Nissan NV Stealth Camper: Insulation Lite

WICKHAM CP, FL—According to most van conversions, I probably have way too little insulation, so my trip to colder climes will make an excellent experiment in just how effective a minimal install is.

The NV’s walls seem to be designed differently than most vans—it has a second, interior wall that make the sidewalls straighter than other vans. This is a feature designed to make it easier for tradesmen to attach shelves and cabinets. Because of this, I went round and round on how to insulate the walls. Finally, the idea of bubble wrap plus R-Max foam board felt right, so that’s what I went with.

Bubble Wrap and Interior Wall

Bubble Wrap and Interior Wall

The R-Max has a foil side designed to act as a heat shield. In order for it to work, you need to provide an air space between the heat and the foil. Feeling that the space between the inner and outer walls was too much, I filled it in with the bubble wrap (a little concerned it would melt if it got too hot, but a contractor/camper/neighbor assured me it wouldn’t). I then covered the bubble wrap with 3/4″ R-Max.

For the roof, I taped up a single layer of bubble wrap between the studs (to ensure the air gap) and pushed in a single layer of R-Max 3/4″. I had intended to put up two sheets of R-Max, but the one lined up nicely with the roof studs, so I took that as a sign to leave it as is. Time will tell.

I made a mistake and forgot to put bubble wrap under one of the roof panels, so it will be interesting to see if the lack of bubble wrap has any affect on the that section.

R-Max Insulation

R-Max Insulation. Foil facing the walls, vapor barrier facing inward.

For the roof, the R-Max is held in place by simple friction/pressure. I plan on covering it next with paneling which will more securely hold up the foam board.

For the sides, I used the Teks screws (screwed into the interior wall’s studs), but I really should have used flat-head sheet metal screws with washers as the Teks would often over-penetrate the soft foam. The intention was to also cover the sides with paneling—so I wasn’t concerned about the panels coming loose—but now I’m thinking of covering the sides with fabric (possibly sheets or curtain fabric), so I may go back and re-attach the sides with the metal screw/washer combination.

The total insulation probably took about 4 hours so that wasn’t too bad. The hardest part was waiting for a plan to clarify, sorry, was deciding.

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6 thoughts on “Nissan NV Stealth Camper: Insulation Lite

  1. Greetings Wayne,
    I’ve followed your blog and writing for several years now…and your adventures : )
    My wife and i converted a high-top chevy awd 1500 cargo van and did the bubble wrap as the outermost layer (for air) against the white van walls. We then did a sandwich of reflectix & mylar behind a nice marine grade headliner/carpeting. I took a peek behind the sandwich just to see how the bubble foil was doing three seasons later…no melting for our install. I think you should do fine, though we do live in the PNW so i’d say the van interior would rarely get above ~80 as the MaxxFan on the roof is always open.

    (you can check out our build with the link behind my name.)

    • Nothing. Figured I’d wait to see if it was needed. I don’t plan on insulating them. Heat is transmitted (both in and out) mainly through the roof, so that is where the real focus needs to be.

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