I’m forgoing insulation.
Chill. Just, calm down. Truth is, I cannot overcome the laws of thermodynamics. Also, I live in a place that is mostly hot and damp. Without benefit of electronic sources, the heat (or cold) inside my metal box will inevitability equalize with the temperature outside my metal box. I don’t like it any more than you do, but it is what it is. (Scroll to the bottom for the science behind this). Insulation would hold heat in longer, but for my environment, it’s not worth it. If I lived in a colder place, we’d be having a different conversation.
“But you’ll die!”
Will I, tho? I feel like I’ll get a hotel before that happens. In all seriousness, I took the van to Williamsburg and Yorktown at the start of the year. Each night, temps were in the mid-teens. I did just fine and didn’t use a propane heater.
I slept under two regular blankets, a winter sleeping bag and a down-alternative comforter. In addition to that, I had a 12-volt electric blanket to heat me up as I went to sleep. It then took the chill off in the morning. And once the sun came up, I hopped over to the butane stove and made a cup of coffee. That little stove was enough to heat the van until I turned it on. Btw, I ran the electric blanket with the Schumacher Portable Power Pack (at Wal-Mart or Lowe’s). The general idea being that it’s easier to heat a person than a whole room/van.
But did you die?
Did you want to?
No. Also, I was a historian in Williamsburg and as such, happier than a pig in top notch, caviar laced guano. That’s not to say there weren’t some issues. Namely condensation. I woke up just before droplets fell to my head. I briefly played with the idea of cork insulation (see above pic), but in the end, I went with this…
Basically nothing other than curtains.
I spend most of my time in a place that fights humidity ten months out of the year. Often, that humidity is over 70% and the temperature is 80+. I’m not afraid of mold, but I don’t want to worry about it growing behind any walls or paneling. Hence the idea with cork – mold and mildew don’t do well with it. Having said that, I like the flowing curtains you see in the pictures. They will slow down condensation (so no drops on the head), but they are loose and thin enough to dry within an hour or so. It’s a good trade off for my worries. If it backfires, I’m out thirty bucks and I’ll go buy some more cork.
Anything else you’d change?
I ordered a low wattage (250) electric heater to help with both cold and condensation. Dry heat is good heat. The next time I travel in below freezing weather, I’m getting a spot at a RV campsite and plugging that bad boy in.
Here are some links for those having to make this decision. Remember, nothing is permanent and it’s your van.
- Science-esque post on pros of insulation in winter vs cons of insulation in summer: https://lennyflank.wordpress.com/2017/09/28/hot-weather-and-insulation/
- Pro insulation blog post: http://www.cheaprvliving.com/heating-insulation/understanding-insulation-van/
- Fighting Condensation in Vans and RVs: https://www.parkedinparadise.com/condensation-moisture-van/
- Random bro-science of Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/vandwellers/comments/2rgie1/do_you_need_to_insulate_your_cargo_van/
- Back and Forth Reddit Debate on Cold Weather and Condensation: https://www.reddit.com/r/vandwellers/comments/759gc8/cold_weather_and_condensation/