So I waited and waited for a weekend without rain in the forecast to put in my fan since it requires cutting a hole in the roof. But time was running out and I had to take my chances. My housemates boyfriend worked in construction and he got some scaffolding from work for the weekend for free, and set it up for me Friday night after we got off work so I would have all day Saturday and Sunday. It wasn’t ideal, the height of the platform in the above picture was to high for me to cut the hole in the roof even laying on my stomach. The next rung down was to low to clear the roof. I ended up standing on that cross piece along the bottom of the window sorta laying against the side of the van. It was a struggle but I managed.
This is the fan I installed: MaxxFan I have been very happy with it, it hasn’t leaked even in very heavy rain, I can use it in the rain. I especially like being able to change the direction (pull outside air inside or vent inside air out) it makes the heat in the van a lot more bearable. I would absolutely recommend one.
So the fiberglass topper that I needed to put a 14x14 hole in, is in reality an outer shell and an inner shell (both fiberglass) with an air gap of varying size because the roof slopes, and the sides of the topper had pink house insulation to fill the gap. I assumed the top did as well but I wouldn’t know until I cut into it. Ideally the outer and inner shells should be cut together so the holes line up. A SawzAll or the like is the correct tool to do this with, but I don’t have one and didn’t want to buy one to cut one hole. Probably could have borrowed one, but I have no experience with one, and wasn’t keen on letting someone else cut an oh so permanent hole in my soon to be house. I do have and regularly use a jigsaw however. It turns out you can find really long jigsaw blades. I also had to get a really long drill bit ( large enough diameter for the starter holes for the large jigsaw blade as well, half inch was big enough if I wallered the holes a bit). I found these two items at Lowes for a total of $23.00. You can see pictures below with a normal size jigsaw blade for scale:
There aren’t as many pictures of the process as I might like because of scaffolding and being rushed by oncoming weather.
The installation instructions were very clear to me, I purchased extra butyl tape because my roof is sloped and you seal the resulting gap by building it up with butyl tape, I didn’t think the provided butyl tape was enough so I had extra on hand (and I did use the extra I bought). I went over everything I could think of that I might need ahead of time cause once the van was under scaffolding I couldn’t run out and get anything.
I spread out and taped up painting plastic inside the van because cutting fiberglass gets fiberglass everywhere. I used wide blue painting tape to help keep the cuts from splintering, I marked for the cuts on that tape. From there I followed the installation instructions, cutting the hole and installing the fan frame:
Then I cut the inside piece to match the slope of my roof as per the instructions. At this point the weather started to get dicey, complete with flood warnings. So I hustled to get the fan in and covered up so that the sealants could cure out of the rain.
The next day I did the wiring for the fan as well as wiring in LED lights. I used this kind of cord covering to tidy up the look of the wiring as well as keep it from being snagged accidentally.
The MaxxFan and the LED lights are hardwired into the solar system, the only “problem” I had was when pulling the wire behind the preexisting cabinet, one side went astray (they should both be on the left of the cabinet bottom support like the black solar panel wires), I redid it correctly. I also installed this USB and 12v charging station which I use for charging my cell phone, Kindle, camera and my backup charger.
I took the scaffolding down in the rain Sunday afternoon so I didn’t get any pictures from above of the completed fan, but here are a few pictures from the ground of the fan both open and closed taken some weeks later. I have no regrets about the fan, I would install again!