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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I've been searching all through the forums trying to figure out the materials to use for our DIY covers. I have a passenger van with all the windows. I was thinking of using the 400 Thinsulate as the main material and covering it in either ripstop or some other fabric. Will this be too thick? Should I consider the 200 instead? After reading about reflectix not being super helpful for insulation without a gap I wasn't sure if I should use it like I did on my Sienna. Is Low-e the choice here? I'm not sure I want low-e exposed to the window though since it screams camper van, where as a dark cloth is more stealth to match the tint. Will low-e work if the reflective material isn't visible through the window? I had also read about using synthetic fabrics to reduce chances of mold from condensation, so I'm considering that too.

If anyone has what they think is the best solution I'm all ears. I considered purchasing from a company too but turn around times are long and I'd like to save the expense for other fun parts of the project.

Thanks!
-Ron
 

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I still want to use Reflective against the van glass, but I don't want to use Thinsulate, instead, I am thinking of this type of packing foam

Foam Rolls, Packing Foam Rolls, Polyethylene Foam Rolls in Stock - ULINE,

It comes in many different thicknesses. The bottom layer will be a synthetic fabric. I will insert some spline to stiff it up especially for the windshield. For other windows, I will use magnets. We have not started making it. But this is pretty low tech, anything is better than no coverings.
 
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2020 High-Extended AWD EcoBoost Cargo with windows
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We went through a couple designs and ended up with Reflectix mounted to Coroplast for our Passenger Sprinter. Truly amazing how well that worked. And the dark tint windows didn't leave the Reflectix as obvious. Plus easily cleaned white plastic on the inside. And very low weight. Down-side is keeping them as rigid sheets. About six inches thick for all of them. And the magnets would stick on each other a bit when taking out to apply. But basically just pulled them from the garage and tossed them onto the bed then dropped them in.

I thought I had a photo of them in... but not sure where. And the Sprinter is gone now. You can see them stacked behind the fridge here.

144005
 
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On cargo vans there is a gap between the glass and the steel window frame. I just cut Reflectix to the window size with tabs in the locations where the gap is present. Easy install without any fasteners. Reflectix fits in the gaps.

I am now in the process of making new window covers for the rear windows to add more insulation value. Cut 1" thick closed cell foam the same size as the windows. Probably make "pillow cases" to enclose the foam.

I also experimented with making Thinsulate filled double sided curtains to make a insulated box around my sleeping platform. I was sure I could capture some of the body heat and heat from my 12 volt heating pad inside my indoor "tent". Experiment was a failure. Very little difference in temperature between outside the tent and inside the tent. Too many gaps that allow air flow. Also found out the Thinsulate inside the curtain would drop down to the bottom of the curtain.

Another good use of 1" thick closed cell foam is to use it to plug the Maxxair fan opening to add insulation and to block a street light. Just cut it slightly larger than the opening and push it into place.
 

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LowE is a very popular core material for DIY and professional window covers. It's a closed cell foam with aluminum skins which we carry in a 72" width for better nesting (less waste) of individual pieces needed. Reflectix also works but sewing it pops the bubbles. Some companies do use TAI-1547 8mm thick Thinsulate but those covers tend to be a bit flimsy and prone to wrinkling and billowing if sloped inward (like on a windshield). For the better insulating and acoustic performance layers of LowE and Thinsulate can be combined but then the covers become a bit thick and not as easy to fold and store.

Ripstop nylon is most commonly used for cover material. If you know a kiteboarder with some old kites then that might be an inexpensive way to get some colorful material. Using a serger sewing machine is an easy way to finish off the perimeter. Much easier than folding over and sewing on ribbon but that is a nice way to incorporate magnets around the perimeter. Magnets are usually .25" x .5"-.75" x .0625" -.125". Great source for magnets is totalElement.com.

You might consider purchasing one of our insulated vent covers if you want an example of how to make your own window covers.

All the best,
Hein
DIYvan
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all of the ideas. Of course, still not sure which way to go. Part of the fun of DIY :)

Hein, would you say that a single layer of Low-E, covered in rip stop should be good enough for summer (not often, but would like to go to Utah in the hot months) and good enough for the winter (Oregon winters, 15-40 at night)?

I'm leaning towards Low-E or Low-E + Thinsulate now. I'm not too worried about having foldable covers as they can go on the platform bed while traveling. The coroplast / foam is interesting as well, although it might not work great for us right now because we are keeping the passenger interior for now, but I want to oversize the coverings a bit so they'll fit when I do remove the stock interior.

Thanks again.
 

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@takedown What did you end going with. I'm leaning towards buying Ottertex Nylon Ripstop Fabric PU Coated 70 Denier:
and definitely using Low-E from @Hein. Debating on if I want to add the Thinsulate or not. I have a passenger van too. We will use it sometimes in winter but mostly in summer for camping etc.

My plan is to use black on the outside, grey on the inside. This seems to be a common approach many professionals use. I'll probably sew, but I may try ultrasonic welding too, I have access to some equipment where I work.

What does everyone use for piping?

Opinions, thoughts I would like to get feedback
 

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Hey @gdufour1 ,

I purchased low-e and 200ML thinsulate from Hein along with the rest of our insulation and fan adapters. This week I picked up a sewing machine and a couple of other supplies. I need to decide on the ripstop and the bias tape next and get those ordered. There's a weekend trip I'd like to take in 4 weeks and will need some insulation and privacy, so this will be getting a priority the next couple of weeks. I think I'm going to leave the low-e exposed on the window side and get a nice colored rip stop for the inside (so it's not so grey and black in the van). There's some great colors on that link you shared, I'll check that out. I had read that's it's recommended to get a fire resistant material. I need to still figure out the right material for the bias edge, it'd be great to hear what others are using. I'm not sure if the thinsulate is needed, but since we can lay them flat on the bed when traveling I think I'm going to go for it. Or might make a place to store them above the front seats.
 

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I sewed ours using cheapo black polyester lining for the outside and $1 on clearance shower curtains for the inside for a bit of color. But really any fabric will do. I've made window covers for prior vehicles from both old bed sheets and printed cotton.

I've always used Reflectix as the core because it was available (leftover) and it provides a bit of structure without being rigid. Never bothered with piping. It's extra work and extra cost. Just sew 3 sides with right sides together, flip it, slide the Reflectix in, and sew across the 4th side.
 

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Hey @gdufour1 ,

I purchased low-e and 200ML thinsulate from Hein along with the rest of our insulation and fan adapters. This week I picked up a sewing machine and a couple of other supplies. I need to decide on the ripstop and the bias tape next and get those ordered. There's a weekend trip I'd like to take in 4 weeks and will need some insulation and privacy, so this will be getting a priority the next couple of weeks. I think I'm going to leave the low-e exposed on the window side and get a nice colored rip stop for the inside (so it's not so grey and black in the van). There's some great colors on that link you shared, I'll check that out. I had read that's it's recommended to get a fire resistant material. I need to still figure out the right material for the bias edge, it'd be great to hear what others are using. I'm not sure if the thinsulate is needed, but since we can lay them flat on the bed when traveling I think I'm going to go for it. Or might make a place to store them above the front seats.
Keep me posted, I'm definitely going for a professional look. I had the same thoughts about not making the interior panels too dark, but at the same time, they will mostly be in the windows when we want to sleep so I don't want them reflecting and amplifying every little LED status light we have in the van.

I'll probably order materials soon, as this seems like a good Winter build activity to keep me busy over the colder months here in the PNW.
 

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2020 T150 Passenger Low Roof 130 AWD
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It sounds like you're already on the thinsulate path but just in case this helps someone else looking here, I'll share what I did. Kind of a special case where I had to deal with Nano-Ceramic window film being on there first.

Just finished making some no-sew, no-glue, no-magnet coverings for Low Roof Passenger Van. Just paid $525 for nano-ceramic window film so don't want to use suction cups or tape and magnets won't stick through the plastic trim.

I saw someone else used battens made from wide zip ties so I tried that. These are semi-blackout (haven't tested at night yet) with black polyester facing outward and Reflectix facing inward. Even though no sewing involved, they still took a long time but at least I enjoyed the work and the taping was very forgiving. I can see why people buy these things.

I'm pretty pleased with the fit in the windows and the Reflectix tape aesthetics improved as I gained experience. It's not a camper van so we haven't prettied up the inward facing side. I think this would be easy to do with another fabric facing.

It's important to orient the stripes in the Reflectix upward. Did not have to worry about the cut edges of the fabric. I used ResQ hem tape by Dritz on the "hem" and then went around inside with Reflectix brand tape. Both tapes had very good adhesion to both the fabric and the Reflectix. I decided not to use any glue or adhesive between the outward facing fabric and and Reflectix in case heat of the sun would decide to soften it up and maybe bleed through and mess with the ceramic tint. I also plan to paint the roof white BTW.

I bought 4 sets of blackout curtains on Amazon and cut them up. I got Polyester because it doesn't absorb moisture as much as nylon does. Holds it shape better and, in theory, will keep the tape drier and firmer.

Oh yea, since I couldn't use tape on the windows for holding the template in place, I used battens on the template too then transferred the battens to the final coverings. Some of them needed trimming during final fitting. I taped the sharp ends of the battens to avoid scratching the the window film but sanding works too. And last, but not least, I used Tyvek for template instead of craft paper. The craft paper was not as flexible or forgiving.

Here are a bunch of pictures.
 

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Plus pull tabs on the battens.
 

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This is what I have been considering to use as a window coverings and as a curtain between the driver/passenger seat area. It is expensive material so other approaches may be more cost effective.

 

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This is what I have been considering to use as a window coverings and as a curtain between the driver/passenger seat area. It is expensive material so other approaches may be more cost effective.

I have been making some test covers with this product from Warm


So far I have been pretty happy with how flexible it is, just need to do some testing on insulation quality and durability.
 
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