There was one last, minor step to insulating the van fully, and I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time, but after a full year, the following temporary solution seems to have become permanent: curtains.

Knowing the majority of the heat would be lost (or gained) through the windows, we determined that that some insulating curtains were in order. In addition to helping keep our living space insulated, they also provide privacy and block out daylight (and street lamps at night).

Van Curtains 1

Curtains as seen from cockpit

What is there to say about curtains? Not much, so this will be a brief post.

I’m not much of a seamstress, and I’m the sort of person who just wings it anyway. So, I cut up an old quilt (which I had made to begin with, so it wasn’t exactly the prettiest), and sewed some black material to it so as to block the light and be harder to see. As usual, I got so frustrated with the sewing machine (yep, we carry around a small sewing machine) that I gave up and Nate ended up finishing the process for me. The layers of the curtains consist of: two layers of quilt batting, two layers of muslin, and a layer of black fabric on the side that would face the outside (the rear window shades also have a piece of reflectix cut to size embedded in the sandwich).

Van Curtains 4

Curtains as seen from rear living space

Instead of mounting a curtain rod or other similar hanging solution, we added snaps to the front headliner and to the curtains meant to go in the front to keep those up.  In the rear, magnets were sewn around the edges for hanging.

Van Curtains 2

Snaps in headliner

Van Curtains 3

Snaps in curtain

The snaps up front work perfect. The curtain can be snug to the roof, even around curves and bumps, and there’s no big ugly rod spanning across when the curtains are removed.

Van Curtains 5

Rear shades as seen from living space

Thus far they are working quite well, though the curtains on the rear windows are inclined to fall if there are some big bumps on the road… the magnets aren’t that strong. All the insulation together keeps the van roughly 20 degrees (F) warmer than the outside temps (this is with no heater, just our body heat… (bow chicka bow wow)). It also helps keep the van cooler, longer, in the summer. Additionally, the Maxx-Fan does a great job at blowing air around while remaining very quiet.

The front curtains were made so that there is a slight gap between curtain and floor so that we could get some air circulation. When we get ready for bed, we crack the front windows , put up the curtains, and crack the roof vent. This allows air to come in through the cockpit windows, under the curtain and circulate up through the vent. It helps prevent a lot of humidity and literal snowing in the van (as in freezing moisture-turned-snow, which has happened).

Van Curtains 6

Reflections off the windshield coupled with dark tinted windows makes it that much harder to see the curtain from the outside.

To be honest, this was a bit of a hack-job because we weren’t sure what else to do, but it has worked out better than expected. When we have the front curtains up, we generally don’t put up a windshield sunshade overnight, so that way we’re a bit more stealthy – people could potentially look in and see an empty cockpit.