Over the winter, I bought a set of silver screens (thermal screens) for my Transit motorhome. In use the previous summer and autumn we’d suffered the two classic small motorhome problems – heavy condensation and far higher/lower temperatures in the uninsulated cab section of the van than in the main accommodation.
I wasn’t prepared to strip out the roof lining, floor and door panels to insulate the front of the van properly, but I was interested in doing something to help the problem.
I also wanted to improve privacy at night so that we could continue to use the cab area in the evening. Internal silver screens seemed to be very widely used by motorhomers in Europe, so we decided to give them a try. We bought our set for a very reasonable £50 from CAK Tanks at the NEC in November.
Our Findings So Far
So far, the internal screens have lived up to their (middling) reputation. They do offer a number of benefits:
- Reduced condensation (not eliminated)
- Insulation – helping maintain a more even temperature inside the van and reducing the extremes of hot and cold experienced
- Privacy and security – we do have curtains between the cab and accommodation area but don’t really need to use these when the silver screens are in. This can be useful, especially at night and when parked up on a campsite for a few days.
There are a number of downsides, however:
- Removing and packing them away daily is a bit of a pain, although it only takes five minutes
- They don’t eliminate condensation, just reduce it a bit
- They aren’t a perfect fit, despite being van-specific
- It’s very dark with them in (obviously)!
Would External Screens Be Better?
Many people claim that external screens are more effective as the glass is actually insulated from the outside, so no longer gets hot/cold and should instead be at the internal temperature of your motorhome. On the other hand, the screens are on the outside of your vehicle so are exposed to the weather and to the dirt on your van’s windows – so the screens get dirty and wet!
External screens are also a bit bigger and thus take up more room inside the van when not in use. On the other hand, many of those I have seen have ‘daylight panels’ that can be unzipped to let light into the van without removing the screens.
I’m glad I bought my silver screens and will certainly continue using them – they definitely help. However, in future I might be tempted to try external screens, as I hate condensation and would like to reduce it further. I also like the way they fit and can be partially opened to let light in without having to be draped all over the dashboard (as with a silver screen that’s partially removed).
Do you use either internal or external screens, especially in a small van? I’d love to hear your experiences.
Similarly, if you have fitted sliding blinds in the front of your van, how do you find these? I really like the idea but they seem expensive and don’t seem to have much in the way of insulating qualities, from what I’ve seen at shows.