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Old 05-17-2017, 10:07 AM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 21
How do you stay cool?!

Hey all. Im finally starting the build to my 87 Shorty S1700 blue bird International, and I would love to hear from everyone how you keep your bus cool in the summer months. This is especially important to me as a Florida resident (New Smyrna Beach) as the bus will be spending a majority of its time in the sunshine state.
This bus is (for now) strictly recreational, and I would love to start using is asap. So I don't want to spend a lot of time popping rivets and re-insulating unless there is just no other way to live comfortably in that big metal box!. What I would love to hear from you all is how much of a difference did insulating your bus make? Was it worth the effort for a vehicle that you don't spend a whole lot of time in? Would a set of rooftop fans be a good substitute If I were to not insulate, or would insulation and the rooftop fans be ideal? Please let me know! I would love to learn from all the experience here and save as much time and effort as possible.
I would also like to here about anyone using bus kote or similar "insulated" roof paints are they a gimmick or do they make a difference?
Im excited to finally start this project and this is one of my greatest concerns as far as being comfortable is concerned. Florida as you all may be aware is a brutally hot state and I would love to hear how you Floridian skoolies (and non) beat the heat. Thanks!

pictures to follow as soon as I can figure how to post them
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Old 05-17-2017, 11:37 AM   #2
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You've got a lot of company down there in FL. We'll let them weigh in with their level of insulation installed.

As for northerners, we likes our insulation a lot. It obviously keeps us warm during our snowy winters, but apparently also works quite well at keeping AC temps in the bus. There's a lot of discussion concerning insulation and what level of insulation is right for your area and use. Live-ins tend to insulate heavily, while those that use buses for weekend trips often skip insulation. It's all about your intended use and budget for the build. Insulation is worth it if you're either heating or cooling you bus. What type of insulation is best is going to take some research on your part.
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Old 05-17-2017, 12:06 PM   #3
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The "insulated" roof coats are a gimmick. jazty has a pretty scientific post on it somewhere. A nice reflective roof paint will help as well as insulation. You can buy some nice fans to suck out hot air or put an a/c in, but without insulation you're going to have a hard time maintaining temperatures.

FYI I have 1 1/2" insulation through my entire bus with the exception of the roof (the insulation in the roof was sufficient already) and used an elastometric roof paint from the highest bumper on each side all the way over the roof. I also have solar panels on the roof which absorb a lot of heat but it doesn't really transfer through the roof. It still heats up inside through the windows when sitting in the sun like a greenhouse. I haven't experimented with curtains yet but I'm confident that will help a lot too.

The insulation was definitely worth it. Keeps the heat in during the winter and out during the summer. I can't imagine having an uninsulated bus in Florida, but then again I don't do so well in the heat.
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Old 05-17-2017, 12:34 PM   #4
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Location: Wauchula, Florida
Posts: 85
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: DT360
Hi, I'm a Floridian too!
The most obvious solution to your problem is to just not camp when it's hot, but in Florida that's only like a week.

I spent a month in the Keys in a 40' motorhome with two roof top ACs and a standing AC unit and it was still too hot to be comfortable because most RVs and motorhomes have garbage insulation. I personally think insulating and deskinning would be worth it, but if you don't want to deskin and reinsulate, you could always just build over the existing wall and add insulation to that, which would also act as a thermal break, keeping heat from radiating through all the metal directly into the bus.

Since most busses are slightly smaller than and way shorter inside than large motor homes, I don't think finding an AC unit with the right BTU output would be too difficult.

You could also utilize passive cooling methods. I learned all about it when taking architecture, especially since energy efficieny and sustainable living are becoming increasingly important. You can:
-Tint your windows
-Use light-colored curtains to keep the sun out
-Put reflective material in your windows
-Install double paned windows
-Open windows and utilize the emergency hatches, which let heat escape through the roof (just like dormer windows on old houses)
-Use vent fans to facilitate ventilation even more
-Vent the kitchen stove and the bathroom to the outside to prevent high humidity inside
-Install an awning to keep sun off the windows (and yourself if you like sitting outside)
-Park in the shade
-Have your bus parked in relation to the sun and the wind. South facing structures catch the most sun and north facing structures catch the most wind.
-Camp near a body of water. The water evaporating off it cools the air before it reaches your structure. (I myself live on a lake and it really does make a difference)
-Paint the bus a light color, or at least the roof (I would avoid painting the whole bus white. Don't want to be mistaken for a migrant worker bus)
-Seal drafts to keep cool air in and warm air out
-Refrain from putting a skirt on the bus when it's hot (a lot of houses are built off the ground because having air flow underneath helps keep the house cool)
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Old 05-17-2017, 03:35 PM   #5
Join Date: Nov 2016
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Thanks for your input! As of right now I think my efforts are going to be focused into installing fans and using a few of the passive cooling options wendy mentioned. I just don't feel that I will be using it enough to justify the amount of work that would need to be done to insulate it better.

There is a window shaker installed but I don't want to count on having power at every place I stop at.

Ive been looking at the maxx and fan-tastic brand fans, I believe that putting one in the forward section and one in the back then having one push and one pull along with the passive cooling options will be enough to be comfortable. Worst comes to worse, if its unbearable Ill just end up pulling the panels and spray foam the whole thing.
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Old 05-17-2017, 03:35 PM   #6
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 21
Any one try the ceramic bead insulators for the roof? As in the type you add to paint?
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Old 05-17-2017, 03:48 PM   #7
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Most people that have used the ceramic beads swear they work and make a difference.
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Old 06-28-2019, 11:34 PM   #8
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Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: LONG Key, Florida
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We live and work in the keys in our 2005 Bluebird bus. We just installed a mini split. Works great, but in the middle.of the day here in almost July the bus interior near the front of the bus (air in the bedroom in the very back) is 90ish!!
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Old 06-28-2019, 11:55 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
Most people that have used the ceramic beads swear they work and make a difference.
Those people added the beads when they were painting the roof white. Studies have shown the beads added no more insulation than the white paint itself without beads.
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Old 06-29-2019, 02:06 AM   #10
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