Taylor and I recently bought a 2015 Mercedes 170” Cargo Sprinter Van, with plans to convert it into a home on wheels. Our goal is to take this van all over North America eventually reaching Alaska.
To help inspire others, we are documenting our journey and each step of our van build, creating video tutorials on youtube along the way.
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The third project of our van build series is installing a MaxxFan Deluxe roof vent fan. I found a good amount of tutorial videos to help us figure out how to properly install it and we decided to make one of our own in addition to this blog post.
Before we get into each step of the MaxxFan Deluxe Roof Vent Fan install, below are tools we used for a MaxxFan Deluxe Roof Vent Fan installation on a Mercedes Sprinter Van (this applies any van).
Below is a step by step guide on how to install the MaxxFan Deluxe Roof Vent Fan on your Mercedes Sprinter Van. We think this tutorial is helpful for other van builds as well.
The first thing you should do before you cut into your ceiling/roof is to determine the best location for your build. We strategically placed our MaxxFan Deluxe towards the back of the van between our bed and kitchen.
Once you determine your location it’s time to trace the outline of the flange (the white piece of plastic that you screw the body of the fan too) in preparation for your cut. I used the flange of the van to trace the outline with a magic marker.
Before you make your cut you want to tape (with masking tape) around the outside of the traced outline to ensure you do not scratch the roof of the van when making your cut.
After you taped everything down you are ready to make your cut.
In order to use your jigsaw to cut the hole for the fan, drill a hole (with a large drill bit to fit the jigsaw blade through, I used 3/4th’s) into each corner of your outline. This will allow for four straight cuts instead of trying to make 90-degree turns.
After you’ve made your cut, the edges of the metal will be sharp and jagged. To smooth the edges out, use a metal filer or a grinding bit.
Once the metal is filed down, you want to prevent rust and protect your vehicle. To do this, paint the raw metal with oil-based paint. We used rust-oleum paint which works great!
Wait an hour or so to let the paint dry.
Use a scotch sponge (the dark green side) to scuff the metal around the cutout of the roof. This will help the adhesive for the adapter to stick to the metal.
Once your cutout is properly scuffed down with a scotch sponge and cleaned with glass cleaner it’s time to apply the MaxxFan Adapter using 3M Marine Adhesive. Again, this isn’t required for the install, but it’s highly recommended. Since the roof of the van is curved, the adapter helps provide a level platform for the MaxxFan Deluxe’s flange to rest on, ultimately providing a better water-seal.
The maker of the adapter recommends three 1/8th inch beads of adhesive on each side of the adapter. Once you have the adhesive on the adapter, press the adapter into place on the roof of your van. Then apply pressure to the van and attach a few c-clamps to keep strong pressure on the adapter.
While you’re waiting for the adhesive to stick to the adapter, it’s time to cut your aluminum strips. Note you can do this ahead of time, if you get the fan in advance before you start the project.
You should cut four aluminum strips, two strips 16.5 inches long, and the other two roughly 14 inches long. Then use a 3/16th’s drill bit to drill your holes into the aluminum strips.
IMPORTANT: Do NOT use a 3/16th’s drill bit for the roof of your fan since it is too thick for the screws.
Once you have your aluminum cut and the holes drilled it’s time to get the flange ready for install. First, you need to add butyl tape around the flange that will help it stick to the adapter.
Make sure you have your seam at the back of the flange (facing the rear of your vehicle). You want the seam in the back/rear because if you’re driving and it’s raining you will have rain/water hitting the front of the flange first with the most force.
The butyl tape’s seam will have the weakest water seal in comparison to the rest of the flange so that’s why we placed the seam to the backside of the flange.
The butyl tape is now stuck to the flange and it’s now time to stick the flange to the adapter on the roof. Make sure you line up the flange and make sure it’s straight and aligned properly.
Note: The sides with the metal clips on the flange should face the side of your van!!!
After you stick the flange to the adapter and roof, drill the holes into the roof and adapter with a 1/8th’s drill bit.
Using the screws provided, screw the aluminum, the flange, and the adapter all to the roof at once.
Once your flange is properly secured to the roof via the screws it’s time to apply the self-leveling lap sealant. Make sure you clean off any dirt or metal shavings from the area before you apply the sealant.
You’re almost done the installation! Next, attach the fan to the flange via the four screws. In order to do this make sure you turn the mechanical gear to open up the fan. If the screw holes don’t line up perfectly, simply remove the fan and lift the metal clips up on the flange, then re-attach the fan. There should be enough room to fit the screw into the place and tighten down the fan.
After 8 hours of drying, test your water seal by spraying it down with water. You can wait a full 24 hours if you prefer but we tested after 8 hours and the seal was watertight!
If you find leaks, apply more lap sealant (make sure you cover over the screws as well) and you should be good to go!
Overall this project isn’t bad and you can do it! It took me about 5 hours from start to finish and that includes the time spent worrying about capturing the content on camera. I did this alone if Taylor was able to help with this project I am sure I would have completed it faster.
We definitely think you can install the MaxxFan Deluxe yourself if you have the right tools! But if you don’t feel comfortable consider getting it installed professionally.
Before we decided to buy our own van we rented one to test the waters! This helped us realize it’s something we really want to do since buying a van and converting it is a lot of money and a lot of effort! We rented a van in Portugal and absolutely fell in love with van life!
If you have any questions about How To Install A MaxxFan Deluxe Roof Vent Fan On A Sprinter Van, drop a comment below! Follow our van build series where we will document every step of the build process as well as our youtube channel.