New and Ready to Learn

Hello,

My fiance and I bought a 2005 GMC Savana van last summer and are on our way to building it out!

We’re going very low tech, not even solar panels or a battery bank. Since most of the info we can find online for van living assumes electricity is available, we’ve been struggling to find good products/etc. that will work for our situation (namely, roof vents).

Looking forward to learning all I can and having fun!

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Greetings & Welcome!

If it’s a passenger van with opening windows in the cabin area, that should provide pretty good ventilation. If it’s a cargo van, you could get rain guards for the front windows and use a cheap 12v plug into the ciggy lighter, rechargeable, or battery operated fan to circulate the air.

I’m not a big fan of roof vents.

Cheers!


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


You may look into older rvs at pick-and-pull junkyards. Some of the older models have crank style vents in the restroom ceilings

Ventline makes a bunch of inexpensive RV roof vents, check this out, https://www.etrailer.com/RV-Vents-and-Fans/Ventline/V2110SP-24.html there should be a bunch of similar non-powered options linked to that product page too. I would HEAVILY recommend getting a powered roof vent, especially if you plan on spend any amount of time in the van during the summer. Dometic has their FantasticAir series that are relatively cheap (that’s what I have in my van) https://www.rvpartscountry.com/CREATE-A-BRZE-MAN-EXHAUST-ONLY.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwg6b0BRBMEiwANd1_SM0jpaaQUK9RlnqgvKR1A-oyOGUzC4vDBvFL_KQs82DEs-jH70wmmRoClewQAvD_BwE you can get fancier models if you spend a little more, mine has a remote and a rain sensor.
There are also numerous very cheap Chinese models on amazon but I will not include a link as I am not sure of the quality of those products.
Hope this helps! P.S. I build camper vans professionally, if you need any advice or suggestions, I am happy to help.

Greetings!

That’s interesting because as a 40+ year full timer, my opinion and the opinion of probably 90%+ of full timers is that ROOF VENTS SUCK! If builders would start listening to their buyers, roof vents would be history, or a rarely installed option.

Cheers!


"Stay home, stay safe, and remember social distancing." ~ Van_Dweller


That’s cool, I’ll make you a cookie once you hit 50 years. I’m not saying that a roof vent is 100% necessary, but it makes life 100 times more comfortable when camping in Death Valley in August. I have camped in 50*C weather but would never do it without without a roof vent in my van. I install roof vents on about 90% of the vans that I build, per the clients request. The other 10% (most of them) eventually bring their vans back to get vents installed.
You can absolutely maintain the temp in the van with some rain guards and a 12v cigarette plug fan but that can’t compare to the 1000cfpm+ that a 12v roof vent can provide. All of the hot air in my vehicle naturally rises to the ceiling and is then vented by my 12v roof vent, I also placed fresh air intake vents at the bottom of my camper van so that it draws in cool, shaded air from beneath the vehicle, it works really well. I also use a propane catalytic heater as a back up heat source, I like having the ventilation from the roof vent as a safety consideration. I also leave the roof vent running most of the time because I have a very fluffy dog that lives in the car with me, the fan sucks up a lot of the dog hair that floats into the air, which keeps the camper van much cleaner. I also like having my roof vent to remove humidity from inside the camper, between me and the dog we can generate a lot of moisture during the colder months, the roof vent helps keep everything dry and prevents mold. I’m just saying that for me personally, a roof vent is a complete game changer. I never stated that everybody has to have a roof vent, but I personally believe that roof vents are as essential of a creature comfort as running water is, or electricity.

Gcollin, do you happen to know of any good roof vents that don’t require electricity? As I said, we won’t have electricity available.

I recommend this guy https://www.etrailer.com/RV-Vents-and-Fans/Ventline/V2110SP-24.html I have installed a couple of these and a coworker of mine has one, I have yet to hear a bad word about them. You can paint the metal lid to match the vehicle a little better and you can use tin snips (or any heavy duty scissors) to cut the plastic trim piece to match your vans interior. One draw back to the metal lid is a little bit of added cost and it doesn’t let any light through, (the transparent plastic lids act as a sky light why is great for cargo vans)

Greetings!

I guess I’ll stick to window vans because the cargo van I had also sucked in comparison. I tend to be an extreme weather camper, so temperature control is very important to me. I’m south of Miami for the summer, and spent the winter in northern Minnesota. I have no plumbing to freeze either…

Cheers!


"Stay home, stay safe, and remember social distancing." ~ Van_Dweller


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Thank you! I had seen one vent in that style before, but the reviews were terrible. Glad to have found something that is exactly what I was looking for!

Ooooh! We are cousins! I have a 98 Savana!

Good luck with your journey. I’m new to this and this have been doing my build slowly. Everyone on here has been super helpful.

Can’t wait to share your adventure!
I do recommend getting an adventure hat.
Makes a BIG difference! :wink:

Me

Hey there, I also am super low tech with no solar/battery bank. Everything I run goes off the 12volt. In the event that you leave something plugged in for too long you’ll wanna have a jumper pack with you. I have this one and highly recommend it, its been great for me, can jump vehicles several times on just one charge, and doesn’t take up much room at all. Noco jumper pack

Greetings!

Another option is to have low voltage cutoffs on your batteries. I have one on my starting battery, and another one on my house battery. I can go about a week on my house battery before it cuts off, then a second week on my starting battery (Also a deep cycle battery), before it cuts off, and it still leaves me plenty of power to start my van.

These cutoffs are great and they can greatly extend the life span of your batteries. My ~$20 junk yard batteries typically last me 6-7 years, charging them mainly while driving, occasionally with a generator, but no solar.

Cheers!


"Stay home, stay safe, and remember social distancing." ~ Van_Dweller


Those are quite extreme temps! I used to live in Minneapolis, and I have family in Florida.

Greetings!

For some reason my job or other obligations has seemed to put me into challenging temperature situations. But I have tto admit that I do enjoy ice fishing and ice sailing. With good heating and cooling methods though, my van is always a comfortable retreat. Now that I spend a large portion of my time working inside my van, good climate control is even more important.

Some people’s bodies will adapt to the weather, but I have never been so fortunate, possibly because I was always moving. For me, good heating and cooling methods were the only solution that worked, both inside and outside of my vehicle. I worked construction for 30 years, frequently working inside or outside of buildings with no electricity or climate control. We worked regardless of the weather conditions, and being able to control your body temperature was essential in being able to perform your job. Just like the firemen and the postmen, we worked rain, snow, sleet, or shine.

Cheers!


"Stay home, stay safe, and remember social distancing." ~ Van_Dweller


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