BEST RV AND CAMPER VAN ROOF VENT FANS

BEST RV AND CAMPER VAN ROOF VENT FANS

BEST RV AND CAMPER VAN ROOF VENT FANS OF 2021: Having a roof vent fan is essential for camping bliss, because it helps regulate the temperature inside your RV or van, provides fresh air while sleeping, eliminates smells and smoke during cooking, and helps you regulate your temperature inside your RV or van. After years of personal research and use, we’ve compiled our list of favorites, which contains a high-end remote-controlled Maxxair unit as well as a very basic-looking Heng’s vent. We have a DIY installation guide here that offers detailed instructions for installing your fan. 


BEST OVERALL ROOF VENT FAN

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1. Maxxair MAXXFAN 5100K

Price: $248
Motor:
10-speeds, intake/exhaust
Controls: On fan
Thermostat: Yes
Rain Shield: Yes

Why We Like It

RVers and van campers alike have been raving about Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K for years. In addition to its intuitive features and easy-to-use design, MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K has a reasonable price tag. In exchange for about $250, you’ll get a 10-speed fan that can be used as an exhaust or intake, a thermostat to help control the temperature inside your RV or camper van, and a manual lid opener that is easy to use. Possibly the most important feature-and especially important for wet-weather owners-is the rain cover, which allows fresh air to enter even in the heaviest downpours, something not possible with the Dometic-Fan-Tastic Vento 1250 below. Our top pick for roof vent fans this year is the Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K. 

What It Compares To 

It is safe to say that the Maxxair MAXXFAN 5100K will more than satisfy the needs of most campers, however, if comfort is a priority and budget is no object, the Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 7500K is the best choice. With an additional $50 purchase, you get all the benefits of the MAXXFAN 5100K, with the added benefit of remote-control operation and an electric lift, making it ideal for hard-to-reach areas or adjustments from bed. In addition to the Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent 1250 listed below, another reasonably priced alternative is the Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent 1250. Fan-Tastic Vent 1250 is smaller and has fewer speeds than MaxxFan Deluxe 5100K, but it is well suited for dry-weather camping. It also costs much less than MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K.

READ OUR IN-DEPTH REVIEW HERE


BEST ROOF VENT FAN (FOR $50 LESS)

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2. Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent 1250

Price: $160
Motor: 3-speeds, intake/exhaust
Controls: On fan
Thermostat: No
Rain Shield: No (rain sensor)

Why We Like It

This $160 Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent 1250 fan strikes the perfect balance between features and price, making it a great alternative to the more expensive Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K. Air is circulated well inside your RV or camper van with this motor’s strong 3-speed fan, 10″ blade, and reversible motor. Furthermore, the low-profile, streamline design is ideal for stealth campers, and this is our top recommendation for such purposes. If you’re looking for a simple fan that includes everything you need and nothing you don’t, the Fan-Tastic Vent 1250 from Dometic is a great choice.

What It Compares To

Those looking for something cheaper than $200 might consider the Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent 1250, but you won’t get all the premium features of pricier options. First of all, the small vent cover doesn’t protect the fan from moisture while on, which can be problematic when used in foul weather. The second disadvantage is that it provides fewer adjustments than Maxxair’s MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100k, which has ten speeds. Last but not least, the single arm that supports the cover tends to flutter while driving and is not as secure as two-armed models. To conclude, we suggest the Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K above, but if you’re looking to save a few bucks, the Dometic Fan-Tastic 1250 makes a lot of sense.

 SEE THE DOMETIC FAN-TASTIC VENT 1250


BEST BUDGET ROOF VENT FAN

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3. Maxxair MAXXFAN 4301K

Price: $110
Motor: 4-speeds, exhaust
Controls: On fan
Thermostat: No
Rain Shield: No

What We Like

Almost to a fault, we have so many Maxxair roof vent fans on our list, but the fact is they have a lot of great options. As an example, their MAXXFAN 4301K is under a Benjamin Franklin (it’s $110, to be precise) and has an automatic 4-speed motor that enables the fan to provide plenty of power for circulating air inside RVs or campers. That’s quite the deal. Although you won’t find many features on the MAXXFAN 4301K-those are reserved for more expensive models-the MAXXFAN 4301K is the ideal partner for DIY camper van conversions and low-cost RV replacements. 

What’s the difference?

As mentioned above, if features and options are what you are looking for, then the Maxxair MAXXFAN 4301K is probably not for you. Rain shields and sensors aren’t included-so campers who are concerned about wet weather should find another model. There is no automatic temperature regulation and no thermostat. Furthermore, MAXXFAN 4301K does not have a remote control, and it operates primarily in one direction. For a slight increase in cost, but with a lot more features, we recommend the Domestic Fan-Tastic 1250. If you are on a tight budget, the Maxxair MAXXFAN 4301K at $110 is a better choice.

 SEE THE MAXXAIR MAXXFAN 4301K


BEST REMOTE CONTROL ROOF VENT FAN

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4. Maxxair MAXXFAN 7500K

Price: $300
Motor:
10-speeds, intake/exhaust
Controls: On fan and remote
Thermostat: Yes
Rain Shield: Yes

What We Like

Both Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 7500K and our top pick, the MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K, feature a 10-speed fan that provides air intake and exhaust, can run when it’s raining outside, and have an automatic thermostat. There are two areas where the MAXXFAN Deluxe 7500K outperforms the MAXXFAN 5100K. In addition, the Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 7500K comes with a remote control that allows users to operate the fan from their beds or while driving. This remote controller can also reach even the most difficult of locations. Also, the MAXXFAN Deluxe 7500K’s lid opens electronically instead of manually as found on the MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K. If budget is no object, then the Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 7500K is an easy decision. 

How It Compares

Maxxair’s MAXXFAN Deluxe 7500K costs $300, which is one of the main drawbacks. There is no doubt that the remote control and electric lift are nice options for some users, but the added costs and complexity are likely to overwhelm most. Maxxair’s MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K has a slightly downgraded design, but the motor and functionality are identical to the more expensive model. We highly recommend it if you agree with our top pick above. We think the MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K is the better choice for about $90 less.


TOP RATED ALTERNATIVES

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5. Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent 1200

Price: $130
Motor: 3-speeds, intake
Controls: On fan
Thermostat: No
Rain Shield: No

What We Like

The Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent 1200 is a top-of-the-line roof vent fan that won’t break the bank if you’re looking for a highly functional RV or camper van roof vent fan. Around $130 gets you a powerful 3-speed motor with 10 fan blades that can pump out 920 CFM (cubic feet per minute) – which is on par with the more expensive models. Dometic’s Fan-Tastic 1200 may not be particularly remarkable-we’re talking about roof vent fans after all-but it’s a reliable model that keeps on proving itself year after year.

What are the differences?

Occasionally, all you need is a simple fan to circulate air in your van or RV, and for you, the Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent 1200 is a good choice. As a result, we think our budget pick above is the better choice for shoppers looking to get the most bang for their buck. Maxxair’s MAXXFAN 4301K above is about $20 less than Dometic’s one-way fan and has an added speed (for a total four). Our final conclusion is that Dometic Fan-Tastic 1200 overrides Maxxair MAXXFAN 4301K on almost every point.


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6. Maxxair MAXXFAN 4500K

Price: $205
Airflow: 10-speeds, intake/exhaust
Controls: On fan and remote control
Thermostat: Yes
Rain Shield: No (rain sensor)

What We Like

The MAXXFAN Plus 4500K is right in the middle when it comes to its price tag among Maxxair’s roof vent fans. In exchange for about $200, you get a powerful 10-speed motor for moving air, a built-in thermostat for regulating internal temperatures, and a sensor that closes the lid once it detects rain. It is one of the least expensive RV and camper van roof vent fans to include a remote control-which makes it ideal for hard-to-reach places or using in bed. Overall, the Maxxair MAXXFAN Plus 4500K has everything you need, especially if you are looking for saving money and adding convenience to your home.

What are the differences?

There is no doubt that the MAXXFAN Plus 4500K is the best budget-oriented remote-control roof vent fan on the market. However, it falls short in wet-weather performance when compared with the more expensive MAXXFAN Deluxe 7500K above. The oversize lid of the MAXXFAN Deluxe 7500K model allows users to run the fan even when it’s pouring rain outside, something that’s simply not possible with the MAXXFAN Plus 4500K. For those who recreate in dry climates, the $95 less expensive MAXXFAN Plus 4500k is the easy choice, but for those who camp in all sorts of conditions, we recommend going with the Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 7500K listed above.

 SEE THE MAXXAIR MAXXFAN 4500K


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7. Heng’s 71112-C

Price: $26
Airflow:
Intake
Controls:
On fan
Thermostat:
No
Rain Shield:
No

What We Like

On the budget end of the spectrum, the Heng’s 71112-C offers an acceptable amount of airflow for smaller vehicles. A surprisingly affordable $26, the Heng’s 71112-C features a one-speed motor that powers a small 6-inch blade-which is just enough to keep air flowing in tight spaces. We wouldn’t use it as our primary roof vent, but it’s a great choice for smaller applications or as a secondary vent in larger RVs or camper vans.

What are the differences?

For a fan that costs more than a week’s worth of lattes, it is important to have realistic expectations. The Heng’s71112-C is about as basic as it gets. When compared with our top pick, the $110 Maxxair MAXXFAN 4301K, the Heng’s is pretty bare bones. For an additional $85 you can get three more fan speeds and the 12-inch blades will produce significantly more draft. As well, you can use the Maxxair MAXXFAN 4301K as a ceiling fan when it’s closed. Although the added features make it worth the extra money, the Heng’s 71112-C is a great budget option or a great second fan.

 SEE THE HENG’S 71112-C


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8. Heng’s 71111-C1G1

Price: $20
Motor:
No
Controls:
No
Thermostat:
No
Rain Shield:
No

What We Like

In addition to fans–and a similarly effective product nonetheless–a simple vent is a great way to improve airflow and circulation in your camper van or RV. Simple vents aren’t very impressive on their own, but when paired with a fan, they can significantly increase air movement inside your camper. Our recommendation is Heng’s 71111-C1G1 for such applications. It isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing design, but the manual lift and large opening do a great job of letting air in, and the mesh screen prevents bugs and debris from entering. On a budget, motorless vents are a great way to increase air flow.


ROOF VENT FAN BUYING INFORMATION

Do I Need a Roof Vent Fan?

Although RV and camper van roof vent fans may seem unnecessary to some, travelers know how important they are when living on the road. Starting off, getting fresh air inside your car is best accomplished with a quality roof vent fan. Passive ventilation techniques, such as opening a window or leaving the door open, can produce a similar effect, but powered fans simply can’t compete with the draft provided by a powered fan. The second consideration is that, if you intend to cook inside your van or RV–which is likely to happen–then making sure you have proper ventilation is vital. A roof vent van won’t be able to match an air conditioning system, but once the weather cools down outside, they can help regulate temperatures. Lastly, a roof vent fan will help you manage moisture buildup in damp areas.

The Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K strikes a nice balance between features and price

The Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K strikes a nice balance between features and price


Airflow and Direction

The fact of the matter is that not all fans are created equal when it comes to moving air, as there is a great deal of variation among models. Budget options, such as the Maxxair MAXXFAN 4301, feature a one-way motor that can only pull air out of your camper. You can also get a fan with blades that can move in either direction for a little more, but most people likely won’t need it. Maxxair’s MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K’s motor, for example, can turn in either direction, which means you can pull air into and out of your camper van or RV. Having the ability to suck steam and smoke out of our van while cooking is great, but reversing the direction allows us to move air inside while sleeping. 

Besides the direction of the airflow, it is important to understand how much air a fan can move. Most high-quality fans have a CFM rating of about 900, which is measured in cubic feet per minute. We won’t get into the technical details, but finding a model that has similar output is something you should consider.

Controlling Your Fan

Remote-controlled fans offer maximum convenience, so you can’t go wrong. You can make adjustments and changes from the comfort of your bed, and they’re great for hard-to-reach places or for those who are vertically challenged (like us). To meet such needs, we particularly recommend the Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 7500K. By adjusting the fan speed, opening and lowering the vent, and turning on and off the motor using the battery-operated remote control, you can make adjustments easily. Some may consider it overkill, but many find the added convenience worth it. 

The on-fan controls of the Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K are easy to use

The on-fan controls of the Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K are easy to use

On the other end of the scale is the Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent 1200, whose fan is controlled by a simple knob on the underside of the unit. Featuring a simple “0, 1, 2, 3” control, the three-speed motor controls both the blade’s power and speed. Dometic is a great choice if you’re looking for something simple, effective, and inexpensive.

Thermostat

Despite not being absolutely necessary, roof vent fan thermostats are a nice way to regulate the temperature inside your camper van or RV. The Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K, for example, comes with an adjustable thermostat that automatically controls the fan’s speed. The fan kicks on when the temperature inside the van reaches a certain point, bringing fresh air inside. Despite the fact that simple roof vent fans cannot compete with a dedicated air conditioner, the thermostat function that’s found on some models can be invaluable.  

Rain Shield and Dome

For DIY camper van conversions or RV replacement fans, roof vent rain shields are simple, but invaluable. A properly designed fan should allow users to use their fan to circulate air even when it is pouring rain. The Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent 1250, for example, has a rain sensor that closes the fan when it detects moisture, so you can keep your interior dry. Our preference, however, is the Maxxfan MAXXAIR Deluxe series, which employs a larger design that improves performance. Maxxfan’s full coverage rain shield does occupy a little more roof space – which theoretically could interfere with solar panels or a rack – but we think it’s worth it for its wet-weather performance. Our locations in the Pacific Northwest may have something to do with our preference for venting air regardless of the weather. 

It’s important to think about other roof-mounted accessories when deciding the location of your fan

It’s important to think about other roof-mounted accessories when deciding the location of your fan

Regarding the top of your fan, you should also consider the dome. Budget-friendly models, like the Maxxair MAXXFAN 4301K, come with a solid piece of white plastic that doesn’t let much light through. Dometic Fan-Tastic Vent 1250, for example, comes with transparent domes. The translucent types are great for letting a little more light into your camper van or RV, but some users prefer solid plastic types for blocking out light. After all, there are no right or wrong answers; choosing the style that suits you best is all that matters.

Power and Energy Draw

Calculating how much energy each component will consume is an important part of any DIY camper van conversion. Roof vent fans consume very little power when compared to other appliances, especially when they are set to a lower speed. In the Maxxair MAXXFAN Deluxe 5100K, for example, the low speed uses 0.2 amps, medium uses 1 amp, and high uses 4.5 amps. Here we won’t get into the specifics, but if your battery is fully charged, and has 80 amp-hours, you could have up to two weeks of power. 

The Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Lithium makes a great all-in-one power source

The Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Lithium makes a great all-in-one power source


Fan Size

Standard roof top fans come in three sizes: 14 14″ by 14 14″, 14 x 14″, and 13″ by 14″. When replacing an old fan, or simply looking for an upgrade, it’s crucial to pay attention to these dimensions. The general recommendation is that everyone installing one for the first time should just be aware. As a result, the majority of Maxxfan and Dometic models on the market require an opening of 14 inches by 14 inches for installation. 

Location and Installation

I won’t get too detailed here, but installing a roof vent fan is one of the first steps of a DIY camper van conversion. We like to consider the fan’s location before beginning a build, both to maximize efficacy and to prevent interference with other parts. In addition to cracking your front windows for airflow, we think it’s a good idea to place the fan near the back of your vehicle. As a result, air is able to flow throughout the entire camper van’s interior and provides the most value for money. Second, you don’t want your roof vent fan to interfere with accessories such as solar panels or racks in the future.

Adding tape to the surface of your roof saves it from scratches and future rust

Adding tape to the surface of your roof saves it from scratches and future rust

You’ll need to start working on the location as soon as you’ve selected it. Start by making a cardboard template of the fan opening. This will eliminate any guesswork. Once the template is positioned correctly and in line with the van, use a sharpie to mark each corner. Then drill a small hole at each point, making sure it is large enough to fit a saw blade inside. The next step is to use an electric jigsaw to cut from one corner to the other. We found it helpful to think of cutting one straight line at a time, because it’s less intimidating than cutting an entire square. 

Applying lap sealant to the outside of your fan ensures you won’t get leaks

Applying lap sealant to the outside of your fan ensures you won’t get leaks

After the hole has been cut out and the edges filed down, it’s time to prepare the area for weatherproofing. In order to ensure no leakage occurs, we recommend a combination of butyl tape and lap sealant between the fan frame and the van. All you have to do is fix the fan to the van (minus the wiring, of course). Last but not least, we highly recommend testing your fan before installation-nothing would be worse than receiving a non-working fan. Even though we haven’t experienced these issues before, it’s better to play it safe than sorry.

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