Our DIY camper van conversion will be used as a winter splitboarding basecamp, so climate control is primordial. The Thinsulate thermal insulation, along with the Webasto AirTop 2000 STC air heater and the Maxxair Fan are the key elements to make our campervan conversion comfortable during winter.
Choosing which type of insulation to use was one of the toughest decision; there is no perfect solution, therefore we went with the solution that was the best compromise for us.
TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 16 hours
TOTAL COST : 900$ USD
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- Thinsulate (3M SM600L), 70 linear feet*, 60″ wide roll (Buy from eBay)
- *We plan on making window covers with Thinsulate, so we ordered some extra
- Thinsulate Shipping Cost to Canada (220$)
- 3M 90 spray adhesive, QTY = 4 (Buy from Amazon)
- A good pair of scissor
HOW WE DID IT*
*Disclaimer: we’re good, but not that much. Use these instructions at your own risks!
- The floor thermal insulation is covered in our Floor Installation post. So let’s focus on the van walls and ceiling here.
- Our thermal insulation is comprised of Thinsulate and Low-E EZ-Cool. The Thinsulate installation is covered in this post while the Low-E EZ-Cool installation will be covered in Part II (wait for it…).
As much as the decision to go with Thinsulate was difficult, the installation was an easy task:
- cut thinsulate to size (using kitchen scissors)
- apply 3M 90 spray adhesive to the van wall & on the white face of the thinsulate
- wait 30-60 seconds for the adhesive to become tacky
- press the thinsulate against the wall
- That’s all!
OVERHEAD STORAGE ABOVE DRIVER & PASSENGER SEATS
There is about 1.5″ gap between the van ceiling & overhead storage, that’s perfect to insert some Thinsulate in there. We did not use adhesive since the gap is about the same as the Thinsulate thickness.
No need to completely remove the overhead storage; we slightly lowered it a few inches to fit the Thinsulate as follows:
First, we removed both foam pieces on each side of the overhead storage
We used vise-grip and raw power to remove the pins (they were not damaged in the process and we were able to reuse them)
Foam pieces removed
Then, we removed the four screws (total) under the left-side and right-side handles
Next, we unsnapped the three pins in the center of the overhead storage
To unsnap them, the overhead storage must be pushed forward. This is quite tricky, keep calm! Some people have damaged them in the process, but they can be glued back in place later…
It is now possible to lower the overhead storage a few inches and install the Thinsulate
We used tree pieces of Thinsulate to fill the gap: one on the left-hand side, one on the right-hand side and one in the center.
Reinstall the fasteners and VOILÀ!
The challenge with the ceiling is to work against gravity. However it proved to be fairly easy for 2 people. We won’t go in details here, because there is not much to say…
We left the Thinsulate as shown in the picture above for several months and we did not loose a piece. The 3M 90 spray adhesive is doing a great job!
Large cutout were filled with Thinsulate.
We also filled the van cavities where possible.
The plastic panel must first be removed.
The panel is fastened with several push pins. They are fairly easy to remove with a flat screwdriver, or you can do it with a push pin pliers.
Since the sliding door is exposed to exterior elements, there is a plastic sheet to protect the door mechanism. The plastic sheet can be removed simply by pulling it; the goo should remained glued to it for later re-assembly.
Thinsulate was then placed in the cutouts.
Then just reinstall the plastic sheet and the plastic panel.
ON SECOND THOUGHT…
On a very hot and sunny day, the Magnetic Grey sheet metal of our Ford Transit is burning hot when touched from inside the vehicle. The Thinsulate however is moderately (to highly) hot in comparison. It therefore provides a decent insulation, but not as much as spray foam would (our guess). It might be wise to choose a van with light color if you are living in a hot and sunny region…
At the time of writing these lines, we spent a cold night out there:
- Outside temp: 37F
- Inside temp: 55F (maintained with our Webasto AirTop 2000 STC Air Heater)
This photo was taken at conditions mentioned just above:
We observe that condensation is formed where Thinsulate is installed, but this condensation is “evaporated” at the frame locations where there is no Thinsulate. This is because the frames are forming a thermal bridge for the heat to be conducted from the inside to the outside of the vehicle, thus providing enough heat for the water to evaporate. In other words, there is a heat loss where there is no condensation.
We also observed inside the van that the Thinsulate is warm to the touch, while the adjacent “bare” metal frames are cold to to the touch.
To isolate these thermal bridges, we will apply Low-E EZ-Cool to the “bare” frames (the wood finish will play this role as well). The EZ-Cool is a closed-cell foam sandwiched between two aluminum sheets.
We still have to do the installation of the EZ-Cool, this is on the “To-Do” list, wait for it in our next post…
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Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine, a couple dreaming of being on the move and we’re seeking for the ride of our life. We bought a Ford Transit van, converted it to a campervan, sold our house and hit the road full-time to make our dream a reality. We are sharing this in hope of inspiring and helping others to follow their dreams too!