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:
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.
We install Ceratex to our ceiling.
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R-Value - Wikipedia