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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm trying to find the right balance of light/view and warmth. I absolutely love lots of natural light and beautiful views (don't we all), but I also detest being cold.

My van already has windows on the rear doors. I'm definitely planning to install a large, opening window behind the drivers seat, as there will be a foldaway rear seat there for my kids. I'm also definitely planning to have a large window on the sliding door (unsure if solid or opening).

My question is primarily aimed at the mid/rear of the van where our platform bed will be. If you put thinner, sliding windows on both sides in this area, are you still happy with this decision? Or do you now wish you'd just paneled this area? If you only did paneling in the beginning, do you now wish that you had more light and views back there?

Finally, are there any windows that are insulated well, and don't lose a ton of heat?

I'd love any advice or guidance you can give about your window decision making!

All the best,
Kelcey
 

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2014 136” HR
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None of the above. I put in the absolute maximum size Motion Windows sliders that would fit in every panel. Single pane. Never cover them for warmth, occasionally for annoying lights. Comfortable in extreme cold because the Webasto heater is more than adequate—even below freezing we may actually crack open a window for ventilation. I have never ever ever ever wished I had less window area.

In particular to your question, the full height windows by the bed allow the breeze to hit me directly. we can lie there and look directly out, and I have been known to stick my whole head out to enjoy the stars.

Our trips tend to be long and all year round, so we can’t always choose the weather. Some days we sit in the rain. Some days after a strenuous hike, we just want to rest. Whatever—with the windows, the van is a wonderful place to just "be," and still enjoy the beauty around us. This day was sunny, but bitterly cold. The sunlight dancing throughout the van was magical:



i know and accept that some people like their vans to be caves, but I will never understand. One thing I hated about tents was that no matter how beautiful the spot, closing up the tent meant no view. With the van, the view is still there and we are toasty warm.
 

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Having no windows worked out well for a road trip where we were out of the van to see the sights and sleeping at rest stops.
If we were camping and/or sleeping in areas with a nice view and no people, I'd want windows.
I still want one for over the bed for air and one in the slider for the blind spot.
If I get another van or redo this one for actual camping someday, I'll definitely do full windows on the pass side and a big one in the rear driver side.
Unless you're sleeping in rest stops and truck stops, put in windows. At least 2 that open.
 

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Van #2 2021 EXT
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Each to their own; Our EXT only has one window added & that is in the slider, so it really is a Van Cave as KOV puts it.

There are pros & cons to a total window van & a total van cave, so you have to choose what works for your van use.

If a window is not double pane & a thermally broken frame then they are huge thermal loss areas. My one window is a CLR & it is a single piece of glass & no thermal break (not sure I have seen multiple sealed units on can builds). The other thing you loose with more windows is wall “real-estate” Space for full height cabinets etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think I'm pretty sold on full windows, and getting a Webasto heater (and likely window curtains/insulation for nighttime). MsNomer, those surround windows are incredible! I see you did the gray tint for your Motion Windows. Are you happy with this, or do you wish you'd gone with clear? What are the pros and cons?
 

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If you don't need tall storage under the bed for bikes, utilities, etc, full-height windows are great. We do, but our half-height Motion Windows over the bed still provide good ventilation. The gray tint adds a lot of privacy, but the dark glass does tend to heat up in the sun. For us, the former outweighs the latter. We have insulated curtains for extreme heat/cold.

I guess ours is a semi-cave. Not quite a 360 fish bowl, ;) but have 180 views in the galley. Different priorities...
 

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19’ Promaster 2500 136” DIY Camper Build
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I wrestled with the same question but I have to deal with extreme heat in my area. If the temp never got above 100 degrees F. I would do full window panels, the cold is way easier to keep out and easier to counter with heaters. Extreme heat can only be mitigated with an actual A/C unit that uses a ton of energy or needs shore power. Even with the extreme heat I went with two rear CRL windows and none on the back panels. My van also came with the rear door windows, but I have found that I keep them covered nearly all of the time, and only remove the reflectix when on road trips. When I’m at camp I found that I leave the rear doors and sliding door stay open all of the time until its bed time. If I only had to deal with the cold I would do full windows, they also let in a lot of heat when the sun is out making the van even warmer like a solar oven.


65480

65481
 

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I went with the dark tint and very glad I did. The rear windows in 2014 were much lighter tint than now, so I can see the difference.

With the dark tint, privacy is absolutely not an issue. If there’s no bright light on in the van, no one can see in. I feel totally comfortable stripping naked as long as windshield and rear aren't vulnerable to onlookers. I understand the theory, but in practice more heat comes in the rear than through the sides. My quilt is being faded through the rear, but not through the sides.

We are not equipped for humid heat—only an AC can handle that—but we have spent time boondocked near Death Valley at >100°. The secret there is Tyvek on the outside of all glass. With that, maintaining ambient or below is not difficult.

Hot or cold, the windshield is much more critical than windows, and the most important insulation is in the ceiling. I furred down with shaped 2x4 furring to get a full 2” of Thinsulate up there.
 

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We have a 2017 Winnebagp Travato K. The reason we bought it is the open feeling from the windows. Winnebago has since downsized the widows which is a big mistake IMHO. No caves for us!
 
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We have full windows all the way around except for the panel that extends from behind the driver to the rear third of the van (which latter is all window). Behind the driver we have a small slider window, and then metal where we have a closet. I wouldn't change this in a build. We go out to see things, and this includes the times we're seated inside.
 

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When we travelled full time in our RV and worked from the road, one of the things we loved the most was how much natural light we had and the Panoramic views that made us feel like we were outside even when we were stuck inside. We knew right from the start we wanted windows in the van for the same reason. We just installed a t-vent on the slider door, a half slider on the passenger side, rear windows, and we still have smaller bunk windows we‘ll install over the head and foot of the bed. We also got a marine hatch we’ll use as a skylight over the bed. For heat/cold we ordered some Quest overland insulated window coverings. Reflectix also works well for cheap. We used Reflectix in our RV on all windows and skylights and it made a huge difference.

All this certainly adds a lot of expense to the build, but we personally wouldn’t be satisfied without windows and lots of natural light. If you’re in a situation where you can always be outside or when you can always leave your van doors open, maybe all the windows aren’t necessary, but for us they were. We love them so far! Just using Reflectix for the heat now until we get our window coverings!
65490

65491
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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Hi,
We have lots of windows including windows on both sides in the back -- all single pane.

We use the van in cold weather and have never felt the windows were a problem.
We do have good insulation and we have Reflectex to put in the window openings.
We have a 16K BTU/hr propane furnace.



We really like the open feel that lots of windows and no floor to ceiling cabinets give.

Gary
 

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Ours came with only the sliding door (passenger side) window, so we're looking to install rear door windows that open for ventilation. We usually spend most of our time outside during the day.
 

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We usually spend most of our time outside during the day.
This phrase seems to be a mantra on this forum, most often (but not in this case—the following rant does not apply to LM) used by "cave people" to defend their lack of windows. I have to watch myself to keep from being offended by it, because often it comes across as bravado by young adventure types casting aspersions at more sedentary oldsters sitting in their vans looking out windows instead of being outdoors doing stuff. By age, we qualify as oldsters, but, by golly, three 14‘ers in 9 days last month is not exactly sedentary.

Exit rant mode.

It depends on how you travel as to whether the statement is reasonable. If your trips are short so that you can choose to only travel when weather is good, or if you are a die-hard that braves it all, then fine. But if your trip extends beyond the forecast, then good luck. Sooner or later, the weather or the bugs outside will be miserable, and you'll find yourself tucked inside. Just as well make it a place you like to be.
 

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Have held my tongue (or fingers) for just that reason. ;-) Personally, I like my tiny, dark cave, maybe because it 'slightly' reminds me of all the years camping with local friends as a kid (and through my teens) in a small canvas pup tent. I've had campers --> two pop-up Coleman's and a self-contained travel-trailer, with lots of windows and appreciated those too.

When I'm on the road it's nice not having to cover so many windows parking behind Cracker Barrel or at truck stops, but out in the wild windows can't be beat. Luckily, I do have the rear and slider windows so I can sit with my back to the drivers side wall and look out in front of me and to both sides, plus when it's rainy I sometimes find the passenger seat a nice place to sit and look out. Someday I may put another window behind the drivers door somewhere to open up that side of the van a bit more.
 

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It depends on how you travel as to whether the statement is reasonable. If your trips are short so that you can choose to only travel when weather is good, or if you are a die-hard that braves it all, then fine. But if your trip extends beyond the forecast, then good luck. Sooner or later, the weather or the bugs outside will be miserable, and you'll find yourself tucked inside. Just as well make it a place you like to be.
Not to mention the fact that some of us work from the road and need to be sitting inside and don’t want to be stuck in a cave. It always amazes me how so many people think “their way” is the only way...

This is the same as when we full timed in our RV and internet/entertainment streaming options would come up in forums. You’d get the inevitable “just go outside!!! You don’t need TV while you’re camping!!!! You’re supposed to be enjoying nature!!!” comments.

Of course these comments ALWAYS came from the weekend warriors/occasional campers who believe because they don’t watch TV during their 8 days in nature a year they’re somehow better than those who watch a little TV. What they fail to realize is those of us who spend 365 days a year living in nature just want to watch some god dang Netflix when the sun is down at 4:30pm in December and that has zero impact on our “enjoyment of nature”. They can’t seem to understand that their way isn’t the only way.
 

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Hopefully my comments about not needing windows weren't interpreted as a shot at people who sit in their van.
Whatever the response, I interpret everyone's response as meaning, it depends on what you're doing.
Most of our time was and will be driving from point to point, eating at restaurants, visiting attractions and when the day is over, it's a shower, sleep, coffee and a bagel upon waking up and then driving again. And it's usually sleeping in a parking spot at a rest area or truck stop. So we really only need a window over the bed and the roof fan. There was no view to enjoy whenever we were in the van.
If we end spending more time in remote areas, like an actual campsite and spend several days in one spot and use the van as base camp while we hike and explore, I would probably want at least a few windows for light, views and to not feel like I'm in a sealed box on rainy days.
 
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