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I know the topics of windows and insulation have been 'threaded' to death (I've read many of them), but before I order material, I'd like to run past people here my goal and see if I'm on the right track.

PM is HR, EB 159", diesel, sandstone, rear door non-opening windows.

Just starting on a camper conversion. Though I've bought a ton of other parts/fixtures, here are the elements of window choices that have kept me from making final decisions:

I want a sliding door window as well as a small sliding (I guess) window for the driver's side, about halfway back, mounted fairly high, in what will be the toilet and eventually shower, area.

My needs: Ventilation and view to outside (obviously), but still keep a somewhat stealthy look (not, "Hey, that's a work truck", just not, "Obviously that's a camper RV and someone inside is planning on sleeping there, call the police.") and be energy efficient. Also, if possible, not be too easy for someone to toss something inside if, in fact, I am sleeping inside.
The CFL models of windows that I've seen sure look nice, but not a very large portion of the window opens and they don't open much -- just tilt out a bit.
It would be nice if the part that opened was the top portion -- privacy. Should I get those cab window screens that EuroCampers sells if I want a lot of ventilation but be able to keep insects and things out (the ones that are like a pocket and you place them over the top of the cab doors and then close the doors on them)?
Single or dual pane? I plan on occasionally camping in places that might get pretty cold at night and while I don't plan on staying long in places where the daytime highs are much below, say 50 (or above 85), I wouldn't want to have to drive a few hundred miles to warmer (or cooler) weather just because a 24-48 hour cold snap (heat spell) had me blasting a heater/AC on full most of the time because of poor insualation. I do have the thickest silver reflective + insulation material that EuroCamper sells for the cab area and rear door windows, but It would be nice to be able to see out at least partially.

I think it's been asked here but I can't find the thread -- Any reasonable (cost/effort-wise) way to convert the stock rear windows from non-opening to opening?

Also, should I go with a Fantastic model roof fan if my goal is low profile (stealth and not casting shadows on my solar panels on roof)? My understanding is that at least some of their models have electric fans (any w/ remote control?) but that they just have tilting lids/covers, so they can't really be open while driving, or during much more than a light drizzle.

I'll have the windows installed locally. Hopefully, that is. I put a $1,000 deposit down to get my name on a waiting list that was scheduled out 6-8 weeks. That was 3 months ago.
How far should I expect that $1,000 to go towards just the installation of those three things -- sliding door window, small sliding bathroom window, electric roof fan? Any ideas?


Insulation. [Don't scream, I know it's been over-discussed; I've read and I'll be brief]
If possible, I like to do this part myself and save some money (local van conversion company said $6-8,000 just to basically carpet the walls and ceiling with that indoor/outdoor stuff they stock at Home Depot, usually a dusty blue or gray-tan color on a big roll. They don't really describe an insulation process per se or mention any insulation material -- I squeezed it/pushed on it near a door opening of a customer's they were working (Sprinter) -- I thinks it was just carpet pad material.
Having said that, although these guys seem to do a good job and granted van walls/roofs have plenty of ribs, nooks and crannies, but couldn't you get about 1,500 sq/ft of carpeting and installation in a house for that price?

Anyway, I've been vacillating between various combinations of Dynamat (or similar - '-Amp-' something) for sound dampening or polyisocyanurate (maybe 2" on the roof and 1 or 1.5" on the walls) over the Dynamat. I guess I'd put real thin pieces between the ribs on the sides and roof and then the 1" or 2" pieces over that. Maybe for the rear and sliding doors put Dynamat where I can reach it and a few small pieces of polyiso in the large hollow areas and spray that foam in a can stuff where I can't reach in the doors and also in those bigger wall ribs with the holes in them.
I've also thought about just foregoing the Dynamat, assuming the polyiso and foam would do the trick by itself. [Jostali, thanks for the suggestion; also, I owe you an email response, sorry for the delay]
Alternatively, I've considered the 3M Thinsulate material; maybe two layers or one layer of it and one of 1" or 1.5" polyiso.

Here's some things I don't quite understand regarding the insulating process:

Is polyiso the same thing as that 'R-Tech' material they sell at Home Depot? I have an almost brand new 2" x 4' x 8' sheet of that (silver cover on one side, white plastic on the other). As far as I can tell by Googling they are pretty much the same. I know that stuff is great for insulation, and that is what I want, after all. But, I can't imagine how lining the walls and ceiling (and doors, where possible) with that stuff wouldn't result in an almost unbearably squeaky vehicle while driving. That material appears to be almost the same thing as the inexpensive foam cooler material -- styrofoam. I'm almost cringing as I think of riding in the back seat of a crowded pickup truck when I was younger, with one of those coolers squeezed in between boxes, filled with ice and drinks and squeaking constantly like a child's squeaky toy for hundreds of miles. Am I wrong about this? If I'm not, is there a way to avoid the squeaking I'm imagining?

Also Insulation: It's not clear as I read, which various materials people are covering there insulation with, other than plywood or paneling. And, how are they attaching it?
I want to keep the weight down as much as possible, so (and I realize how this sounds, but) I'd like to avoid wood in the conversion of my van, when there is a lighter alternative that is similarly strong (or perhaps, just gives a little when pushed against and doesn't gouge too easily) and isn't too much more expensive. I'm surprised that there aren't raw material panels made of graphite or something (supports and cross pieces for shelving made of carbon fiber in a sort of DYI or RTA cabinets) available in kits or a la carte in DIY stores or online).

Do I need to know where all of my cabinets and fixtures are going to go before I insulate? Or, if not, before I cover the insulation w/ whatever wall siding I decide on? I assume that one should insulate the wall/ceiling areas even if they are inside of a cabinet?
And, are there some conventional routes that I will want to route my electrical, solar panel, and communications, that I should allow for when insulating, or can one usually push through most insulation pretty easily with cables?

Lastly, Attaching cabinets to floor/walls/ceilings.
In all of the hours I've read threads in this camper conversion forum, I think back and can't recall how people are attaching cabinets and fixtures.
I've actually bought a lot of equipment and nothing (other than the EuroCamper window insulation velcro strips) have been installed yet.

I've got: 1,000 watts of thin, flexible solar panels and all the controller equipment and breakers and cables, a giant inverter, a pretty huge LiFeYPo storage battery, a refrigerator, a composting toilet w/ fan and hose vent. And, in addition to the windows and insulation decision discussed above, I'm about to get a 4G LTE signal enhancer, microwave, seat swivel, convection hot/cooking plate, oil-filled electric convection heater.

Anyone know any reliable solar RV installers in the area? Or, a source online that is reliably instructive. It seems like an odd bunch, the solar RV techies online (or maybe it's just the sites I've visited). A lot of arguing on the forums, a lot of nerd-geeks that are real opinionated; a lot of 'ex' installers.

One solar installer business that was suggested in Oregon that I was referred to had a five month waiting list. And, it's about 900 miles away. WTH?

Anyway, I would love to attach some of that equipment/fixtures I've already purchased to the floor/walls, even temporarily if that's not ridiculous (i.e., create holes that I won't want later). Or even tie that stuff down w/ the stock tie-downs attachments in the hard flooring (that option came with the van, forgot to mention) and the walls just the way they are now -- bare, but I don't really know where or the best way to secure things that might be heavy and really need to stay in place (that lithium battery and housing is 300 lbs, the frig about 80, the inverter over 60). I do have a few new straps, and even some real strong tie downs (motorcycle) and I can always get more. Any ideas?
I've got a fair amount of free time now -- in the middle of a six day weekend, with another one the week after next and I'm dying to try this van out camping-style, even in a rudimentary fashion. There's so many places in my state (most places that I'm within a few hundred miles of, for that matter) that I've never been. And, I just got a new dual purpose motorcycle I'd love to load up and take with. And, the weather is finally getting cooler where I am and pretty soon in Cali's deserts.

Also, I'm going to need a hitch (that's one option my PM did not come with).

So, Ram (dealer) or aftermarket? Should I care about whether it's weight-distributing or does that depend on the application?
For now, I just want to get one of those motorcycle carriers (Joe Hauler-type) to attach to a hitch -- my dual purpose bike and maybe a bicycle or two on it. I know, the hitch will probably cost more than the carrier, but still, it could come in handy for other things.
I might someday need the hitch for a car dolly (tow my EV) or who know, maybe even a small boat or trailer.

Sorry, didn't plant it to be anywhere near this long.
Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Nor did I 'plan' it to be that long:)
 

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Wow CP,

I'm not sure where i'd evan start, so many questions......

You may find this DIY camper van e-book helpful to get you on the right track http://www.sprinter-rv.com/sprinter-rv-conversion-sourcebook/ $37. Its based on the Sprinter and its a little out of date, but the process of converting a van to a camper van is universal across all the platforms.

Grab your cooler, coleman stove, sleeping bag and your laptop with the DIY e-book load up your PM, leave all your super cool new purchases in the garage and go camping on your six day weekends;)

Hope this does not come off sounding to off putting, but that was a heap of questions to ask in one post:)

Cheers,

Dave
 

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CP
I'm building a camper in a PM identical to yours. My approach to ventilation is to install two Maxxfan Deluxe 7000k ceiling fans. One in the bath venting outward and the other over the beds venting inward. They have a built-in cover that raises during operation and do not leak while running in the rain. They have ten speeds and are barely audible in the lower settings. With this kind of system you will be less concerned about having operable windows. You obviously have many questions but ventilation is an important one to address early in your design process.

I'm using polyisocyanurate board (closed cell polyurethane foam) as my basic insulation and securing it with detail foam from a pro gun. For irregular areas such as doors and cab ceiling it will be thinsulate due to it's compressible nature held in place with 3M 90 spray adhesive.

There are a number of people building campers that have posted excellent accounts on this forum. I would take the time to read their posts which you can find by going to Forums, then 2014 Ram Promaster Tech Section, then way down to Promaster Builds and Conversions. You may find that things you currently feel you have to sub out really aren't that difficult to do yourself.

And don't be in too much of a hurry - it's going to take a while to figure things out.
 
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Here's my experience with closed cell foam boards. I own a dog boarding kennel and when my kennel was built we took every opportunity to soundproof it. The weak links were the entry and exit doors. So we used a double door system with about a 6 inch air gap. Didn't help. I then applied two sheets of 3 inch thick foam board to one of the doors....negligible decrease in sound. Then I attached a carpet pad to the foam board.....magic, no noise transmitted through the doors. So, closed cell foam board makes for a great thermal insulator, but don't expect it to mitigate noise. When I do insulate my van I will use reflectix and closed cell foam board . I read many articles regarding creating at least a 3/4 inch air gap between the two insulation materials. Some people feel it is necessary to create a thermal bridge, others feel it will promote condensation. Keep us posted.
 

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CP, On the Rack for your Dual sport I've had excellent luck with a Cycle Country brand. Hauled DRZ400's KTM 530 and many other bikes in the garage successfully, no issues and available from any online or local dealer that sells Western Powersports products.
Trailer hitch, have Curt Model 13170 and harness kit 56209 super easy install and available from Amazon or etrailer very reasonable. Haul bikes and tow no issue up to 5000 lbs.

On the rest of the questions I'll wait for replies with you, So thanks for asking. All the same things spinning in my brain along with the dreams of Knotty Pine and Shag carpet as I get ready to build my dream Moto Van/Road trip machine. As a product of growing up in the 60/70's the Promaster is my replacement for long gone VW,Chev and Dodge vans. The Dreams of knotty pine and shag carpet just fond memories of when I met my awesome wife 35 years ago and the first born aka the bus baby ��
 

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Hi,
On the difference between styrofoam (EPS) and polyiso, the polyiso has a much better R value per inch (its a better insulator), and it also will hold up to much higher temperatures which could be important on a hot day with the insulation bonded to the van skin. This page has a table that compares all the common van insulating materials for R value, temperature etc.:
http://www.buildagreenrv.com/design-and-build-information-for-camper-vans/install-insulation/

Polyiso costs a bit more than the styrofoam, but (I think) is well worth it.

If the polyiso is well bonded to the van skin with Great Stuff Pro foam, it won't squeak. RD's build thread has some good pictures of the polyiso technique.

On the dual pane vs single pane, if you don't plan to spend a lot of time in cold weather, I think the single pane with a thermal shade made from Reflectex works well. I tested the heat loss and there was a 3X reduction in heat loss with the Reflectex shades in place: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-co...on-curtains-for-windows/curtain-thermal-test/
It seems to me that's probably good enough?
If you decide you want dual pane, I'd have a look at Motion Windows -- everything I've heard about them has been good.

There is some stuff on how I anchored things on my van conversion here:
http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-conversion/ look at the pages on beds, galley, and the battery compartment -- they are all anchored to the floor with heavy through bolts -- I think this is important if you end up in a crash.


I do think that it would be worth while at this point to finish the plan for the van so that you know where you are headed.

On the RTech, all the polyiso I've seen has the word "polyisocyanurate" written on the sheet somewhere -- if it has that then its the right stuff.

edit: I think the question on how well thinsulate reduces noise compared to how well polyiso reduces noise is a really good one, but have no idea what the answer is. It seems like the only real advantage the thinsulate has is its noise reduction properties, but I've never seen any numbers on how well it actually does or how it compares to polyiso?
When I look at and feel a sample of thinsulate its a bit hard (for me anyway) to picture how it would reduce noise much?

Gary
 

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"It seems like the only real advantage the thinsulate has is its noise reduction properties."

A significant advantage to me of Thinsulate over polyiso or sprayed foam is that undoing it would not be such a nightmare if changes were needed, or if, God forbid, the PM needed repair.
 

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Good point but one poster removed a totally spray foamed interior and it looked like it was not too big a problem. I am sure I could remove the Poliiso fast but I wouldn't be saving most of it.
 

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CP,
If you are asking about the R Tech stuff from Home Depot that is not polyiso, Gary is correct they have very different R values and the polyiso is much better. I have the 159 and most of the walls and cieling I covered with the R tech stuff because I had a bunch in the garage.
I spent a couple of nights in 15-20 degree cold, without a heater, and it wasn't enough for me, woke up to 30 set each morning.[before I get blasted, nothing would have been enough without a heater]. I wound up putting a layer of thinsulate over the walls and every pillar and nook, even stuffed it under the headliner down to the front windshield. My wife and I spent a week in Yellowstone a couple weeks back. We had a couple of 25-30 degree nights and it stayed 45 degrees inside, again without a heater..
I'm a believer in the thinsulate, it has good R value but it so very easy to work with if I had to do it all over I'd use only it.
The cost can be prohibitive to some folks so I don't think you can go wrong using the polyiso. If you use The approach many here have and use great stuff to mount it, you should not have a problem with squeaking. I haven't head any yet....yet. :)
And now the disclaimer, there are so many varying opinions on things like insulation it really is best to do a lot of research and Come to your own conclusion what works best for you and your build.
 

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hey, anyone who puts hiking above van conversion foolery is high in our book :)

we just did the interior with lizardskin alternative, then thinsulate, then horse mats on the floor. It's quiet and warm - last few 22 F nights were comfortable after running the van heater for 20 minutess at 21:00. (huge advantage of gasser - idle a diesel for 20 minutes and kiss $2-3k away for a new DPF - of course could get a espar bunk heater that sips the diesel with no idling....).

A few notes:

1) rubber horse mats work great - heavy (about 100lbs for 6x4) - PM floor is 6 ft across so minimizes cutting. The pebbled surface is non skid even with water spilled. Highly recommended.

2) Buy real lizard skin - trying to mix the ceramic balloons to the right consistency was a disaster. Yeah lizard skin is overpriced but the extra $100 is worth it - besides the ceramic balloons are so light, blows all over - reminds one of anthrax. Plus if anyone inspecting sees bags of white powder, well......

3) Spray the lizard skin - requires lizard skin special nozzle, and need air compressor (which means electric) => needs to be done at shop. Tried to paint on but there are so, so, so many insane crevices, in a PM that spraying is really the right way to do this. In a Sprinter with more sane framing, painting could be done. Before putting in thinsulate, the ceramic bead paint seemed to deaded tin sounds - thermal properties ? not sure. Sorry, nothing scientific here.

Dynamat is SO heavy and expensive - unless the van is for a music situation, we are quite satistifed without it.

4) Bought the thinsulate from Hein's. They are great to deal with and the fairly compact 5ft x 17" roll arrived to our office in MT in about 2-3 days. The Heins sound like cool folks to visit when in Oregon.

5) Putting thinsulate into a promaster is an exercise in self-inflicted pain - there are so many moronic framing cavities and bends. As Warren Buffett said about buying airline stocks, "if I do it again, have me committed". Would probably install great in a Sprinter. Gorilla and Duct Tape was totally worthless trying to secure. The 3M 90 spray adhesive works pretty well.

6) We plan to put 1/8" paneling up (had to stop, winter is arriving and so getting out of Dodge) - ultimately will cover with trunk liner with hardwood trim for a nice executive jet look.

The Thinsulate makes a HUGE difference in both sound and thermal. And the scraped knucles are healed so feeling better about going with the Thinsulate, even in the stupidly framed Promaster. Next vehicle will have normal interior ribs and will use Lizard Skin plus the Thinsulate and the horse mats.
 
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