One of my primary objectives when I first bought my Transit was not to make any unnecessary holes. This was one hole there was no avoiding. I chose the MaxxAir Deluxe 7500K – you can run it while it’s raining, it has an automatic 78 degree setpoint, and has electric opening, and comes with a remote control (mine stopped working quickly, see below). All things considered, I still think this (or the 6200k) is the best option for any van. This is something that you can install very early in your build, as the interior trim piece doesn’t have to be installed until you’re ready.
Full disclosure: my unit stopped responding to remote commands within a few months and MaxxAir support was completely nonresponsive for 6 months. When they finally replied, they suggested that having an (IPHONE) in the van would cause the remote to fail. Absolute nonsense! The remote communicates with infrared like standard TV remotes. My friend’s remote also didn’t work in my van, but my remote works fine in his. Speaking of infrared: unless there’s line of sight to the sensor, it won’t work — and the sensor is usually recessed from the finished ceiling. The only reason to buy the 7500k over the 6200k is for the electric opening feature, in my opinion.
Difficulty: 2.5/5, Cost: $400
Parts and Tools Required:
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- MaxxAir Deluxe 7500K Vent Fan ($267)
- Ford Transit High & Mid Roof Vent Adapter ($64)
- 3M 08609 Window-Weld ($21)
- Butyl / Putty Tape ($8)
- Dicor 501LSW-1 Lap Sealant ($11)
- Alcohol Prep Pads ($8)
- Jigsaw with metal-cutting blade
- Paint/Primer (to seal cut edges)
- File or sandpaper (for smoothing cut edges)
- Painter’s Tape
- Sharpie / Marker
- Drill and bit larger than your jigsaw blade (for pilot holes)
(Note: you may also want furring strips for inside support, or different fasteners [I used stainless fasteners with nylock nuts and no interior strips.])
- Clamps (4+ is best)
- Caulking Gun
The install process for this is simple, but a little tedious. I do not know how you would install this fan without the Impact Products roof adapter — the Transit roof is curved. This adapter is 3d printed, but highly sturdy and a quality product. I recommend sticking with the current instructions included with that adapter, but I’ll outline what I did.
- Lay the adapter in position. Verify this is where you want your fan (see my notes under evaluation, I regret my placement).
- Create a square with painter’s tape surrounding the roof vent adapter.
- Using a sharpie, mark the interior square of the adapter on the van roof.
- With a drill and large drill bit, create holes in each of the 4 corners of the Sharpie outline (inside the box!)
- Cut out the Sharpie outline with a jigsaw. It’s a good idea to tape a bag on the inside to catch metal shavings, especially if you don’t yet have a finished floor.
- Admire your handiwork, verify the adapter and flange dry-fit the hole you’ve cut, then file the edges of your giant hole and prime/paint the raw edges (I just used touch-up paint w/ clear coat)
- Follow the adapter instructions regarding the application of Window-Weld. Prepare the metal surface with alcohol wipes. This stuff is SERIOUS, wear gloves. I recall the instructions stating to make 2 beads on the adapter, but I also created a thin layer on the van side (the metal inside the blue tape outline).
- Place the adapter into position and clamp down. Wait a few minutes before carefully removing the painter’s tape. Allow window-weld to fully cure (at least a day, IIRC).
- Remove clamps. I placed the MaxxAir flange over the adapter and pre-drilled each of the 16 bolt holes through the existing flange holes, through the adapter, and through the roof metal. NOTE: If you’re using the hardware that came with the fan, you won’t want to pre-drill these holes. Using the adapter resulted in the original hardware being too short, so you’ll likely buy new hardware regardless. I installed my fan using stainless steel machine threaded bolts, small SS washers, and SS nylock nuts. Your mileage and process will vary depending on how you choose to proceed. My “sandwich” looks like this (outside in): bolt, washer, flange, roof adapter, roof, washer, nylock nut.
- Apply a strip of butyl tape / putty along the surface of the roof adapter (no pictures of this, sorry). It’s okay for this putty to overlap slightly.
- Put the MaxxAir flange in place and press in firmly, then run your hardware through it, being careful not to overtighten. I tightened all 16 fasteners by hand. The flange is plastic, so be careful with torque. The putty should only slightly bulge out the edges.
- Prep surrounding van metal with alcohol wipes and apply DiCor lap sealant liberally over all fasteners, seams, edges (see photos). This stuff will flatten and smooth out, so focus on consistent coverage. It’s not going to be pretty (it gets dirty over time too), I beg you to control your OCD on this step. I used 1 full tube of DiCor.
- Allow DiCor to cure, then place MaxxAir fan into opening, secure with 4 screws into the unuts/thread clips on the flange. These are relatively loose, that’s OK. Again, don’t apply too much torque as this is a lot of plastic.
- Wire to your electrical system (basic + and -, nothing special. I’ll cover in a separate post)
I installed this fan over a year ago and have driven 40,000+ miles with it installed with no issues. My fan is placed about 2″ too far forward to add my 4th Rhino Rack crossbar. The MaxxAir can operate like an intake fan – and it would be incredible to have that airflow over you in bed during the summer months. That said, I highly recommend installing the fan toward the rear of a LWB Transit.
I chose not to use interior furring strips, instead opting for stainless steel hardware and washers. With 16 fasteners, I was not concerned with the fan ripping out. I have driven to 97mph and have never had any issues with my fan other than the remote issue I described earlier. Still, I would choose this fan again tomorrow without hesitation.
The fan noise was pretty loud at first, but I realized that having a window open somewhere was crucial. I had a sliding window installed in my slider door – the fan is incredibly efficient now, much quieter, and you can really feel the air flowing. Power usage is minimal at lower settings, and the auto-78 mode is great for periods where I’m away from my van and don’t want it to become an oven.