Is van insulation REALLY necessary?

Hi there!

I’m considering a life-style change. I live in an urban studio, and am finding that I desire fewer and fewer things, and my tiny space is too big!

I’ve been attracted more and more to minimalism, and I find myself more and more at peace with less and less. the space constraints of a van seems perfect, but I’m not terribly handy and I’m worried about all the BS of installing insulation, and since I want to follow the weather anyway, is it really necessary?

Will I regret not doing it? What to use and how to do it seems so divisive… I’d rather just avoid it. haha.



Greetings & Welcome!

Get a passenger van with finished floor/walls/ceiling and keep them intact. Just remove the seats and move your new furniture in and BOOM you’re almost done.


"Always avoid expensive solutions to cheap problems." ~ OffGrid

Rather than inforce your opinion let someone answer the question.

I went with a passenger van, and it has some insulation, but not a lot. Insulation is important to prevent condensation from building up inside the metal shell (causing rust), but I think good heating and cooling are more important. So basically - some insulation is important, but since a van is so small and will quickly react to outside temperature anyway, heating and cooling are more important.


It’s not about enforcing my opinion, it’s about giving people workable choices.

If you have something worthwhile to contribute, please do…


"Judge yourself, not others..." ~ Road Warrior

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I feel that was a bit harsh mate as far as I can see Vandweller was answering the question

in what way was he “enforcing” his opinion?

Im reading a lot lately concerning Vandwellers views lest we forget this is a forum that lets people share their experience and knowledge with others, and as fasr as I can ascertain he has been doing this since the 70’s

that makes him more than qualified to voice his “opinion” in my book.

Not wanting to stir up any shit here but I think that peoples posts are their own affair unless they are downright blatantly out of order which it was not.

have a good day dude

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My van is a cargo van so basically it’s a tin can. I added insulation before I put the plywood walls and ceiling in.

I did some very rudimentary before-and-after temperature tests and it does help keep the temperature more stable.

Another bonus is it has quieted down the inside a lot while I’m driving :slight_smile:


For people reading this thread, it is probably important to add a few simple, undisputed facts…

With insulation alone, Mother Nature will eventually always win out. If we truly want to ensure our comfort, that requires active heating and/or cooling options. Insulation alone can not accomplish this unless Mother Nature is being cooperative.

Perhaps the most important take away on insulation, is to make sure that condensation, moisture, mold, and eventually rust, can’t get trapped behind it. Where there’s air, there’s moisture, and if that air is trapped, you have problems.


"Opportunities are everywhere, but only action makes it happen." ~ Van_Dweller



What I don’t understand is that people insulate their builds up to the point of sealing everything in so it’s airtight with vapor barriers etc . . and then complain that they have condensation issues.

A simple way to demonstrate this problem.

Ever gone camping and at night you’ve zipped up the doors all the way and then in the morning, you find the inner skin is soaking wet?

This is condensation from breathing and the more people you have in the tent the worse it gets.

Now when you go to bed at night leave the door partially (or all the way) open on both sides but zip up the mesh screen and hey presto no more condensation.

I tried this in cold weather earlier this year when I was forced to sleep rough (long story) and at the time I was researching this very issue with regards to my own build.

I was still cold in my tent so zipping up both doors wasn’t really going to solve that issue but I did suffer from very bad condensation problems (I was set up in a derelict house)

So after reading on here, I decided to test out the theory and I can confirm that by leaving the doors open I did not suffer from condensation after that.

I’m guessing the same will be true for a van, my build will have adequate ventilation in the form of windows and fans (but NOT IN THE ROOF) I was going to install a max fan but I do not want to cut holes in my roof which could potentially guarantee water ingress somewhere down the line.

I have found some fairly cheap fans on Amazon and I shall be installing them fore and aft on the side of the van with hoods for further protection from possible water ingress

I know the theory works I have tested it, simply ventilate and move the air throughout the living space with open doors windows and a heater that blows hot air. You need to really look at the kind of heater you decide on as this could possibly add to the problems of moisture in an enclosed space.

Here is the fan I bought off Amazon it’s pretty powerful I’m using one to extract steam over the cooking hob
and two to pull air in from the cab at the front. and one to extract air out the rear.

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