Last Updated on December 31, 2020
It’s not something you typically think about when buying a new or used van, but in the summer, that lovely, spacious area in the back turns into an oven, slow cooking you and your cargo.
It’s partially because vans tend to be heavily insulated to retain heat during the winter months; no one wants to drive around in an icebox, but extreme temperatures can be incredibly damaging.
This is why fitting a quality fan in place is so important.
When paired with a floor vent or open window, It facilitates a convection style airflow that siphons the heat away on absolute scorchers while cooler air filters in providing some much needed refreshment.
So, in the spirit of good health and happy haulage, we’re going to be running through a list featuring five of the very best van fans on the market at the minute.
We’ll even run through an in-depth buyer’s guide and brief FAQ section to help you with your search beyond this article and into the van-themed depths of the greater internet.
Urgent Plan for That Van Fan?
Not to worry. Here’s our top pick so you can get straight to business.
Keeping you from leaving your van more puddle than person, at our number one spot is an incredibly flexible 3-in-1 14” x 14” ventilation system.
With 10 fan speeds controlled by an internal, easy to clean, ceiling-mounted keypad, you’ll have maximum control over the ambiance in your van, keeping you comfortable and your cargo safe.
The keypad doesn’t just control the fan speed and intake/exhaust functions, but the built-in thermostat too.
Fairly quiet as far as 12” 10 blade fans go, you needn’t worry about a slow descent into madness at the wheel due to irritating and persistent noises. That said, it isn’t completely silent either.
We have to be honest, the motor is pretty special for a fan, and probably accounts for a lot of the cost. It’s fuse protected so the chances of an electrical fault while you’re out and about are slim to none.
It’s a sealed ball bearing, long life 12-volt design that pulls less than 3 amps when pushed and less than 0.6 amps when coasting.
Beyond that, you get a bunch of great extras like an insect shield that dislodges and cleans easily and a built-in rain guard capable of keeping most drizzles out, but you shouldn’t rely on it in torrential rain.
Twin lifting arms keep everything firmly in place, reducing flutter and rattle when traveling at speeds, and a cover is included with purchase.
- 10 fan speeds for ultimate control
- Functions as an intake and an exhaust
- 10 12” blades provide epic cooling power
- Fuse protected, long life motor you can rely on
- Low power consumption
- Relatively quiet for the amount of air it moves
- Lifting arms stop unwanted flapping
- Built-in thermostat
- Comes with insect shield and a rain guard
- Comes with rain guard
- Translucent blades
- Quite expensive
- The rain guard isn’t foolproof
- Roof sealant not included
- It has controls at ceiling
- Built-in Rain shield
- 10 fan speeds; Intake and exhaust
- MaxxFan, a new, one-of-a kind ventilator system that protects your RV interior always in any weather rain or shine
Our number two spot is one of the most advanced van fans we’ve ever come across. With an automatic start temperature sensor you can set up to suit your needs, it’s about as expansive as they come.
If you for some reasoning didn’t think that ten fan speeds were enough, then it’s your lucky day because this monster has thirteen different fan speeds.
You don’t even have to leave your position at the helm to control it. You can dictate the airflow with the included remote control, but careful not to lose it.
Our favorite feature is the integrated rain sensor that automatically closes the cover when it registers moisture content. No more relying on rain guards and manually shielding your fan from the weather, although, there is a manual closing knob for emergencies.
It fits flush in the standard 14” x 14” roof window space with a self-sealing perimeter, making it really easy to install for an advanced system.
Much like our number one pick, it also has a built-in thermostat to help maintain your ideal temperature to take the edge off those stressful sluggish days the sun feels close enough to knock your head on.
- Automatic temperature sensor brings the fans to life when needed
- Controlled remotely
- Automatic rain sensor closes smoke hatch
- Self-sealing perimeter
- Thirteen fan speeds in total
- Built-in thermostat
- Translucent blades
- The only reason this lost the number one spot is because it’s one of the most expensive van fans on the market
- HIGH PERFORMANCE FAN - With 13 speeds, this fan is perfect for all of your needs! The core of this fantastic ventilation solution is a high performance rotary fan that integrates into the roof window. Simply set the desired temperature on the remote control and the fan motor will start and stop automatically as the interior temperature of the vehicle exceeds or drops below the selected temperature level. This fan also features an automatic lift and a reversible fan.
- RAIN SENSOR - There’s no need to worry about remembering to close the dome to protect your belongings. The rain sensor automatically closes the dome when wet and reopens once the sensor dries. Plus, the built-in manual knob allows for closing the dome in an emergency.
- VARIABLE SPEEDS - The compact and powerful Dometic Fantastic Vent has fixed, manual speeds or automatic variable speeds to get the airflow precisely as you want. It’s simple reverse switch changes the fan direction, drawing air in or out of the vehicle.
- IDEAL ON-BOARD TEMPERATURE – For true comfort at your convenience, the Fantastic Vent has a built-in thermostat to take care of maintaining your desired temperature.
- ADDITIONAL FEATURES - Two-wire 12V DC hook up, remote control with wall cradle, white high profile base, smoke dome, and fits standard 14" x 14" openings.
If you liked the sound of our incredible number two spot but felt it’s a little too rich for you, here’s another awesome fan from the same brand with the same core design for a fraction of the cost.
The 12” 10 blade system can move an impressive amount of air for maximum cooling, and when not in use, it’s sealed tight to protect your cargo or pets from the elements.
Where Fan-Tastic have managed to cut costs here is reducing the fan speeds. You get three in total: the standard low, medium, and high. It’s not as fancy as our top two, but it covers the essentials really well. They’re manually controlled by a dial on the underside of the fan.
It’s a great fan for your van den if you want a really quiet ventilation option. Don’t expect total silence, but the brushless motor should whir along at a very bearable volume. It’s one of the most popular fans on the market right now for good reason.
The smoke dome is manually operated, so if you’ve got a really large van, it may not be a feasible option, but for smaller vehicles, it’s perfect. It’s the industry standard 14” x 14”, fitting most van roof windows, and has the same self-sealing perimeter as our second pick.
- 3 fan speeds
- Quiet brushless motor
- Easy to install and the sealed perimeter stops leaks and drafts
- 12” 10 blade system moves a lot of air
- Fits the standard 14” x 14” roof space
- Simple, easy to use controls
- Very affordable
- Translucent blades
- Manual operation may not be ideal for larger vans as you’ll need to be able to reach the dial and the cover
- MODEL 1200 - This lightweight, compact, and durable vent fan seals tight when not in use. Powerful 12 in, 10-blade fan quickly moves air in and out of cabin.
- THREE-SPEED FAN - The core of this truly fantastic ventilation solution is a high performance rotary fan that features three blade speeds; low, medium, and high.
- NO NOISE - Warm and stale air out, fresh and clean air in. Dometic FanTastic Vent does it in a matter of minutes. It’s pleasantly quiet and energy saving, too.
- EASY TO USE - The manual lift dome ensures the FanTastic Vent is easy to use.
- PERFECT FIT - Fits standard 14 inch x 14 inch openings. White, high profile base and smoke dome.
Bringing some mountain breeze to the volcanism of your van, at our penultimate spot as another Maxxair design. It’s similar to our number one pick but comes without all the trimmings so to speak.
It’s a slight inconvenience, but it frees you up to source covers and rain guards to suit your own standards.
Despite a significant reduction in price from our top pick, it still has 10 fan speeds to customize your atmosphere throughout the day no matter the weather.
The speeds are controlled by a panel on the underside of the unit, and if you have a high roof van, you can order a remote control separately.
It’s 14” x 14”, the standard for van roofs, but including the garnish, it comes to a total of 16” 16”, and thanks to the brushless motor, it won’t be causing any headaches. The lid has to be opened and closed manually, but with two lifting arms, it’s incredibly sturdy.
Similar to its bigger sibling in our top pick, it’s pretty power efficient. There should be no problems running batteries dry, even on stronger settings.
It comes with everything you need for installation bar the sealant, and it’s perfect for replacing those shoddy factory setups with a bit of specialist quality.
- 10 fan speeds
- Fits the standard 14” x 14” space
- Strong dual lifting arms
- Comes pretty much installation ready
- Brushless motor keeps things quiet
- Electric control panel
- There are remotes available
- Translucent blades
- Remote sold separately
- Sealant not included
- Will need a rain guard
- Remote control models now include backup controls at ceiling, a MaxxFan exclusive
- Fan runs with lid closed to circulate air (Ceiling Fan Mode)
- Flush mounted, easy to clean keypad controls fan speed, thermostat, air intake and exhaust
- Installs into all standard 14 inch x 14 inch RV roof openings
- White lid, manual opening
Clinching the final space on our very temperate list is another affordable yet quality option that keeps things simple and gets the job done.
Letting shafts of sunlight pass through into your van for some all natural illumination, you have 10 translucent fan blades able to move some serious air back and forth. It’s a simple 3 speed design controlled manually by a dial on the vent housing.
The smoke-colored polyurethane dome open and shut by an interior knob prevents harmful UV rays from damaging your cargo or harming any pets you may be taking with you on your travels. You also get a really good bug screen, which surprised us at this cost.
It comes with all the screws you need for installation and just like all the other picks on our list, should fit into the standard 14” x 14” roof space, secured by the 2” garnish.
At 4” when closed, the dome does sit slightly higher than others. It’s not going to slake performance in any way, but LivPow do recommend pairing this fan with a vent cover for extra wind protection.
- 3 speeds to choose from
- Comes with a bug screen
- Its two-wire design is easy to install
- Smoke cover protects against UV rays
- Translucent blades
- Very affordable
- Standard dimensions to fit most vans
- Works as an intake and an exhaust
- Completely manual controls
- Cover sits a little higher than others which may leave it vulnerable to high winds
- Universal RV Roof vent with reversible 12V fan pushes stale air out of and pulls fresh air into your RV, camper, or enclosed trailer
- Variable-speed fan offers 3 speeds to boost or reduce airflow as needed
- Use Livpow RV roof vent without disturbing other people in the house,the fan powerful and quiet
- Compatible with a 2" to 9-3/4" thick roof,fits standard 14" x 14" openings
- Simple installation with 2-wire design,White interior trim piece (or garnish) and screws are included for installation
Best Van Fan for Van Buyer’s Guide
Let’s quickly go over some of the things you should be considering before you start your search for a van fan.
It’s always a good idea to come up with some kind of budget.
It’ll guide you straight to a reduced selection of fans to choose from.
From there you can decide if you want to throw in a little more money for extra features, or reduce your budget further for a more simplistic design.
Size and Installation
Most high-quality van fans should come with everything you need for installation except perhaps the sealant, as that requires a completely different production process in a separate industry.
But van rooves aren’t all alike. They should all have the same 14” x 14” space, but the thickness may differ, especially if you or a previous owner has installed extra insulation. Take a few measurements in your van to make sure a fan is compatible.
It’s important to remember that sealant needs plenty of time to dry. Try and wait for a dry spell before you install your fan, and to be safe, fit it a week before you need to travel.
The most basic fans will have a single speed. After that, you’ll see the classic 3 speed low, medium, high designs. We recommend 3 speeds as a minimum.
If you live in relatively volatile climates, a 10 or above speed fan may give you the power and flexibility you need to tame the ferocity of the weather.
Manual vs Remote
We love remote-controlled fans. They’re very time efficient as you don’t have to leave the front hub to change their settings. They’re also great if you own a larger vehicle and it’s a hassle to reach the fan to control manually. They’re fantastic, but they’re not without their flaws.
Firstly, they’re just another battery-powered item you have to worry about keeping juiced. Secondly, if you lose them, it’s unlikely your fan is going to have complete backup controls on its housing.
With manual controls, none of that is a problem. Yes, they’re a little impractical, but they’re simple, reliable, and they get the job done.
If you do settle on a remote-controlled roof fan, make sure there is some sort of backup terminal for controlling basic functions.
If your fan gives you the option of setting temperatures that automatically trigger it, do that immediately, so if you lose or damage your remote, your fan still knows what to do.
It’s not often something we think about when shopping for fans, but like any motorized contraption, they can be quite noisy. If you spend long periods of time in your van, the last thing you want is a nauseating whirring in your ears all day.
So, to avoid the mind-numbing headaches, try searching for a fan with a brushless motor. They’re quieter and much more efficient than standard motors, which brings us to our next point.
Even advanced fans with oodles of speed settings should be energy efficient. The last thing you need is it shutting down on you unexpectedly on a hot day.
Most fans will specify voltage (usually 12v), but if you can find out the power consumption at their low and high speeds, even better. You’ll be able to make fairly accurate estimations about battery life.
Pro Tip – Keep a few spare batteries in your van in case of emergencies.
If you don’t like the idea of battery power, you could even look into solar power, but the panels will take up a lot of space on your roof.
Here’s another oft-forgotten thing to consider when kitting your van out with a fan. Seeing as it’s replacing a window, you’re losing light.
Van-pires excluded (see what we did there) you’ll want to retain as much natural light as possible.
Fans with transparent blades are the perfect way to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Most van fans will have these light-friendly blades, but it’s important to check, especially if you’re buying as cheap as possible.
Covers and UV Protection
On the other side of things, natural light can also be quite damaging, so it’s a good idea to consider coverage. Smoke-tinted lids are a great way to keep natural light coming into your vehicle whilst keeping the harmful UV rays out.
If your fan doesn’t come with a cover included, we highly recommend you look for a good one. It provides your fan and lid protection from strong winds, stops moisture from entering, and keeps the weather at bay.
When the…Bugs Hit the Fan
Your fan may not come with bug shields, but they’re a fantastic way to keep things neat and tidy when the inevitable splatter fest comes to town.
Rain, Rain, Go Away
There should be at least minor facets of a fan’s design that protect against rain. This might just be a special cover, or it could be a specialized internal rain guard.
These are great, but they probably have their limits. You might need to take extra steps to secure your fan should the rain start coming down hard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do van roof vents prevent condensation?
Yes, the circulation they provide can prevent condensation in your van that causes build-ups of mold and eventually rusting.
How many amps does a Fan-Tastic fan draw?
Fan-Tastic roof fans tend to draw around 1.4 amps at low speeds and roughly 3 amps when pushed.
How do I clean a Maxxair fan?
Turn the four holding tabs to release your screen and scrub it gently with warm water and dish soap. Next, use an allen wrench to loosen the fan, then gently pull it away from the fixture.
If your fan is exceedingly grimy, spray it down with a cleaning agent before washing with hot soapy water.
If your fan has a rain sensor, you’ll have to remove the exterior lid before continuing otherwise the lid will snap shut as you’re cleaning. That can be sprayed and washed in soapy water.
All that’s left is to clean the fixture with your chosen cleaning agent, wipe it down with clean water, and you’re set to reassemble.
There you have it, folks, five of the most impressive van fans at various price points, great for keeping you and your cargo safe and comfortable no matter how sweltering the sun gets.
Follow our simple guidelines and you’ll be able to find even more amazing products, and eventually, something will be perfect for you. Stay chill.