Beat the Heat: 1) Add Screens 2) Paint the Roof of Your Van 3) Buy a Fan
Spring is here, and with it we are all thinking about how to stay cool in the heat. The temperatures here in the Prescott area have pushed up into the upper 80s and have been in the 90s in the van. So I thought it was time to post on how to beat the heat. This is a topic I have written about a lot and so I am not going to cover it all again. Instead I am only going to concentrate on three specific ideas. For many more ideas go to these pages:
A new friend, Gloria, just arrived in camp and needed some relief from the heat, and these are three of the steps she has taken which have made her much more comfortable. There are more pictures at the bottom of the post about painting the roof. In a later post we will cover how she insulated her van.
1) The bugs are bad here so she covered all the windows that opened with bug screens so she could leave them open without getting bitten. Gloria found some very fine netting that was designed to keep out no-seeums so she bought it. She wanted to be able to take it on and off, so she used industrial strength Velcro to apply to around her windows. For the most part that worked very well, but she reinforced it with duct tape just to be sure.
My friend Charlene has a truly brilliant system of adding netting to her front windows. She bought the netting and sewed it into the form of a “sock” that fits perfectly to her front doors. She just slides them down over the door and the shuts the door. Perfection! But, you have to be able to sew, so it won’t work for everybody.
2) If you have a dark van, paint the roof white! Gloria has a dark green van and even though her van is well insulated it was still too hot inside, so decided to paint the roof white. We found all the supplies she need at Walmart and Ace Hardware. The total cost was $63 (plus tax):
- ($15) She had some rust in the gutters of her Ford extended van so she needed sand paper to sand it off, rust fighting primer to cover it and a cheap throw-away paint brush (she got it at Ace Hardware).
- ($40) She bought 2 gallons of Kool Seal elastomeric paint to paint the roof with. (She started with one, but it wasn’t enough so she had to go back and buy a second.)
- ($3) She needed one roll of the blue painters tape to prevent drips.
- ($5) She bought a painting kit from Walmart with a roller pan, roller frame and cover.
It is really a pretty simple project:
- The first day she sanded the rust and carefully wiped it off. Next she applied the tape. Finally, she painted the sanded areas with the Rust Preventing Primer and let that dry for a day.
- The second morning she thoroughly cleaned the roof and started painting it with the Kool Seal. It was apparent she wasn’t going to be able to get it on thick enough with just one coat so she decided to apply multiple coats. In some areas it was easier to just pour some of the paint right out of the bucket onto the roof and then spread it with the roller, but in others she needed more control so she applied smaller amounts from the pan to the roof.
- She let the paint draw overnight and applied a second and third coat the next two days. She just left the tape on the whole time and took it off when she was done. It turned out great! It looks reasonably good and dramatically reduced the temperature inside the van. Even during the hottest part of the day under full sun you can put your hand on the white Kool Seal and it literally feels cool to the touch. If you then reach down and touch the green paint you can’t even leave your and on it because it is so hot!! It’s a miracle of modern technology.
3) One of the best and cheapest ways to stay comfortable in the heat is to use a fan! Gloria was fortunate that her van came with a Fantastic Fan powered vent already installed. She says that between painting the roof white and her roof fan she is staying very comfortable in the Arizona heat.
Powered roof fans work really well, but I prefer portable fans because they are more flexible. As I am writing this I am sitting on my bed and my fan is literally a foot away from my head turned on low. By being close I can set it at the lowest of three settings, saving power from my batteries. Later on if I drive into town I can plug it into the cigarette lighter of the van and aim it at me as I drive. In other words, because it is portable I can move the fan to where I am instead of being forced to sit underneath it.
I have an Endless Breeze fan made by Fantastic Fan. It is the exact same fan she has on her roof, except it is in a portable housing and has a long cigarette lighter plug. Fantastic Fan makes some of the very best RV products and I have been using mine for many years. Above that, they have one of the very best reputations for customer service of any company in the RV industry. I’ve heard of people sending in their fans for repair and the company simply sends them a new one for free. They stand behind their product! They have a premium product but they charge a premium price! My Endless Breeze is $68 on Amazon.
If you need to add a cigarette lighter plug-in receptacle to your battery bank, get this one:
Roadpro 12V Battery Clip-On and Cigarette Lighter Adapter
And the roof vent is $132
Both those fans are low draw, I know they draw 3 amps per hour on high so I assume they draw 2 amps on medium and 1 amp on low. With my 190 watt of solar power I have no problem with running mine all day. I turn it on at 8:00 am and it’s on all day until 8:00 pm: 12 hours a day. I like to keep the hot air moving out so it never accumulates inside. Generally it is on low, but sometimes I’ll turn it up to medium if it is getting hot. It works extremely well for me; so well that homer wants to come inside during the day because it is so much cooler inside than it is outside. Even cooler than the ground under the trailer!
But what if you don’t have solar power like I do, how can you have a fan? O2 Cool makes fans that run on both 12 volt and D batteries. That way you can set up a house battery that charges off the alternator while you drive and plug the fan into that battery. But what if you don’t drive enough to keep your house battery charged? Buy one of those and rechargable D batteries and a charger for D batteries and you have many options for power.
I am a huge fan of rechargeable batteries, the have improved to the point that they are very practical and save lots of money. Mostly I use AA and AAA, but I also have rechargeable Ds and they work really well.
I’ve been using a Tenergy battery charger for years to charge all my cells, including Ds, but they have replaced it with an upgraded model. This is it:
Here is a battery charger with its own solar panel to charge four D batteries at a time. Just set it on the dashboard and it will charge your batteries.
To recharge the D batteries without solar or a generator do this:
- Have multiple sets of the Ds so you always have a full charged set ready to go in. Once one set runs out, put in the fully charged set and start charging the discharged set right away.
- Put the charger in your purse or backpack and run just the cord out and plug it into a wall socket and recharge while you are at work.
- Go to the library and put the charger in a backpack and plug it in at the library to charge.
- Buy an inverter and charge them while you drive.
To use the fan in the van, place it close to you and aimed right at you. If it is really hot, get a quart spray bottle and mist yourself while the fan is blowing at you. Or, take a wash cloth and get it wet and wear it draped around your neck or head.
Walmart sells the O2 Cool fan at a good price, generally less than Amazon.com. I think they are in the camping section.