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Old 01-07-2015, 05:11 AM   #1
amersereau
 
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Default Best Insulation Materials?! Help!

Hi all,
I've just joined the Sprinter Forum and I'm very excited about gaining some knowledge from all of you van folks. My boyfriend and I recently purchased a Sprinter that already had some of the build done (kitchen, fridge, heater, etc....) and we're planning on reconfiguring some of the build, and adding a few new features that we want (a better bed set up, storage, etc...)

Before we start doing anymore of the build though, we want to insulate it better! Currently there is just some plastic paneling over the bare metal, which helps a bit, but a lot of condensation tends to build up behind it and it doesn't do much to keep the van warm in cold winter camping. I've been doing research online trying to figure out what materials to use, and I am CONFUSED!! We need something that won't soak up moisture here in the damp PNW where we live, and don't want to use fiberglass or other toxic materials in such a small space.

So far 3M Thinsulate, or Reflectix seem like some of the best options I've come up with. I've also read that using two materials can be good, something stiffer that can be cut into sheets and used for the ceiling and flat surfaces, and then a more flexible material that can be stuffed into smaller, harder to get to spaces.

Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated!

Thanks!
Ashley
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:34 AM   #2
hein
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Default Re: Best Insulation Materials?! Help!

Welcome Ashley and congratulations with your van purchase. My wife, Kim, and I are the ones selling Thinsulate. We just drove over 5000 miles and spent 6 weeks living in our van full time.

I was very much overwhelmed by the insulating phase of our build. Fortunately, GeorgeRA was using Thinsulate on his build at the time and he shared the remainder of his master roll with us. We really appreciate the research George did in selecting Thinsulate. After working and living with it we are convinced that we made the right choice for insulating our van. We are now authorized by 3M to provide Thinsulate to the van conversion market.

Please call or write for more information. We are happy to send a sample and spec sheet so you can evaluate the product for yourself.

Best regards,
Hein van Swaay
Impact, Inc.
Hood River, OR
54l 49O 5O98
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Old 01-07-2015, 06:15 AM   #3
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Default Re: Best Insulation Materials?! Help!

Thanks so much, that's helpful info for sure! I'm curious, did you only use the Thinsulate, or did you use any other kinds of insulation in your van as well? We were planning on putting the plastic sheeting back on after installing the insulation, but I'm not sure if we need to have some other kind of vapor barrier also?

We're going to do a bit more research, but I will likely take you up on the offer of a sample.

Thanks again!
Ashley
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Best Insulation Materials?! Help!

Welcome, Ashley.

I'll attest to the excellent thermal performance and durability of closed-cell spray foam. High R-values, relatively inexpensive. I used Great Stuff foam for the walls and rough-cut rigid isocyanurate foam panels for the ceiling. The Great Stuff foam was used to seal the edges for a complete vapor barrier. Still looks new after 10 years.

Vans are not like houses---the metal skin does not breathe. This means that water vapor in cold weather will quickly condense on the metal and be easily trapped. A person sleeping overnight will breathe out about a pint and cooking and bathing add similar amounts. (Propane produces two water molecules for each one burned.)

For folks that only warm-weather camp, ie with windows open, it is not too bad of a problem. And those that live in very low humidity areas also will naturally dry out their vehicle reasonably quickly. Vapor pressure is inexorable, but that works both ways.

But those of us that cold-weather camp or do wet sports or live in humid areas can benefit from the complete vapor seal that spray foam offers. You're essentially "painting" the inner metal skin with several inches of insulation.

Our 02 van dries out very quick from carrying wet boats and gear inside. There is none of that "old car" mustiness common in humid areas. Amazingly different from the uninsulated Econoline it repalced. I think I fear mold as a biohazard much more than the outgassing of the plastics already used elsewhere in the interior.

If the budget allows I would start with a thin initial layer of spendy acoustic dampening material. That stuff is tuned to suppress low-frequency road noise. The thermal foam does do a decent job muffling the higher frequencies sitting in a campground.
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:38 PM   #5
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Default Re: Best Insulation Materials?! Help!

I have no bias as I am just now choosing what to use for my conversion. From my research I would simplify the answer to:

Easiest installation/highest R-Value/Best vapor barrier: DIY Spray foam kit like this: http://tigerfoam.com/sprayfoaminsula...nsulation-kits

Best all around material (acoustic control/R-Value): 3M Thinsulate SM600L from Hein

Cheapest solution for high R-Value: Polyiso foam board cut to fit with Great Stuff to fill gaps
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:53 PM   #6
GeorgeRa
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Default Re: Best Insulation Materials?! Help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by amersereau View Post
Hi all,
I've just joined the Sprinter Forum and I'm very excited about gaining some knowledge from all of you van folks. My boyfriend and I recently purchased a Sprinter that already had some of the build done (kitchen, fridge, heater, etc....) and we're planning on reconfiguring some of the build, and adding a few new features that we want (a better bed set up, storage, etc...)

Before we start doing anymore of the build though, we want to insulate it better! Currently there is just some plastic paneling over the bare metal, which helps a bit, but a lot of condensation tends to build up behind it and it doesn't do much to keep the van warm in cold winter camping. I've been doing research online trying to figure out what materials to use, and I am CONFUSED!! We need something that won't soak up moisture here in the damp PNW where we live, and don't want to use fiberglass or other toxic materials in such a small space.

So far 3M Thinsulate, or Reflectix seem like some of the best options I've come up with. I've also read that using two materials can be good, something stiffer that can be cut into sheets and used for the ceiling and flat surfaces, and then a more flexible material that can be stuffed into smaller, harder to get to spaces.

Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated!

Thanks!
Ashley
Answering which insulation is the best is almost impossible, the best answer is - it depends. My list of objectives: good R value, acoustic properties, hydrophobic, after installation accessibility, limited moisture penetration, but even more important a good moisture exit capability so I picked Thinsulate and would do it again.

George.
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:36 AM   #7
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Default Re: Best Insulation Materials?! Help!

Hello Ashley,

My wife and I just took delivery of a used 2014 2500 144" cargo van this morning. I joined the forum this December and this is my first post. I've been lurking for about one month and picking up lots of great tips from everyone, but insulation is the area where I'm least certain of what I want to do. I hadn't considered Thinsulate so thanks for eliciting that information from everyone. It's now on my eval list.

To all: Has anyone done a matrix of insulation options with pros/cons for each?

Thanks!
Cam
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Old 01-18-2015, 12:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: Best Insulation Materials?! Help!

Hi everybody, I wanted to get some feed back. This is closed cell foam. would it be a good insulater in our vans. I see them use it at my job and just thought I'd through it out there.. Here's info on it.

http://www.aeroflexusa.com/pdf/aeroc...ct-11-2010.pdf

Last edited by fmxman156; 01-18-2015 at 12:35 PM.
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Old 01-18-2015, 02:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: Best Insulation Materials?! Help!

I'm starting a Promaster build and I'm insulating/sound proofing it the best I can to conserve energy usage and increase comfort. I started with sound mat 25%, MLV in select areas, sandwiched decoupler (1/8" closed cell foam), EZ-cool then Thinsulate or foam board depending on the location. I'm using EZ-cool on the ceiling followed with Aerogel then Thinsulate on the ceiling to maximize the ceiling height. I've been coating the undercarridge with a hollow ceramic bead paint and will insulate where I can with either EZ-cool or foam board. Areogel is the best insulation followed by Thinsulate. Aerogel is very expensive. I would steer away from bubble type insulation, it isn't too efficient for this type of application. EZ-cool is similar but uses closed cell foam instead of bubbles and a bit more efficient.
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Old 01-18-2015, 04:15 PM   #10
hein
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Default Re: Best Insulation Materials?! Help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by fmxman156 View Post
Hi everybody, I wanted to get some feed back. This is closed cell foam. would it be a good insulater in our vans. I see them use it at my job and just thought I'd through it out there.. Here's info on it.

http://www.aeroflexusa.com/pdf/aeroc...ct-11-2010.pdf
EDPM closed cell foam is more commonly known as Neoprene. This would be a good product for under floors. Maybe a little on the heavy side for the entire van. I didn't look up a cost.

For those considering or using Thinsulate: Thinsulate will dampen panels that it contacts so there is less/no need for heavy mass loading products. It also blocks low frequencies due to the thickness. Our 3M Rep says this is why Honda is using Thinsulate all over their vehicles. Weight is a major driver for vehicle design due to fuel savings mandates.

Weight is something that can creep up on a van build so avoiding heavy sound deadening products makes a lot of sense. And saves time/money.
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Last edited by hein; 01-18-2015 at 04:19 PM.
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