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2018 159 High Roof gas, BC, Canada
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Discussion Starter #1
I've ordered a 159-inch high roof. On top of this, I'm planning to put in solar panels raised a few inches for cooling (I've read that they radiate heat under the panels onto the roof). So my total height could be 6-inches higher than a high roof van would normally be.

With the high roof, I've resigned myself to never being able to park in parkades / parking garages / underground parking. I'm comfortable with finding street parking in the city and walking short distances to wherever I go.

Boondocking or parking by the beach / parks is obviously no problem.

Having never driven a large van or a delivery truck, I'm wondering if there are issues I should watch out for. Branches are one that I'm thinking I could face, even in city streets. Fast food restaurant drive-throughs?
 

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Not thinking, I started to take my van to an automated car wash. Got in line and quickly realized this wasn’t going to work. Stopped dead and cars behind me started honking, I started waving them by and one of the operators ran toward me arms waving and I said, ‘yeah I know, I won’t make the clearance.’ Got me thinking I needed a backup cam. The saving grace was the tight turning radius. I ‘ve been much more careful and aware about the height of my van ever since.

When I was first looking at vans, I’d looked at a couple non white high tops with roof damage. A good percentage of low mile used vans are former rentals, so I think it’s something only inexperienced drivers have trouble with. You only do this once, I hope :)
 

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I’d suggest you place the solar an inch off the roof and give up the cooling for being able to go through lots of 9’ marked drives. I do all the time and am at 8’7” to the top of my fantastic vent. BTW I bought a low profile top for the vent to allow me into my 8’6” garage door, yet to install it though. I have not been sorry I bought the high van!
 

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2014 136” HR
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Tree limbs have been our main concern. MrNomer had to raise one so we could pull into our own driveway. One of us hit one, but we don't know who or when--just happened to see the dent in the right light.

To wash the roof, we set up scaffolding.

But for goodness sake, don't second-guess your decision. It was the right one.
 

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I’d suggest you place the solar an inch off the roof and give up the cooling for being able to go through lots of 9’ marked drives. I do all the time and am at 8’7” to the top of my fantastic vent. BTW I bought a low profile top for the vent to allow me into my 8’6” garage door, yet to install it though. I have not been sorry I bought the high van!

Isn't yours lowered?
 

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2014-159 HR in CT
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As others on the forum know, I park under a carport at our house. I have very little clearance which kept me from installing a vent fan until I found the Maxxair 4500, which is a low profile vent but has all the bells and whistles. With the vent installed, I have about 2" clearance (As long as I don't add any gravel to that parking area!)

I keep telling myself that someday I will forget I have the high top, but so far... The extra height inside allowed me to add a basement and still have plenty of stand up height. I would not consider a low roof. My head was just skimming the cross beams in an empty van.

On a trip to FL, we stopped along the way in Charleston and Savannah. Stayed in campgrounds but we discovered that both cities have a visitor center where RVs are invited to stay overnight for a $5 parking fee. In each city, we parked there. In one, we parked there for the day in the parking garage. They built the bottom floor of the garages for RVs and busses.... lotsa clearance.

In CT, a major highway we use is designated for "under 8' vehicles only". We use it a lot (can you keep a secret?)- the lowest bridge is about 9'-6". Yesterday we saw a Class C on that highway... too high... only a matter of time before he hits an underpass, or stops and has to be backed off with the help of the state police....happens about once a week with RVs and tractor trailors that don't see the signs.

In NY, if a road is has "parkway" in it's name, no matter how high your van is, you can't go there unless you have passenger plates.. not possible for CT drivers, and no flexibility in the rules.

You can get an RV specific GPS that says it will keep you from traveling routes where underpasses are too low... might be worth a look.

One thing I do notice.... you have to be very careful when backing into a parking space next to a building... they often have signs or canopies the stick out over the parking spot, and you can't see 'em in the backup camera or mirrors.


 

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Isn't yours lowered?
Yes I removed the secondary spring on the back. That lowered the back about 2 1/2” so now the vent at he front is the highest point 8’7” by my measurement. The solar panels on the center- back are now 8’ 5-1/2” IIRC. When the new “flat” lid goes on the Fantastic Vent I will be at that height all the way and It will squeak into my garage in NH which is 8’6". My AZ garage has an 8’ door so its out in the sun all winter. I do hand wax it each winter to help protect it. Sun is better than salt though. Un-lowered I would think the van itself is 8’5”.
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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Hi,
I added a big label to the center of the steering wheel that says 8 ft 8 inches just to remind me of the height. Some drive throughs, motel entries, etc can't be used. And, as mentioned, you have to be careful approaching things like drive through espresso places as the roof overhangs can be low. And, of course, no covered parking garages.

You would think that high cross winds would be an issue for the tall van, but we have been through some very extreme cross winds and the van does well.

So far, have not hit anything, and it does not seem like a big issue. I guess a low roof van with a pop-top would be one way to reduce the height.

We have our PV panel mounted close to the roof and while there is a modest hit in PV performance and some heating of the van interior, for us, the lower height and better aerodynamics are worth it. The efficiency drop when parked in low wind conditions might be of the order of 10%, and probably near zero when driving. If our temperatures ever get above freezing again, I'll take some thermal pictures of the ceiling to see how much the PV panel effects the inside surface temp.

Next time I will take a closer look at the flexible glue down PV panels and an alternative to the MaxxFan mostly to improve the aerodynamics but also to lower the height.



Gary
 

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....cut....

I keep telling myself that someday I will forget I have the high top, but so far... The extra height inside allowed me to add a basement and still have plenty of stand up height. I would not consider a low roof. My head was just skimming the cross beams in an empty van.

.....cut....
It's too bad they don't have a roof height between these two -- kind of a sweet spot for shorter individuals. Like you I don't fit inside the low roof, but also don't "need" the high roof's 6'4" of headroom clearance (granted its before floor, interior insulation, etc.).

If they could keep a van just under 8' tall with 6' of headroom, that would be ideal for me, and I expect many prospective van owners.

While it may not be exactly 6' inside, I expect the new "low-roof" FWD Sprinter should allow me to stand up straight inside. FWD Sprinters won't be coming to US, but it would be nice to have an option for a garageable van that one can stand in.
 

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We had to reverse out of the arrivals pickup lane at the Vegas airport. Luckily it wasn't busy. Before I put stuff on the roof, I brushed branches all the time. I'm planning on putting some aluminum brake metal flashing between the roof and my front solar panel just to make sure no branches get snagged under the panels.

Overall, the height is something to be conscious of but never a big inconvenience.
 

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To us, the PM high top is perfect. The Ford medium top was too short, high top too high.

I have driven over height vehicles for years, and have definitely altered habits. I am always noting clearance signs, looking up for branches, and think about trips to downtown big city. I have never not gone somewhere because of the vehicle height. Except certain underpasses. There is a camp area in Bahia Honda State Park in FL where you have to be under 7’6” to get through.

When we go in the little car I continue those habits, but find a bit of freedom when negotiating parking in the big city.

The van height is perfect for us, and parking and driving require some vigilance, but nothing has presented a real problem to us
 

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This discussion makes we wonder if those aftermarket "parksense" sensors would work if somehow mounted on the roof rather than the bumper.

Most reviews of the dual sensor versions (fore and aft) indicate that they aren't much use on the front bumper. Given the slope of the roof you'd likely get a bit of time to react and it's very unlikely you'd get into a situation that might trigger a false-positive.

I recently drove through a prescription drive-through that wasn't marked for height, so I gingerly drove up to it looking up until I was sure I could clear.
 

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When Caribou Coffee, Peet’s, Chipotle, and Five Guys, have drive throughs, I’ll consider a lower van.
 

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Just once I've been fooled by overhead obstructions... I was enjoying plenty of overhead clearance of a Home Depot with a two-story parking lot... Tons of clearance for the high roof van, like it was made for trades vehicles... Coming back out and walking up to the van I notice my roof vent is an inch from being sheared off - yes it was perfect clearance right up to the point when I backed into the space, they'd run serious pipes where they never expected there to be sheet metal - square ended Promaster w/ maxxfan as far aft as possible... Somewhere I have a picture of it, not finding it at the moment....
 

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I created this for the driver's visor. Most of the numbers are from FCA publications, but I measured the Maxxair 6200 additions. Proof readers welcome. Once the van is finished I'll weigh it fully loaded.

We've been driving a 20ft full-size van (Ford E350) for 25 years, so we know the drill: no parkades, no drive thrus, big parking spots. But, we'll still have to be careful with the PM's extra height. Eternal vigilance and all that.

As for a personal horror story, it has to be the times driving a rented Ducato RV on beautiful, old, European city streets that never stopped getting narrower. Backing out was a nightmare, even without all the local's dirty looks and verbal outrage (Italians are the best). I also clipped mirrors with opposing traffic once, too.
 

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We are 10' 6" with the rack and Yakima Skybox attached.

I am aware of it all the time and I have had to turn around twice in the last year because of low bridges.

As Ed has mentioned, I also know to stay away from any road with the word parkway in it, especially the Saw-Mill Parkway.

Mike
 
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