Best Van for Camper Conversion?
Looking for support during your DIY build? Raynor love van builds and fuel our #vanlife by supporting other's conversion efforts. You can learn more about his DIY support services at RayOutfitted.com
A frequently asked question is why did we pick a Sprinter, and why the 170 WB?
DIY Campervan Layouts and RV Remodel
Do you want standing room height? - this requires commercial vans or RVs
Remodel RVs/Camper Vans
2. Do you want a fixed bed, or a hybrid bed/table layout?
We were very interested in a Ford Transit but realized that we couldn't make everything we wanted fit in a Transit. Our desire for a fixed queen size bed, proper workstation desk and a toilet is a lot to fit into a small van. The largest Ford Transit (available in North America) is roughly the same size as the smallest Sprinter van.
Camper Layout Tips & Suggestions
Another commonly asked question is what software we used to create our layout plans. We didn't use any software, rather buying a dotted paper notebook and making to scale drawings. When we purchased our van, we were on draft 5 of our layout.
DIY Camper Conversion: Major Layout Elements
The first time we shared a draft of our layout with van lifers, their tip was to maximize open space. They warned us we were giving too much space to a closet when we will be so much happier to be able to have 2 people step into our van with us. Make sure your layout suits your life.
Bed Position & Type
Fixed Bed, Folding Bed
Size of bed - We went with a standard queen. Many do a double or custom size foam mattress to maximize space.
Depending on your height, the direction of your bed is also an option
When we get asked for advice on toilet/shower - we ask about climate. Being Canadian and knowing we will experience freezing temps we didn't want any water tanks outside the van.
There are great videos on people who have build awesome showers in their vans.
Because we didn't want the complexity of large fresh and grey water tanks - we opted for no shower. Gym membership, truck stops, some campsite & kind friends & family make this easy for us to manage.
We seriously debated installing a toilet or not. You can find many videos of van lifers sharing their experience with and without a toilet.
We ended up going with a composting toilet, as this let us avoid the hassle of black tanks (which are smelly and are problematic in freezing temperatures)
The composting toilet quickly became a critical part of our build - it offers convenience and comfort. No one really wants to go for a walk at 3am on a chilly morning.
Your power plans are a big factor. We decided to go BIG with solar, because of our kitchen and other power needs.
Our build has a 950w tilt-able solar panel and 3 200 amp hour AGM batteries
You'll find lots of van builds with less (and more) solar and battery banks to suit power needs and budgets.
An early decision in kitchen planning is fuel type. Propane is very common but for us, we wanted to avoid adding more fuel sources to our build. Thus, we have opted for an induction (electric) cooktop.
There are pros and cons to each option:
Work & Hobby Needs
The advantage of converting your own van is that you can tailor it to your needs.
Some things to consider:
Computer/ Work Space
Camera & other tech gear (Ideal to build storage that enables charging in place)