When doing a camper van conversion you’ll want to consider the cost to add insulation. A bare bones cargo van will come with zero insulation in the cargo hold area. So, you’ll need to come up with a creative way to insulate for added warmth and sound dampening.
If you travel in hot or cold weather conditions you’ll want a well insulated van to keep you comfortable.
So, how much exactly does it cost to insulate a van?
The short answer:
The cost of van insulation will range between $150 and $600. The price will depend on your materials chosen to get the job done. You’ll have several options, from sheep wool, to spray foam and basic foam board. Also consider the price of labor. If doing all the work yourself, this will greatly reduce the cost.
Van insulation is not just to provide safety from the cold air outside. It comes with a list of dos and don’ts and extensive logic to get the work done. Read on about everything you need to know about insulating a van along with DIY instructions on insulation so you can save those extra bucks!
What are the best materials for insulation?
Some distinguished materials that can get the work done while keeping your pockets safe include:
- Thinsulate: A source of insulation via fibers, Thinsulate offers an easy solution to most problems as it is flexible and can fit in many places. It does not retain moisture and is very easy to use. However, it is costly so difficult to extensively use when on a budget.
- Spray foam: This material is most popularly used to insulate vans because of its impermeability to water, and its flexibility and durability. It is also cost-effective and easily available.
- XPS Rigid Board: Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) insulation boards are becoming a popular insulation solution in many places. It works better than most products for thermal insulation and is also water-resistant.
Should I use wool instead?
While the listed materials come with guaranteed advantages, it is sheep’s wool that is the most recommended for thermal insulation. Due to its natural heat-resistant properties and resilience, wool can be used for insulating vans during extreme weather conditions.
Apart from trapping much-needed warmth inside, sheep’s wool keeps moisture balanced inside the van, while its ability to diminish sound eliminates the need for a separate muffling system being installed. This solution, however, is costly, so might not be the go-to material when working on a budget.
Should I remove the insulation during summer?
This depends on if you have any or no electric system of ventilation in your van. During extreme summers, the insulation tends to trap external heat without giving it a path to exit, making the insides much hotter than you would wish for them to be. However, if you have an electric system of ventilation installed, such as a vent fan or Reflictix, the insulation would contribute to some good against the extreme weather by trapping cool air inside and not letting it leave.
Does ventilation matter?
Whether your insulation is permanent or temporary, you MUST have a system of ventilation to ensure the vans, as well as your safety. A simple vent fan is more than enough to keep the temperature balanced inside the vehicle. In addition to this, ventilation systems help control internal humidity and moisture levels.
Moreover, an increased number of people inside the van means more body heat in the form of radiation accumulates in the van.
The buildup of moisture and the excessive heat can damage the metal parts of the structure and can cause a buildup of toxic gases, apart from being a source of discomfort for the passengers as a whole. This risk should be avoided altogether. Since the number of people can’t be cut off, a ventilation fan can easily be installed.
How can I insulate my van myself?
Keeping in mind the difference in costs, we recommend using foam board if you’re working on your van. Listed below are step-wise instructions on how to get the best insulation before hitting the road!
Note: Make sure you have correctly measured the dimensions inside your van.
Things you need:
- Foam (XPS foam is recommended, but 1-inch POLYISO can also be used)
- Permanent marker and sharp blade cutter
- Sealant spray
- Lumber (for setting)
- Relfectix (if you wish to insulate the floor as well)
1. Use the cardboard to make templates of your vans’ internal structure, including its windows. Place the cardboard cutting on top of the foam and use a cutter to cut the foam accordingly.
Note: Don’t throw away excess templates, you can always make use of them in the future.
2. Use the sealant spray to cover the inside of the van where the foam is to be stuck. Additionally, spray the downside of the foam as well- the side that will be stuck inside. Note: Make sure the whole perimeter is covered with the sealant spray to avoid any loose sticks.
3. Press the foam cutting on the side of the van coated with the spray. Press a few times to ensure it is properly stuck. Additionally, use lumber to keep the foam in place until the spray dries. Repeat this for all the foam cuttings until the inside of the van is completely covered.
4. To cover the ceiling, repeat the same process. If the sealing or any other part of the van is curved, use extra lumber to ensure the foam sticks to the walls of the van in the desired shape.
5. Cover up any portion of the van left with foam and use the blade to cut off any excess.
6. If the floor needs insulation, use Relfectix in the same way as the foam is used, and press the floor down till the spray sets.
7. The doors and wheels of the van can be insulated following the same procedure. To ensure an extra-strong stick, the high-strength tape can also be used (such as Gorilla tape).
With these simple steps, traveling can become comfortable again! While this procedure helps provide safety when facing harsh winters or summers, it is still a good idea to keep check of the weather extremes before traveling altogether. We encourage you to have fun throughout the year, but do keep your safety and health a priority, always!