How To Keep Cool In Your Van This Summer - Cooling Options

Updated: Jun 1, 2021

After a few roasting hot days here in the UK and seeing lots of posts about how to keep cool in your van I have decided to write this post for you. Being in the back of a panel van in the summer is like being in an oven and can be quite unbearable during the day and sometimes even at night.

If you think it is bad for us then imagine how bad it could be for all the van life dogs out there who have to wear their thick coat all year round.

Unlike heating your van in winter where all you have to do is insulate your van and buy a diesel heater cooling your van is a little bit more complicated however it does also start with making sure your van in well insulated. For more info on the best way to insulate your van please take a look at this post.

Once you have insulated the panels of your van it is time to tackle any windows that you might have. Glass in summer = unbearable heat... think about a greenhouse.

The best thing to do is get some kind of reflective window shades for your windows to reflect the heat away from your van. You can buy these ready made or you can buy some SuperFoil and make some yourself for a budget solution, however these will stop all natural light from getting into your van so it is best to only use these when you are not in your van, at night or when it is to hot to handle. It is also better to open any opening windows than to insulate them so maybe only use these on non opening windows when you are in your van. As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Maypole MP6608 Thermal Blind

Universal fit for van based Motorhomes, E. G. Peugeot Boxer, Fiat Ducato, Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, etc

Maypole MP6610 Internal Thermal Blind Set

Suitable for Volkswagen T5 and T6 CAMPER vans.

SuperFOIL General Purpose Foil Insulation (1m x 7m) - 4mm Double Layer Heat Reflector


Another layer of protection against the heat your windows will produce in your van is some thermal curtains, they are just as good as keeping the heat out in the summer as they are at keeping the heat in in the winter.

There are so many choices to choose from especially if you are good with a sewing machine or know somebody that is, don't worry if not you can get something pre made!



For Universal pre made curtains or curtains made for specific vans please follow these links

So now you have done pretty much everything you can during your build to keep the heat out of your van, what can you do to keep the heat out of your van when you are living, staying or traveling in your van?

The first thing you should do and probably the most obvious of all is to park in the shade as much as possible, this will make a huge difference although it is not ideal for anybody who relies on solar attached to their roof for power. Ok so it's not exactly Sophie's choice but it is a hard trade off, park in the shade and get next to no charge in your batteries or park in sun where your batteries will be fully charged but your van will be an oven...

First off if it is a really sunny day and you are parked in the sun your solar panels will perform exceptionally well and you batteries will charge up quickly so you could probably park your van in the sun for a few hours and then move it to the shade when your batteries are topped up and not have to worry about it.

But if the heat is just way to much to handle but you still need solar to put some charge back into your batteries you could always get yourself a folding Solar panel and some long cables so you can keep your van in the shade but place your solar in direct sunlight (and even move to follow the sun throughout the day.

ECO-WORTHY 12 Volt 200w 200 Watt Portable Foldable Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit:2pcs 100w Solar Panels with 15A Charger Controller for Battery Charging charger for Car Caravan

To be able set this solar panel up far from your van in the sun you will need some decent sized cables. Obviously this will need 15amp cable at least but the longer the run of cable it is the thicker the cable needs to be to account for any voltage drops so I suggest extending the cable with this cable that is capable of carrying 30 amps

TUOFENG 12 Gauge Silicone Wire 21 Meter [10.5 m Black and 10.5 m Red] 12 AWG Electrical Wire Hook Up Wire Cable Soft and Flexible of Tinned Copper Wire High Temperature Resistance

Another simple way to stay cool in your van is to create a cross breeze through your van, this is very simple but very effective.

This works best if you don't have a bulkhead or anything separating your your cab from the back of your van but will work without.

The first thing you will need is a a powered roof fan in your roof close to the front of your van if you don't have a bulkhead or near the middle of the van if you do. The best one on the market is the MAXXAIR its has both intake and exhaust mode (it sucks and blows), it as a built in black out blind, comes with a remote control and has a thermostat so you can set your ideal temp. It is a little bit pricey but well worth the money, however there are some cheaper options.

Maxxair Maxxfan Deluxe 400 × 400 Rooflight Clear Tint Remote Control Rooflight



KKTECT RV Roof Vent Fan,12V Motorhome vent Fan w/ 3 Speed Intake & Exhaust – Electric Crank Lift & Smoke Lid – Includes Screws & Garnish

Fiamma Turbo Vent Crystal Crank Roof Hood Polar Control with Thermostat 40 x 40 cm Includes Dekalin Sealant

The next thing you will need is as many opening points on your van as possible. This is why it works best with no bulkhead in your van, without one it already gives you the driver and the passenger windows that can open.

How it works is once the fan is turned on in exhaust mode (sucking not blowing) it will pull fresh air in through any open window, sky light, vent etc through your van and back out of the roof fan, anywhere in between the open window, sky light, vent etc and the fan set to exhaust mode will get a nice cool breeze.

The more opening points you add to your van the better the breeze inside your van will be.

To be able to leave your driver and passengers windows open when you are asleep or not in the van it is a good idea to install some wind deflectors, these are awesome things that go over the tops of your windows that allow you to keep your windows open a few inches in all weather conditions without worrying about wind and rain getting in your van, they also stop people being able to reach into you van to unlock it or steal stuff.

I won't list links to all makes and models but here are a few of the popular ones

2x Wind Deflectors Compatible with RENAULT Master NISSAN NV400 OPEL VAUXHALL Movano 2010–present

iSpeed WIND Deflectors For Vauxhall Vivaro mk1 2001-2014