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Insulation in Central California
I'm a real newbie with little mechanical knowledge or skill and I am trying to figure out what kind of (inexpensive) van I should buy and what I need to do to make it a comfortable full-time home. I do not intend to pay for camping, and probably will not have many chances to charge the batteries from an electrical outlet. I will ask about the electrical system I should use on another thread, but right now, I am wondering about whether I need to insulate a van for heat if I will mostly be wintering in Central California.
I think I saw on one of Bob's videos where he said not to bother in Florida or Hawaii, but it gets somewhat chilly here in Winter. I don't intend to use a heater more than I have to, but would like to use a small one to warm up the van a little when it is really cold or right before bedtime. I really want to avoid insulation if I can (due to probably having to pay someone to do it for me), but would I be better off investing the time and money and just putting it in?
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We need an overall picture. What are the temp's in the summer where you might be? There is a general consensus among experienced vanners not to insulate unless your winters are very very cold. If you are following the *nice weather* year round, don't insulate to the extent of inclement weather.
Exclamation And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. — Abraham Lincoln
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GeorgiePorgie (12-27-2017)
Thanks for the info. At this point, I am planning to travel in the summer and winter in California - probably the Central California region. However, if I can figure out how to support myself on the road, that could change. I have not been living in the USA for a long time, so really have no ties to anywhere or anybody. However, for the purposes of building the van, living in California in the winter in pretty likely.
It sounds like I am probably better off not insulating for now and seeing how comfortable I am without it. I just hate to have to go back and tear everything out and correct it if I am guessing wrong.
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I live in california and you do need insulation, not for the cold (though it will help also) but you need it for the heat. There is lot of places where its always sunny even if the temperature is pleasant, as soon as the sun hits your van the temperature will climb fast. 
When the outside temperature is a cool 70 degrees, inside an uninsulated van I seen the temperature go over 130 degrees. 
The back of my van is heavily insulated, roof/sides/windows and I even made a divider from the front driver compartment and the back of the van. In the middle of the day its pitch black in the back of my van, thats how much insulation I installed, light equals heat. 
California is also perfect weather to use a swampcooler. Insulation will only take you so far, you need the swampcooler to get you the rest of the way. The few times my swampcooler quick working on me in the middle of a hot day were brutal, you start to sweat within minutes. Living in a van a swampcooler will be your best friend. 

front/ back temp, without insulation both temperatures would be the same. The 98 degrees is high but near the swampcooler its a cooler 80 degrees. And these temperatures are with all my windows/doors/vents closed and parked in the sun.
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GeorgiePorgie (12-28-2017)
Insulation doesn't help much in either heat or colds unless you have a heater or AC. And even then insulation is more effectiv e in the cold than it is in the heat--it is much better at keeping heat IN than it is at keeping heat OUT. That is a basic reality of thermodynamics.

I fulltime around the country and have no heater or AC or insulation. Instead I carry three sleeping bags with me, each rated to a different temperature, which I use as needed. If it gets REALLY cold, I layer them together. With that, I am good down to about zero (though I travel with the weather, going north in the summer and south in the winter so I rarely have to face very hot or very cold temps.

Living in "Ziggy the Snail Shell" since May 2015
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The following 1 user says Thank You to lenny flank for this post:
GeorgiePorgie (12-28-2017)

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