Campervan ventilation condensation

Having the correct ventilation fitted in your campervan is one of the most important steps you can take to create a comfortable living environment inside your campervan.

Unlike most modern homes, campervans are severely limited to the total amount of internal space.

As a result, internal temperatures, humidity and pollutants may build up in such a confined space.

As you can imagine, it may become uncomfortable without the correct ventilation in place.

Therefore, to create a comfortable living environment inside your campervan, it is important to have a way to regulate the airflow coming in and out of your vehicle.

This is achieved by fitting the correct type of campervan ventilation.

Why should I install ventilation in my campervan?

There are three main reasons why you would want to install ventilation in your campervan.

    • To regulate the internal climate to create a comfortable environment.
    • Help combat the build-up of moisture, which can lead to condensation.
    • Combat any unpleasant odours and pollutants.

Below, we have covered each of the reasons in more detail.

1) Campervan ventilation regulates the internal climate

Campervan Ventilation

One of, if not the main reason to install campervan ventilation for your campervan is to regulate the interior climate.

Due to the way heat works, cold air inside your campervan will naturally sink and the hot air will rise towards the ceiling.

Over a prolonged period, the build-up of hot air will make the temperature rise considerably inside the living space of the campervan.

Therefore, it can make the internal space feel uncomfortably hot and stuffy.

By installing the correct campervan ventilation system, in the right locations around your vehicle, you can regulate the internal climate of your campervan.

2) Campervan ventilation can combat the build-up of Humidity and Condensation

Campervan Condensation

Let’s face it – having tons of humidity in a campervan sucks!

That’s why it’s so important to remove as much moisture in the air as you can with the help of campervan ventilation.

Having a humid campervan can cause mould to grow in the vehicle as well as fabrics and clothing.

And with high humidity, you’ll get condensation.

This can consequently lead to the formation of rust in the interior of your vehicle.

What are the hazards associated with high humidity in a campervan?

Having damp air inside your campervan may lead to some problems if you don’t get it fixed soon.

    • Promote the growth of Fungi (or Mould to you and me) as well as bacteria. For some people, this may cause an allergic reaction as well as respiratory problems.
    • It can provide the perfect conditions for dust-mites. This may affect people who suffer from asthma.
    • Odours build-up because of fungal growth.
    • Condensation forming on your windows, the vehicle structure and campervan surfaces.

What causes condensation in my campervan?

Condensation is the process by which water vapour in the air is changed into its liquid form.

In other words; Condensation occurs when warm, moisture-laden air comes into contact with a colder surface.

There are multiple ways condensation can form inside your campervan;

  • Breathing – Here’s a fun fact; Did you know, according to one study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, we exhale approximately 200 millilitres of water vapour per hour while we are awake and approximately 20 millilitres of water vapour per hour during sleep. Breathing inside your vehicle will add humidity in the air which will contribute to condensation.
  • Cooking – Any kind of cooking where you’ll be boiling food is going to be one of the fastest ways of introducing water vapour into the living area of the vehicle.
  • Natural Gas – If you’re using cooking equipment that operates of natural gas, then it will produce quite a large amount of water vapour which can result in condensation. Water vapour is produced during the combustion process between the oxygen, natural gas (usually propane), and carbon dioxide.
  • Personal Washing – Most of the time, this is going to be when you take a shower. The hot water will create steam which will increase the humidity in the air.

Where does condensation usually form inside my campervan?

Condensation can form usually on uninsulated, heat conductive surfaces.

In a campervan, these areas are;

    • Windows.
    • Metal panels of the internal vehicle structure.
    • Campervan furniture.

By installing the correct campervan ventilation system in the right locations around your vehicle, you can help combat the build-up of humidity to help combat condensation.

3) Campervan ventilation can help combat odour and pollutants

If multiple people are living in an enclosed area for an extended period, you’ll soon find a build-up of unpleasant odours.

Furthermore, this can be exaggerated in hotter climates where we sweat more.

However, it’s not only us humans that create a smell!

Animals, food and dirty laundry all can produce unwanted odours to the interior of your campervan.

By installing the correct campervan ventilation system, this should help combat the buildup of any unwanted odours in the interior of your vehicle.

What is the best type of campervan ventilation?

Campervan Conversion - Insulation and the importance of insulation.
Ventilation is important if you want to keep the interior cool and stop the build-up of humidity.

1) Opening your windows

First and foremost, opening a window is a quick and easy way to ventilate your campervan.

It does not cost you anything as all vehicles allow you to open windows but it is an incomplete approach.

Yes, it will give you a way of ventilating your campervan, but this is only a temporary solution.

However, one problem with leaving your windows open, especially overnight, is the possibility of a vehicle break-in.

Similarly, another reason you would not want to leave your window open for long periods is in case of any unexpected weather changes.

Falling asleep with an open window through the night leaves your vehicle at risk of rain entering the interior and potentially soaking your seats and cab electronics.

There is nothing worse than having to drive a van with a wet seat!

Trust us – we know!

And finally, a window that is left open only a few inches will not really provide enough ventilation to recirculate a large volume of fresh air around your vehicle.

Advantages of opening a window for campervan Ventilation
    • No need to physically alter your vehicle. Just roll down the window, and you have instant campervan ventilation.
Disadvantages of opening a window for campervan Ventilation
    • If you choose to leave the window(s) open overnight, you risk potential break-ins as well as damage due to changes in the weather.
What We Think

Leaving a window slightly open is a quick and easy way of ventilating your campervan.

But, it is simply not the best method if you’re serious about creating a purpose-built campervan ventilation system.

2) Installing Window Wind Deflectors + Opening Your Windows

By installing wind deflectors on your campervan windows, you can now safely leave your windows slightly open without the worry attracting unwanted attention.

Wind deflectors do an excellent job of disguising the widows when they are slightly open.

This method should hopefully deter any would-be criminals trying their luck at a visible open window and reducing the chances of a vehicle break-in.

But once again, If your serious about installing the correct type of campervan ventilation, then you’re going to have to install some kind of purpose-built vent system.

Advantages of using Wind Deflectors for Campervan Ventilation
    • No vehicle adaption required. Simply click in and you’re good to go.
    • It helps disguises the open window from prying eyes, reducing the risk of a possible break-in.
    • We think they look pretty cool, but this is subjective.
Disadvantages of Wind Deflectors for Campervan Ventilation
    • From the outside, they give the appearance of a factory-built campervan.
    • Relies on manual airflow. On a hot day with no wind, they can offer little air recirculation.
    • The window is still open, so if anybody notices that it is, leaves you vulnerable to vehicle break-ins.
What We Think

Using wind deflectors to disguise the fact that you have your windows open are the next step up to provide adequate ventilation for your campervan.

Products we recommend:

3) Installing Louvred Air Vents

Fitting louvred air vents to your van walls will create a pleasant ventilation system that will allow fresh air to enter and warm air to leave your interior space.

This method here will mean you’ll have to cut holes in the side of your campervan where you want to fit the vents.

It is recommended to install a fly screen behind each vent to stop unwanted bugs entering the interior of the van.

Advantages of Louvred Air Vents for Campervan Ventilation
    • Cheap.
    • Simple to install.
    • Some models feature a manual open/close vent system.
    • Secure.
Disadvantages of Louvred Air Vents for Campervan Ventilation
    • From the outside, they can make your van look more like a factory-built campervan. This may be a problem for people who want to keep their campervan as stealth as possible.
    • Relies on natural airflow. On a hot day with little wind, they can offer low air recirculation.
What We Think

Louvred air vents are the first step to creating a purpose build ventilation system inside your campervan.

They’re cheap to buy, simple to install and offer basic ventilation.

Products we recommend:

4) Installing a Wind-powered Rotating roof vent

A rotating roof vent used for campervan ventilation
A rotating roof vent is a cheap and easy way of creating a good amount of ventilation inside your campervan.

A wind-powered rotary roof vent provides a high amount of ventilation powered by the wind.

The extraction rate from Wind-powered roof vents is considerably more effective than louvred air vents.

Advantages of a Rotary Roof Vent for a Campervan Ventilation
    • Cheap.
    • Simple to install.
    • Some models feature a manual open/close vent system.
    • Secure.
Disadvantages of a Rotary Roof Vent for a Campervan Ventilation
    • Relies on airflow – on a hot day with no wind, they can offer little to no air re-circulation.
    • Older models can become quite noisy when bearings begin to wear out.
What We Think

Installing a wind-powered roof fan is an excellent way of creating additional ventilation in your van.

They are simple to install, fully waterproof and secure.

In addition, for the more stealth conscious self-builders out there, by installing rotary roof vents can help disguise your campervan when parked up.

Products we recommend:

5) Installing a Roof Vent

campervan ventilation roof vent fiamma
A campervan roof vent can offer excellent ventilation but maybe a little more expensive than other ventilation methods.

Installing a purpose-made campervan roof vent is one of the best ways to add ventilation to your campervan.

As the warm air will build up by your ceiling in your campervan, by installing a roof vent will allow you to expel the warm air.

Advantages of a Roof Vent for Campervan Ventilation
    • Allows natural light to enter the vehicle which will brighten the interior space.
    • Some models feature a manual open/close vent system.
    • Some models feature an in-built fly-screen.
    • Relatively Secure.
Disadvantages of a Roof Vent for Campervan Ventilation
    • Relies on airflow – on a hot day with no wind, they can offer little to no air recirculation.
    • You will have to modify your vehicle to fit this roof vent. Some DIY experience may be necessary.
What We Think

A manual roof vent should provide satisfactory ventilation for most campervan builds.

Although installation will require cutting out a substantial opening in your vehicle roof, installing a manual roof vent will require no additional electronics.

It will also increase the amount of more natural light coming into the interior of the vehicle.

Products we recommend:

6) Installing a Roof Vent with an in-built Electric Fan

campervan ventilation roof top fan powered maxxair
For serious ventilation – choose an air vent with an electric fan.

By fitting roof vents with the addition of an electric powered fan is the ultimate way of creating a powerful ventilation system inside your campervan.

With the addition of the electric fan, you can now expel or draw air inside with greater efficiency.

In addition, some models feature an option to reverse the rotation of the fan.

As a result, you now have the option to either expel the warm air outside or draw fresh air inside the vehicle.

And by installing a second powered roof vent on opposite ends of your vehicle, you can create an efficient air recirculation system.

By using two electric air vents, you can create a powerful air recirculation system.

What We Think

How can I ventilate my campervan shower?

To ventilate your campervan shower and washroom, you should install a purpose made 12v extractor fan that can expel the air and any moisture you create when taking a shower directly outside.

As a result, the fan will dramatically help combat the build-up of moisture inside your vehicle, which in turn will help to stop condensation.

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Head Writer @ VanLife Adventure - Cardiff, Wales, UK - Arron Murray bought his first van in 2015. After converting it into a tiny home, he went on a 7,000-mile road trip through 12 European countries. In 2018, he gave up the van for bicycle and tent, where he cycled 4,000 miles across the United States of America. Right now, he is currently fitting out a Mitsubishi Delica 4x4 van - where once complete, intends on driving it to Vladivostok (next to North Korea) and then back home.
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