Updated: Aug 18
Proper ventilation is a must if you are going to enjoy your experience on the road. A campervan without a fan will quickly become a sauna in the summer. Even worse, a fanless van will lead to very bad air quality in the van due to cooking, moisture, and general bad smells. To ensure your van has good indoor air quality, you need to install a fan. In this guide I will show you how to very easily install a fan for your van conversion! I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for many years, I'm the van conversion instructor at Udemy, author of The Van Conversion Newsletter, and the proud owner of a beautiful self-build campervan called Beans. So let's jump in and have a look at how to remove rust from your van!
These are the supplies you need to install a fan in your van
(Click on any item to purchase it)
Which fan should you choose for you van conversion?
There are two brands most people will go for:
I personally have a Maxxair Maxxfan Deluxe and absolutely love it. These are the unique features of the Maxxfan;
It has a built-in rain shield, making it great for all weather conditions. SUPER IMPORTANT FEATURE!
It is a 10-speed reversible fan
Intake and exhaust
It has a programmable thermostat and a remote control
Another great option is the Fantastic fan. You can get the
Fantastic vent 7350 – best
Fantastic vent 1200 – budget
These are the steps to install a Maxxair Maxxfan Deluxe in your van conversion
Step #1: Locate the site where you want to install the fan
From within the campervan, ascertain the roof section where you will install the fan.
Mark out the cut lines of 400mm X 400mm on the interior (Maxxair Maxxfan Deluxe measurements).
Drill four holes in the four corners of your cut out markings
Step #2: Cut out the square in the roof
Hop onto the campervan roof and cut out the square with a jigsaw
Get your jigsaw and cut out the square marked by the pilot holes.
Ensure you use oil (like WD-40) when using the jigsaw and hold it tight to prevent it from wandering
Stick a tarp (black garbage back) to the inside of the van to prevent metal shavings from going everywhere (which can cause rust to your van if left)
Step #3: Smoothen the sharp sharp edges
Use a metal file to smooth the rugged or sharp edges of the hole.
After that, you can smoothen the uneven edges further with fine sandpaper
Step #4: Clean the area around the space
Use isopropyl rubbing alcohol to clean any dirt and filings on the roof and around the cut-out. Do this both inside and outside the cut-out area. Doing this gets rid of the filings that can bring about rusting.
Step #5: Apply primer and metal paint on the cleaned area
After the alcohol dries, apply primer, then Hammerite metal paint. This will guard against corrosion in the future on the exposed metal
Step #6: Make a wooden frame
a) Cut four pieces of 2X2 (inch) wood with measurements on the interior of 400mm X 400mm. I built the frame using mitre butt joints. I didn't actually have a mitre saw, so I was doing it by eye. If I were to do it again, I would use basic butt joints.
b) Glue the four pieces of wood together (Gorilla glue is the most popular choice for good reason). Clamp the pieces together and leave it overnight. I used corner clamps, but you can use regular clamps too.
Step #7: Add a Mastic/Butyl tape seal to the top of the van
The Ford Transit's roof is a farshot from flat (there are rungs along the surface. To smooth out the roof's surface so I could attach the fan, I applied strips of mastic tape. This has the added benefit of waterproofing the area too. Mastic tape is a bit like play-dough. You will need about 6m of Mastic tape.
Lay down strips of mastic tape on all four sides around the cut out area.
Lay down strips until the area is nice and level
Step #8: Stick the Maxxair Maxxfan plastic backing to the top of the van
First apply a thin bead of Sikaflex sealant/adhesive to the inside of the plastic backing
Then flip the plastic backing over and stick it onto the hole in the van
After placing down the plastic backing, adjust it on all sides of the hole so that it is evenly distanced from the edges.
Press the frame onto the mastic/butyl seal to make a water-tight bond.
Then clamp it down for a few hours
You can apply sealant around the edges of the mastic to double ensure you have a water-tight seal
Step #9: Stick the wooden frame to the inside of the van
First apply Sikaflex adhesive to the inside of the wooden frame
Then clamp the frame to the roof of your van from the inside
Step #10: Screw the Maxxair Maxxfan plastic backing into the wooden frame
Hop onto the top of your van and screw down in the the van/frame
Using self-drilling screws will make this much easier.
Put a little bead of silicone on top of each screw head when they are drilled in
Step #11: Attach the body of the fan into the roof
Place the body of your Maxxair Maxxfan into the plastic backing on the roof
There are four screws which attach the body to the plastic backing
Step #12: Attach the fan trimming to the inside part of the fan
On the inside of the van, get the trimming and insert it to the fan.
Fit it into the frame with four screws.
Step #13 (Optional): Check whether the installation was a success
A Maxxair fan comes with a remote control that you can use to switch on the fan and adjust its speed settings. If you already have your electrical system setup, wire up the positive and negatives and switch on the fan. If it starts working, then your installation was a success! 🥳🥳 If it fails, then there is a problem with the wiring. Recheck the wiring, and make sure that you have wired it correctly. If it fails to work again, change the fuse (it could have blown out). For this reason, always have spare fuses just in case.
I hope you found this guide to installing a Maxxair Maxxfan Deluxe in your van conversion useful! You are well on your way to a beautiful self-build campervan! Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion.
If you're converting a van but unsure of how to do it, you could also check out the Van Conversion Course on Udemy. In the course, you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!
Until next time,