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Old 12-08-2013, 01:59 PM   #1
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Heat Loss Measurements

I used my newest tool/toy, an infrared remote sensing thermometer, to try to measure heat loss from the van. I raised the penthouse and set up various combinations of window covering. I got the inside good and warm with an electric heater and the propane furnace and then waited until after dark on the coldest night of the year so far.

A few hours after dark I took the following readings, listed from warmest to coldest - worst to best insulation.

70 Inside Van

52 - Penthouse canvas
46 - Bare vinyl window
42 - Bare glass window
37 - Vinyl + SMB shade
36 - Van body panels
32 - Glass + SMB accordion shade
25 - Glass + Reflectrix
23 - Vinyl + Reflectrix
20 - Vinyl + Reflectrix + SMB shade

15 - 25 Other vehicles and surfaces around driveway.

I see two lessons here:

1. If you want to stay really warm, keep the penthouse down and cover your windows.
2. Reflectrix rules! - don't leave home without it.
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Old 12-08-2013, 11:34 PM   #2
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Re: Heat Loss Measurements

Very interesting! I wonder if the penthouse canvas could be carefully lined with a thin insulating layer inside, and still fold properly.

Anyone have one of those house insulation inspection IR cameras handy?

-- Geoff
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Old 12-09-2013, 05:24 AM   #3
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Re: Heat Loss Measurements

Quote:
Originally Posted by geoffff

Anyone have one of those house insulation inspection IR cameras handy?

-- Geoff
I've heard those can be "reasonably" rented by DIY's from home centers etc---never had the occasion to investigate it though---might be a complete hoax.

If its true that would be a great idea for both winter and summer months too.

That is an interesting set of readings you've obtained. Since the deployed penthouse is a major heat loss could one use a high grade of Refletrix custom fitted to the inside walls? Maybe something like an inside the PH tent? Since it folds or rolls up storing it wouldn't be a big issue.
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Old 12-19-2013, 01:07 AM   #4
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Re: Heat Loss Measurements

Quote:
Originally Posted by geoffff
Very interesting! I wonder if the penthouse canvas could be carefully lined with a thin insulating layer inside, and still fold properly.

Anyone have one of those house insulation inspection IR cameras handy?

-- Geoff
I have one that shoots a picture that I use on power lines...never thought of using it on the van. Wish I would have seen this post last week when it was cold.
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Old 12-19-2013, 06:49 AM   #5
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Re: Heat Loss Measurements

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb
Quote:
Originally Posted by geoffff
Very interesting! I wonder if the penthouse canvas could be carefully lined with a thin insulating layer inside, and still fold properly.

Anyone have one of those house insulation inspection IR cameras handy?

-- Geoff
I have one that shoots a picture that I use on power lines...never thought of using it on the van. Wish I would have seen this post last week when it was cold.
Use it from the outside and from the inside to find hot and cold spots. Would also be interesting to see if used on your SMB's hood (if you are still going to install vents), and the engine itself.


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Old 12-19-2013, 08:07 AM   #6
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Re: Heat Loss Measurements

Funny, I was just up at (coloradocampervan) Derek's shop in Loveland getting new slotted frozen rotors, pads and stainless lines put on, great by the way, and I talked to him about replacing the canvas on our top with his insulated "canvas" which is made from sandwiching a thin layer of foam between 2 layers of a uv resistant waterproof synthetic. I checked out a mock window he put together and the slick thing about it was that the windows had a zippered shade made out of the same insulated material, greatly improving heat retention vs. our roll down shades that do nothing to keep the heat from escaping as we all know, but your test just confirms how much. We often can't pop our top because it's simply too cold up there, at least for the wife and kid. He's working up a quote to replace just our canvas. I was eyeing an infrared scope at Costco a little while back, or was that just a duct camera? Anyway....


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Old 12-19-2013, 08:51 AM   #7
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Re: Heat Loss Measurements

Quote:
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.... He's working up a quote to replace just our canvas. I was eyeing an infrared scope at Costco a little while back, or was that just a duct camera?
Given that the insulated canvas is going to be thicker, you may need to redo the elastic bungee to make sure the canvas stays within the penthouse top when it lowers. Derek should be able to take care of that given that he's used to working with more canvas that SMB installs, since his pop-tops are so much taller.


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Old 12-19-2013, 09:45 AM   #8
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Re: Heat Loss Measurements

Yes, we talked about that but he doesn't think it will be an issue. Will replace the bungies as needed. Also talked about adding a window with the zippered shade in the back, weird that SMB doesn't put one in there, any reason not to? Cost? I will also be adding zippers to the screens like SMB does, I like the option to open them up to take photos from the penthouse or just have an unobstructed view.
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:56 AM   #9
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Re: Heat Loss Measurements

Harbor Freight sells a little IR themometer gun:

http://www.harborfreight.com/non-contac ... -8905.html

I use it to measure temps of wheel bearings, u-joints, etc. to find problems before they are problems. I never thought to use it to check heat loss of the van.

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Old 12-19-2013, 04:02 PM   #10
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Re: Heat Loss Measurements

I had worked with a guy down south and SMB about offering insulated roll-up curtains but the material put off a strange smell in hot weather. I like the stuff SMB uses because it does pass through a light breeze in hot weather which is all it was meant for along with privacy. It would be nice to find a free moving thin material that can be installed like the privacy curtains. In temps down about 10 degrees you can put your hand a few inches of the canvas and feel the cold.
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