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Van life is full of ever-changing scenery and adventure. But sometimes you need to close the world off. Here are the best campervan window cover options for both summer and winter.
Window coverings are a necessary part of van life. Whether to keep your tiny home warm or cool, they also offer privacy and block out light. So what window covers do you need for your campervan? We share all the options for your van!
One of the best things about living in a campervan is all of the different views you can get from your own windows. With the whole world as your backyard, the possibilities are endless. But of course, nobody wants to keep their windows uncovered all the time.
That’s where campervan window covers come in. While they come in many different types, all window covers serve the same basic purpose: covering up your campervan’s windows! This has a variety of benefits, including:
- Privacy (essential for stealth camping)
- Insulation (for hot and cold)
- Keeping light out of your van
Some kind of window covering is essential for any campervan and can help make life much more comfortable.
Why Do I Need Campervan Window Covers?
The reasons to put window covers on your campervan are easy to see. They’re many of the same reasons you cover your windows in a traditional home. But a campervan also has the added detail that they’re smaller and less insulated than a traditional home.
Without window covers, a stranger standing outside can probably see all or nearly all of your home just by peeking into a single window! That could make getting dressed a little awkward. So, at the very least you’ll want some curtains to cover your windows.
But a more pressing concern with window covers is insulation. Windows leak a lot of heat because they are not well insulated. In fact, a single-pane window has an extremely low “R-value,” which measures how much a material reduces the transfer of heat.
With R-values, the higher the number is, the more insulation it provides. The materials with the highest numbers can be rated as high as 60. Meanwhile, a single-pane window typically has an R-value of only 1!
That means that a lot of precious heat can escape your van in cold weather. Thankfully, there are lots of options for insulating your windows. These include insulated window covers, window treatments, and other solutions to help keep the heat in and the cold out.
But even when it’s not cold outside, you’ll probably want van window covers. In addition to keeping things warm in the winter, they can also help keep you cool in the summer. They can do this by not only blocking light but also by reflecting it!
Reflecting sunlight is a major way to keep your tiny home cooler. In fact, it’s the reason most RVs are white! By putting a reflective material such as Reflectix in your window, you can keep even more sunlight out of your van so that you stay nice and cool.
Campervan Window Curtains or Covers – Which is Best?
With so many options for covering your windows, it can be hard to know where to start. One of the most basic choices is curtains versus covers.
Just like in a traditional home, curtains are simply large pieces of fabric that hang in front of your windows.
Curtains are a good option because they’re generally affordable and fairly easy to DIY. However, they don’t do much to insulate your campervan, and may not block as much light as a cover that fits more snugly to the window. Still, curtains are a great option if you just want a bit of privacy and some control over how much light enters your van.
The other option is fabric-based insulated window covers. These fit closely to the windows so they can block light completely. These covers will often have reflective material on the outside for summer use. However, one downside of these covers is that you can’t have them partially open like with a curtain; they’re all or none.
Another consideration is that insulated window covers are a bit more complicated to DIY. They require more materials and are more time-consuming to make.
But is one option better than the other? Well, insulated covers have a number of advantages over curtains:
- They block more light
- Give more privacy
- Help regulate temperature better than simple curtains
However, if you aren’t in need of insulation, or want the option to partially cover your windows, curtains are a good bet. Plus, there’s no reason to limit yourself; curtains and covers can even be used together!
If you do need insulation, however, you’ll definitely want some window covers. But do they really help insulate your campervan? And how do they work?
How Do Campervan Insulated Window Covers Work?
Campervan insulated window covers work the same as any other insulation by blocking the transfer of heat. There are three different ways that heat transfers: conduction, convection, and radiation.
Conduction is the transfer of heat between two things that are in direct contact. If you put your hand up against your window on a hot day and feel the warmth of the glass, that’s the heat of the glass transferring to your hand via conduction.
Convection, meanwhile, is the way that heat transfers in liquids and gases. If you’ve ever heard that hot air rises and cool air sinks, convection is why.
Radiation is the final form of heat transfer, which is heat that radiates directly out from something. If you’ve ever felt the heat of the sun or warmth from a bonfire, you’ve experienced radiative heat.
Most insulation works by stopping conduction and to a lesser extinct, convection. When you place an insulated window cover on your window, it traps a layer of air between the cover and the window. Additionally, the material in an insulated window cover will often trap more air.
This trapped air will block the transfer of heat via conduction by creating a barrier, just like a big, puffy winter coat. That way, the warmth stays inside your van and the cold stays out!
Reflective insulation, like Reflectix, also works by blocking radiative heat, in this case, sunlight. The material will reflect the heat and send it elsewhere so it doesn’t get into your van.
Can I Buy Insulated Campervan Window Covers?
If you want to buy your own insulated campervan window covers, there are a number of options to be found online. A few different window covers can be found on Amazon.
The LATCH.IT RV Door Window Cover is a cover designed to fit specifically in the window in the door of an RV. There are also several reflective covers designed to be placed in the windshield of your vehicle, such as this windshield cover for a Class C Ford E450.
However, if you want more extensive window coverage, you’ll have to look at other retailers. Thankfully, there are several companies that make window covers that are customized to fit in a variety of different vans.
XPLR Outfitters is a San Diego-based manufacturer of campervan accessories that makes quality window covers for Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, and Dodge Promaster.
Moohah is another company offering window covers and other van and van life accessories. Their products have an added focus on being chic and eco-friendly.
Cocovan also provides window covers for a variety of different vans and has two different styles. Their standard premium window covers are pretty standard, fabric-based window covers. But if you need extra insulation, they also offer “window jackets,” which use a puffer-jacket style material to provide extra insulation.
But what if you don’t want to buy your window covers, and prefer to make them yourself? Are there DIY options for campervan window covers?
Can I Make DIY Campervan Window Covers?
The short answer is yes, absolutely! In fact, this is a very popular option, and many different designs can be found online. But, there are a few things to consider if you want to make DIY window covers.
- Most designs will require you to sew. This means you’ll need access to a sewing machine. If you have boatloads of patience, you could also sew by hand. However, there are no-sew designs available, which will usually use something like an adhesive spray to connect everything.
- You’ll need to gather materials and tools. Materials will include things like fabrics, insulation material, and things like velcro or magnets will be used to attach the cover to the window. The tools required will also vary, but at the very least you’ll need scissors or shears to cut fabric and measuring tools so you can be sure your covers fit the window.
- Consider is what environment you’re making window covers for. If you’re going to be somewhere warm, you’ll probably just want to block or reflect sunlight out with your window covers. But if you’re going to be in a very cold environment, you’ll definitely want more heavy-duty window covers with more insulation. You will also want to reflect heat back into your van.
How To Make Insulated Campervan Window Covers
While there are a ton of different designs for DIY campervan window covers that you can find online, the basic steps will remain more or less the same:
- Measure your windows
- Cut your fabric and other materials to fit
- Combine your materials by sewing them together or using an adhesive
- Apply magnets, velcro, or some other attachment system to your windows
- Attach the window cover
If you want the simplest design possible, there’s the option of applying bubble wrap to your windows. Although it won’t keep any light out, bubble wrap can provide extra insulation by adding air pockets to the window. To apply, all you have to do is cut and tape pieces of bubble wrap to fit your window, wet the window with a spray of water, and attach the bubble wrap.
Really, that’s it! If the bubble wrap starts pulling away from the window, you simply have to wet the window again and replace the bubble wrap. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
DIY vs. Store Brand Window Covers
With so many options to both buy campervan window covers and make them yourself, how can you choose which option is best for you?
Buying window covers will save you time but cost you money. DIY costs you more time (and effort), but saves you money.
Buying also has the advantage that you can find window covers that are more advanced than what you’d be able to make. For example, the window jackets offered by Cocovan, have a unique puffer jacket design that would be hard to replicate yourself.
DIY window covers also have a few unique advantages over store-bought. Because you make them yourself, you can be sure you’re getting the right fit for your van. This is especially important if your van is a less common design.
Plus, you can make DIY window covers with any fabric you like. That means you can have stylish window covers that accentuate your tiny home decor without spending the premium price that such window covers from a store would cost!
So given all of these facts, the decision to buy or DIY your window covers will depend on your particular situation. If you want to save time and be sure you’re getting high-quality window covers, buying is probably a good option. But if you want to save money, have a less common van, or want a custom design, making DIY campervan window covers is a great choice.
How Do You Cover Windows in a Campervan?
Okay, you’ve either bought or made your window covers. But now, how do you actually put them on the windows?
There are a variety of ways that window covers can be attached to your windows.
- One of the most common ways is by using strong magnets. These stick either directly to the metal in your van, or to magnets that you stick to your windows.
- Another method is using adhesive strips of hook-and-loop fastening – commonly known as velcro. You simply stick one side on the window, and the other side on your window cover. Then you simply stick the window cover in place! This is a nice and simple method. However, keep in mind that it probably won’t hold up a heavier window cover.
- A third option is the classic suction cup. This has the advantage of being able to be easily removed or adjusted. However, they may not hold your window cover as securely.
If you make your own DIY window covers, you can choose whichever attachment method you like. While they all have some minor pros and cons, there aren’t huge differences between them. When buying window covers, many manufacturers will also give you multiple options to choose from.
Should The Window Covers Go On The Inside or The Outside?
When attaching window covers, you might wonder if they should go inside, outside, or both. For the most part, window covers are placed on the inside of your windows. This protects them from the elements and helps them stay in the windows better.
However, there are also covers that can be used on the outside of your van. For example, this cover is designed to be placed on the outer part of the windshield. Otherwise, it is not recommended to place your window covers on the outside part of your window.
Can Window Tinting Help Insulate My Camper Van?
In addition to curtains and fabric covers, there are also different types of window treatments that can provide privacy and insulation. You’re probably already familiar with vehicle window tint, which can be found on most vehicles. Window tinting is a special film that’s applied to the surface of the glass to reduce the amount of sunlight that passes through the window.
Window tint provides a lot of benefits. Because it darkens your windows, it gives you extra privacy by preventing people from seeing in. But even better, window tint also blocks UV radiation from sunlight.
By blocking UV radiation, it reduces the amount of radiative heat entering your van. But, it also protects you and the interior of your van from the damaging effects of UV radiation! That means you’ll be healthier and your things won’t fade in the sun.
Besides window tint, there is also insulating shrink film. This treatment is easily applied to windows by simply securing it in place over the window and applying heat, causing the film to shrink and adhere to the window. This creates a layer of air between the window and the film, which adds extra insulation.
Time To Cover Up!
No matter what your van is like, one thing’s for sure: window covers are essential for any van! By covering your windows, you not only get some privacy but also much-needed insulation from outside temperatures. And if you love to DIY, the options are endless for making the window covers of your dreams.
By blocking sunlight, window covers help keep temperatures down on hot sunny days. Covers let you keep things dark so you can sleep in and ignore the outside world for a while. Reflective materials can help keep things extra-cool by reflecting even more sunlight away from your van.
And if things get cold outside, window covers will help you stay nice and toasty. By trapping air and insulating your van, they keep precious warmth from escaping into the outside world.
So whether you buy or DIY, one thing’s for sure. Once you have campervan window covers, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them!
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About the Author:
Jennifer is a full-time RVer and part-time van lifer. She is one half of DashboardDrifters.com and the founder of RVSpotDrop, a web service for full-time RVers.