Maxxair Fan (Buy on Amazon)
1x2 wood board
Painter's tape (Buy on Amazon)
Butyl tape (Buy on Amazon)
Dicor Lap Sealant - Self Leveling (Buy on Amazon)
For ventilation, we decided on the Maxxair Deluxe Fan. Our biggest deciding factor was that this fan can be used during the rain, right out of the box. Other options we reviewed needed an additional "rain cover". Maxxair is also one of the biggest names in RV ventilation. We liked this from a reliability/customer support standpoint, as ventilation is simply crucial to vanlife. The Maxxair deluxe also has reversible airflow, which we use to blow the air out of the van while cooking.
Pro Tip: if we could go back, we would shell out the extra bucks for the remote control option... why not!
To start the fan install, we decided on a location and traced the outer edge of the plastic fan flange onto the roof of our van. We drilled a hole into the roof to provide a starting point and used a jigsaw with a sheetmetal blade to make the cutout. Remember, measure twice (or 12 times), cut once!
The spot we chose for the fan overlapped one of the roof ribs. This prevented the fan flange from being able to sit totally flat. To mend the issue, we used a dremel tool with a cutoff wheel to carefully notch the rib edges. This allowed the flange to fit underneath of the rib, while providing enough surface area to allow us to apply a water sealant. Once the cutout was complete, we painted all of the bare metal edges with POR15.
We built a wooden frame to support the fan mounting screws on the inside of the van. This frame will also later provide a surface to connect the ceiling panels to.
We drilled small pilot holes through the van roof at each screw location. For install, one person simply held the wooden frame pieces in place while the other screwed the provided mounting screws through the pilot holes and into the wood frame.
Don't forget to apply butyl tape between the fan flange and the van roof. We forgot to take photos of this step!
To finish up the fan install, we applied Dicor Lap Sealant around the edge of the fan flange and over all of the mounting screw heads.