Low-E is similar to Reflectix, but it is superior in quality. Low-E is a 7/32″ closed cell foam that is backed on both sides with pure aluminum foil (not “metallic looking” plastic like Reflectix). It acts as a reflective radiant barrier to deflect heat from away from the living space. It also acts as a very good vapor barrier and reduces condensation.
Many automotive window shade manufacturers use Low-E inside their window shades to reduce the amount of radiant heat that is allowed into the vehicle.
From the Manufacturer: ESP® Low-E is light weight, easy to install and manufactured using a polyethylene foam core with reinforced double sided aluminum facings. ESP® Low-E can be used in all facets of the building industry where conventional insulations are used. It can be used alone or in conjunction with mass insulations for high r-systems. From large commercial buildings to residential homes, ESP® Low-E insulation can be used in a variety of applications to improve the energy efficiency of your building saving money on heating and cooling costs.
The Low-E that we sell is 72″ wide, 1 linear foot is 6 square feet. We sell the 72″ length because it allows for seamless installation along the walls and ceilings. Most van walls are about 72″ tall give or take and most van ceilings are about 72″ wide give or take. Many other companies that sell this product only sell the 60″ version which isn’t ideal for van builds. By buying from us you’re getting much more square footage for the same price.
Recommended Purchase Amounts
We recommend these amounts based on our experience and cargo lengths of the various van models. We factor in the driver’s side wall, ceiling, passenger side wall, passenger slider door and rear doors in our calculations. We sell Low-E in increments of 10 linear feet (by 6′ wide). You will receive one or two pieces totaling the length you selected. For your reference, if a recommendation says (a little waste) it means you will most likely have a few extra feet of material. You could use the extra material to make window covers, Maxxfan covers, install in your headliner, etc. We round up slightly to minimize seams during your installation and ensuring you order enough.
Ram Promaster 136″ = 40′ + 1 roll of foil tape (a little waste)
Ram Promaster 159″ = 50′ + 1 roll of foil tape (a little waste)
Ram Promaster 159″ Extended = 60′ + 1 roll of foil tape (a little waste)
Mercedes Sprinter 144″ = 50′ + 1 roll of foil tape (a little waste)
Mercedes Sprinter 170″ = 60′ + 1 roll of foil tape (a little waste)
Mercedes Sprinter 170″ Extended = 60′ + 1 roll of foil tape
Ford Transit Regular (130″) = 40′ + 1 roll of foil tape (a little waste)
Ford Transit Long (148″) = 50′ + 1 roll of foil tape (a little waste)
Ford Transit Extra Long (148″) = 60′ + 1 roll of foil tape (a little waste)
We recommend installing (at least) an air gap between the front of the Low-E and back of your plywood wall. Preferably adding a second air gap between the back of the Low-E and front of your main insulation (thinsulate).
Josh’s Installation Method
I apply sound deadener to the skin of the van, then I apply Thinsulate to the back of the sound deadener with 3M 90 spray adhesive. I also tuck Thinsulate into the ribs and crevices of the van.
Then I prewire the van and run all the branch wires to where the electrical system will be located.
I then install furring strips on all the ribs of the van using Rivnuts (or Plusnuts) but I don’t fully tighten them yet since I will eventually take them down to re-install to hold the Low-E in place.
Next I install the Low-E to the ribs of the van using foil tape (Pro Tip: I like to hold it in place with magnets if I don’t have a helper). I then tape the seams that join the walls and ceiling with foil tape. (Don’t forget to pull your wires through holes in the Low-E and make the holes as tight as possible to the wire). You should have a seamless Low-E “shell” inside the van when this stage is completed. There will be an air gap between the Thinsulate and Low-E of about 1/2″ depending on the make/model of your van (this is your first air gap). I then install furring strips to the ribs of the van (with Rivnuts) over the Low-E and further locking the Low-E in place. Lastly, I install my plywood walls and ceiling to the furring strips. The space the furring strips creates between your Low-E and plywood walls is your second air gap. You can install your plywood walls and ceiling directly to the ribs of the van, but I prefer to add the furring strips for strength, sound and the second air gap.
This photo shows the Low-E on the walls with furring strips locking it in place. There is an air gap between the Thinsulate and the back of the Low-E and there will be another air gap between the front of the Low-E and back of the plywood wall. The next step in the photo would be to take the furring strips off the ceiling and install the Low-E and put back the furring strips on top and then tape the seam where the wall and ceiling are joined. (The Low-E on the wall in the photo is cut because there is a window there).