Breaking Down the Conversion Cost: From Empty Van to Dream Camper

Breaking Down the Conversion Cost: From Empty Van to Dream Camper

Posted by Heatso on 29th Sep 2023

Many people are drawn to van life because of its freedom, adventure, and open road lifestyle. However, before you set out on your van life adventure, it's important to carefully consider and budget for the conversion cost.


Many people are drawn to van life because of its freedom, adventure, and open road lifestyle. However, before you set out on your van life adventure, it's important to carefully consider and budget for the conversion cost.

Whether you're planning to convert a Ford Transit, a high-roof Sprinter van, or a cargo van into your dream camper, the choices you make along the way will impact the total cost.

Camper conversion cost can vary greatly depending on factors such as the type of van you purchase, the materials you select, and whether you hire a professional or DIY camper van conversion.

In this thorough guide, we'll examine how much does it cost to convert a van, covering various aspects, from the initial van purchase to essentials like solar panels, water systems, and more.

Before diving into the details of camper van conversion costs, it's important to understand the fundamentals.

The first consideration is the initial cost of buying an empty van, a factor where choices like Ford Transit or a high-roof Sprinter van come into play.

Costs vary depending on the type and condition of the van, with cargo vans usually being cheaper.

During the conversion process, van insulation is another important part. High-quality insulation is not just about keeping a comfortable temperature within your camper; it also reduces energy consumption.

Knowing the insulation materials and their costs is key to building a camper that's comfortable year-round.

When it comes to setting up the electrical system in your van, it's important to plan ahead for the best power solutions available.

Installing solar panels into your camper can provide you with a sustainable and cost-effective source of power, so you don't have to rely on external power.

The cost of solar panels and their installation depends on things like the number of panels, their wattage, and the complexity of the setup.

However, they are a long-term investment that can pay off by keeping your appliances, lights, and gadgets working wherever you go.

Additionally, considering the installation of a reliable water system is crucial. A well-thought-out water system ensures you have access to an available supply for cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene.

Comfort is crucial when living in a van, especially in colder climates. Having effective heating solutions can make all the difference in creating a cozy space.

Diesel heaters are a popular choice due to their reliability and consistent performance. Webasto Air Top 2000 STC Diesel Heater Kit is one of the best solutions for your van life with simple installation and powerful heating.

Another diesel heater providing excellent performance is Espar Airtronic AS3 D2L. This is an all-weather heater, working perfectly in extremely low temperatures and high altitudes.

While the initial investment for the diesel heaters may be higher compared to other options, long-term savings make it a smart choice for winter van travelers.

Another budget-friendly alternative is a propane heater, offering reliable and accessible heat.

When it comes to budget-conscious conversions, propane heaters can be a great solution.

Balancing temperature control in your van isn't just about keeping warm in colder climates; it's also about staying comfortable during hot summer days. No matter what the weather is like, good cooling and ventilation systems are essential.

Ventilation is often the first line of defense against overheating. You can get fresh oxygen and clean air through roof vents and strategically placed windows. Investing in roof vents or windows can be expensive, but they're worth it for your comfort.

For active cooling, you may consider options like portable air conditioning or a built-in air conditioning unit.

Portable air conditioners are a cost-effective solution for improving air circulation, while air conditioning units, while pricier, can be a game-changer when you find yourself in humid locations.

Creating a functional kitchen space in your van is an important part of van life, allowing you to prepare delicious meals on the go. Opting for compact and energy-efficient options can help you save on both space and power consumption.

Storage is another one of the key aspects of your van kitchen. Smart storage solutions, like pull-out drawers, shelves, and magnetic organizers, can help maximize space and keep your cooking utensils and ingredients well-organized.

The cost of these storage solutions can vary depending on materials and complexity, but they are a valuable investment in creating an efficient cooking area.

From keeping your groceries cool to storing fresh ingredients, a well-chosen fridge ensures you have the convenience of home wherever your adventure takes you.

Built-in fridges like Indel B Off Cruise 130 are easy to install in your van conversion and provide extremely reliable cooling performance. You could also choose a portable fridge option for your van, which is perfect for road trips and adventures.

Your oven and stove are the heart of your culinary adventures, whether it's a simple one-pot meal or a gourmet meal.

When it comes to ovens, compact and functional options like convection ovens or portable toaster ovens will fit perfectly into a van's kitchen.

While these appliances may require a reasonable upfront investment, they offer the flexibility to bake, roast, and even reheat leftovers.

GoSun Fusion Solar Oven is another solution for those that want to cook using the power of the sun. Using the sun's power will let you save money on fuel costs, as well as reduce the carbon footprint.

In terms of stoves, there's a wide range of options, from propane camp stoves to built-in two-burner cooktops. Camp stoves powered by propane are cost-effective and ideal for simple cooking.

Built-in cooktops, while potentially pricier, can provide a more seamless and integrated cooking experience. Deciding on the right oven and stove setup depends on your cooking preferences and budget.

The right toilet solution for your van conversion affects both your comfort and the environment.

Due to their eco-friendliness and simplicity, composting toilets have gained popularity among van dwellers. By eliminating the need for water and sewage connections, they offer long-term savings.

Portable toilets, on the other hand, are a more budget-friendly alternative. They are compact, easy to empty, and can be a practical choice if you're on a tighter budget.

Van lifers can also install cassette toilets to ensure ease of installation and easy disposal on the road. THETFORD C223CS cassette toilet provides exactly that and can be used in any type of van.

In the end, the type of toilet you choose depends on your preferences, budget, and van size.

Van life isn't complete without functional sinks and efficient water heaters. Washing dishes and hands is easier with a compact sink with a faucet and a pump.

The choice of sink materials can affect costs, with stainless steel being a durable and budget-friendly option.

Water heating systems like propane or electric heaters are commonly used to ensure hot water is always available.

If you don’t mind spending a bit more, choose a diesel water heater kit for your van conversion. It comes with the controller, fuel pump, and all the other necessary components for a smooth operation.

Water purifiers are also vital for your overall water quality on the road. Solar water purifiers like GoSun Flow Pro, uses a 3-stage filter system to remove bacteria, making sure your water is of impeccable standard.

While the initial cost of water heating and purifying systems may vary, they provide the convenience of warm and safe water for cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene.

In addition to practicality and budget-conscious decisions, custom add-ons and luxury features can improve the overall van life experience.

Entertainment systems, such as LED TVs, portable projectors, or premium sound setups, can add a touch of luxury to your mobile home. Although they vary in price, they provide entertainment and relaxation.

Connectivity is another aspect to consider. Mobile internet solutions like Wi-Fi extenders and 4G Routers can help you stay connected on the go, allowing you to work remotely or stay in touch with loved ones.

The cost of these connectivity upgrades can be compensated by the convenience they offer. Ultimately, deciding on custom add-ons and luxury features should align with your van life goals and budget.

While they may not be essentials, they will certainly make van living more comfortable and convenient.

Sunroofs and skylights can significantly impact the way you live in your van conversion. Adding a sunroof to your van will fill it with natural light and provide panoramic views of the outdoors.

Skylights, on the other hand, bring the magic of observing the stars into your cozy space, bringing a touch of wonder to your nights.

Adding a rooftop fan to your roof conversion can be beneficial as well. MaxxAir MaxxFan Deluxe ventilation system includes a rain shield, fan, and vent all in one.

The cost of all these features can vary based on their size and complexity, but the benefits they bring to your van life adventure are often thought to be well worth the investment.


In this guide, we've explored the art of balancing budget with dream features. We've navigated through crucial elements such as insulation, power systems, temperature control, kitchen facilities, bathroom solutions, and luxurious add-ons.

Remember that the choices you make today will define your van life experience tomorrow.

You can make your dream camper last by prioritizing quality over quantity, investing in sustainability, and finding a balance between essential comforts and luxury features.


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From the Rockies' Aspen Meadows Campground to Maine's Bar Harbor RV Park, autumn leaves paint a breathtaking picture.

We are sure that this guide will help you plan your RV camping trip to fully enjoy the beautiful fall season.

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