of sprinter van, it’s likely that a white, dirty and slightly battered builders van is going to come to mind. A workhorse, something practical, durable and reliable, but not something that you’d want to sleep in. However, it is these qualities that make the idea of a sprinter camper van so attractive. The Mercedes makes a practical camper van as it’s so easy to drive. No more struggling up hill or getting stuck on a tight, twisty country lane. No more dreading the drive and just wanting to get to your camping spot as quickly as possible because driving a sprinter camper van is like driving a car, only without the rear view mirror!
Sprinter work van are durable, they’re known for driving hundreds of thousands of miles without a problem. Having a reliable van is so important, and this is another point in favour of the sprinter camper van. Sprinter vans are a globally recognised vehicle, Mercedes produce their cars and vans all over the world, and there is a reason for this, they’re good. Years of experience means they create the best and most popular van there is to offer, so it makes sense to turn it into a camper.
This also means that if you have any problems while travelling in your sprinter camper van the chances that you’re going to be near a Mercedes garage are pretty high, and if not, most garages will stock any parts you might need anyway.
Sprinter Camper Van Interiors
There is another reason why the sprinter camper van is seeing a recent surge in popularity, and it has nothing to do with the mechanical excellence of Mercedes sprinter camper conversions, or anything to do with how safe and easy sprinter vans are to drive. It is because the sprinter camper van is just, well… cool. More and more young people want to get outside, to step away from their computers and TVs and to breathe in the fresh air, discover new places and take in amazing views.
Adventuring, exploring and, along with it, ‘motor-homing’ is so desirable right now but motor-homing sounds too old fashioned, too much like something your grandparents would do. So in comes ‘van life’ and, at the heart of it, the sprinter camper van. Van life is so effortlessly cool right now but young adults wanted something different for their off grid adventure than the large, beige, ugly old-fashioned motorhome and they chose the sprinter camper van.
From the outside, the sprinter camper van is understated and sleek, usually keeping its original working van’s colour of black, white, silver or navy blue. You may come across a unique camper conversion where the outside of the van is a bright, bold colour such as red or yellow, either resprayed or from the vans previous life. And occasionally you’ll see a flawlessly decorated sprinter camper depicting scenes of previous adventures- a mountainscape for example, on the van’s exterior.
What you won’t find on a sprinter camper van are tacky, peeling decals that haven’t stood the test of time and look out-dated and uninviting. The sprinter camper van is too cool for that. Windows and skylights can also be added to any sprinter camper van, either standard ones that come with the vehicle in the side and back doors or something different and personal to your tiny home. Windows bring so much light into the van and make the interior feel so much bigger, but they can also look cool from the outside. Portholes are a popular choice that makes the sprinter camper van look unique from the outside and give the interior a nautical feel.
When I first discovered van life, I thought there were three kinds of commercial vans: standard, long, and high. As I got further into my research and became more committed to making this idea a reality, I was blown away by the number of options. Standard, long, and high were just three options available for each model, and it seemed like every auto manufacturer had at least one model of van. Some had multiple models, or a cargo model and a passenger model. Some had two kinds of “high” or “long.”
I’m not what you’d call “mechanically savvy,” and the number of differences to look at completely overwhelmed me. And while there’s tons of articles, videos, and guides about the differences between van models online, none of them run down the how to make a decision about a van.
The Four Major Decisions that Narrowed the Field:
Gas or diesel?
There are pros and cons to both. Gasoline engines run down based on mileage, while diesel runs down based on how well the engine is maintained. This means diesel engines have the potential to go hundreds of thousands of miles — I’ve even heard about a fellow whose van has nearly 1,000,000 miles. This sounds great: a van that can go forever? Sign me up!
The problem is, diesel engines are also much needier than gas engines. They require more frequent maintenance and the maintenance is more expensive. If you plan on going a million miles it may be worth it, but many van lifers get a second van after a few years because they’ve figured out what they should have done the first time around and are ready to give it another go and commit to the lifestyle for another several years. Plus, there’s always the environmental consideration: diesel is dirty.
High or low roof?
This is something I decided I couldn’t yield on. I hate the idea that I’d have to crouch and hunch over in my home; that I’d have to be bent in half while cooking, getting ready for the day, even spending a sick day in the van. It kept coming back to that for me: I’m doing this so I can bring my home with me everywhere I go. The low roof makes me feel trapped even without the extra inches of insulation and paneling and the space taken up by the bed, counter and whatever I would need to sit on so I could cook. Anxiety isn’t something I want to associate with “home,” and I think going with a low roof would be setting myself up for failure, not success.
Everyone’s different. My mom has spent the last few months trying to convince me that a low roof would be better because it would have greater accessibility to parking garages and the like. To her, it doesn’t matter if the roof is low, because it’s really just a place to sleep. And I have no doubt she’d be completely comfortable with the low roof.
This point really just comes down to what matters more to you: invisibility and accessibility, or space and comfort. I tried to compromise by going with the mid-roof option on the Ford. In truth, though, I think the mid-roof is only slightly lower than most high-roof vans, and the Ford high-roof is the extra high option. Don’t hold me to that. I meant to write up a spreadsheet comparing every van on the market, but that was completely chaotic and impossible, so I don’t actually know all the specs on all the vans.
I thought about mentioning wheelbase, too; ultimately I decided that wheelbase wasn’t much of a deciding factor for me because I’m going to notice if I can stand up straight much more than if there’s an extra foot of counter space. Wheelbase definitely has an impact, but there are wheelbase options for every van model, except some of the vintage ones, and although they vary, I don’t think there are any models where the wheelbase options are unreasonable. Once you figure out which van to get, choosing a long or short wheelbase is pretty simple.
Drives like a car or drives like a truck?
That’s probably an inaccurate comparison, but that’s really what this point boiled down to for me. Some vans have a relatively compact cab and handle smoothly, which makes you feel like it’s just a big car. Some feel like stepping into an eighteen-wheeler the second you open the door.
I was really into the Ram ProMaster when I first started looking at physical vans on dealership lots. Sprinters are huge and fancy, but ProMasters are huge, fancy, and durable, so they’re like the castle of van living. They were a little out of my price range, but I was hoping I might be able to find a used one for cheap if I got lucky.
Actually sitting in one completely turned me off. These things are massive in the cab. The cupholders are nearly on the ground, and everything feels a lot more spread out. I’ve got short arms and short legs, and I quickly realized the ProMaster would be really uncomfortable for me to drive. Just sitting in it made me feel six inches tall. I couldn’t imagine actually handing that machine on the road on a daily basis.
I’m sure it’s doable, and I could have gotten used to it, but driving the Ford Transit was so comfortable I almost forgot that it wasn’t the same car I’d been driving for seven years. I decided that feeling comfortable in the driver’s seat from the get-go was important to me.
New or Used?
Sure, you can find some used vans for $10,000 or less. A lot of these vans probably aren’t in the best condition, but there are tons of vanlifers out there who got something like this and reported that it all worked out well. But a lot of these vanlifers also say that you should try to find something under 5 years old, especially if you plan to live in it for a long time. These vans tend to be in better condition and sometimes still have time on the warranty in case you do discover a problem early on.
Looking at used vans under 5 years old, most of them are not much cheaper than new vans, particularly if you qualify for rebates or other discounts. My mom is pretty worried about this whole endeavor, and said she was willing to pay the difference for me to get something new, both because it would ensure that I had the full warranty and she thought ‘new’ just sounded safer. So I was lucky enough to be able to get something new, and I think if you can afford it, that’s probably the best option. I also realize that most prospective vanlifers can’t afford a new van.
There’s a book that does a great job of covering what to look for before you purchase a used van to make sure you don’t get ripped off. It’s called How to Live in a Van and Travel by Mike Hudson. Mike’s perspective on vanlife is honest, practical, funny, and inspiring. The book mostly covers the ins and outs of navigating life in a van, but the first 60 pages or so discuss choosing a van, and helped me to clarify what I needed to focus on. I definitely recommend it.
I’d also like to slip a big thank you in here. One of the biggest pros of buying from a dealership, whether new or used, is if you find a salesman who is a total rockstar. While we were checking out vans at dealership lots to try to figure out what kind I might want, we met Dan Nichols, who is the fleet manager at Reno GMC. Everyone I met at Reno GMC was warm, friendly, and genuinely supportive of my plans with the van, but Dan was really incredible. He went out of his way to give me honest pros and cons for different models, talked to me (the 23-year-old girl with almost zero knowledge about cars) with respect and explained all the details that I didn’t understand without complaint. Dan listened to my vague, twisted descriptions of what I was looking for and diligently hunted down a vehicle that met all my requirements at a Ford dealership in California. Then he arranged everything so we could buy my 2018 Ford Transit mid-roof 148″ wheelbase with rear windows from his dealership in Reno and not have to deal with the hassle of buying across state lines. Dan went above and beyond and is truly a stand up guy, and I recommend Reno GMC to anyone who is in the market for a vehicle.
I don’t really think the kind of van you get makes much difference.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the “perfect” van for me. I wanted to make sure that every specification was ideal for my plans. I tried to make comparison charts, looked at all kinds of details that made absolutely no sense to me, and tried to figure out how to become a mechanical guru overnight.
Here’s the problem: plans change, and so do people.
Let’s say I actually managed to figure out the exact van that would be perfect for all my wildest dreams. In a year, those plans might have changed. I will certainly have changed, and I might not care about the same things that I do now when looking at vans. Some of those “perfect” details will probably turn out to be totally unnecessary or even detrimental. The only way for me to know what aspects matter the most to me is to get out on the road.
All vans are more or less the same: they have an engine, a cab, and a big empty space. All of them will do the job. No matter how my plans change, no matter how I change, my van is going to stay the same, and I will have to find a way to make it work.
That’s not to say that I think buying the first van you come across is the way to go. I think you need to have some basic knowledge about what the differences between makes are, and have an idea of what options are most important to you. I wasn’t willing to drive a van without rear windows, because I like being able to see what’s behind me. Being able to see the sliver of a car tailgating me but not being able to really keep an eye on it would drive me insane. That’s something I wasn’t willing to compromise on. Figuring these things out helped me eventually find the van that’s going to be my home for the foreseeable future.
But at the end of the day, I would have gotten used to not having rear windows. It would have driven me mental for six months, but people are adaptable. Eventually I wouldn’t even notice.
We always hope for the best case scenario. But even the most ill-fitted van has the potential to become a home. All it needs is some TLC and a little time. In the coming months, I’m going to give my van some TLC and a whole lot of character, and you’ll be able to watch the progress here as I turn it into a home.
When it comes to getting the job done, pickup trucks immediately come to mind. But trucks aren’t the only option for a good, sturdy, get ‘er done type working vehicle. Pickups have their purpose, but so do cargo vans. In fact, there are some ways a cargo van is better than a pickup truck. Here are three of them.
1. Protected cargo
The first and probably most obvious reason cargo vans are better than pickup trucks is their ability to protect cargo. Sure, pickup trucks have plenty of space in the bed. You can even buy a shell to protect cargo from the weather. However, cargo vans come really equipped with workhorse payloads and covered cargo. A covered cargo that is both weatherproof and private.
You can’t drop anything out of the enclosed space that a van offers. That means no damaged goods and the elimination of the liability of unexpected road hazards. There’s also the fact that although you can build out a truck for overlanding or equip it with a nice tent, camper conversions are largely more practical in a cargo van. The vast protected box provided by the cargo area makes for a great living space for overland travel.
2. A more professional appearance
There’s no denying that most pickup trucks look infinitely cooler than a cargo van. However, if you are using your truck for commercial use a cargo van is probably a more professional option. In terms of appearance, trucks are more fashionable.
A cargo van will look more commercial on the job. First impressions mean a lot, and the highly professional and undeniably commercial styling of a cargo van may go a long way in terms of branding. For commercial use, a cargo van looks a lot more professional. They just have a more business-designated feeling in the eyes of the customer.
3. You don’t have to forgo a long list of options
Pickup trucks are loved for their rugged looks and strong capability. They are also appreciated for the incredible amount of options buyers have to choose from when choosing a truck. While there aren’t as many different brands that offer a cargo van, the ones that do offer the vans in a wide variety of options and configurations for your business needs.
The Ford Transit and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter both come available with factory 4×4. Additionally, the Transit now has a crew cab option. The Nissan NV and the Ram ProMaster don’t come with the 4×4 capability, but they do offer several different wheelbase and roof height options. Plus, they come in the 1500, 2500, and 3500 classifications just like a pickup truck.
Cargo van or pickup truck?
Cargo vans and pickup trucks serve many of the same purposes. Pickup trucks are inarguably more stylish and come with the possibility for luxury trim levels a cargo van would never even dream of. But they are also workhorses.
When it comes to choosing the right commercial vehicle to serve your business, the choice between buying a pickup truck or a van can be a hard one. Pickup trucks are awesome and you can’t argue that they possess more style and attitude. On the other hand, cargo vans are very utilitarian and offer up many compelling reasons business owners might be on the fence about choosing a pickup truck instead.
While each segment provides different things, they are both workers at heart. But which is the better commercial vehicle? Here are three reasons pickup trucks are better than work vans.
1. They are cool enough to lead a double life
Most people out there don’t want to drive around the commercial fleet van all day on the job and then take it out to dinner, too. A pickup truck on the other hand can lead a double life. The right pickup truck will offer the utility needed for your business and then get cleaned up and go out on the town. Much like the drivers of such a truck, these pickups are only good for one thing.
A pickup truck can look great in the city and then wake up in the morning, put its hard hat on, and get down and dirty. If you are worried about having a vehicle that is designated for the business, you can always slap a sticker on the doors to lend a more professional appearance. This is one good reason that a pickup truck is better.
2. Higher payload and towing capability
While cargo vans are very robust in their abilities, there aren’t any that can haul a load over 10,000 pounds. For a Chevrolet Silverado or a Ford F-150, this is just another day in the life. If you will be consistently heavy hauling and towing 10,000 pounds or more, get a pickup truck.
Each configuration offers different capabilities, just like the cargo vans. However, pickup trucks are undeniably stronger and more adept at handling a heavy load. While pickup trucks and work vans share DNA, they each evolved quite differently. Trucks are more capable in terms of hauling and towing and there’s just no getting around it.
3. More widely available 4×4
Another reason many turn to the pickup truck over a work van is there are many more with 4×4 capability. For many people, getting to the job means driving on a dirt or gravel road. While a couple of the vans offer available 4×4, every pickup truck offers 4×4 on at least one or more trim.
If you need a commercial vehicle with more off-pavement or off-road capability, a pickup truck is better than a commercial van. Properly equipped, pickup trucks offer the cargo utility plus the rugged capability of an all-terrain vehicle. If your business needs a vehicle to haul people and gear off the paved road, you’ll definitely want to choose a pickup truck instead of a cargo van. There are few things more counterproductive than getting stuck with your tires spinning in the dirt, your commercial vehicle loaded down with equipment for a job you can’t even get to.
Work van or pickup truck?
While both options are compelling in their own right, pickup trucks drive a strong argument in their case as commercial vehicles. We love cargo vans, but sometimes there are jobs that need the capability of a pickup truck. If you want something with more capability for heavy hauling or travel off-pavement, a pickup truck is the better choice. Plus, pickup trucks can double as both your commercial companion and a personal family vehicle.
If you are a business owner, you may have wondered if adding a fleet of commercial vehicles is right for your business. Commercial vans can offer numerous benefits and be an essential part of your daily business routine. Whether you are a small local business or rapidly expanding, a commercial vehicle fleet may be right for your business. Discover the benefits of commercial vehicles and learn more about your commercial vehicle options.
Benefits of Commercial Vehicle Ownership for Business Owners
Adding commercial vehicles to your fleet is great for efficiency. Plus, you’ll enjoy tax write-off benefits at the end of the year. Many of the costs of maintaining a commercial fleet, even if the fleet only contains a couple of vehicles, can be written off at the end of the year. Depreciation, mileage, and interest on your auto loan can be written off as a tax deduction.
Another great benefit of commercial vehicle ownership is that commercial vehicles are built specifically to match your business needs. Commercial vehicles like cargo vans can help you stay organized while making deliveries and commercial pickup trucks are designed to help tackle the toughest job sites. Having commercial vehicles can help increase efficiency just by having everything organized.
Commercial Vehicle Options for Different Types of Jobs
Whether you are a general contractor, farmer, or other small business owner, you can have the commercial vehicle that meets your needs. You can browse cargo vans, haulers, pickup trucks, passenger vans and more. Search Ram commercial vehicles, like the Ram 3500 and Ram 4500, and take a look at our cargo vans, like the Ram ProMaster 3500. Whether it is Platform, Service, Utility, or cargo, you can find it in inventory. Start browsing commercial trucks and vans.
A van build is a large project that requires extensive research, detailed planning, and implementing a comprehensive layout design. A helpful suggestion is to break down the van build by phases and just focus on one phase at a time. If you do look at an entire van design outline from start to finish, it can be extremely overwhelming. However, the one thing most vanlifers can agree on is that sound-deadening and insulation is a great place to start. It is nearly instant gratification because there is no drying or waiting process involved. As soon as the camper van insulation and sound-deadening materials are installed, you’re able to immediately get up and drive your van around!
One of the first noticeable features of an empty, pre-converted van is the way that it echoes like a tin can. When you first drive your van after purchase, you may notice all the rattling of the metal. Even when parked, an empty van can echo like a tin can. Recognizing how hard it will be to make phone calls, whether to friends and family, or business calls, in an echoing van is important. From there, you can decide whether you think this is something worth fixing. Dynamat is a very simple solution, although there are many other options as well: FatMat Rattle Trap, Noico, and Kilmat.
All this material requires for installation is cutting it with a utility knife, peeling off the back paper, and sticking it on the necessary areas. Some people choose to place sound-deadening material only in certain regions, such as focusing specifically on the front cab, which will really help with noise and rattle comfort when driving. Further down the road, this will also help keep noise inside the van (during movies, conversations, etc.) as well as keep any exterior noise outside of the van.
If you’re lucky, your van might even come with sound-deadening materials at the time of purchase!
Camper Van Insulation
There are an endless amount of options for van insulation. The number of windows you have will also heavily influence what kind of insulation you use and how much insulation you need to properly ensure your van will stay warm or cool. Some swear by spray foam, while others swear by rigid foam board. The different options have various benefits and downfalls. For example, spray foam is extremely messy and is oftentimes recommended to have professionally installed in order to avoid a mess. Reflectix is nice for smaller regions, and rigid foam board is great for straight, flat areas, such as insulating the ceiling or floors.
A personal preference is to primarily use camper van insulation that you can stuff and squeeze into smaller spaces, as most vans have different compartments and sections that are hard to fit exactly. Some options here are fiberglass insulation or recycled denim batting. You’ll want to keep in mind that fiberglass may be harmful to breathe over time. Don’t be afraid to mix and match! Certain forms of insulation are better for certain areas of the van. Our preferred combo? A mix of recycled denim batting, rigid foam board, and reflectix. Here is a breakdown of the different kinds of insulation available with detailed pros and cons for each.
While spray foam is considered one of the most efficient forms of camper van insulation, it can be very challenging to install. Nearly everybody I’ve ever spoken to agrees to this fact: if you plan on using spray foam to insulate your van, pay to have it done professionally. Additionally, closed-cell spray foam does a better job sealing all air gaps and gives you the highest R-value per inch.
One of the many reasons that we recommend having spray foam installed professionally is because of the above-mentioned metal warping.
Additionally, we have heard horror stories of spray foam leaking into certain areas of vans, such as seat belt devices, and having to wait on expensive replacement parts for the van that were not intended to be replaced. Make sure you tell the professionals completing your installation of any cavities you don’t want filled. For example, map out where your windows will go and share this information, and provide door and seatbelt mechanism locations as well. Taping off or sealing certain areas yourself, such as the cab of your van, may help ensure a clean job and less potential of finding foam in unwanted areas.
Knowing how to heat your van in winter is essential to comfort and overall enjoyment when living in a van. There is more involved than grabbing a portable heater and hitting the road. It may go without saying, but the most effective way to avoid the cold is to head south for the winter. If you do happen to find yourself in a colder area, there are a few common and affordable options to heat your van.
The five most common heating solutions for people in vans, RVs, or tiny houses are: electric heaters, wood stoves, propane, butane and diesel heaters.
Each has their advantages and disadvantages and it’s important to come up with a heating solution that’s tailored to your needs. What may work for one van might not be economic or efficient for others.
Alternatives To Heating Your Van
Proper insulation is the most important factor keeping your van warm. Before turning on a heater be sure to insulate the walls, floors and windows of your van. The more insulation involved, the less energy you need to spend keeping warm. Spray foam and silicon caulking are your friend.
If you do not have the money or means to do a full van insulation, a cost effective and fast solution is to purchase insulation panels for the windows. Insulation panels are typically made out of reflective foil that can be stuck to the glass.
A slight increase in your van’s temperature will be noticeable with just this simple step. Not to mention, insulation panels are great for privacy. No more peeping neighbors!
Wear Quality Gear
A few must-have winter items can make a huge difference in your comfort level.
Feet: Always keep a pair of warm socks or slippers nearby.
Wool: Wool is tried-and true material because it can retain heat even when wet. Wool fibers are also durable and made to last for years. The makeup of wool fabric allows for small air pockets within the fibers which increases the insulation level significantly compared to cotton.
Head: Keep your head and feet covered against cool drafts. Your head loses more heat than the rest of the body when left uncovered so don’t neglect this crucial body part!
Blankets: Store lots of blankets and duvet covers within the van. Many people choose to sleep in a high-quality sleeping bag that is rated to zero degree weather.
Be aware that even the highest quality sleeping bags on the market are rated for survival. They are not rated based on a comfort level. What this means is if the bag is rated for 30 degree weather, you will not freeze in 30 degrees. However, this doesn’t mean you will be cozy all night.
Layers: When planning your sleeping set up, use layers. You may have one blanket that works well in the summer, one sleeping bag for the fall, and an extra comforter that you can combine with all three for extra cold nights.
Add this to a good hat and socks and you will be able to adjust for most situations.
Warm Yourself With The Hot Water Bottle Method
If you happen to find yourself on a cold night with no Mr. Buddy heater around hot water bottles are a cheap and easy way to stay toasty. Simply boil some water and pour it into a water bottle or covered container that you can use to heat the bed or lay next to. Water bottles can stay warm for up to 6-8 hours at night and may be all you need.
Cover the bottle with a towel or cloth while pouring warm water inside, use extra caution not to burn yourself. Make sure the lid is twisted on tightly so there are no spills. A word of warning: Do not overfill the water bottle. ¾ full is all that is necessary to keep hot.
Finally, never use a hot water bottle at the same time you are using an electric blanket for heat. You do not want to take the risk of water and electricity coming into contact with each other.
If you are parked in a friend’s driveway or have the luxury of a campsite with hookups, electric heating is a great option. Electric heaters are lightweight, emit no sound, have no smell, and are safe to use in tight spaces.
There are many different types of electric heaters with the most common being ceramic, infrared, and oil radiators. Although they may seem like the ideal solution, do not assume your van’s battery will keep you warm all night and startup in the morning – it won’t.
Ceramic heaters can be a great option if you have a power source. Electric heaters produce a consistent heat output that can be easily adjusted. Plus, they will expel hot air in one direction allowing you to aim the heat where you need it.
Most electric heaters will range between 500 and 1500 watts. The lower the wattage, the longer it will take to heat an area. Electric heaters are relatively inexpensive to purchase, often they can be found for under $50. Once you own one, it’s just the cost of electricity you need to worry about.
When running an electric heater there are a few things you need to remain cautious about. Many heaters have safeguards built-in to avoid overheating or tipping over. Being in a small area like a vehicle, you should be aware of your surroundings to avoid burns. In addition, not all electric heaters are quiet, so be prepared for a soft hum.
Keeping warm inside your campervan when it’s cold outside will make travelling in a campervan an absolute pleasure. But, get it wrong, and you will soon find yourself checking into the nearest hotel for some much-needed warmth. This is why van insulation is so important.
If you want to stay comfortable inside your campervan, then insulating the vehicle correctly will have such a dramatic effect. When it comes to keeping the heat in or out, insulation is one of the most important steps you can do for your campervan conversion.
There is also quite a lot of confusion when it comes to the correct type of insulation to choose from for your van build. So, to keep it as simple as possible, here are some frequently asked questions when insulating a campervan.
Frequently Asked Campervan Insulation Questions:
What’s the best material to use?
How do I install it correctly?
Is a vapour barrier important?
How much is it to insulate my campervan conversion?
What are R and K-values?
Do I still need to insulate if I am going to travel to hot countries?
In this article, we will try to give you all the answers you need about insulating a campervan. We also take an in-depth look at the most commonly used materials, their pros and cons, and whether you should use them.
Before we jump in, we must first understand the properties of heat transfer and see precisely how it works.
Campervan Insulation and Heat Transfer: What You Need To Know
There are three types of heat transfer: radiation, conduction, and convection;
Radiation is a method of heat transfer. It does not rely upon any contact between the heat source and the heated object. One of the most notable examples of radiation heat transfer is the heat of the sun beaming down onto the earth.
One of the primary sources for radiating heat coming into your campervan is going to be your windows. They allow sunlight to pass through, which heats the inside of the vehicle.
In winter, this is a great benefit as it will soon warm up the inside of the campervan. However, it can have the opposite effect in summer, making it extremely hot and stuffy inside. By installing reflective window coverings, this will help deflect unwanted sunlight coming into the campervan.
It will also have a huge benefit in keeping the van cool and creating a pleasant, ambient temperature.
Conduction is the transfer of heat between two solid bodies. A good example of conduction heat transfer is leaving a teaspoon in a hot cup of tea; due to conduction heat transfer, eventually, the end of the spoon sticking out of the cup will get hot.
When the sun shines down and heats the external body of your van, the heat will eventually make its way inside, through the body and the walls of the vehicle through heat conduction.
Installing the correct insulation can slow down the process of heat transfer. In winter, insulation will have the opposite effect, slowing down the heat transfer out of the vehicle.
Convection occurs when the heat is transferred through a gas or liquid by the hotter material moving into a cooler area. A brilliant example is a hot air balloon. The gas heater inside the balloon heats the air, and so the air moves towards the top of the balloon. It then causes the balloon to rise because of the trapped hot air. When the pilot wants to descend, they let out some of the hot air from the top. Cooler air is drawn in from the bottom, causing the balloon to lower.
Because of the way that convection works, when the van begins to warm up, the heat will naturally rise. By installing thicker insulation in your roof, this will help considerably slow down heat loss through convection. It will keep the van interior nice and warm for longer, as well as making the van more efficient as it will require less energy to keep the van warm.
And when it gets a little too hot, you can use a ventilation fan to draw out the warmer air near the ceiling. It will also draw cooled air into the vehicle from any low-lying vents or open windows, making the whole interior of the campervan cooler.
Simply put, insulation will slow heat transfer. This will help make it easier to maintain the internal temperature of your campervan.
What is K-Value? (Lambda Value, Thermal Conductivity, Λ)
K-value, also known as the Lambda value, Thermal Conductivity, and sometimes represented as the Greek letter λ, indicates the ability of such material to conduct heat. Materials with lower K-value do not easily allow heat energy to pass through.
Whether you use your van to haul your tools or it’s your home away from home, insulation can play a big part in the role that vehicle plays. So the main question arises that what are the best options for sprinter van insulation, cargo van insulation, and gruau van insulation? Before you get into the van insulation options, you need to understand heat transfer.
There are three ways that heat transfers – radiation, conduction, and convection. Radiation is like the heat radiating from the sun, because it is heat that moves through the atmosphere, and then warming your skin. Conduction is heat transferred through solid surfaces, like the walls of your van. Finally, convection is how heat moves through liquid or gas, like the air inside your van, according to Gnomad Home.
Really what you’re worried about is the conduction, because the metal of the van roof, floor, and walls will conduct that heat and cold, making the van uncomfortable and not a great place to store tools or items you are hauling.
Now let’s talk about van insulation.
Foam Board Van Insulation
In the past five years, foam board insulation has become a popular option for van insulation. This is because you can cut and shape the material exactly how you want it in your van and it’s relatively inexpensive. Foam board insulation is rigid panels of insulation that are made of either polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, and polyurethane.
Now let’s look at the pros and cons.
Foam board can be found in any home improvement store.
Rigid foam board insulation is offered in a variety of thicknesses, lengths, and facings so it can be customized to fit properly for your project.
Foam board insulation provides good thermal resistance and reduces heat conduction.
It can take more than a day to install foam board properly inside a van.
The joints between the foam board sheets must be taped or caulked to be installed properly.
Expanded polystyrene boards have air bubbles that can stop heat transfer but can collect moisture in the event of condensation on the metal. The moisture can lead to the formation of rust.
Wool Van Insulation
Wool van insulation is considered a natural material but does have a Boron flame retardant in case of a fire.
Wool, similar to fiberglass, comes in batts you can install on the van walls and ceiling. An issue though is that the batts tend to be too thick, so it will need to be cut down to install properly.
Is environmentally friendly.
Much like wool clothing, can keep you warm inside the van.
Has a flame retardant added to it.
Much like wool clothing, will retain water which can lead to rust.
The batts may be too large, so you will need to cut them down to insulate the van properly.
If the wool batts are crammed in to fit, then the material loses its insulation properties.
Closed Cell Spray Foam Van Insulation
Closed cell spray foam is better suited to insulate vans compared to open cell because of its durability and low expansion rate.
Closed cell can be sprayed directly on the metal walls of the van. Closed cell spray foam is a spray-applied plastic that forms continuous insulation and air barrier. It is known to resist heat transfer.
Creates an air barrier that will keep your van comfortable no matter what is happening outside.
Closed cell is very durable, so it can be left exposed and take the hits from tools and equipment in your work van.
Has some sound deadening properties which cuts down on the noise of your tools clanking around in the back.
Is more costly than other insulation materials when installed by a professional. DIY is an option but comes with its own set of risks and problems.
If the van isn’t kept in a warm space before installation, there can be issues with adhesion.
Some closed cell spray foams that use a chemical agent in the mixing process can give off a temporary odor.
Refrigerated transportation (or reefer freight) is a method for shipping freight that requires special, temperature controlled vehicles. The vehicle transporting the products being shipped has a built-in refrigeration system that keeps products at a desired temperature throughout the transportation process.
The first rudimentary version of refrigerated truck was born in the 1800s, when cargo transporters would place ice and salt below temperature-sensitive goods in train cars. This process was horribly inefficient and inevitably led to major losses in the value of goods and profitability.
In the 1900s, more efficient modes of refrigerated transportation were developed, and improvements in technology have given us cold chain logistics, which has become a massive industry and continues to grow.
The Benefits of Refrigerated Transportation
For many product types, refrigerated transportation is not an option, it is an absolute necessity. The benefits of refrigerated transportation are centered around safety, compliance and basic supply and demand.
Shippers of perishable products rely on refrigerated delivery service
The most obvious benefit of refrigerated transportation is that it keeps products from deteriorating and losing their value during the transportation process. This is not only true for food, such as produce, meat and dairy, but also for other sensitive items such as medical products and pharmaceuticals.
A rising demand for fresh perishable goods
Refrigerated transportation allows products in need of temperature-controlled transportation to be moved from point A to point B more quickly and efficiently than alternative modes of transportation. Because of this, items in high-demand, such as fresh meat and seafood, rely on refrigerated transportation.
Refrigerated freight applies to a wide range of product types
When people think of the types of products that necessitate refrigerated freight, the mind goes straight to perishable foods. In truth, refrigerated or temperature-controlled transportation is necessary for many other types of products, ranging from precious art to valuable chemicals and personal care products.
Compliance and regulation in the world of shipping
Recent regulations have made it absolutely imperative for shippers to seek out and implement refrigerated transportation. We will explore this further in the following section.
What is the State of the Refrigerated Freight Industry?
The refrigerated transportation industry is booming. In fact, the refrigerated transportation market in the US is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.44 percent from 2014 to 2019. The market is projected to reach 3.25 billion tons by 2022. There are a variety of reasons for this growth:
Regulation makes refrigerated delivery service a must
The first is increased scrutiny by the FDA for safe food handling throughout the supply chain from manufacturer to the end user. One of the obvious pieces of the supply chain is temperature controlled vehicles for safe transportation of the product as to maintain freshness and prevent foodborne illness.
In fact, in 2015, the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) ruled that transporters of refrigerated freight be required to implement procedures for complying with provisions for temperature control, as well as the way this information would be relayed to both shippers and the end user.
The Act also included stricter requirements for training drivers on temperature management and reporting for each shipment. Companies which have successfully adapted to these regulations are the most qualified long term partners for shippers seeking to move refrigerated freight.