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Eco Campervan Conversion – Insulating your Campervan

Posted by Celtic Sustainables on

We get super excited (and just a little bit envious) when we find out that our customers are converting a van to a camper van and using our eco insulation to make it warm and cosy. Deciding on which type of environmentally friendly insulation to use for the camper conversion, what thickness and how much to buy can be a bit daunting at first. 

We thought we would catch up with some of our most recent customers going through this journey to find out how they navigated through the decision making process.

The Earlys Campervan Conversion Project - Ford Transit Custom L2H2

Introducing Craig, Kirsty and Barra (dog) aka The Earlys @earlyadvantures and their 2018 Ford Transit Custom High Roof Van Conversion (L2H2) (above), and 

Matt, Sarah, Bill (dog) and Family aka View of The Sea Campers @vots_campers and their conversion of “Colin” the Renault Master Van (below).

View of The Sea Campers Campervan Conversion Project - Renault Master insulated with Cosywool Sheeps wool insulation

Both teams of camper van converters insulated the walls, ceiling and doors with Cosywool Insulation. They both opted for a different (thinner) insulation on the floor so as not to lose too much height.

We started by asking them how they worked out how much insulation they needed to insulate their campervan.

Sarah (VOTS Campers) “We measured the length and height of the walls and ceiling of Renault Master, which would give you the square metres and then added 10% for any waste area. We used a different insulation on the floor. We opted for the 100mm (x 370mm wide) sheep’s wool insulation rolls”.

From their pictures on Instagram, it looks like they overlapped the insulation in areas where the walls were deeper too – making excellent use of the extra they allowed for “wastage”.

The Earlys on the other hand decided to buy a selection of insulation depths for their 2018 Ford Transit Custom L2H2.

Kirsty (The Earlys) “Our van, like most, is all different sizes and depths so we bought three different depths of cosywool. The 50, the 75 and the 100 (x 570 wide) to suit the shallower and deeper panels. We started by stuffing all of the van ribs, which surprisingly took a lot, then we filled out from there with the deep door panels, the slightly shallower side panels and used the 50 for the roof so not to lose too much height. We used a few thin layers of foam underlay for our floor as again we didn't want to lose head height. Craig is 6ft 1 and can very nearly stand up straight after all our insulation and cladding was in”.

The comments we get the most from customer that have used the Cosywool (and supasoft insulation) for campervan builds is that is it just so easy to stuff into all those nooks and crannies - including the camper van doors and ribs. Remember though that when the insulation roll(s) arrive with you it is compacted for ease of transport. While it is easier to stuff the insulation into position as soon as you unpack it, the insulation needs some time (often days) to “fluff up” to its final thickness. So if in doubt don’t over stuff and see how it looks in a day or so before getting on with the next job.

In the end we don’t’ really think it matters too much which size(s) of sustainable insulation rolls are used (as it is so easy to cut/tear, stuff and overlap) – just as long as you buy enough and allow it to reach it's full depth! The most common depth people purchase is the 100mm, but as Kirsty said, the 50mm is great for the roof if you have enough height! And we suspect that the 50mm depth is easier for stuffing into the ribs too.

We were curious as to why both teams opted for the Cosywool (sheep's wool insulation). 

Kirsty (The Earlys) “Because we are going to be spending lots of time in the van we wanted something natural and non toxic. We also like that wool is naturally antimicrobial and breathable and that it can handle moisture well”.

Sarah and Matt used a lot of recycled, reclaimed and upcycled materials in their campervan build but opted for something more natural for the insulation.

Sarah (VOTS Campers) “We wanted something that was eco friendly, sustainable and natural as we are strong believers in doing everything we can to be sustainable”.

The big advantage of Cosywool Sheep’s wool insulation is that it’s breathable which means that it will absorb some moisture, hold it, then release it. However the breathable nature of the Cosywool insulation shouldn’t be relied upon to regulate the moisture in your van. It’s important to have good ventilation, vapour control barriers on the inside (living side) of the insulation and to keep an eye on any moisture build up even if you cook outside, but especially if you are cooking (or boiling a kettle) in doors. The Cosywool will also help to reduce outside sounds into your campervan as it has great sound dampening properties (see the technical sheets on the Cosywool page for more information).

Although not breathable, the Supasoft recycled plastic bottle insulation (that many of our customers also use for insulating campervans) is slightly cheaper than the Cosywool, is vegan and has no “natural” smell.

Both are itch-free and have great eco-credentials.

All in all, having insulated their vans what advice do our camper converters have for anyone else considering sustainable insulation for their build?

Sarah (VOTS Campers) "The main tip we would like to pass on is: to make sure you have a bit more than you need just in case you require it". 

Kirsty (The Earlys) "No gloves or dust masks required! Cosywool was lovely to work with and we will absolutely use again for future camper conversions! Surprisingly everything went pretty smoothly so there's nothing we would change! A few people mentioned that there would be a strong smell of 'the outdoors' but honestly didn't notice it and it's certainly odourless now".

We would like to thank Kirsty and Craig (The Earlys), Sarah and Matt (VOTS Campers) for kindly answering our questions and allowing us to use their photographs on this blog post.

For more information about their builds follow them on Instagram:

Sarah and Matt have enjoyed their campervan conversion experience so much they intend to convert more! Keep an eye on their Instagram and facebook page for possible campervan sale and rental opportunities in Cornwall

For other campervan conversions using sustainable insulation do check out our Instagram "tagged" feed (we just love being tagged in your builds) and our Celtic Sustainables facebook page.

If you order slightly too much insulation for your project, check out this post: 6 thrifty uses for left-over insulation to see if there is another place you can put it to good work