How to Install a Vent Fan in Your Truck Camper

 
Maxxfan Deluxe vent fan installed in a truck shell camper
Vent fan installation in a truck cap for truck shell camping and improved ventilation
 

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By far, one of the best upgrades you can do to improve your truck camping experience is to install a vent fan in your truck shell or truck camper.

In this post we’ll show you how!

First, the hard part: come to terms with the fact that you’re going to be cutting a 14” by 14” hole in the roof of your camper shell.

This was hard for us to wrap our heads around, even though we only paid $40 for our truck canopy. It’s permanent, and would feel especially wrong to do to a brand new camper shell.

But it is absolutely worth it!

Once you’ve conquered your fears, grab your supplies!

Supplies Needed to install a vent fan

  • Maxxfan Deluxe Ventfan* - we recommend this model because of the following:

    • It can be fully opened in the rain

    • Super low profile (for a vent fan)

    • 10-speed fan allows you to fine-tune comfort level vs. power usage

    • 900cfm output/input (in layman's terms - it moves a whole lot of air!)

    • Built in thermostat

    • Remote control and electric lid opening/closing (you can adjust it without getting out of bed or from the cab!)

  • Tape measure

  • Speed square

  • Masking tape

  • Jigsaw

  • Drill

  • 1” Hole saw or large drill bit (maybe ¾”)

  • Butyl tape*

  • Self-leveling RV caulk*

  • Box of ¾” pan-head phillips screws

  • Small diameter drill bit for drilling pilot holes for aforementioned screws

**NOTE: If your camper shell does not have an insulated roof like the one shown in the left-hand image below or if you’re using an aluminum truck canopy, you’ll need about 6ft of 2”x1” wood to build a frame around the underside edge of the opening you cut in your truck shell (right-hand image below). This is required to provide enough mounting surface/thickness for the upper vent fan section to be screwed down into.

 
 


choose a location for your vent fan

Now you’ll want to decide where you want your vent fan on the truck shell to be. For our build we wanted the vent fan to be as far forward as possible and centered so that it would both, blow directly on our heads - to improve our bodies’ natural heat loss, and increase the amount of usable space on our cargo basket.

**Oh yeah, if you have a cargo basket you’re also going to have to “modify” that as well - leave a comment below if you have questions about this**

But you can select any area that works for you and your truck camping build. Just keep in mind that you’ll want an area that is as close to flat as possible.

measure, mask, cut, and install the vent fan

Once you’ve decided on a location for your vent fan, you’ll need to measure and mask off the space where you’re going to cut the giant hole for the vent fan to be mounted into!

For the Maxxfan Deluxe, the manufacturer stated this hole needed to be 14” x 14” square, but consult the mounting directions for your specific vent fan before you start. So using your tape measure, speed square, and masking tape - mask off your nice square...square :)

 
diagram showing how to make the cut out for installing a vent fan in a truck shell
 

Now the real fun begins! Using your drill with 1” holesaw, drill a hole at the inside edge of each of the four corners of your masked-off square as shown in the above diagram. These will allow you to easily reposition the jigsaw to the 90 degree angles of the square.

Next grab your jigsaw - we used a fine-tooth metal-cutting blade - and starting in one of the corner holes you just drilled, begin cutting out the square following your masked lines.

Be sure to wear a particulate mask and safety glasses, as you do not want the fiberglass dust in your eyes, or lungs!

Alright! The hard part is over!

You can now remove your masking tape, and you’ll also want to clean off any fiberglass dust from around the opening with a damp rag.

Then run a continuous layer of butyl tape around the entire top edge of the opening, this stuff is super sticky and helps seal out water while staying pliable (unlike putty tape - which will eventually dry out, get hard, crack, and leak).

Then simply insert the vent fan and begin screwing it down as per the manufacturer’s installation directions. We’ve done this a time or two on our old RVs, and have found that staring in the center of each side and working towards the corners in a criss-cross rotation helps with sealing the vent evenly to the roof of the camper shell.

***TIPS: 1) We recommend piloting the screw holes with a small diameter drill bit before driving the screws into the vent fan’s mounting surface, in order to prevent the screws from cracking the fiberglass. 2) Coat the screw threads with RV self-leveling caulk before driving them in to help seal them up well!

 
 

Next you can install the interior decorative trim piece to the underside of the camper shell. This trim piece comes approximately 6” tall and will need to be cut down to a height that fits your particular install.

We marked ours at the appropriate height (1”) with a red sharpie and cut it using our jigsaw, and then it only required 4 screws to secure to the camper shell’s ceiling.

We recommend spraying the exterior thoroughly with a garden hose after installation to check for any potential leaks before installing this trim piece . Thankfully we had none!

 
 

Finally you can wire the fan into your 12v power supply, and be sure to use an appropriately rated fuse - in our case this was a 5 amp inline fuse to our dual battery setup. The wiring on our unit was a simple 2-wire positive (+) / negative (-).

Now kick it on high and enjoy the glory of a vent fan blowing 900cfm into your little truck camper!

We hope you’ve found this guide useful, please let us know if you have any questions by dropping a comment below.


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As always, thanks for reading!

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