While curtains work for houses, we think insulated window covers are better for campervans. They are lightproof (for shade & privacy) and insulated (to keep the van cool in summer, warm in winter).

 

We’re obsessed with functionality and these DIY insulated window covers fully answer that need! We inserted rare earth magnets all around the covers edges, so they just “snap” to the van metal window contour. Easy breezy!

 

The front windshield does’t have a metal contour, so magnets wouldn’t work. We’re using spring-loaded extendable curtain rods (http://amzn.to/2y6dqCZ) to keep the insulated window covers in place (see picture below).

 

And here are the Insulated Window Covers

This side (fabric and thinsulate side) is inside the van

This side (EZ-COOL) is against the window.

 

Installed, looking from inside:

Ford Transit Insulated Window Covers Interior (2)

Front Insulated Window Cover (see how the windshield one doesn’t hold with magnets; it’s held with spring-loaded extendable curtain rods http://amzn.to/2y6dqCZ)

 

Ford Transit Insulated Window Covers Interior (1)

Slider’s Insulated Window Cover

 

Rear Door

 

Installed, looking from outside:

Ford-Transit-Insulated-Window-CoversFord Transit Insulated Window Covers (1)

 

Functionality

1. Shade & Privacy

The insulated window covers are lightproof (well, except at some random spots on edges) so no light will come in, or out, of the van. We use them for sleeping, changing and when using the composting toilet.

 

2. Thermal Insulation (winter)

There is no FarOutRide without winter… we’re no snowbirds, so riding will happen all four seasons! Living in a van during winter (think Canadian winter) is no joke, so we must prepare the van accordingly. That means proper ventilation, air heater and thermal insulation. Insulating the van is elementary, but the windows are actually the weakest link! A LOT of heat is lost through the windows; we learned that on our first winter trip in the Chic-Chocs (where temperatures went down to -15F (-25C)) and during our first month on the road.

For thermal insulation, we used 2″ thick SM600L Thinsulate on all covers except for the front windshield we opted for 1″ thick AU4002-5 3M Thinsulate. Why 1″ instead of 2″? Because the front windshield cover is so big, it helps making it less heavy and bulky. In fact, if we had to start over, we would use 1″ thick Thinsulate all over our insulated window covers to make them lighter and easier to store when we’re not using them.

 

3. Thermal Insulation (summer)

Even with the van insulated and with proper ventilation, we could not keep the temperatures down to a comfortable level in the van. The windows MUST be covered to avoid the greenhouse effect! To do so, we used a layer of Low-e EZ-Cool to reflect the radiant heat. It really makes a HUGE difference when it’s sunny!

 

 

 

TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 80 hours, no joke! (they had to be sewed by hand because of the fabric thickness & multiple layers)

 

TOTAL COST : Approx. 500$ USD 

 


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MATERIAL:

**Please make patterns (in cardboard or something) and check the quantity you need. At the time of writing these lines, we forgot exactly how much we used…

 

RESOURCES:

  • A nice and loving mother in law!

 

HOW TO MAKE THE INSULATED WINDOW COVERS

No need to get into much details, but here is the important stuff:

  • The layers are as follow: EZ-Cool/Thinsulate/Fabric
  • 3M 90 Spray adhesive was used in between EZ-Cool & Thinsulate
  • The rare earth magnets are POWERFUL …but not that much once they’re covered with fabric and they have to hold the weight of the cover. So make sure to use plenty of them all around (we used 9 round magnets per cover for the rear doors, 12 for the slider door, 3 for each driver/passenger door) and make sure not to use a thick fabric over the magnets (we wished we used a slightly thinner fabric, the black border you see on our insulated window covers is quite thick). Also, with time, the magnets have migrated slightly away from the van metal contour, making them even less effective. Bottom line is, the holding power is affected by the magnet dimension, quantity and accurate location; we didn’t quite find the perfect balance, it’s up to you to do better than us!

Each magnet is contained into a small pouch and this pouch is sewed onto the the Thinsulate (so the magnet stays where it should):

Fabric-Pouch-To-Thinsulate

Magnets are contained in a pouch around the edges

 

THE EASY WAY…

No sewing skills? Or maybe you don’t have 50-80 hours to spares? Or maybe you’re just looking for something that looks more “stealth”? Strawfoothandmade.com is making a bunch of cool hand-made products and they recently released insulated window covers for Ford Transit & Mercedes Sprinter (they are van people too!). Their insulated window covers are insulated with EZ-COOL (like ours), but without thinsulate. If you drop them a line, they can fabricate the covers with a “pocket” to insert thinsulate; the thinsulate can be removed during summer or for easier storage, neat! We haven’t personally tried them, but after some research we only found great reviews (see some reviews here: fordtransitusaforum.com and here: Sprinter Forum).

Here is where to find them: https://strawfoothandmade.com/collections/all

We only found about Strawfoothandmade after we made our own covers, but we would seriously consider them if we had to start over…

 

 

ON SECOND THOUGHT

  • We love the fact that the insulated window covers can be installed on-the-fly with the rare earth magnets, but we would use more magnets (and make sure they don’t go away from the metal border) and a thinner fabric to retain the power from the magnets.
  • The EZ-Cool is not exactly stealth… it might be a good idea to make the insulated window covers reversible: one side with EZ-Cool (to reflect the sun) and one side black (stealth = not to attract attention at night).
  • We would use 1″ thick Thinsulate on all covers to reduce the weight and make them easier to store (we store them on the bed when we’re not using them).
  • If you’re living with an Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity condition, get these insulated window covers NOW! Yep, it seems to EZ-COOL is an excellent signal blocker (similarly to metal). If you’re working from your van or if you like to Netflix-and-chill, you might want to get a cell phone signal booster; because once the covers are installed, we’re loosing about 2-3 bars of signal and we completely loose signal in weaker spots. We sometimes remove the covers to get better signal, but then it gets uncomfortably cold… So get a Monopoly game or get the WeBoost 4GX-RV signal booster! It’s not cheap, but again if you’re working remotely it might be a good investment. There are cheaper options out-there, but this is the most popular and best available:
WeBoost 4GX-RV

WeBoost 4GX-RV Signal Booster. Buy from Amazon.

 

 

 

(Very) Related Articles:

 

 

 

 

 

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ABOUT US

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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18 comments

  1. Comment by Chris

    Chris Reply May 28, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Awesome design and write up!

    I was wondering if there is a reflecting material more flexible than EZ-Cool, so that the window covers could be rolled up? Do you think much of the total insulating powers of your covers is provided by the plastic bubbles in the EZ-Cool? Perhaps most of the benefits are from the aluminum surface providing reflection for radiant heat and the Thinsulate for conduction (convection too?). Here’s a fabric that might work for the radiant heat, but one review said it smell bad! 😉 : https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B01N5MHXQD?tag=amz-mkt-chr-us-20&ascsubtag=1ba00-01000-s1060-win70-other-smile-us000-pcomp-feature-scomp-wm-5&ref=aa_scomp#customerReviews

    My sister is coming to visit soon and she has agreed to help with the sewing of my window covers, so I need to start purchasing window cover fabrics, insulation, and parts. I am thinking reversible with black on one side, aluminum mylar on the other, and 1 inch Thinsulate in the middle, with lots of magnets. What do you think? Would using EZ-Cool be significantly better?

    Thank you for all your guidance!

    Chris

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply May 30, 2018 at 9:58 am

      Hi Chris,
      From what I know mylar is super fragile, but i’m not familiar with the product you linked.
      Most of the insulation in our covers come from the Thinsulate, not from the bubbles in the EZ-COOL; so I guess using a different radiant material is OK too.

      Bottom word, my only concern with mylar is it could tear and deteriorate in the long run.
      Let me know how it turns out!

      antoine

    • Comment by Laura

      Laura Reply July 14, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      Chris,

      I used an insulation fabric from Joann’s. It has two layers of reflective material, sandwiching three layers of light compressible fill. I love them and they make a huge difference in keeping heat in or the sun out. It’s readily available, in custom cut lengths, and Joann’s is always having promotions. I put black fabric on the exterior for stealth and looks like the windows are just tinted really dark. For the interior you can leave it the way it is (it already has a nice finished look) or use a decorative fabric of your choice. No need to stare at reflectix on all your windows. Plus this fabric actually provides good quality air spaces, unlike reflectix which is plastic bubbles that doubtfully create a quality, impactful airspace.

      https://www.joann.com/54in-ivory-warm-window/10674935.html

      • Comment by Joyce Buco

        Joyce Buco Reply August 23, 2018 at 9:54 am

        Laura, how did you sew the magnets in your JoAnn Fabric coverings or are you hanging them on a rod?, could you attach pictures? Please. We just bought a new Cargo van to turn into a camper van. I am not that great at sewing but with a visual think I can do it. We are putting so much money into making this van, I really can’t afford custom made covers.

  2. Comment by Chris

    Chris Reply March 30, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Do you use the same window covers during the summer, in the desert, etc?

    On a sunny day in the winter, do you get more thermal gain with the windows uncovered, at least the windows that are facing the sun? Or, is it always warmer with the window covered?

    Thanks!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply March 30, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      We use the same covers. In summer the ez-cool reflect the sun and that prevent to create a greenhouse effect (keeps the van cool). In winter, the thinsulate layer helps minimize heat loss (keeps the van warm).
      On a sunny day in winter, we observed that we get more thermal gain with the windows uncovered; we had a day in Jackson where it was 15F outside and it was 70F inside the van (just by parking the van facing the sun). I’m sure our paint color (dark grey) helps too…

      Cheers!

  3. Pingback: Webasco/Espar style heaters for Gas Engine - Page 4 - Ford Transit USA Forum

  4. Comment by Emily

    Emily Reply November 6, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    I was curious if you could expand on how you sewed the magnetic strips onto the coverings? Did you sew directly into the ez-cool side?

    Thanks!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply November 7, 2017 at 7:41 am

      The magnets were inserted into a small fabric pouch, then the pouch was sew to the Thinsulate. Please look again at the article, I just added the picture showing this!

      Hope that helps 🙂

  5. Comment by Andre

    Andre Reply October 29, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    Your window covers look awesome! We have been using refletix cut out for all 4 doors and windshield this summer. Works well but its time to step it up like you guys have done. Any particular reason you went with double scrim thinsulate instead of the single 400? Thanks

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply October 29, 2017 at 11:12 pm

      I think that at time of making our covers, only double-scrim was available…

      Advantage of the double-scrim: it might makes the thinsulate sheet a bit more rigid (the covers get a bit more “soft” with time) and it’s a bit easier to work with. I guess single or double scrim is quite similar, but the price is similar too so I would get the double scrim!

      You’ll really appreciate the improvement, the covers make a huge difference in cold weather!

  6. Comment by Jason Kibblewhite

    Jason Kibblewhite Reply October 17, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    I think you have a typo under the Material section:

    “**Please make patrons (in cardboard or something) and check the quantity you need. At the time of writing these lines, we forgot exactly how much we used…”

    I believe you mean pattern not patrons, but I could be wrong.

    Love the blog

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply October 17, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      Oups, you’re right! Patron is in French..

      Thanks!!

  7. Comment by Jackson

    Jackson Reply October 12, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    You’re leaving the EZ-COOL exposed, rather than more elegantly covering it with fabric like the Strawfoot set.

    There’s so much myth and misinformation about insulation. My understanding is that covering EZ COOL with fabric completely negates its insulating capabilities.

    Thank you for your write-up. Such an amazing resource

    • Comment by Garrett

      Garrett Reply October 18, 2017 at 6:54 pm

      Hey Jackson. I had the same question and asked the Low-E manufacturer specifically about this before making and selling the window covers. They use Low-E for roof underlayment insulation and since the Low-E had aluminum double-sided facings, they say it does not matter if the aluminum is exposed or covered because of the aluminum thermal barrier.

  8. Comment by Ben

    Ben Reply October 12, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    I’ve been using EZ-Cool covers with black (outside) and grey (inside) fabrics, the EZ-Cool works just as good as “naked” and the inside of the van stayed relatively cold compared to outside.

    and just to be more precise… you don’t really need good network signal for a “Netflix-and-chill”… you’ll need window covers though :p

  9. Comment by Blake

    Blake Reply October 12, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    I know you order your van specifically, so curious if you have a “on second thought” about your windows? If you could do it all again, would you still want windows in the back and on the sliding door? Pros cons? I would like stealth, but it seems like it would be seriously gloomy in the back without some natural light. Thank you in advance for any input!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply October 13, 2017 at 10:27 am

      In our opinion, the sliding door window is nice to have. It makes driving much safer (if not there’s a huge dead spot) and it’s nice to look outside (but because it’s tinted, it’s really difficult to see inside the van from the outside).
      We could live without the rear windows, because of our garage/platform bed setup. But they were mandatory when ordering the sliding door window, no big deal. We leave the window covers almost 100% of the time on them.

      Good day!

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