Van Build Phases

Sun Roof

One of my friends installed a roof hatch in his van -- I loved how much light it gave and knew I wanted something similar. I've found that I keep my window covers up most of the time since I park the van in public places often, but having the roof hatch means I still get natural light and I don't feel quite so claustrophobic. Additionally, since I only have one fan at the front of my van, having a roof hatch in the back is my version of "AC" as I can create decent circulation by opening it while running the fan.

The one drawback is the roof space -- you won't be able to install as much solar on your roof. If that's something you're trying to optimize for, this probably is not the solution for you. I find my 400W of solar perfectly sufficient so far and find that most of my battery charge comes from driving.

This roof hatch is also not cheap to install... I've seen some other options that are cheaper, but I didn't want to risk having a leak in my roof so I went with a well-reviewed option.

Lastly, this was an easier and more straightforward install than the MaxxAir Fan!

Total Cost: $

2172.00

Total Time (hrs):

5

Arctic Tern Roof Hatch viewed from the top of a Sprinter Van

* Disclaimer: This page contains various affiliate links that provide a small kickback to me, at no additional cost to you.

Resources

  • Van Land - super great YouTube video on the install

Materials

Tools

  • Jigsaw
  • Impact Driver

Process

I purchased an adapter from DIY Vans, which was THE MOVE. Since the van roof has corrugations and is not flat, an adapter is needed to even out that surface. Additionally, they sent me a frame to go along with it that I used on the underside of the skylight. This saved me from needing to manufacture a wooden one like I did for my fan install, and this one fit perfectly.

I was able to use the adapter to trace out a template and I positioned it in the van between the ribs (measuring many many times to make sure everything was square). This fits just right between the two rib flanges in the back of the van.

I used the template to drill four corner holes upwards into the roof, so I could properly cut out the hole.

I then used the adapter AGAIN to trace out my cut, positioning the corners at the holes I just drilled.

Prepped to jigsaw everything out.

Made holes in each of the corners for the jigsaw to go through. Widened these with a file.

There was a lot of anxiety around making this GIANT hole in my van, so I was glad it was finally over (though it may not seem it!)

You can see just how close to the rib flanges the cut is on either side. Make sure you measure properly!

I used window weld to secure the adapter to the roof and clamped everything down.

From the inside, the little black clamps attach to the plastic frame provided by DIY Vans, and you use screws to drive it into the white piece that sticks out from the roof hatch. This was the HARDEST part of the install. I broke a screw doing this. Apparently, you're supposed to lubricate the screws before driving them into the plastic, but I don't think this would have changed my issue much. The white part does not have a big enough pilot hole imo. I had to use a tapping technique to get the screws secured, driving them in manually a little, then backing out to try and get the waste material out. It seems all my screws ended up bent after this.

Here's the roof hatch after its been secured from the inside.

Photos of the finished product coming soon! (I put lap sealant all around this to also waterproof everything)

Notion Board

Click on the image above to go to the full data base.

The Notion Board is my brain-dump database. I've been keeping meticulous track of every purchase, complete with receipts.

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Van Build Phases

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