June 18, 2016
Van Build: Insulation
There a few different opinions about installing insulation in a van. The main concern is around the moisture that exists when condensation occurs. If this moisture gets trapped between the metal and your insulation, then rust eventually will occur. Researching this a little, I decided to keep the insulation on the minimal side, and avoided trying to make anything air-tight.
That said, I am mainly staying on the west coast, and do not anticipate any temperatures below freezing or anything searing hot. So for me, a minimal approach works. If this is going to be your ski van, or if you have a little more time to construct the layers and barriers, then maybe choose a more robust route.
My approach was, basically, to add a bit of mass to the walls, and cover as much as I could in rigid styrofoam. To break down the layers, starting from the exterior and working in: the van wall, 1/4" reflectix, 2" styrofoam, and then the wood paneling. That's it. And the same approach was used for the ceiling as for the sides.
After living in the van for almost six months now, I am pretty happy with the temperature regulation. Most of the time, the back of the van is just a little warmer than the exterior temperature, unless it's parked in the shade. Given how much time I had to build my van (two weeks, while working a day job), I am happy with what I have, but I am a little envious of people who are able to safely put in thicker insulation.
I saw a lot of people using this in their van builds, so I looked into it, and it seemed like a great low-profile way to increase the R-value.
First I went through section of the van and cut a piece of Reflectix to size. After cutting each piece, I simply used the spray adhesive to stick each one in place, spraying both the van wall and the piece to be attached. That's it.
Next, I basically repeated the process used for the Reflectix, but for the 2" rigid foam. Wherever they would fit, I cut out pieces to be stuck right on top of the Reflectix, again using the spray adhesive to stick them on. As insurance, I also put some duct tape around each piece.