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Old 10-29-2019, 07:37 PM   #1
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Aerogel Insulation?

Hey yall. Just wondering if anyone here has ever heard of/used Aerogel insulation before, why or why not. Considering putting it in my e350 short conversion - headroom is at a premium and an R value of 10.3/inch is appealing. Worth a bit higher of a price tag to me if it'll help keep me cold during these Michigan winters. Also planning on using an Espar gasoline heater, don't worry.

If you're unfamiliar, here's a basic description https://www.aerogel.com/resources/about-aerogel

Thanks in advance
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Old 10-29-2019, 07:45 PM   #2
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Hey yall. Just wondering if anyone here has ever heard of/used Aerogel insulation before, why or why not. Considering putting it in my e350 short conversion - headroom is at a premium and an R value of 10.3/inch is appealing. Worth a bit higher of a price tag to me if it'll help keep me cold during these Michigan winters. Also planning on using an Espar gasoline heater, don't worry.

If you're unfamiliar, here's a basic description https://www.aerogel.com/resources/about-aerogel

Thanks in advance
Aerogel is pretty convenient because in addition to being R4 per 10mm (or R10 per inch), it costs about $1 per R value per square foot - which is really expensive. My living space is going to be about 175 sq. ft. so just doing an inch on the floor would be $1750 and the entire bus might be three times that.

On a shorty maybe this is more affordable, of course.

I've often fantasized about somehow coming across a cache of cheap aerogel scraps, like eight inches wide or something like that, and building prefab insulated flooring panels with them. But I've never come across anything like that; even the one-foot scraps on eBay are as pricey as the bigger chunks.
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Old 10-29-2019, 08:53 PM   #3
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That is to be considered. I was thinking of doing 3mm on roof, floor, and in window coverings for same R value as traditional batting or foamboard with way less headroom sacrificed, and maybe 6mm on the walls - totaling about $1200 in my estimates for my humble build of about 300ft^3. Pricey, but more environmentally friendly, less hazardous for health, better R value per square inch, and completely resistant to mold/moisture. I guess the old saying abides, you get what you pay for.
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Old 10-29-2019, 08:54 PM   #4
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Also looked into soybean sprayfoam, couldn't find it anywhere!
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Old 10-30-2019, 12:16 AM   #5
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Also looked into soybean sprayfoam, couldn't find it anywhere!
Demilac is a company that makes Soy based spray foam or so they say. Not sure what percent, or if it's actually environmentally "friendly" but it made me feel better.
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Old 10-30-2019, 07:22 PM   #6
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Thanks. I don't see anything on their website that says it's soy-based, just polyurea, etc. I don't know many languages, but that sounds like "many urines" to me! :P
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Old 10-30-2019, 11:43 PM   #7
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Thanks. I don't see anything on their website that says it's soy-based, just polyurea, etc. I don't know many languages, but that sounds like "many urines" to me! :P
Interesting. Your right, but I read about it this summer. They must have changed their product. It did note they used some recycled content, so at least there's that
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Old 11-18-2019, 10:44 AM   #8
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Not everywhere... Only as a thermal break

I'm considering it to be used as a thermal break. It seems like its well suited for this. It retains much of it's R-value even when compressed. Check this paper. So, anywhere I need to attach to the steel ribs of the bus I'll sandwich a layer of areogel blanket there in between. Using it in this fashion in conjunction with closed-cell spray foam it will be a very effective and affordable method for attaining extreme skoolie insulation!
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Old 11-18-2019, 12:39 PM   #9
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I'm considering it to be used as a thermal break. It seems like its well suited for this. It retains much of it's R-value even when compressed. Check this paper. So, anywhere I need to attach to the steel ribs of the bus I'll sandwich a layer of areogel blanket there in between. Using it in this fashion in conjunction with closed-cell spray foam it will be a very effective and affordable method for attaining extreme skoolie insulation!
I think what you describe would work well, but it's still so damned expensive. I think 0.5" XPS foam in the same role would work as well for less $$$, and knock less than a half-inch off your headroom.
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Old 11-19-2019, 11:00 AM   #10
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You can get aerogel insulation paint or tape on Amazon through a company called Rova shield. I got the paint, and I'm going to be using it on the windows I'm blocking off for the bed area (along with blanket inserts) in hopes that the white paint and white blanket will allow light to come through, but not temperature. The paint and tape are especially good for thermal bridging because not as expensive and easier to apply than blanket. Also easy to find, I got my blanket in rolls from Walmart.com for actually a reasonable price, as I'm only insulating the part I'll be standing up in and the part I'll be sleeping in with aerogel to maintain maximum extension of my spine I plan to do the rest in foil-wrapped XPS foam and sprayfoam the cracks.
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Old 11-19-2019, 11:08 AM   #11
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You can get aerogel insulation paint or tape on Amazon through a company called Rova shield. I got the paint, and I'm going to be using it on the windows I'm blocking off for the bed area (along with blanket inserts) in hopes that the white paint and white blanket will allow light to come through, but not temperature. The paint and tape are especially good for thermal bridging because not as expensive and easier to apply than blanket. Also easy to find, I got my blanket in rolls from Walmart.com for actually a reasonable price, as I'm only insulating the part I'll be standing up in and the part I'll be sleeping in with aerogel to maintain maximum extension of my spine I plan to do the rest in foil-wrapped XPS foam and sprayfoam the cracks.
Well post here as you go. I'm very curious to see how this works out for you.
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Old 11-19-2019, 11:17 AM   #12
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Will do. I have the rattle trap laid, but got stopped temporarily when I realized that most insulation (including aerogel paint) doesn't apply well in temperatures under 50F and the perfomance can be comprimised. I'm not spending hundreds of extra dollars on faulty insulation, so I'm waiting until I have access to climate controlled workspace, probably next week.
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Old 11-19-2019, 11:29 AM   #13
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This reminds me that today is the first day over 50 in a while and I need to get painting.
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:42 AM   #14
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Aerogel Paint!!!

Ok. Sorry that took me so long. I've actually had the paint up for a while, but my computer crapped out.

SO. So so so. Aerogel Paint is the business. The pictures I'm attaching are where I put the paint on my unused windows, but I also applied it to the floor and the cieling in my "standing area" towards the front.

I got the most expensive one that was available, but at $140/gal on Amazon for the Rova Shield Black HT, which thickly covered about 45sqft give or take. There were much cheaper ones that you could try too, probably 5 or 6 variants that were cheaper (just because they're rated for less extreme temps). So this may seem a tad expensive, but honestly depending on what your insulation plan was, it may be comparable. For me, I feel I made a mistake only doing the one gallon, then doing other areas with insulation board/ truck bed liner, shredded cellulose, spray foam.... it ended up being massively expensive, and the truck bed liner was a complete waste of time and over $100- it didn't apply well, it's highly toxic and not insulative at all.

When I'm outside, in the MI winter, at 10°F, the other windows are frigid, obviously. The windows with about 2mm of paint on them? Basically room temperature. With this stuff, it's not so much about R- value as it is about thermal conductivity. It just doesn't let the glass (or metal) change temperature. Room temperature metal, room temperature air. Much easier to maintain the heat/cool that you already have inside the vehicle, and more energy efficient for your heating/cooling appliances. It's also incredibly safe as a building material, no harmful chemicals, though you don't want to breathe the silica dust in, so do wear protective gear when applying.

You can see in the first images the whole windows, you can see I didn't care too much to have a super flat paint job, I just did it with a poly brush I think. I'm going to be putting panels over it, but if you wanted a nice sleek finish you could try roller or foam brush, just make sure if you want a super smooth finish to use an electric mixer, because there will be little silica chunks if you don't. This stuff is so safe though, I'd use my kitchen mixer without thinking twice. That's not advice, it's just something I'd probably do. It's essentially made of Diatomaceous Earth. Just I'd obviously wash it well before putting it in contact with food again.

You can see on the second two images how bad the cracks look. Here's the thing: the paint has the consistency of marshmallow fluff stuff, and I painted in one layer, very thickly. It doesn't appear to have affected the insulative quality, and as long as you let the stuff fully dry and harden (I'd give it a week or two just to be sure) before you're really scuffing up against it, or if you cover it up right away with panel or secondary insulation or flooring or whatever, it will be totally fine. Much sturdier than it initially looks after 24h dry time. You could also try taking more time and applying multiple coats if you were in the mood.

If I could do it over again, I'd paint all the bare metal and my unused windows with the Rova Shield (I estimate 3gal). I just ordered another gallon that I'll paint around the window edges to prevent leaks when I have my window covers on, I checked and the metal is still magnetic through the paint. Wish I'd never bothered with truck bed liner and could have probably foregone quite a bit of other material had I known. But now YOU know. So don't make a mistake! Save up and get that AEROGEL (:
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Old 01-17-2020, 12:55 PM   #15
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Awesome write up

Thanks for sharing your experience with this stuff. Good to hear from another cold clime skoolie that is obsessing over insulation. I am trying to reach the highest R-value I can attain! It seems like the paint-on aerogel could be the thermal-break ticket. Aerogels are expensive any way you look at it. It sounds like your experience affirms that using it in only key areas where it will be incredibly effective, it will make a huge difference and be well worth the money. I'm removing all the windows, raising the roof and re-sheeting the exterior. So, my interest with aerogels lies more in creating a break any place where the steel body structure invades what would otherwise be insulating space or any contact points between the steel bus structure and interior furring/framing. So essentially, along the ribs of the bus and the rail that the seats once mounted to. I'm very excited to hear that the performance properties of the paint on aerogel live up to some of the marketing hype. The other thing is, in my case, it will offset the need to buy more 1.5" pink board while retaining r-value. The thinner the walls, the more interior space. Originally, I was pricing adhesive-backed strips of areogel and had been ignoring the paint. The strips come in like 1.5" to 4" wide. I haven't raised the roof yet and progress has slowed to a hault as we're having a snowy winter here in Colorado. Thanks again for the awesome info!
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Old 01-17-2020, 01:07 PM   #16
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This would work great for that purpose. No leaks! There's also a "tape" from the same company I saw on Amazon as well. From what I remember it comes in 9.5" square stickers for $7-$8. This would help you to connect the pieces nicely.

But I don't need anything super pristine looking, and the child in me really likes frosting the walls with thick, goopy white paint. ��
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:16 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by LoveBusTreatery View Post

If I could do it over again, I'd paint all the bare metal and my unused windows with the Rova Shield (I estimate 3gal). I just ordered another gallon that I'll paint around the window edges to prevent leaks when I have my window covers on, I checked and the metal is still magnetic through the paint. Wish I'd never bothered with truck bed liner and could have probably foregone quite a bit of other material had I known. But now YOU know. So don't make a mistake! Save up and get that AEROGEL (:
Did you end up with just Rova Shield on your walls, without additional insulation, such as spray foam or XPS?

Great idea for thermal break/insulation!
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Old 01-24-2020, 07:26 PM   #18
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IP

I'm not actually finished yet, those pics are fairly current. I have some cabinet framing in but right now the walls are just aerogel. I got some more of the paint because Do It Right The First Time, and I attached the pic of how my build looks right now... You can tell I'm a little ADD as I'm clearly in the middle of several different parts of the process, but hey, give me a break. I've no idea what I'm doing. have some 1 and 2 inch XPS that I do plan to use, since I'm going to be 4 seasons, but I won't worry so much about gaps and such, which I may leave to provide better airflow to my compressor fridge and heater But the interior sheet metal won't be radiant anymore, which will increase the R-value of the XPS I do add.
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Old 01-24-2020, 07:31 PM   #19
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Also, I'm just saying it was right for me. Not that it's The Right Thing To Do.
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Old 01-24-2020, 07:33 PM   #20
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What happened to your purple?
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