By far the hardest part of living in a van is coping with summer heat–it can be miserable!! If you live in a city and stealth park there is virtually nothing you can do but look for and try to park in the shade whenever you can. Even the noise of running a Fantastic Fan powered roof vent on the roof or a portable fan inside the van can ruin your stealth and bring unwanted attention to you. Obviously running a generator is out of the question and even if you have enough solar to run an Air Conditioner they’re so noisy they are problematic at best.
So there is very little I can offer vandwellers who live in the city, but if you are a boondocker and live on Public Land, there is a lot you can do to stay cooler because you don’t care what you look like and if anyone notices you. I put Reflectix on the outside of my van and I don’t care what anyone thinks, as long as it works!
But, I have to warn you that unless you have a generator or enough solar to run an Air Conditioner, they best you can hope for is to keep the inside temperatures the same as the outside temperatures. But, even that can be a big improvement! If It’s 95 degree outside and you do nothing to keep the van cool, after an hour it will be 140 in the van–now that’s hot!!
On the other hand, I know for a fact (because I’ve done it numerous times) that by using these simple techniques that on a day when it’s 95 degrees outside, you can hold the heat down to 95 inside, and on an 85 degree day outside to 85 degrees inside–that’s a saving of 45 degrees, making it bearable to be inside the van. To my mind, it’s well worth the money and effort to cool the van by 45 degrees!
Here are 10 Ways to Beat the Heat
1- Be a Snowbird and move to where it’s cooler. For every 1000 feet of elevation you go up, the temperature drops about 3.5 degrees. Go up to 10,000 feet and it’ll be 35 degrees cooler than sea level! Unfortunately sometimes circumstances won’t allow you to do that so you have to figure out something else.
2- Park in the shade. While that’s fairly easy in the National Forests, it’s nearly impossible in the desert and in many cities. Plus, if you have solar you must park in the sun or you’ll lose your power source.
3- Put Mosquito netting over your windows. That way you can leave them open for ventilation. The easiest and cheapest way is to A) cut the mosquito netting bigger than the window, B) use duct tape around the edges so they don’t unravel and C) use Magnets to attach the netting to the door. I have regular mosquito netting from Walmart on my van–and I greatly regret it! It still lets No-See-Ums in and they are horrible. Buy this No-See-Um netting from Amazon here:
- No-See-Um-Netting: http://amzn.to/2aBK8AT and
- Ceramic Magnets (I bought 3 packages of these and love them): http://amzn.to/2apu9T1
4- Install a Fantastic Fan on your roof. Nothing will do you more good than having a powered fan on your roof. The only thing better is to get two, one pulling air in, the other pushing air out!
- Fantastic Fan Powered Roof Fan: http://amzn.to/2ayN57s
5- Get a Portable fan to keep near you, pointed at you. I like and own both of these,
- Endless Breeze by Fantastic Fan http://amzn.to/2amgcK1
- Roadpro 12 volt fan (also D batteries) http://amzn.to/2ayLVZX
6- Put ladder racks covered with plywood across the roof. I like to put plywood over it so the entire roof is in the shade at all times, but you can put enough solar panels on it to do about the same thing. I bought this ladder rack from Amazon because it was incredibly inexpensive ($51) but in 5 years has served me very well (like all steel ladder racks, it does rust somewhat). They come as a pair but I split a second pair with a friend so I have 3 on my roof. Highly recommended!
7- Attach Four foot wide pieces of Reflectix onto the OUTSIDE of your van using bungee cords and spring clamps. It works well on the inside of the windows of your van while you’re moving, but it work much better on the outside! On the outside it reflects the heat away so that the sheet metal never even warms up and heat never gets inside the van. Putting Reflectix on the inside of the van lets the heat in where eventually it will work it’s way around and into the van–even if you have insulation on the walls. It works tremendously better to have the Reflectix on the outside!!
- 4 foot by 10 foot Reflectix: http://amzn.to/2azpNYZ
- 2 foot by 10 foot Reflectix: http://amzn.to/2azrS7p
- Set of 8 metal spring clamps (6 inch) http://amzn.to/2aUdJWt
8- Get an ADCO Windshield cover for the windshield of your van. I love mine and wouldn’t be without it!! Again, if you put Reflectix on the inside of the windshield, the heat is already in the van and it WILL work it’s way around the Reflectix and into the van the ONLY way to keep it out is with the windshield cover on the OUTSIDE of the windshield!! They make them for nearly all years of Chevy, Ford, Dodge and Sprinter Vans, and best of all they install very easily, (no snaps or mounting in any way). You just slip a corner pocket over the door, put a piece of velcro around the mirror and a magnet holds it on at the bottom (not all of them have cut-outs for the mirrors). Super simple and yet stays on extremely well! Let me say it again; I wouldn’t be without one of these–highly recommended!!
- FORD 1997-2010 http://amzn.to/2ay6a3x
- FORD 1992-2005 http://amzn.to/2amjXit
- FORD 1973-1991 http://amzn.to/2aZk0ii
- CHEVY 1973-1996 http://amzn.to/2aXnrct
- CHEVY 2001-2016 http://amzn.to/2apEQVB
9- In the Desert, use shade cloth instead of Reflectix on the outside of the Van. The wind in the desert is so strong I don’t believe the Reflectix would hold up to it, even worse it will probably rub the paint off your van. Instead I use shade cloth I buy at KB Tools in Quartzsite and I’ve been extremely happy with it!! Very durable and keeps out 90% of the suns heat while allowing the wind to blow through it and into the van. Amazon sells 70% black (you want it to be black), 10×20 shade cloth. Attach it to the gutter of the van and use stakes and bungees to tie it down away from the van. It gets good reviews:
- 70 % Black Shade Cloth, 10 x 20: http://amzn.to/2as4PMl
10- Put an awning out. I own one made by ARB that is 8 x 8 feet and it is very good but this Smittybuilt is just like it (but smaller at 8 x 6) for less money:
- Smittybilt 8 x 6 Foot Awning: http://amzn.to/2ao1Ys8
- ARB Awning 8 x8 foot awning: http://amzn.to/2as2iBJ
So there you have it, 10 ways to stay cooler in your van. Following these simple steps you can keep the inside temperatures of your van down to a bearable level and make your life much more pleasant!
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