Can you live in a van all year round? Tips from a Vanlifer

You can live in a van all year round. But life in a van can get pretty hot, and pretty cold! Depending on where you are, and when you’re visiting, there are heating and cooling options to ensure the temperature of your van is comfortable all year round.

One of the challenges of van life is that you’re often at the mercy of the weather. If it’s hot outside, it’s going to be hot inside your van. And if it’s cold outside, you guessed it, it’s going to be cold inside your van.

But don’t worry, there are ways to deal with extreme temperatures so you can live in your van all year round. If you’re considering making the switch to van life, or are already living in a van full-time, these tips will help you enjoy your time on the road no matter what season it is. So, let’s get started!

Photo by PNW Production

Depending on where you live, you may need to consider some type of heating and cooling system for your van. If you’re in a colder climate, you’ll definitely want some way to keep your van warm in the winter months. And if you’re in a hot climate, you’ll need some way to keep your van cool in the summer months.

There are a few different options when it comes to heating and cooling your van. You can use a portable heater, fan, or air conditioner, you can install a fixed heater, or you can use some type of insulation to help keep the temperature inside your van comfortable.

How can I heat my van?

There are portable and built-in solutions to heat your van.

Portable heaters

One of the easiest ways to heat your van is to use a portable heater. These units are relatively inexpensive and can be found at most hardware stores.

BUT, and this is a huge but, although you’re likely to see many van lifers using portable heaters such as the popular Mr Heater (Mr Buddy) heater , and raving about how fantastic they are… these heaters are not recommended by the manufacturer for use in such confined conditions and may lead to your van getting a little more heat than intended (i.e. a very large fire). Make sure you read the instructions and manufacturer’s guidelines before using one of these in your van.

Portable Mr Heater from Anaconda

The main advantage of using a portable heater is that they’re easy to set up and take down. You can just plug them in, or screw in a fuel canister, when you need them and pack them away when you’re done.

The main disadvantage of using a portable plug in heater is that they’re not very efficient. They can suck your precious battery power. If you’re going to be running them all the time, you are going to need a pretty powerful battery setup to make that work.

An alternative option is installing a fixed heater in your van, which is what I did after many months of enduring the cold temperatures in Tasmania, Australia.

Fixed heaters

If you’re looking for a more permanent heating solution for your van, you may want to consider a fixed heater. Fixed heaters are usually powered by propane or diesel and they provide a lot of heat very quickly. I went with a Webasto heater in my van for the cold months in Tasmania, Australia (after many months without) and now can’t imagine life without it. I’ve written about the Webasto range of diesel heaters in another article if you want to check it out.

Living in a van during the winter months can be challenging, but it’s definitely doable.

How can I cool my van?

When it’s hot outside, it can feel much hotter in your van. But with some design tricks you can make life a little more comfortable for all year round travel in your van.


One of the most important things you can do to prepare for living in a van during the cooler months is to insulate your van. This will help keep the heat in and the cold out. There are a few different ways you can insulate your van, but we recommend using Reflectix insulation. It’s easy to install and it’s very effective.

Portable air conditioner

Yes! There is a portable air conditioner you can get for your van. The company Zero Breeze has come up with what they are claiming to be ‘The world’s first cordless and battery-powered air conditioner’. It will set you back a pretty penny, but no doubt it’s well worth it for blistering hot climates.

you can live in your van all year round with a portable air conditioner!
The world’s first cordless & battery powered air conditioner by Zero Breeze

Portable fan

USB charged fans can bring welcomed relief from the heat, especially when travelling around Australia in the summer. Something like the LEMOISTAR USB Powered 5V Car Fan is a good choice.


If you’re living in a van during the warmer months, you’re going to want to make sure your van is well ventilated. This means opening up all the windows and doors to let the air circulate. You may also want to consider using a fan to help keep the air moving.

A popular design choice amongst van lifers is the MaxxAir Fan. When I first got interested in van life and heard van lifers raving about their fans, I didn’t realise what all the hype was about. But trust me when I say that having a MaxxAir Fan in my van is a game changer. It uses hardly any battery and pulls a beautiful breeze through the van if the side window is open that cools me down in hot climates.

MaxxAir Fan

That’s a wrap

Living in a van during the winter and summer months can be challenging, but it’s definitely doable with the right preparation. In this article, we’ve talked about some of the best ways to keep your van warm in the winter and cool in the summer. So before you hit the road, make sure you take these tips into consideration!

See you down the road πŸ™‚

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