Roof vent fans in conversion vans aren't absolutely necessary (vehicles aren't airtight so you won't die of carbon monoxide poisoning, despite what your mother tells you), but they are great to have.
Vent fans provide much-welcomed airflow that can not only cool your living quarters, but they can also help dissipate some of the unpleasant smells that come with living in a van, especially if you have a composting toilet or do a lot of cooking with your doors closed. On top of that, they are great for keeping things dry(er) in humid climates. And finally, if you plan to leave your cat or dog in your van for extending periods of time, a vent fan is essential to keeping them safe.
For this Gear Guide, we're going to run through the best vent fans for van life. We'll be completely honest, there are really only two companies that cornered this market. So we'll talk about there best models and also provide some cheaper alternatives.
In general, van vent fans aren't very expensive. Even the top-of-the-line models come in at less than $400. Install can be a little pricey, but it's nothing you can't do yourself. That's why we suggest that you don't skimp on a van. Splurge and get something that opens automatically and comes with a remote.
The Fan-Tastic Vent 807351 is by far one of the most popular vent fans for van dwellers (at least van dwellers with a little money to spend). Fan-Tastic Vent makes a wide assortment of fans, including some that plug into cigarette lighters, but if you had to pick only one, we'd go with the 807350 because it is the most full-featured.
It has 13 speeds (while most fans come with 1 or 3), a rain sensor that automatically closes the lid when wet, and a remote control, making it perfect for even the laziest van lifers. And unlike some vent fans, the blades can be reversed to cool or heat your vehicle depending on the outside temperature.
One thing we should mention: be very careful with vent fans with rain sensors if you are keeping your animals in the van. You don't want them to automatically close with your pet inside. I would rather have a wet van than a dead dog...
Fan-Tastic is also owned by Dometic, which is a huge producer of van life gear, including one of our favorite 12V fridge freezers.
Cheaper Fan-Tastic Alternatives:
Next to Fan-Tastic Vents, Maxx Air is the other king (or queen!) of van vents. And the MaxxFan Deluxe is the mack-daddy of their lineup. The MaxxFan Deleux features a built-in rain shield (a lot of other fans require a separate protector), thermostat control, and 10 control speeds for maximum customization.
And while you certainly shouldn't pick a fan on looks alone, the MaxxFan Deluxe is definitely one of the sexier vent fans on the market (I can't believe I just typed that!).
Cheaper Maxx Air Alternatives:
More Affordable Alternatives: