A home is only as cozy as its inside air flow and temperature, and this includes your home on wheels. To truly make a vehicle worthwhile to live in throughout all seasons, the right RV or van vent fan is critical. It will keep you dry and cool without being too noisy and without drawing too much power.
I’ve found the best options for RV and van vent fans by combining my own personal experience, a few friends’ recommendations, and a bit of nitty-gritty research.
While my Sprinter van currently has two old Fan-tastic Fans, there are many options to consider. Let’s dive into all the choices so you feel confident picking the best RV vent fan for you.
1. The Maxxair MaxxFan Deluxe (My Top Pick)
You can spot a Maxxairs deluxe vent fan a mile away. The tilted-white fans are practically famous in the RV community for good reason. The reliable and powerful fan provides everything you need for a climate-controlled home on wheels.
Maxxair is owned by Airxcel, a brand dedicated to all things climate-control related. From air conditioners to water heaters and rooftop products, Airxcel – and therefore Maxxair – knows exactly what they’re doing when they created their chunky deluxe fan.
While the deluxe’s high-profile does move your stealth factor down considerably, you likely will not care because of the built-in thermostat and powerful 10-speed fan creating an incredible climate inside your vehicle. If you’re hoping for a reliable RV vent fan, the Maxxair is definitely the way to go as long as you’re not trying to sneak around.
Here are some of our favorite parts of the Maxxair Deluxe:
- 10-speed intake and exhaust
- Thermostat adjusts fan speed as needed to the temperature regulated
- The powerful fan provides 900+ cubic feet per minute (CFM)
- Uses standard 14×14-inch opening
- Remote control included
- Two lift arms provide a stable and durable rain shield
- When fully open, it is 9” tall, meaning a lower clearance for your RV or van
- The infrared remote control must be used directly under the fan to work
2. Livpow’s 3-Speed Manual Lift Lid (Budget Friendly)
Livpow has created a line of RV roof fans that deliver consistently without any bells and whistles. This means you get a quality product without overpaying. Livpow’s basic 3-speed manual lift vent is perfect for anyone needing to cool off their camper or provide exhaust while cooking inside.
It has your typical 12V fan that can be easily connected to just about any electric setup and uses the standard 14×14-inch opening. The ten clear fan blades let the sunshine in if desired and provide plenty of airflow with a top power of 950 cubic feet per minute. Like most fans, it comes with a bug screen and can be installed with the simple two-wires included.
- Fit anywhere from 2” to 9-¾” roof thickness
- Smoke-colored dome shades van interior
- 3-inch low profile
- Manual lift without remote
- Only two speeds to draw air into the van
3. Heng’s Industries Zephyr Vent Fan
For another basic but reliable fan, check out Heng Industries Zephyr vent fan. The clear lid gives it a distinct look without being high-profile or obnoxious. The streamlined design provides three forward speeds and two reverse speeds to keep air flowing in whatever direction you need.
We like the Zephyr fan because the less electric things you have, the less there is to break. The manual crank lifts the lid easily, keeping this vent working for years to come. The clear lid is also a nice perk for those hoping to soak up every ounce of sunshine. Here are more of our favorite aspects of this fan.
- 5-inch garnish provides clean finish
- High speed provides 920 cubic feet per minute
- Fits standard 14×14 inch openings
- Few electronics means less breaking
- Fully manual controls
4. The Dometic Fantastic 3350 Vent (Best High-End Fan)
Since acquiring the Fantastic line of RV vents in 2014, Dometic has streamlined the lineup to be just what their customers need. The Dometic Fantastic 3350 is their mid-level RV fan, providing plenty of adjustability without going overboard.
With the typical three fan speeds and both intake and exhaust functions, this vent will cool any van or RV in a matter of minutes. The quiet operation pairs well with the automatic lift dome. Thankfully, though, Dometic included a manual lift in case electricity is out or you simply want to skip the motor-assist opening. But, that’s not all. Let’s look at more advantages of this vent:
- Built-in thermostat provides all-day or night comfort
- Rain sensor automatically closes lid when it starts to rain, keeping your belongings dry
- Fits standard 14×14-inch opening
- Three speeds both in and out
- Exchanges almost 1,000 cubic feet per minute
- More expensive than the average RV fan
- Only one arm holds up the lid, sometimes creating a wobbling effect when lowering or raising the lid.
5. The SAILFLO RV Vent (Best Small Fan)
SailFlo as a company has researched and designed water pumps, garden tools, and marine and RV equipment for over ten years. Through this, they have created durable products to be just what you want. So, their RV vent fan is an incredible deal for what you get.
This heavy-duty vent fan is a bit bulkier than other low-profile ones, but it is meant to last. The white lid comes with a durable anti-UV coating so it won’t crack even after years of baking in the sunshine.
Once the lid has been manually lifted, you uncover the clear, five-blade fan that pushes air in or out. The fan is smaller than many others, but it is well-integrated so this is a great option if you go off-roading and plan to bump your fan around a bit.
My personal favorite aspect of this van is that the bug netting is easy to take out and clean. I’ve had a dead stink bug stuck in my fan for far too long, and I dearly wish it was easy to simply clean out. But, it’s not. So, instead, I’ll continue to dream of SailFlo’s design. Here are more aspects I love about this fan…
- A smaller 11×11 inch opening is better for small roofs or small vans
- Removable bug screen for easy cleaning
- UV-resistant coating
- 12V fan with straight-forward, two-wire installation
- The small opening means its not a universal fit
- Smaller fan than most RV vents
- Only two speeds to choose from
We Installed two Fantastic Fans in Our Camper Van…
My husband and I chose to install two Fantastic Fans in our Sprinter van. We wanted one in the back above our bed and another above our propane stove near the front. The double-fan allowed us to circulate air well without needing to crack any windows or doors. This kept our stealth factor high, especially if we were stealth camping in a town or city.
Our van has an extra-long wheelbase, so we wanted to make sure the air inside wouldn’t get stale. But, the downside to our long roof is that we did have to cut through one of the metal support beams above the bed to fit the vent in the back. We wouldn’t recommend this for others, as our roof does sag ever so slightly now, but it has worked for us so far. There’s just no pitching a tent on our roof these days.
After three years of use, however, our manual lift lever has stopped working on one of the fans. We think the screw is stripped. It should be an easy fix, but it is a bit frustrating that it’s not working. The fan was manufactured before Dometic, a top-of-the-line RV appliance company, acquired Fantastic Fans though. So, I have high hopes for Dometic to bring the Fantastic Fan brand line up a few notches in quality.
Installing the Vents in Our Brand New Sprinter Van
Perhaps the most terrifying thing I did in my first year of marriage was cut two large holes in the top of my new, shiny, expensive van. Just days after driving our Sprinter van home from Chicago, we went ahead and installed two fans in her roof.
My husband had previously installed one Fantastic Fan in his old Ford Transit Connect, so he felt confident using his electric tin snips to cut out the 14×14-inch squares we needed. For the one further back, as mentioned earlier, we had to cut the metal frame of the van.
While this was not ideal, we knew we wouldn’t be having much gear on top, so it shouldn’t be an issue in the long run. One of the perks of a big van was that we can keep everything inside rather than on the roof.
We used marine-grade caulking to ensure a waterproof seal as we set the fans in place. The hardest part was actually running the wires through the metal frame to have them coming out near the base of the driver’s seat where we could connect them to the necessary electrical wires.
We used spray foam throughout to insulate our van, so we had to make sure there was a tunnel for the wires and they did not get sprayed permanently in place.
Thankfully, fans are fairly easy to instal and are almost universal in their cutout size. The framing that comes with most fans is forgiving for those who struggle cutting perfectly straight lines. But, most people with a few tools and a small amount of attention to detail can confidently instal them on their own!
Things to Consider When Picking the Right Fan For Your RV or Van
Fans come in all sizes, shapes, and speeds. But, depending on your vehicle, setup, and location, you might not need to buy the biggest and best fan available on the market.
Do You Even Need a Fan?
First, consider where you go on your travels. If you frequent hot and humid places or spots that take awhile to cool off in the evening, you’ll likely want a fan. Circulating air also helps dry wet gear and keep mold and stale air to a minimum in your RV.
While some people cook outside their vehicles, many cook inside. If that’s you, you’ll definitely want a fan to get cooking grease and vapor outside your RV.
How Many Features Do You Need in a Vent Fan?
Next, decide how much you will use the fan. If you’d like to leave the vent open and fan on when you’re out adventuring, you may consider investing in the Dometic option, as it includes a rain sensor. An automatically closing fan could mean the difference between a cozy, dry RV and a wet bed to sleep in.
Many people hope to leave their fan on until they go to bed but won’t want to leave the warm cozy sheets to turn it off. If so, a remote or a fan with a built-in thermostat should be considered.
Choosing the Stealth Factor
Many vans try to sneak under the radar, but a roof vent is often one of the tell-tale signs that someone may be living inside. So, try to get the vent with the lowest profile if you are trying to go unnoticed. If this doesn’t matter to you, though, definitely spring for that beautiful Maxxair fan, and just don’t forget you’re a few inches taller now!
How Much Power Does an RV Roof Vent Need?
While almost every fan advertises that it is ultra-quiet, the fact of the matter is they will make noise. The different speeds will have three different noise levels.
The benefit to more speeds is not only more ventilation but the ability to keep it running even when you’re trying to have a conversation at dinner. A few extra speeds will give you more freedom to choose just how much air needs to be moving at any moment.
Deciding how much to spend on a RV fan is tough, as many people aren’t sure how much they will use it or even where they will be heading. But, remember, if you invest in a good brand that makes quality products, you’ll only have to buy and install these things once. The last thing you want is to be switching out a rooftop vent because it leaks or is broken just a year into using it.
So, consider buying the MaxxAir Deluxe or any of Dometic’s RV vent line, as both companies are well known for their longevity and stability. Do you have a favorite RV fan or tips for using it? We’d love to hear below in the comments!
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Lauren Nowack is a freelance writer and story maker living in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. She is passionate about the outdoors, mental health, and living a bit on the wild side. In her free time, she enjoys mountain biking, building out her Sprinter van, and finding a new trail to blaze with her family.