All prices are in Australian Dollar (AUD)
It was time to install my exhaust fans, I was pretty excited to do this. I bought 2 MaxxAir Deluxe Fans from a website in Australia called Caravans Plus. The plan was to install one above the kitchen cooktop, and one in the back above the bed.
The Deluxe model is bi-directional, meaning you can blow air down like a fan or extract air like an exhaust. They have 10 speed settings, an in built thermostat and the vent drives up and down electronically (or manually). They can be operated by remote control or via the buttons on the unit itself.
The roof vent is designed so you can have the vent open whilst it is raining and not allow any rain to come inside. They draw 0.16A on the lowest speed setting and 2.5A on the highest. It is 12V and the cutout size is 356mm x 356mm (14″ x 14″).
I wanted the option to be able to cook inside whilst the van was fully closed, in stealth mode. I will be able to have the rear fan sucking in air, whilst the kitchen fan is extracting which will create a draft to efficiently suck out cooking fumes.
Price – AU$470
Things to consider before buying
1. Do I need an exhaust fan?
2. Will I be cooking inside the van, or outside?
3. Will my dual battery/solar setup be able to run the exhaust fan?
4. What type of exhaust fan do I need? (Bi-Directional, rain protection, electronic or manual).
5. How many do I need/want?
Things to consider before installation
Lets consider you are going for a similar setup to mine. I know I am going to have solar on the roof + 2 exhaust fans which will all take up space. A good idea is to measure your roof dimensions on top, and draw a scale plan.
I have roughly estimated my energy usage, by working out what appliances I want to buy, looking at their wattage and how often I’ll be using them. I wanted 450W of solar, once I knew this I resarched for panels that would fullfil this wattage but would also fit on my roof.
IMPORTANT* Measure where your battens are on the underside of the roof, these will determine where you can and can’t cut an exhaust fan hole. Also take into account any walls/cabinetry that you’ll be installing in the future.
I drew my exhaust fans on the plan first, then arranged the solar in a way that would suit to them.
Note: Some of these steps you may not need to do as your installation circumstances and/or personal preference will be different.
1. Measure and draw plans of your roof, working out where and how your exhaust fans are going to fit.
2. Measure where the center of your exhaust fan hole will be (in most cases center of the battens and center of the roof from side to side).
3. Drill a small reference hole on your mark.
4. Secure a plastic garbage bag or drop sheet close to the hole on the ceiling to catch metal filings and paint.
5. Measure your cutout shroud and divide by 2.
6. Get on your roof and use this measurement to measure out in all 4 directions from your reference hole.
7. Use a large T-Square to square from the side of your van, and mark out your cutout size. (You could also use the fan shroud itself as a template if this works).
8. I used a grinder to cut out my hole, but I recommend using a jigsaw as this would be neater and wouldn’t leave thousands of tiny metal fragments everywhere.
9. File all the edges down.
10. Blow off any metal filings from your entire van (inside and out), concentrate on the roof but trust me they’ll get in other places too so be vigilant.
11. Paint on rust protector paint on all exposed metal.
12. I used a (40mm x 10mm) putty tape on a roll to act as a sealer + spacer so the fan shroud wouldn’t be effected by the ribs that sit higher on the roof of the van. I measured the flange of the shroud and cut my strips to that length.
Your putty tape should be thicker than the ribs on the van.
13. Lay down your putty strips, then eye up the shroud so that the center of all your shroud screw holes run along the center of your putty strips.
14. Once the putty is in place, apply your sealant to the gaps in between the roof ribs and the putty strips. I used Sika Pro as my sealant + adhesive.
15. Place your shroud in position, then pre drill the 16 holes. I used a 2.5mm drill bit, but check with your provided scews before pre drilling.
I’ve heard from some people that the provided screws aren’t the best, use thicker gauge screws if you’re worried about this. I still used the provided screws as I thought they were thick enough.
16. Secure your shroud by screwing all 16 screws in at an even tension.
Important* Make sure the 4 metal screw tabs on the shroud are on the sides of the van, NOT front to back.
17. Use your sealant to seal all the edges around the shroud + all the screw holes. (I cut the tip so it was thicker and allowed more Silicone out at a time).
Another type of recommended sealant is auto levelling sealant.
18. Pull the 4 metal tabs up roughly 3mm so the screws line up in the next steps.
19. Use the open/close knob on the fan unit to set the fan to the open position.
20. Place the fan on the shroud being careful that the wires don’t get caught.
21. Do up the final 4 screws that secure the fan unit to the shroud.
22. The final step is to install the internal cover shroud on your ceiling. This obviously can’t be done until the ceiling is installed, so this step will most likely be done down the track.
You will have to cut the shroud flu to a depth depending on the thickness of your vans ceiling cavity.
Congratulations, you’ve just completed your MaxxAir Deluxe Fan installation!