Fan-Tastic Fan or Maxx Air Fan. Which vent fan performs the best?

 No one likes sweaty balls or tatas. No one. If you don't take the right steps to insulate and put a coat of elastomeric paint on your roof when you convert your Skoolie then you will soon find yourself trying to figure out how to cool your bus conversion down. But, even with proper insulation and a UV reflecting paint on your roof, you may find yourself in certain climates that are just hot no matter what and the need to cool your Skoolie down is a must.

In this article I'll cover the two most common vent fans installed and which one isn't so fantastic (spoiler alert!) from my experience and others. It should be mentioned that I bought both of these vent fans and was not asked by either company to write this review. It's my opinion and other people's opinions and experiences could be entirely different than mine. Insert grain of salt here.

Fan Tastic Vent Fan Trash

Fan-Tastic Fan vs. Maxx Air

I currently own a short, 5 window school bus that I've converted into an RV, tiny home on wheels, escape pod or whatever your preferred term is. I spend most of my time in the hot and dry desert climate of Moab, UT and the cool and sometimes humid Oakridge, OR of the Pacific Northwest (or Cascadia). My skoolie has a bathroom with a shower and a queen size bed that is always setup as a bed. I decided to place two fans in my bus conversion, one in the bathroom for shower steam and the unearthly morning after pub food and cider smell, and the other fan above the bed for staying cool at night in the summers as well as to keep the sh!t lion (cat) and dog comfortable when I'm out tromping through the woods.

Because I was planning to install two fans, I decided to order one Fantastic Fan and one Maxx Air fan. I ordered comparable models from each company that were similar in features and price. Here's a feature and price breakdown of each.

Fan-Tastic Vent 803550 Series ($270 as of 8/1/2019)

  • 3 fan blade speeds; Reversible air flow
  • Manual and electric lift dome
  • Built-in thermostat
  • Rain sensor that automatically closes when the dome gets wet

Maxx Air Fan Plus 4500K Series ($239 as of 8/1/2019)

  • 10 fan blade speeds; Reversible air flow
  • Manual and electric lift dome
  • Built-in thermostat with quick "Auto" one press button to open and pull air out at 78 degrees
  • Rain sensor that automatically closes when the dome gets wet
  • Remote control

I tested both fans for a total of 1 year and 10 months in both Utah and Oregon and during all seasons in each state. The MaxxAir was installed in the bathroom and the Fan-Tastic vent fan above the bed.

The results?

If I could football kick the Fan-Tastic vent fan into an active volcano without looking like Charlie Brown, then I'd be doing so right now. Here's my beef.

My first duly noted complaint was how loud the Fan-Tastic fan was when turned on even to the lowest of three settings. My partner Heidi describes the sound as "a jet engine over my head". The next  complaint came after roughly three months of using both fans, I was awoke one night to a pterodactyl in the bus. Or so I thought in my sleepy, White Claw, comma state. The Fan-Tastic vent fan was squealing above our heads. It sounded like a failing bearing similar to when you start your car and have a squealing belt. I did pull the fan blades off and cleaned everything really well and then tried to add a little grease to help but it only lasted a few weeks before the pterodactyl came back to dive bomb my dreams.

The last straw for me was the ghost water leak. Now, I'm no newb when it comes to using caulking and preventing water from entering a home as I grew up working with my father and remodeling homes with his construction business for 15+ years. In fact, when it came to my bus conversion, I went perhaps overboard as I didn't want all my hard work done to the interior to be ruined by a little roof leak that could've been prevented. I have learned from experience with my first bus that silicone is not your friend on a bus roof. Avoid silicone on your roof at all costs if you can.

For each fan I installed I used butyl tape under the lip and self leveling lap sealant on all screws and the edges of the fan. Same methods used on both fans but the Fan-Tastic fan had a ghost leak that I couldn't ever locate but I noticed that the small drip would get in when driving during rain storms as opposed to just parked and raining. In checking the gasket around the vent where it opens and closes I couldn't see any areas of water penetration so alas I'm stumped on how the water was getting in but it wasn't something I was willing to live with.

I have since replaced the Fan-Tastic fan with another Maxx Air Fan Plus 4500k series and added a Maxx Air Vent Cover to allow airflow during rain which helps the most when I'm cooking in wet weather as I can crack a window in the kitchen, turn the fan on high blowing in and it pushes the hot air from the stove out the cracked kitchen window.

To recap here's the list of complaints I had with the Fan-Tastic Vent Fan:

  • Fan sounds like a jet engine
  • Only three speeds for the fan 
  • Fan bearing squeals like a piglet on a roller coaster
  • Mysterious entry point for water while driving in rain
  • I have to flip four separate switches to get the fan to operate how I prefer
  • No remote which required me to climb on the bed each time I wanted to turn on or off the fan
  • Thermostat is displayed with a cold (blue) to hot (red) colorway so I have to guess that perhaps the third red block in the colorway is 78 degrees
  • It was more expensive with LESS features

Here's what I love about the Maxx Air Fan:

  • Fan is quiet
  • Fan has ten speeds to choose from
  • Controls for the fan are push buttons and I can press one button (Auto) which will open the vent, turn the fan on pulling air out and run until it hits 78 degrees after which it will auto close itself. I also have the option with the remote to change the thermostat temperature to higher or lower before it will turn off and close the dome.
  • The remote makes it easy to turn on and off the fan or open and close the vent from a distance which makes it nice when I'm battening down the hatches to get ready to drive and may be in a hurry.
  • Thermostat is a digital readout on the remote and not only can you adjust what you want the inside temperature to be but it also tells you what the inside temperature currently is.
  • It's less expensive with MORE features

If you're looking for the best way to keep your bus conversion, van conversion or other escape pod cooler with a vent fan, then I would advise to give the Maxx Air Fan Plus 4500k a whirl (pun intended). Below I'll include some links to the fans and products I mentioned earlier for ease of locating.

You may also find this article I wrote on How To Run An Air Conditioner Off Solar Power with the expertise of Garret Towne, President of AM Solar. Is it even possible? You'll be surprised. I definitely was.

Lastly, it's worth mentioning that there are evaporative swamp coolers for RV's worth looking into. They use very little power but a good amount of water. I haven't had any experience with them but discovered them in doing some research.

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