How to Install a Roof Vent Fan in a Van

How to Install a Roof Vent Fan

If you plan on spending any amount of time in your campervan or RV, we highly suggest that you install a roof vent for air to circulate. If you aren’t hooked up to power or aren’t able to run your air-conditioning all day, you should install a RV roof vent fan. Roof vent fans are crucial for air circulation, as well as keeping moisture, heat, and smells out of your van or RV. So if you’re looking to install a roof vent fan, follow these directions for a simple tutorial.

Install a roof vent fan in a van

Materials used to install roof vent fan

Tools used to install roof vent fan

Total cost to install a roof vent fan

$263.73 (depends on which fan you purchase)

x 2 = $527.46 Total for both roof vents

** We didn’t include the cost of everything, because a lot of this will be used on the rest of the van build we only included the cost of what we solely needed for the roof vent

Watch our detailed video:

Total time of roof vent installation

6 hours (we really took our time to make sure we got it right)

Things to know before you install a roof vent

  • Make sure you research which fan is right for you
  • There will be metal shavings everywhere, so we recommend you hang a big piece of plastic or garbage bag, to catch all the shavings
  • Make sure to wear eye and ear protectors as the shavings will fly everywhere, and the jigsaw can be loud
  • Make sure to measure twice, and cut once! Anytime you are cutting, you want to be very precise with the measurements.
  • Decide where you want to put the fan – look for a flat surface for an easier time cutting for your fan
  • We installed 2 fans, so we can have more circulation throughout the van
how to install roof vent in van

Choose your Roof Vent Fan

There are two main companies that have good reviews for roof vents, Maxxair and Fantastic Fan. There seems to be a few differences between the two brands. The Maxxair seems to be slightly more expensive and louder, but has more van speeds and options. With the Maxxair vans, you can choose between manual and electric, and white or smoke colored. The fans tend to range between $100-$300, so pick one that fits in your budget but will also be benefical in your van or RV.

Why we chose the Maxxfan Deluxe Fan

We went with the Deluxe 7000K which includes a remote, the option to pull air in or push out, and a rain shield, so that we can still use the fan if its raining. With our dogs, its important to have enough air flow even with bad weather.  If you plan to have pets in your van or RV, we definitely recommend the Maxxair Deluxe Fan with the rain shield. The Maxxair Deluxe 7000K has 10 speeds, a thermostat, a built-in rain shield, remote control, and the option of intake and exhaust. The only difference between the 7000K and the 7500K is the color of the fan.

If you don’t want or need a remote, the Maxxair Deluxe 5100K/6200K is a great option, as it has everything the 7000K/7500K have, without the remote, for bout $50 less. The most basic Maxxair Fan will only have 4 speeds, the exhaust only option, and only a manual lid opening. The Maxxair Plus will have 10 speeds, but no built-in rain shield.

how to install maxxair maxxfan

How to Install the Roof Fan in a Van

Clean the surface 

Clean the surface of your roof where you will be installing the fan with soap and water and then use acetone to get rid of all dirt and oils. 

Measure and tape

Make sure to measure twice, and cut once! Or in our case measure 20 times, cut once! After measuring, we put painters tape on the inside of the van and drew lines conncting to show where the jigsaw will cut

install roof fan in van

Drill starter holes in each corner

Start with a small drill bit, then make bigger holes so your jigsaw can fit inside. Once you have the holes, connect the holes on the top of the van using painters tape. The tape will help guide your cut, but the tape will also protect your van from scratching the paint

Cut the hole

Use the jigsaw, to cut the hole. On our first attempt, we errored on the smaller side, as we didn’t want to mess up! Make sure you have some good jigsaw blades, like these Bosch ones. You don’t want a cheap blade that snaps in half when your in the middle of cutting a hole in your van!  Once the flange will fit, use the metal file or sandpaper to clean up the edges of the hole.

install roof fan in van

Clean and paint the surface 

Clean the freshly cut surface with alcohol. Then apply paint to prevent any rust from forming. We used 2 coats of rustoleum then let it dry for an hour before moving on. Vaccum up all the metal shavings and pieces that fell from the cut. Be careful with the shavings on the roof, as this can scrape the paint.

van roof vent van conversion

Apply butyl tape and lap sealant 

Put a strip of butyl tape around each side of the opening, then on the outside of the butyl tape, apply the lap sealant. The sealant will level itself as it dries and becomes a tight waterproof seal. Make sure there are no gaps, as you want this as leak-proof as possible!

diy van conversion install roof fan

Insert the fan flange 

Make sure the metal clips are facing up, and on the outside of the van (not front/back). We pressed down fairly hard to get the flange to stick, and we also used clamps to hold it in place for a bit before we screwed it in. Using the long screws that are provided, you can screw the flange down. We recommend tightening the screws by hand as to not crack the plastic flange. Then apply more sealant around the fan flange and screws to make the fan as leakprrof as possible.

READ MORE: great gift ideas for van lifers and RV owners

Insert the fan into the flange

The instructions on the maxxfan say to have the fan in the open position to access the screw holes easier. Also make sure the wires are in the hole. A tip that we found for easier installation, was to pop up the metal screws about an 1/8th of an inch, this allows the holes to line up better . Use the 3/4 inch #10 screws and a screwdriver to tighten the fan in place

Test out the fan!

If you have the electricity connected, once the fan is  connected, the fan should close! You should also test it with water, to make sure it is sealed properly! The ceiling flange will be added when we get to the ceiling installion.

Optional: Add a roof vent fan adapter

If you are installing the roof vent in a place where there are ridges and uneven surfaces, we recommend a roof vent adapter to make the installation process easier.  To install a roof adaptor, cut and clean the hole in the roof as you would normally. Then cover the bottom of the adaptor with 3M Marine Sealant and clamp it to the roof until dry. Afterward, install the roof vent fan flange as you normally would.

So there you have it! The roof vent fan is installed! We know it can be scary to cut a hole into your van but just make sure you measure multiple times before you cut! Let us know if theres anything you have questions about, we’d love to help you through the process of installing a roof vent in your van!

If youre in the middle of a van conversion, these articles might help:

One Comment

  1. Your advice on installing a roof vent fan in a campervan or RV is spot on. It’s essential for ensuring proper air circulation and maintaining a comfortable living environment, especially when you’re off-grid or unable to run your air conditioning. Your detailed list of materials and tools, along with the simple tutorial, makes it much more accessible for anyone looking to tackle this project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.