Hey everyone! Time to cut into the van and start installing fans! In this post, you are going to learn how to install two MaxxAir Fan Deluxes from start to finish. So, let’s talk about the fans. We decided to go with the MaxxAir Deluxe Fans, without the remote control. We’ve been living over 6 months in the van, and we can promise you that we do not need the remotes. We love our MaxxAir fans. They are relatively straight forward to install, and they help keep our van nice and cool. Our MaxxAir Fans don’t keep our van perfectly cool if it’s really hot outside, but if you follow the weather in your van, they do a good job!
Okay, so let’s talk materials. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Jigsaw and Sheet Metal Blades
- 16″ ruler/ straight edge
- aluminium tape
- Painter’s tape
- Butyl (putty) tape
- a GOOD drill and GOOD drill bits –> We’ve talked about this!!
- extension cord
- Caulk gun and roof sealant
- safety glasses, dust masks, work gloves
- Hand Vaccuum, garbage bags
- Rustoleum Primer and Foam Brush
- Metal File
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: You’re going to want to get QUALITY items before starting this project. You can borrow them, you can buy them new, you can get them off of Facebook Marketplace. But do yourself a favor and just get good tools now. As my grandma always says, “Do it right the first time, or don’t do it at all!”
First, you are going to make a 14″ x 14″ square template out of cardboard for your fans. Mark the center of this, and figure out where on the ceiling you want your fans. We decided on right behind the cab, and one in the back, both centered. Once you figure this out, tape the template where you want each fan to be on the ceiling and trace it.
Once you have your fans marked on the ceiling, you will want to cover up any holes that you may have in your rocker panel, which is the part where your floor and and walls meet. It has some triangle shaped holes in it. If you bought your van new, it likely has all of the plastic hole covers, and you won’t need to do anything further. However, if you are like us, and some of your hole covers are missing, you will want to cover up the rest of those holes. This will keep any metal shavings out of hard-to-reach places and will prevent rusting. We used a thick aluminum tape to cover up these holes.
After all of those holes are covered up, you are ready to get drilling. With your template taped to the ceiling with painter’s tape, drill 4 holes around the 4 corners, and one hole straight in the center of the template. This will allow you to line up the template when you are on the roof. Once your holes are drilled and your ceiling is marked, tape a garbage bag around the area that you will cut your hole. Hopefully, your bag will catch the shavings that will occur while you are cutting out the holes.
A Quick Note
The fans come with the fan itself, a lot of screws, instructions (thank goodness), a square plastic piece that is maybe an inch and a half tall, and a very large square plastic piece. The flange (the shorter plastic piece) is the piece that you will use for the fan install here. However, make sure to keep track and take good care of the tall plastic pieces! They are going to be the “finishing” pieces for the fans and will go into your finished ceiling to make your fans look good.
On the Roof
Okay! So big moment. Time to get on the roof. Find yourself a good, stable ladder, and someone to hold that thing for you! Once you’re up there, you’ re going to need your bits, drill, jigsaw, and blades. You will also likely need an extension cord so that the jigsaw can make it all the way to the roof of your van. You should be able to see the 5 holes that you made for each fan. Line up your cardboard template with the holes you drilled and trace around it. Using the drill and increasingly bigger bits, enlarge your holes. This will make it easier to fit the blade of the jigsaw into the holes for cutting. Before starting to cut, we suggest lining you outline with painter’s tape. It makes the line that you need to cut MUCH easier to see.
Once you have lined your cuts with painter’s tape, and once you can fit the jigsaw blade into the holes, you can go ahead and start to cut! Remember that the ceiling/ roof is only made of thing sheet metal, so be careful, you don’t want to dent to the roof with a knee or a foot. Polar-bear your weight as much as you can! Also, as you cut, use painter’s tape to hold your piece of metal in place. This will help it from jiggling (quite) so much, and it won’t immediately fall in on your bag when you’re done cutting. Once you have your hole cut, take your flange which comes with the fan, (this is the smaller plastic piece) and see if it fits in the hole. If it does, awesome! If not, you will need to use the jigsaw to widen the hole. Do this for both holes.
Prep for Installing in the MaxxAir Fan
Okay, now that both of your holes are cut and your flanges fit appropriately, congratulations! Now, use your metal file and file off any large or sharp pieces from the hole. Your goal is to make the hole nice and smooth. Next, using your foam brush, dab some primer/ enamel onto the exposed metal of your holes. This will help to prevent any rusting in the future. Add butyl tape around the edge of your holes. You can do as many layers as you need to even out any ridges and create a good, watertight seal for your fan.
Installing the Flange and Fan
Once the primer/enamel is dry, and the butyl tape is added around your hole, fit your flange into the hole with the metal pieces going to the sides (pointing towards the doors). Next, making sure the fan is facing the right way, make sure that your fan fits in the flange. As far as the fan going in the right way, think of it as a shark fin. You want the fans to be as aerodynamic as possible, so the wind should be able to pass over the fan easily. (There is only one fan orientation where this is the case). The fan also needs to be open when you fit it in the flange. All you need to do is pull on the black knob, and turn the knob until the fan opens.
Once you’re sure that the fan fits in fine, you are going to screw in the flange with the given screws. Make sure you have a charged, and powerful drill, and DO NOT touch the screws after you screw with them! THEY ARE HOT!! The screws WILL go through the metal of the ceiling, and this is fine and normal. Once the flange is screwed in, fit the fan back into the flange, and attach the fan to the flange by adding screws to the sides of the fan (see instructions on placement). This part is really honestly very annoying, and you have to hold the fan down so that the holes line up with the metal pieces on the flange. And that’s it, your fans are technically installed!!
Make sure the wires for the fan hang down into the van when you are installing it. Those wires will eventually be attached to your electrical system (INSIDE THE VAN) so make sure that they are accessible, ok? You don’t want to have to try and fish them out AFTER you put in the fan.
Alright, last part of this project! Now that your fans are in, you are going to want to CAULK THEM INTO OBLIVION! Is this being dramatic? Maybe, but only a little. You will use roof sealant or self-leveling lap sealant to do this. Do not use regular bathroom caulk. Seal all around the edges of the flange. Make sure that there are no holes. You should also add a dollop of sealant on and around each screw, and this is also a common place for leaks. You do NOT want water getting in around your fans. You won’t ever see the roof, so your sealing doesn’t have to be pretty, just practical. You will also want to go inside of the van, and put a big dollop of sealant around each screw that went through the van. You know, cross your Ts and dot your Is. Again, NO WATER IN THE VAN. This is mostly because once you build a ceiling, you’re not getting back into the ceiling, so if there’s a leak, you’re going to be mighty sad.
And once you’re done sealing, that’s it. Great job! You have installed 2 MaxxAir Fans! Need more help, or just want to watch something fun? Watch our YouTube video below.
Okay! You ready to watch the video? The video and the blog are meant to be complementary to each other. We hope you enjoy! If you have any questions, always feel free to reach out to us on our contact page.