Best Roof Fan for Camper Vans and RV's

August 1, 2022

Taking on a new RV or van conversion can be an exciting event, but it also comes with lots of preparation, DIY, and patience. From structural work to solar, and from appliances to furnishings, where do you even begin? 

For many people, installing a roof vent fan is one of the first courses of action. Since this project involves making physical alterations in the roof of your camper van, you’ll want to make sure it’s complete before you take on the rest of the construction.

There are countless RV roof vent fans available on the market, and deciding on one can be a tricky process. In this article, we’ll break down every aspect you need to know about selecting a vent fan, and give you a side-by-side comparison of the leading brands.  

Reasons to Install a Roof Vent Fan

If the idea of sawing out a gaping hole in your roof and installing a vent fan frightens you, you’re not alone! Even the most experienced DIYers can be hesitant to take on such a project. However, when it comes to installing a roof fan, there’s really no way around it. The fan needs to sit both in and out of your van so that it can circulate fresh air properly. 

Installing a fan in your DIY camper van conversion is an absolute necessity.  You may be tempted to skip this project, but doing so will drastically reduce the quality of your life once you’re living in the rig. 

There are countless reasons (both minor and major) why a roof vent installation should never be skipped. Let’s look at a few of those. 


Being able to circulate air is the primary reason you need a vent fan in your camper van. Unlike a traditional living situation, vans can be quite tiny, and therefore trap a lot of air inside. Without proper airflow, your van will quickly fill up with stale, warm air that’s absolutely unbearable to live in. 

With the proper vent fan setup, you can keep fresh air flowing in and out of your rig whenever you need it. 

Reduces Condensation

Whereas ventilation may be the most obvious reason for installing a roof vent, reducing condensation is often overlooked. This is one of the more crucial reasons, as excess moisture can lead to a whole host of issues. Unfortunately, living in a camper van means you’ll be producing lots of moisture, and you need a way to filter it out of your living space.

Simply being in your van will produce water due to your breath and perspiration. Cooking and showering are also major culprits, as well as differences in external and internal temperatures. If the inside of your rig is warm, and the outside air is cool, moisture and condensation will easily build up within your van.

When excess moisture is ignored, it can cause three main issues:

  1. Mold and Mildew: Mold absolutely loves moist environments, and your van is a breeding ground for it. If moisture is not dealt with, mildew will begin to accumulate in areas that don’t have much airflow, such as underneath mattresses and in sealed storage cubbies. Over time, this mildew can eventually transform into mold, creating a hazardous living environment for everyone inside.
  2. Structural Damage: If you’re using wood in your van conversion, know that condensation can seriously damage it. Wood tends to soak up moisture, especially along walls, and if not properly dealt with can lead to internal rot. While it won’t happen overnight, ignoring it is a recipe for disaster. Removing moisture with a fan will help mitigate this issue.
  3. High Humidity: While it may not cause serious issues, a humid living space is simply unpleasant. By filtering the moisture out of your van with a roof vent, you’ll be able to keep it nice and dry inside.

Odor Removal

Another obvious reason to install a roof vent is odor control. All of the scents you produce during your daily life are only compounded when living in a small space. From smells associated with cooking to your own body odor, you’ll want an efficient way to rid it from the van. 

Don’t make yourself suffer by skipping out on fish or curry night! With a roof vent, you can enjoy even the most aromatic of meals and won’t be left with a stinky aftermath. 

Temperature Control

Living in a camper van means adventure, and you’ll never know where the road might take you. From blistering cold mountain passes to scorching desert landscapes, you’ll want to be prepared with the appropriate climate control. 

Unless you’re outfitting your fan with a multi-thousand-watt solar set up, running air conditioning won’t be a possibility. While you can of course utilize the one installed in your vehicle, this will quickly drain your battery or fuel.  The only other way to efficiently keep cool is with a fan. With a well-functioning vent fan and some other precautions, you’ll be able to withstand even the hottest of temperatures. 

Considerations When Purchasing a Fan for Camper Van Living

Now that you’ve determined a roof vent fan is a required element for van life, you can begin looking at what specifications you’d like in a fan. There are countless options available - from high-end, tech-infused ones, to bare-bones budget fans. Finding the right choice for you is as simple as figuring out what applications you’ll need it for. 

Roof vent fans come with a laundry list of features, but most consumers are concerned solely with pricing, power draw, and fan-speed options. Let’s break down those aspects, as well as some others.


Van conversions are not cheap, and every DIYer is always looking to save costs where they can. When it comes to vent fans, pricing is pretty standard, with most models ranging from $150-$300. 

Roof vent fans on the lower end of this scale will have significantly fewer features than the higher-priced options, but many people may find that they don’t need all of the bells and whistles that come with premium models. Budget-level features will likely include minimal speed control and manual fixtures, whereas more expensive fans will feature automatic controls and built-in options like rain sensors. 

Finding a balance between comfort and cost-effectiveness is the best course of action.

Power Draw

Power is a precious commodity in any van build, and choosing the most energy-efficient devices can be a challenge. Luckily, most roof vent fans use very little power and won’t cause any substantial strain on your power system. However, it is always worth researching your product before purchasing so that you’re not left with an unexpected battery black-out in the middle of the night.

Fans with lower speed settings will generally require much less amperage than a more powerful fan with multiple settings. For a typical, three-speed fan you can expect the following:

  • Low: Less than 1 amp
  • Medium: 1-3 amps
  • High: 3-5 amps

Fan Speed Control

After technical details like price and power draw, functionality is equally as important. Installing a vent fan is a project you’re likely only going to take on once, so you want to make sure that you’re equipping yourself with a product you’ll be satisfied with. 

Budget-level fans can be as simple as just a one-speed setting, but this might not be enough for your camper van, depending on which climate you’ll be in. Higher-end fans can have as many as 10 settings or more, but you’ll pay a premium for this. They may also come with remote control functionality, allowing you to adjust the fan’s speed without even needing to get up from your bed.

In general, a typical three-speed fan is more than enough for most applications. I’ve found that most vent fans with a high number of speed settings just translate to low, medium, and high anyways.


Size may seem like one of the most important considerations to make when selecting a roof vent, but you’ll be pleased to learn that they all come in one universal size. All modern fans, including MaxxAir and Dometic, are 14”x14”. This makes it incredibly easy to swap out an older fan, as you’ll know that your new one will fit perfectly. 

Keep in mind that this is the interior dimension of the fan, and the measurement you’ll be using to make your cuts. The final product will likely be wider so that it creates a water-tight seal over the hole you drilled in your roof.

Rain Covers

A roof vent is pointless if it allows rain to intrude into your camper van, but every single model comes with some layer of protection. At the most basic level, your vent fan will simply have a cover that only works when the fan is closed, and off. This isn’t always the most practical, as you won’t be able to use your vent when there’s any level of precipitation. 

More expensive fan models have a rain cover that allows you to run your fan even when it’s downpouring. This is incredibly useful as oftentimes the rain is what brings the excess humidity you’d like gone from your van. This also allows you to cook and ventilate even during bad weather. 

Optionally, some vent fans come equipped with a built-in rain sensor that will automatically close your vent once moisture is detected. A neat add-on for sure, but unnecessary if you’re paying any attention to the weather. It could, however, come in handy if you’ve left your van for the day with the vent open.

Intake and Exhaust Functionality

This is one of the most overlooked aspects of a fan but is absolutely critical. When thinking about what type of vent fan you want for your build, you likely only picture cool, crisp air blowing into the fan. As important as this is, blowing air out is just as important. 

With your purchase, be sure you’re choosing a product that has both intake and exhaust capabilities. What’s the difference?

  • Intake Fan: The intake portion of your vent fan is responsible for air flow coming into your van. This will help rejuvenate the space with fresh air, and will also keep you cool. 
  • Exhaust Fan: The role of the exhaust function is to pull air out. This helps remove odors, moisture, and any hot air that’s caught inside the rig. If the outside temperature is cooler than the inside, always use exhaust to cool the space down.

Manual vs. Electric Opener

This feature is more of a side note, and we’ve found that it really doesn’t make too big of a difference in your choice of fans. An electric opener is convenient, but it does use additional power to function. Additionally, unless your fan is equipped with remote control, you’ll have to stand there and manually hold the electric opener button anyways. 

A manual sensor is much simpler and will never fail. It also allows you to look at more affordable options. For best results, choose a vent fan that has both features. 

Top Brands of Roof Vent Fans in 2022

Once you’ve committed to installing a roof vent fan in your van, and you’ve made your checklist of all the necessary requirements, it’s time to decide on a product. Fortunately, when it comes to branding, there are really only two main manufacturers worth considering: MaxxAir, and Dometic. 

Both brands are extremely reputable in the RV and van conversion industry and can be trusted to deliver a quality product that’ll rarely fail. However, each brand has its own set of products with different features and price points. 

Overwhelmed by your choices? Not to worry. We’ll break down each of the most popular fan models so that you’ll know exactly what fan is best for your conversion.


MaxxAir, marketed by AirXcel, has been a leading RV ventilation company since 1988. They specialize in high-performance vent covers, fans, and shrouds for all applications in the RV and camper van industry. All of the covers to their vents are protected with UV-resistant materials that prolong the fan’s lifespan and increase its durability. In addition, all of their fans will circulate air within the van, even with the vent completely closed.

Installing a MaxxAir fan is especially easy, as the company prides itself on a “no-tool installation.” This is a bit inaccurate, as all roof vents will require the van’s roof to be cut. After that though, the MaxxAir fans can be easily secured with their molded mounting tabs.

MaxxAir offers a wide range of vent fans that’ll match any need or budget. Their main line of products includes the MaxxFan, MaxxFan Plus, and the MaxxFan Deluxe, with each featuring differing levels of functionality. MaxxAir makes a few uniquely shaped fans such as their low-profile model and their dome model as well, which can be installed on thin roofs and sidewalls, respectively. 

  1. MaxxAir MaxxFan Deluxe 7500K

The MaxxFan Deluxe 7500K is MaxxAir’s most premium offering, and it comes with an array of high-end options that truly set it apart from other models.

For starters, this vent fan is the only model on the entire market that allows you to use your fan in any type of weather - even torrential downpours. It features an all-in-one construction to allow for this, packaging the fan, vent, and vent cover all into a single product. It can also be used in full capacity while driving, making it an excellent option for van dwellers with pets or partners.

Included in all MaxxFan Deluxe models is a built-in, removable bug screen for easy cleaning, a 12-inch, 10-blade reversible fan, and a 2-year limited warranty. Optional features include a thermostat with auto-temperature regulation and remote controls for added convenience. If you’re looking for a fan that has the complete package, this is the model for you. It does however come at a significant price tag when compared to similar models. 

Price: $324.94

Number of Speed Settings: 10

Power Draw: 3 amps at max output

  1. MaxxAir MaxxFan Plus 4500K

The MaxxFan Plus 4500K is an excellent middle-ground product offered by MaxxAir. While it doesn’t come with all of the bells and whistles found in the 7500K, you’ll still get a respectable fan that’ll serve a wide range of purposes. The only true difference that sets this MaxxAir fan apart from its higher-end brother is the all-in-one construction. You won’t be able to use the 4500K in rainstorms, but it does come standard with a sensor that detects rain and closes the vent when needed. Also featured is a built-in thermostat to regulate internal temperature.

The 4500K comes with a reversible intake and outtake fan, which efficiently removes stale air and replenishes with fresh. The standard model includes fan controls at the ceiling, where 10 different speed settings can be selected from. Optionally, you can purchase the remote control version. The lid opening comes electric by default, but manual lid opening is available too for buyers seeking a fail-safe mechanism. 

Price: $268.92

Number of Speed Settings: 10

Power Draw: 5 amps at max output

  1. Maxxair MaxxFan 4301K

For those seeking a no-frills vent fan, the MaxxFan 4301K will do you well. When compared to the other models offered by MaxxAir, the 4301K is quite lacking in features. This sacrifice comes with massive savings in cost, however. 

To begin, this simple fan only comes equipped with a manual opener, reinforced by twin lifting arms. The controls are located at the ceiling, and there are no remote-controlled capabilities installed. Each time you want to open or close the vent you will have to physically stand and lower/raise the hatch. 

This model comes with four speed settings, which is plenty if you ask us. It should be noted, however, that this vent fan is exhaust only. You won’t be able to bring fresh air into the cabin, only expel what’s already in there. This is a pretty significant drawback of the 4301K that may negate the low price benefits. The fan is also quite noisy at higher speed settings and has a tendency to rattle after years of use.

Price: $130.64

Number of Speed Settings: 4

Power Draw: 5 amps at max output


Dometic is a household name in the van life community for its exceptional 12V refrigerators. However, their build quality also includes a line of vent fans that’ll work perfectly under any circumstances. The Fan-Tastic Fan is their hallmark product, and like MaxxAir comes in a variety of styles and price ranges suited for all different types of consumers. 

Similar to MaxxAir, Dometic’s fans feature UV protection for optimum vent lifespan. They are also impact-resistant, so you can feel confident that your vent will hold up even in the event of damaging storms with hail and tree branches. 

Unlike MaxxAir, none of the Fantastic Fan models feature built-in rain protection that allows it to be used during storms. If there’s any bad weather on the horizon, you won’t be able to circulate any air in the van which is a substantial disadvantage of the brand.

  1. Fan-Tastic Fan Model 3350

The 3350 is Dometic’s higher-end Fan-Tastic Fan model, and it comes with most of the additional, optional features found with the more expensive fans. It features a high-profile base that ensures a secure fit to the roof of your van and fits a standard 14’’x14’’ opening for easy installation. 

When compared to the other higher-priced options, the fan speed variability of the 3350 is pretty lacking. It only comes with four different selections, which is no different than the most budget version of the MaxxAir fans. The Fan-Tastic Fan 3350 is, however, extremely quiet, and you’ll hardly even know it’s running at full speed.

Besides the limited speed options, the 3350 still has a lot going for it. It has a built-in thermostat for automatic temperature regulation, but the temperature can be controlled manually as well. There is also a built-in rain sensor that’ll automatically close your vent for you. The fan opens and closes electronically, but a manual knob comes standard in the case of power loss. In our opinion, this is an important selling point of the 3350, as you never want to be caught with the vent open in an emergency. 

Price: $386.91

Number of Speed Settings: 4

Power Draw: 3 amps at max output

  1. Fan-Tastic Fan Model 2250

Right in the middle of the Fan-Tastic fan line up is the 2250. This is a great mid-level product that comes with all of the needed features in a vent fan. You’ll benefit from multiple speed settings, a thermostat to regulate the van’s temperature, and intake/exhaust capabilities for maximum airflow and ventilation. 

Unlike MaxxAir’s mid-range options, the 2250 does not come with an optional remote controlled fan, nor does it have a wide range of speed options. As with all Fan-Tastic Fans, it operates at an extremely low volume level to maintain a surreal atmosphere inside of the van.

Price: $264.99

Number of Speed Settings: 3

Power Draw: 3 amps at max output

  1. Fan-Tastic Fan Model 1250

The Fan-Tastic Fan 1250 is about as bare bones as it gets. With this model, you’re receiving a manual crank vent fan that has no electric, or remote control capability. There are only three-speed settings on this fan, but we’ve found that this is plenty for most applications. 

The fan itself is composed of 10 blades, which produces plenty of breeze even on the lowest settings. Like other Dometic fan products, the 1250 is exceptionally quiet, even for a budget fan. One huge advantage of this model is that it still comes with a reversible fan setting, so you’ll benefit from both intake and exhaust. This is a rare feature to find in a more affordably priced vent. 

Price: $260

Number of Speed Settings: 3

Power Draw: 1.5 amps on low, 2 on medium, 3 on high

Top 3 Roof Vent Comparison: Final Breakdown

In the above section, we looked at six possible vent fans that you can use in your van conversion. While having any vent fan is better than having none, three, in particular, stood out to us.

If you’re looking for the easiest, most affordable option, Dometic’s Fan-Tastic Fan 1250 is a better choice over MaxxAir’s 4301K. While the 4301K comes in at an astonishingly low price - $130 - it lacks intake capability. This is a huge deal for someone living full-time (or even part-time) in their van, as you’ll need a way to get fresh air into the cabin. In our opinion, you’re almost better off not buying a roof vent fan in you’re going to go that route.

For a middle of the road purchase, MaxxAir’s 4500K excels over the Fan-Tastic Fan 2250. At nearly the exact same price, the additional speed settings of the 4500K make it a clear winner.

For a premium fan choice, the MaxxFan Deluxe 7500K blows the Fan-Tastic Fan 3350 out of the water. With its fully loaded features, cheaper price, and the ability to use it even during the rain, the 7500K takes the cake. Overall, this is the roof vent fan we’d have to recommend the most. The feature vs. cost trade-off is well worth it. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of our favorite vent fans:

High-End: MaxxFan Deluxe 7500KMid-Level: MaxxFan Plus 4500KBudget: Fan-Tastic Fan 1250
Speed Settings10103
Electric / ManualElectricBothManual
Intake / ExhaustBothBothBoth
Rain ShieldYes; can use in rain.Auto-Detect; cannot use in rain.No; manual open/close.
Remote ControlledYesYesNo

Don’t Skip Out on a Vent Fan for Your Camper Van

No van build is complete without a functioning roof vent above your head. Without one, you’ll be cursed with hot, muggy temperatures inside the rig, lots of moisture build-up, and a lack of fresh air and ventilation. Installing a roof vent fan is a straightforward process that can be taken on by even the most novice of DIYers, so don’t be afraid to get started!

With this guide, you learned exactly what you need in a vent fan, as well as which fans are the best to buy. Check out our favorite options and get busy completing your conversion!

Affiliate Disclosure and Advertising Disclosure
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program as well as other affiliate programs. We earn money on qualifying purchases through our affiliation with Amazon and other affiliates. Most outbound links are affiliate links, and we may earn a commission at no cost to you (thank you, by the way!). However, our articles and the views, opinions, and advice are entirely our own.
The Road Awaits...
The road awaits. Explore our passion and love for outdoor life and traveling. Have something to say? Start with hello!
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram