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Old 08-28-2016, 06:36 AM   #1
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Question Is insulation worth it with stock bus windows?

Hey guys!

I'm just having some thoughts about the efficacy of insulation. I always intended to insulate my bus well. I've had some hot days where I am, and it is so nice to walk in certain areas in town that have nice insulation (even train track under passages, totally outside - I guess the shade and thick concrete do it) because they are so noticeably nice and cool. I imagine a well insulated bus can do this too.

But, is it possible to achieve this effect whilst leaving all bus windows as-is? I imagine they must let a lot of heat / cold through them, and nullifying the effect of the insulation. Would it be a huge waste of time, money, and bus interior space [for nice thick insulation] to insulate well? Does anyone know the R rating of standard school bus windows?

Would love to hear some of your thoughts. I don't think I'm interested in covering the windows [That is one of the reasons I want a bus over say...a large van? I really like the view and the natural light] or converting them to home windows [seems like a lot of work and cost, but I'm open to the possibility].

Thanks for checking out the thread!
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Old 08-28-2016, 07:11 AM   #2
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Its never a a waste of time to insulate well. The fiberglass that's already in the bus is crap, has voids, and probably holding enough mold for DEP to get involved to mitigate it. Replacing that stuff with real foam insulation (board or spray) goes a long way.

Read through some of the threads about people who've replaced their bus windows with steel and RV windows.
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Old 08-28-2016, 09:43 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. Whta is DEP?

What do you think about leaving in the bus windows with insulation? Does it kind of negate the point on the insulation? I don't want to get rid of windows, but if I insulated well I would be tempted to at least replace them with RV / house windows. Double paned, high R value glass. But that's not something I really want to jump into right now. The extra cost and work (on top of the already high cost and work) is a little off putting. But I am not totally opposed to it....I definitely would like a well insulated bus.

Now, is it at all possible to not need to use AC / heating in a well insulated bus in non-extreme temps? That would be the ideal. Obviously personal tolerances play a part, but let's assume average / slightly above average tolerance.

Heat is less of an issue as I can have a nice little pot belly stove, but A/C is really bad for the environment, and imo, the air I breathe. It is also energy intensive, and I would like to be 100% solar powered for my electronics. I would like to avoid it, and have a bus that stays relatively cool in hot weather. Maybe I am too hopeful though and this is not possible as it would require so much insulation that I would have to duck in the bus due to loss of interior height

I am considering making a 'dark room' where I can sit and meditate. I intend to insulate this VERY well so that it is cool, quiet, and pitch black. It would be very small though, just enough space to comfortably sit / kneel. Maybe on really hot days I'll take refuge in here too :P
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Old 08-28-2016, 10:18 AM   #4
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The stock stuff doesn't really do much to actually insulate.
I'd say the most important part to insulate would be the ceilings.
That said- if you think you can make it without, go for it.

I will say this though- the folks I know who live in buses wish they were better insulated.
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Old 08-28-2016, 10:23 AM   #5
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Regardless the weather...insulation will make any bus WAY more pleasant to occupy. They are big, leaky tin boxes that soak up huge amounts of heat in the summer and radiate cold to the interior in the winter. How well you insulate is going to determine where you can stay at different times of the year.
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Old 08-28-2016, 10:51 AM   #6
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I can't imagine that there's that much difference in R with board vs the stock stuff, is there?
Our original bus is spray foamed outside underneath instead of in the flooring. We're planning on repeating that. You might consider it at least for the meditation room.

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Old 08-28-2016, 11:28 AM   #7
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my bus is completely stock.. I havent had any experience with it in winter.. and I use it mainly as a driver / traveller.. i dont over-ngiht in it but I can tell you the stock insulation and stock non-tinted bus windows do about nothing...

all stock I have 60,000 + BTU of Engine powered air-conditioning that when the bus is sitting in the sun on a 90 degree day will barely keep it cool...

if the sun goes behind the cloiuds it gets nice and cool.. that says to me my insulation is junk as the interior panels get warm easily... and the windows let in a ton of heat..

im imagining cold weather being the same.. for me its no big deal since my bus is mainly a driver.. but if I were planning on camping or living in it I would surely insulate and tint the windows.. or at the very least have some nice tight pullable tint blinds to help with heat..

pullable outside tint sheets allow you to still grab the sun warmth in winter... interior insulated blin ds will help in winter .. the best scenerio is to install RV windows and less of them than there are bus windows..

for me I like all the view so i dont want less windows..

but insulation is worth it unless you just plan to drive around in it alot where you can pump lots of heat or cool into it all the time..

-Christopher
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Old 08-28-2016, 11:38 AM   #8
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We left all our insulation and windows stock. It definitely does not hold heat or cold when you want it to. We live in it full time and still travel to very hot an mildly cold (around freezing but not below) places. With the generator and window unit AC and reflectix in the windows it's tolerable no matter how hot, but it's definitely never actually cool. In the cold it's a popsicle, but with a Mr. Heater Buddy it actually gets kinda toasty in whatever room we have it in. It won't stay warm if you turn off the heater, so we usually turn it on before bed and get all warm and cozy under the blankets before turning it off.

That being said, I wouldn't change my mind about my decision due to the cost and work. There are people on here who spend thousands on insulation and windows. I love my bus windows; especially the way they function. I do not believe that insulating the rest of the bus would make enough difference unless you replace the windows too.

It would certainly be possible to insulate a little mediation room near your A/C that would stay cool. The only insulation we put in our build was a sheet of 1/2 inch foam board in between our 2" thick walls. Even that small amount makes a difference, as we are able to close the doors on the middle room in the bus and trap cold or warm air more easily. It still escapes through the windows mostly, but we just tape up window sized pieces of Reflectix and it helps a lot.

If you have good quality blankets and a pet or human to snuggle with for the cold, and don't mind finding other ways to beat the heat, go stock. If you have time and money and willpower and would like a bus that feels like a real house inside, go for insulation and windows.
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Old 08-28-2016, 11:41 AM   #9
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Oh I should also mention that one of the biggest determining factors for keeping our bus cool in 105 degree NC summers was the color. After we painted the roof white and the sides a light color, the temp inside dropped NOTICEABLY. I'm talking ten degrees or more. With the white roof and the reflectix it would be cooler than outdoors even in direct sunlight with the windows up. Not much cooler, but that's impressive when you consider most vehicles are 20 degrees hotter or more than outside.
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Old 08-28-2016, 11:50 AM   #10
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my roof is beige now.. wonder if I painted it white with that special insulating paint I see people using would there be much difference..

ios reflectix a completely opaque product? meaning am I going to be in a completely dasrk space or is it a tinted product that still allows some light in and visibility when driving?

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Old 08-28-2016, 12:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BuSmith View Post
I can't imagine that there's that much difference in R with board vs the stock stuff, is there?
Our original bus is spray foamed outside underneath instead of in the flooring. We're planning on repeating that. You might consider it at least for the meditation room.

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1" foamular board from Pink Panther is only an R-5.
Currently over my walls & 3 Windows on each side, until a more viable option comes along... Foamular is non-reflective and around $20 for 4x8 sheet here.

September 1st. is Thursday and gotta be in bus, ready or not!
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Old 08-28-2016, 12:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by onenationundergoat View Post
We left all our insulation and windows stock. It definitely does not hold heat or cold when you want it to. We live in it full time and still travel to very hot an mildly cold (around freezing but not below) places. With the generator and window unit AC and reflectix in the windows it's tolerable no matter how hot, but it's definitely never actually cool. In the cold it's a popsicle, but with a Mr. Heater Buddy it actually gets kinda toasty in whatever room we have it in. It won't stay warm if you turn off the heater, so we usually turn it on before bed and get all warm and cozy under the blankets before turning it off.

That being said, I wouldn't change my mind about my decision due to the cost and work. There are people on here who spend thousands on insulation and windows. I love my bus windows; especially the way they function. I do not believe that insulating the rest of the bus would make enough difference unless you replace the windows too.

It would certainly be possible to insulate a little mediation room near your A/C that would stay cool. The only insulation we put in our build was a sheet of 1/2 inch foam board in between our 2" thick walls. Even that small amount makes a difference, as we are able to close the doors on the middle room in the bus and trap cold or warm air more easily. It still escapes through the windows mostly, but we just tape up window sized pieces of Reflectix and it helps a lot.

If you have good quality blankets and a pet or human to snuggle with for the cold, and don't mind finding other ways to beat the heat, go stock. If you have time and money and willpower and would like a bus that feels like a real house inside, go for insulation and windows.
I can't pull my interior sheets physically or timely, so I'm chasing the alternative.
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Old 08-28-2016, 01:31 PM   #13
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Hi I just joined and am looking at new posts I had a skokum wood heater in my old bus I had to have a window open all the time so my cats could get out on the ramp just covered open window with a curtain the guy I got my wood stove said I'd cook myself out but at minus 20 Celsius I was toasty but not melting I didn't do anything to original bus structure except take seats out and build a few storage cupboards
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Old 08-28-2016, 03:02 PM   #14
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Wow! This is quite a response and a lot of experience to draw from. This forum is awesome. Thank you all for responding!

I think I've got the answers to most of my questions. The main one being that it is NOT worth it to insulate the walls well if I leave the stock windows in, because they transfer too much heat [outside when it's cold, inside when it's hot].

I am pretty confident that cold won't be an issue because heater's are easy to put in the bus, and in the case of fire sources (like pot belly stoves) very cozy and have a nice aesthetic. It would actually be nice to sit around a little fire and read on chilly nights. If it's really cold, I'll just get a goat to snuggle with

I've always preferred cold (good thing I live in Canada?) over hot days because I find it so much easier to warm up than to cool down.

Definitely more worried about heat in places. A/C's are common solutions, but I have stated my concerns about that. I actually have a friend that didn't want to be in my apartment with the A/C on due to health concerns - and I think a lot of us are environmentally conscious enough to shy away from using it often. Though, does anyone here even think it's possible to have a comfortable bus on hot days in the best case? Best case being super well insulated, windows swapped for RV windows [I was reading that residential windows aren't suitable for this application as we change elevation a lot and move a lot, but can work]. And probably some reflective blinds. Maybe this is a pipe dream.

Does anyone know of cooling methods other than A/C?

I also imagine solar panels on the roof would also help keep the bus cooler, similar to the paint? Or do they absorb heat and make it worse?
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Old 08-28-2016, 03:04 PM   #15
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Oh, and I'm not sure if I mentioned, but I will be full-timing it. This bus will be my home! So I want it to be comfortable.
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Old 08-28-2016, 03:08 PM   #16
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If you are going to full time it, you should put as much insulation in as you can afford. Another thing to keep in mind is mold. I took down my ceiling and the walls and replaced all the old insulation with polyiso foam board (1.5" in the ceiling, 1.5" - 3" in the walls). The old fiberglass in the ceiling was ok, but the stuff in the walls was black with dirt and mold and other nasty substances. I am really glad I got all the crap out of the bus before I started building.
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Old 08-28-2016, 11:08 PM   #17
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Summer is hot. That's how Earth is these days.

I only have the Renogy 200w kit, and two Trojan batteries but they will run a fan all day and night, and that makes it better. When in the bus i get in shorts and a tee and aim the fan at me.

Funny the metion of health effects of too much ac and wow i am sensative and the first heat wave tried to stay in local stores with ac and i got sick. Feel better keeping ac time to a minimum.

This bus is a stock 1986. I am surviving summer heat and figure this Vozelgang wood stove will keep it toasty in the winter. Kind of excited to see what adjustments i will make and how i will figure out ways to stay warm for winter.

Where are you located?
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Old 08-29-2016, 06:25 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by iProgramStuff View Post
Thanks for the reply. Whta is DEP?
DEP is the short hand for the various state-level Departments of Environmental Protection.

Another good reason to pull the fiberglass particularly in the walls, besides the mold and lack of real R value, is it's tendency to clump and decay

This is from the rear left side of my bus
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Old 08-29-2016, 08:50 AM   #19
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If it's really cold, I'll just get a goat to snuggle with
Hehe...now you're talkin'.
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:01 AM   #20
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Maybe all the berries the goat makes will warm ya up.
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