Installing a Maxxair ventilation fan is one of the most important things you can do to improve air quality and circulation in a camper van. However, the installation process can be tricky because it requires you to cut through the van’s sheet metal roof. If you make mistake, it can be difficult to backtrack and repair your prior work.
This post will provide step-by-step instructions for how to install a Maxxair fan in your camper van or RV. We will include installation tips, pictures, and recommend all additional products that you’ll need to finish the project. At the end, this post will also show you how to wire the vent fan to your leisure batteries.
Cutting through the roof and installing a vent fan in your camper can feel daunting at first. But if you plan well, go slow, and are methodical, your installation experience will go smoothly.
So if you’re ready, let’s get to it.
1. Select Vent Fan
If you haven’t done so already, you should choose which ventilation fan you want to install on your camper van. Vent fans come in different shapes, sizes, and characteristics. In our opinion, the Maxxair fan is the only one worth getting. That is because the fan comes with a rain cover that allows you to use the fan even when it’s raining outside. And rain is when you especially want to use the fan to wick away moisture and humidity out of the van.
A high-quality vent fan is a top van life essential. It exhausts stale, greasy, & musty air and promotes fresh air flow into the van. The Maxxfan's unique rain cover allows you to continue operating the fan even when it's raining hard outside.
Learn More: MaxxFan Vent Fan Review
Admittedly, the Maxxair fan isn’t the cheapest option available, though we believe this is a product worth splurging on. But if keeping within a tight conversion budget is critical, below are popular alternatives.
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|RVLOVENT 12V RV Roof Fan Vent 14'' 3 Speed Reversible Manual Lift Trailer Camper Van Lid (Smoke)…||727 Reviews||$129.88||Buy on Amazon|
2. Buy Tools & Materials For Fan Installation
Before getting to work and installing the fan, you will need a number of tools and materials to help get you through the process. Below is a list of all the materials we used for this project.
- Jig Saw & Blades: Cut’s through van’s metal roof
- Metal File: Smooths out the metal edges after cutting
- Framing Square: Helps with tracing cut lines for template
- Power Drill: Attaches fan to roof
- Caulking Gun: Applies waterproof sealant around fan
- Rust-Oleum Spray: Covers bare metal to prevent rust
- Butyl Tape: Creates waterproof seal under vent fan flange
- Dicor Lap Sealant: Waterproof sealant above vent fan flange
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|Dicor BT-1834-1 1/8" x 3/4" x 30' Butyl Seal Tape , Grey||9,839 Reviews||$12.80||Buy on Amazon|
With all the tools and materials in hand, you’re ready to install the vent fan on your camper van.
Maxxair Vent Fan Installation Steps
In the following 14 steps, we show you how to install a Maxxair vent fan to your camper’s roof. Don’t worry, you got this. Take it slow, be accurate, and be organized.
Finalize Fan Installation Location
Before making any permanent cuts into the roof, you should finalize the location of your vent fan. Some location considerations include:
- Kitchen Location – To vent out cooking gas, heat, and oils.
- Solar Panel Dimensions – You don’t want the fan to get in the way of the panels.
- Avoiding Van’s Structural Frame – You don’t want to have to cut through any of the van’s critical support beams that support it’s frame.
Learn more: How To Create A Camper Van Layout
Make A 14"x14" Cut Template From Cardboard
In order to fit the Maxxfan on the camper, a standard 14″x14″ square must be cut out from the vehicle’s metal roof. To minimize chance of making a mistake, use a framing square and leftover cardboard to create a 14″x14″ cut template. With this template you can trace the square on your van’s roof to give yourself a cut guideline when cutting with the jigsaw.
Position The Cardboard Template UNDER The Roof
With your cardboard template and standing inside your van, locate the exact place you want to install your fan and place your template on the UNDERSIDE of the roof.
The reason why you want to position the fan location on the underside of the roof (instead of when on top of the roof) is so that you ensure you fan is not intersecting any of the van roof’s interior cross support ribs. Refer to our picture in step 3 to see how we placed our cardboard template in-between the roof’s supporting cross ribs.
Next, with you cardboard template in position, tape the template to the roof to keep it in position.
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Trace Around Cardboard Template With Marker
With the cardboard template still taped to the underside of your van’s roof, use a thick marker to trace around the template. When you remove the cardboard, you should have a perfect 14″x14″ outlined square and it should look similar to the diagram below.
Drill Holes Through The Four Corners Of The Outlined Square
With a power drill and a 1/2″ drill bit, drill one hole in each of the corners of your 14″x14″ outlined square. Make sure the circumference of each of your drill holes do not extend outside the square’s perimeter.
The purpose of the 1/2″ holes is so that you can fit the jigsaw blade through the roof to start cutting.
In the picture below we left the cardboard template still attached to the underside of the roof while we were drilling, but you can remove the template when you’re ready to start drilling.
After drilling your corner holes, you should have something that looks like the diagram below.
Use Marker To Connect The Corner Holes (On The Roof)
Now, when you get on your van’s roof, all you should see are four holes, which represent the four corners of the 14″x 14″ square you marked out under the roof. You should see something similar to the diagram below.
Now, take your marker and the framing square and connect the outside edges of each of the hole so that you’ve recreated the 14″x14″ square that you will soon cut out. When you’re done, the result should look like the diagram below.
Place Painter's Tape On Outside Edge Of Marker Line
To keep your future saw cut neat, we recommend placing painter’s tape along the outside edge of the marker cut line. Once completed, your working area should look like the diagram below.
Cut Along The Marker Lines With A Jigsaw
With a jigsaw, insert the blade through one of the 1/2″ holes and start cutting along the marked lines. Go slow as you cut from corner to corner.
Also, make sure you are using a jigsaw blade that is made for cutting through sheet metal. In the assorted blade set we recommend below, several of the blades will be designed for sheet metal.
- COMPATIBLE: Compatible with over 90 percentage of current jigsaws including Bosch, Dewalt, Hitachi,...
- COMPATIBLE: Compatible with over 90% of current jigsaws including Bosch, Dewalt, Hitachi, Makita,...
- COMPLETE: The blade set includes two each of T101B clean for wood (4'', 10 TPI), T119BO basic for...
Smooth Out The Sharp Edges With A File
Once you’re done cutting out the square with the jigsaw, remove the painter’s tape. The bare metal edges of the square will be sharp and jagged. With a metal file, smooth out the sharp edges that may have formed along the cut line.
Apply Rust-Oleum To The Bare Metal Edge
The bare sheet metal edge will begin to rust unless taken care of. To prevent rust, spray some Rust-Oleum into a plastic cup and absorb the paint with a Q-tip. Then, apply the anti-rust primer, with the Q-tip, on to the bare metal edge.
Add Butyl Tape To Maxxair Fan Flange
With the square cutout completed, you’re ready to move onto prepping the Maxxair fan for installation.
To start, 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 topside of the vehicle’s metal roof. When wrapping the tape around the flange, give a 1/2″ overlap of butyl tape at the end.
Adds protective sealant barrier against water leaks. Useful for vent fan, solar, and window installations. We've used butyl tape for all our exterior projects and haven't experienced any leaks...yet. Works in conjunction with Dicor's Lap Sealant.
Attach The Maxxair Fan Flange To The Roof With Screws
Fit the Maxxfan flange into the 14″x14″ hole that you cut out. The underside of the flange, with the butyl tape, should make contact with the van’s metal roof.
Next, with the provided screws and a power drill, install the Maxxair flange onto your camper’s roof.
The provided screws from Maxxair were not self-tapping screws, which means they may not be able to pierce through the sheet metal material. So you may need to create a hole with a drill bit. Make sure the drill bit is thinner than the actual screw size!
Seal The Edges Of The Flange With Dicor Lap Sealant
Once the Maxxair fan flange is installed with screws, you’ll want to seal around the flange edge with sealant to provide a second layer of waterproof protection. Add a generous layer of sealant around the edges to really ensure waterproof protection.
Whether you are sealing the vent fan, solar brackets, or roof rack, Dicor's lap sealant is the go-to brand for vans and RVs. This viscous sealant is self-leveling, meaning it spreads out evenly to easily cover all gaps and cracks to prevent water from entering. UV resistant.
Attach The Maxxair Fan & Rain Hood
Lastly, attach the Maxxair Fan unit & rain hood to the flange with the supplied nuts & bolts. This step was easy 🙂
And hey, you’re done!
Maxxair Fan Installation Video
Need more resources? Check out this useful video from the manufacturers showing how to install a Maxxair fan in a camper. For more great product information, head over to their website.
How To Wire A Maxxair Fan To The Batteries
After installing the Maxxair fan on the camper van’s roof, you’re ready to wire the fan to the batteries to get the fan running.
Out of the box, the MaxxFan will come attached to one red and one black wire You will want to attach these two wires to the 12V fuse panel. The panel will then be wired to the bus bars, which will be wired to the leisure batteries.
Below is a summary diagram of how to wire the vent fan to the batteries. We will dive deeper into the specifics in the following 3 steps.
Attach Butt Connectors To The MaxxFan Wire Ends
The Maxxfan wires must be attached to the 12V fuse panel. However, the supplied wires are only a few feet long and are not nearly long enough. So you will need to extend length of the red and black wires. The first step to do this is to attach butt connectors to the red and black wire ends.
Refer to the image below.
To do this, you will need butt connectors (size: 14 AWG), a crimping tool, and a heat gun. The heat gun activates the blue heat shrink material and seals around the wire.
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Insert 14AWG Wire Into Butt Connector
Next, take 14AWG wire and insert them into the other side of the butt connector. Doing this extends the length of the MaxxFan wires to help you reach the 12V panel.
Refer to the diagram below.
Wire Tip: You will need a lot 14AWG wire to connect all your other 12V devices. So we recommend getting at least 50 feet. But depending on the size of your van and the number of devices, 100 feet might be more appropriate. We recommend the wires from GS Power.
The #1 seller on our site. Get this 14AWG wire for all your 12V device connections. We like the tough outer jacket that protects the inner wires from the constant vibrations when driving. These tinned copper wires are 'marine grade' for superior resistance against corrosion.
Attach 14AWG Wire To 12V Fuse Panel
The 14AWG wires can now be attached to the 12V fuse panel (aka distribution panel). To do this, you must crimp #8 ring connectors on the red and black wire ends. These ring connectors can then attach to the panel.
Refer to the wiring diagram below for more information.
A 12V fuse panel is essential for distributing power from the leisure batteries to each 12V device. This panel accommodates up to 12 circuits with slots for blade fuses. The plastic cover with labels helps keep everything organized and safe.
Wire 12V Fuse Panel To The Leisure Batteries
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.
We then rinse 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.
A Breezy MaxxFan Installation!
We hoped our Maxxair Fan installation guide was informational and helps you to install your own vent fan on your camper.
If you have any questions regarding the vent fan installation process, please leave us a comment below.