Insulation for your RV can make a huge difference in terms of comfort. One of the first modifications my wife, Kait, and I tackled was installing custom RV window shades in our camper van. Pre-made, reflective insulation shades are available, but depending on the type of vehicle, the cost can be prohibitive. The set we found for a ProMaster van would have cost us $100. To save money, we decided to make our own RV window shades using a roll of double reflective insulation.
This is a simple DIY project that should take less than one hour. In that time, we made seven custom RV window shades for the camper van: three for the front and four for the back. I recommend working with Reflectix® in the shade, as the reflection from the sun can be blinding.
• 1 roll of Reflectix® 48″x 25′
Double Reflective Insulation
(Some hardware stores sell Reflectix® by the foot, which will result in greater savings. We ended up only using 1/3 of the roll.
• Tape Measure
• Permanent Marker
DIY RV Window Shades:
Measure the windows from the outside and add an extra inch to each side as a buffer. You can always trim the shade if it’s too big.
When you have the piece cut, from the inside, place it against the window. Gently push the shade into the grooves where it is to sit. With a permanent marker, trace along the groove. Remove the shade; cut about 1/4-inch outside the marking to
give yourself room to trim. Leaving extra material helps to keep the shades in place.
If you have windows that are the same size, once you’ve cut the first window, trace an outline of it to use as a pattern. We made a custom sunshade for most of our RV windows.
The insulation keeps the camper van cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. When the temperature drops below 45 degrees at night, we place insulation in the rear windows where we sleep. This helps minimize the amount of cold coming in.
Although our camper van did come with a front shade, we wanted adequate additional insulation for camping off the grid. Even when we’re not camping in the middle of a desert, the custom sunshades come in handy. On a recent trip to Red Rock Canyon, we pulled into an overlook to make lunch. To keep the sun off of us, we put the shades on the front windows.
We’ve read articles that suggest putting the Relfectix® on the outside of the windows. This allows more cooling; however, please be aware that in extreme or prolonged heat, excessive heat buildup in the glass could potentially crack the window or damage seals.
Looking back, we wish we had made these shades for our class-A RV and tow car. Custom sunshades will make life more enjoyable for anyone living in a vehicle.