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

Updated: Jun 1




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


https://amzn.to/3k7k2a7




Maypole MP6610 Internal Thermal Blind Set


Suitable for Volkswagen T5 and T6 CAMPER vans.

https://amzn.to/33nZvYM




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


BUDGET DIY OPTION



https://amzn.to/2Dfb4He



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!



Viceroybedding BLACKOUT THERMAL CURTAIN LINING FABRIC MATERIAL 3 PASS INSULATED SOLD PER 1 METRE



CHOICE OF COLOURS




https://amzn.to/31cy69O



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


https://www.vandemon.co.uk/category/curtains/


https://van-x.co.uk/category/curtains/


https://www.kiravans.co.uk/collections/curtains


https://www.madmatz.co.uk/campervan-curtains-and-cushions.html




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




https://amzn.to/3gDufsV




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






https://amzn.to/2XoiSNI




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


BEST OPTION ON THE MARKET

http://ebay.us/bFotXZ





MAXXAIR MAXXFAN DELUXE MODEL WHITE 350x350 mm. ROOF VENT FANREMOTE CONTROL



http://ebay.us/m9R0BX






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



https://amzn.to/3q6FCOM




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



https://amzn.to/3grIJfl





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



https://amzn.to/2PsBUhr



iSpeed WIND Deflectors For Vauxhall Vivaro mk1 2001-2014





https://amzn.to/3iaNb2e





STX TRANSIT MK8 2013 ON INTERNAL WIND DEFLECTORS







https://amzn.to/3kfZQD9




AC WOW 2x Wind Deflectors Compatible V W Crafter 2006-2017 MERCEDES Sprinter 2006-2018



https://amzn.to/3kfDaCY



Wind Deflector FIAT Ducato 06r/C.Jumper III/P.Boxer






https://amzn.to/33rB64C




Another good thing to add to let some fresh air into the van is a non powered sky light at the opposite end of your van to your powered fan. If you have the fan at the front and the skylight at the back then you will get a nice cool breeze all the way down the middle of your van.


There are lots of options on the market but here are a few good ones, obviously the bigger it is the more fresh air you can pull through it.



Fiamma Vent 28 Rooflight Crystal


BUDGET OPTION 28CM X 28CM


https://amzn.to/3gBF8vi





Maxxair SkyMaxx Rooflight


MID RANGE MID SIZE 40CM X 40CM



https://amzn.to/2Dle1pK






DOMETIC SEITZ MIDI HEKI 700 x 500 SKYLIGHT ROOF WINDOW W/O VENTILATION





http://ebay.us/2fe2QS




If you do not have a bulk head or another solid structure between your cab and sleeping area of your van with the items above you will now have 3 opening points on your van that your extractor fan can pull fresh cool air through. If you do have a bulkhead then you will only have the skylight so adding some more opening points will help, even if you don't have a bulkhead adding more will make a huge difference to the air flow in your van and the more angles the fresh cool air can come from the better.


So the next thing I am going to suggest is some opening bonded windows. Again I am not going to post links to all makes and models but you will find what you are looking for by following the link below.


CLICK HERE FOR BONDED WINDOWS



If you have a low budget and are looking for cheap easy solutions for letting fresh air into your van then you could take advantage of the doors. This isn't a perfect solution for everybody for example stealth campers or anybody concerned with privacy however it is an awesome, cheap and safe way to leave your van doors open a little even as you sleep.


They come in a few sizes and just connect to your barn door or to your tailgate if you have a smaller van or people carrier


They are designed to keep dogs cool in your car/van when you are not in it and are intended to be used in conjunction with leaving the windows open too to create airflow so they fit in perfectly with our opening points and extractor fan plan.




Cool Dog Tailgate Lock


X-Small, 4-Inch - https://amzn.to/3gCsITz

Small, 9-Inch - https://amzn.to/2DlaZ52

Medium, 12-Inch - https://amzn.to/30DFGex

Large, 21-Inch - https://amzn.to/3ijFya0







So that should give you a few good options for creating an amazingly cool cross breeze on the hottest of days, the more options you add and the more power the extracting fan the cooler it will keep you. If you don't mind cutting holes in the side of your van you could even place some vents down low so you have a cool breeze coming from the top of the van from your skylight, the bottom from your vents and the middle from your windows.


These ones can be opened and shut but if you always leave them open slightly you will always have fresh air and won't have to worry about mould or condensation.



2X Adjustable Sliding 9" x 3" Aluminium Vents




https://amzn.to/31s9Q3v






So that is a cross breeze sorted... what are your other options for keeping cool?



You could get yourself some USB powered fans to create a breeze, these are not the most powerful things in the world and if the van is hot in the first place they will probably just blow the hot air around but with a few windows or vents open it will add to the breeze and can be aimed directly at you no matter where you are in the van.



USB Fan, TedGem USB Desk Fan, Portable Mini USB Fan




https://amzn.to/3fGnDIE




LaHuko 8 Inch Desk Fan Ultra Silent USB Fan Rechargeable Personal Fan Portable Fan 360° Adjustable 3 Modes Lightweight Strong Wind





https://amzn.to/2DAjUj1




Fancii Small Personal USB Fan - Portable Mini Table Desk Fan with Twin Turbo Blades


https://amzn.to/3gA6EZU





Invero 6-Inch USB Tilting Desktop Cooling Fan with Metal Shell and Aluminium Blades






https://amzn.to/2XFcYb8






ELUTO Car Fan 12V/24V Cigarette Lighter Electric Auto Cooling Fan 3 Speed 360 Degree Rotatable Dual Head




https://amzn.to/2MUz9b3



Another take on a USB powered fan would be an evaporative cooler, it basically works in the same way as a USB fan but you put cold water or ice into it and even if you have no open windows or vents etc it will blow cool air out.


These have a few draw backs as if you are in a hot van the water in the cooler will heat up quickly or the ice will melt just as quick as you can put it in. Also you would need to keep stopping to get ice or would need somewhere to store it keep it frozen. They are good for a quick cool down when needed though and if you do have a decent ice box or a freezer in your van these are a nice luxury to have when nothing else is working.