Ventilation without windows

I want to allow for airflow using a MaxFan, but do not want windows. Any ideas on a Vent or something that can be installed? Obviously it would need to keep water out but allow for a breeze.

Greetings!

Roof vents, or anything that puts holes in your roof is always a very poor choice because sooner or later they always leak.

Windows ALWAYS provide the best ventilation, not to mention they are a great source of free heat in the winter. Unlike insulation, windows work to your advantage year round.

If you already have the maxx fan installed, there are a couple of things you can try. The most obvious one is to get rain guards for your windows, and leave them down an inch. Magnets can easily attach bug screens to keep the bugs out.

The less obvious choice actually works better, IF you van allows it. Turn your heater to the floor vents, and choose fresh air rather than recirculate/max. If your vehicle allows it, fresh air will drawn in through the heater vent, and once the engine has cooled down, it will be fresh outside air drawn in by your exhaust fan. This is particularly useful because the floor vents are very low, much lower than the tops of the front windows. Cooling below your lowest venting works best if you have a fan to circulate the air top to bottom throughout the van, otherwise the airflow is straight from the venting to the exhaust fan, without any other circulation.

If you’re going to be somewhere hot enough that you’ll want A/C, the only solution that actually works without shore power or a generator, is swamp coolers. They only use the same power as a fan alone, and you can choose whether you want one to humidify the air, or dehumidify the air. With a little ingenuity, you might even be able to make a single unit that gives you both choices. Mine is the indirect (dehumidify) type, and it has kept me comfy all over the USA, regardless of the temperature or humidity levels. It uses under 1 amp on low where it is usually, and under 2 amps on high if I get back to a really hot van/rv and want to cool if off quickly. Otherwise high will flat freeze you out, and even on low, I have to adjust my windows to keep it from getting too cold, since mine doesn’t have a thermostat.

Hope this helps,

Cheers!


"Happiness only comes before money in the dictionary." ~ Smilin Sam


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Well…a Max fan will be installed. The key is…install it RIGHT:)). Leaks happen, sure. They can be fixed. Much like life on a boat… maintaining your rig is just a part of life. I guess we could live in a steel box, but that’s not comfortable. Fans go on the roof for many reasons, and they make life more comfortable.

The vent idea is clever, but doesn’t quite fit our need. We want a suction breeze drawn over the bed for comfortable sleeping. I’m looking at awning style bunk windows in the back, but would rather a low profile VENT-like apparatus near the back that is NOT a window. I may just fabricate something.

Greetings!

Will your roof vent work in a downpour? How about with heavy winds? Full timers encounter nasty weather frequently.

If you use your roof vent on intake instead of exhaust, that vent trick can still work, just in the opposite direction.

Cargo van dwellers are usually short timers, then they’ll either quit or upgrade to a window van or RV with lots of windows. You’ll never appreciate windows more, once you don’t have them. The only people who like cargo vans are the promoters, those who have never camped in one, and the people looking to dump theirs for something better.

Cheers!


"Windows for the win, cargo vans suck, and they're the opposite of stealthy." ~ Rubber Tramp


I’m getting the feeling that you perceive everything as wrong if you haven’t been doing it:)) I’m just looking for help with a vent…not help rethinking my life choices.

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We bought these https://vanupgrades.com/products/transit-van-cab-window-air-vent-inserts, they just go in the front windows and allow for some airflow. I have not been afraid to leave these in our van and lock it. I think it would take as much effort to break as the window would. They are kinda loud if you leave them in driving, but only take a second to put in or take out.

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Thank you! Those are sweet! Problem is…we’d like something that will cool the sleeping area, in the back. Maybe if the MaxFan was in the rear…and pulling from the front? That could work. But then the kitchen would be without a vent (kitchen is off the front bulkhead…I hope Van_Dweller is okay with this).

I’m cancelling my membership to this forum. This whole place is one big facade for Van_Dweller to tell people why they are doing stuff wrong, and they they should be doing everything his way.

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Greetings!

@Gcollin,

This is one of the few forums that doesn’t play “Follow the leader(s) or get banned”.

If you’re not a disgruntled promoter, pushing the same old overpriced worthless crapola, speak up and be heard.

I am just one of many who is always interested in better ideas. If you think I’m wrong, then show us something better, and explain why you think it’s better. It takes us ALL to make this place the best resource possible. We’re all here to learn too.

You see, it doesn’t matter whether we all agree, there is no black & white, right or wrong, it’s about giving people as many options as possible to choose from. Why not share your ideas and wisdom?

PROVE ME WRONG, AND SHOW US BETTER WAYS, I DARE YOU! So everyone can benefit…

Cheers!


"Know a better way? TEACH OTHERS!" ~ Road Warrior


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I found the idea of a floor vent intriguing in this YouTube van tour at 17:45 minutes.
I don’t have our van yet, so I can’t speak from personal experience yet.

Van_Dweller - what kind of swamp cooler do you have that can dehumidify the air??? Where do you buy it? Any more information? Thanks!

Greetings!

There are multiple kinds of swamp coolers. One draws in air, through a wet pad, and exhausts cooler air out the other side. This is the low humidity style because it adds moisture to the air, which can be helpful in desert areas.

The other two types use a small radiator (think heater core) for an actual heat exchanger, with the cold water created by the evaporator circulated through it. When the hot humid air hits the heat exchanger, it condenses and drips down into the water reservoir, thus dehumidifying the air. With these, outside air is drawn in through the wet pad, and exhausted back outside, so no extra moisture is added to the inside air, but the process cools the water in the reservoir, which is then circulated through the heat exchanger (radiator). One type draws in the circulation air from outside, through the radiator, and out into the interior. The type I have, recirculates the inside air through the radiator.

It’s 90°f outside right now, with 94% humidity. I’m parked in direct sunlight with no window shades, and with my swamp cooler on low, which is under 1 amp @ 12vdc, it is 70°f inside with 29% humidity. It would be colder inside but I have a couple of windows cracked because it was getting too chilly inside, and I already have light sweater on. I think I’m going to open the windows a little more to raise the temp a little. In this climate anything below about 75° starts feeling really cold. I have no divider between the cab & cabin either…

Cheers!


"Never gamble with a non factory built camper,
your life could depend on it!" ~ Livin Large



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What is the brand of swamp cooler you have? Where can I buy one? Or did you make it yourself? Any pictures? Thank you so much! I’ve been sweltering in my van, it’s very hot and humid where I live, even at night.

In terms of ventilation here’s what I’m doing: My van has windows all around, but only the driver and passenger door windows and the windows directly behind the driver/passenger open at the bottom (Ford E-350 passenger van). No other windows open in the back of the van. Since none of the windows in the back half of the van open I’m installing two small “Vanair” exhaust fans in the roof at the very rear. Heat rises, so purging from the top should be effective while drawing air through the windows at the front. The Vanair fan covers pop straight up, so should keep most of the rain out. For sleeping I’ll install a small fan to blow air over the sleeping area, which is in the back.

To power everything in the van, I’m installing a very simple and relatively inexpensive solar power system consisting of a 150-watt solar panel, charge controller, RigRunner type DC distribution panel (using Anderson type connectors), and a 110-amp AGM battery. Buying everything separately and doing all the wiring myself it saves a lot, but you have to have experience working with DC systems in terms of making solid connections, properly insulating everything, and avoiding chafing.

The reason I’m not using vents like Fantastic Fan or Maxxair is that they’re hard to find locally right now. I’m told that Fantastic Fan has a 40-day backlog. (It’s what the local RV guys are telling me.) With the small, and less expensive Vanair fans I can always upgrade to larger ones if needed.

Greetings!

Sorry, no pics, I don’t have a camera…

Mine was custom made by a gent who normally sold ice chest style ones, but I needed different dimensions to make it work for me. My current rig didn’t come with factory air conditioning, so I wanted something that could strap into the passenger seat, and use that window for intake/exhaust. So he built mine into a tall kitchen trash can overnight, and just charged me the same $50 he sold the normal ones for.

The good news is they’re pretty easy to build for a simple model like mine. A better design would incorporate a thermostat though, and I don’t know exactly how to do that myself. I’ve been planning a non electrical one for when this one breaks, but after 11 years it’s still going strong. I grew up off the grid in the swamps, where it was terribly hot & humid, and we had liquid candle powered fridges/freezers, swamp coolers, fans, and even a candle or solar powered generator. I can’t help but think that all of the above would be beneficial for full timers. A friend converted a 3-way RV fridge to run on a liquid candle instead of propane, and he loves it.

I believe I can give you a good description so you can build a 12v model if you like, they’re pretty simple…

Cheers!


"Swamp coolers for the win to beat the heat." ~Road Warrior


Greetings!

I despise roof vents or anything else that requires holes in your roof. Sooner or later they always leak, and they’re not nearly as efficient as opening windows and an under $20 fan. Without extra horse play, roof vents won’t cool the bottom half of your van, which is where I usually am.

150 Watts of solar is insufficient for a 110ah battery too, especially in the winter. 300 watts of solar would give you a much better chance of success. If you add an isolator into the mix to charge while driving, you can greatly extend your battery’s life, because unlike solar, an isolator will give your battery a better charge routine. Solar alone typically kills batteries prematurely.

Listening to the promoters, I wasted over $10k on three different variations of solar power, only discover that they were all liars and my original methods were far cheaper, more efficient, and more reliable. Today, I just charge while driving, and have the option of charging by shore power or my generator if I ever need more. Cheap, simple, & reliable, and without all that extra weight and wind resistance up on top my rig handles much better, and gets much better gas mileage too.

The newest tech seems to be the “black box”, a small self contained micro-hydro system. A friend has been using one for months now, and is very happy with it so far, so solar may soon be an obsolete failed experiment in favor of self contained 24/7 free, almost silent power.

Cheers!


"Swamp coolers for the win to beat the heat." ~Road Warrior


I’ve been using solar for many years and have never prematurely killed a battery. You have to use a good quality charge controller that acts as a smart charger, and also has a low voltage cutoff (the load is connected to the controller). In reality a 110 amp AGM battery will give you about 50 amps of power - any more and you’re over-discharging/damaging the battery. My typical usage is between 10 and 30 amps per day, which a 150 watt panel can easily handle. I may install a heavy gauge wire between the starting battery and house battery, but it won’t be connected unless it’s absolutely needed. The solar panel will be permanently mounted to a roof rack, so it will charge the house battery while driving as well. Quiet and hassle-free. Only thing I’m running will be the vent fans, LED lights, device charging, and my home made swamp cooler. None of that requires a generator.

Generators suck because they’re noisy, produce poisonous fumes, run on something that has to be stocked and replenished (gasoline), and require a hell of a lot more maintenance than a properly installed solar power system. I don’t have anything that requires the amount of power requiring a generator.

Yes, holes in the roof can leak, but it’s a simple maintenance item that’s easily taken care of. My house has multiple roof penetrations and none of them leak.

Greetings!

@Axel
I’ve been using solar for many years and have never prematurely killed a battery.

How many years have you been charging with solar only, and how long have your batteries lasted?

@Axel
You have to use a good quality charge controller that acts as a smart charger, and also has a low voltage cutoff (the load is connected to the controller).

Name/brand/model of this magical and elusive charge controller? What provides your power during a week+ of overcast weather?

I only need my generator if I’m stationary for longer than 2 weeks which is extremely rare. It’s biggest use is in helping others. Normally charging while driving provides all my power needs, adds no extra pollution to the air, and requires no solar panels.

@Axel
Yes, holes in the roof can leak, but it’s a simple maintenance item that’s easily taken care of. My house has multiple roof penetrations and none of them leak.

At the moment…

Cheers!


"Swamp coolers for the win to beat the heat." ~Road Warrior


VD. I’ve been using a Morningstar charge controller for the past ten years or so for a ham radio station here at the house; before that I used something else that I can’t remember the name, but both worked fine. My batteries last about 8 years on average. One flooded battery I had lasted 12 years, but it wasn’t used constantly. I now used AGM and gel batteries.

Also have a 30-amp gel battery built into an ammo box with a 10L Morningstar controller that I’ve been using for car camping. I’ve had that for a little over 5 years now. It stays on a battery tender at home and is connected to solar while camping. It’s enough to run my buddy’s CPAP machine, lights, and device charging indefinitely while tent camping. 80-watts worth of panels.

Since I live in New Mexico there’s never a problem of having long stretches without sunshine.

I don’t plan to live in a van full time, so the small system I describe should work fine. If I were a full-timer, it would be something bigger than a van - probably a bus conversion with more power redundancy

I’ll likely install a heavy gauge wire between the positive terminals of the starting and house battery that will remain disconnected unless it’s an emergency, such as a dead starting battery.

Here’s some of the equipment going into the van. The solar panel is still on the way.