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Old 08-03-2016, 04:11 PM   #1
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Van colors and practicality

We've got our deposit in for a Sprinter 4x4 highroof and need to choose a color. We prefer the darker grays just from an aesthetic point of view, but wanted to get some feedback from folks as to how easy their vans are to keep clean, looking good, and how well they stand up to heat on the interior.

We looked at a few at the dealer, and white was just warm to the touch on the hand. Darker grays could almost burn you. The interiors were likewise hotter with the darker colors. We're not so much concerned about the exterior heat, but the interior. The van will be parked outside in Denver, but used mostly in the mountains. We'll have a winter-grade level of insulation everywhere, so wasn't sure if people with darker colors and insulation notice a big heat difference from the hot exterior panels. We're likely going with a roof-mounted AC unit to help combat the initial heat soak, and for the random times we'll be in the campgrounds.

MB has 3 paint grades with the highest containing metal flake. Seems the flake should help hide paint swirls, but didn't know if others with flat colors had issues in this regard? We'll use it offroad, so it'll have the usual pin striping from branches. Our daily driver is silver, and it looks new after a crappy drive-through car wash. Blue or blacks never look that good, but when they're detailed and clean, they look awesome.

Thoughts on colors, and if you're happy or not with the color you have?
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Old 08-03-2016, 05:07 PM   #2
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Our SMB Sprinter is the standard Arctic White (147) which I would recommend if camping off-grid (or without generator) in the summer for temperature reasons. Alternately a very light silver such as Brilliant Silver Metallic (744) would probably be OK.

There are much nicer darker colors available from an aesthetic perspective but they get hotter inside during the summer. Probably fine if you're camped where electrical hookup or generator is available. Otherwise a lighter color van is easier for the overhead vent fan to keep cooled.

The standard arctic white is also easier to patch the little scrapes and rubs that occur in the backcountry. I would summarize it as simple and boring to start - and easy to keep looking that way...


Edit: If you've upgraded beyond the standard SMB insulation perhaps the color won't matter as much? Not sure how much...
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Old 08-03-2016, 05:18 PM   #3
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Dark colors show a lot of dirt and are nearly impossible to maintain even the appearance of clean. However, I do agree that the dark grey looks nice.

I grew up in Phoenix, AZ. As a former desert dweller, I avoid dark colors on vehicles. The temperature difference between a light vs. dark vehicle is remarkable and does not require a scientific method to notice!
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Old 08-03-2016, 05:55 PM   #4
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Ours is dark gray. Looks nice but sure is hot in the summer. 120 degrees inside or more when you leave it closed up.
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Old 08-03-2016, 06:09 PM   #5
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My favorite colors for balancing heat resistance, staying clean (looking) and hiding defects are the silver/gold/champagne/tan family, squarely in the middle between white and black. Red and blue also show a lot of defects/dirt/swirls IMO. The best way to keep cool in an SMB in my opinion is to tint windows dark, at least all the rear ones, and to shade all when camping, preferably with Reflectix or the like.
Another awesome way to keep an SMB cool is to put a roof rack with some solar on top, giving you a huge barrier and air space to block sun. Solar panels, being big and flat, do an amazing job of this, and the more solar you have up there the better everything else about your SMB life will be. Lots of free power on command to run fridges, fans and lights always improves everything for me.

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Old 08-03-2016, 06:25 PM   #6
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I've been happy with the standard arctic white. The other matte colors aren't as attractive, and the metallic colors cost an extra $1,000. White is also cheaper for penthouse and A/C options since no extra painting is required to make it match.

I don't do much cold weather camping, so can't speak to the heat difference. But white is also the best for "stealth" locations since you blend in with the work trucks.
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Old 08-03-2016, 10:51 PM   #7
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I went with white so I wouldn't have to pay extra to match the penthouse top. I would prefer charcoal gray but am happy with the white because it stays cooler as well as hides dirt petty well.


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Old 08-04-2016, 10:20 AM   #8
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G'day.
My 08 Ford e350 V8 diesel is Yellow with highest insulation available from Sportsmobile West and is great inside. I wanted Red, Orange or Yellow. Yellow, really stands out, great safety colour, people move out the way, thinking it's a government vehicle. At shopping malls, when you park, very easy to spot, upon exiting with groceries. Yellow is good for not seeing dirt.
Anyhow, it, s a personal thing. I like to stand out in a crowd. You do that with a Sportsmobile anyway. I don't like dull colours, grey, black, dark blue, etc.. Cheers
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Old 08-04-2016, 10:58 AM   #9
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Arctic White window van (privacy glass) here and we're very happy with it, especially after moving to a desert location. Our DDs are both black, and the van stays WAY cooler than the cars. I wouldn't be surprised if the difference is 20 - 30 degrees.

I was hoping to avoid white while we were looking, but when the right van came up, it was white and we grabbed it. Now we're really glad it's white.
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Old 08-04-2016, 11:29 AM   #10
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Does SMB still do Baja Tan. That's what mine is. Doesn't show dirt and is somewhat unique.
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