Want to know the best RV vent fan? And how the Maxxair fan compares to the Fan-tastic fan? Keep reading to know why we love our Maxxair fan and why it’s our #1 most essential item in our camper van.
There are a number of different RV vent fans out there on the market with different shapes, features, and price points. So it can be confusing to know which van & RV vent fan is the best. We did all the research and have 2+ years of van life experience with our Maxxair fan and we want to share everything we’ve learned about vent fans in this post.
So if you’re scouring the Internet asking yourself:
“What is the best RV vent fan for my van build?”
You’ve come to the right place. We’re about to settle the vent fan dispute here.
Let’s get started!
Camper Van Foundation Series
Vent Fan Article Contents
Maxxair Vent Fan Product Review
In our 2+ years of traveling in our camper van, our Maxxair vent fan is on 90% of the time. The only time our fan is turned off is while we’re driving. But turning on our Maxxfan is always one of the first things we do right after we park.
We love how quick the Maxxair fan replaces the air in our camper van; exhausting stale air and bringing in fresh, cool air.
We’ve used our vent fan in virtually every environment possible:
No matter what environment we’re in, our Maxxair vent fan keeps chugging along and does exactly what it’s supposed to do.
Which MaxxFan Model Do We Own?
What We Like About The MaxxFan
What can we say? The MaxxFan Deluxe Roof Fan just plain works!
- Strong Air Flow: Whether your goal is to quickly cool down or bring in fresh air into your van’s interior, the Maxxfan can do either super quick. Within seconds, we’ll already begin to notice markedly improved air quality inside our camper.
- The Rain Cover Is Essential: Even during some of the worst torrential rainfall we’ve ever experienced in southern Mexico, the MaxxFan and rain cover held up brilliantly. Just be sure to properly seal your MaxxFan during installation to prevent leaks. We talk more about the installation process further below.
- Quiet Operation: At night, on the lowest 1-2 speeds, the Maxxair vent fan is virtually silent. Keeping the bug screen clean of debris helps to reduce fan noise at higher speeds.
- Low Power Draw: At the lowest speeds, the MaxxFan draws less than 3-watts of power. This is important because even though the energy draw is so low, a vent fan can still consume considerable power over a 24-hour period because its regularly in use.
What We Dislike About The MaxxFan
No product is completely perfect and we do have a couple of critiques of our Maxxfan roof fan.
- Hard To Clean Rain Cover: More parts means more things to clean. And because the Maxxfan comes with a built-in rain cover, it just means there’s another part to clean. And cleaning the rain cover means having to get onto the roof and detaching the cover from the main fan unit. It’s not difficult, just inconvenient.
- Retaining Knobs Hard To Turn: To clean the bug mesh, four retaining knobs need to be turned out so that the mesh can be removed. But putting the mesh back can be tricky because the knobs don’t turn back in so easily. It takes practice.
- No Sealant Tape Included: Our RV windows came included with sealant tape to prevent rain water from leaking in through the sides. We wished Maxxair would include something similar since these fans are almost exclusively being installed on campervan and RV roofs. Instead, we had to purchase our own Butyl Tape to create a watertight seal. More about this in our roof fan installation section below.
Maxxair Fan vs. Fan-Tastic Fan
The Fan-Tastic fan is a popular vent fan alternative to the Maxxair fan. It’s more affordable and has a sleeker design, which makes the fan a better option if “stealth” camping is a top priority.
But even though the Fan-Tastic fan is ~$100 cheaper than the Maxxfan competitor, we wouldn’t advise buying it simply because the Fan-Tastic fan lacks a rain cover, which prevents water from splashing inside while it’s raining.
Benefits Of A Rain Cover
For us, having a rain cover is HUGE.
When it rains, being inside a van becomes so much more uncomfortable. The air gets more humid and sticky, the floor gets moist, and we have to keep our windows and sliding door closed shut. It feels like you’re trapped in a coffin.
Seriously, take it from us; van life during the rainy season isn’t nearly as fun.
But because our Maxxfan comes with a rain cover, we’re able to keep our fan on, even during torrential rainstorms. And having proper air circulation while it’s raining outside has been a boon to living and traveling in our campervan.
The Verdict - The Maxxair Fan Is The Best RV Vent Fan
Yes! We absolutely believe that the Maxxfan is the best vent fan for camper vans.
We understand that it’s important to do your own due diligence, but we did hours of research and realized that the Maxxfan was the best fan for our van life needs. And to save you the hassle we wrote this post to tell you exactly how we feel about our Maxxfan.
Is A Vent Fan Necessary In A Camper Van?
If you’re wondering whether installing a vent fan in a camper van is REALLY necessary, allow us to persuade you why we think so! In fact, we believe that installing a vent fan is one of the best decisions you can make during your DIY van conversion build. The benefits are clear:
Cooling The Van
One of the biggest reasons to have a vent fan in your van is for temperature control. By expelling air out the top of the van, the vent fan helps to actively pull fresh, outside air into the van through the windows. This has a tremendous effect on cooling down the van during hot, and even warm, days.
Whether we were parked overnight by the beach or boondocking in uncomfortably warm streets in Mexico, having a vent fan to pull in fresh air at night was a godsend to us.
If you think your bedroom smells in your house, the problem of body odor and dust accumulation is only magnified in a smaller campervan space. This is especially true if your van’s bedroom is right next to your kitchen space and toilet.
In fact, we’re so obsessed about having constant airflow circulation that our Maxxair vent fan is on (usually on the lowest speed setting) 95% of the time that we are in the van.
Prevent Mold & Mildew Growth
Warm, humid, & stagnant air provides a prime environment for mold and mildew to start growing and proliferating inside a camper van. We know more than a handful of vans that have had their issues with mold growth.
In order to properly expel humid, stale, mold-inducing air, we feel a vent fan is a must. But the fan doesn’t have to be set to the highest speeds to get proper air circulation. We usually set our fan to the lowest speed setting and we find that this is enough to pull in clean, cool air into our van.
It’s usually only when we are cooking that we increase the speed of our vent fan (up from the lowest speed setting). The fan helps us get rid of unwanted heat, grease, and cooking odors from our propane stove.
For us, we also use our vent fan when we cook for health reasons. From carbon dioxide, to carbon monoxide, to various nitrates, there are a number of byproducts from burning propane that are unhealthy to breathe in high concentrations. Learn more about what pollutants are released into the air when burning propane.
So we use our Maxxfan vent fan to expel those byproducts.
Great For Pets
While traveling in Guatemala in our campervan, we adopted a cat! Her name is Maya and we love traveling with her wherever we go. But there are times where we need to leave her in the van while we’re out. Don’t worry, our van is properly insulated, we try not to park in direct sunlight, and we’re never gone for too long.
But before we leave our van, we always fully open our small RV windows and turn on our vent fan to medium-high strength. And when we come back, we’ve never felt that the interior air temperature was anywhere near uncomfortably warm.
If you plan to travel with a pet, we believe that installing a vent fan in your campervan is an absolute must.
“...But Won’t A Vent Fan Reduce My Stealth?”
Great question! We are keenly aware that installing a vent fan on your van’s roof acutely reduces a campervan’s ‘stealthiness’. In fact, one of the first things I look for when deciding whether a standard-looking commercial van is a campervan or not is to look for a vent fan on the roof.
Unfortunately, a vent fan is usually a dead giveaway that a van is, in fact, a camper.
But while we don’t prefer to draw blatant attention to ourselves with some fancy B-Class RV or flashy paint job, we agree that sacrificing certain campervan installations (like a vent fan, solar panels, and windows) in order to become a 100% stealth campervan is a terrible idea. It’s just not worth it.
Read More: Why We Don’t Believe In Stealth Campervans
How To Install A Maxxair Vent Fan
Installing a RV vent fan on the roof of your vehicle can feel daunting at first, but if you plan well, go slow and methodically, the installation process will go smoothly.
Let’s get to it!
Part 1: Cut A Standard 14"x14" Square Hole
In order to fit the vent fan on the vehicle, a standard 14″x14″ hole needs to be cut out of the vehicle’s sheet metal roof. This is probably the hardest, most nerve-wrecking part of the fan installation process.
To safely achieve this, follow these steps:
1. Use a template & trace area: Create a 14″x14″ template from scrap cardboard. Locate the exact place you want to install your fan and place your template on the UNDERSIDE of your roof (standing inside the van) and tape the cardboard in place. Trace around the template with a marker. Make sure your tracing does NOT intersect any of the van’s interior cross support ribs.
2. Drill the corners of the tracing: With a power drill and a 1/2″ drill bit (or hole saw), drill one hole in each corner of your tracing. Make sure each hole does not extend outside the mark lines.
3. Protect the edges with painters tape: Sitting on the roof of your vehicle, with painters tape, line the outside perimeter of your cut line. This helps to keep a clean site when you eventually cut on your hole.
4. Jig saw time!: With a jig saw blade specifically for sheet metal, cut along the marked lines with your jig saw. Keep the jig saw at full speed and but advance the jig saw slowly along the line to prevent push back.
5. Sand & prime the edges: With a metal file, smooth any sharp edges that may have formed along the cut line. Afterwards, paint over the raw metal with an anti-rust primer to prevent rust and corrosion.
Part 2: Install The Vent Fan Flange & Rain Cover
6. Add butyl tape: Add a layer of butyl tape on the underside of the vent fan flange to create a leak-proof seal. This is the side of the flange that will make contact with the vehicle’s metal roof. When wrapping the tape around the flange, give a 1/2″ overlap of butyl tape at the end.
7. Screw down the vent fan flange: With the provided screws and a power drill, screw down the vent flange onto your vehicle’s roof. Our screws were not self-tapping, so you may need to pre-drill with a drill bit.
8. Seal the flange edges: As a second layer of leak-proof protection, add a generous amount of lap sealant along the edges of the flange.
9. Add The Rain Hood: Lastly, attach the Maxxair rain hood to the flange with the supplied nuts & bolts.
Part 3: Electrical Wiring
10. Complete The Wiring: Using 14 AWG wire, hook up the vent fan’s positive and negative wires to your vehicle’s house batteries. Do complete this, you’ll need:
For a complete, step-by-step walk through of setting up your RV electrical system, check out our DIY Electrical System Installation Guide.
Maxxair Vent Fan Installation Video
Check out this useful vent fan installation tutorial video from the Maxxair fan manufacturers themselves.
For more great product information, head over to their website.
How To Clean A Maxxair Vent Fan
When cleaning a Maxxair vent fan, there are 4 parts of the fan to clean.
Interior Flange & Controls Area
From time to time, we clean the interior flange area with a wet wipe. This is the easiest part of the fan to clean.
The mesh fan needs to be removed to be properly cleaned. To remove the mesh, simply rotate the 4 retaining knobs 180° outwards. You may need to jiggle the knobs a bit, but they should eventually rotate around.
If time is tight, I simply lightly press my fingers on the mesh and move my hand in a circular motion to loosen up and gather all the greasy dust. Quick and easy method cleans the mesh pretty well.
For a more in-depth clean, we wash the mesh in warm water with a light detergent. This method really helps to loosen all the grease that is attached to the mesh. We will still use our hands to work in the detergent. We avoid using any hard abrasives against the mesh because we’ve heard that the mesh’s exterior coating can be rubbed off, leading to rust.
If you’ve already removed the Maxxfan’s mesh, you might as well remove and wash the fan’s blades as well. But to remove the blades, you’ll need the proper size Allen wrench. And just like with the mesh, we only used warm water with a light detergent. A lot of grease gets stuck on the blades, so it’s important to be thorough,
Cleaning the Maxxfan’s rain cover is easily the hardest part of the roof fan cleaning process.
To remove the rain cover, you’ll need to get onto the roof of your campervan. Unfortunately there’s no other way around this. Once you get to the roof, remove the four nuts holding the vent cover to the main fan unit. You can then remove the rain cover and wash the cover with warm soapy water.
The Competitors - More Vent Fans For Camper Vans
Fan-tastic Fan - The Closest Competitor To The MaxxFan
The Fan-Tastic Fan is another commonly used vent fan for camper vans conversions. It’s a popular fan for van conversions because of it’s low profile, which makes it easier for stealth camping. Fan-Tastic fans are also cheaper than their MaxxFan counterparts.
But the lack of a rain cover means it’s not realistic to use this fan when it’s raining outside. And for us, this is a deal breaker.
Heng’s RV Roof Vent - The Best Value Vent Fan For Camper Vans?
For the budget conscious, Heng’s RV Roof Vent might just be the best VALUE vent fan for camper vans. The fan unit fits into a standard 14”x14” hole, is quiet, and provides great value. However, for such a budget model, it’s worth reminding that you ‘get what you pay for’.
People have reported receiving minimal product support and even that the plastic components on the fan aren’t UV stabilized. Meaning that the plastic starts to degrade when exposed to continuous sunlight. Since a roof fan is on a van’s roof and thus constantly exposed to the sun’s rays, we don’t think this makes much sense to us!
Also, the fan’s 6” blades are smaller than the Maxxfan and Fan-Tastic Fan, which means Heng’s RV Roof Vent is able to move much less air than its competitors.
MOOSUNGEEK Vent Fan - The Stealthiest Vent Fan For Camper Vans?
If you’re still looking for a way to circulate air in your campervan but stealth is of utmost importance, the MOOSUNGEEK RV Vent Fan may just be what you’re looking for.
This fan is small and unassuming. In fact, the MOOSUNGEEK fan might just be the STEALTHIEST vent fan for camper vans.
It also has a tiny rain cover so that it can still be used when it’s raining outside.
However, before you pull the trigger on this tiny fan, we don’t think this fan is capable of moving anywhere near the amount of air needed to properly ventilate the inside of a campervan. We encourage you to visit the Amazon page to check this product out yourself and read their reviews.
FAQ About Vent Fans & Camper Vans
Is it better to install two vent fans in a van?
We’ve heard that installing two roof vent fans on a campervan does wonders to REALLY circulate air all throughout the interior and to bring down internal temperatures during the hot summer months.
Our only hesitation is that having a second roof vent fan takes away valuable roof real estate that could be used to install more solar panels. If you already properly calculated your solar array requirements and figured you can still fit a second vent fan on your roof, then we say go for it!
Is a rain cover worth it?
Yes! And a million times yes! After 2+ years on the road, we’ve spent many days and nights stuck in our van when it was raining decently hard outside. Venting the inside of your van during the rain is arguably even more important and so we feel getting a vent fan that comes with a rain cover is absolutely necessary.
Will these fans keep my pet cool in the RV all day during summer?
While a roof vent can keep your van’s interior cooler for longer during a summer day, we definitely would not recommend leaving your pet inside your van ALL DAY under a blistering sun. It also depends on how well you insulate your camper van and if you’re able to find a shady spot to park.
Manual vs Electric vent fans
Some of the higher-end vent fans come with a remote control so you can operate the fan without having to operate the manual button on the physical fan unit. In our case, because our campervan is so small, it actually doesn’t take much effort (or distance) to go and manually turn on or off the fan.
What size wire should you use?
We used 14 AWG wire to connect our fan to our batteries. Though you could use 12 AWG no problem, we wouldn’t go smaller (e.g. 16 AWG).
Can you drive with the Maxxfan’s rain cover lifted?
While we wouldn’t recommend it because the headwind would put a lot of pressure and stress onto the joints of rain cover, we’ve definitely done it before by accident! But once we realize what we’ve done, we always pull over so we can lower the rain cover.
Does the MaxxFan come with butyl tape and sealant?
Final Thoughts: Installing A Vent Fan In Your Campervan Is Easy And A No Brainer To Do
We hope you enjoyed our MaxxFan vent fan product review. We believe the Maxxfan is the best vent fan for camper vans and think you will agree!
After over 2+ years on the road we still love our MaxxFan and wouldn’t do anything different with this part of our van build. We did van life in Mexico for an entire rainy season (spoiler alert: it rains A LOT) and the rain cover on our MaxxFan was perfect for our needs.
And being able to circulate fresh air, while pushing out bad air, really increases the long-term livability of our campervan.
If you have any questions on how to install a vent fan on your van, please let us know in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!
Camper Van Foundation Series