How to Install a Roof Fan in a Campervan Conversion
Why you need a Roof Fan in a Campervan
Ventilation is super important in a campervan due to the amount of moisture created in such a small space.
According to ISSE humans can create up to 40g of water vapour when sleeping and upto 90g when moving around. Cooking, washing up, showering etc all adds to this and if the water vapour isn't extracted then you will end up with a lot of condensation and damp. The fan we installed has an extraction turbo so can pull air out of the van and can be reversed to pull air into the van too.
How to Install a Roof Vent in a Campervan
Below are basic instructions for fitting a fan. Most fans will follow these similar steps but do read the manufacturers instructions. Please watch the videos below too- we used these in preparation for installing the vent and they were a great help.
The fitting of our roof vent was a relatively straight forward task but did involve cutting a hole in the van which is always nerve wracking! A little help from family was a great bonus here, however now seeing what was done I would quite happily set to the roof with a jigsaw myself. I recommend doing the vents very early on in your van build. We waited then cut a whole through the internal cladding which added more work.
It is very important to triple check everything doing this process- you don't want to cut a hole in the wrong place!
Steps to Installing a Roof Vent
Step 1: You will need to create a wooden frame that attaches to the roof internally so you can drill and secure the external section of the vent into it. Other brands of fans maybe different.
Step 2: Mark out your cutting template onto the roof in alignment with where the wooden frame sits. Use a drill at the corners to create holes that you can then place the jigsaw blade into and cut out the section.
Top tip: always try to do any cutting of your metal van panels all at a similar time. This is because as we mentioned in our blog post fitting windows cutting metal creates tiny shards of metal that float around in the air so do this on a non windy day otherwise these shards will cover your van. Ideally you should have somebody to help hold a vacuum hose next to the cutting blade as you cut out the sections. This will minimise the amount of metal dust landing on your paintwork. If any dust does land vacuum or brush off it off straight away. You don't want those shards embedding into paintwork then starting to rust as they are extremely hard to remove.
Step 3: Once the section is cut out and dust cleaned up treat the raw edges with a rust primer paint to stop those edges rusting.
Step 4: Drill the holes where you will fix the vent into, then use a mastic to create a layer all around the vent opening. As the roof vent is not perfectly flat in places you may need to layer this up so it is all the same level. Be careful doing this and get it in the right spot straight away as it is very sticky.
Step 5: Align the vent fitting over the prepared area and carefully screw into place. Then run a large bead of Sikaflex all around the edges of the fan fitting making sure there are no gaps at all. We also put sealent over the tops of all the screw heads too to protect them from the elements.
Step 6: You need to connect the internal fan section which is a little tricky so extra pair of hands is good for this stage. The wires from the top part of fan and your power cable wire now need to be connected to the internal fan cover plate. Follow the provided instructions carefully to connect up the wires. I suggest testing the fan works at this point if you can before screwing it into the wooden frame. Once you are happy everything is working then screw everything into place.
Instructional Videos for Installing Roof Fans
We used Greg Virgoes original fan install video which is a great instructional video and shows how to layer up the mastic and why to use it instead of just sealant. Our fan is still well sealed and water tight after 2 years.
The Restoration Couple also made an excellent video on installing the same fan that we have here.
Which is the Best Roof Fan for a Campervan?
We chose a Fiamma Turbo 12v roof fan mainly down to cost it was much cheaper than other electric turbo vents.
We later found out that going cheap doesn't pay off in the long term as we have had a lot of trouble with the crank dial on ours. Many other people have had similar issues too that have contacted us.
The crank dial that opens and closes the vent (essential for the whole unit to function as an extractor) lost its thread and was stuck open. We have had to replace this dial three times and have realised that the metal winding mechanism needs regular oiling for it to function properly.
We do want to replace the fan in the future as this is a frustrating thing to have to do on a regular basis so any recommendations for roof vents are welcomed!
We have heard very good reviews for the Maxxfan roof fan's and know that Greg Virgoe recently replaced his roof fans for these. Here is his video on installing a Maxxfan roof vent:
I hope this post helps you plan your campervan conversion if you do have any questions just CONTACT US and will do our best to help.
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