Bus Build: Which Insulation is Right for our Bus Conversion? – S03E18

Insulating our bus well to ensure it is comfortable to live in is our current priority.  I’m glad we were able to slow down with our build process as this allowed us time to do lots of research. This seems to be a hot topic in the skoolie/bus community and most have very strong opinions that their way is the right way.

We spent time learning how heat will be transferred in our bus to better understand how to insulate effectively.  With our elementary science education we understand that heat transfers through conduction, convection and radiation. At first we thought that simply picking an insulation with the highest R-value was the way to go. However R value only measures conduction and doesn’t consider all the factors involved in temperature exchange.

As one engineer who has converted a bus said "I have followed heat transfer theory a bit over the years, and the more I read, the more confused I get. Bottom line, R-values and K-values are good tools, but my opinion is that it takes more advanced theory to address non-traditional materials for non-traditional uses"

We have already painted our roof with Henry’s Tropicool, a white silicone paint that reflects the sun’s radiant heat.  When we glamped in the bus we used Reflectix under our makeshift curtains and that was really effective so we plan to do something similar but more fashionable for our space. Our next step was to figure out how to insulate our ceiling.

We realized there are 3 ways we could go - the easy way, the cheap way or the eco-friendly way. We decided that we wanted to avoid using toxic products and make sustainable choices wherever possible in our build.  Luckily we knew exactly who to talk to to help us make this choice as our sister-in-law is a Sustainability Administrator at an engineering firm and a Lead AP (Accredited Professional).

We videoed our phone conversation with her discussing different insulations and what factors rate how eco-friendly they are. Here are the resources she shared:


Home Free 

After this phone conversation we felt pretty confident that sheep wool made sense for us and aligned with our lifestyle choices as our main insulation.  However there was one more product we wanted to look into - ceramic insulation.

Tiles and blankets made of Ceramic fiber were originally developed for the US Space program. The products are now used for insulating kilns and commercial ovens with a working safe temperature of over 2200 degrees Fahrenheit (1204 Celsius). We found a couple of ceramic papers on the market that high end RV manufacturers and other bus conversion we're using. The reason this hadn't made our radar before is that it is a commercial product not normally used for house insulation.

This would be the first step we take in insulating our bus ceiling.


Up Next
We install Ceratex to our ceiling.

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Henry’s Tropicool
With Extreme Durability, & Superior Capabilities Of Sealing & Protection from the Sun’s UV Rays, Henry’s Tropicool is a must for all RV’s, Skoolies and Bus Conversions.


A reflective insulation consisting of two outer layers of 96-percent reflective film, bonded to two layers of heavy gauge polyethylene bubbles


mindful MATERIALS 
mindful MATERIALS (mM) is a free platform with aggregated information on human health and environmental impacts for products from leading manufacturers, vetted by experts passionate about making it easier to make informed product choices.

During unprecedented times, mM users & industry volunteers have kept driving forward the growth of mM to make the mM Library most valuable to you while the world around us changes and the demands of our work change daily.

Home Free 
Healthy Building Network’s HomeFree is a national initiative supporting leaders in affordable housing who are improving human health by using less toxic building materials.

The goals of HomeFree are to raise awareness of toxic building materials and their associated health hazards, build the capacity of affordable housing practitioners to make informed decisions, and transform the current practice of affordable housing products specified to healthier options for everyone.

Fact Check

R-Value  - Wikipedia

By Mela & Don

Mela and Don are sharing their journey as they make conscious decisions to live a more healthy, environmentally friendly life together.

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