Does Insulation Really Cool Off Cargo Vans On Insides?

Hi. I’m a minimalist and only have a bed, shelf for clothing/hygiene, and curtains in the back of my bed. I’m heading to cooler areas but I’m in a hot area now. Will insulation cool the inside area enough for it to be worth it? If yes, what one do you recommend? Seems to be canned foam or fluffy-type material and I’m weary of the canned option. Or carpet? Thank you.

Insulation will slow the transfer of heat regardless of whether the heat is coming from within the van or from outside, so yes it will help. How much will it help in a van I don’t know, but I do think a little insulation is much better than none, but I don’t think a lot of of thick insulation is worth it in a van - diminishing returns on the effort due to its size and surface area. Beyond a little insulation you’ll gain much more by shading the van and improving airflow in the summer, and providing heat in winter.

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Thinsulate + 3M 90 spray adhesive. A tad pricy, but easy, you get sound control in the deal and no trapped condensation. You should cover the insulation with paneling, although I have a couple panels that are exposed and they seem to be holding up just fine.

Start with the roof and work your way down. If you do a good job the next problem will be insulating the windows… I did minimal insulation of the floor (3/8" neoprene + 3/8" factory floor) and in hot and cold climates the windows and minimal exposed metal are the main sources of hot/cold air… Well, at least they are the obvious ones.

NB. don’t underestimate the worth of “easy”…

Greetings!

Sun in the winter, and shade in the summer are my first choices for climate control. Both are far more effective than any amount of insulation. I no longer have any added insulation, even though I am frequently an extreme weather camper, on both the hot & cold ends of the spectrum.

If sun, shade, & ventilation aren’t enough, only proper heating & cooling equipment is going to keep you comfortable. Insulation alone will not! Insulation only helps when you have active heating & cooling. Active heating & cooling works just fine with or without any added insulation.

Power is the biggest obstacle for most people when it comes to climate control. A/C requires either a generator or shore power, and most of the newer heaters require power to run them as well, but you can get heaters that don’t require any external power, and a 12v swamp cooler is both effective & energy efficient. For my heater, I use a self powered wood stove fan on top of it to circulate the warm air. No batteries or external power is required and it moves a lot of air. My swamp cooler is the indirect type, so it works in humid areas as well.

Effective climate control can be accomplished both cheap & easy, with no added insulation required, and is well worth the tiny investment.

Cheers!


"Those who believe money can't buy hapiness, don't have either."
~ An Anonymous Vandweller



@ larry.barello You wrote, “You should cover the insulation with paneling…” Why is that? Van is windowless. Just the large space in the back.

Greetings!

Many people only put insulation between the ribs, causing the ribs to still be a thermal bridge. Covering the ribs creates a thermal break.

Cheers!


"Those who believe money can't buy hapiness, don't have either."
~ An Anonymous Vandweller