There are many reasons why you should ventilate your camper van and just as many ways to do this.
The first thing to consider, is how and when you're going to be using your van.
If you plan to spend much of your time away during the summer months or in warmer climates, you'll soon find that being in a hot metal box isn't much fun. It'll be important for you to be able to bring in fresh, cool air and get rid of the stale, hot air.
If you like to use your camper van all year round and will be cooking, showering
and doing laundry during cooler months or whenever you have the doors and windows closed, being able to reduce the moisture in the air is vital. Condensation and damp causes mould and rust.
Then there's odours! Lingering cooking smells, dirty laundry smells, unemptied bin smells and, of course, pet and human body smells. The small, confined space within a camper van makes general living odours even more noticeable.
For safety, any gas on board for cookers or fridges must have some form of ventilation nearby, just in case of any leaks.
The second thing to consider is your budget. There are ventilation solutions from the simple addition of vents to remote controlled air conditioning systems. Opening the windows is the simplest form of ventilation but it's not always the most practical.
Using natural air currents for ventilation, means adding vents in the floor, walls and/or roof of your van. Low down vents allow fresh air in and high up vents allow warm, stale air out. The recessed vent shown on the left can be fitted into the sides of a van or fitted near to where the fridge is installed.
Gas drop vents are essential to install where your gas bottle is stored but they can also be used as part of your ventilation system. They're fitted into the floor so they can't be seen from the outside of the van.
A mushroom roof vent sits in a hole cut into the roof. It's a permanently open vent but the mushroom design prevents rain from getting inside the van.
Much more effective than making use of natural air flows are roof vents with integrated power assisted fans. Stale air is expelled and fresh air is drawn in.
The MaxxAir Maxxfan Plus and Deluxe Roof Vents have a powerful 10 speed intakes and exhaust fans, with thermostatic control to automatically vent your van as the temperature rises.
The Plus model has a built-in rain sensor which will lower the hood when it starts to rain.
Whereas the Deluxe model doesn't have a rain sensor. Instead, the hood is designed so that it can stay open when it's raining.
Both have manual controls on the underside of the units and an LCD display remote control.
Top end of the scale, are air conditioning units which will will cool and dehumidify the air but can also be used for ventilation.
The Truma Saphir Comfort RC Air Conditioning Unit is a storage compartment system. It has integrated fluff and particle filters which will clean the air as well as cool and dehumidify. With a reversible cooling circulation system, it can also be used as a gentle heater.
Ideal for sleeping areas, the Indel B Plein-Aircon 12v Air Condtioner is used with a minimum of 150AH leisure battery. A 220V Smart Switch can be added to automatically switch to mains power when the van is hooked up.
One of the smallest air conditioning units available is the Dometic Freshjet 3200. For use in vans over 7m in length, with integrated LED lights and an adjustable air flow. It cools, heats, dehumidifies and creates ambient lighting. A remote control manages it all.
OK, but what you really want is an air conditioner and a roof light to let in more natural light? We have that! The Dometic Freshlight 2200 is both, with the added bonus of integrated dimmable LED lights. Suitable for vans up to 7m long, the remote control allows you to set temperatures for cooling, heating and ventilation.
With so many options to suit all van uses and budgets, where should you start? Look at your van layout and plan to install ventilation where it's most needed, remembering that cold air sinks and hot air rises. Intake vents should be lower down, vents that expel air should be high up or in the roof. Floor vents should be placed where your gas bottle is stored, roof vents should be placed over areas where this is excessive moisture, such as the shower or over the cooker.
With some careful thought, your camper van will be a very pleasant home from home.
See all of ventilation solutions here.