VanLife Header

The Plan The Ceiling Fan Insulating the van Back Door Windows Driver's Desk Sub-Floor Mounting the Solar Panel Trunk and Bed Combo The Upper Deck Cabinets
Mid-Van Windows The Sink Dresser Storage The Office Desk Wall Paneling Peel-n-Stick Tile Floor Paneled Ceiling The Door Decor Extra Stuff



MaxxAir MaxFan $243  /  Dicor Lap Sealant $11  /  Dicor Buytl Tape $17

    It was HOT in here, even in March.  The sun heated the roof to the point where the ceiling was too hot to touch, and that radiated into the big closed box.  I needed ventilation.  I had had Maxx for a month already, so it was time to Get To It.

MaxxFan installed - DIY Van Conversion    So, it was on to Step One: installing the MaxxAir MaxxFan [see Gizmos/Fan].  I chose this particular fan because it was almost universally recommended as the best one on the market.  The fact that it had "Maxx" in the name was just a bonus.  This 10-speed fan, when connected, could serve as either intake or exhaust.  Sweet.  The catch -- you guessed it -- doing the actual installation. 

    I climbed up the tall backdoor ladder with a drill, a jigsaw, a tube of lap sealant, some butyl tape and my MaxxFan, and got to work.  A couple of YouTube videos had shown me the how-to’s, and it didn’t seem that hard, but there is something VERY daunting about cutting a hole in your vehicle, especially if, like me, you have never even held a jigsaw in your hand before.  The hole had to be a pretty precise 14” x 14” too.

    As instructed, I Sharpie-marked the square on the ceiling (i.e., inside) first, to make sure that I wouldn't be cutting anything that I didn't want to cut.  It was a good precaution but, really, there was nothing there to worry about.  My biggest worries were those long horizontal braces up topside.  As it turned out RAM had left a flat space about 16" x 16" right where I thought the fan should go. 

    To be honest, though, I probably thought the fan should go there because the flat space was there.

    Anyway, I took one last look at the unspoiled steel of the ceiling, and with a big "here goes nuthin" sigh, I drilled some small holes just inside the corners of the squares.  Then I went back and used my biggest drill bit on those same holes; these were the starter holes for the saw.  I could lower the jigsaw into one, fire the tool up, and just cut my way into where I had traced the same square on the roof (i.e., outside). 

MaxxFan installed inside view    I was overly careful at first, and it wasn’t going too well.  The saw was very hard to control and there a coupld of zigs and zags that I was pretty sure were not part of the plan.  So, I decided to stop being a wuss and opened that jigger up full blast.  Good decision!  Instead of bucking and jamming, that sucker zipped down that line in short order, turned the corner, zipped, turned, zipped, turned, zipped and zingo-zammo, the hole was done, nice and tidy as you please.

    That “zipping” was loud as all get-out, of course, but once I high-geared the saw, I was done in about two minutes. 

    It took another 20 minutes or so to prep the hole with butyl tape, screw the fan in place, and gob it all down with Dicor lap sealant to waterproof it.

    And that was it!  Damn, was I freaking proud of myself!  Ha.

    Of course, I had no idea if it worked.  It’s DC powered and I did not have my AC/DC wiring in place yet.  But at least I could crank it open and let some of the heat out.

    Here are a few of videos I watched that were very helpful:

> Ray Outfitted.  The pride and joy of Mr. & Mrs. Oufitted, Ray gave an excellent demonstration of how simple the drilling and cutting process was.  I will say, though, that the actual jigsawing is MUCH LOUDER in person.

Mark Polk.  Mark replaced the fan in his RV with a MaxxFan, so I didn't get to see him cut, but it helpful for showing how to properly seal it.  The man loves his Dicor.  He was very thorough and his steady, level tone of voice is classic.

Adventures in a Back Pack.  Ace uses angle cutter instead of a drill to start his insertions on the roof of his Sprinter, which had the roof braces in the way.  He shows how he dealt with that.  I did not have that issue with the PM.

    I'm going to finish each page by asking: in retrospect, what would I have done differently.

    What would I have done differently?  (See?)  Nothing, really.  I hope I end up saying that a lot.  As far as the actual installation goes, it all went fine.  If I ever do another van project though, I'd get my DC power in place first so I could wire this up and make sure it did in fact, work -- before I sealed it in, and, yeah, even before I cut the damn hole.  As it worked out here, all was well, but I didn't know for months.