With the insulation and plywood walls up, the inside of the van was starting to look good. I had planned my electrical system, but had no idea how to install solar panels for a van roof. Before I could move on to the ceiling, though, we needed to do the scariest part:
Cut a hole in the roof to install a fan.
Layout of Fan and Solar Panels for a Van Roof
I purchased a MaxxFan to keep the inside of the van cool in the summer and well-ventilated while cooking. It offers some great options, like the ability to maintain a preset temperature, turning on and off automatically, while keeping closed and sealed when off.
Looking at the roof, the way the steel support “ribs” were laid out, it became evident that the fan would be easiest to install right in the middle. I also wanted it to be located overtop of the kitchenette. Using painter’s tape, we measured the location such that we could also fit three solar panels.
I also skewed the solar panels slightly to the left. This way, I left some room on the right side of the van overtop the sliding door, where I plan to install an awning that pulls out to provide cover for an outdoor camping area.
Fan Installation Process
After drawing with a grease pen on the top of the van, we taped over the edge of the line in order to reduce the chatter when sawing through the roof with a jigsaw. We were able start the cut by first drilling a small hole, which you can see in the first photo. The fan then dropped in pretty easily, and we caulked around it with silicon (making sure to choose a brand rated for outdoor use on both metal and plastic). The instructions which came with the MaxxFan were great, and all of this took only a few hours.