In this tutorial, I show you how to make easy DIY blackout thermal van window covers without a sewing machine & share my with tips, tricks and hacks on how to get the most out of your vehicle reflectix window covers.
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0:00 – Intro
0:35 – Making window templates
1:16 – Cutting the foil bubblewrap insulation
2:28 – Carpeting the foil window covers
3:46 – Trimming the carpeted window covers
4:21 – Adding an edge to the window covers
6:18 – Adding suction cups to the window covers
7:35 – Top tips for getting the most out of your window covers
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This is Yogi, my tiny Nissan NV200 camper van & although I already have a DIY van cab curtain, the purpose of the van window covers is to keep condensation to a minimum, darken the vehicle when sleeping in it & to keep the sun and heat out.
For this tutorial, I’ll be making covers for my newly installed tinted back door windows, so I’ll start by making templates to work from, trim them to leave an accurate outline of the windows, stick them to the foil insulation & cut round the edge. If your window is too big for one piece of insulation, as a windscreen may be, then join two pieces together with aluminium foil tape.
After doing the second window, I can check the fit, trimming the covers until they fit well. If you’ve got quite a lot of window insulation available, you could also double up the insulation at this point. They’ll be a bit more rigid and have better insulative properties.
I then start carpeting the covers using a high temperature contact adhesive & smoke grey 4-way-stretch automotive carpet left over from lining my van. Spray the adhesive onto the insulation & then carpet, wait for the solvent to evaporate & press them together. If you get any glue on the carpet, use a little bit of white spirit or mineral spirits to wipe it off.
I’m using Trim-fix high temperature contact adhesive. It’s important to use high temperature adhesive because the car window sun shades will be exposed to sun and heat. With the carpet stuck to the foil, I’ll now trim the carpet. I’m using 25mm wide navy blue herringbone fabric to create a neat edge along the covers & without a sewing machine I’ll be using contact adhesive again.
With the covers prepped, I spray adhesive onto both the cover & the fabric & I’ll work my way round carefully pressing them together for a neat finish. I repeat the process on the carpet side. It doesn’t take long to clean any excess glue off with some white spirit or mineral spirits, which is what I did after removing the masking tape.
I purchased a set of really good suction cups from eBay & these push through the covers leaving the cup on the foil side and a small handle on the carpet side. They have a collar on the middle of the handle which covers the hole. Search for ‘thermal suction cups’ on eBay. To attach them, simply push the cup through a hole in the covers. You could also use magnets, velcro, or a push fit.
So that’s my easy-to-make mini camper van window covers for car camping that will last you years & save you a lot of money instead of buying them.
Here are some final top tips for getting the most out of your window covers. Look after them! Store them somewhere safe and ideally flat. If you get a tear in the foil, then it can easily be repaired with a piece of aluminium foil tape. When you’ve got them up in your windows, they may identify your van as being slept-in. Not a problem if you’re in a campsite, but if you’re on the road, car camping, or perhaps somewhere you shouldn’t be, then a black outer material will help with stealth camping. They won’t stop all condensation from forming, or magically heat up the vehicle. But by insulating the single-glazed windows, they will help to reduce condensation. If this isn’t enough, install a diesel heater or consider airflow by installing wind deflectors &cracking the windows or by installing a ceiling fan or vent.
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DISCLAIMER: In this video, I am in no way stating that this is the proper way to undertake the conversion of a van, however after research and experience using the van, I believe this to be the way that is best suited to my van and the way I intend to use it.