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How To Install A Maxxair Vent Fan In A Camper Van (And Wiring!)

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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.

Table of Contents
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    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.

    Best Vent Fan
    Maxxair Ventillation Fan (with Rain Cover)

    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.

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
    12/02/2023 11:37 am GMT

    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.

    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

    Note: For the electrical wiring part, refer to the end of this post for materials and installation steps.

    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.

    Step 1:

    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.
    Showing the free available space for solar panels on a camper van roof

    Step 2:

    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.

    IRWIN Framing Square (16-in x 24-in)
    Recommended Tool: A large framing square is perfect for creating the cardboard template. But this tool is also useful for many other parts of the van conversion, like during the window installation and general woodwork.

    Step 3:

    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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    Step 4:

    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.

    Marker line after tracing around cardboard template.
    Marker line after tracing around cardboard template

    Step 5:

    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.

    Installing Maxxair Vent Fan - Drilling Corners Of Template
    Setting the template on the inside roof of our van and drilling at the corners.

    After drilling your corner holes, you should have something that looks like the diagram below.

    Drill 1/2
    Drill 1/2" holes in corner of marked square

    Step 6:

    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.

    Connecting the corner holes with a marker.
    Connecting the corner holes with a marker

    Step 7:

    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.

    Painter's tape around the edge of the marker cut line.
    Painter's tape around the edge of the marker cut line.

    Step 8:

    Cut Along The Marker Lines With A Jigsaw

    Installing a Maxxair Fan - Cutting Out 14x14 Hole
    Connecting the 4 drill holes in each corner with our 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.

    Jig Saw Tip: Keep the jig saw blade moving at full speed but advance the jig saw slowly along the cut line to prevent push back from the saw.

    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.

    BOSCH Assorted Jigsaw Blade Set (For Wood & Metal)
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    BOSCH Assorted Jigsaw Blade Set (For Wood & Metal)
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    • COMPLETE: The blade set includes two each of T101B clean for wood (4'', 10 TPI), T119BO basic for...

    Installation Tip: To prevent any tiny metal shavings from falling into your van, you can tape a plastic bag on the underside of the roof to catch all the metal bits.

    Step 9:

    Smooth Out The Sharp Edges With A File

    Installing Maxxair Vent Fan - Filing The Edges
    Filing the edges of the hole cutout

    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.

    Step 10:

    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.

    Step 11:

    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.

    Prevent Water Leaks
    Dicor Butyl Sealant Tape
    $12.80 ($0.43 / Foot)

    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.

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
    12/02/2023 10:26 pm GMT

    Don't Skimp On This Step: Roof leaks aren't something you want to deal with later when you're traveling. Do a good job and use plenty of butyl tape under the flange to get a strong, water-tight seal.

    Step 12:

    Attach The Maxxair Fan Flange To The Roof With Screws

    Installing A Maxxair Fan Flange
    Screwing down the MaxxFan flange on the roof

    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!

    Good To Know: When putting in the screws, the flange will press down against the roof and begin to squeeze out some of the butyl tape. This is a good thing and tells you that a waterproof seal is being formed. Wipe out the excess butyl.

    Step 13:

    Seal The Edges Of The Flange With Dicor Lap Sealant

    Sealing A Maxxair Fan Flange
    Sealing around the Maxxfan flange

    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.

    Sealant Recommendation: We've tried several types of sealant during our van conversion and for this flange sealant job, we highly recommend Dicor's lap sealant. It's meant for RV roofs and is highly viscous, making it super easy to apply.

    Top Rooftop Sealant For Vans
    Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant

    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.

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
    12/02/2023 08:16 pm GMT

    Step 14:

    Attach The Maxxair Fan & Rain Hood

    Best Vent Fan For Camper Vans - Finished Maxxfan Installation

    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!

    Still Unsure Which Fan To Buy?

    We are HUGE believers of the Maxxfan. The unique rain cover is what sold us versus the FANtastic fan and other cheaper models. Learn more by reading our Maxxfan Review.

    Building a camper van? Download our free e-Books with intuitive electrical, solar, and plumbing diagrams.

    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.

    Wiring Maxxair Fan To Camper Batteries
    Wiring A Maxxair Fan To Camper Batteries

    Step 1:

    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.

    Attaching butt connectors to MaxxFan supplied wires.
    Attach butt connectors to MaxxFan wires

    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.

    Step 2:

    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.

    Extend the MaxxFan wire with 14AWG wire
    Extending MaxxFan wires

    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.

    Our Recommendation
    GS Power 14AWG Wire - Red & Black
    $72.99 ($0.73 / Feet)

    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.

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
    12/03/2023 03:11 am GMT

    Step 3:

    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.

    Wiring Maxxair Fan To 12v Distribution Block
    Connecting 14AWG wires to the 12V fuse panel
    12V Recommendation
    Blue Sea Systems Fuse Panel (12 Circuits)

    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.

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
    12/03/2023 03:05 am GMT

    Step 4:

    Wire 12V Fuse Panel To The Leisure Batteries

    If you haven’t already, you will need to connect the 12V distribution panel to the leisure batteries.

    Not sure how to do this? Check out our other post: How To Build A 12V System In A Camper Van. You can also download our free campervan electrical guide below.

    Was This Post Helpful? We have lots of other useful articles to help you build the foundation of your camper van. Check out our Ventilation & Insulation page to read more great van build content!

    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.

    Fan Mesh

    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.

    Fan Blades

    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,

    Rain Cover

    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.

    FYI, we have lots of other great van build articles on our blog. If you’re looking to install a ceiling, plywood walls, or even RV windows, our blog has got you covered.

    Happy building!

    Thank You For Reading!

    We’re Yuko and Eric! We both grew up in Asia ( Japan & Hong Kong ), we left our jobs and homes in 2018 and started traveling full time from Canada to Argentina in our self-converted camper van since end of May 2019. “Asobo” means “Let’s play” in Japanese. We named our site “Asobolife” because the life is always uncertain and we live only once so it’s important to always keep positive, playful mind and enjoy the moment you are in the present. We also want to use this website to share our road trip and van building experiences to inspire our readers. We hope you enjoy!

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