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Old 09-03-2020, 06:05 PM   #1
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Is insulation really all that beneficial?

Can anyone provide any real world examples of how helpful it is to insulate a bus wall and ceilings?

I am not looking for R values etc. More so something like, "before we insulated the roof it was impossible to keep it warm with my heater. Now we are comfortable"

Given that so much if the wall is single pane windows it feels as if I am just going to loose so much energy any way.
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Old 09-03-2020, 06:24 PM   #2
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My real world experience. I inspected the factory insulation and decided to keep my factory ceiling. I also kept the factory walls.

I insulated the floors with 1/4" insulation under the plywood subfloor. I framed my walls with 2x4's and insulated them. The first thing I noticed was a much quieter ride and a lot less road noise.

In the summer it gets hot and no air conditioning unless plugged in with a portable unit. I had a Fantastic fan in the middle of the roof to expel hot air. I also added a rear manual vent in the back above the bed. This keeps the inside bus about the same as the outside temp if vents and windows are open.

In the winter, the portable propane heater heats the bus very quickly on the inside, but need to crack a vent to keep moisture from forming. After getting to a comfortable temp, we close the vent and the heat stays long enough to fall asleep, but 3-4 hours later the inside of the bus will get as cold as the outside temp.

I am not regretting the whole "strip entire bus and re-insulate" thing because if there are any leaks, that wood work gets destroyed.
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Old 09-03-2020, 06:48 PM   #3
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some food for thought ..
an older bus with factory insulation parked in the sun on a 95 degree Humid day idling with dual compressor factory AC Will stay OK cool.. that AC is likely pushing out around 75-80k btu at idle..


A fully insulated with window shades bus in same conditions will stay pretty comfortable with a 15,000 btu camper AC ..

Remember this is Parked..

Whether you gut your bus or not depends a lot on how it will be used..
Full time ? Always chasing nice weather? Weekend camper parked in shade a lot?
If you plan to incur extremes hot and cold then it’s paramount to insulate.

If you plan to park the bus, be outdoors during day and only need to cool it at night or aren’t in real cold weather then the factory insulation likely is fine..

I have a buddy who doesn’t camp in winter much.. unless travelling south, and in summer he parks mainly in shaded campgrounds and only AC at night..

On the road he has his factory bus AC and heat so insulation wasn’t a priority .. he did skin some windows and of course insulated nicely where that was done.
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Old 09-04-2020, 08:27 AM   #4
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Hey guys thanks so much for this. Very helpful!

Our plan for our bus in not to live in it. I think that what we will do insulate the floor for now and just see how it goes. We plan to use our bus primarily more like a tent than as a house? When people go camping they don't sit in their tent all day! They are out and about.

Appreciate the help!
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Old 09-04-2020, 08:40 AM   #5
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We did the same as Johnny Mullet

We kept our ceiling original

Under the windows I put 1.5 inch framing made from ripped down studs on the table saw. Then used two sheets each of that green foam boards, and skinned over that with furring strips to make a "wall"

the floor we also used studs I ripped down to 1.5 inch, built a frame and screwed it right to the bus floor. We had no rust, or reason to pull up the rubber so just laid all right on top. Likewise we put two sheets of green 3/4 foam in between everything, and then laid good quality sanded plywood over that, and painted it grey with garage floor paint (oops paint from HD, $9)
So my floor is two inches total height. We are short, so no worries.

then there are some rugs for looks.

Road noise is almost gone. very pleased

Our roof came white as is a southern (VA) bus, and our windows were tinted.

We have a 14k BTU rooftop air conditioner and in the middle of our hot NC days with the curtains in the bus closed we are comfortable.. I wouldn't say frigid in the middle of the day, but comfy.... at night we will freeze unless turn down the air con

For heat we have one of those chinese diesel heaters. They are very popular back home in UK so I didn't think twice about ordering one for the bus. It is ducted and it heats the bus lovely, and NO condensation as other sources sometimes do.
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Old 09-04-2020, 10:16 AM   #6
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When I first got my bus it was gutted, a metal tent. I put in a 20gal barrel woodstove, I stayed in it a few times for a week or more in the winter. I would stay warm but lost a lot of heat.. when the fire burned out it was outside temps in 30-60mins. Icicles everywhere.

Insulating the floor made a huge difference, so did the walls and ceiling. It is cozy now, in the winter I only run the stove with a mild fire and it heats up well. It will hold heat for a couple of hours. The insulation made it also feel a lot nicer, quieter no more metallic echo.

For heat the insulation doesn't do much. If it is 95 outside it is 94-96 inside. I don't use AC.

My thoughts are you can only insulate a bus so much. It is basically a metal tent sitting a few feet off the ground with single pane windows.
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Old 09-04-2020, 11:54 AM   #7
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It is hard to make a difference with insulation if you keep all the inefficient bus windows. Taking them out and replacing them with RV windows and insulation in the walls and ceiling makes a huge difference.
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Old 09-04-2020, 01:06 PM   #8
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It is hard to make a difference with insulation if you keep all the inefficient bus windows. Taking them out and replacing them with RV windows and insulation in the walls and ceiling makes a huge difference.
what is special about an RV window?

ours are tinted so I imagine this helps a lot...

but I have a 5th wheel camper as well down at the coast and it was made in 2002 and the windows don't appear to be made of anything special, and they sure let in the heat just as the bus does

curious

we use thick curtains on both and it works good
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Old 09-04-2020, 01:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by RolesvilleMarina View Post
what is special about an RV window?

ours are tinted so I imagine this helps a lot...

but I have a 5th wheel camper as well down at the coast and it was made in 2002 and the windows don't appear to be made of anything special, and they sure let in the heat just as the bus does

curious

we use thick curtains on both and it works good
Some are energy efficient. Most of the benefit is by deleting many of the bus windows and having fewer RV windows. It's a compromise between having as much light coming in and heating and cooling it. I ran into this when I built my home with a 18' ceiling. Looks great, costs a fortune heating and cooling that high wasted space.
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Old 09-04-2020, 01:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RolesvilleMarina View Post
what is special about an RV window?

ours are tinted so I imagine this helps a lot...

but I have a 5th wheel camper as well down at the coast and it was made in 2002 and the windows don't appear to be made of anything special, and they sure let in the heat just as the bus does

curious

we use thick curtains on both and it works good
I never understood that either. They're not as energy efficient as nice residential windows and once you start skinning over everything you lose all that ventilation and the openness of the space. Insulated shades are working perfectly well for us and give us the best of both worlds.
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Old 09-04-2020, 10:42 PM   #11
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I never understood that either. They're not as energy efficient as nice residential windows and once you start skinning over everything you lose all that ventilation and the openness of the space. Insulated shades are working perfectly well for us and give us the best of both worlds.
Where did you find insulated shades to fit bus windows? Thanks!
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Old 09-05-2020, 08:58 AM   #12
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Where did you find insulated shades to fit bus windows? Thanks!
My wife Kristen made them. They're marine vinyl on the outside, polar fleece in the middle, and cotton fabric on the inside. All of the materials were available at the big box fabric store. They're fastened to the window sill at the bottom and tension bars at the top of the shades hold them at the desired level. They roll down and sit at the sill, out of the way, when we need light and ventilation. If it's too sunny we put the shades up to block the sunlight. They're a snug fit in the opening so they do a fairly good job of holding the heat between the shade and the glass. What's nice about keeping the windows is, with the screens up, we get very good ventilation. Also, with the greenhouse effect, on cold sunny days the bus warms up well above what you would expect it to.
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Old 09-05-2020, 10:27 AM   #13
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Something I've noticed while being halfway through taping my bus for painting is, the windows with newspaper over them keep way cooler than the ones that aren't yet papered over.
I've thought of this before but what about adding shutters to the outside windows?
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Old 09-05-2020, 10:34 AM   #14
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We also kept all our windows but again they are tinted from the factory or someone before we got it. Or it's tinted glass itself and not a film? Am unsure now

We also put screens on all the windows on the outside so we can open them from the inside. The screens also help to "diffuse" the sunlight some.

I just used old house screens, popped them apart, cut to the sizes I needed and made new frames out of each larger old frame (its easy, just need a hacksaw) and then I attached em outside with small self tapper screws.

on another insulation note our roof is painted white, and its paint.

would I have any benifit of using the "tropi-cool" that people paint yellow roof buses with to achieve a white roof? or does my already white roof with factory white paint suffice and do the same?
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Old 09-05-2020, 11:33 AM   #15
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Quote:
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We also kept all our windows but again they are tinted from the factory or someone before we got it. Or it's tinted glass itself and not a film? Am unsure now

We also put screens on all the windows on the outside so we can open them from the inside. The screens also help to "diffuse" the sunlight some.

I just used old house screens, popped them apart, cut to the sizes I needed and made new frames out of each larger old frame (its easy, just need a hacksaw) and then I attached em outside with small self tapper screws.

on another insulation note our roof is painted white, and its paint.

would I have any benefit of using the "tropi-cool" that people paint yellow roof buses with to achieve a white roof? or does my already white roof with factory white paint suffice and do the same?
Factory tint will be tinted glass, aftermarket tint would be a thin plastic film applied to the glass. Easy to tell when looking closely. Tropi-cool would add more insulation.
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Old 09-05-2020, 03:46 PM   #16
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My wife Kristen made them. They're marine vinyl on the outside, polar fleece in the middle, and cotton fabric on the inside. All of the materials were available at the big box fabric store. They're fastened to the window sill at the bottom and tension bars at the top of the shades hold them at the desired level. They roll down and sit at the sill, out of the way, when we need light and ventilation. If it's too sunny we put the shades up to block the sunlight. They're a snug fit in the opening so they do a fairly good job of holding the heat between the shade and the glass. What's nice about keeping the windows is, with the screens up, we get very good ventilation. Also, with the greenhouse effect, on cold sunny days the bus warms up well above what you would expect it to.
Aw shucks! I was hoping to be able to buy them somewhere. lol. We have 28 windows from the stairs back (so that's not counting the door, the window beside the driver, or the big windshield). Guess I better start shopping for material and also learn how to sew. lol.

Our windows are factory tinted, so that helps, thank goodness.
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Old 09-09-2020, 04:18 PM   #17
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I’m am doing a roof raise so had to strip metal off the interior of the ceiling anyway. Going to spray foam ceiling and walls. Also taking out all school bus windows and replacing with double pane RV windows ( fewer windows and greater R value ) my main concern though is not R value, it is providing an air gap between the metal walls and interior space to eliminate sweating ( which will cause mold on bed covers and mattresses ) Don’t want the bus smelling like a sweaty locker room.
Just my 2 cents worth.
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Old 09-09-2020, 04:53 PM   #18
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Insulate from the heat transfer from outside to inside!

Here's my experience. We bought a bus with the front half finished, insulated, ready to move in. We have been finishing the rear half. The insultation in the front roof and side walls is 1" polystyrene (pink) panels (R 4.2 at best). You can feel on the walls on a hot day where the ribs are. Super hot to the touch! On a 90's day the outside skin of the bus in direct sun is 137 F and the roof is 156 F. Inside where insulated is 88 F and 105 F on the ribs. Should have had a thermal break to keep the ribs from transfering heat inside.

In the back of the bus, we have started installing rock wool insulation (R-7.5) in the walls and ceiling (between the ribs), then reflectix (R3) over everything (also serves as a vapor barrier), and then the ceiling boards. So, the ceiling and walls have R-10. Not bad for 1 1/2" of space.

On the floor, after treating all the rust and painting with Rustoleum, I am putting down Ice & Water membrane to seal the floor. Ice & Water is used for roofing and when it goes on it is sealed and not coming up. Then I am laying 1" Polyiso with foil side down, reflectix on top, sealed with foil tape, then I am laying tubing for later install of radiant floor heat and 3/4" ribs on 16" centers. Then we will finish that with 5/8" subflooring and vinyl plank flooring. The floor will be about R-6.5 (polyiso) and R-4.6 (reflectix) for a total of about R-11. The reflectix will keep the temps from seeping in and the temps from leaking out giving you a much more stable internal temperature. Granted that windows are always a major point of heat/cooling loss but this can be managed with insulated window panels (homemade or purchased). We plan to use reflectix to make our own window panels.

You can heat or cool your bus with whatever works for you. One option I am drawn to is hydronic heat. It runs off diesel (takes very little) and can also serve as your water heater for your inside plumbing. Duel purpose and takes up very little space! We plan to use a hydonic system to heat glycol that will circulate and heat the entire bus thru radiant floor heat.
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Old 09-09-2020, 04:56 PM   #19
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Sparay foam is definately the way to go! I just helped with a remodel in a house that had mold in from flooding. The exterior walls of the house had spray foam in them and there was zero mold on the foam and the drywall had minimal in those areas. Other places with regular insulation had lots of black mold growing.
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Old 09-09-2020, 07:24 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I've thought of this before but what about adding shutters to the outside windows?
You would want them to be secured in such a way that they will NEVER come loose while driving down the interstate, or on rough roads. I'd rather have something inside the bus, or removable when driving.
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