When converting your van, a roof vent is something you’re going to want to consider. If you plan on traveling through predominantly warm climates, you have a pet on board who’ll need to keep cool during the daytime, or even if you just plan on doing a lot of cooking in your van, a roof vent fan is going to make your life a whole lot easier.
A roof vent fan will provide you with a source of fresh clean air, and help to remove any smells, contaminants and most importantly damp and moisture, which can create all sorts of problems from mold to rust. It’s also essential for removing heat, steam and smells when cooking, because we all know how hot a van gets when you fire up the burner. They are also great for providing stealth van ventilation in places where having the windows or doors open might draw too much attention.
Roof vent fans work by extracting the heat which naturally rises to the top of a van, drawing cool air in from below. Most vans will generally not be airtight, and as such will have gaps below the doors etc, however, a louvered vent can also be installed into the wall of your van to assist with the flow of cool air.
So what’s the best roof fan for your van conversion?
We’ve compiled a list of the best roof vent fans, everything from the most deluxe to the budget options, to help you narrow down your choices.
MaxxAir Vent Fan
MaxxAir is to roof vents what Winnebago are to RVs. They started in 1988 and have since risen to become an industry standard in RV ventilation. Their roof vents are made from high-density polyethylene with built-in UV inhibitors, and rely on a simple mounting system using brackets, which means there’s no need to drill holes in your roof.
Our top overall pick – best features
MaxxFan Deluxe 7500L – $331
This roof vent fan sits firmly at the upper end of the market, boasting the most advanced tech and the best range of features.
It has a 10-speed fan which can operate to either intake or exhaust air, shifting 900CFM of air (that’s cubic feet per minute) silently and effortlessly. It fits into any standard 14” x 14” vent hole and comes with a removable insect screen, as well as a sleek looking smoke tinted vent cover which automatically closes when it detects rain.
Its lid can be opened and closed electronically using a remote control, with the backup ceiling controls or manually using the built-in easy-grip tri-corner knob, and it can even operate with the lid closed.
With its built-in thermostat and range of speed settings, you can achieve the perfect ambient temperature inside your van or RV with little effort, making it a perfect addition to your living space in hotter climates.
Cons: There aren’t many to speak of. The remote control is small and as such could be easily lost in transit, and only works at close proximity. Over time some of the motor parts may start making a whirring noise and may need to be serviced. Also, the MaxxFan Deluxe might not be suited to every budget, as it does sit at the top end of the price range for roof vent fans. However, these are very minor problems and overall the MaxxFan Deluxe 7500L is an essential piece of kit to have in your camper van or RV.
The various models available from MaxxAir range from the budget-friendly to the deluxe, from 4 speed to 10 speed and with a variety of different controls and features.
MaxxFan 4301K / 4401K – $119
4 speed, 900 CFM, 4.2amps
Features: manual lid opening, ceiling controls, exhaust only,
MaxxFan Plus 4000K / 4500K – $244
10 speed, 900 CFM, 4.2amps
Features: manual lid opening, ceiling controls, intake & exhaust
MaxxFan Deluxe 5301K / 6401K – $191
4 speed, 4.5amps, 900CFM
Features: manual lid opening, ceiling controls, built-in rain shield, exhaust only
MaxxFan Deluxe 7000K / 7500K – $331
10 speed, 4.4amps, 900CFM
Features: electric lid opening, ceiling controls / remote control, thermostat, built-in rain shield, intake and exhaust
Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent Fans
A household name, Dometic is the quintessential company when it comes to all things camper van, offering everything from refrigerators to cooktops, and now branching out into vent fans. Their low profile van roof vents are made from high-quality materials with a high-performance rotary fan which is integrated into the roof window.
Our top pick – best bang for your buck
Fan-Tastic 3350 – $270
The Fan-Tastic 3350 is a brilliant mid-range option from Dometic, offering enough features and build quality to rival the MaxxFan Deluxe 7500, but at a better price.
Its 12V fan with 12” blades runs at three different speeds, which is plenty to choose from to keep you cool. Its high profile base fits into a standard 14” x 14” vent hole, and although it opens manually it does have a built-in rain sensor that will automatically close the dome if it senses moisture.
The Fan-Tastic 3350 has a built-in thermostat for keeping your RV at the optimum temperature, and on top of being able to reverse the air flow for intake or exhaust it comes with a range of manual or automatic variable speeds.
When it runs it’s virtually silent, and the smoked dome adds a touch of style to the unit.
Cons: The Fan-Tastic fan only has a fraction of the speed settings as the MaxxAir, giving you less temperature control and as a result this creates ever so slightly more noise when the fan is running. It also has only one crank arm to support its cover when open, meaning it isn’t very stable in high winds. However for simplicity and functionality, and a price tag that won’t break the bank, the Dometic Fan-Tastic 3350 is your go-to roof fan vent.
Dometic offers a wide range of models with varying fan speeds, remote controls and thermostats, so we’ve compiled a chart comparing them for you below, to help you decide which Fan-Tastic model would be best suited to your van:
Fiamma Vent Fan – Most Basic Option
While Italian company Fiamma isn’t offering quite the range of roof fan vents as other companies on this list, we thought they were worth a mention as they chose to keep things simple with their product range. Two roof vent options, one fan, five-speed settings and a durable double-glazed design, their one and only offering with a “premium” upgrade available is a good option for someone on a moderate budget who doesn’t necessarily need the fancy frills of a fully computerized fan.
Fiamma Turbo-Vent – $207
The Turbo Vent is a no-frills compact roof vent fan with a 12V DC variable speed motor. Its 10 blade fan, which operates at five different speeds, is capable of shifting 989 CFM of air while consuming just 1.1amp – 1.8amp of power. It’s fully watertight, shock and UV resistant, and comes with a handy mosquito screen while fitting into any 15.5″ x 15.5″ sized vent hole.
The Turbo Vent also comes with a Polar Control function, meaning its built-in thermostat can control and regulate the temperature automatically inside your van or RV.
The double-glazed cover is also available in white or crystal.
With the Turbo Vent Premium, you get all of these features and slight upgrade to the fan’s technology. The Premium edition comes with a renewed electronic interface with signal LEDs, as well as finger touch controls with multicolour LED lights, which can add a nice touch to your van’s interior.
Cons: There isn’t really a bad word to say about Fiamma. Their roof vent fan doesn’t come with fitting screws or sealant so you’ll have to supply your own, and the vent opening ratchet is a little flimsy, but other than that there seem to be no complaints from their hundreds of users and all in all this would make a great cargo van roof vent.
HENG’S – Tight Budget Option
Finally, we come to our budget option, an offering from a little-known company named HENG’S. While not the most durable or perhaps elegant in design, it’s a great value alternative to some of the pricier van fans on this list for those converting a van on a tight budget.
HENG’S 12V Universal Roof Vent – $23 ($66 for a pair)
The HENG’S roof vent fan fits into a standard 14” roof vent opening and is crafted with an extra strong galvanized steel roof flange and a strong fine mesh screen for keeping mosquitoes out. It comes with butyl tape for mounting but the garnish ring (the part that fits inside the camper) is sold separately.
Cons: The downside is that the 12V fan’s 6 blades do not shift as much air as other roof vent fans, and not only this but the exterior isn’t UV resistant, meaning the plastic can be prone to breaking and cracking. However at this price you can afford to repair and replace them as and when required, and most importantly it’s not going to break the bank.
There is an almost overwhelming choice of van roof vent fans to pick from, and a whole range of things to consider too before you install one in your van conversion.
A remote-controlled fan might be useful in a camper with a high ceiling, while one that offers both intake and exhaust will likely be better suited to travelers with pets. If you’re traveling alone through moderate climates something simple and basic will do to remove damp and extract moisture during cooking, or maybe something high tech is more up your alley, giving you complete control over the climate and temperature of your camper van.
There is no right or wrong answer; every element of your conversion is personal to you. We’ve provided all the information you might need to make an informed decision so you can select the best van roof fan based on your own individual needs.