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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey ya'll! I'm tempting fate with my first post on these forums b/c I know there's already been a ton of insulation discussion, but searching didn't uncover what I'm looking for so here goes:

My wife and are in insulating our van build. We've adhered Thinsulate 600L to all the big areas, around windows, ceiling, and we've also stuffed it in some of the hollow interior beams (the horizontal ones at eye level, the vertical ones flanking the rear doors.

We were going to get some Low-E for the exposed metal areas to provide a thermal break before plus-nutting furring strips to our interior (per Low-E Insulation (formerly EZ-Cool) Installation | FarOutRide) BUT - before we do, I wanted some thoughts on alternatives for a thermal break to maybe save us some cost and time -- Especially if doing this step is not done to attempt a vapor barrier and only for radiant barrier.
  1. What about duct wrap? This product looks similar to Low-E, but costs less per square inch. 100sqft seems like plenty for just the major exposed sheet metal.
  2. This frost king duct wrap and tape is even thinner - 1/8" - and while we'd likely need 2-4 rolls of it for major exposed areas, it's still cheaper for square foot and thinner, so less lost space.
  3. Here's another cheaper item on Amazon that looks fairly identical to Low-E to me, but cheaper. Am I missing something, or is this just as good?
  4. What about nothing? how important is a radiant barrier/heat break in this case when we've been able to get Thinsulate inside most of the hollow beams?
Finally, if we do anything here we're considering only doing this on exposed metal, not adding another layer on top of where the thinsulate is applied in big area. I'd love to know if anyone thinks that's the wrong approach or if it's a "cover everything, or don't bother" type of thing.

Thanks ya'll, and hope to share more progress as we continue our build!
 

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2019 T-350 HR 148 Extended 3.5 EB, Full time 2 person build, Chinese Heater, Victron, 525 AH Lithium
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Haven’t dug deep enough myself - but I’ve heard of folks using solid cork flooring. Anti-microbial, good insulative properties, no-VoC, comes in 2x4 and smaller sheets. Easy to work with. Not sure about cost. Something to consider or look into that wasn’t in your list.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Whoknows! We've finished our floor but I'll look into other applications for cork as well, as I was attracted to its usability (just not its price for a full floor).

@me&z - thanks this is great. I've found the search on this forum hit or miss, I wish I had found this before posting (it didn't come up with whatever wonky search terms I used). These posts are helpful, I'll look into sill foam also - seems like a great option. I'm also avoiding spray foam, and filling the hollow ribs with thinsulate maybe isn't the best thermal insulation but it can't hurt, we had extra, and maybe it'll help sound absorbption a bit.
 

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Thanks Whoknows! We've finished our floor but I'll look into other applications for cork as well, as I was attracted to its usability (just not its price for a full floor).

@me&z - thanks this is great. I've found the search on this forum hit or miss, I wish I had found this before posting (it didn't come up with whatever wonky search terms I used). These posts are helpful, I'll look into sill foam also - seems like a great option. I'm also avoiding spray foam, and filling the hollow ribs with thinsulate maybe isn't the best thermal insulation but it can't hurt, we had extra, and maybe it'll help sound absorbption a bit.
We filled those hollow ribs with as much Thinsulate as we could shove in there. Used a long wire rod to push it in. I am thinking of using our leftover refletix for the metal ribs.
 
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This frost king duct wrap and tape is even thinner - 1/8" - and while we'd likely need 2-4 rolls of it for major exposed areas, it's still cheaper for square foot and thinner, so less lost space.
I used some of that on the side walls of my van, and noticed an immediate difference in heat reduction, even as I was applying it. I used some EZ-Cool on my van, as well, but only in the floor.

I wouldn't hesitate to use the Frost King duct wrap to achieve a thermal break.
 

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I'm thinking about just using thinsulate. It compresses down a lot to ~1/8" if it's bolted between things. Only worry is if the screws will loose to easily. Will use threadlock
 

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I'm thinking about just using thinsulate. It compresses down a lot to ~1/8" if it's bolted between things. Only worry is if the screws will loose to easily. Will use threadlock
If you're going to squish it down to 1/8", you might as well use something cheaper than Thinsulate. The loft is was gives it insulating properties.
 

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I'm planning on using 1/4" Plywood for my walls, and just covering the panels entirely in thinsulate. Will compress where it's bolted against the metal ribs, and expand into cavities, and won't take any time to cut . Not sure the amount of rib space is worth trying to find something cheaper.

I was thinking about aerocel closed cell foam though.
 
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Hi,
I don't think a low e material will show any benefit unless it faces an airspace.

Here is a test I did on insulating thermal bridges -- it includes the effect of stuffing frame cavities with insulation as well as adding a thin layer of insulation between the frame metal and the plywood. Both techniques show some benefit, but the insulating with thin insulation between the frame and paneling looks to be more effective. I think the reason that stuffing the frame cavities with insulation is not quite as effective is that the thermal bridge is through frame metal and not through the cavity -- its better to get some insulation in series with the thermal bridge.

The sill seal foam tape used in the test was pretty effective, but I think something like AeroCel would likely be more effective. Or, a layer of half inch Polyiso rigid foam board would likely be very effective if you can afford the half inch.

Gary
 

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A thermal break can make a big difference. 1/4 of closed cell foam has an R-value of about 1, while 1/4 inch of plywood has an R-value of about .3. So adding that 1/4 inch of foam can turn those ribs from cold spots that attract condensation, to just cooler areas. Materials that don't compress super easily include very-firm closed cell foam, cork, and thick industrial felt. Even 1/8 inch of felt would be a lot better than just directly screwing to the metal ribs.
 

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I'm planning on using 1/4" Plywood for my walls, and just covering the panels entirely in thinsulate. Will compress where it's bolted against the metal ribs, and expand into cavities, and won't take any time to cut . Not sure the amount of rib space is worth trying to find something cheaper.
Because of the way it is constructed, if you install that way, the Thinsulate will not be able to expand to full thickness, and therefore will lose much of its insulating ability. I even separate the edges after I cut to avoid this issue. To test, simply lay it out on a hard surface and lay 2x4s on it spaced like a panel. You will see that it cannot loft.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
A thermal break can make a big difference. 1/4 of closed cell foam has an R-value of about 1, while 1/4 inch of plywood has an R-value of about .3. So adding that 1/4 inch of foam can turn those ribs from cold spots that attract condensation, to just cooler areas. Materials that don't compress super easily include very-firm closed cell foam, cork, and thick industrial felt. Even 1/8 inch of felt would be a lot better than just directly screwing to the metal ribs.
Interesting - I still have some 1/4" minicell closed cell foam leftover from our floor... maybe I'll use the rest of that up on lower ribs and go from there.

I'd love lose even less space (I know 1/4" is near nothing, but I'm counting fractions of inches here ;) ) - which makes the sill seal, industrial felt, and that 1/8" frost king duct wrap really attractive. BUT - maybe not as attractive as using what I have lying around, and finding jobs for my scrap. Thanks!
 

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@mk47funk if you are counting fractions of an inch ... consider 1/8 foam with fabric, or 1/8 felt on the living space side of your finished paneling. In other words, you can put the thermal break on the living space side of the paneling if you want.

In addition to their transmission R-Value, both fabric and felt, will reduce convection currents at the surface and thereby reduce heat transfer at the surface. (I can't quantify this unfortunately) They will also contribute significantly to the acoustic qualities of the van, reducing sound reflection and making your music sound better!
 

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Because of the way it is constructed, if you install that way, the Thinsulate will not be able to expand to full thickness, and therefore will lose much of its insulating ability. I even separate the edges after I cut to avoid this issue. To test, simply lay it out on a hard surface and lay 2x4s on it spaced like a panel. You will see that it cannot loft.
I'll cut through all but the top layer at the border of the ribs so it can hopefully loft.

I think I may end up going with premade Legend Insulated duratherm wall panels for the walls instead
 

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Using a material such as felt or foam on the metal ribs will also eliminate any potential for squeaking noises caused by the wood to metal contact as the van moves. I used Dow sill foam from Lowe's as a thermal break on all the wall and roof ribs in my van. It's inexpensive, works well as a thermal break, and there are no squeaks.

Dow sill foam at Lowe's

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