In over 40 years of being a nomad, I have lived in many different rigs, mostly factory camper vans or RV’s. All with questionable amounts of insulation, if any at all. Largely do to my work, I spent winters in arctic temps, and summers in both hot and often hot & humid conditions.
For one year, I had a self converted cargo van, converted by me, following directions from supposedly experienced people online. It had far more insulation and far fewer windows than any of my other rigs. I started out with two very expensive Fantastic roof vents, a Big Buddy propane heater, and a 10k BTU air conditioner that required either shore power or a generator. After freezing my butt off with the Big Buddy heater, I upgraded to a very expensive vented propane heater. Other than condensation, it wasn’t much better. Please keep in mind that I had already spent many arctic winters quite comfortably and affordably in other rigs. That heavily insulated cargo van cost me about 3x more to heat, and I was still always miserably cold.
Summers weren’t any better, that 10k BTU air conditioner just couldn’t keep up. PLUS I was paying for campsites with power. The shortest version of the story is it was miserable, and costing me considerably more to be miserable. Indoor climate control in that thing was nearly impossible in extreme conditions. Something I have never experienced either before or after that cargo van.
Looking back, my failure was multi-faceted. All because of my online mentors who turned out to be nothing more than sleazy sales people, who couldn’t care less about my comfort or safety. The cargo van was only the first in a long line of very expensive mistakes. I had tons of very expensive equipment, and a very expensive build, but I didn’t have the much cheaper right equipment, or any good honest advice. It was the worst rig of any, and I lost over $30k in the year I owned it, just in hard cash outlay, and not even counting my countless hours of work. The insulation didn’t help, and if anything worked against me.
Successful climate control consists of three components, proper ventilation, proper heating, and proper cooling. Proper ventilation can not be achieved in a cargo van without leaving the the doors open all the time. Many opening, adjustable windows are a far superior choice to roof vents. Roof vents don’t help enough, and the open doors defeat any heating or cooling efforts. Insulation doesn’t help no matter how you you slice it, because proper ventilation totally defeats any supposed advantages of insulation.
Heating is pretty simple, you need enough heat (BTU’s) to keep you comfortable, and it needs to be dry heat.
Cooling can be nearly as simple if we look in the right direction. In hurricane, tornado, and many rural areas, you can go without electricity for many days, even weeks, and off grid you need to generate all your own power, just like many of us. So the mainstream choices are a generator or battery power. Generators work, but unless they’re built in, like in an RV, they aren’t very convenient. To our advantage, powerful, energy efficient cooling can be provided by battery power, in the form of swamp coolers. They can be bought or built to run on 12v and consume under 2 amps of power. There are different designs, including ones that work in humid climates, I have one, and use it regularly.
If you need climate control, do it right to begin with, it will save you a lot of time, money, and frustration in the future, and insulation is not one of the necessary components. Ohhhh… Did I mention the condensation, mold, and rust issues that insulation caused me?
"Be a trendsetter and support yourself !!!" ~ Camp4Ever