Posted in cargo van, Commercial Van

4 Tips on How to Start a Business with A Van

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4 Tips on How to Start a Business with A Van

Work is becoming scarcer and scarcer. You have to take such good care of your job these days or face unemployment. So many people are stuck in a job they hate and they stay there because even though they despise getting up in the morning, the job provides a salary at the end of the month. It’s bad for your health to be stuck in a job you don’t like and it is completely unnecessary.

All you need to gain complete freedom from a job you hate, an employer who treats you unfairly or work that is just too demanding is a good idea and a bit of willpower. You can start your own company and be free of all of these job issues by simply trading in your car. With a sprinter van and a bit of creativity you can start a lot of self-employment companies which are sure to secure you with employment for the rest of your life.

Here are the top five companies you can start by simply investing in a commercial van.

1. Freight company

With all the online shopping that has been going on these days a freight company is a terrific company to consider. Trade your car in for a sprinter cargo van and you can start your own freight company or you can use your van to deliver goods for major companies. Freight companies are simple to manage and they are easy to start if you just promote effectively.

2. Touring company

Lots of people love to travel but simply cannot afford it. When people travel in groups they can benefit greatly from renting a sprinter van as this will allow them to get around much cheaper and they get so much more out of the experience since they get to travel together. A sprinter passenger van is just what you need to start your own touring company. You can focus on holiday destinations for seniors, adults, organizations or even for children and see the world while you work.

3. Taxi service

With a mini bus you can transport up to 17 people to far off destinations or you can start a public transportation service and drive people between major city locations throughout the day. You can focus on transporting kids for school, adults to certain work hotspots or you can reserve your services for major sports teams when they are heading for a major tour.

4. Food delivery

A home delivery van will enable you to make food deliveries for catering companies or grocery stores. You can also start transporting food or perhaps even flowers for farmers and earn a steady income for the rest of your life while you enjoy great scenery all the time.

You could even expand your business even more by growing your own fruits and vegetables and deliver them to customers. This could be a great avenue to go down once you gain a bit more starting capital and once you have built up great customer relationships.

Delivery or transportation companies are some of the best companies to start simply because there is always a need for transportation. You can easily start a number of terrific companies by simply investing in a good quality sprinter van and the possibilities for expanding your transportation or delivery company are endless if you just manage it correctly and find a avenue that you can successfully expand into.

Who knows, perhaps you could own your own fleet of fantastic sprinters in the near future and all you have to do is trade in your everyday car for a van to make it happen!

Posted in Commercial Van, Refrigerated Van

How does a refrigerated truck work?

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How does a refrigerated truck work?

Refrigerated trucks: how do they work?

Have you ever seen a refrigerated truck on the road and wondered exactly how it manages to keep everything cold while still being mobile? The answer is so deceptively simple that it might just surprise you. The first thing you need to understand is the fundamental principle behind modern refrigeration equipment. We’re going to get into some physics here, but don’t worry, you don’t need to be Stephen Hawking to understand it.

Most people think that refrigeration equipment works by creating cold. The thing is, cold can’t be created. Cold is just the absence of heat energy. So in order to promote cold conditions, you need to remove the heat energy in the atmosphere. So in order to build a refrigeration system, you need to create a self-contained atmosphere, and then remove as much heat as possible from it.

Here’s how the cooling system works:

In a refrigerated truck, insulating a compartment and then sealing it creates a self-contained atmosphere. The insulation is made from high-density polymer foam, which is quite similar to polystyrene, although it’s constructed from a higher density and more durable polymer than you’d find in typical polystyrene insulation.

The insulation, combined with a seal around the door, creates an atmosphere that is fairly heat-tight. Then all you have to do is remove any heat that remains inside, and any heat that comes in when the door is opened. This is accomplished using a refrigeration system with a reasonably simple mode of operation. It has three different mechanisms all working together: a condenser, a compressor, and an evaporator.

The condenser consists of a metal piece of pipe work that is twisted into a convoluted shape. This pipe work is filled with an incredibly high tech type of liquid, known as coolant fluid. This type of fluid has been around for a long time, but the latest kind has been developed in a laboratory to be exceptionally efficient at absorbing heat. This fluid is circulated around the pipe work, sucking up all the heat that it’s inside the freezer van chamber. As the coolant fluid sucks up the heat and becomes hot, it turns into a gas.

Once the fluid has transferred into a gaseous state, it is taken into the condenser. This is a mechanism that tightly compresses the gas down, placing it under extreme pressure and forcing all of the molecules together. In this condition, the gas is in a similar state to gas that you’d find in a household aerosol.

 Once the gas has been condensed and is being held at high pressure, it’s placed into the evaporator. This machine then takes air from the exterior atmosphere and pushes it through the high-pressure coolant gas. This process cools down the coolant fluid, simultaneously converting it back into a gas and expelling the heat energy out into the atmosphere. The gas is then reintroduced into the condenser for the process to begin again. As this process is continually repeated, the atmosphere inside the refrigerated truck becomes gradually colder and colder.

As you can see, the principle behind the operation of a refrigerated truck is fairly simple. Of course this is a simplified explanation, and there are a few different subtleties beyond the scope of this FAQ, such as the temperature regulation mechanism and the intricacies of the condenser and evaporator systems, but it should have removed some of the mystery behind refrigerated trucks and their operation.

Posted in cargo van, Commercial Van

Campervan Insulation – Find the best way to insulate your van!

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Campervan Insulation – Find the best way to insulate your van!

Why is van insulation important?

Van insulation is really important in order to moderate the temperature within your van. Typical campervan conversions will use a panel van as a base vehicle, but the thin metal walls will very easily transfer heat and equalise to external temperatures. If you’re in extremely hot or cold climates this could mean a lot of discomfort. Van insulation will ensure that the temperature equalisation proces is slowed way down and you stay comfortable in your tiny home!

What types of insulation can you use in a campervan?

You’ll come across quite a few options in choosing the best van insulation material for you. Some of these are the same as you’ll find in many standard homes. Others, however, are more bespoke and harder to come by, and therefore far costlier to your wallet but potentially a much better insulation investment.

We recommend considering the following when choosing your van insulation material:

  • Toxicity – This was a big deal for us, as we didn’t want any particulates or gases contaminating our small living space. We were running away from the city because of air pollution so didn’t want any respiratory aggravators or health risks.
  • High R-value – As you’ll need to maximise the space in your van, it’s important to use a material which has a high insulating value per inch.
  • Moisture resistance – In a small space you’ll generate moisture from cooking, showers, breathing etc. You’ll want to use insulation which is moisture resistant to stop any mould growth or take precautions to ensure no moisture can access your insulation using a vapour barrier.
  • Cost – We learnt that converting a van can become very expensive very quickly. Plan ahead to get products which do the job well but don’t cost the earth.
  • Eco friendliness – Some insulation options are very eco friendly, as they are made from recycled plastics or old clothes. Others not so much. If you want to be more eco conscious this is something to consider, and there are a variety of options now available. More on this further on!

With these key points in mind, here are the options you have available: Show entriesSearch:

Type of insulationR valuePriceToxicityEco-Friendliness
Closed Cell Spray Foam7£££22
Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso/PIR/Celotex)6££32
Extruded Polystyrene5££31
Expanded Polystyrene3.9££32
Fiberglass3.8£52
Rock wool4.3£42
Denim3.7££24
Sheep wool3.7££15
Thinsulate/Polyester3.7££££14

Polyisocyanurate (PIR) van insulation

van floor insulation

In the UK this is commonly known by the primary manufacturer of the product, Celotex. Within the US, it’s most frequently called foam board insulation.

PIR insulation is an excellent choice because it is lightweight, moisture resistant, affordable, non-toxic and fire resistant.

PIR boards come in a range of thicknesses and are excellent choices for insulating the ceiling and floor of a van conversion. The only danger is from inhaling the dust created when cutting the boards. We found using a sharp knife created a very clean cut with minimal dust, but we were also careful to use masks when cutting. Either side of PIR insulation is usually a reflective barrier which helps keep radiant heat within your van.

Reflectix – Campervan foil insulation

vapour-barrier-in-van

This material is very widely used in van conversions, but often incorrectly! It’s a thin bubble wrap with a reflective coating and holds a very low R value.

Reflectix is excellent at reflecting radiant heat but it is not efficient at stopping the transfer of heat. The common mistake is adhering Reflectix straight onto the metal of a van and then adding another layer on top. Heat passes straight through the reflectix from contact with the metal through conduction and makes it totally ineffective.

Reflectix is great when being used as a window blind as it reflects heat back. To make it more attractive, we covered it in thick cloth. It’s also moisture resistant and can be used as a vapour barrier which is how we used this material in our van build.

Polystyrene van insulation

polystyrene insulation

What is the difference between extruded and expanded polystyrene?

Extruded polystyrene is arguably one of the most environmentally unfriendly products in this list. This is due to the manufacturing methods using hydrofluorocarbons via an extrusion process and polystyrene polymer.

Expanded polystyrene is manufactured without these gases as by-products and has a far more air gaps within its structure. The trade off is that this renders it slightly less moisture resistant.

Both types of polystyrene are similar in structure to PIR insulation which comes in a range of thicknesses. The major health consideration is the inhalation of particles from cutting or from abrasion within your van.

It has a good R value slightly less than that of PIR but both types are slightly cheaper. It’s far more resistant to compression than PIR which makes it a popular choice for use in flooring. It is however far less flame resistant and when it combusts gives off styrene gas which can causes CNS damage.

Posted in cargo van, Commercial Van, Ideas & Tips

Is Sheep Wool Insulation Safe?

Is Sheep Wool Insulation Safe?

Sheep wool insulation has become a popular form of insulation for camper vans. Living in the close confines of the camper van, you are in close contact with all the materials used to build the van. When you spend so much time in a small metal box, you want to make sure that everything used to customize the box is safe.

Is sheep wool insulation safe?

Sheep wool is one of the safest forms of insulation for a camper van. It is no more dangerous than a wool sweater. Not only is wool safe, but it also improves the environment inside your van. It is the best insulation you can use for air quality and moisture control.

Benefits Of Wool Insulation

Van insulation is important for keeping your camper comfortable in hot and cold weather. However, many kinds of insulation can cause problems. These problems include releasing toxic chemicals into the air, trapping moisture leading to rust, and fire danger. Wool insulation does not pose any of these risks.

Wool is hair from sheep. It is 100% natural and does not pose any risks. Wool is one of the safest kinds of insulation you can put in your van. Various types of insulation can cause problems with air quality, flammability, and moisture-trapping. Let’s see how wool stacks up against some of the common issues with other types of insulation.

Air Quality

Some forms of insulation can contain chemicals that can be toxic or carcinogenic. During installation, some of these chemicals may be released. The motion of a moving van releases some and some are continually released throughout the life of the insulation. Wool contains no toxic chemicals. In fact, wool can help purify the air.

Studies show that wool can absorb contaminants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and formaldehyde. Some kinds of man-made insulation emit these gases. Because of this, wool insulation makes your van safer. Using wool insulation will help reduce some of the nasty compounds released by other items in your van, such as vinyl.

Moisture Control

When warm, humid air inside the van comes in contact with cold metal walls, water vapor condenses on the walls. Some kinds of insulation seal this moisture against the metal. As we all know, wet metal rusts and rust can be a big problem in a van. Not only does wool not trap moisture, but it also absorbs moisture from the air when humidity is high. Even better, it will release moisture when the humidity is low. These features of wool help prevent moisture trapping.

The ability of wool to trap and release moisture helps fight rust. Instead of letting the outside wall of the van get wet and trapping water there, wool helps keep the camper van’s walls dry. As a bonus, wool does not lose its ability to insulate when it’s wet. Some kinds of insulation do. Rust starts as a small problem; however, if left unchecked, it can cause significant damage with costly repairs.

Fire Safety

Some forms of insulation are highly flammable. Wool is not. In fact, wool insulation is a flame retardant. Should a fire break out in your van, wool will help slow the fire down. It’s not fun to think about what can go wrong, but you’ll sleep better knowing you have taken some steps to prevent fire.

Reducing the possibility of fire is always the best option; nonetheless, should a fire start, make sure you are prepared by having a fire extinguisher in your camper van that is designed specifically for travel.

But How Well Does Sheep Wool Insulation Work?

The safest, most moisture and flame-retardant materials in the world are useless as insulation if it doesn’t insulate. How does wool stack up in the heat-holding department? Very well. In addition to holding heat, van insulation should be easy to fit into the oddly-shaped spaces that make up a van wall.

Holding Heat

Have you ever seen a cold shivering sheep? Wool is terrific insulation; that’s why we use it to make sweaters and coats. The heat-trapping power of insulation is measured with R-value. Wool has a higher R-value per inch of insulation than the pink fiberglass insulation that contractors commonly use in homes. It is one of the best heat-holders you can get for your van. Not that this is related to heat—but it’s nice to know that wool also helps block noise!

Fitting In

Vans often need special insulation products because there are lots of weird little gaps and compartments in the walls. Homes are built according to standard specifications, so insulation products are designed to fit these spaces. To insulate a van, you must adjust the insulation to make it fit what you have. Wool is great for this, too.

Fiber insulation is excellent for vans because you can bend, cram and poke it into all kinds of nooks and crannies. It is much simpler to install fiber insulation than rigid products like foam boards. Wool is terrific for this. Since it’s a fiber, it’s easy to adjust the size of wool insulation. You can pull pieces off the roll for the small spots, or if you want to be neater, you can cut it with scissors.

Unlike rock wool or fiberglass insulation, you can install wool insulation with your bare hands. It won’t cause itching or allergic reactions. You peel it apart, poke it where you want it, and you are good to go.

One more benefit of wool is that it doesn’t settle. Some other kinds of fiber insulation will slump down over time, leaving bare spots with no insulation. You will have to either be cold or open up the walls to add insulation. Wool will hold its shape for decades – likely longer than your van lasts.

Sound Blocking

Wool is also an excellent sound blocker. Foam panels and radiant barriers don’t block much sound, so you will hear everything that is going on outside your van at night. Wool keeps the noise away and lets you get a good night’s sleep.

Sustainability

Wool is also a good choice for sustainability. It’s a renewable resource because sheep grow new wool every year. Processing wool for insulation requires very little energy input. Technically, the wool itself is solar-powered, since the sheep eat grass to make it.

Wool also sequesters some carbon dioxide. The carbon to make the wool fibers comes from the grass sheep eat. The carbon in the grass comes from the carbon dioxide the plants pulled from the air. By using wool to insulate your van, you are helping fight global warming!

Wool has a better end-of-life disposal process than other forms of insulation, too. Since it’s just hair, old insulation can be composted instead of dumped into a landfill. From beginning to end, wool is easily the most sustainable form of insulation for your van.

Posted in Commercial Van, Refrigerated Van

5 Cold Hard Facts About Using a Refrigerated Truck for Business

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5 Cold Hard Facts About Using a Refrigerated Truck for Business

Keeping precious goods cold has been a challenge for many a lifetime. Often times, once a product is cooled or frozen to the desired temperature, it must stay at that temperature. It’s a wonder anything ever got delivered cold in the early days of chilled delivery. Ice melts, and styrofoam can only keep things cold inside for so long.

The refrigerated truck has been an industry game changer for obvious reasons. Its ability to be a refrigerator renders it the perfect fit for just about anyone looking to deliver products that are temperature dependent.

However, there are a couple things you will definitely want to know before getting one of these trailblazers. Let’s get some cold facts about refrigerated trucks and vans and how to choose the right one for your application.

1. Consider How Your Refrigerated Truck Works

Take a refrigerator and put it in the bed of your truck. Easy as that right? Not even close. Refrigerated trucks do, in fact, have an onboard, built-in refrigerator or freezer, however, these units operate seamlessly with the vehicle’s electrical and charging system.

An engine-mounted compressor paired with a skirt-mounted condenser gets things cold, while fans direct air to each and every part of the unit. These systems use the vehicle’s factory components to generate the electricity needed for refrigerated delivery.

2. How Much Space Do You Need?

Not all fridges and freezers are the same. While some can store 3 full-sized elks, others just hold a popsicle and six-pack. The same is essentially true when it comes to refer trucks. Whatever your needs and limitations, there is a temperature-controlled vehicle made to suit your delivery needs.

Having sufficient room to store frozen goods is necessary for both growing businesses or those making wholesale deliveries. However, too much room can prove to be less efficient and more work-intensive in certain locations, like narrow city streets or low-ceilinged parking garages. Operating environment and storage needs are important things to consider when choosing the right rig for you.

3. Box, Truck, or Van?

Large vehicles like box freezer/refrigerator trucks offer enough room to deliver all day long. However, deliveries can’t happen if your truck can’t get out of the parking garage.

Oversized height, length, and width can prove problematic in some situations. Luckily, we offer several models that provide loads of storage while being contained in a standard-sized van or truck.

Though these vehicles might not be suited for larger industrial-sized deliveries, they function excellently for those with smaller product quantities and size limitations to consider. Featuring side-access doors for easy entry, these refrigerated vehicles can make deliveries a breeze.

4. Making Your Budget Work For You

One possible issue you may run into when finding a refrigerated truck or van is the price. However, there are affordable options out there:

Rather than buying a pre-fab, consider a more customized truck that fits your specific needs of size and space. There are tons of fleet vehicles that are great for your price range.

You also might consider outfitting a vehicle for a particular degree of refrigeration. If you have a box truck or van in mind that you would like to use for your business, take a look at how much it would cost to add a fridge system to it.

It may turn out to be a cheaper and more efficient option than buying a rig overly excessive for your needs.

5. Consider Industry Demands

Not all delivery situations have such limitations and call for smaller vehicle size. For wholesale jobs, the possibilities really open up. If you are delivering large quantities, there are several types of box trucks that can be put to work in the frozen-goods field.

From cab-over box trucks to flat-bed-truck style conversions, there’s a body-style that will fit both your storage needs and size limitations. Depending on how specialized your application, there is always the option to custom outfit a unit specific to your delivery needs.

Keeping Things Cool

Whatever the job is, there’s a temperature-controlled unit to fit your needs, no matter how much your business grows.  Whether you specialize in flowers or gelato, we’ll find a unit that suits your needs.

Posted in cargo van, Commercial Van, sprinter work van

7 Tips for Buying Used Commercial Vehicles

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7 Tips for Buying Used Commercial Vehicles

While new is the right choice for some — a shiny, fresh-off-the-assembly-line truck can certainly be tempting — there are big advantages of buying used vehicles. More “experienced” trucks and vans are going to be more affordable, and the used market offers a wide variety of options — giving you the flexibility to find the vehicle that you’re most comfortable with, and that’s best for your professional needs. To help out with your used purchases, the following are 7 tips for buying used commercial vehicles:

  1. Understand your options.

Leading online commercial vehicle marketplaces that gives you the widest selection of trucks and vans from which to choose. Although you cannot personally inspect a vehicle through an online purchase, dealers provide comprehensive descriptions and great photos of their for-sale trucks. To look over a vehicle in-person, your choices will obviously be narrowed to dealers within travel distance.

For buyers who’d rather close a deal with a handshake instead of a mouse-click, a “Dealer Search” feature will help you find the dealers closest to you. Finally, you may consider a live auction. Bidding can be fun, but high-energy competition can drive prices well above what a used truck or van is worth — don’t get too caught up in the action.

  1. Do your research.

The most important step in buying any used sprinter commercial van is to find out as much as you can in order to determine if it’s the right purchase for you. The three main aspects of inquiry are to (1) inspect the truck or van, from the structural and mechanical pieces to the tire treads and the mileage, (2) learn the vehicle history, including use, maintenance, oil change, and repair records, (and always search through public records using the vehicle’s VIN to find traffic records and its accident history), and (3) research the owner/dealer through background checks and word-of-mouth reputation.

  1. Consider technology.

If a truck is more advanced than you or your drivers are accustomed to, operational learning curves could slow down productivity. On the other hand, some features will help you work smarter and faster, so you’ll want to strike a balance between innovation and familiarity. And, of course, you’ll want to be sure that any commercial vehicle you purchase is able to meet state and federal requirements, including safety requirements and emissions standards.

  1. Care about appearances.

It can be easy to dismiss the look of a used truck or van, as long as it works. But if a dealer hasn’t taken care of the outside of the vehicle, have they really taken care of the inside? Use caution when evaluating worn-looking trucks. Also, remember that commercial vehicles seen by the public can be your company’s best — or worst — advertisement to potential clients. If a used truck really does run well, but just doesn’t look appealing, can it be refurbished to give your business a more professional image?

  1. Evaluate the TCO.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) can be found with a simple equation: add purchase cost and ownership costs (tires, fluid and lube changes, maintenance/ repairs/ part replacements, insurance), then subtract resale value. Researching a vehicle’s condition and history (as described above) will help you forecast when and where problems may arise and the average cost of maintenance and repairs.

And remember that a vehicle is likely close to requiring a major engine overhaul once it hits 700,000 miles. Doing the math and establishing an acceptable TCO that fits your financial situation will give you specific criteria for evaluating used trucks and vans.

  1. Get the paperwork.

Ask for proof of ownership/the vehicle title to be sure you are buying from the registered owner. You don’t want to purchase a stolen truck, and the original invoice could quickly provide the assurance you need. When buying used, you should also obtain a title transfer and a bill of sale. If the truck or van shows up with undisclosed problems — or doesn’t get delivered at all — you have plenty of evidence to pursue refunds or legal recourse.

  1. Seek a warranty.

Especially if you have lingering questions about a used vehicle, strongly consider getting an official warranty or vehicle guarantee. Most dealers will offer some kind of warranty, but individuals, who often sell trucks for lower prices than a franchise dealer, likely will not provide guarantees. So the availability of warranty options is something to keep in mind as well.

Posted in Commercial Van, Ideas & Tips

Van Insulation Guide: Make an Educated Decision

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Van Insulation Guide: Make an Educated Decision

Heat Transfer 101

The goal of adding insulation is to combat heat loss. Heat loss happens because of heat transfert (a.k.a.heat flow). Heat is always transferred from warm to cool and continues as long as there is a temperature difference; a larger temperature difference means more heat transfer potential.  There are 3 heat transfer mechanisms: Conduction, Radiation & Convection.

Conduction

  • Conduction is heat transfer through a material.

Examples:

  • A pot handle (see picture above!)
  • A spoon in a hot cup of tea
  • A van metal surfaces getting hot inside the cargo area on a sunny day
HOW:

Energy is stored in the vibration of atoms. More heat = more energy = more vibrations. The collision of atoms between each others transfer heat.

Insulating for conduction:

The more dense a material, the closer the atoms are from each others and the more they transfer energy to their adjacent atoms (by physically colliding to each others). Therefore:

Radiation

  • Radiation is heat transfer through electromagnetic waves.

Examples:

  • The sun
  • A Mr. Heater Buddy (there is some convection too but it’s mainly radiant)
  • A van dash getting hot when exposed to the sun
HOW:

Any hot (or warm) object radiate electromagnetic waves and can heat up other objets at distance (and therefore loose heat themselves). Energy is transferred through the electromagnetic waves, therefore thermal radiation can propage through vacuum (without the presence of matter).

Insulating for radiation:

Convection

  • Convection is heat transfer through fluid (or gas) movement.

Examples:

  • Hot air rising above an intense heat source (i.e. electric heater); Cold water falling towards the bottom of a lake
  • A vehicle ventilation system (hot/cold air travels with the air being pushed by the fan)
HOW:

Heat is “transported” from one part of a fluid (or gas) to another by the bulk movement of the fluid itself. Hot regions are less dense, so they tend to rise and are replaced by cooler fluid from above. 

Insulating for Convection:

While heat transfer can be separated in 3 separate mechanisms, heat loss normally implies all 3 of them together. For example, a hot cup of coffee:

  • Heat is transferred from the liquid to the cup surfaces (conduction + convection from the circulation),
  • From the cup to the air and objects nearby (convection+radiation), 
  • From the cup to the cold table underneath (conduction),
  • Blowing on coffee to cool it down (convection).
  • (Heat is also lost through evaporation -change of phase-, but that’s out of our scope)

2.2- R-Value

Insulation materials are good at resisting heat flow. To quantify how good is an insulating material and compare them between each others, a neat dude came up with R-value.

R-VALUE

R-value denotes the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. It is normally noted (for example) “6.5 per inch“; it means applying one inch thickness of the material will provide 6.5 R-value; applying two inches will provide 13.0 R-value; and so on. R-value takes into account all three heat transfer mechanisms (conduction, radiation, convection). R-value is determined with test ASTM C518 (“Standard Test Method for Steady-State Thermal Transmission Properties by Means of the Heat Flow Meter Apparatus”).

2.3- Condensation and Moisture Control

Vapor Barrier or not?

The purpose of a vapor barrier is to prevent moist air (from inside the van) of migrating towards cold surfaces. The idea is that moist air from respiration, cooking, drying gear, etc. won’t reach cold surfaces and therefore that eliminates condensation issues. However if, for any reason, moist air makes its way past the vapor barrier, it would be very hard to dry that moist air because it would be sandwiched between two vapor barrier layers (remember that metal is a vapor barrier too).

Even if one could achieve the perfect vapor barrier (which is unlikely sorry), there are paths for outside air (charged with moisture) to infiltrate and there are potential leak points as well:

Van-Insulation-Issues-Water-Infiltration-Outside-Air-Circulation

Therefore, we believe that moist air will inevitably come in contact with cold structure, so our approach is to let the insulation layers “breathe” (no vapor barrier).

Condensation and moisture is quite complex, there is much more to talk about… we think this article should help you understand the phenomenon and help you take a better informed decision about your insulation:

Moisture-Condensation-Control-Van-Heading-(Fullpx)

CONDENSATION AND MOISTURE IN A VAN | WHY IT HAPPENS AND HOW TO CONTROL IT

2.4- Thermal Bridges

A thermal bridge is a path of least resistance for heat transfer. In other words, it’s a path for heat to “cheat” your insulation and find a way around it. It normally occurs via conduction through a dense material (such as metal).

Take for example the following picture. We added Thinsulate pretty much everywhere, except on the frames and pillars where we will attach our structure (cabinets, etc). All the exposed metal is considered a thermal bridge and heat will flow through it around the Thinsulate.

Van-Insulation-Conductivity-Thermal-Bridges-Annotated

To mitigate the thermal bridges, a thermal break is added. We added Low-E EZ-COOL since it pretty resistant to compression (applied by the structure attached to the van’s frames).

That’s important, especially if you’re using 80/20 aluminum extrusions for your build (structure, cabinets, etc). Indeed, attaching the 80/20 aluminum directly to the van metal creates excellent thermal bridges and as a result, the 80/20 inside your van will be almost as cold as the van metal!

2.5- Air Loops

Hot air is less dense, so it tend to rise and be replaced by cooler air from above. That’s called an air loop and it’s a phenomenon that happen in non-insulated hollow structure, such as in frames and in pillars. So, to the question “Is it worth shoving insulation inside frames, knowing heat will find a way around (thermal bridges)?”, we think it’s worth it. The total heat loss of your van is the sum of all the small pieces and bits… It all adds up! 

Air-Loop-Convection-Heat-Transfer
Van-Insulation-Convection-Hollow-Structure

3- Van Insulation Materials

At this point, we’re still on our quest to find THE BEST van insulation material… But in order to find out, let’s review our different options:

Thinsulate

  • R-Value: 3.3 per inch.

PROS

  • Very easy to install
  • Hydrophobic (doesn’t retain moisture)
  • Doesn’t off-gas
  • Doesn’t loose fibers and not itchy
  • Good noise insulation
  • Can be stuffed in hard-to-reach places

CONS

  • More expensive

Bottom word: it’s a popular tried-and-true product that gives a added value to higher-end builds.

Polyiso Rigid Board

  • R-Value: 5.6 per inch at 75F, 5.0 per inch at 15F.

PROS

  • Impermeable to water vapor.

CONS

  • R-value decrease substantially at cold temperature.
  • Create air gaps on funky surfaces (which is mostly the case in vans) = water traps.

XPS Rigid Board

Home Depot

  • R-Value: 5.0 per inch at 75F, 6.0 per inch at 15F.

PROS

  • Provides more reliable thermal performance than Polyiso.
  • Impermeable to water vapor.

CONS

  • Create air gaps on funky surfaces (which is mostly the case in vans) = water traps.
  • Maximum service temperature: 165F. (dark painted roof will get hotter than that in the sun! source: phys.org)

By now we know that efficient insulation materials are low-density. A coat of paint is everything except low density…

The manufacturers don’t provide any data (i.e. R-value, etc.) to backup their claims; there’s probably a good reason why (it would be fairly easy to test and publish data).

According to this American Scientific Article, EPA does not recommend insulating paint: “We haven’t seen any independent studies that can verify their insulating qualities“. They noted some heat gain reduction on surfaces directly exposed to sun only, and that “the reflectivity of the painted surfaces decline considerably with time”. It’s all about reflectivity, not insulation capacity. Are you really gonna paint the exterior or your van with insulating paint..?

Until independent studies show a benefit of insulating paint through standardized test, save your money and your time.

4- Insulation Strategy

Going from theory to real-life implies making compromises; there is no perfect solution! The best van insulation is not just about R-Value, it’s also about:

  • Ease of installation for the average DIYer
  • Risk of messing things up (i.e. warped van panels)
  • Condensation and moisture control
  • Conformity to curved and uneven surfaces
  • Material properties (i.e. maximum temperature, resistance to pressure)

With that in mind, here is how we insulated our campervan:

4.1- Floor

  • XPS RIGID BOARD

To be efficient, any compressible insulation material (thinsulate, wool, etc.) must be fully expanded. As a result, they’re not ideal for floor insulation. On the other hand, XPS is an excellent insulator, provides a solid and flat fondation for our floor, it’s quite cheap and readily available at your local hardware store.

So, does it work in real-life? Definitely! We installed our Webasto so it blows hot air in our living space near and parallel to our floor; as a result the floor is nice and warm, even in sub-freezing temperatures. But don’t get us wrong: the farther you go from the Webasto, the colder the floor gets. Cold air falls, remember? So even a perfectly insulated floor won’t be nice and warm all over, unless it’s heated somehow. No, we don’t think radiant heated floor is necessary (but could be a nice luxury); a pair of slippers is just fine and much more energy efficient!

We chose XPS Rigid Board C-200 to insulate our floor. The C-200 is rated 20PSI capable; human footprint = 16 PSI.

Here are our layers from bottom-up:

  • 1/2″ thick XPS (to fill the corrugations)
  • 1″ thick XPS
  • MLV -not show on the picture- (noise insulation, but we’d skip that layer if we had to start over)
  • 1/2″ thick Plywood
  • Vinyl Flooring -not shown on the picture-
Van Conversion, Floor, weigth on top

4.2- Walls, Ceiling, Overhead cabin & Sliding Door

  • THINSULATE

Installing Thinsulate insulation to a DIY conversion is a piece of cake: there’s no mess, no risk of messing things up, it’s not permanent and it’s easy to work with. You’ll be all done in a weekend. Here is how it goes:

  1. Cut Thinsulate to size (using tailor scissors)
  2. Apply 3M 90 spray adhesive to the van wall and on the white face of the Thinsulate
  3. Wait 30-60 seconds for the adhesive to become tacky
  4. Press the Thinsulate against the wall
  5. That’s all!

How does it performs in real-life? Since we moved full-time in our van (2017), we had anything between -22F (-30C) and +95F (+35C) and we’re in a good position to say it’s a tried-and-true van insulation material. If we had to build another van, we’d use Thinsulate insulation again without any hesitation.

Posted in cargo van, Commercial Van, Ideas & Tips

The million dollar question: ‘How do i insulate my van?

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The million dollar question: ‘How do i insulate my van?

How you decide to insulate (and ventilate) your van conversion could mean the difference between living comfortably for years to come or handing in the towel as soon as you experience a cold night. Sleeping in a freezing cold van, damp from condensation is not something anyone wants. Good insulation is paramount for living a long and happy vanlife.

A quick google or search through van conversion forums and you’ll find yourself a bottomless pit of opinions. It’s a bit of a minefield and it can sometimes leave you with more questions than answers.

By no means am I claiming to know the absolute best method for insulating your van; I am simply sharing a guide to what I have done, why I have done it and most importantly, sharing my opinion on how well it has or hasn’t worked.

BENEFITS OF GOOD INSULATION AND VENTILATION:

  • Temperature Control: Quicker to warm in the winter and easier to keep cool in the summer.
  • Minimise Condensation: helps keep condensation to a minimum = no damp/mould.
  • Smells better:  Good ventilation helps reduce any odours, such as cooking, dogs or damp smells.
  • Protects your van:  Your van may last longer. less damp means less rust/rot.
  • Creates a sound barrier: Insulation can significantly help block outside noise.

These are just some of benefits from a well insulated van. For me, installing the insulation and creating good airflow was a game changer and has made our van a more comfortable place to live.

No doubt, there will be plenty who say our idea of insulation is wrong and you should follow their way. One look online and you see hundreds of different opinions on the “correct” way to insulate. My advice is to take advice from those who have real experience with building and living in a van and then do what makes sense to you.

For me, good insulation comes down to two things:

  1. A sealed moisture barrier that prevents condensation.
  2. A good quality non-absorbant insulator to retain heat.

Condensation is the bane of Vanlife. It leads to damp, which leads to mould and rot, which leads to a very unhappy camper.
I cannot stress enough just how important it is to keep moisture at bay, it will be one of the biggest factors to your comfort level while travelling.

As well as keeping moisture away, you’ll want to keep heat in. Whichever way you decide to heat your van, you’ll want to retain that heat for as long as possible, a good insulator like Celotex is essential for keeping warm.

 FLOOR

STEP 1: LAY BATTENS AND FOAM INSULATION. 

Once the paint had cured and we had applied the sound deadening, we then measured and cut  the wooden battens and foam boards to fit and rested them in place, spacing roughly 30cm apart. (NOTE: our van floor is not flat, it has high and low ridges, we made sure they all sat at the same depth ridge to ensure a level floor).

TIP: This may be an ideal time to pre-cut the ply sheets roughly to size to make it easier later. We didn’t do this and found it difficult lifting the sheets in and out once the supports and foam were installed. The reason i measured and cut afterwards was because our van (Mercedes Sprinter) widens and narrows over the height of the van and i was worried i’d cut the ply too small if i measured before the battens were in.

STEP 2: LAY THE FOIL MOISTURE BARRIER.

One of the key components in keeping condensation at bay is a good moisture barrier. This such a crucial step as it stops any moist, cold air from making contact with the metal panels behind the insulation, which in turn will create condensation. For this to work, the space between the moisture barrier and the van needs to be completely sealed. Any gaps in the barrier will allow moisture build up and before you know it, you’ll have a damp and smelly camper van.

WALLS AND CEILING

The walls and ceiling are fitted with roughly the same method as described for the floor. Celotex boards were cut to shape and held in place with adhesive spray, and expanding foam used to fill any awkward gaps. The battens were then fixed vertically every 500mm using self 35mm self drilling screws and adhesive spray was used to hold the foil barrier in place while we used foil tape to secure and seal.

It could have done the same thing and only used only cladding on the walls, but it wouldn’t have had the same strength and stability as ply. Ply-lining also has the added benefit of being able to fix cabinets etc at any place on the wall.

VENTILATION:

Insulation without ventilation is a train without its tracks, to have a comfortable home-on-wheels, you need a balance of the two. Air circulation is essential for providing sufficient clean air and to help remove water vapour and pollutants. We achieved this by installing a skylight that has fixed ventilation at the front of the van (Dometic Seitz Mini Heki) and windows (Dometic S4 window) that have the ability to lock in a vented position at the rear.

This allow us to keep the van secure, allow ventilation and help keep the van cool in the summer months. I have seen people tackle this in many different combinations, such as two skylights (one at either end of the van), or a floor vent and a skylight/window, some skylights even have fans built in, some may work better than others and it will largely depend on you interior layout. One thing that is for sure: Ventilation is key.

CONCLUSION:

Van insulation can be perplexing, especially when there are infinite options and methods on how to go about it. My advice is to keep in mind that although your van may be your ‘home’ it’s definitely not a ‘house’ and you can’t apply the same rules as you would to brick and mortar. A well sealed moisture barrier and good ventilation are key, this is the process we used to insulate our camper and after living in it through this cold and wet winter, its safe to say it’s been an absolute success.

Posted in Commercial Van, Ideas & Tips

5 Van Life Ideas For Your Next Campervan Conversion

van life ideas - kitch 2
5 Van Life Ideas For Your Next Campervan Conversion

Looking for work van shelving ideas to create the perfect work van conversion? Here is a list of 5 inspirational van builds to help you out. Whether you’re starting a new build or renovating your old van, be sure to give this article a read, first.

From electronic beds to a log cabin on wheels, we’ve scoured the internet to find the best and craziest van life ideas out there.

The Best Van Life Ideas You Must See To Believe

Here below, I present the culmination of our collective firsthand experiences (plus copious amounts of browsing the Internet): the top 5 best van clan ideas for any adventure!

Van Life Ideas 1-10: Practical Considerations

First and foremost, your van life ideas should be grounded in reality. It’s easy to daydream and go on flights of fancy about what you might do and how you might live on your adventure van. But remember that quality of life is important–as you’re going to be spending a lot of time in that space!

Idea #1 – A Stow-able Bed that Retracts into the Ceiling

This electronic, movable bed is our top van life ideal not only because it’s amazingly practical–it is just so cool! Struggling to decide between the convenience and comfort of a fixed bed and the thought of being able to pack it away and have more space? Well with a bed that can retract up into the ceiling, you can have both.

There are four posts that the bed base moves up and down; stowing away in unused ceiling space by day, then lowering down again just in time for bedtime. The advantages of this are that you simply make your bed in the morning, then send it zooming up, out of sight, giving you so much more space to play with through the day time.

This is the best, quickest way to have two completely different day and night setups. On the downside, the systems can be heavy and expensive, but if you can make it work then we think the positives greatly outweigh the negatives!

Idea #2 – Clever Storage Throughout the Van

Storage is essential within any home, but that’s especially true in van life. Because this is an alternative lifestyle, you’ll have to get clever with your storage ideas to meet your needs.

There are many different types of storage out there. Drawers work better than cupboards in a van, as it is easier to access their contents and they can be kept organised more easily. Pockets and pouches on the walls of your van can be a great way to store small items such as books and phones–especially in the bed area.

When thinking about storage, remember that things slide around when driving. Smaller spaces work well, as the items within them have less room to move. Also remember that any shelving will need something to keep the items from falling out; rope can be a good solution for this. Get clever and us every nook and cranny in your van, you can never have enough storage!

Idea #3 – Solar Panels for True Off-grid Living

If you’re wanting to build a true off grid home, then solar panels are a must have on your van! This is one of the most practical van life ideas: Endless free power to charge all of your gadgets while you’re on the go. 

Being able to draw as much power as you like, completely independent of campsite plug-ins will greatly enhance the feeling of independence of and self-suficiency. Once you’ve gone solar, you will never want to go back. 

I know what you’re thinking: “what about when it isn’t sunny?” Well first, solar panels don’t need bright sun and clear blue skies to be effective, although they obviously work better in these conditions. Second, it’s quite possible to rig your van with a batter, where you can store the sun’s energy for a rainy day. Finally, producing your own power to cook, heat showers, and power gadgets is a great way to lower your carbon footprint. So, what are you waiting for?!

Idea #4 – Nothing Beats Fixed Beds at the End of the Day

Just picture this; you’ve had an amazing day out on the trail, you’ve just finished eating a beautifully cooked meal, and you’re more than ready to climb into your warm, soft bed. But wait, where is the bed? Oh, of course, it’s packed away and needs putting together and then making with a sheet and the duvet and pillows… nooooo! Avoid the bed building doom and consider a fixed bed in your campervan conversions.

Having a bed constantly out really makes a campervan feel like somewhere you could spend a lot of time. Having to build your bed at the end of each day just isn’t ideal, and anyone that’s been in this position would agree that having a fixed bed is a true luxury.

Some may argue that you lose so much space in the daytime but more often than not, you’ll find that even with a fixed bed you’ll still have enough space to have everything else you may want in a van, even a seating area and table. Plus, you gain so much handy storage underneath the bed, and by not having a space to pack your duvet into every day. This is one of the van life ideas that is seriously worth considering.

Idea #5 – Swivelling Van Seats Up Front

The cab area in campers is often lost to those hours spent driving–and is rarely more than a dumping ground for outdoor coats and shoes that have nowhere else to go. Try making a feature out of the seats, rather than leaving them an afterthought for a little van life Aikido.

Enabling one or both of the front seats to spin round and become chairs in the living area of the van means that you don’t need to take up extra space in the back of your van by building another seating area. The front seats in a campervan are usually more comfortable than the standard bench seating, so it makes sense to utilise the comfort! To really tie it all together, add some beautiful covers that go with the interior of your van.

Posted in Commercial Van, Ideas & Tips

5 Space-Saving Storage Ideas for a DIY Van Conversion

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11 Space-Saving Storage Ideas for a DIY Van Conversion

It’s incredibly important to keep your space organized when you live in a van. You may not have many belongings, but in a small space things can quickly get out of hand if you don’t have a good place to put everything. That’s why planning your storage areas and using every available inch is so vital.

In this post, i will go over the best van shelving ideas for your van build. If you’re looking for ways to maximize the space inside your van, I hope these give you some inspiration!

1. Underneath the Bed Platform

underbed trunk storage

Built your bed platform tall enough to have plenty of storage space underneath. The bed is two feet above the floor of the van, which easily allows us to store all of our bulkier items. Instruments (guitar, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele), tools, a telescoping ladder, extra fuel for our alcohol stove, propane, our battery box, extra dog food, shower stuff, gas can, spare water jug, extra solar panel on a folding stand, and all of our camping/backpacking gear. You name it, it’s under there.

inside van storage access

Because of the way we built our pullout bed frame, we can also access this underbed storage from the main living area inside the van. All we have to do is move the back cushion out of the way. We may not be able to get out the guitar without opening the trunk, but it’s easy to grab the ukulele and mandolin for an impromptu jam sesh while it’s raining outside.

2. Bedside Storage Shelves and Cup Holders

bed shelf and cup holder john

When you are laying in bed, we like to have easy access to our books, phones, and water bottles. So we built storage shelves in the space between the bed and the van’s walls that hold everything we need nearby.

The shelves sit a few inches below the sides of the bed frame, allowing us to snugly set things in there so they won’t tip over or move around.

cup holder

The cup holders are also made out of ½” birch plywood, which is much stronger and sturdier than typical plywood. We cut a square platform and a horseshoe-shaped piece with a jigsaw, and screwed them both to a rectangular support piece using 1-⅝” self-tapping screws. Then, we screwed the support pieces directly to the walls, and added 1-½” angle brackets underneath for extra stability.

3. Front-Access Storage Compartments Over Wheel Wells

workout storage box

The space around the wheel wells can be tough to put to good use, and it’s very easy for it to end up as dead space. In our van, we decided to build front-access storage compartments above each wheel well. One side holds all of our workout stuff – yoga mats and accessories, weights, resistance bands, jump rope, and XTF90 DVDs. The other side holds our GoPro and miscellaneous camera gear.

To build these, we once again used ½” birch plywood, cut to fit the gap between the bed frame support legs and the walls. The plywood shelf sits directly on top of the wheel wells, secured using 1-½” angle brackets attached to the wall on one side and the bed frame on the other.

workout storage box empty

The rear support wall is another piece of birch plywood, bracketed to the wall, floor, and shelf.

These storage compartments are great for tucking things out of the way, while also allowing us to access them quickly and easily.

4. Flip-Top Storage Bench

Fliptop Bench Closed

Our bench has a hinged flip top that lets us access the space underneath it. This area is home to a lot of the items we may not need on a daily basis. Things like our shoes, our “extras” box (which is filled with spare items or things we may need for repairs), batteries, paper towels – and anything else we don’t need immediate access to. There’s also a separate compartment that holds all of our electrical components.

storage bench no cushion

The storage bench integrates fully into our layout design. The cushions are actually pieces of our mattress, and they fit into the bed frame when it’s fully extended.

storage bench open

The bench also works in concert with our kitchen cabinets to save space and maximize storage. It’s always important to think about how everything fits together when designing your van. It can be like a big game of Tetris sometimes.

5. Front and Back Closets Under High Topper

pantry closed

Our conversion van originally had a media center with TV/VCR above the front cab and little storage cubbies above the rear bench seat. When we gutted the van and ripped all this out, we discovered spacious shelves in these areas that were perfect for storage. So we decided to build a pantry over the front cab and a closet for our clothes in the rear.

building the pantry

To turn these into storage areas, we first insulated them by lining them with reflectix and foil tape. The shelves were already framed with wood, so we were able to screw 1×3 facing directly to the frame. The facing also creates a lip to the shelf, which prevents things from sliding out while driving.