What is the best campervan insulation?

Once we bought our Promaster van, we had a lot of research to do. We have never done anything to this level so everything that we are doing, we are learning on the fly. Before we began the van conversion, we knew we had to start with insulation. If you want to stay warm in your campervan, you need to insulate the van. It can be super overwhelming when trying to figure out which is the best insulation to use. There are so many options including polyiso foam board insulation, thinsulate, fiberglass, reflectix, spray foam insulation, rock wool, and more. So what is the BEST campervan insulation?  The best insulation for your van will depend on personal preference and where you will primarily be located.

van conversion wool insulation

However, there are a couple of things to think about when choosing the insulatin for your van. Interior air quality is one. The van is obviously a small space, and we (and our dogs) will be living and breathing in the air. Most conventional insulation can off-gas harmful chemicals, which obviously reduces air-quality. We ultimately wanted to find a sustainable option that is still a great insulator since we will be living in our van, so we ended up choosing sheep’s wool.

For moisture control, it’s important to have proper ventilation. A good vent fan like the Maxxair Fan will be great for controling moisture. The fan will pull any moisture out of the van.

van insulation havelock wool

What we used for our van insulation

After hours of research, we ultimately decided on using havelock wool for our van insulation. We wanted to use a non-toxic insulation and we soon found out after hours of research on van insulation that sheep’s wool is the best non-toxic insulation for your campervan conversion. Sheep’s wool is all-natural, biodegrable and compostable making it a sustainable van insulation option.

Here are some pros for using sheep’s wool for insulation:

  • filters air and improves air quality
  • moisture and climate control
  • outperforms R-value
  • absorbs sound
  • suppresses mold and mildew
  • resists fire
  • no off-gassing
  • naturally fire-resistant
  • renewable and sustainable

Wool is a bit more expensive than other insulation materials, but it is also a top notch insulator. Sheep’s wool is very breathable and doesn’t hold moisture like other wool insulation. Sheep wool is very easy to install and has no toxic chemicals!  You don’t need a vapor barrier between the walls and the insulation because the wool is the only insulation medium you can buy that actively manages moisture. Often times by adding a vapor barrier, you are trapping the moisture inside, which increases the likelihood of rust or mold.

When insulating a van with subpar materials, you set yourself up for subpar insulation. There is no other campervan insulation that offers the same capabiities of sheep’s wool. Plus the guys at Havelock wool have their own campervan so they know the best insulation for van life.

Check out Havelock Wools website for more in-depth information about sheeps wool and a comparison between wool and other conventional insulation types such as fiberglass insulation or foam insulation. 

havelock wool insulation

Disclaimer: This is our first van build and we are doing everything by trial and error. We will update as we go to keep you updated on how things are working down the road.

Where to buy havelock wool

You can buy directly from Havelock wool which is located in Reno, Nevada. There are also some other companies around North America that you can buy from including Green Home Solutions, 475 High performance building supply, Small Planet Supplies, Cara Green, and Greens Design and Supply.

SInce we are located in Oregon, we got ours from Small Planet Supplies because they are in Tumwater, WA.  We bought 250 sq feet of R7 Havelock wool batts for a total of $278.90 (We paid an additional $77 for shipping, but if you are close to a location that sells havelock wool, it’s easier and cheaper to just pick it up.)

how to install campervan insulation and why we used havelock wool for our van insulation #vanbuild #vanlife

How to install insulation in your campervan

Materials needed:

  • Havelock wool – You can buy sheep’s wool from Havelock wool in loose fill or batts. Batts tend to be easier to install. We bought 2 batts, and were able to pull apart the batts to make a “loose fill” for smaller areas
  • Sound deadening

Installing the van insulation

  • Make sure to clean the van thoroughly
  • Identify where you will put the sound deadening. It is recommended to put sound deadening on any exposed metal that’s not going to have wood, paneling, or flooring surface on it, including entryways, wheel wells, and step areas by the doors. Because the sheep’s wool acts as sound deadener, we only used it on our wheel wells.

    van conversion sound deadening

    sound deadener on the wheel wells

  • Fill all holes with havelock wool. The wool is super easy to fill. You can cut or even rip apart the size of wool you will need, and fill the spaces. As you can see, we did not add a vapor barrier, as the wool acts a moisture wicking insulator anyway.
  • We used twine to hold our wool in place, until we get the walls and ceiling to cover the wool. We just criss-crossed the twine back and forth to hold the wool.

ceiling van insulation

  • Screw in 1/2″ furr strips on top of all wall and ceiling beams. You will attach your wall paneling to these. Once you have the furr strips up, you can fill in more wool insulation here.
  • For a completely non-toxic option, take painters tape and criss-cross it over the wool to keep it in place. You can also use spray adhesive to keep it in place, but there is some off-gassing with spray adhesive.
  • We didn’t insulate our campervan floor with wool, because our Promaster came with the stock floor and we just put the subfloor on top. Also heat rises so we figured the floor was the least of our worries when it comes to insulating our van

Tip: Don’t squeeze or compress insulation in order to fit it into small spaces. This will actually decrease its R-value because by compressing it, you don’t allow space for the insulation to trap the air.  Remember, wool expands and moves as it manages moisture.

van conversion havelock wool

insulation before adding the ceiling

So far, we have been happy with the sheep’s wool for our van insulation. It was super easy to install, and we can already feel a difference in temperature in the van.

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