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To insulate or not to insulate?

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    To insulate or not to insulate?

    I have just bought a Renault Kangoo but debating whether to insulate it or just board and carpet it all. At the moment there are no rear or side windows in the van but i will be using it all year round.. Will be grateful for any advice on both options? Thanks

    Welcome welshjason, you will get a lot of ideas and help here.

    There isn't any option, you MUST insulate it. And not with bubble wrap, that is pathetically useless. What you need is a multi-layered insulation foil pack from a builder's merchant. It is many layers, up to ten or eleven of different flexi materials and will be silver coloured on one side - you put this on the inside. It needs to be the flexible foil type to go round the bends. This stuff from the builders merchant is house-insulating quality far better than fibreglass. If you don't insulate it for one thing you will be going away and then having to find a hotel because you are stuck to the van by frozen fingers, and in the summer you will have to go to a hotel to cool down. Then you will have to completely dismantle the van and start from the beginning all over again.
    Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will worry about itself.


      #3 Is this the stuff?


        welshjason I just to echo gasgas words of wisdom - the only reason to use an uninsulated van would be if you are in training for a trek across the Arctic. Even if you are tough by October it will be too cold by November unbearable and that would be here in Cornwall - where we rartely see snow.
        Another way to insulate is board it and shoot expanding foam between the board and the metal sides - then cover the board with carpet.
        Amor omnia vincit et nos cedamus amori


          That Wickes stuff would be better than nothing but it isn't what I was thinking of. This is the proper stuff that proper professional mainstream converters use:

          Look at the specifications and you will see that it is 40mm thick , if left out and puffed up. It is easily squashable where furniture presses it against the walls or strengthening struts in a van. It has 19 separate layers and gives the same thermal resistance as about 150mm of fibreglass. If you use that you will be cool in summer and warm in winter.
          I have worked alongside and been an agent for a van converter many years ago and the basic procedure before you start putting furniture in is this: You can either start on the roof or the floor, but you must first do the planning, cutting out of panels for wall and roof windows and vents.
          1) Work out what appliances you want where, and make a plan for wires and water pipes and gas pipes.
          2) Line the van floor with thick rubber. This dramatically reduces road noise.
          3) On top of the rubber put your wires and pipes where they will cross the floor of the van.
          4) Next put a layer of board insulation over the rubber, cutting slots out of it for the pipes and wires. This is the stuff:

          5) On top of that put plywood, to spread the load on the insulation board.
          6) Then your final floor, which could be vinyl or clip-together flooring boards, or carpet whatever you want.

          Then start on the roof if you have done the floor first, or the floor if you did the roof first. The roof doesn't want solid insulation, that is what the Screwfix stuff is for, as well as the walls.
          As every inch matters inside a van, the foil type of insulation is better than board for the walls because it squashes up against the sticky-out bits of the van.

          I have seen at least one small UK van converter company use self-adhesive foam for insulation, it was about 3mm thick. As soon as I saw that I walked away. All the European converters use the multi layer foil, and I expect the mainstream UK ones do.
          When you have finished the conversion you can remove and change furniture fairly easily but you cannot then decide you haven't insulated it enough and strip the whole thing. You would end up selling it, choosing a mild day, and starting again, doing the job properly.
          Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will worry about itself.


            Definitely insulate. I had a Kangoo panel van some years ago and camped in it uninsulated for several years between September-June. Although Kingspan and Superquilt would provide better insulation you will probably find there simply isn't the space to use this and bubblefoil is the only option. I used 4 layers of this behind a ply lining and it made a big difference. For the sills and behind door panels, I applied a liberal coating of Waxoyl then used bagged Rockwool which could be lifted out periodically to check for condensation/corrosion. My van had previously been owned by a farmer and, unknown to me at the time, there was lime in the sills causing slow corrosion which I only spotted when starting the insulation job and I needed to keep a close eye on it.


              As you've started this thread, can I seek some words of wisdom too?

              I've a Doblo MPV (ie car not van), and I want to keep using it as a car, so I don't want to make any drastic alterations. So far, I've made and used home made boot jump type furniture, but I haven't done any insulation. I have found that with a good sleeping bag I'm warm enough for sleeping, but it it wouldn't be pleasant actually living in the vehicle! (The occasions I've slept in it in the cold have been long journeys where I've pulled over and gone straight to bed, not camping trips!)

              The main thing holding me back from insulation is my worry about removing and, even worse refitting, the interior plastic panelling and the ceiling lining, without damaging them.

              Any advice?


                I understand your concern trebso. I would go to a vehicle repair shop and ask them nice and politely how to remove the trim from your particular vehicle. I think they would tell you. You can get trim removing tools for not much money :

                The general idea of these tools is they are made of relatively soft plastic so they don't damage the trim when removing it. What you will find is a lot of plastic snappers break when you ping off the trim, and you would have to go to the dealer and buy some more, they would only be pence in theory but you never can tell until you ask.
                Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will worry about itself.


                  Good advice already given above and in your other thread, 19558-have-you-used-any-insulation. Thanks for posts by karenw, mikeroch and timedout. I agree that insulation is necessary unless the van is to be used only during warm weather.

                  However, I doubt that YBS SuperQuilt is the best insulation available in every case. YBS say: “SuperQuilt is a very flexible, easy to fit, multi layer insulation thermally tested in accordance with EN16012 achieving a high thermal resistance of 2.50m²K/W for SuperQuilt accompanied by a 25mm air cavity either side of the material.”
                  But that figure of 0.25 does rely on having cavities facing both the low emissivity foil faces:

                  Insulate or Not 1.jpg

                  So although the insulation quilt itself is only 40mm thick the total thickness including the cavities either side required to achieve the figure of 2.5 m2K/W is 90mm.
                  For comparison the thickness required to achieve the thermal resistance of 2.5 or 1.52 using other popular insulants are as follows:

                  Insulate or Not 2.jpg

                  Without the cavity either side the R value of 1.52 is nothing special, PIR is better. If you read the data sheets published by YBS, Superquilt is rarely used as the only or primary insulant but rather to top up other traditional insulants.

                  Larger vans are easier to insulate than small vans like your Kangoo because the ratio of surface area to volume is better and because the external area of the cab and other difficult to insulate areas, ribs, doors, windows etc can be a smaller proportion of the total.
                  Last year I calculated the approximate heat loss from the small Stimson Tirol camper van that we used to own. The starting point was to estimate how much of the van had areas easy to insulate (34% of the external area), how much in harder areas (44%) and then the areas of glass (22%) which are difficult to insulate.
                  Cab, and other, windows can be insulated with “Silverscreens”, bought or home made, applied internally or externally. In a van large enough to accommodate a bed behind the cab, a thick insulating curtain between cab and habitable area can help a lot.
                  All else being equal the roof is the most important area to insulate, followed by the sides then the floor.

                  Despite suggestions to the contrary foil faced bubblewrap is an effective and good value insulant as long as we are not trying to achieve high insulation values.

                  Just looking at the easy areas a typical steel panel with ply and felt lining has a U value of 2.278 W/m2K (R=0.44 m2K/W).
                  Adding Airtec single foil insulation facing a cavity lifts the U value to 0.954 W/m2K (R= 1.05 m2K/W). The heat loss rate is reduced to 42% of that through the uninsulated panel.
                  Using Airtec Double Foil with 25 mm cavity to both foil sides further reduces the heat loss rate to 0.584 W/m2K (R= 1.71 m2K/W) or 26% of that through the uninsulated panel.
                  Remember those figure needs to be adjusted downwards to show the overall percentage as only a third of the van has easy to insulate panels but the heat loss through the remaining two thirds continues unless you do more.

                  Another insulant popular with some converters is the self adhesive closed cell foam. Like Airtec, Superquilt etc it can be cut and tailored as necessary to fit curved panels. It is commonly fairly thin, 5 or 10 mm, in which case the R value is relatively poor.

                  The bare figures given above need to be considered alongside how easy or otherwise the insulation is to install including how one might form a cavity or two and whether a vapour barrier is required. I suggest forming one cavity is a reasonable expectation but, in a pressed steel box with varying gaps (50 to 90 mm mainly 60-70 mm) between inner and outer skin, two cavities is a challenge.
                  There are a lot of curves pressed into the panels of our Trafic van which stiffens the body but makes fitting flat boards a bit harder or, at least, more time consuming. I could go on about insulation etc but hope the above is helpful.

                  Re Windows: without an additional window in the side DVLA will not reclassify as a “Motor Caravan”. However, this may not be important to you if it can be a van derived car? Honest John says:
                  “Like a Berlingo, Partner, Caddy and Doblo, a Kangoo was never a 'car derived van'. However, with windows in the sides and at least two rows of seats, they are classified as 'van derived cars' and are subject to car speed limits.”


                    Hi all, first time poster. How effective is insulting a Berlingo-like MPV given all the glass area, including the front windscreen etc?? I'm contemplating a solo camper that I can use for a couple of nights as somewhere comfortable to sleep (and I don't like the cold!!)


                      I had a Kangoo-Roo, ie Kangoo car conversion which had no insulation. Adding home-made silver screens to the windows will make a big difference, both in blocking summer sun and winter frost. Without such window insulation, you may find overnight condensation freezes then you have a mopping up job later in the day when it thaws. I'd hang a thermal blackout curtain behind the cab seats and multiple layers of bubble-foil insulation taped together to make DIY rear window screens and then you should be ok. As for keeping warm, it's not feasible to heat the rear of a car without EHU but you can keep your body warm via something as simple as USB heat pads run from powerbanks. They're very effective.


                        Definitely insulate ! insulating much beyond the value of insulated blinds you intend for the windows is pointless. We use thinsulate wadding between nylon for the window blinds, so about 10mm of self adhesive foam on difficult curved surfaces with stretch carpet glued over would match that. We used kingspan where there was room under the floor and in the roof and 10mm foam where there was not room. If you can fit your walls like our roof that will save room otherwise insulate then ply.
                        I do not trust that superquilt stuff. The criteria for its use are not properly met.
                        In a kangoo space is very important a little insulation is very important every extra thickness has diminishing returns so only add more if the space is not needed.
                        will you have a heater? Will you just wear lots of down clothes and hot water bottles?
                        Last edited by Derekoak; 29-10-2018, 15:39.


                          Good advice given a good layer down under the floor is my best advice


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