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Discussion Starter #1
As with a number of other people, I'm in the process of converting my cargo van into a simple camper. One of the first steps was adding a Fantastic Fan in the roof. It was a pretty straight forward task. Once I got the fan I tested it to ensure it worked correctly before I did anything else. One less chance for Mr Murphy to have his way with me.....

I put the fan immediately behind the roof support beam that corresponds with the B column. It fit nicely in the space between that support and the next roof support beam. That also leaves plenty of room for a solar panel behind the fan. The sheet metal is surprisingly thin so after laying out where I wanted it, I drilled 8 holes in the metal that would be removed. On the inside of the van I had a piece of 1/4" plywood which was about an inch larger than what the finished fan hole would be. I used the 8 holes to fasten the plywood to the metal in the fan hole. The plywood was to eliminate the vibration in the sheet metal. I then drilled 1/2 inch holes in each of the corners. They provided a start and end point for the jig saw. I used blue painters tape for protection of the roof finish and laid a piece of 1/8 inch paneling on the roof beneath the jig saw. The paneling also helped to reduce the vibration in the roof metal. Once I had 1 edge cut and 2 other edges partially cut, I used a couple of bolts with large washers in 2 corners to hold the metal and plywood in place and to reduce the vibration. The jig saw had a standard metal cutting blade on it, which worked fine.

Once the hole was cut, the fan dropped in easily since I over sized the hole about 1/8 inch extra on each edge. I pulled the fan out, cleaned up the edges a bit with a file. I fit the fan into place, squared it up and drilled the fan mounting holes through the roof and into the plywood. Then I sprayed the edges and holes with paint to inhibit rust.

The next day I pulled off all of the tape, and installed the fan using 3/4 inch plywood on the inside to hold the screws that came with the fan. I used a router to get a better fit on the plywood where it over lapped the forward and aft roof support beams. I put the putty tape about an 1/8 inch in from the edge of the fans mounting surface. Since I'm a pessimist, I also used some window caulk on the inner edge edge of the fan. Then it was simply a matter of tightening down the screws until some of the putty squeezed out from under the fan frame. I let it sit over night before cleaning off the excess putty and filling in a couple of places where the putty didn't come all the way to the outer edge of the fan frame.

I didn't really keep track of my time since I did the project in several parts, but probably about 5 to 6 hours.

Fan- https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IKMWQMK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Putty Tape- https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EDOSKQ/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 You don't need the screws that come with the kit so if you can find just the 1 inch wide putty tape you're set.

Picture 1- The inside of the van with the install initial compete. Once the interior is finished, there is a trim plate that inserts into the fan. There is also Noico noise deadening material installed around the fan.

Picture 2- The setup to minimize the vibration of the sheet metal with 2 edges cut.

Picture 3- Inside the van with the plywood to minimize the vibration of the sheet metal with 2 edges cut.

Picture 4- The fan installed with all of the exterior work done. I did the light bar install after I was done with the fan.
 

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I don't think I would have thought of all the possible problems with a job like that. You have done an excellent job which might give people like me the confidence to cut into the roof of a beautiful new van. Great description and pictures. Thanks.
 

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I installed a MaxxAir fan on mine. I had fantastic fan in a previous vehicle, and I wanted a fan that would operate in rain, so I went with the MaxxAir. I mounted mine in the rear because the only windows that open on my van are the front driver/passenger roll down windows, and I wanted air to flow through the entire van.

Top rear view:



Inside rear view - the blue tarp was to catch the metal filings/shavings dropping down from cutting/drilling



Another top view, this time with the vent popped up a bit - this allows air, but not rain to enter. It also shows the solar panels and the mounting method I used for the ARB awning. (The fiberglass canopy/topper suspended from the ceiling was for my truck - you can barely see the top of the smoked cover of the Fantastic Fan I had mounted on it. No matter how little I opened that smoked cover, rain would get in!)



I have four 100W solar panels. They are flexible which means they mount with Very High Bond (VHB) double sided tape directly to the roof with no need for mounting brackets. They are also low profile.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Tree95- I like your install! I didn't consider putting the vent fan all the way in the rear. I debated getting the MaxxAir fan for the very reason you bought one- it can be open in the rain. I went with the Fantatic Fan simply because I've owned one in the past and it was very reliable.

Your solar panels look great. I too debated flexible panels and VRB or 3M 5200 but decided on a typical rigid panel with brackets and holes in the roof. My biggest concern was was snow and ice getting under the panel (s) and possibly loosening it over time. I live in Alaska so we get our fair share of snow, ice and freezing weather.

Is your awning held on with just the U brackets? What size is it?
 

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Awning size: Size: 78.74" (2000mm) wide x 98.43" (2500mm) extended

Awning deployed


It extends further away from the van than I'd like, but the horizontal arms are extendable, and I'm sure I could rig something up to extend them partially and take up the slack in the fabric.

The attachment is three right angle brackets (4" I think) with the vertical leg attached to the awning, and U-bolts over the roof rail into the horizontal leg of the angle bracket. The holes in the angle bracket exactly lined up with both the mounting slots on the awning and the width of the U-bolts. No drilling although I did use a dremel cutoff wheel to remove excess length from the u-bolts.

The underside of the roof rail is flat, so the u-bolts pull the angle brackets snug to the underside of the roof rail. It's quite firmly attached and steady. It did take about 5 arms to hold everything up in the air to get it mounted! For heavy duty applications (you mentioned snow and ice in Alaska) I would use four mounts instead of three, but this is fine for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for adding the pic with the awning out. It is quite big, which is certainly a double edged sword at times. The install is elegantly simple with every day hardware- a rare find these days where so many manufacturers want you to use their custom brackets.

It looks like it would be reasonably easy to take on and off. But maybe not since I got short changed and only have two hands. :)

What is the brand of the awning and where did you buy it?
 

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I installed a MaxxAir fan on mine.
When you get a chance, can you post a 'standing side and rear view' so I can gauge the height it sits off the roofline? I was thinking to go this route. Was thinking placing it mid-section but the rear might offer better looks along with the better air circulation.
 

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Your very nice fan installation descriptions and photographs inspired me to make a short video about our tweak to our fan. I put it on youtube here: https://youtu.be/fqVCddDyUzA
Basically, we found the fan to be a bit noisy while we were driving down the road so I cut some foam to help seal out the noise from the inside. Neither our solution nor my video are grade A, but they both do their job: make the van quieter and show how.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
An excellent idea TCP! Less noise and more insulation for either hot days or cold nights. I would not have thought of using that type of foam- its certainly more durable and flexible that standard wall insulation type foam.
 

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Thanks looks good
 

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Hi TREE95-

I am debating between the MaxxAir Deluxe and the standard model. I also considered the Fantastic fan but I like that the Maxx fan can operate with the cover down. I had the Deluxe with the built in rain cover on my last van (Promaster) and loved it, but my Metris now goes in the garage (yay!) and clearance is an issue. Also, because the sheet metal is so thin, I am thinking a frame will be needed for support. Now that you've had your Maxx fan for a couple months, how is it working out?? What about the location you mounted it? I was thinking of using the space two sections from the rear of the van. Is there any bouncing due to the weight of the fan? From the photos you posted, it doesn't look like you used any additional support.

Thanks for any insight you can share..
 

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ST111 - I haven't had any regrets with the fan install. It never occurred to me to use any stiffeners as I observed no flex in the roof. The fan is mounted immediately behind an interior cross member. The fan certainly doesn't bounce in any way!
 

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An alternative to a roof fan. I decided a different route and installed a Bomar vent hatch instead of a fan. I've have had lots of experience with these hatches in boats so know their integrity and water tightness. Much higher quality product than any fan out there but of course it doesn't blow. Found one on line with a 14.125" opening so in the future if I want to install a Fantastic Fan the hole in the roof is the correct size. I also prewired to the vent hole incase power required in the future. I like the low profile on roof and the white acrylic makes a great skylight without glaring sun. Can drive down road with vent opened without issue. I will eventually install an insect screen once the headliner is installed. Quit a few companies make portable 12V fans for vehicles (even Fantastic Fan) as an option if I should need one in the future. Not the choice of most, or maybe anyone else, but works great for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Mikit- A Bomar hatch is a great idea! As you noted, far sturdier than any fan. I know that you can get mosquito screens for some of hatches, but I don't recall if Bomar makes them or they are third party.

It looks like you're putting in some furring strips to finish your ceiling. What are you going to use for your ceiling?
 

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Mikit- What is the model number of the Bomar hatch that you installed?

N1060-10p--Kwht
hatch 14.125,p,k-dog, all white

I found it on eBay 6 months ago from a marine exchange outfit. It appears 14.125 is not a standard size because I haven't seen it anywhere else online. May have been a special order for a specific boat manufacture. It's new old stock being manufactured in 2009. It just happened to be the size I was looking for. An online company called Marine2go said they could get me a trim ring and screen for this specific size hatch as did Bomar when I called them direct. However I thought the set a little expensive for what your get. Bought a 1/4" X 1-1/2" length of PVC trim from home center. Clamped one end to the hatch flange and carefully, using a heat gun, wrapped it around the hatch. As it cooled it maintained its shape and made a perfect inside trim piece. I'll figure something out for the bug screen when the time comes. I feel lucky I found this size hatch on eBay because purchasing directly from the manufacture would probably be too expensive to justify. There is always the possibility other hatch manufactures like Lewmar would have something close to this size.
 

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