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Old 07-21-2012, 07:12 PM   #1
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Insulation.... an editiorial.

Just basic real life info for those who think they don't really need much insulation.

It wasn't a skoolie...
We have wintered several years in a vintage Sticks-n-Staples 22 ft Class C. My daughter currently full times in it. The roof, walls & floor are all 2" blue foam. I know because we tore apart the back section to rebuild (lousy roof rack & ladder set up leaked for years apparently). The old Suburban furnace is a fairly economical one. It sucked a 20 lb LP tank every 2 weeks (also cooked on LP). We ran one of our old 100 pound tanks in NC. We also had an electric heater going as well at the same time. The Class C has wintered in Elizabethton TN, Franklin NC, Cordele GA, Socorro NM (similar temps to Franklin & Elizabethton) and Corpus Christi TX (similar temps to Cordele). Good learning experience. We have learned you can never have too much insulation. Ditto for summer heat. Lots of cold comes up from the floor so you can't forget about the floor. The heat off the summer interstates cooked the contents of our uninsulated tanks on the Class C. And our "cold" showers were so hot, we didn't kick the water heater on. Insulation is needed for hot & cold temps. And you can not have "too much" insulation.

We have bounced all over the place trying to balance budget, availability and R-Value. We have settled on, then discarded so many options. The ones I am listing here may get changed in a few months. Sometimes you can over think a simple thing. At some point we will just say enough, time's wasting away, and start insulating. Maybe we'll put up some Reflectix heat barrier first....

We are going to pack as much insulation under the floor as we can afford (rigid foam sheathing with canned spray foam filling in the "spaces"). We think 6 " will do a decent job. The roof seems to be insulated pretty well on our bus. But if we decide it's needed, we would add the insulation to the roof top. I know of a super insulated roof that was put on the outside of a coach due to low head room. But it's snowed a few times here in Roswell and the snow piled on the roof while we ran heat inside. The uninsulated floor was terribly cold though. A heated mattress pad on the bed is wonderful. For winter we put a sleeping bag slid into a duvet cover on the bed. It's like "personal" insulation.

Rivets in the side walls transfer cold (and heat) pretty bad. They will get covered with 1" foam over the original walls. All the screws in the furring strips will be off set to create thermal breaks. thermal breaks are very important. It doesn't matter if you have 6" of insulation in your roof/wall if you have a source for the cold (or heat) to pass thru the insulation. Or if you sprayed your walls & ceiling with foam then planted a screw into the metal framing tube, then you have probably created a heat sink since the framing tube has exterior rivets tapped into the tube making a thermal connection. I've heard some lovely ice stalactites can form in the winter time due to a rivet or screw heat sink.

Reflectix, the shiny metallic bubble wrap looking stuff, is a heat barrier, not really an insulation. If you get the one with the single shiny side, the shiny side should face to the exterior (all shiny heat barriers should face away from the living area). It also needs a thin (1/8") air gap to work right. Although I have installed it with no air gap on a road cover/roof of a popup camper it it worked quite well. Reflecitx is very handy to cover your single pane windows with along with the aluminum frames the window are in. Aluminum is a terrific conductor of heat and cold. If the idea of living in a dark windowless cave all winter makes you depressed, then you will be happy to hear that plain clear bubble wrap (the packaging kind)does a wonderful job of insulating windows. Almost as good as Reflectix, yet lets light in. While you may want to cover your big windshield with Reflectix, you can still put some clear bubble wrap over some of your smaller windows (making sure to cover that pesky aluminum frame) to let in some much needed light.

While not an insulation, a reflective roof coating goes a long way towards keeping the heat out plus it coats and seals rivets, bolts and screws from thermal conductivity. In other words, it creates a thermal break. And does a wonderful job of sealing any leaks too. We used Henry's 287 Solarflex on our roof. For a 40 ft bus, roll 5 gallons on in about 3 coats (first seal seams & leaks with elastometric caulk).

The best way we have found to beat the cold is to go south of 35°Latitude. The closer to that point the colder aspects of winter you will have.Now there are some micro climates there that do mess with that statement. Chattanooga is at 35.04° and the winters there were milder than the winters in Socorro which is at 34.06°. Roswell at 33.40° has even milder temps than Socorro. Chattanooga & Roswell are both on water which keeps them warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. South of 30° is some pretty mild winters. Far enough north that you aren't right on the coast or in FL paying higher site rent but far enough south that you rarely get freezing tempos for more than one or two nights in a row (which is still enough to freeze up a crappy Valterra gate valve). I've got two more winters to suffer thru before we can go farther south (30° Latitude). For summer heat, your best bet is to go up in ALTITUDE!

The coming winter won't be as bad as last winter for us. We will have the heat exchanger set up and insulation on the walls and under the floor (with the tanks heated/insulated). We will also have an LP heater in the bathroom to boost the heat there for showers & in case the power goes out on us... again. Something that needs to be planned for. Since we started full timing again (2006), we have not been without power or water (frozen/broken city pipes) for more than 1 day. We've been lucky too. Albuquerque lost power for over a week due to a winter storm. I also plan on making a couple of MEN's heat grabbers to collect some daytime heat from the plentiful NM winter sun.

Of course that may all be overkill because "it never get's that cold here" and "it rarely snows much here" is told to use everywhere we go.... Yep, it snows so little & so seldom in Socorro, that they "didn't" close down I-25 (which seems to only take a few inches)for two days.




This is what it did just before we left to go to Roswell. This was the 2nd snow storm that kept us from leaving as planned.



By the time the snow stopped, there was 18" laying... It's rarely snows in Socorro. And it "rarely" snows in Roswell!
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:18 AM   #2
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

Lorna, Have you had a chance to look at USMCBAY's post today--he's all excited about "spheres" as a paint additive for insulation, lots of testimonials.

Have you studied this at all? If so what is your take? Thanks, Jack
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:32 AM   #3
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

While I agree with everything you said ... simple version : you can never have enough insulation.....I think adding 6" to the floor is a great idea but it would reduce my head room and I would have to walk like Quasi moto going to the santuary. Im 6'3" so I have to bend slightly to walk down the center of the bus as it is now. 6" would really jack me up.

Now insualting the top and side.... yep Im going to be all over that. But your reasoning for the floor I agree with but in my case wont be fesible.
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Old 07-22-2012, 06:32 PM   #4
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bapos
.....I think adding 6" to the floor is a great idea but it would reduce my head room ...
Crawl under your bus. Look up. THAT'S where we will be putting the floor insulation. Not on the inside. I would like to fill the space of the beams with insulation when add a protective sheet of something to protect the insulation sheets from damage. By going with multiple layers, we can stagger the seams and reduce any air flow. The only insulation we add on the inside will be the side walls.
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:56 PM   #5
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

Adding from the bottom I agree with. I think it would be very difficult to do it right. The driveshaft area comes to mind.
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:28 AM   #6
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

biggest thing I have noticed working in the bus last couple months is this:

Thermal bridging heats up the bus the most, the ceiling will be cool to the touch between the ribs,and the ribs will be hott.
by lunch if you walk down the bus it feels like radiant heating,hot cool hot cool etc every time you walk under a rib, just too much heat transfer.

It gets so hot you cant hardly touch the rivets/roof at the ribs...altho the between sections will still be cool to the touch,as the day goes on the center sections warm up from ribs towards the center, once they are hot your screwed.

This is where a deck will help keep ceiling cool since the metal won't be exsposed to the sun's radiation....of course there is still windows etc...never ending battle
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Old 07-23-2012, 10:02 AM   #7
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

roof inside bus won't be hot if ya just put a 1/2 inch foil backed insulboard attached to inside roof of bus. 10 bucks a sheet.
if parked a long time.. like all winter, making temporary skirting around bus will greatly help the cold coming up thru the floor.
fwiw
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:57 PM   #8
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

Im planning on using spray foam underneath the bus, it adds insulation and also cuts road noise.
http://www.tigerfoam.ca/
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:21 PM   #9
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

you have to be really careful spray foaming under the bus as there are going to be bolts, brake lines and so forth that will be very hard to discover if insulated.
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:37 PM   #10
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chev49
you have to be really careful spray foaming under the bus as there are going to be bolts, brake lines and so forth that will be very hard to discover if insulated.
I second that notion. Underneath my bus are brake lines, air tanks, drive shaft, propane lines, electrical wires, and other things that should remain in view including my waste tank.

If one is wintering over, the best thing to do is make a skirt around the bus to keep cold air out of there. In my first bus, I used square hay bales covered in plastic. Even then, you have to consider the spontaneous combustion that is possible with wet hay.

I have seen a large pile of grass clippings catch fire in the middle of a New England winter.
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:04 PM   #11
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Accordion
I have seen a large pile of grass clippings catch fire in the middle of a New England winter.
Ah, the power of composting! That's why folks in the medieval periods would use grass and hay in their shoes during the winter. The decomposition of the vegetable matter helped keep the feet warm. Except for the possibility of unexpected fire, it sounds like a fairly ingenious method you've discovered to keep the bus warmer in the middle of winter.
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Old 07-31-2012, 06:51 PM   #12
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chev49
you have to be really careful spray foaming under the bus as there are going to be bolts, brake lines and so forth that will be very hard to discover if insulated.
all of my bus wiring and air lines etc. run along the frame which i do not intend spraying. havent decided I if im going to fit the tanks and remove them to spray or spray over them. Probably spray over them in case I use the bus in cold weather. Great for sound proofing. The wiring I add under the bus is minimal and will be in a chase.
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Old 08-16-2012, 11:37 AM   #13
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lornaschinske
Quote:
Originally Posted by bapos
.....I think adding 6" to the floor is a great idea but it would reduce my head room ...
Crawl under your bus. Look up. THAT'S where we will be putting the floor insulation. Not on the inside. I would like to fill the space of the beams with insulation when add a protective sheet of something to protect the insulation sheets from damage. By going with multiple layers, we can stagger the seams and reduce any air flow. The only insulation we add on the inside will be the side walls.
Considering that for me, headroom is at a premium even in a bus with a 6'-6" ceiling, Lorna's idea sounds like a wonderful alternative to stealing vertical height by insulating on the inside. I'm curious about how to keep moisture and road salts from getting trapped between the insulation and bus metal, and if surface rust must be removed first.

The necessity of floor insulation is made obvious by my experience. Winnebago didn't add insulation to the van cab floor; they just put unpadded shag carpet down. The doghouse has plenty of factory (Dodge) fiberglass insulation. All that engine heat is sucked under the rig and out the back. Between that and the location of the exhaust pipes, it got hot enough between the cab seats to melt chocolate inside my girlfriend's purse on the floor. The coach floor is insulated well enough to be comfortable in the summer. (We don't winter camp.)
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Old 08-27-2012, 12:33 AM   #14
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

We can vouch for the spheres, these things are real, bought 12 pounds for $112 and mixed with elastomeric paint for the floor and roof... metal floor and roof went from too hot to hold a hand on in direct sunlight to cool to the touch with the first coat...we put two coats on. We'll be adding it to the primer on the entire outside and to the interior paint we put on the inside. According to hytech, apply to the outside for lower cooling costs in the summer and inside for lower heating costs in the winter. Vacuum "filled" ceramic beads. They work. As for the floor we're going with 1/2" insulation (R3 for the pink stuff) and 1" of combined flooring over the ceramic paint...and we'll head south for the winter
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Old 08-29-2012, 09:43 AM   #15
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

Good info, but much still missing. When I feel like typing more I have some good info to add.

Nat

Posted for educational purposes only.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:50 AM   #16
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

Nat, I for one would really appreciate reading your thoughts on insulation. Hope you find time to type soon. Jack
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Old 10-11-2012, 11:57 PM   #17
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Re: Insulation.... an editiorial.

Just a quick question on flooring. What type of flooring seems to work out the best overall for year round use? Have been considering using the artificial wood glue down planks. Carpet I feel would wind up being a mess in the winter but would probably be a good insulator.
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:39 AM   #18
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It's 2017 and Nat still hasn't found the time to type. Jeeze!

This is easily found on Google (it's how I stumbled upon it today). Maybe we could make this thread more exhaustive.

I for one am planning to lay down a polyethylene sheet on the bare metal floor - then putting wood framing on that, wedging Roxul between the beams and girts. On top of the Roxul I will put a layer of Reflectix, then setup some PEX tubing for hydronic radiant heating (will pump hot water through the tubes). Aka heated floors + efficient heat source. Will probably cut notches in the framing to plumb in the PEX flush with the framing. Then on top of the PEX, I will likely have a thin metal diffuser plate so there are not floor "hot spots" above the tubes. Then subfloor. Maybe some Mahogany plywood (could serve as a floor - but can also be covered with wood flooring or Vinyl easy).

For the walls and ceiling, I will probably put Reflectix on the bare metal. Then framing (wood or metal, not decided), then Roxul again. Might put a vapor barrier on this internal side. Then wood siding, likely.

Those are my thoughts atm..
Will be insulating within 2 weeks, most likely.
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:46 AM   #19
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Just get some bubble wrap and mylar and save yourself a ton of money.
Reflectix is mad expensive for virtually no R value at all.
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:55 AM   #20
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That's a good tip; I keep accidentally calling it Reflectix when I actually mean foil-backed bubble wrap. It's like how some people call "tissue paper" Kleenex. It is likely I will not actually use Reflectix. And, since I already have some spare Mylar sitting around...I might just buy bubble wrap.
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