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Old 10-19-2020, 06:32 PM   #1
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Default Is insulation really necessary?

Hi Everyone,

I'm not planning on living in my camper van and only using it 2-3 times a year for 2-3 days each time and was wondering, is it really necessary to insulate a campervan? Has anyone ever sat in a van with NO insulation and one WITH insulation to be able to compare?
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Old 10-19-2020, 08:24 PM   #2
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Seems like it would depend a lot on where you are going and what time of year!
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Old 10-19-2020, 11:29 PM   #3
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It isn’t necessary if you aren’t trying to maintain a different temperature inside than it is outside ( warmer or cooler). The greater temperature differential you are trying to maintain, the more insulation is beneficial. Of course in a metal van with windows and thin walls, insulation will always be somewhat limited.

We use our van some in cold weather but it is possible our insulation is more valuable when the hot sun is beating on it (think the inside of a car on a hot day).
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Old 10-19-2020, 11:39 PM   #4
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You can get a lot of good information on the Sprinter Forum - https://sprinter-source.com/forums/i...threads/74260/.
DIY folks tend to ask the question about what type of insulation is best but not if it is needed. I have not seen a DIY conversion yet without insulation, which is not the case with commercial conversions.
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Old 10-20-2020, 12:11 AM   #5
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Even if you think you don't care about temperature, the presence or absence of insulation can have a significant affect on the "ambiance" of the van. It is hard to quantify, but it is the difference between feeling like you are occupying a tin can vs. a substantial enclosure. Similarly, insulation inside doors can produce a satisfying feeling of solidity during opening and closing. Kind of like the difference between closing a door on a Lexus vs a 1971 VW Beetle.

And, of course, insulation will have a big effect on the patterns of condensation inside the vehicle when it is cold outside.
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Old 10-20-2020, 01:17 AM   #6
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as above insulation will keep your ac in on a hot day


the noise of a campground neighbor out


and the chill will stay outside too- with no insulation you could be more subject to fluids freezing in lines


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Old 10-25-2020, 05:28 PM   #7
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If you're only using it about 9 days a year why would you care if it has insulation, unless you live in a really northern state like Maine or Alaska?
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Old 10-25-2020, 06:13 PM   #8
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I built a DIY campervan on a Promaster 159. It is a window van so the only place I have insulated is below the windows... not sure I'd do it again.

I did put (2) 1/2" layers of polyiso on the ceiling before finishing it. My dark grey van in the sun, made for a very hot roof. The polyiso made a big difference there.

We camp at temps from 35 to 95. A vent fan keeps us cool, and a 120V shore power 1500W electric heater keeps it toasty warm at night when it's 35 degrees outside.
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Old 10-25-2020, 06:43 PM   #9
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I've camped in my 1998 Coach House and my 1999 Roadtrek in the winter without any added insulation, other than what came with them when they were manufactured. I spent a weekend (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) boondocking in 10 degree weather with snow and ice on the ground at a dog show with the Coach House. It was an all electric camper van so I ran the generator to run the heat option on the DuoTherm A/C, along with a small space heater. The temp was 65 degrees inside and I was comfortable in a long sleeved t-shirt.

Ever since I bought my first camper van, about 13 years ago, I've camped at my sister's house for 1-2 weeks at Christmas-time in northern Indiana. I plug in to an outlet on her house and run a small space heater. If it's windy and the temps are in the teens or 20's at night, I sometimes run the furnace at night too. I've only made a few modifications regarding insulation. Initially I just sunshades over the windshield, and I put dog crate pads along the wall next to my bed, since the walls are cold to the touch. For the past 2 years, I've added putting Reflectix along the walls and inside the back door, as well as covering the side door, the windshield, and the windows. I've also started hanging a plush blanket from the ceiling to the floor behind the front seats, since the cab area loses heat. I'm still planning on making some more modifications like that.

I also boondock at dog shows in the summer where I can't always have the A/C running or park in shade. Having the awning out really helps to keep the vehicle cooler a good part of the day. On the opposite side, I'll hang a silver shade screen, as well as use the Reflectix inside.

So, in other words, I think you'll be fine for camping without major insulation for 2-3 days, but it helps to go a little prepared.

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Old 10-25-2020, 07:09 PM   #10
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No... adding insulation isn't a necessity unless you're planning to camp in extremely warm weather conditions or freezing weather without hookups. If you have electricity, then you can remain relatively comfortable in cold weather running an electrical space heater. On the other hand, in hot weather, it's gonna either be unbearably warm inside or you're going to sleep miserably with the air conditioner running... even worse if you have to run the generator to power the air conditioner.
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Old 10-25-2020, 07:37 PM   #11
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No... adding insulation isn't a necessity unless you're planning to camp in extremely warm weather conditions or freezing weather without hookups. If you have electricity, then you can remain relatively comfortable in cold weather running an electrical space heater.
I agree, but with an emphasis on the word "relatively". You can certainly make the air temperature toasty, but if your bed takes your body anywhere near the van's shell, insulation will make for a significantly more comfortable sleep.

I completely agree with your hot-weather analysis.
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Old 10-25-2020, 09:49 PM   #12
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An inch of insulation helps to avoid condensation problems but the interior cubic feet is so small that it takes very little to heat the space regardless of the outside tempertures unless you have -20 and windchill to contend with at a camping location.

A different matter is having the water in the lines or the pump freeze up.
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Old 10-25-2020, 09:51 PM   #13
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I have owned my van for 5 years and am glad that I haven't done the insulation first. I am still figuring out the layout , the plumbing, and the wiring. I only miss the insulation when the temperatures drop below 40F at night. My gasoline Webasto heater then struggles to keep my entire window van warm.

The need for insulation on hot days is often exaggerated. Most vans have windows, and people go in an out often. It is not an igloo that you keep closed all day with A/C running. I have a white van, and even on 85F sunny days the roof is cool to the touch. Why would you need an insulation in this case? Insulation can also trap the heat from the daytime and make it more difficult for the van to cool down when the temperatures drop.

I am going to have some insulation eventually, but I will definitely not be going overboard with it.
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Old 10-25-2020, 10:05 PM   #14
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Insulation is always helpful, it makes the car quieter too
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Old 10-29-2020, 05:13 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayKay View Post
Hi Everyone,

I'm not planning on living in my camper van and only using it 2-3 times a year for 2-3 days each time and was wondering, is it really necessary to insulate a campervan? Has anyone ever sat in a van with NO insulation and one WITH insulation to be able to compare?
Personally, I would never build a RV without ample insulation. Even if you don't plan to use it in extreme temps now, you may want to in the future and it seems silly to scrimp on what is likely to be one of the smaller expenses of a total build. I'd put it in just in case.
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Old 10-29-2020, 02:32 PM   #16
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Though I have camped often in below freezing weather and really don't know how much insulation improves air conditioning in hot weather to analyze results, the major difference in insulation combined with Hushmat covering of the steel body is the super quietness in overnight stays such as Walmarts and Cracker Barrels and seemingly way too many campgrounds located near train tracks and highways.
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Old 10-29-2020, 04:50 PM   #17
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I winter camped for years using a pickup truck with a fiberglass cap and no insulation whatsoever. Many people winter camp in tents out in the snow and those tents have no insulation either.

In hot weather the IR from the sun coming in through the windows is the main factor in heating up a vehicle. When I bought my first SUV I quickly came to realize it was a moving greenhouse and it got far hotter than any truck or sedan I had owned. Tinting the windows with a ceramic film cut the heat load by half and was well worth the cost to have this done.
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Old 10-29-2020, 08:04 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Hushmat covering of the steel body is the super quietness in overnight stays such as Walmarts and Cracker Barrels and seemingly way too many campgrounds located near train tracks and highways.
I've begun looking at potential campsites with Google Earth to determine the proximity of train tracks in advance. I started doing this after our first year of travel during which I decided that close railroad tracks were a prerequisite for Harvest Hosts and RV Parks. At least that is how it seemed to me.
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Old 10-29-2020, 08:32 PM   #19
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I like trains.
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Old 10-29-2020, 09:38 PM   #20
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I like trains.
Me, too. I grew up with the B&O freight line about a quarter mile to the west and the Penn Central/Amtrak line about mile to the east (across water, so the sound carried). Train sounds at night never bothered me.

But after years of living far from trains and freeways, trying to sleep too close to either wakes me up every time. It takes several days to acclimate to different kinds of noises, and only then if they are familiar and safe. If it's just one night, it's guaranteed to be a restless sleep.

The noises of a parking lot at night could potentially be the kinds of noises you would want to wake up for- and bug out!
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