How do you ventilate a campervan? Utilising natural air flow from windows or installing electric ceiling fans are just two of the best camper van ventilation tips around.
Tiny homes like camper vans are at the mercy of the environment and moisture build up, as such regulating the climate inside of a camper van can be challenging but is vitally important.
Here are a handful of the best camper van ventilation tips to help improve your van’s breathability and life longevity.
How does moisture build up in your van?
Preventing moisture build up is one of the most challenging parts of living in campervan. So much of what we do, like cooking, washing and even breathing, releases moisture into our tiny home.
Couple these activities with condensation on the inside of your van windows from temperature changes and you have a recipe for a humid, wet van.
Having high humidity in a small space will quickly lead to build up of mould, strange odours and even rust on the metal work of your camper.
These are all serious problems that can quickly turn your van life experience sour, so it is important to make sure your van is well ventilated, here is how.
Important things to consider when choosing camper van ventilation.
- How much do I want to spend?
- How confident am I with DIY projects?
- What is the weather like in places I am planning to visit?
- Do I want to be connected to shore power or be off grid?
You don’t have to answer these questions just yet, but its important to keep them in the back of your mind when deciding how you want to ventilate your camper. Here’s a look at our best camper van ventilation tips.
1. Open Windows and Doors
This is the simplest and cheapest solution. Whenever you are parked up enjoying your tiny home crack a window or leave the door ajar. This helps encourage natural airflow and will improve the ventilation in your van.
However, it is not the most effective solution, on a very calm day you may not get much airflow through your van. This method will only work when you are around, as it is never a good idea to leave your camper with the windows down if you are not there.
Bugs and insects could be a concern, but magnetic fly nets can prevent an infestation. These can be purchased online or could be a fun DIY campervan project.
With a little bit of time spent measuring and cutting you could make your own window nets for a fraction of the cost of buying them.
2. Install Side Vents
If you have looked at professionally converted vans, you will have noticed these. Often, they are used to ventilate the back of fridges, but they can be used to improve the overall air circulation in your campervan.
They are also a very budget friendly option, available in a variety of sizes from places like Amazon.
Louvre vents should be installed lower down on the side of your van to help draw in fresh air as hot air rises out of your van, creating air circulation.
They require some DIY confidence if you want to install them yourself, as it involves cutting a hole in the side of your van to fit the vent into.
The main drawback with these is that like any passive method of circulation on a very calm day you might not get much of an increase in air flow.
There are lots of different prices and sizes available, for example a 9.5” X 3.5” vent with built in fly screen can be as cheap as £3.70, a Dometic LS200 vent with winter cover will set you back £44.
This is where you need to decide how much you want to spend and consider your weather. If your van sits in storage for the cold wet months of the year, then to have a cover on the vent may be useful.
3. Install an electric or rotating roof vent
By far the most popular camper van ventilation tips is to have a roof air vent. There are 2 main types, electric fan operated vents or rotating air vents. There are pros and cons to both but either of these options is the most effective way of improving ventilation in your van.
Battling moisture build up is a constant challenge while in a campervan. It is highly recommended to include at-least one type of roof vent in your van. Hot air rises, so installing a roof vent allows it to escape, and can help create a natural draw of fresh air into your van. They can be DIY installed and there is a lot of great information available online about how to do this.
Electric Roof Vents
Electric fan operated vents are ceiling mounted hatches with a fan built in that can be turned on to draw air out of, or push air into, your van. These are a fantastic method to ensure you get good air flow through your van. In larger campers you can install 2, one forward and one to the rear, to create an even better flow of air. If you are still deciding what size van you want, have a look at our handy guide to deciding what wheel base van is best for you.
An electric fan does need to be wired in and will require power to work, but they are very efficient with a low power draw. Never-the-less it’s important not to run them off your starter battery so make sure your leisure battery system is up to scratch.
A name brand, such as the Fiamma Turbo Vent costs £240, this is a fairly middle of the road option as some brands, like the Dometic Fantastic Vent 3350, can cost more than £400. The key metrics for comparing electric fans are the air flow rate and power requirements so bear this in mind when doing your research.
Rotating Roof Vents
Alternatively, if you need to conserve as much power as possible you could opt for a rotating air vent. These are very reliable and use no electricity. Air movement, when driving or from the wind, spins the blades in the roof mounted system pushing air down into the van. These also rely on ambient air movement, so their effect is limited on still days.
A rotating roof vent is a much cheaper option than an electric fan, with models available on Amazon for around £50.
There is also another option, but one that is less desirable than the two above, this is a roof vent with no fan. These cost as much as a rotating roof vent and, when used in combination with a louvre vent and open windows, may give some circulation. However, performance will be reduced on very still days.
4. Run A De-Humidifier
This is a perfect option for those who enjoy making the most of campsite electric hook-ups. While it does not improve the ventilation in your van strictly speaking, it helps to combat the same issues of condensation and moisture build up, so it is included here anyway.
There are 2 main types, compressor dehumidifiers and thermo-electric. Essentially a dehumidifier works by cooling surfaces within the machine to condense water in the air, which it then collects for you to empty.
A compressor dehumidifier is a great option for van life, with a price range between £100-£200, it is not the cheapest option, but it requires the least DIY. If you spend lots of time utilising electric hook-ups, then this could be a great solution for you.
The Eco Air DC 12 can be purchased for £135 and is a good starting price for a compressor dehumidifier. 12-volt thermo-electric dehumidifiers are also an option, but they would require a substantial leisure system to run for any length of time off-grid.
If you are doing you own DIY van conversion, consider where you are placing any vents. If you are installing a roof vent, try to place it over your cooker, as lots of moisture is created while cooking.
If you have a shower in your van, make sure you place a vent above it to remove all the hot steamy air.
6. Use A Variety Of Options
In reality no single option is going to outperform the use of multiple. The best advice would be to install a louvre vent, roof vent and remember to crack your windows when cooking or relaxing in your van. This will allow hot air to rise and escape, naturally drawing fresh air into your van from open windows or side vents.
Pros and cons of different van ventilation methods
|Opening windows or doors.||No additional cost, effective on windy days.||Limited benefit on still days, requires bug nets.|
|Side or Louvre Vents.||Sleek and professional appearance, allows natural circulation.||Limited benefit on still days.|
|Roof vent with electric fan.||Most effective option, works whenever you need it to.||Higher cost and complicated installation for DIY conversions.|
|Roof vent with rotating fan.||No electricity needs, cheap.||Requires wind or vehicle movement, complicated installation for DIY conversions.|
|Dehumidifier.||Very effective, works all the time.||Requires mains power or substantial leisure system, takes up floor space.|
So there’s a small list of our best camper van ventilation tips! Should you have any more ideas we’d love to hear them, so feel free to email us or drop us a DM on Instagram! Thank you for reading.