Anyone who has spent much time out on the road in a camper van will know how downright stuffy it can get get inside the van.
Unless you’re driving, there’s no good way to get air circulating, and things can quickly get uncomfortable and stinky!
My Sprinter conversion has two cool-looking marine-grade hatches that I’d hoped would create enough airflow, but they really don’t do much, and all bets are off when it’s raining.
A great way to combat this problem, and keep things fresh in your van, is to install a campervan vent fan.
This post will explore the top two best vans for van life and compare Maxxair Vs FanTastic Fan to help you resolve this air circulation issue in your van!
Key Differences between Maxxair and Fantastic Fan Roof Vents for Vans
The Maxxair and Fantastic Fans have several things in common – they both exhaust and intake air, they fit into standard 14×14″ holes in the ceiling, they have built-in thermostats and multiple fan speeds.
But what we are most interested in are the key differences. Here’s a chart showing the differences between Maxxair vs Fantastic Fan:
Maxxair vs FanTastic Fan: The Two Top Choices for Van Life
There are many options for campervan vent fans, and I decided that this is a van life essential I can’t live without.
Since then, I’ve realized that, by far, the most popular vent fans for van life out there are the Maxxair MaxxFan, and the Fantastic Fan.
Each of these best fans for van life has a dedicated following, and the Maxxair vs FanTastic Fan debate is quite the hot-button topic on online van life forums!
Several different models of the Maxxair MaxxFan are available, all with different features.
Most of these vent fans come with a whopping 10 fan speeds, and work as both intake and exhaust fans.
Most of the MaxxFan models have ceiling controls for operating the vent fan, and the lid has to be opened manually. The feature-packed 7500K model, however, has a remote control for operating the fan and opening the lid electronically.
One of the most popular features of the Maxxair MaxxFan is the built-in rain shield, which allows for the vent to be left open when it’s wet outside.
The lid also features 2 sturdy lever arms, which means it’s less likely to get damaged in windy conditions.
The MaxxFan looks pretty cool, too, and its sleek, low-profile design means that when it’s closed it only adds 5″ to the height of your van.
Fan-Tastic Fan is owned by Dometic Group, which is a global powerhouse when it comes to solutions for mobile living.
Like Maxxair, there are several different Fan-Tastic vent fans for van life available, most of which have only 3 or 4 fan speeds.
The top of the line 7350 Fan-Tastic Fan really delivers, though, and features a remote control, electric lid opening, and 14 fan speeds.
Most FanTastic Fans come with a thermostat with an automatic shutoff function, which can really help control the temperature inside your van.
Although these roof vents for van life don’t come with a built-in rain cover, many have a rain sensor which closes the lid when it detects moisture.
FanTastic is known for having friendly after-sales customer service and a pretty cool warranty system.
These vent fans are easy to install, and, with a height of just 4.5″ when closed, have an even lower profile than MaxxFans.
Maxxair Vs FanTastic Fan: Feature Comparison
Let’s weigh in on the Maxxair vs FanTastic Fan debate by looking at the features and performance of both fans.
That being said, every van is different, and if you’re building out a van and making the hole yourself, you might need to be prepared to improvise a little.
Another important factor to consider when installing the Maxxair fan is the 8″ of extra space you’ll need at the rear of the unit to accommodate the rain cover. You could run into problems if you have solar panels or racks already installed.
In general, most people who’ve purchased and installed either of these vent fans report that installation didn’t take more than a couple of hours.
Both fans come with everything you’ll need for installation, although you’ll need to buy tape and sealant.
When comparing Maxxair vs FanTastic Fan, Maxxair vent fans win out here, as most of their MaxxFan models have 10 fan speeds.
This gives you way more control over the environment in your van, plus the motors are going to be way more efficient.
Most FanTastic Fans only have 3 speeds, although the FanTastic 7350 does have an amazing 14 speeds, and has a really efficient motor.
The majority of FanTastic Fan models for van life really can’t compare to Maxxair when it comes to efficiency and power drain.
The 3-speed FanTastic Fans draw 1.86 amps/hour on the lowest fan speed setting. Whereas the 10-speed Maxxair vent fans draw 2.66 amps/hour on the highest setting, and a meager 0.17 amps/hour on the lowest setting.
Although it might seem like we’re splitting hairs here, any extra power drain can really start to add up, especially if you plan on staying off-grid for an extended period.
An important consideration when looking at Maxxair vs FanTastic Fan is the overall construction of each vent fan.
Both of these vent fans for van life are fairly well-constructed, with one big difference: Maxxair vent fans have 2 crank arms to hold up the lid, while FanTastic Fans only have 1.
This makes the Maxxair fans more sturdy, and they can be left open during high wind and when driving.
A common complaint among Maxxair users is that the fan is just too loud. The blades can seem out of balance, and the harmonics created when the fan is running at higher speeds can be really annoying.
This doesn’t seem to be an issue with the FanTastic fans, however.
Another issue that shows up consistently in reviews of both vent fans for van life is the vulnerability of the electronics.
Although Maxxair fans have a rain shield, the electronics are conspicuously placed near the intake vent, and can easily become damaged by moisture buildup.
The FanTastic Fan, meanwhile, comes with a rain sensor that can be bypassed. If you leave the lid open when it’s raining, though, you could fry the circuit board.
Several of the FanTastic Fans come with a remote control, which is a boon for those who want to be able to operate the unit from their bed.
It’s also great for shorter folks who can’t reach the controls in a van or RV with a high roof.
The top-of-the-line 7500K Maxxair fan also comes with a remote, but quite a few online reviews have mentioned that the controller works via infra-red, and has to have a clear sight of the fan to work.
In general, people love the remote control option, but it’s important to remember that if you lose it or run out of batteries, you’re without a fan!
Rain Shield Vs. Rain Sensor
As I’ve already mentioned, the deciding factor in the Maxxair vs FanTastic Fan debate for many people is the Maxxair’s built-in rain shield.
Although you can purchase an optional rain cover for the Fan-Tastic Fan, it’s big, bulky, and, quite frankly, doesn’t look very cool.
Dometic has tried to solve the problem by adding a rain sensor to some of its Fan-Tastic Fan models.
This is great in theory, but there are reports of the sensor working too well, closing the lid at the first sign of moisture in the air while food is cooking, and forcing unfortunate van dwellers to open all the doors and windows.
Most customer reviews of the Fan-Tastic Fan mention how cool it is to have a built-in thermostat that can be set to keep the inside of a camper van cool, and will shut off the fan automatically.
Although some Maxxair vent fans do have a thermostat with automatic shutoff, it doesn’t seem to function as well as the Fan-Tastic, and tends to run noisily all night.
The Maxxair can be left open while driving, though, and people love the safety shutoff features that cuts the fan if you forget to turn it off before hitting the road.
Maxxair Vs FanTastic Fan: Which Fan Is Best For You?
Trying to decide which vent fan is best for you, is the million dollar question in the Maxxair vs FanTastic Fan debate!
Each of these vent fans for van life have loads of different models available, each with a variety of features.
After all, van life isn’t all about sunny days and warm evenings! There are countless occasions when the last thing you’ll want to be doing is cooking outside or opening doors and windows, just to make dinner. That nifty rain shield seals the deal.
The FanTastic Fan is a super-popular option, and could be the perfect option for part-timers who don’t mind the potential for the rain sensor to spoil dinner plans.
The Fan-Tastic could also be a perfect addition to a larger rig that already has a vent fan, perhaps as an auxiliary fan at the rear of the vehicle.
Maxxair Vs FanTastic Fan: At A Glance
We hope you’ve found this article useful! If you have any questions, or want to add to the Maxxair vs FanTastic Fan debate, feel free to use the comments section below.
Check out more van life posts below!
Nicholas Marshall is a writer, photographer, and musician who currently lives in a ‘97 VW Eurovan with his wife and six-year-old daughter. Since selling their house and hitting the road, Nicholas and his family have meandered through the Western States. Van life has been everything they hoped it would be: challenging, rewarding, relaxing, and exciting.