With 70% of Australia semi-arid at the best of times, and plenty of the country currently suffering through drought, you know you’re going to get dusty. Whether that dust is just on the outside of your van, or whether it ends up on your clothes and cutlery is a different story. There are a variety of things you can do to keep the dust out. Let’s have a look.
Covering the vents
Plenty of vans roll in each week with all sorts of wonderful solutions to dust ingress by covering the vents and openings. From cardboard and duct tape, to 5mm bullet proof checkerplate. So is this a good solution?
There are reasons why there’s vents in your van. One of the largest ones is on the bottom of the main entry door. This is primarily to let LP Gas out in the case of a leak. (LP Gas being heavier than air sits on the floor and needs a way to get out). There’s also at least one vent high up – to allow fresh air in – to displace the gas in the same situation. Additionally, there are the vents for the fridge, sometimes microwave and also range hood.
Now you are not meant to block any of these vents. E.g. blocking the main door vent may pose a safety risk. Blocking the fridge vents will severely reduce the effectiveness of most fridges, but can assist with the dust issue. If you are going to do it, put a fail safe in place that ensures you MUST remove the cover before entering and using the van.
Additionally, one of the long-term issues with dust getting into the fridge vents, is that the working fridge components end up covered in dust and are less effective, or fail prematurely.
(Note: we don’t recommend covering vents due to safety concerns).
Gaps, Cracks & Holes
Anywhere there is a join, a hole, a fitting – there’s the potential for dust to get in. The major culprits are normally on the floor of the van – where pipes and cables go through, and also the wheel arch boxes. Much of the time these can be sealed up much better with a healthy dose of silicon or underbody spray.
All opening fittings like windows, doors, hatches are only as good as their seals and fitting. Often a window will not close flat, or the gasket has perished and fails to seal. These are normally easily fixed with a bit of general maintenance, replacing seals and gaskets, or tightening the catches.
Even with all of the above addressed, dust still gets in. Often its hard to tell exactly where its coming from, and it can easily drive you mad. So, is there a better option? Of course….
Caravan Dust Pressurisers
The idea of pressurising a van has been around forever. But how its done, and how effective it is has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. The general idea is to push air into the van, forcing air out of all the holes & gaps to prevent dust getting in.
“Scupper vents” have been in vans since the 70s, and are still in many today. These are normally located towards the front of the van, in the centre line of the roof and can be pushed up to catch air as your driving, and force it into the van. They sort of work. Interestingly, some are fitting pointing forwards, some are pointing backwards. (The logic is something like driving a convertible with the top down – where you end up getting your hair blown forward). The couple of issues we see regularly with them are:
- they often leak water – again due to the seal around the moving part not being that great
- they suck in dust – yes there’s less dust on the top of your van than down low, but it still gets dusty – very dusty. And they simply suck it into your van. There’s no filters on it – just a big hole.
- they drip condensation – normally made of cast aluminium and located above the bed – they often build up condensation due to the high conductivity and the high temperature differential inside vs outside. They end up dripping considerable amounts of water – normally onto the bed.
Dometic Dust Reduction System (DRS) – only recently released, these are proving to be very popular – a good design and relatively affordable. There are no motors or electrical parts, so no need for power. This unit is fitted to the roof of your van and is powered by air flow while driving. It provides about 150cm2 of free airflow ventilation. It includes a PM10 filter that captures dust particles, and has been tested through Australia.
It can be installed by replacing an existing skylight/hatch, or by cutting a new hole through the roof. The unit only weighs about 5kg, so support is not an issue. Providing you have enough space on the roof of your van, installation is fairly straight forward.
RESPA Powered Dust Prevention System – when you need the best – you go to this unit. We have been fitting these systems for a number of years with fantastic results for all sorts of applications. For example one customer that travels extensively through dry western Queensland regularly has all but eliminated dust coming in, right up to a semi-trailer based mobile headquarters housing $1M+ of computer equipment where it was essential to keep the dust out. These are similar to units that are used on bobcats, excavators etc – that provide extremely clean air in extremely dusty situations. They require 12v power to run the heavy duty motor, but punch out so much air, you can easily feel it coming through vents & gaps in the van when its running. Rated at about 130 cfm (cubic feet per minute), it means it completely replaces the air in your van every 5 minutes or so. That’s a LOT of air moving, and that’s why they are so effective.
So if you’re sick of dust getting into your van, or are planning a trip West and want to keep your van nice and clean – talk to us about dust reduction systems.