Thursday, March 14, 2013

DIY Sprinter Window Insulation


Our Roadtrek is surrounded with single pane glass windows, although tinted, they don't do much to reflect/ block suns radiant heat. The AC struggles to cool the inside of the RV during summer, and there is a lot of heat loss through the glass windows during winter camping. Insulated window coverings should help.

I made the window covers using Reflectix insulation (available at Lowe's) backed with an ironing board cover with special aluminized coating and padding (available at Joann Craft Store). I used newspapers to make window templates. The template is then laid into the Reflectix and traced the edges with a marker; I then cut about 1-cm. allowance outside the line to compensate for the Reflectix sagging overtime. The layers were fused together using spray adhesive, then a grey color seam bindings were sewn around the edges. The rear window covers just slips into the frame around the windows and they stay put real well. The covers make a huge difference in interior temps, both in the summer and winter.

For the front window covers, super strong neo-magnets were used to hold them in place. A more rigid reflective insulation was used for the windshield. I found a cheap ready-made windshield sunshade for trucks/RV's at Campingwold. It is thin and rigid and perfect for the sprinter, just needed some trimming to fit. But with the addition of the aluminized backing, the windshield cover becomes heavy enough that collapses on its own weight when installed. To prevent the windshield cover from buckling, I placed plastic ribbings in-between the reflective front and the backing for rigidity. The plastic ribbings were salvaged from a broken beach umbrella. The windshield cover is just held in place by the sun-visors.

If you decided that the DIY solution is not for you, Amazon has wide variety of window/ windshield sunshades from the fancy Remis privacy blinds to the pre-cut custom fit reflective sunshades- check them out first: Mercedes Benz Sprinter Window Sunshades.

Click on pictures to enlarge.


Grey binding

Rolled-up for storage. I store them inside the water pump compartment. The front window covers/ windshield cover are stored inside the over-the-cab cabinet.

Front window cover before edge binding is sewn. Showing the back side.

Reflectix side.

Neo-magnet inserted in-between Reflectix.

Neo-magnet.

Neo-magnets placement.
Windshield cover.
The seven plastic ribbings were placed in-between the Reflectix and the aluminized backing just before the creases where the cover folds.

Windshield cover folded for storage.

Windshield cover in place. I also made rear window covers (not pictured) which are held in place using neo-magnets.


Thanks for viewing.

33 comments:

  1. I love this! I wish I could sew well enough to do this.

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  2. Question - did you fuse the layers together or just sew the edges together. Love this idea!

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    1. The layers were fused together using spray adhesive.

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    2. Awsome I will be using your idea. Thanks

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  3. My wife and I purchased a 2013 SS Agile in October 2012. We're still debugging and fine tuning. I really enjoyed viewing your site. I am amazed at the quality and cleverness of your improvements. It's amazing to me that virtually all of your "fixes" address areas that I too had wished could be improved. I would love to have a set of these window insulators but I have neither the skills or the patience to fabricate them. If you ever decide to market them I'll take a set! Thanks for posting. Steve, Calabasas, CA

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    1. You are welcome. I wish I can make a set for everyone who wanted it, but it is too time consuming to make it as I'm not that good in sewing.

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    2. I did something similar to my semi tractor years ago. Pick up a couple sets of those sun/heat reflectors that folks put in the windshield of their parked cars. Hold next to the side window, with a marker outline the window. Take down and cut slightly larger (Apprx 1") along the line you drew. Take duct tape and fix to the edge all around. Allow tape to fold over edge and fix to other side as well. Strategically place Velcro tapes (6 or 8) around the edge with matching tape on the window frame. When needed, pop the shield in the window space and secure to the Velcro tabs. Same technique for the windshield. You may need two pieces depending on how wide the windshield is.

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  4. You are such a professional...and, a great teacher. Very clear and explicit directions. I, too, would rather buy them from you; but, I shall endeavor to make my own. As far as keeping it warmer; any idea how much it might be as far as degrees go? THANKS AGAIN!!!

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    1. Thanks for the nice words. First, I do apologize for the late response. I have not really measure how many degrees warmer it gets with the window covers on, but it's certainly better than no window insulation at all. I also noticed that the furnace cycles less to keep the temp inside the van in regulation. Keep in mind that when camping in really cold weather you need some kind of heat source, without and the inside of the van will still get uncomfortably cold regardless of how much window insulation you have.

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    2. First and foremost, I want to express my appreciation for putting these great photos and its pithy details; thank you! As we are getting ready for a 6-month journey way up to Inuvik (NW Territory) and Alaska, we now have completed nine window insulation kit pieces for our 2007 RT Agile SS. I can tell you that not only during cold spell but also during heat waves, the temp inside stayed positively compatible for our needs. Do stay tuned for our trip at www.zippitygoglobal.com.

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    3. You are most welcome! I like your travel blog, hope you don't mind adding your blog link to this site favorite links. Safe travels!

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  5. How do the neomagnets work? How do they "stick" to the glass windows?

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    1. Hi, the magnets don't stick to the glass. There are small areas of exposed metal around the windows that is where the neomagnets stick. Dry fit the window insulation first then mark the location of the magnets. The magnets are only used on the front cab and rear windows all others are just friction fit. If you prefer, you could use suction cups in lieu of magnets.Hope that helps.

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  6. Hi, awesome setup. I would like to do something very similar and your instructions here will be very helpful. Could you give me a rough estimate of how much covering all the windows cost? Or at least an idea of cost per window, etc? Thanks.

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    1. Hi, I cannot remember exactly how much I spent, but you'll get an idea if you search Lowes.com for "reflectix". The 25 ft x 24 inches is currently listed about $23, maybe you'll get it cheaper online like Amazon. The quilted ironing board cover was about $10-13/ yard I think. Hope that helps.

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  7. Old thread I know but this looks like a good idea. The one thing I don't understand is what is the point of the ironing board cover material? It is very expensive compared to the Reflectix. Rough calculation are I can make the window covers 8 times for the price of the ironing board material. So if it is to make the Reflectix last longer, the math doesn't work out. Also, I bought insulation supports (basically a coat hanger metal rod) 100 for $10 to keep the Reflectix in the windows and it works great

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    1. The ironing board material adds an extra insulation and also prevents the Reflectix from tearing from constant folding/rolling when storing.

      The back of the Reflectix does get pretty warm without some additional insulation. The ironing board material has insulated layer and still a fraction of the cost compared to insulated curtain materials or the 3M Thinsulate which are available at local fabric store at that time. To save cost, you can use any fabric backing of choice.

      Our window covers still looks new with no tears after 2+ years of use.


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  8. How does this work in the winter WA cold and rain with so much condensation always on the windows?

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    1. Hi,
      I still find condensations inside the windows when it is cold outside, but it is reduced as compared to no window covers at all. Window condensation occurs when warm/moist air inside the van contacts the cooler glass window surface, the water vapor condenses onto the cooler surface. Making the window covers snug/ airtight as possible around the window frame should drastically reduce condensation problems. An insulating fabric like 3M thinsulate rather than the reflectix covering should work better in cold insulation, I would think. You also have to look how to control the humidity inside your van. Although, I must admit that my knowledge and experience with extreme cold weather camping is rather limited as I live here in sunny California.

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  9. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out an economical way to do our windows on our boat and this is perfect thank you for posting!

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  10. I had a great time making these

    Check out my review here: http://www.franqgoesontheroad.com/2016/09/23/my-take-on-diy-window-insulation-panels/

    My overall opinion: Are these worth all the money and time to make?

    Yes, Yes and YAAAASSS!!! I love these. They make an incredible difference in cold weather and do a great job blocking out the sun. They are indispensable for blocking all windows for privacy. So, I say, go for it. If you are a novice and can get your hands on a machine, have an experienced friend get you started on the sewing part, you can do these by yourself with a litte instruction. Cutting them out and gluing them together is common sense enough. Jump on in, you'll be glad you did!

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  11. Hi: I like those shades. My problem is finding the bias tape. I only find 1/2" double fold. Since I am not familiar with these thing, it looks like it will not wrap over the 3/8" thickness for both materials. Would you add comments on what bias and size you used? Thanks in advance. Regards JJ

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    1. Hi, I made the bias tape from piece of fabric
      I cannot recall the width of the bias, it was like trial and error untill I got the correct size. Sorry.

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    2. Hi: Thank you very much for the very quick reply. Your trial & error turn out a very good job. I was looking for an easier path!

      I have one more question:
      Regarding the ribs. Did you sew along the rib to hold them in place or just put them between the cloth and Refelctix with glue? Thanks again. Regards JJ

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    3. Sorry, I don't know how I missed this question...but for others with same question, I did not sew along the ribs, it was sandwiched in between the Reflectix and cloth using a 3M spray adhesive.

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  12. You are welcome. The ribs were sandwiched between the cloth and Reflectix using spray adhesive , no sewing.

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  13. Hi: FYI, those of you who would like to have these made. Look into Upholstering places to do the sewing. I gave them all the material pre-cut and assembled. They had the have duty sewing machine/needles to do the job (bais on edges) quickly and reasonably priced (at least for me). Regards JJ

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  14. Those are awesome, you obviously spent some time on the design and execution, well done. I just used the reflectix, but I can see how your new and improved version would work much better. I need to get the sewing machine out and do like you've done. BTW, the magnet addition is brilliant, that should keep them from creeping and sliding down in the middle of the night. I like my privacy and appreciation the block out.
    Thanks for sharing. You could have a little business selling these.

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    1. Thanks for the nice comment. I’m not really good with the sewing machine so that took me the longest. “Milou” the above commenter has a good suggestion to pre-cut and assemble the covers and take it to an “upholsterer” to do the bias tape edging for a fee, I just don’t know how much really they would charge for that though.

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  15. Hi: Again, thanks for the DIY idea. These are excellent. After several months of doing my version, I finally can say I love them. FYI, here is the link to my result:

    http://jjd.blogspot.com/2017/03/auto-window-shades.html

    Regards. Milou

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    Replies
    1. Wow, nicely done. You mentioned the larger shade tends to sag even with the nylon rods. I use fiberglass rods (about 4.5 mm diameter)salvaged from an old beach umbrella, it provides good support and does not sag.

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