Improving Cab Insulation

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BullOnParade
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Improving Cab Insulation

Post by BullOnParade » Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:06 pm

Curious in anyone knows of ways to improve the insulation value of a vehicle cab. I drive an 08 Patriot, and have noticed for a few years now, without the heater on, it cools off very quickly on cold days. In any situation where your vehicle is your shelter, staying warm without running the engine for heat improves your odds of survival drastically.

I would imagine the weather stripping around the doors is my weakest link, followed by single pane windows (obviously unavoidable). Rear windows could be fitted with some sort of shade, to create a dead space between the window and the interior, insulation could be added there too. Having never had the door panels off, I don't know what could be added for insulation.

Anyone else tried insulating a vehicle? Any thoughts on the subject?
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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by LowKey » Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:23 pm

BullOnParade wrote:Curious in anyone knows of ways to improve the insulation value of a vehicle cab. I drive an 08 Patriot, and have noticed for a few years now, without the heater on, it cools off very quickly on cold days. In any situation where your vehicle is your shelter, staying warm without running the engine for heat improves your odds of survival drastically.

I would imagine the weather stripping around the doors is my weakest link, followed by single pane windows (obviously unavoidable). Rear windows could be fitted with some sort of shade, to create a dead space between the window and the interior, insulation could be added there too. Having never had the door panels off, I don't know what could be added for insulation.

Anyone else tried insulating a vehicle? Any thoughts on the subject?
Unless things have changed drastically since the last time I tore out a car's interior (more than a decade), the weatherstripping isn't your big culprit. It's that the cab HAS no thermal insulation. Sound deadening stuff, yes. Stuff that keeps the warm in...not so much.
I believe it's got to do with performance and fuel consumption. Insulation has a weight factor that would impact fuel consumption, and the designers probably assume that if your in the car that you have the engine on and are moving, which provides you heat as a byproduct.

You might try mylar backed bubblewrap in places where there is enough room.
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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by Tobias05 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:15 pm

I am sure the closed cell foam kits used to control sound and road noise have insulating properties. I have installed rubberized aluminum matting in my door skins to control noise a few years ago. I hear CC foam products work much better than "dynomat" type solutions.
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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by eugene » Tue Jan 19, 2016 10:21 pm

I did my old S10 years ago. I used the aluminum covered bubble wrap stuff and aluminum dict tape. The aluminum bubble wrap stuff was $40 a roll but I put the rest in the attic when I was done. Use the aluminum tape as regular cloth duct tape the glue will soften in the summer.
Pulled down the headliner and did there then the doors and back of the cab.

I drove to work one morning when it was below zero and didn't notice I forgot to turn on the heater.
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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by williaty » Wed Jan 20, 2016 11:27 pm

1) Aluminized or other "shiny" insulation materials only work if the shiny side faces an air gap 3/8" of an inch thick or thicker. The shiny only impacts radiation of heat, not conduction or convection. If the surfaces touch or are closely coupled by a convective loop, you get zero insulation from the shiny. There's no room between a car's inside and it's outside for a product like this to work.

2) There's little or no space between a car's inside and its outside. You're going to have a REAL hard time adding any meaningful R-value given how close the interior panels set to the sheet metal.

3) Foam products are probably a bad idea as they burn readily and the smoke is toxic as fuck. It makes no sense to try to help your survival in the quite rare cold-weather stranding at the expense of killing yourself in the much more frequent crash. The only two materials I'd feel safe adding to a car are unfaced batts of either fiberglass or mineral wool.

You'll get a ton more insulation for a lot less money by just keeping a cheap/heavy sleeping bag in the truck and climbing into it when needed. Got one sleeping bag in there and still feel like you have to spend more money on this? Great, buy a second, bigger one to put over the first to double bag yourself.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by MacAttack » Thu Jan 21, 2016 1:21 am

I used to rebuild old cars for fun and profit.


There is no and let me restate that NO room behind any interior panels.

But if your really into insulating that truck then you can do it with a quite bit of extra work.

There is no longer any room inside a door to add in anything thinker than maybe at best a half inch of insulation attached to the outer door skin inside the door. With electric window lifts you might be able to add an extra quarter inch under the interior door panel. You might have to screw the panel back on instead of just using the panel clips though.

Lift up the carpet and you should be able to add almost and inch of insulation in some places including up the firewall.

With the new cardboard roof headliners you have very little room to just add in insulation but I bet you could add in almost a half inch extra and still be able to trim the headliner to fit back in and cover it over.

The back wall of the cab should be able to take a bit also with some panel trimming.



In the end though a good block heater for the engine, a sleeping bag and some chemical heaters would be just as good.



As for insulation being toxic if it burns.
Who the hell is staying the truck if its on fire? Get out. And if you can't get out of a burning truck smoke is the least of your problems.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by williaty » Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:21 am

MacAttack wrote:As for insulation being toxic if it burns.
Who the hell is staying the truck if its on fire? Get out. And if you can't get out of a burning truck smoke is the least of your problems.
You don't always get the choice to get out on your preferred timeline. The difference between giving the rescue crews 15 seconds to get you our of the vehicle and 45 seconds to get you out of the vehicle is mammoth. There have been numerous accidents where victims have been trapped in a car that was repeatedly trying to be on fire and they only survived due to bystanders emptying extinguishers onto the combustibles (and even running into nearby businesses to get more extinguishers since commercial properties are required to have them) to keep people alive long enough to be extracted. Your lifespan gets shorter and how far away the fire can be and still kill you gets longer the more toxic you make your surroundings. I'm the only male in 4 generations in my family who isn't a firefighter. You live around those guys and one thing you take seriously is understanding that the biggest thing you can do to help them save you is to give them time.

This whole site is about stacking the deck in your favor before shit goes wrong. Adding additional highly flammable toxic materials to the car is stacking the deck in the crash's favor, exactly the opposite of what this site is about.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by eugene » Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:34 pm

Ok, for those saying "can't", I did it therefore if I can then anyone else should be able to as well. The reflective bubble wrap stuff is reflective on both sides and only 1/4" thick. The vehicle body is two layers. In spaces like the A pillar there is a big bap between, but in places such as around the outside of the roof only 1/4 to 1/2" thick. There is a frame outline around all the panels so you tape the insulation inside that.
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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by williaty » Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:39 pm

eugene wrote:Ok, for those saying "can't", I did it therefore if I can then anyone else should be able to as well. The reflective bubble wrap stuff is reflective on both sides and only 1/4" thick. The vehicle body is two layers. In spaces like the A pillar there is a big bap between, but in places such as around the outside of the roof only 1/4 to 1/2" thick. There is a frame outline around all the panels so you tape the insulation inside that.
Confirmation bias is a real effect. The reflective layers did jack shit for you. The bubble wrap at 1/4" probably got you something like R1 to R1.5. In other words, you would have done just as well to buy normal cheap bubble wrap and you would have done way better to buy a sleeping bag.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by Confucius » Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:48 pm

Many small aircraft are insulated with "Frost King" duct insulation. Should get you a couple R.

1/8th of an inch. It'd be a lot of work, but it's doable. Sound deadened my subaru with Dynamat over a weekend a couple of years back.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by raptor » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:28 pm

I am going to say that the windows are a more likely culprit for BTU loss when the heater is off. They are normally single pane, high up and not insulated at all.

When you go look at the RV community it is something they frequently mention when using RVs in the winter.

I would suggest a couple of alternatives. One is some simple bubble wrap that can be placed inside the vehicle in a SHTF situation. You can tape this in place to reduce BTU loss. This is really nothing more than a roll of bubble wrap and tape to keep in the vehicle.

The other alternative is buy insulated window covers that fit on the outside of the vehicle. This is a pricey but likely more effective alternative.
Last edited by raptor on Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by reppans » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:01 am

I have a campervan and use Reflectrix in the windows, but primarily for blocking the sun to reduce the greenhouse effect - it is very effective for that. I agree that Reflectrix only has an R value of ~1 (mentioned in their website), but that's better than nothing, and will represent the difference between the windows being painful, vs comfortable, if you touched them with your bare hand. Yes you could also achieve that with regular bubble wrap or a velcro'd curtain, but I'd go with the Reflectrix just for summer time anti-greenhouse value.

Without an internal heat source, once your engine cools, your vehicle will eventually always equalize with the ambient temps, and window insulation will only buy you a little time - for example turn into an ice box in 3 hours, instead of 2.

You could use a small heat source like a UCO Candle Lantern (~1500 BTUs) which will just take the edge off the cold, or a small catalytic propane heater like Mr Heater Little Buddy (3800 BTUs) which could warm an SUV space quite well. With a blanket or quilt (unzipped sleeping bag) you can also use a candle lantern in the protected triangle of your legs sitting Indian style, with the Palmer Survival
Furnace concept - that's seriously warm, almost hot.

Note that both are open flame risks, consumer oxygen, and emit some amount of CO and moisture as a combustion byproduct. Although vehicles "leak" enough to general be safe, I would only use such devices while awake, and with cracked window. In all cases, have a sleeping bag, and ground pad, worth of the outdoor temps to sleep.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by Confucius » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:40 am

There's actually a very good chance (especially if your car is dark), that it will subcool below the air temperature. Will only happen if these very cold days also happen to be quite clear. I know that doesn't make a ton of intuitive sense, but the car is emitting infrared light, and if it goes faster than heat is transferring to it from the air, it will cool below the air temperature.

A supplementary heat source is not a bad bet, but if you have to hunker down in your car, not using the whole thing is a better bet. A good down bag will keep you warm much longer than any insulation efforts you could possibly do, and the car makes an excellent windbreak.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by eugene » Fri Jan 22, 2016 5:19 pm

williaty wrote:
eugene wrote:Ok, for those saying "can't", I did it therefore if I can then anyone else should be able to as well. The reflective bubble wrap stuff is reflective on both sides and only 1/4" thick. The vehicle body is two layers. In spaces like the A pillar there is a big bap between, but in places such as around the outside of the roof only 1/4 to 1/2" thick. There is a frame outline around all the panels so you tape the insulation inside that.
Confirmation bias is a real effect. The reflective layers did jack shit for you. The bubble wrap at 1/4" probably got you something like R1 to R1.5. In other words, you would have done just as well to buy normal cheap bubble wrap and you would have done way better to buy a sleeping bag.
You'll have to go to home depot or wherever yourself and test it. They had a "display" where they had a little bit made into a mitten you stick your hand in and after a few seconds your hand starts to sweat. Thats how it works in the truck cab, it reflects back the heat you loose.
I had a 30 minute drive to work and got there nice and warm and then realized I hadn't turned the truck temp from cold to hot, it reflected back that much.
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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by 50 Mission Cap » Fri Jan 22, 2016 8:48 pm

An awesome but rather expensive solution is an Espar Bunk Heater. You'd have $1,000 or $1,200 into it, but if you're aware of how much labor there is in tearing out and replacing a vehicle interior it might be an option. That and in theory it could be moved from vehicle to vehicle over the years. And you would be guaranteed WARM for about a gallon of fuel a day.

Just a thought.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by williaty » Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:39 am

eugene wrote:You'll have to go to home depot or wherever yourself and test it. They had a "display" where they had a little bit made into a mitten you stick your hand in and after a few seconds your hand starts to sweat. Thats how it works in the truck cab, it reflects back the heat you loose.
I had a 30 minute drive to work and got there nice and warm and then realized I hadn't turned the truck temp from cold to hot, it reflected back that much.
I am familiar with the product and I understand how it works. The mitten is a cheat designed to make sure that you think the product is awesome. It relies upon not allowing air to circulate and there being some air gap between the mitten and your hand because the mitten is stiff. This air gap allows the emissivity to come into play and the inside of the glove reflects the photons your hand emits right back into your hand, which feels warm. If you could stick your hand in the mitten and then into a vacuum food bagger so the mitten was tight against your skin, it'd feel the same as wrapping your hand in plastic. Which, by the way, would make your hand sweat under inside-a-store conditions.

The reflective nature of it means it MUST face an air gap to work. Reflective surfaces in thermal control are about emissivity. You can think of emissivity as the willingness of the surface to turn mechanical heat in the surface into infrared photons (heat leaving the surface) or to accept infrared photons and turn them into mechanical heat in the surface (heat entering the surface). The only place this photon-to-vibration transition takes place is at a phase change boundary (solid surface vs gaseous air). When two surfaces contact each other (the metalized bubble wrap and the interior trim, for instance), there's no radiation to consider, only conduction. Metalizing the plastic actually increases the conduction, resulting in more heat loss. The moment you trapped the bubble wrap between the body and the interior trim, you made the shiny part of it quit working.

The one good place to deploy metalized bubbles in a car is in the windshield in the sun. The outer surface reflects photons back out of the car, reducing the interior heating. The low emissivity of the interior surface, since it's touching nothing but air inside the car, makes the sun shade really inefficient at taking its internal heat and transferring it to the rest of the car's interior. But again, the key thing there is heat moving by radiation and air gaps against the shiny stuff.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by eugene » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:08 am

All I can say is it did make a difference. It also made a difference in the summer, the cab of the truck was a bit cooler. If I stuck my hand up in the gap between the headliner and the body I could feel the temperature difference between the metal of the cab and the inside of the reflectix.
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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by sheddi » Sat Jan 23, 2016 3:53 pm

50 Mission Cap wrote:An awesome but rather expensive solution is an Espar Bunk Heater. You'd have $1,000 or $1,200 into it, but if you're aware of how much labor there is in tearing out and replacing a vehicle interior it might be an option. That and in theory it could be moved from vehicle to vehicle over the years. And you would be guaranteed WARM for about a gallon of fuel a day.
I was going to suggest this.

I don't know what the market is like in the US but you can pick up a complete used Eberspacher (Espar's German parent company) blown-air heater for about US$600 over here.

Eg:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/121862972677
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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by roscoe » Sun Jan 24, 2016 2:27 am

All around cheaper and easier to toss a compact sleeping bag or poncho liner in the back.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by 50 Mission Cap » Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:35 pm

roscoe wrote:All around cheaper and easier to toss a compact sleeping bag or poncho liner in the back.

Yep - or bring a friend.

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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by drop bear » Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:18 am

I think there is a spray or a paint that uses the magic of science to insulate stuff.
http://www.mascoat.com/automotive-therm ... ation.html
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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by moab » Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:39 am

Here's more than you'll ever want to know about sound deadener. I wrote this post in a VW forum.

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=611725

Here's another one by some VW bus guys.

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=607896
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Re: Improving Cab Insulation

Post by moab » Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:47 pm

This is the stuff you want. It's in my above post. But I'm singling it out. As you're looking for heat to stay in. http://www.lobucrod.com/ I forget the R value of this stuff. But it's incredible. And a great sound deadener.
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