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Warmth for Hermes – How I insulated my Van

One thing was clear from the very beginning: If I wanted Hermes to become a cosy home, he needed proper insulation. Since my budget was very limited, I needed to work with all the material, I could get my hands on. But not only was I lucky, that my grandfather is an engineer and specialist when it comes to building insulation, no. The project 'About Wings' would start to get it's own dynamics, long before it's even started...

Warmth for Hermes - How I insulated my VanOne thing was clear from the very beginning: If I wanted Hermes to become a cosy home, he needed proper insulation. Since my budget was very limited, I needed to work with all the material, I could get my hands on. But not only was I lucky, that my grandfather is an engineer and specialist when it comes to building insulation, no. The project ‘About Wings’ would start to get it’s own dynamics, long before it’s even started.

But let’s start at the beginning. First of all, my mum and I drove – as part of my driving training – about 210km to my grandparents in Lower Austria, where we stayed for two weekends.

My grandfather, who’s never had the easiest time understanding my unusual ways of living, decided to support my plans anyway and inspected Hermes. He’s an expert when it comes to insulating buildings, so we hoped, vans wouldn’t be too much of a difference.

We ended up, driving back to Upper Austria – the back of the van stuffed with styrofoam. I’m incredibly thankful for all the support people show me, even if they haven’t managed to understand me yet. I admire all the patience, they have with me.

Back on the parking lot Hermes was used to, I started insulating the van according to the tips I’ve heard from my grandfather and several other people who had worked with vans before.

After going crazy with the montage glue at first, I realised I had to cut the styrofoam sheets into smaller pieces to make them stick to the slightly curved walls. A little later, I would decide to cover this 3cm styrofoam layer with another 1cm sheet, to make sure all the cracks would be covered properly. Styrofoam on styrofoam the glue had a better time sticking without any more cuttings.

Half way through, I got an unexpected visitor.
I’ve only heard of this neighbour as the guy who threatened my mum to sue her for her cats, supposedly running over his car at night. Which was kinda funny to me.

But turns out, besides some kitten paranoia, Rassim is a really cool guy. He decided that he wanted to help me. And it wasn’t long until later, when he brought me a special reflective insulation foil, that I could stick to the backside of my wooden paneling. And as if that wasn’t enough… Well, I had to find out very soon, how essential this neighbour was to Hermes’ development. But more about that in my next article!

Looking back at it, I’m quite happy what we could accomplish with the small set of resources. I don’t think, I’d make it through an Austrian Winter without freezing, but that’s not my plan anyway. I want to move with the warm weather and avoid cold Winters. I’m a Spring- and Summer person.

The insulation might not be perfect. But it should do the job well enough.

I can’t wait to furnish Hermes and turn him into that comfortable little cave, that I have in mind.

If you feel similarly, make sure to sign up for the Feathered Messenger. This email list will keep you up to date and make you part of our adventures! Also, let me know about your thoughts about insulating a van in the comments! I can’t wait to have you on board!

  • Raffi Barker (Living Even Smal

    Another great post! Insulation seems to be one of those topics that people talk about loads before starting work on their van. I didn’t think too much about mine – I simply washed out the inside of the van, stuck a layer of bubble foil on all the walls, ceiling and floor, and then I covered with a layer of fabric to make it look nicer. It’s not the best in winter I have to admit (only UK winters though), but it manages to hold the heat in from the van heaters for about an hour… which is a good amount of time before bed, I think! If you want to see how I did mine, here’s the link: http://livingevensmaller.blogspot.co.uk/p/the-van-conversion.html

    • To be perfectly honest, I have a feeling that your insulation might be much more effective than mine, since it doesn’t have those little gaps that expose the metal…
      I haven’t tried the van heaters yet, though, since I don’t feel comfortble, having a gas heating in such a small vehicle, when I could fall asleep :/

      • Raffi Barker (Living Even Smal

        Ah sorry I meant the heaters from the van itself! I usually drive around for ten minutes or so to warm up the whole van and the insulation keeps the heat in for about an hour after I have turned the engine off again 🙂 Yes I’d avoid those gas/fuel portable van heaters unless you’re desperate and very careful! I don’t trust them… fumes etc.. think they are dangerous..

        • I totally agree. I’m very sceptical and wouldn’t use them in small vans like our’s!
          When I drive around with the car heating on, sadly most of it stays in the cockpit area. No idea why… Bit I’m trying to be in warm countries when necessary anyway, so it’s not sooo important to me anymore.

  • Susan Bailey

    Hi Robin,
    I enjoyed the piece about you on YouTube. I admire your bravery to just get out and do it! I am worried about you staying warm. I understand you can simply drive out of the cold. Have you ever investigated flower pot heaters? With a concrete patio block, 2 clay pots, and a few candles, you can cheaply and safely make your bedroom as warm as you could want. Best wishes, Susan

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