We’ve been living outside of the UK since October 2022 in our van and at the time of writing are currently living in Greece, where it is rather toasty! We’re not seeing temperatures lower than 25 at night and mid 30s in the day time. So we're sharing some of our tips for living in a van when it's hot out.
1. We now always park our van facing North. We prioritise not having the windscreen in sunlight over any specific views. Reducing any sun directly hitting the glass is a big factor to reducing increased heat from the cab.
2. We use our external insulated silver screen cover when parked up for longer periods, or when we can’t choose our vans orientation to face away from the sun. Having the cover on the outside of the van means the glass never has the opportunity to get hot. If we've been driving for some time we normally blast the aircon onto the windscreen before we arrive at a park up to cool the glass before we put the cover on.
3. We have 2 x MaxxAir deluxe fans, and we’ve not turned them off in weeks. We’ve been quite stationary living on the beach so when we do short drives we just leave them running. When the temperatures get to 25+ sustainably the fans are doing very little. It's nice to have the air flow and movement of air through the van but the air is still warm.
4. We keep the rear windows open at all times. Overnight we keep the blinds up/open but with the fly nets on. When the van was built we decided to use Dometic Seitz S4 windows. Despite being more expensive than glass windows they are far more versatile and they don't increase the heat within the van.
5. When parked up and with the van and when the windscreen cover is not on, we just open the side windows in the cab to reduce the amount of glass on display to the sun. If we're lucky there's also the opportunity for a cross breeze through the cab.
6. Having access to water, to cool off, shower, swim etc is a must for us now, often multiple times a day.
7. The compressor fridge is working overtime. It’s got decent gaps around the side of the install, plus the rear but it’s pumping out a lot of heat which is rising into our cutlery drawer and wardrobe above. Warm toothpaste anyone? This is really a tip for anyone in the build process to allow A LOT of breathing room around your fridges and electrical components like DCDC charger and inverters etc if you plan to travel to hot countries.
8. Using additional tarps or awnings to create your own shade is another solution to reducing heat. As we wild camp 99% of the time we don't use an awning setup. We think these types of solutions are more reserved for campsites or areas where camping is specifically tolerated.
9. Using 12v Airconditioning. This is not something that a lot of vans will be capable of powering when living off grid unless you've been very specific with your electrical setup. We didn't opt for an AC unit in our existing van and our electrical setup wouldn't sustain one for long enough to warrant fitting one now unless we revised our battery capacity at the same time. It's something we might consider in the future.