One of the most difficult decisions when doing a van conversion or upgrading an existing campervan’s air circulation capabilities is choosing the right type of cooling fan for your camping needs and budget. There are just too many options on the market, and it’s not always clear what type of camper each product is meant for. If you’re torn between the various options and can’t seem to make up your mind, we’ve got you covered.
The best campervan cooling fans include Maxxair MAXXFAN 5100K, 7500K, 4301K, and 4500K models. Options from other manufacturers include the Domestic Fan-Tastic’s 1200 and 1250 models, Heng’s 71112-C, Fiamma Turbo Vent, Caframo Sirocco, and Ryobi’s Misting Fan.
Read on for a detailed review of each of the above models and a brief discussion on the qualities to look for in a campervan cooling fan.
Qualities To Look For in a Cooling Fan for a Campervan
Like any other product, not all campervan cooling fans are the same. Similarly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option because every camper’s budget and needs are different.
To choose the most suitable option for your campervan, consider the following qualities:
Airflow Direction and Volume
You’d think that all campervans are the same in terms of how they circulate air. However, the truth is that there’s a bit of variation in how different models move air. Budget buys often come in a basic design made up of a one-way motor that only sucks the air out of your campervan.
While a fan with a unidirectional motor may be sufficient for some campers’ needs, spending a little more can get you a campervan cooling fan whose blades can turn either way. This way, you can circulate air both into and out of the van as desired.
Such functionality particularly comes in handy if you’re a member of the van life bandwagon because it means you can pump out steam and smoke when cooking and reverse the airflow direction to pump in fresh air when sleeping.
Understand that airflow direction isn’t the only factor to consider when analyzing a cooling fan’s air circulation capability. The quantity of air it can move is also a significant consideration. This figure is commonly referred to as CFM, which stands for the amount of air a cooling fan can move in Cubic Feet per Minute. Generally, quality campervan cooling fans average a CFM rating of 900, so you’ll want to choose something with output in that range.
The Fan Control Mechanism
If convenience is a top priority, you’ll want a remote-controlled fan. Besides giving you the luxury to make adjustments from the comfort of your bed, remote-controlled fans are great when your fan is fitted on a hard-to-reach location or if you’re vertically challenged. Thanks to the included battery-operated remote, you can easily adjust the fan speed, switch the motor on/off, and open/lower the vent.
For people on a budget, having a remote-controlled campervan cooling fan may seem like overkill. If this resonates with you, go with a cheaper model that you can control with a simple knob found on the fan unit’s underside. Such models are simple, effective, yet inexpensive. With that said, you might want to consider more than just your budget when deciding which type of control mechanism you want of your fan.
If you often camp in areas with frequent, extreme temperature fluctuations, a remote-control option with sophisticated temperature control is necessary and not a luxury. This way, you won’t have to keep getting up in the middle of the night to adjust the temperature. On the other hand, a cheaper, simple but effective fan with manual temperature control may be ideal if you often camp in areas with a mild, stable climate.
While a thermostat isn’t necessarily a must-have, a roof vent fan with this feature offers a more convenient way to regulate the temperatures in your campervan. Many campervan cooling fan models come with a thermostat that automatically adjusts the fan speed.
With such models, the fan will automatically kick on when the temperature in your van’s interior gets to a certain point, helping maintain a fresh air supply without your intervention. While a fan with this capability will never match a dedicated AC’s efficiency, it’s as close as you can get.
A Rain Shield and Dome
This is a pretty simple setup but crucial in practice. A roof vent rain shield is indispensable for any DIY campervan conversion because it allows you to use your fan when it’s raining.
Some campervan cooling fan models come with a built-in sensor that seals off the fan when it starts to rain to help keep your van’s interiors dry. Others have a larger design that takes up a little more space on the roof but provides better coverage against rain. While such models may take up more valuable roof real estate that could’ve been used for a rack or solar panels, this trade-off makes sense for campers operating in extremely wet weather.
The dome is the other half of the things you’ll want to consider for the top of your campervan cooling fan. Some fans have a solid white piece of plastic that allows little to no light through, while others come with transparent domes that let in a little more light into your campervan. Regarding which type of dome you should choose, there’s no right or wrong answer. It all comes down to your preferences.
Power consumption is a critical consideration for any camper looking to purchase a cooling fan for their van. Ideally, you want a device that won’t drain your van’s battery but still provide adequate air circulation. Usually, any campervan cooling fan’s current draw is indicated on the product specs (described in Amps). As far as free camping goes, a low current draw is always preferred.
Theoretically speaking, you can power a campervan cooling fan with a current draw of 1amp (or 1amp per hour) from a 100amp-hour battery for about 100 hours or so. If you leave such a fan on for 10 hours, it’ll draw about 10% of your battery. At a glance, that may not seem like much, but 10amp hours can be significant when you consider the power consumption of any other devices you may have in your campervan, especially if they’re in or above the 12-volt range.
Thus, you need to think about how much a particular fan will add to your overall campervan power consumption and weigh that against your battery’s capacity. This way, you’ll choose an option that won’t compromise your ability to use other convenience appliances in your van in the long run.
Generally, standard rooftop campervan cooling fans come in three sizes: 14.25″ x14.25″ (36.195 x 36.195 cm), 14″ x 14″ (35.56 x 35.56 cm), and 13″ x 14″ (33.02 x 35.56 cm). As a camper looking to replace a worn-out/damaged fan or looking to upgrade, you’ll want to be familiar with these dimensions.
However, if it’s your first time fitting your campervan with a cooling fan, just being aware of the various fan sizes is good enough. With that said, most of the popular models on today’s market require a 14″ x 14″ (35.56 x 35.56 cm) space for installation.
Knowing the fan size you need in advance comes in handy when figuring out your installation location. This is particularly true if you have other occupants in your campervan roof real estate (like solar panels, for instance). Ideally, you want a fan whose size maximizes cooling efficiency without interfering too much with the rest of your roof build.
Handy Tip: It’s generally a good idea to have your fan installed in the rear end of your van’s roof. This way, you get a bang for your buck because this location allows air to travel the full length of your van in each circulation.
Do I Need a Special Cooling Fan for My Campervan?
The short answer is you likely do. If you cook inside like most campers, you need a specialized cooling fan because they are more powerful and move air more efficiently than conventional fans. Steam, odors, and smoke can quickly build up inside your van’s small interior, and the best way to get rid of them is with a specialized campervan cooling fan (especially if its motor can run both ways).
If you’re installing a roof vent fan, there’s an even greater need to choose a unit explicitly designed for campervans and motorhomes. Unlike your everyday cooling fan, some campervan-specific units come with a rain shield that allows you to run a roof vent fan when it’s raining. Rain shields aren’t even an option in traditional cooling fans.
Lastly, campervan cooling fans have convenient features that you won’t find in a conventional fan. Examples include a thermostat, remote control functionality, a wider range of adjustability, easy cleaning, and more.
Best Campervan Cooling Fans
Having briefly discussed the essential qualities to look for when shopping for cooling fans for your campervan, let’s review some of the most popular options to make it easier for you to choose the best fit for your camping needs.
The Maxxair Maxxfan 5100k is a long-standing favorite among RVers and van campers. What makes it so popular? A combination of three attributes: convenience features, a price tag that makes sense, and ease of use. For roughly $250, you get a 10-speed campervan cooling fan that can serve as an intake or exhaust, a thermostat to make temperature control a breeze, and a manual lid opening that’s easy to use.
When choosing a campervan cooling fan, the primary concern is its airflow capabilities, and the MaXXFAN 5100K delivers in this department. The 10-speed motor can run in either direction, meaning it can circulate air in and out of your campervan as desired. It also provides a hard-to-beat range of choices in fine-tuning the fan speed, with up to 10 options.
The highest speed setting allows you to quickly circulate fresh air into your camper van or get rid of smoke and steam when cooking. However, it’s not a setting you’ll want to run your fan on for several minutes because it can be quite noisy.
On the other end of the speed scale, you have quieter settings that won’t be a nuisance when you want to vent your van at night. For most campers, a speed setting of 4 is the sweet spot, providing plenty of airflow without too much noise.
Controlling the fan is also pretty straightforward. While the unit isn’t remote controlled, the on-fan controls consisting of five buttons are easy to use. These controls can be found on the bottom side of the unit for easy reach and are as follows:
- The power button
- Two fan speed adjustment buttons
- A button for changing the motor direction
- A thermostat adjustment button
Perhaps the one control that may take some getting used to is the one for the thermostat. However, you’ll get the hang of how to use it quickly if you carefully read the user manual.
Another noteworthy feature is the rain shield. You’ll want your campervan cooling fan unit to have it if you camp in wet weather, and the one on the MAXXFAN 5100k comes smartly crafted and oversized so you can ventilate your van even in the most intense downpours. As you’ll learn later on in this review, not all campervan cooling fans have a rain cover, so it’s a big plus that the MAXXFAN 5100k comes with this handy feature.
In terms of power consumption, the MAXXFAN doesn’t draw too much current on lower speed settings. The lowest motor speed setting sees the unit consume 0.2Amps, while the highest setting draws up to 4.3Amps. With a decent battery, this shouldn’t be too steep to accommodate especially considering that the fan moves air sufficiently even on lower settings.
Lastly, twin lifting arms mean that you won’t have to put up with the lid fluttering in strong winds (or when driving), while the easily removable interior insect screen means easy cleaning. It’s also great the fan can fit on a standard 14″ x 14″ (35.56 x 35.56 cm) opening, which is what you’ll find in most campervans.
Overall, the Maxxair MAXXFAN 5100 is a complete all-in-one system (combining a fan, vent, and a rain shield) that meets most van camper’s ventilation needs.
Since the mid80s, the Fan-Tastic Fan has been a popular name in the RVing and van camping community. The brand is known for quality, and the Domestic Fan-Tastic Vent 1250 follows in that reputation despite being on the low end of the price scale compared to other models in the same product line: the 2250 and the 7350.
Essentially, the Domestic Fan-Tastic vent 1250 model strikes a nice balance between pocket-friendly pricing and functionality, making it a cheaper alternative to the MAXXFAN 5100K we’ve just reviewed above. Its 3-speed fan combines with the 10-inch blade to provide sufficient air circulation for most van campers’ needs, while the multidirectional motor offers the flexibility to push damp/smoky air from cooking out and suck in fresh air from outside.
Meanwhile, the streamlined low profile design facilitates stealth operation, and the self-sealing vent cover sits flush on the seal to prevent drafts and air leaks. Also worth mentioning is that the blades are made of clear plastic, which helps let in sunlight to keep your campervan interiors bright and airy.
Overall, the Fan-Tastic 1250 is an ideal option if you’re looking to spend well under $200 on your campervan cooling fan and only want a simple option that does the basics and no more.
But as with any budget buy, it has its limitations. Firstly, it lacks a thermostat, meaning temperature control is entirely manual. Secondly, the small included vent simply won’t cut it in a heavy downpour because it doesn’t fully cover the fan. This is a significant drawback for foul weather and full-time van campers because it means you can’t use the fan when it’s raining.
Thirdly, the three-speed motor offers a more limited range of adjustability than that of the MaXXFAN (10, in case you forgot), meaning you won’t have too much freedom to fine-tune the airflow to your preferences. Lastly, the single arm that supports the cover may flutter in strong winds or when driving because it isn’t quite as secure as double-armed models.
Maxxair MAXXFAN 7500 makes the second Maxxair-branded campervan cooling fan on our list. It has a lot in common with the 5100k model, too.
Like the earlier-reviewed 5100k model, it’s on the higher end of the price scale, but the immense functionality and convenience it offers may be worth the spending on for some campers.
Both models come with a reversible 10-speed fan that can function as both intake and exhaust and can operate in a heavy downpour thanks to the featured rain shield. Twin lifting arms are also pretty standard, and both units come with a thermostat to help automate temperature regulation.
However, the MAXXFAN 7500k model has a leg up on its 5100k counterpart in two crucial areas. Perhaps the most noteworthy of the two is that the 7500k model has remote control capability, meaning you can operate the unit while driving or from the comfort of your bed. This capability also comes in handy if you’ve installed your fan unit in a hard-to-reach location. There are also on-fan controls in case the remote fails.
The other advantage the 7500k model has over its relatively less expensive peer is that its lid can open electronically. This means you can open it with a remote control, which is way more convenient than the 5100k’s manual version.
All around, there aren’t any holes in the MAXXFAN 7500K’s game except the steep price. While the convenience of an electric lid opening and remote control may be worth it for some campers, it can be hard to swallow for those who think the added complexity is overkill. It’s all about how much you value the extra convenience.
It almost feels criminal to include another Maxxair product on this list. In all fairness, though, they have a ton of good options for every camper’s budget.
Cheaper than all the other Maxxair-branded campervan cooling fans we’ve looked at so far, the MAXXFAN 4301K is meant to accommodate the needs of campers with budgets well under the 200-dollar mark. For a pocket-friendly price, you get a cooling fan unit with a four-speed motor.
Considering that the Fan-Tastic 1250 with a three-speed motor comes in at a slightly higher price, the MAXXFAN 4301K is quite a steal.
As you’d expect, the lower price tag does mean a slight compromise in functionality and convenience. A thermostat isn’t part of the package, and neither is a rain shield. Also, the unit can only run in one direction (meaning it can only work as an exhaust vent), and it certainly doesn’t come with remote control capability.
Yet another campervan cooling fan unit that won’t break the bank, the Domestic Fan-Tastic 1200 comes with a powerful three-speed motor and ten fan blades. This setup can put out up to 920 CFM (cubic feet per minute) of airflow, a figure that’s up there with that of many premium-priced models we’ve reviewed so far.
Being a budget buy, you shouldn’t expect anything spectacular from this campervan cooling fan unit. It doesn’t have remote control functionality, a thermostat, or a rain shield. Its motor is also one-way, meaning reversible airflow is not an option.
All said, the Domestic Fan-Tastic 1200 may be an ideal option if you usually camp in moderate climates, where you only rely on your fan air circulation occasionally. It’s also a good fit for those who value quiet operation because that is one of its main selling points (besides the price).
Yet another Maxxair product, but well deserving of a place in our list. Coming at about slightly above $200, the MAXXFAN Plus 4500K is a mid-range option. It has a powerful ten-speed motor that can run both ways, meaning it can function as both an intake and exhaust fan.
A built-in thermostat is also part of the package to help automate temperature regulation. But unlike other higher-end options in Maxxair’s comprehensive vent fan lineup, the MAXXFAN Plus 4500K model lacks a rain shield.
Instead, it has a built-in sensor that shuts off the lid whenever it detects rain. This is the only downside to this unit because it means you can’t use it in wet climates.
The model’s main selling point is that it’s one of the cheapest campervan cooling fans with remote control. Add to that the temperature automation provided by the thermostat, and you have a reliable option for anyone looking to purchase a convenient campervan cooling fan without breaking the bank.
This is the ultimate budget option. Priced at less than $50, the Heng’s 71112-C provides a reasonable amount of airflow for a cheap campervan cooling fan.
Given its price, you shouldn’t expect anything extraordinary. Heng’s 71112-C comes with a one-speed motor that only runs in one direction to power a small six-inch blade. It only functions as an intake fan, but the airflow it provides may be enough for anyone looking to air out tight spaces, such as the interior of a small campervan.
And even with a small space, you certainly don’t want to have it as your primary vent fan if you cook or do anything else inside your van that requires a more powerful fan. As you might have guessed, it doesn’t have a rain shield, and neither is a thermostat included.
That means using it in wet climates is out of the question, and that temperature regulation is entirely manual. All the controls are on-fan, so you’ll want to ensure you install it somewhere you can easily reach.
The bottom line? You get what you pay for with the Heng’s 71112-C: a simple fan that only does the basics. It can be an ideal choice for anyone looking for a secondary campervan venting option or part-time campers operating in moderate climates, where you barely rely on the fan for temperature regulation.
The Fiamma Turbo Vent is an all-round campervan cooling fan, making it a reliable option for full-time van campers. Thanks to the 12-volt motorized 10-blade fan, this unit allows you to keep your campervan interior cool and fresh without taking a toll on your battery.
The fact that it can rotate either way means you can use it as both an exhaust and intake vent fan, which is great for when you want to air out your van when cooking or draw in a mild, refreshing stream of air when sleeping. The controls are user-friendly, even though remote control is not an option. Specifically, changing the motor direction is rapid and hassle-free, thanks to the innovative electronic circuit.
For durability, the unit is constructed with shock and UV-resistant materials. The outer cover is made of strong materials, too, and combines with the patented rubber seal to deliver a watertight system that won’t let water into your campervan when installed on the roof.
It’s also worth mentioning that the unit comes in an aerodynamic profile and a thermostat to eliminate the need for a spoiler and help automate temperature regulation, respectively.
Other noteworthy features include a transparent grafting that filters light while allowing maximum air circulation and the double mosquito screen and permanent airflow ventilation that come as part of the package. The mosquito screen not only keeps away those annoying blood-sucking insects but also traps leaves and other debris so they don’t find their way into your campervan interior.
There are only two downsides to this model. Firstly, it can be noisy, which can sometimes be annoying when you’re trying to sleep. It also lacks a rain shield, making it a not-so-great option for campers operating in wet climates.
Overall, this vent fan is a good fit for campers looking to travel or live full time in their van in warmer climates. The fact that the unit is supplied with both a vent and a fan is a big plus because it provides extra control for temperature regulation.
The Caframo Sirocco RV Cabin Fan is a portable option that needs no introduction, especially to the Australian campervan and motorhome travel and living scene. It’s pretty much what comes standard in most RVs manufactured in Australia, and it may be sufficient for a smaller campervan.
The Sirocco fan is a very light unit because it’s designed with an emphasis on portability. It’s also an energy-efficient option, drawing between 0.13 and 0.36 amps depending on which of the available three-speed settings you choose. Such is the fan’s energy efficiency that you can run two of these units at full speed overnight and barely dent your campervan’s battery reserves.
Unlike most units we’ve reviewed so far that need to be installed on the roof, the Sirocco fan can be mounted inside your campervan. It’s equally at home when used as a standalone device, but you might want to mount it on a board to make it more stable.
In terms of operational convenience, it doesn’t lag too far behind, too. It comes with a convenient timer that you can use to automatically switch off the fan after a certain period (usually after two, four, six, or eight hours). With such capability, you can leave the fan running when you go to sleep and schedule ahead of time when it should turn off.
To further add to the convenience package, the unit runs quietly, with the highest setting producing noise levels below 45db.
The bottom line? This unit is a nice alternative to a full-scale, roof-installed vent fan. While its airflow volume isn’t quite at par with roof vent fans, it’s enough to give you a gentle cool breeze. If that’s all you need and don’t care about fancy features like remote control, a rain shield, a thermostat, and a motor that can run both ways, the Sirocco fan is worth looking at.
You can have it in either white or grey colors for about $150 (or even less depending on how much looking around you’re willing to do).
If you have several rechargeable battery-powered tools like many van campers, chances are you can buy a portable fan that uses the very same battery. While such fans are typically meant to be used in workshops, they can double up as cooling options for a campervan.
Given that they’re usually priced lower than roof-installed options, choosing a portable misting fan can be an unorthodox way to air out your campervan interior on the cheap.
The Ryobi misting fan is a handy piece of kit. Designed to sit on a standard 20-liter (5.28-gallon) bucket, it comes with a pump that draws water from a hose connection (or the bucket it sits on) and sprays it in a fine mist into the stream of air generated by the fan to cool down your campervan interiors.
With the Hi/Lo switch and the pivoting head, you can direct the mist or airflow as needed for the perfect cooling experience.
Keep in mind that the mist produced by this cooling mechanism may render items near the fan damp, so you might want to keep electronics and electrical wiring far off. Thankfully, you can always turn off the water pump and use the unit as a conventional indoor fan. Even without the pump, the fan moves a substantial volume of air. It’s not too loud, either, with sound levels below 60db on the highest speed setting.
Depending on the kind of battery you’re using and the speed you use the fan at, you can run the Ryobi misting fan for up to 16 hours. With the included 18-volt battery, you can enjoy up to 3.5 hours of runtime.