Havelock Wool is quickly becoming one of the most popular choices for van life insulation. Now that we have installed Havelock Wool in our new van, we can see why so many are making the switch to this more natural option. Curious is wool is the right option for your van build? Keep reading to see our thoughts of going from spray foam insulation to Havelock Wool…
Way back in 2018 when our van life research began, we were completely unaware of wool as an insulation option. We saw people using everything from foam board to spray foam and denim to even Reflectix to make vans more energy efficient. But we never heard of using wool! After hours upon hours of research, we determined that the best insulation option for us then was spray foam. Since we are from a very humid, moist climate (Tennessee), moisture control to keep mold away was top priority.
Truth be told, our spray foam was a great option in the sense that it was great in humid climates and it did a good job blocking out noise from outside.
However, spray foam had its downfalls.
Spray foam is safest when installed by a professional, which for our van ran us $1,250 USD. Ouch. We knew it would be expensive, but insulation wasn’t something we wanted to cheap on. Yes, you can install spray foam on your own but there are two main reasons we recommend going to a professional for spray foam: 1) it’s toxic when installed and a hazmat suit is required for the installer, 2) it can dent the exterior walls of the van. Even our professionally installed spray foam still had a little denting, but it wasn’t near as severe as some of the DIY jobs we’ve seen. Bottom line: spray foam is a mess to work with and definitely not safe to install on your own.
The messiness of the spray foam doesn’t stop at the installation stage though. In our case, we ended up having little particles of insulation fall into our sliding door mechanism causing the door to not open from the outside. While this problem was fixable, it wasn’t a fun fix by any means!
Because our experience with our spray foam insulation was far from perfect despite its efficiency, we decided to look into other insulation options for van build #2.
Watch vlog about Havelock Wool below!
So how did we end up with Havelock Wool?
During the early days of planning our new van, we re-researched all of our components to decide which parents from our first van we were going to repeat and which parts we may switch up to try something new. The insulation was one of those that we were pretty conflicted on because we knew the performance of spray foam was what we wanted, we just didn’t want the headache or danger of damaging our van. After talking with a few friends who have Havelock in their vans as well as watching and reading lots of information about the wool, we decided to give it a go for ourselves.
How does wool compare to spray foam insulation?
Honestly, we can’t review how the wool performs compared to spray foam yet since we aren’t yet living in our van. Therefore we haven’t been able to test it in all sorts of conditions. While we’ve heard raving reviews from friends about Havelock, we’ll give you our first hand review once we’ve been in the van full time for a few months and can better analyze it.
Here’s what we know so far though....
- Havelock is super easy to install
- It’s nontoxic
- It’s less expensive than spray foam (by a lot!)
Buying and installing Havelock Wool in a Sprinter van
Havelock makes buying insulation for vans incredibly easy. Van lifers are some of their biggest clients so they've streamlined the process to ensure people are getting enough wool for their build. On their website they have this chart to see just how many sq/ft of wool your specific van will need.
Because our van is a Sprinter 144", Havelock recommends 300 sq/ft of wool insulation which is (3) bags of wool. 100 sq/ft of 2" batts is equal to ~24 pounds. To get the required 300 sq/ft or wool we'll need ~72 pounds of wool. Havelock sells wool in 24 and 48 pound bags. To make things simpler we purchased (1) bag of 24 pound bag and (1) 48 pound bag.
Note: shipping can be a bit pricey since these are heavy bags. If you're unsure if you're on the fence about buying one more bag on insulation or not, we suggest going ahead and buying an extra bag, otherwise you'll end up paying for shipping twice.
I can’t express to you enough how straightforward the installation process is!
All you have to know is that you put wool in all the available cracks and crevasses in the van to work as a barrier between the outside temperatures and the interior temperatures. That’s it. It can be a bit time consuming to work the wool into all the nooks and crannies, but not impossible. The project could be done in a day by one person (although we’d recommend two people for doing the ceiling).
Grab a glass of iced coffee, put on some good music, and start covering your van in wool!
A couple of other things to note about installing the insulation:
- Because the wool is nontoxic, there’s no need to wear gloves, masks, or glasses while installing.
- You’ll want to grab a roll of nylon string to help hold the wool up.
- The wool can be torn easily by hand or by cutting with scissors.
- If you’re looking for a complete install tutorial video, we recommend watching THIS ONE by Finding Fresh Air. They do an awesome job of walking you through the process and offering some ideas of how to install.
Are y’all getting paid by Havelock Wool to say all of this?
NO, we are not getting paid. While we did partner with them on this van build, we decided on their product and reached out to them about a partnership rather than them pursuing us. Please do note that we have turned down various partnerships on this build because either 1) we weren’t totally happy with the product or company and couldn’t fully recommend them to our audiences, or 2) we heard bad reviews of the product or company from friends.
We have high standards when it comes to product or brand partnerships because we know that partnerships reflect back on us. We are careful when it comes to spending money, and we want to recommend only those companies that we believe are providing quality products or services. For more information about our standards, you can visit our partnership page HERE.
So far we love our Havelock Wool! Like we said earlier the real test will come when we’re living in the van. Then we can really compare it to our first van which had spray foam insulation. For now though, we can say we’ve been incredibly happy with the installation process. We can also say we've been really impressed with the customer service we received from Havelock.
Have a question about Havelock Wool or even spray foam insulation? Be sure to drop it in the comments below and we’ll be sure to get those questions answered. :)