The most important fan in your life!
This is a well-documented project and, although it involves cutting a hole in the roof, isn’t much of a challenge! But it’s often the first major project that van DIYers take on and is intimidating. Below are the steps that I took and a few tips that I picked up from reading other posts and the forums.
- Fan-Tastic Fan (I bought the 3350)
- Butyl Tape
- Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant (Buy a 4-pack to cover solar)
- DAP DynaFlex Adhesive Caulking
- Hein’s Fan Install Adapter (Also available for ProMaster and Transit)
See my page Tools of the Trade for notes on tool selection.
- Drill & Impact Driver
- Drill Step Bit
- Jigsaw (with a fine metal cutting blade from this kit)
- Tap Magic
- 3M Scotch-Brite Pad
- Rubbing Alcohol
1) Garbage Bag: Set yourself up for an easy cleanup by first taping a heavy duty garbage bag (like this) to the underside of your roof where you plan to install the fan. You could use something less rugged, but keep in mind the hot metal shavings that will be flying around. Your installation spot will be easy to find if you’re using the OEM suggested locations. You may want to consider offsetting your install as per my ‘On Second Thought’ section.
2) Trace Outline: Make your way onto the roof. Be mindful of ladder safety and do so safely! Instead of having to measure precisely, use Hein’s adapter/template to find and outline the exact placement of your van. Trace the inside square with a sharpie.
3) Cut: Now for the fun part! Use the step bit to pop a hole in at least two of the corners of the square (to create places for your saw to start/rotate). Then, transfer that battery over to your handy jigsaw and get cutting. I strongly recommend using some Tap Magic or motor oil as you go — just squeeze out a line along the bit that you’re cutting. You’ll see what I mean. Test fit the fan… Looks good!
4) Prep Edge: An often overlooked step that’s crucial to a good bond… Lightly trace the outline of the adapter and tape it off, exposing the metal where the adapter will sit. Take a Scotch-Brite pad to the paint in order to scuff it up. No major brawn needed here. After a minute or two of scuffing action, clean it all up with rubbing alcohol. Remove the painters tape.
5) Attach Adapter: Coat the bottom of Hein’s adapter with a few beads of the dynaflex. Line it up with the square cut out and press down firmly. Starting to look decent! Hold in place for about 30 seconds to make sure it won’t slide at all. You can let it sit for a few hours if you’re patient.
6) Butyl Tape Rim: Place butyl tape around the adapter to create a waterproof ‘cushion’ for the fan to sit on.
7) Insert the Fan-tastic Fan: Go ahead and drop the whole unit into place! Make sure that the hinge of the lid is on the edge towards the front of the van. Use the supplied screws to attach the fan directly into the adapter. NOTE: Some people only drill into the adapter, sparing their van some screw holes. Others use a second adapter on the inside edge and drill all of the way through both. I personally drilled through both the adapter and roof without a second template inside, and then coating the screws with Flex Seal to be safe.
8) Seal the Fan Install with Lap Sealant: Nice work! The exterior job is done. I used a ~liberal~ amount of Dicor here. Got a big trigger happy.
9) Last Steps: Take your time to sweep off and vacuum up ALL of the metal shavings on the roof. This is major key! Those shavings will not take long to cause rust spots if you leave them. Once you’re in the van, carefully remove the contractor bag which is now FULL of those same metal shavings. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to crawl around the van picking them up?