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5 Tips for Keeping Your Van Cool When the Weather Gets Hot

Jul 8, 2020 10:44:53 AM

Many of us want to experience the outdoors in all its moods and seasons. But sometimes that means enduring chilly or hot conditions. Therefore, our home on the road needs to be a reliable sanctuary from these weather extremes. We Southern Arizonans have one of the most challenging environments in the U.S., so we get to practice our heat-management skills often! For instance, over the last three weeks we have had numerous days that ranged from 104 to 109 degrees. The upside is that the intensity of Tucson’s summer heat has allowed MVAV to design and thoroughly test the strategies and technologies that we use to keep our Sprinters cool and comfy no matter the extremes of the weather.



AC > Mud

Back before electricity came to the southwest, the only strategy was to live in thick-walled, adobe homes and hang wet towels in open windows. Fortunately, over time, technology has presented far better solutions. Cooling technologies for homes and for vehicles evolved from electric fans to evaporative coolers, and then into air conditioners. Today’s microprocessor-controlled tech provides a wealth of climate-control options for vehicles.

But before any electronic components or cabinetry are installed in our Sprinters, we insulate the interiors with a closed cell spray foam that has the best “R value” available. Over that we install our computer-cut Baltic birch interiors. Even our special flooring helps insulate the interior from the environment. These structural details help reduce the challenges that the HVAC system must overcome.

Your Turn, Arctic Tern

The marvelous, double-pane acrylic Arctic Tern Windows that we use are substantially lighter than glass, are over five times more thermally efficient, seventeen times more impact resistant, and even transmit more light. While more expensive than glass, they are the superior choice in every way. Whether you want privacy and insulation or maximum light and bug-free crossflow venting, their flexible design is elegant and are easy to use.




Speaking of thermal efficiency, the reflective and insulated windshield curtains in our MVAV Sprinters make a dramatic difference in your comfort and privacy when you are at camp. Whether it is hot or cold outside, these smart, internally braced shades are easy to use and are very effective. The interior panel is an attractive rip-stop nylon and they fold up for easy storage when it is time to break camp.

Pro Tip: Don't Skip on the window coverings! Even if your budget is limited, a good set of insulated windshield curtains will make a big difference.

We Take Climate Control Seriously

Naturally, here in the desert an air-conditioner is not a luxury; it is a necessity. What really sets Mountain View Adventure Vehicles apart is our special, whisper quiet climate system that provides heat and cooling using solar and stored energy. It can operate without a generator or engine assistance for up to 24 hours. Sitting back in the comfort of your MVAV sprinter with the remote control for the A/C in one hand and the stereo remote in the other is my idea of proper camping. That nifty remote allows instant access to the multiple modes such as maximum cooling and low-power use. It even allows you to finetune the angles and oscillation rate of the vents

For the pet-loving folks perhaps the best feature of this A/C is being able to leave their pets in the vehicle when situations demand it.

No matter what your vehicle, a few commonsense guidelines will help you maintain the ideal temperature in your vehicle. Choose a site so that you have the right balance of sun and shade. When setting up camp think about the best orientation for the vehicle. If it will be hot, it is generally best to have the front of the van face east. This minimizes heat soak through the windshield in the afternoon while allowing the roof-mounted solar panels to do their magic. And don’t forget to unfurl that awning so as to extend your shady living area.


Don't Forget to Plan Ahead

Staying aware of the weather forecast is another important tip to help you plan your management strategy. The key is to adopt my old backpacking adage: “stay ahead of the game.” That simply means paying attention to everything in your environment and acting wisely and proactively. If you know you are due for hot days, open the windows in the cool evenings to allow all that free cool air in. Shut things back up well before the temperature starts to rise in the morning. Doing that at just the right time and turning on the A/C well before it is needed means you are never in catch-up mode.

Any van owner can benefit from these efficient and mindful management strategies. But when you use utilize them in a MVAV Sprinter, the insulation and climate system actively work to keep you more comfortable and save energy. What really amazes me is these Sprinters allow you to have the best of both worlds…you can enjoy the magnificent landscapes in this amazing country while knowing that your home away from home will always be safe, secure, and comfortable, no matter what the weather throws your way. That peace of mind allows you to let yourself fully experience the wonders of Nature.

Get on out there…summer is waiting for you!



Topics: road trips
Stephen Vivona

Written by Stephen Vivona