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Thursday, July 19, 2012

More Cool Tips - Thermal Insulation for Your Windows...It Works!

    My last trip left me feeling hot and bothered. Hot, because...well because it was HOT! Bothered, because I had to run my generator to switch on the Air Conditioner so I could recover what was left of my sanity. Everything in an RV suffers when the temperature soars. Especially US! I really wanted to reduce the amount of heat getting in to the RV in the first place. I had some experience with reflective/bubblewrap mylar coated thin insulation (a common brand name is REFLECTIX.) This stuff is amazing! I wanted something I could custom cut and install on all my windows. As some of you know, I have A LOT of windows. It's one of the things I like about my RV. Well, except for the solar oven it can create inside. Here's how you can make these custom covers for very little money and even less labor.

First, measure all your windows both horizontal and vertical. Then add that all up and figure out how many feet you'll need of the material. I like the 4 foot by 25 foot roll. That should cover all the windows installed in most RVs. You'll also need a roll of DUCT tape. Yes, I know there's a brand of duct tape called "Duck" tape, but really...it's for DUCTwork. The kind used to move air around for heating and cooling. For some reason, somewhere along the line, it became simply duck tape. Anyway, by some...any brand is OK. I liked the standard silver/gray color as it comes close to the gray used on my interior. This stuff will be used to create a border around each cut piece of insulation. It will also slightly stiffen the edges so you get a good fit and they will hold themselves up.

Long Cut Piece for The Over the Table Window

Now that you've measured, cut the pieces for each window. If you get lucky (or a are a REALLY great planner!) you can maximize the use of the roll and get it done without much waste. Maybe you...not me!

Cut Rounded Edge
Now, depending on the style of windows you have, you'll likely need to trim the corners. Mine were rounded. I made a template with a piece of cardboard (an old shoe box lid, to be exact) and then used that to cut each corner. I didn't confirm that all the corners matched, but I am SURE you will beforehand. Right? The cutting was done using those nifty "miracle" scissors. the kind EMS/Ambulance workers carry. I once cut a penny in half with one! Amazing. Oh, don't try that at home. The Federal Government gets mad when you butcher money, even small change.

Once they are all cut, begin taping the edges. I rolled the tape out on the table and had a friend hold it down while we placed each edge HALFWAY onto the tape. Then pressed it down and folded over the remaining tape to make a sealed edge. Once all four sides of each one where done we moved on to the corners. Not so easy. I know you're supposed to cut some slits on either side so it will overlap evenly. For the life of me I couldn't get a single corner right. I just overlay-ed some additional tape for each corner. I made them a bit heavier and figured it would be a bit thicker so they will hold on to the window frame edges better. Seemed like that should work.
(*NOTE:It did!)

Once complete, you'll have great window insulators that are easy to store, can be folded AND fit nicely on each of YOUR windows. All this, for a lot less money than a custom set would cost. I believe these should last a long time. They are inside and flexible enough to take some abuse. Having a bit of duct tape on hand for repairs (if needed) would probably be a good idea.

While all of this was out on the table I figured I would cut some square pieces to put under the Velcro tabbed roof vent covers. They're only cloth, and I can see sunlight through them. You could also feel the heat coming in AND it was beginning to fade a bit in a circular pattern to match the fan opening.
I cut one for the front and one for the back. 


After two days in the sun in 93 degree temperatures, my interior never got above 88 degrees. All WITHOUT a fan running. Color me impressed.

I have to say, they look pretty cool from the outside as well. Very "Science Fiction-ny." The only downside I have found is that it is REALLY dark when I go inside when they are all installed. I guess that's what they're supposed to do, so I cannot be surprised!

Galley Window
Table Window
I took a few photos of them from the outside. All in all this was a good modification /upgrade that serves a useful purpose and looks pretty cool. Well, at least to me it does! It WILL protect your interior from heat and harmful UV radiation from the sun. No one likes a faded interior.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com



31 comments:

  1. The previous owner did something similar for my rig, though he used half-inch foil faced foam board.

    The original owner cut them to be a snug friction fit in the square windows and painted the back side black.

    I later painted the outside face gloss white which matches the paint job and from a distance, simply looks like the curtains are shut.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Big Matt,
      I guess I could paint them, but the silver looks cool. Especially with LED lighting!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    2. I painted them because with the orange print from JohnMansville all over them, it just looked bloody ghetto and a crisp gloss white looekd so much better.

      Delete
    3. Matt,
      I completely understand. that wouldn't have been my favorite color either!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    4. If ya go to this blog entry and enlarge the picture of my camper (in it's factory original paint job) and look at the cabover window you can see the bright orange print I was talking about.

      http://redneckexpress.blogspot.com/2009/10/lost-2006-camping-excursion-silver.html

      Delete
    5. Matt,
      I completely understand your eagerness to eliminate that, umm, pattern!

      Love the waterfall photos!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    6. Matt.
      I've been using REFLECTIX for years especially for storing our RV even though we covered it. I agree, it works great at all times (except while driving). Instead of duct tape I recommend using silver aluminum tape to seal the edges and to join two pieces maximizing use of REFLECTIX pieces. Aluminum tape looks and works better, last forever, provides the same reflectivity as REFLECTIX and can be purchased without the red print on the exterior.
      Norm

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    7. Norman,
      Bad idea, using reflectix while driving! Kind of obscures the view a little. ;)

      I like the duct tape, it's cheaper, it will conform easily to curves and ads a bit of "grippy-ness" to the edges. It can also be removed and re-done if needed. I prefer to buy the reflectix in rolls wide enough to cover the window from top to bottom and then simply unroll enough for the length. This way you do not have to deal with seams at all.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    8. I used duct tape for the grab it had to help keep the panels in the windows, and because it has some give to it for insertion that won't remain permanently crinkled afterwards.

      I used white Duct tape for the edges :).

      Delete
    9. Matt,
      Agreed, the duct tape works well and stands up to a lot of abuse. The "grabbiness" of it works well to keep the panel in place.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  2. I work night shift and we have placed these reflector sheets in our windows for years. In fact they last forever plus they keep our bedroom nice and dark during the day so I can sleep.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon,
      When I worked nights I would have given a lot to be able to sleep properly during the day. This stuff would have been perfect!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    2. Done exactly this. Before I replaced the vent by the dinette with a shurflo comfort breeze, I could put all the inserts in and make it as dark as a cave.

      Delete
    3. Matt,
      I really prefer to sleep in the dark...light leaks are a bummer. As a side benefit of the insulation it offers.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  3. I have these for all my windows. I've use the same pieces for many years and I didn't tape the edges.

    I don't like the look of the silver, so I pull the shades down over them. On the one window where I don't want the shade down, I covered the piece with contact paper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon,
      To each his own.... The real benefit is the reflectivity to heat and light (UV especially) If you have a look you like. Go with it! :)

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  4. I haul and show dogs around in the MH and so keeping the rig cool is paramount to their health and safety in high temps. I cut out custom panels like these and actually have dual sided velcro because I do travel with them everywhere in the coach except of course my C's Cab .. it keeps the traveling temps low enough I can normally drive with just my cab AC on and few strategically placed fans around my bank of dog crates and I can often also keep from having to run my coach AC once parked if I keep the roof vents open but have a shaded airflow cover I made out of garden shade fabric .. This allows my Fantastic fans to run as normal but not add more sunlight inside. That with a few box fans all all windows covered including my cab windows, with the refletix and I have noticed very comfortable temperatures with out having to run the AC. That way when the dogs go outside to show in the heat where there is no AC they are better able to handle it :)-

    The other bonus is this works to keep my interior warmer during our wet, cold fall/winter/springs in the NW :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blackfyre,
      I couldn't agree more. This would be (and in your case, is!) a wonderful addition to allow for interior temperature control.

      Shocking temperature changes can actually be quite dangerous for dogs. Good thinking!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  5. How do you stick the finished item to the window?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon,
      Huh? I thought the article was pretty clear about that. They aren't "stuck" to the windows, they are press fit to the inside of the frame and hold on purely by pressure and friction. Easy as pie!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  6. I've read and have been told that using the reflextex on double pane windows will break the seal??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon,
      I haven't heard that at all. As everything these days, you follow the instructions in the article at your own risk. I've had them on my windows for 3 years now with no ill effects.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  7. I have a motorhome and have big windows on the side, so I use the same sun screen that I use on my windshield. It lets the light in and helps keeps my motorhome cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon,
      I use the "fan fold" style on my front window. Works great and folds up easily for storage.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  8. I am in AZ in the middle of Summer and this has helped. I also put it on the inside of my closet of the 5th wheel and it has reduced the heat coming through the thin walls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ronv,
      That's a GREAT idea, I will be insulating the INSIDES of my storage areas including the closet.

      Thanks!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    2. Did exactly that when I was insulated the tub of my camper (Though it was reflectix over the framing and 3/4" pink foam board) and around my fresh water tank.

      Delete
    3. Matt,
      If I ever Take my RV apart, I will do that too :)

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    4. For what it's worth, the correct name is DUCK tape. It was invented as a waterproof tape to seal ammunition boxes, and took its name from the cotton duck backing cloth. Its later use on heating ducts led to the name DUCT tape.

      Delete
  9. Love this entry. I believe my Cruiser is already fitted with Reflectix window covering, but if not now I know what to do. When I get there LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chris,
      This stuff is so inexpensive and easy to fit...I use it on all my windows. Keeps out heat and keeps in heat, depending upon the season. The only issue...it makes the interior feel much more "closed in" that it is with all the windows. Aero Cruisers have LOTS of glass area...unlike most newer RVs with tiny ones.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete

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