Adequate campervan ventilation allows warm, stale air to escape from your rolling home while drawing in cool, clean air. As well as keeping the air in your camper fresh and clean, it will also keep condensation, humidity and pollutants to a minimum.
Without sufficient ventilation, the air in your camper can become stale and funky. Nasty smells will hang around for much longer and your beautiful camper may become a bit… gross.
Condensation and humidity will cause extra moisture in the air. This promotes the growth of mould and mildew (damaging fabrics and surfaces), as well as increasing the risk of potentially harmful mites.
If you plan on cooking in your van, the steam will cause additional humidity, cooking smells will linger, and pollutants (such as gas) can build up and potentially poison the air.
So how can you avoid having an uncomfortable and polluted camper? Well, we can help!
This post is the ultimate guide to installing a wind-driven vent.
We’ll explain (with some simple science and diagrams!) how campervan ventilation works; the pros and cons of a wind-driven vent; and how this particular vent works to ventilate your camper.
We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all the tools you will need, including a buying guide.
But that’s just for starters! We’ve also got for you an in-depth, step-by-step set of instructions, complete with labelled pictures and diagrams, so you can install a wind-driven air vent with confidence.
If you’ve already read our ventilation guide, and now know all about campervan ventilation, you can jump straight to the installation instructions.
If you don’t fancy installing a wind-driven vent, have a read of our aforementioned complete campervan ventilation guide, which takes a more in-depth look at the importance of ventilation, as well as reviewing 13 different ventilation solutions.
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Table of Contents:
How Campervan Ventilation Works
Convection currents are the natural movement of air; warmer air rises, while cooler air falls. This constant movement of hot and cold air will circulate air in your camper.
This is how all campervan ventilation works; giving the warm, stale air somewhere to escape, allows space for fresher air to draw into your camper.
When you install a roof vent, the rising warm air will escape out of it. This in turn draws in cooler air from outside, through another vent positioned lower down.
However, if the van’s internal air temperature is similar to the outside air temperature, convection currents will be very slow, therefore providing minimal air circulation. (If it’s hot outside, it’s going to stay pretty warm inside, too!)
Our Campervan Ventilation
Here’s why we chose to install a wind driven, spinning, roof mounted air vent:
Adjustable airflow – We can vary the airflow through the van via a rotating cover installed inside the van.
Price – This product is cheaper than other ventilation solutions, without compromising on quality.
Minimal noise – Stainless steel bearings silently drive the mechanism
2-year warranty – It’s always good to have cover!
We wanted passive ventilation that would work 24/7 without needing electrical power. Whether we’re asleep, away from the van, or have all the windows and doors shut, the vent continues to work.
Although there are other brilliant ventilation solutions, they don’t provide constant air circulation. Other types of campervan ventilation either need the vent open (e.g. skylight) or 12v power to work.
How Wind-Driven Campervan Ventilation Works
- Vent cover: Sits on the vent base and has angled “fins” inside. (We’ll explain how this works below.)
- Vent base: Fixes to the roof of your van and allows the vent cover to spin.
- Gasket: Provides a seal between the vent base and the roof of the van, which prevents water getting in.
- Fixings: The nuts, bolts and screws you need for installation and the bolt hole cap. (We also used self drilling screws to fix the vent base to the roof.)
- Vent spacer: Creates a sealed air channel between the internal cover and the vent cover.
- Internal vent cover: Fixes inside your vent to finish the vent. It can be opened and closed.
We didn’t use the vent spacer because it wasn’t deep enough for cladding and insulation. We had to create our own sealed air channel to keep the vent working effectively.
The “fins” inside the vent are angled and spin when the wind hits them. This means that whether you’re driving or stationary, the vent will spin in the wind.
As the vent spins, the internal fins (also angled) draw stale air out of your camper.
Installation Time And Cost
The time it takes to install a wind-driven roof vent will depend on your experience and knowledge of the work involved.
If you have all the tools and materials required and you’re confident with the task at hand, it should take approximately 2-3 hours to complete.
Our total timescale = 2 hours.
The overall timescale will vary depending on what tools you need. Luckily, we already had most of the tools required.
Our total spend = £55.00
That’s roughly a £27.00 saving compared to the cost of other manufacturer vents.
Any tools you need for installing campervan ventilation you’ll also use for other camper conversion tasks. So when budgeting for tools, you can spread the cost over the entire build.
Tools, Materials And Accessories
Bear in mind that the items in the following lists are not exclusively for installing ventilation. They are all useful throughout your campervan build. So, we’ve included a handy column detailing their other uses.
|Tape measure||5m tape measure||- Essential tool for use throughout the build.|
|Marker pen||Fine marker pen||- Essential tool for use throughout the build.|
|Work bench||Folding work station||- Resting tools and materials on.
- Used for cutting wooden battens and sheet materials.
- Used throughout the build.
|Metal file||9" 3 pack file set||- Filing the window cut out.
- Filing any sharp metal parts. e.g. protruding screws or bolts.
|Brush||1/2" paint brush||- Painting the cut metal edge of the window cut out.
- General painting.
- Oil or varnish application to wood.
|Sealant gun||Sealant/mastic gun||- Installing and sealing the sink.
- Sealing the edge of the flooring and kitchen worktop.
- Sticking wooden battons to the walls, flooring and ceiling.
|Screwdriver||Ratchet screwdriver set||- Used throughout the build.
- Fixing screws and electrical component connections.
|Socket set||1/4" Socket set 36pcs.||- Flexible gas and water pipework jubilee/pipe clips.
- Installing underslung gas and water systems.
|Ladder||Aluminium telescopic extension ladder 8.5ft/2.63m||Accessing roof of campervan.
Can be folded and stored inside van to provide roof access security.
Power Tools & Accessories
|Cordless Combi Drill||18volt combi drill with 2x batteries.||- Essential van build tool.
- Drilling holes in wood and metal.
- Used as a battery screwdriver.
|Hole saw||Multi-material hole saw 92mm||- Cutting hole for the wind driven roof vent.|
|Metal Drill Bit||5mm HSS (High speed steel) metal drill bit||- Drilling pilot holes in wood, metal and plastic.
- Drilling a pilot hole for a holesaw guide.
|Degreaser cleaner||Heavy duty degreaser 5ltr||- Preparing the metal surface for the application of rust paint and sealant.|
|Waterproof sealant||Waterproof all weather sealant. For use indoors and outdoors||- Creating a waterproof seal around the vent base.
- Can also be used around the kitchen worktop, sink and flooring.
|Wire wool||Medium grade steel wool||- Cleaning metal surfaces for the application of rust paint.
- Can also be used for cleaning and preparing wood before oils are applied.
|Metal paint||Rust protection paint|
'Stops rust and provides 8 year protection'
|- Applying to any exposed metal bodywork. Preventing the metal from rusting.|
|Screws||4.8x38mm self drilling anti-corrosion roofing screws||- Fixing the vent base to the metal roof.
- Also used for fixing wooden battens to the inside of the van.
|Tape||Aluminium foil tape 50m x 75mm||- Sealing joints and gaps between sheet insulation materials.
- Provide an excellent barrier to vapour.
|Dust sheet||Cotton 12' x 9'||- Protect the dashboard and seats from dust.
- Catch wood and metal cuttings.
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
|Safety glasses||Grade F low energy impact.|
Clear and anti-scratch.
|- Important when cutting metal.
- Protection from screws, materials and dust from cutting wood or metal.
- Comfortably wear them all day.
|Ear defenders||Comfort ear defenders 27db||- Drilling metal or wood.
BONUS - You're less likely to be bothered or disturbed by nosy neighbours when wearing them!
|Gloves||Nitrile foam coated genral use gloves||- Essential PPE for every stage of the camper conversion.
- Help to grip when lifting heavy items.
|Respirator||P3 half face dust mask respirator.||- Important to protect from metal cuttings when drilling into the roof.
- Protect against fine dust particles like sawdust and insulation board.
NOTE - Not suitable to protect against organic vapurs and gases caused from paints and aerosols. Filters with an 'A' rating are required.
Wind-Driven Campervan Ventilation Installation
There are many different designs and types of wind-driven vents available. Even though this guide is based on the wind-driven vent we installed, each one’s installation process is very similar.
We recommend you read this guide thoroughly a couple of times before you begin, so you’re confident about what you’ll need to do before you start.
10 Step Installation Guide
STEP 1: Working Area
It’s a good idea to set up a working area, complete with all the necessary tools, when carrying out any installation work. An organised work area will keep you from frantically scrabbling for tools during the install.
A pop-up workbench, a table, or even the floor inside your camper is ideal for laying out all the tools and materials you need. If everything you need is close at hand, it will help you approach the task with confidence.
DO NOT stand on the van roof. It is not designed to carry your weight; therefore, it can buckle and cause bodywork damage.
STEP 2: Vent Location
To achieve the most effective air circulation, read our post on how to ventilate a campervan.
The roof has a ridged design that gives it strength, but as a result, it isn’t perfectly flat.
So, we recommend locating the vent on a higher ridge, rather than a lower one, ensuring water runs away from it.
STEP 3: Measure
Pay attention when measuring and marking out to avoid the internal metal roof supports and any roof-mounted equipment.
The internal roof support beams provide structure and strength, so must not be cut through.
If you are adding a roof rack, it’s beneficial to install it before you install a roof vent. That way, you can avoid the roof rack beams and supports.
Inside template: The work isn’t completed from a ladder. From inside, as long as you haven’t installed any insulation yet, you can easily see the support beams and roof ridges to best locate the vent.
Outside template: We’d recommend this way if you have a roof rack installed, so you can avoid its support beams and crossbars. Don’t forget you need to avoid the internal support beams, too!
Use a strong hairspray to remove any marker pen marks from the bodywork.
Build the vent and position it on the roof where you have marked the template. This is a practical way of making sure it is positioned without obstructing anything.
Take time measuring and marking out the location of the vent because you don’t want to have a van that looks like swiss cheese, do ya?
So, take your time!
STEP 5: Pilot Hole
The pilot drill bit needs to be smaller or equal in size to the centre guide of the hole saw arbor. Otherwise, the hole saw won’t have a secure guide and may not cut properly.
STEP 6: Vent Hole
If the drill has multiple speed settings, always use the slowest speed when cutting metal. This will ensure the cutter stays sharp and makes a clean cut.
STEP 7: Clean And Prep
STEP 8: Install The Base
The vent we installed is in 5 pieces: the spinning vent cover, base, gasket, vent spacer and internal vent cover.
Use a drill to install self-drilling screws. They don’t require a pilot hole because they drill their own one. You’ll need the drill to start them off.
STEP 9: Fit The Cover
The vent we installed has ball bearings in the spinning cover. This is good because it allows the top to spin smoothly and stay stable.
STEP 10: Internal vent
If you’re following our 5 Stage Build Guide, the internal vent will be added later, once you’ve installed your ceiling.
Installing sufficient campervan ventilation helps keeps the air in your rolling home cool, fresh and clean.
Without it, a whole host of nastiness can arise, and make your camper a bit funky.
Condensation and humidity will lead to dampness hanging in the air, which can cause damage to furnishings, fabrics and your lungs – especially if you have asthma.
By following this 10 step guide, you too can easily install a wind-driven air vent that will keep air circulating in your camper using only passive ventilation.
The air will keep moving in your van 24/7 without the need for any power.
If a wind-driven roof vent isn’t the ventilation solution you want in your camper, check out other types of campervan ventilation systems here.