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Old 03-12-2013, 11:20 AM   #1
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penthouse or not?

I'm considering ordering a penthouse on a Sprinter SWB and would like feedback about any problems with the penthouse configuration versus the high roof version. The obvious are interior height when the top is down and no upper cabinets.
Thanks for any guidance.
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Old 03-12-2013, 01:29 PM   #2
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Re: penthouse or not?

Personal preference. In my case it boiled down to how it looks parked in the driveway. I respect my neighbors and they respect me.
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Old 03-12-2013, 01:38 PM   #3
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Re: penthouse or not?

This has been an active topic in the past.

Even though I don't have a sprinter the smaller vans all have similar issues.
For my van being a 4x4 height was an issue.
A PH top can be opened for better cooling where a fixed top is more prone to less ventilation. Fixed tops usually have a fan/vent to help where the PH tops really don't need one. Some PH ribbed roofed tops prevent the installation of a fan on the PH roofs but there are smooth tops out there and would check with SMB.

The opposite is true in cold weather where insulation is sometimes stored to help in very cold temps. But I've taken my van out in single digit temps and was able to sleep up top w/o insulation.

Having a bed up top is very nice IMO. The fixed tops can be a bit tighter but I'm not sure about the sprinters.

I have heard of leaks coming from both tops so I would not worry so much about that. In a muggy situation mold can be an issue with a canvas top but I've never had any problems.

Strength against the elements is an issue with pop tops. Wind can be an issue and the pop tops are prone to damage. But I do like being able to have a better view. Also the screens can be opened for photograghy if you ask for this option.

I have not had any animal issues but you are more exposed.

Not sure on price but I always suggest an electric pop top. And yes you can damage them more. I would not order a pop top if it was for a rental vehicle.

stealth might be an issue.


Probably more ideas out there.
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Old 03-12-2013, 02:09 PM   #4
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Re: penthouse or not?

If there are just two of you, the penthouse top is great because you can have your own bedroom and stretch out.
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Old 03-12-2013, 02:13 PM   #5
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Re: penthouse or not?

All great feedback. Thanks.

Any issues with durability? How about the lower headroom while traveling? Any quality concerns?
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Old 03-12-2013, 03:24 PM   #6
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Re: penthouse or not?

Yep, definatelly difficult to pour and serve the driver a long island ice tea while on you knees in a PH top with it down

All joking aside if you allow people to walk around while on the road, even the contempo top might be too short. You'd need to be looking at a voyager top or larger. Sprinters are a slightly different story compared to the Fords.
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Old 03-12-2013, 03:31 PM   #7
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Re: penthouse or not?

We like our 2012 Penthouse Sprinter with power lift + roof solar panel. Only problem is sometimes it comes down a little more to one side or the other if you put it down while parked on sloping ground. You know it from the inside because the latch on wide side is way easier to latch and on the outside cause it looks crooked. If you watch it while lowering, you stop and just reach up and easily shift it. Love the light and ventilation and most places we camp we want to hear the wildlife or water nearby while sleeping, like in a tent. We have also stealth camped in parking lots with the top down because ours looks more like a passenger van with full windows. We have a Westfaiia as well and the manual slant top stays aligned better and is nice inside under the soaring roof (but you can only sleep head forward)but the canvas sides get wet easier than the SMB material. The Westy has a slightly wider bunk too. Another advantage IMO is that you can be up and doing things "downstairs" without as much disturbance of a sleeper above (if they have their head to the back) because its like a separate compartment. The hightop was too conspicuous to me and really does not accommodate an upper bunk space that had enough clearance above or below IMO. PS found out this winter that the top can be frozen to the body in cold snow weather when parked outdoors for a few weeks. Takes turning up the Espar for awhile and some tapping if you want to raise it.
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Old 03-12-2013, 05:38 PM   #8
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Re: penthouse or not?

Great feedback, Spenard! Any issues with wind whistling as you drive?
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Old 03-12-2013, 07:52 PM   #9
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Re: penthouse or not?

no whistles or top rattles at any speed with the Sprinter. The Westy, well its a VW...........
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:06 PM   #10
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Re: penthouse or not?

Penthouse quality and durability seem satisfactory? Fit and finish okay?
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