In another mod, we talked about how to keep cool in your RV by using clip-on, portable, or permanent-mount 12-volt fans. These are great for distributing air in certain areas of your RV, like a bunk area. The Fantastic Fan mod is for moving a lot of air through your RV in a short period of time. This is just the thing to get out that burnt popcorn smell or the “I hope no one can smell that” emanation coming from the bathroom.
There are several brands of 12-volt power fans other than the Fantastic Fan, like ShureFlo, and MaxxAir. But the Fantastic Fan name is widely used to generically mean power vent fan, much like Q-Tips are for cotton swabs and Band-Aid is used for adhesive bandage. But whatever brand you choose, they all install and function as generically as the name is used.
Most brands offer a variety of fan assembly configurations, like multiple speeds, remote control, and even rain sensors that will close the vent lid and turn the fan off. There are also fan assemblies that are integrated in to a roof vent cover, like the MaxxAir. These are great for both reducing fan noise since the fan is located outside the RV at the back of the vent cover and for getting air flow through the RV even if it’s raining. The vent lid can be left open since the cover prevents rain from entering the RV.
Installing a Fantastic Fan is a pretty easy job if there is already an opening in the roof, like an existing ceiling vent. Depending on the size of your RV, you may have from one to three ceiling vents, which makes things easy. Choose a ceiling vent that is close to a 12-volt power supply, like the puny little bathroom fan, or a ceiling vent near a light.
You will need to remove the old vent assembly completely. This involves getting on the roof to remove the screws holding the frame of the vent to the roof. Also remove any sealant left on the roof vent area. This is an important step since a poor seal with the new vent assembly can possibly cause a water leak down the road. A new seal is provided with the Fantastic Fan and needs a good clean surface to seal properly.
Place the new seal around the roof opening and set the fan assembly in to roof opening. Now go in to the RV and wire up the fan to a 12-volt source. If you’re replacing the stock fan and vent in the bathroom, you can reuse the fan’s power supply. If not, then run the wires to a light fixture. You can get some flat plastic channel to hide the wires along the ceiling to the light.
After completing the wiring, open the vent lid and turn the fan on the low speed setting. Check to ensure the air is flowing in the proper direction. If not, the wiring is incorrect and will need to be reversed to ensure the fan is turning in the right direction. If your fan has an exhaust feature, meaning the fan can be switched to exhaust air out of the RV, ensure the switch is in the right position before validating that the wiring is correct.
The next step is to secure the fan frame to the roof and seal it. Use all of the supplied screws. You’ll notice there are many more screw holes than the original vent frame. Because the vent is now powered, it is subject to more vibration so more screws are necessary to ensure the assembly doesn’t come loose over time. Seal the edge of the frame with silicone sealant all the way around the frame. And don’t forget to also put a dab on each screw head as well. More is better and the excess can easily be wiped off.
Finally, the interior trim ring or bezel needs to be installed. This hides the rough ceiling opening edges as well as the wiring to the fan motor. Depending on the thickness of your RV’s roof, the bezel will need to be trimmed. This done by test fitting the bezel to determine how much needs to be trimmed. Score the plastic with a utility knife and break off the excess. Snap in to place and you’re done!
If your RV doesn’t have a roof opening where you want to place the fan, you will have to cut out an opening. Contact your RV manufacturer to determine if where you want to cut the opening won’t cause any structural problems or affect any wiring.