Art & Freedom On The Road

Insulating Your Van

By Joe On 15th September 2018

Before reading this you need to have battened the walls ceiling and floor

Having already completed the insulation of our van, I can tell you it was our least favourite job and it sucks... you want nothing more than to just get the walls up and start making your van a home. As you're not yet living in your van, you can’t yet appreciate how cold it gets at night, and you’ll be fighting to conserve the energy you have in your van. I can tell you now, it’s worth it, do it right!

We were reasonably laid back about heat at first, as we were getting solar panels we thought we’d just get a plug in electric heater or somthing, but after realising just how little power solar panels bring in compared to how much a heater actally requires we realised the value in insulating our van.

We managed to complete this job in 3 days and we didn't look back.

What we used

Layer #1 - Thermal Reflective Insulation - This stuff is important to stop the cold getting in and heat getting out! Don’t cut the corners on this, buy as much as you need and cover everything with it (walls, floor and ceiling). It’s easy to cut, easy to stick down (we used spray adhesive), and it makes your van look like the inside of a space shuttle... Cool!

Layer #2 - Loft Insulation Roll/Polystyrene Insulation Board – On the floor we didn’t want to raise it too high, so we battened it and filled with 2.5cm thick polystyrene sheets. On the walls and ceiling the cavities were thick, so we used 10cm loft insulation on the roll, again real easy to cut and wedge into the places you needed it, we wedged it between the cavities and filled the cavities with expanding foam. It was tough to stick this stuff on, so we bought a strong adhesive spray and tapped across each sheet for extra support to stop it falling off before we plyed.

Layer #3 – Damp Proof Membrane - This is mainly here to stop condensation made on the inside seeping into the insulation, as well as acting as another barrier stop heat escaping. Fit it using as few joins as possible, you’ll also need to make sure any holes are tapped up. Joins and holes can be taped up with insulation tape or “space tape” as we call it.

Costs

  • 15 x Thermal Reflective Insulation 7.5m x 600m x 4mm - £14 each
  • 20 x Loft Insulation Roll 8m x 0.37m x 100mm - £18 each
  • 5 x Polystyrene Insulation Board 2.4m x 0.6m x 25mm - £6 each
  • 2 x Aluminium Joining Tape 50m - £5 each
  • 3 x Damp Proof Membrane 30m x 0.4m - £14 each
  • 4 x Spray Adhesive - £6 each
  • Total Cost: £676

You’ll next need to ply the walls. Do this soon because all your insulation will fall out if you drive around too much. We decided to insulate the ceiling after we fitted the plywood on the floor/walls and cut the skylights.

We did alot of reading online and found alot of people use different techniques when insulating their van, so we did the logical thing and took the most common and thorough ways. Our way works well for us but you may find better ways, do your research first and make your own decisions just like we did.

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