Disclosure: Some of the links in the article below may be affiliate links. This means that I may earn a small commission if you click on them and make a purchase.
If you travel in a camper van or other small RV, you have probably noticed that moisture can accumulate in certain situations. Since a van provides such a small living area, moisture from breathing as well as other tasks such as cooking and showering could easily cause this problem. This is especially true if there is no ventilation or too little of it.
If multiple people are living inside the van, it could be even worse. During the night while sleeping, without proper ventilation, there may be an increase in moisture in the air causing a buildup of condensation and humid air in the van. This is true of any small space. This can usually be resolved through proper ventilation. I have written an article about the importance of ventilation in a camper van, read more here.
There are certain times and locations that it might be nearly impossible to keep the moisture out of your van. It could be raining outside and you have no way of properly venting your van. Or it could be that the weather itself makes it impossible to maintain a comfortable, dry living space.
I have had this problem before in the southern United States in the summertime when the humidity levels are extremely high. This is also a problem around ocean areas where the salt sea air is very humid. Even if you do have ventilation, you are allowing humid air to vent through your van.
It isn’t just humid air outside though that can cause moisture buildup. It’s usually what is going on inside that is the main culprit. Let’s look at whether or not a dehumidifier can help to remedy the problem.
Using A Dehumidifier In A Van
One option is to use an electric dehumidifier that can take some of the moisture out of the air and provide you with drier air inside the van. Do these really work though? Can they help a small space with humidity levels?
Well, I have put mine to the test multiple times in various scenarios and would like to share some results that I have seen and the experiences that I have had with my dehumidifier.
The model of the dehumidifier that I use is the Eva-dry Edv-1100. This is a very popular model used by lots of van lifers and RVers. It generally has high praise. It is small, quiet, and uses very little energy, making it a good option for very small spaces such as a camper van.
If you are in something larger like a Class C or a Class A RV, you might want to look at buying something larger that is designed for more square footage.
The Eva-dry Edv-1100 is designed to work for small spaces that are under 1100 cubic feet. Most camper vans are well within this and even some class C and travel trailers are also within this range. You’ll need to check the specifications for your specific model to be sure.
On a recent trip I took to the ocean area in North Carolina, I experienced high humidity levels and took this dehumidifier to help combat moisture buildup inside my van. Not only that but to also help me feel more comfortable. The problem was that it would only work if all of the windows were closed so that additional humid air could not get inside. This wasn’t possible since it was so hot outside. I had to keep the windows open most of the time with my roof fan pulling air through or it would simply get too hot in my van.
I did use it at night while sleeping to help remove some of the stickiness from the air but I am not sure it really helped. I never really noticed a reduction in humidity levels while using it even though it did fill the water tank up and I dumped it from time to time.
Honestly, I am not sure it serves a purpose in a camper van unless you have one that is more temperature controlled. If you have air conditioning and are able to close all windows and vents, you will probably get more use out of it.
Testing The Eva-dry Edv-1100 Dehumidifier In A Van
I performed a test with the dehumidifier over an 8 hour period to see how much it would reduce the humidity levels inside my van. This was done on a summer day when the temperatures were around 85 degrees and it was quite humid outside. I closed all windows and doors and stayed outside during this time so that my breathing wouldn’t put moisture back in the air. I turned the Edv-1100 on and let it run continuously.
I expected to see a decrease in the humidity level inside the van after the unit ran for this amount of time.
Sadly, after 8 hours, the humidity had only dropped 2% as it started out at 55% and ended up at 53%. To be fair, the outside humidity was around 70% so it did help to maintain a more comfortable humidity level if nothing else.
You can decide for yourself whether this is something that is enough humidity reduction for you or if it’s not worth fooling with. It really depends on the case in my opinion. I believe that there are certain times when this dehumidifier can come in handy but it’s not necessary on a regular basis.
If you don’t have a problem with high humidity in your van but you just need something to reduce moisture when you are sleeping at night or when you are cooking, boiling water, or taking showers, it’s great to have something like this that you can just turn on and allow it to run during these activities. Otherwise, if you don’t really have a problem with humidity and you have plenty of ventilation, it’s probably not necessary to have a dehumidifier like this.
Keeping Your Van Moisture Free
There are some ways that you can make sure that you are keeping moisture to a minimum in your van.
The most important thing is to have the proper amount of ventilation. You will always want to make sure that you are using the vents during the most moisture-producing activities. As mentioned before, this could include showering, cooking, boiling water, washing clothes, or any other activity that might increase the amount of moisture in the air. My vents are usually always open when I am parked unless it is raining too hard. Even in the winter, it can get stuffy inside unless it is freezing cold outside.
Not only does ventilation help with the comfort level but it will also help to maintain a healthy environment for your van. Without it, moisture can build up which could also lead to mildew and mold issues.
However, this can be tricky if the humidity level outdoors is higher than the humidity levels in your van. If you are just going to let humid air pass throughout your van, the air inside your van is going to become as humid as the outside air. This could be a problem if you are parked near the ocean or in another high humidity level area.
In the mid-summer, in an RV, if you don’t have some type of air conditioning, you are pretty much out of luck. It will be difficult to maintain a dry and comfortable living space in conditions often found in the summer heat. As mentioned above, a dehumidifier isn’t going to do much in this situation.
Other Ways To Reduce Moisture In Your Van
If you choose not to use an electric dehumidifier, there is another option that works well. Damprid is a product that draws moisture from the air in much the same way that a dehumidifier will. The difference is that this product does not require electricity. These come in hanging bags or small containers that can be set around in different areas. When used in a small area such as a camper van, they can be very effective in helping to reduce the moisture level in the air.
These are great if your van is going to be parked for a while and you just want to make sure that moisture does not overtake the living area. They can definitely help to decrease the moisture but you will have to replace them occasionally depending on how long you have your van sitting and the amount of humidity in the air.
I used these a lot when I was going through my van conversion and it helped to keep the moisture out of the air. The containers filled with water and I dumped them out every few weeks.
Silica gel can be purchased in larger amounts and can also be used to absorb moisture in the air. These are great to use in small areas such as cabinets, drawers, and containers. They will help to absorb moisture in the air and keep it from accumulating in the areas where they are located.
Having a dehumidifier in your van can be a great way to maintain lower levels of moisture depending on your living environment. It’s not going to work like an air conditioner that conditions humid air. However, it is something that you might want to include in your van or RV at all times. You never know where you were going to end up and how the weather is going to be. I don’t use mine often but there are times when I consider it to be helpful.
It can be very helpful on rainy days, especially when the temperatures are pleasant. The moisture becomes high within the van but I can close the windows, turn on the dehumidifier and it does help to reduce the humidity levels.
I would also suggest keeping some of the other solutions I mentioned in your van, especially when you are not using it. If it will be sitting awhile, these solutions will help keep the moisture at bay without requiring any electricity.