A fridge is a a heat pump machine. It does not “create” cold; it extracts the heat from inside and releases it to the outside. Our Novakool R5810 fridge is designed to disperse the extracted heat via a series of coils in the back (in fact it’s the case for most refrigerators). The heat inside the fridge is transferred into the ambient air in the cabinet via these coils. If that heat is not evacuated from the cabinet, the coils cannot do their jobs of dispersing the heat. To compensate, the compressor will runs constantly and electrical consumption will increase (not to mention the the fridge lifespan is decreased!). The refrigerator is the most energy-using appliance in the van; let’s make things right and add some ventilation!
Here is the idea: we will add a floor vent. Fresh air enters by the floor hole (because the roof fan creates a negative pressure in the van), rises up along the fridge coils, exit the cabinet through the gap near the drawers and is finally pushed outside the van through the Maxxair Roof Fan.
All ideas are made of other ideas, right? We were totally inspired by the super-famous Orton hole-in-the-floor. Credit to him.
TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 8 hours
TOTAL COST : 40$ USD
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- Valterra Slip Hub, 3″ (Buy from Amazon)
- Powertec Splice, 4″ (Buy from Amazon)
- Aluminum Tape (Buy from Amazon)
- Silicone II (Buy from Amazon)
- Wire Mesh (Buy from Amazon)
- Mosquito Screen (we used leftovers)
- Power drill (Buy on Amazon)
- Drill bits (Buy on Amazon)
- Milwaukee 4″Hole Saw (Buy from Amazon)
- Milwaukee Hole Saw Arbor, 3/8″ (Buy from Amazon)
First, we need to make sure the hole will no interfere with a frame or something. We used the vertical frame (bottom left) to locate the hole, because that frame is also under the floor (bottom right).
We started with a small pilot hole, fine-tuned the center of the hole, then proceed with the full-size 4″ hole.
Seeing our floor layers really got us emotional! We almost felt like archaeologists going back in time, almost.
Drilling into the van metal floor exposed edges to corrosion, so as usual we sanded the bare edges and applied primer + paint + clearcoat. We sourced them from our local Auto Parts Store (It’s better to use a can. Spray into a jar and use a Q-Tip to paint the edges). No pictures here 🙁
Now, if we were to leave the hole as it is, water could ingress into the layers of the floor. We will therefore “seal” the hole using a Valterra 3″ Slip Hub & a Powertec 4″ Splice. We did as follows:
a) Temporary install the Valterra 3″ Slip Hub under the van (the flange is outside the van);
b) Temporary install the Powertec 4″ Splice inside the van;
c) Add tape around the splice to mark where to cut it (or mark it with a pen…);
d) Cut the splice using a metal saw (or any other tool of your choice);
e) Tape the Slip Hub & the Splice together using aluminum tape (or other type of tape that works);
f) Install the assembly, from under the van. The flange is screwed into the van floor using 4 metal screws.
g) Seal the top with Silicone:
h) To prevent critters or killer bees from crawling inside the van, we added wire mesh and mosquito net:
We’re not done yet! We want to be able to close the vent for winter or when we hit dust roads.
We used some leftovers of 1/8″ thick MLV (that we sourced here) to fabricate a gate. The MLV is flexible, so we enclosed it in a guide that we built from 1/8″ thick russian birch plywood:
Here is a closeup on the guide:
Since the MLV is flexible, the “handle” can be folded back on itself and hidden under the fridge. That’s why we used MLV instead of wood!
Here it is in action!
ON SECOND THOUGHT
So far so good! When all the doors of the van are closed and the Maxxfan is running, we can definitely feel a draft coming from the floor vent. However if the Maxxfan is not running, or if it’s running with windows open, there is not much draft coming from the floor vent. Your cabinet should still, ideally, have vent on top so the heat pumped by the fridge can escape; if not the fridge might overwork.
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Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!
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