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Old 06-07-2021, 12:44 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Has anyone skipped pulling the inside panels to insulate, then regretted it?

Trying to decide if pulling all the wall and ceiling panels is worthwhile for me and I was curious if there were folks who either insulated inside of the existing panels, or didn't insulate at all, then lived to regret it. Our build will be meant for basic camping, and I think the majority of it will be "fair weather" camping (no extreme cold or desert heat).

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Old 06-07-2021, 01:49 PM   #2
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If you are going to be fair weather camping I wouldn't insulate. I did not insulate mine and don't regret it. I mostly camp in the mountains, so heat is rarely a problem. I have a wood stove, so cold is never a problem. Are you going to have heat or AC in your bus?
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Old 06-07-2021, 02:00 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Gyrkin View Post
If you are going to be fair weather camping I wouldn't insulate. I did not insulate mine and don't regret it. I mostly camp in the mountains, so heat is rarely a problem. I have a wood stove, so cold is never a problem. Are you going to have heat or AC in your bus?

We're in the midwest, so I do plan to put in a mini split, it can get muggy in the summer and I'm sure not every campground will have shaded RV parking.


I also have to see how much ceiling height we end up with; if I can manage to get a Thomas or something with a little extra height I wouldn't mind losing 2" or so to add insulation inside the roof. I'm just not sure about the cost/benefit/effort ratio for pulling all those rivets.
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Old 06-07-2021, 02:06 PM   #4
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alot has to do with the bus you buy.. I have a 1990 that anytime the sun comes out I can feel the ceiling get boiling hopt (now granted the roof is painted beige).. my 2000 year bluebird with factory A/C the ceiling barely gets warm in the sun...



if you are adding solar panels or a roof deck thats built-in portable shade.. if you just want good A/C at night then I wouldnt insulate it.. I wood paint the roof bright white or with an elastometric paint which helps tp repel heat on the outside before it even reaches the insulation already there..
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Old 06-07-2021, 02:10 PM   #5
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If the bus has some insulation now, you don't need to pull all the rivets and remove the inner skins for most weather conditions. You can put furring strips (wood strips) on the inner skin to create a thermal conduction break and to add a void for extra insulation. We've also had good luck with a layer of Ceratex or similar ceramic felt/paper put in there, too, between the furring strips and the inner ceiling skin.
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Old 06-07-2021, 02:15 PM   #6
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OK, so initial survey says no, I don't have to rip it apart. I was starting to feel like the whole insulation thing is like an #instagram trend or something, all the nomad life-style websites are all about it but I wasn't finding any opinions to the contrary.
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Old 06-07-2021, 02:21 PM   #7
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OK, so initial survey says no, I don't have to rip it apart. I was starting to feel like the whole insulation thing is like an #instagram trend or something, all the nomad life-style websites are all about it but I wasn't finding any opinions to the contrary.
I think the people who have chimed in here, ourselves included, have actually lived in buses. Certainly, stripping the inside skin and starting insulation from scratch can yield better final results...and may be worthwhile if you're in either extreme in terms of temp...but we're also realists and have learned what works, without cutting corners.
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Old 06-07-2021, 02:22 PM   #8
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OK, so initial survey says no, I don't have to rip it apart. I was starting to feel like the whole insulation thing is like an #instagram trend or something, all the nomad life-style websites are all about it but I wasn't finding any opinions to the contrary.
Insulating your home is not an instagram trend. If you don't insulate properly, your bus will not be livable in temperatures very far from 70įF. That's fine if you can manage to avoid such temperatures, but surviving in winter or summer is something many of us are trying to do (without being prompted by social media).

Another reason to remove the interior paneling (and crappy insulation) is so you can easily identify the sources of leaks and treat any rust damage that it may have caused.
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Old 06-07-2021, 02:31 PM   #9
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MG raises a good point...for which I should clarify my comments. I didn't mean to imply (and hope I didn't) that insulation isn't necessary. I just meant that it's possible to add insulation without ripping out the existing stuff. That presumes that A) there is insulation there in the first place and B) you've got no leaks or repairs to be made. In some cases, removing the inner skin is necessary and we have a couple of buses we've just stripped down completely. But we have two which won't need that. So...is insulation important? yes. Do you have to strip out the guts to insulate? not always.
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Old 06-07-2021, 02:38 PM   #10
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MG raises a good point...for which I should clarify my comments. I didn't mean to imply (and hope I didn't) that insulation isn't necessary. I just meant that it's possible to add insulation without ripping out the existing stuff. That presumes that A) there is insulation there in the first place and B) you've got no leaks or repairs to be made. In some cases, removing the inner skin is necessary and we have a couple of buses we've just stripped down completely. But we have two which won't need that. So...is insulation important? yes. Do you have to strip out the guts to insulate? not always.
Ha ha, I thought your comment was implying that insulation is necessary. I agree that you could still insulate even without removing the interior paneling. My own wall insulation is inside of where the paneling was; in fact I had to put spacer blocks of 1.5" XPS in the cavities where the old wall insulation was, so it would have been a lot easier to just build my interior walls against the old paneling without removing it (I'm happy I did, though, since my walls had serious rust to deal with).

You could also put insulation up against the ceiling without removing the original headliner as you say, although this would cost you a couple of inches of headroom compared to instead packing it into the cavities between the ribs.
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Old 06-07-2021, 02:43 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by rossvtaylor View Post
MG raises a good point...for which I should clarify my comments. I didn't mean to imply (and hope I didn't) that insulation isn't necessary. I just meant that it's possible to add insulation without ripping out the existing stuff. That presumes that A) there is insulation there in the first place and B) you've got no leaks or repairs to be made. In some cases, removing the inner skin is necessary and we have a couple of buses we've just stripped down completely. But we have two which won't need that. So...is insulation important? yes. Do you have to strip out the guts to insulate? not always.

Yes, that is an important clarification, and I also didn't mean to bash on people who do tear down and insulate. I was just having trouble finding meaningful discussion on the topic, especially for those that aren't planning to live in the bus they're converting. To me, there's a point of diminishing returns. Ultimately a bus is a vehicle, and vehicles don't always last forever. I want to outfit my bus nicely, but I also don't want to spend so much on it that I can't ever walk away from it if the repairs become insurmountable.


More importantly, you brought up the topic I was most curious about: putting insulation inside the existing shell. Of course this does lower the ceiling height a bit, and presents additional problems if there are leaks, so I'll still weigh that option carefully.
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Old 06-07-2021, 02:56 PM   #12
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I stay in mild weather. So it's not a big deal. And when I checked both walls and ceiling, the insulation was like new. So I left well enough alone. I carpeted the ceiling, and screwed 1/16 plywood over the walls.
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Old 06-07-2021, 03:09 PM   #13
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I didn’t insulate much. The ceiling already has 1 1/2” of poly wool. The walls also have some rigid insulation, but on a warm day when the sun hits a wall it transfers through. And the windows! I love having all the windows intact, but there’s a lot of conducive heat transfer there. All I can say is that at least I can open them.

I did a couple days out in the Mojave at 100+ and there was no escaping it. Wishing I had AC. In the same vein, all the heat loss in cold weather made me upgrade my heater to the largest Espar.
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Old 06-07-2021, 03:29 PM   #14
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I could immediately tell the difference between the skinned and unskinned surfaces, even while i was still removing the walls and ceiling. I initially left the factory insulation up after removing the ceiling & wall skins. I could always feel the heat coming off the ceiling, from where I had not yet completed the skin removal, as compared to where I have the factory fiberglass exposed.

Conduction, Convection, & Radiation. These are the largest resistors in most energy budgets, as HVAC can often be the most demanding consumer.

Adding insulation is a small investment compared to additional solar panels, batteries, utilities, fuel, etc for running heat & ac to compensate for an inefficient building envelope.

If your environment is sunny & hot, I also suggest all around window tint with UV & IR heat blocking.
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Old 06-07-2021, 04:00 PM   #15
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I should probably clarify my earlier response..



my DEV bus is pretty much bone stock(most of its seats and all of its original windows).. its a 7 window bus. (think of me as a bus enthusiast and not a camper).. if im sitting still with the bus in high idle on a 90 degree sunny day in april through august. ill have 100,000 BTU of A/C going to keep it nice and cool inside... with that configuration my 12,000 BTU portable 2 hose A/C isnt even hardly felt inside..



the same bus at night with no sun and a muggy low 70s night will be freezing cold with that portable A/C on.


in winter time when i travelled in single digit weather.. I had an 8KW webasto-type heater running and the bus idling both to stay 75 inside....



insulation definitely matters if you plan on spending any time indoors during less than nice weather..
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Old 06-09-2021, 03:32 PM   #16
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Do it and donít look back

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We have lived in our bus Since we bought it bone stock and have lived thru the difference .
After the first summer in the eastern so cal desert ~90-100f we tore out the celling panels and fiberglass insulation and replaced with 2in ridged foam and single ply wood panels and painted the roof white the difference is wonderful.
I donít have an ac and rarely contemplate one.
I left the walls alone and added 1/2 in foam over the top before wood paneling
the floor is metal of the bus then 1/2in foam with 1/2in 1in boards framing the foam original plywood subfloor thin underlayment and finally tongue and groove wood flooring
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Old 06-12-2021, 03:15 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by dbsoundman View Post
Trying to decide if pulling all the wall and ceiling panels is worthwhile for me and I was curious if there were folks who either insulated inside of the existing panels, or didn't insulate at all, then lived to regret it. Our build will be meant for basic camping, and I think the majority of it will be "fair weather" camping (no extreme cold or desert heat).
Our bus is an 09, so relatively new as far as skoolies go, and I was shocked at how nasty the stuff inside the walls and ceiling was. Itís a pain in the ass to get all those panels off but in my opinion itís 1000% worth it.
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:18 PM   #18
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Our insulation was absolutely disgusting. It was black with dirt and grime and I don’t think I would want to spend extended amounts of time with it still installed. We have a 99 Bluebird.
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:25 PM   #19
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Buses are so weird. Mine was badly rusted out and even the walls above the wheel wells and underneath all the light openings had rust on them, but all of the insulation looked like it was fresh from the factory.

Except for the hundreds of stink bug corpses in it - a good enough reason all on its own for removing it.
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Old 06-13-2021, 01:26 AM   #20
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My "new Crown" has two layers of insulating blankets in the roof. I am leaving those in place. I am placing the rigid pink foam insulation (1" thick) on the inside of the walls with a layer of 5 mm foam aluminized insulation over that. I will be covering all unused windows the same way. I don't plan to live in my bus, but Winter travel is a possibility. The insulation I plan will make a difference. I am installing a total of 56,000 btu/hr heating total. Both together will keep the bus reasonably warm. Not doing that much will result in not good times in Winter (based on experience).


To the best of my knowledge, Crowns are not insulated on the sides. The portion of the sides below the windows is used to provide a path for water to pour out the sides.
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