The Ultimate Guide to Van Conversions
Posted on November 16 2020
2020 is officially the year of the staycation, and many of us have had to take advantage of the beauty in our own backyard instead of travelling abroad. Fortunately, the UK has a wealth of natural scenery, stunning coastline and culture to explore. One of the best ways to experience this is in your own mobile camper van.
As such, van conversions have risen in popularity over the past few months. Converting a van into a camper van means that you can easily travel around the UK, without having to find additional accommodation.
If you’re looking to transform your van into the ultimate staycation destination, we’re here to help. We’re offering out expert tips on van conversions, so you can make the most of your holidays in the UK.
Benefits of Van Conversions
If you’re interested in a camper van conversion, but you’re not quite sure if it’s the right option for you, here are a few of the main benefits you could take advantage of:
Save Money on Accommodation & Travel
Converting your van into will help you to save money on hotels, plane tickets, train tickets and more. Booking a holiday abroad can be a costly affair once you factor in all these elements, therefore, a van conversion can save you more money in the long-run.
More Affordable Than Dedicated Camper Vans
Conversion vans are an affordable alternative to camper vans, as you can select the materials, fixtures and modifications that suit your exact budget.
Of course, van conversion costs can vary significantly depending on the size of the task at hand. Despite this, it is usually more affordable to carry out a van conversion, as opposed to purchasing a purpose-built camper van.
Make it Your Own
Converting your own van gives you more room for personalisation, so you can get really creative with your van’s interior design and features!
No matter whether you want neon pink seats in your conversion van, or you want a super-charged sound-system for your road trips, you can easily create your dream camper van when you DIY your conversion.
How to Do a Van Conversion Yourself
So you’re ready to carry out a camper van conversion, but where should you start? There are several things you should consider before embarking on this task. Fortunately, we’re providing our expert tips below to help you get your conversion right the first time.
Check If Your Van Is Eligible
Not all vans can be converted into a camper van, so it’s best to check if you’ve got the right foundations before you get started. This is down to a number of factors, including:
- Your van’s condition
- Your van’s size
This is because you will need to re-register your new camper van with the DVLA, and there are several internal features it should have to officially be recognised as a motorhome.
How to Register a Campervan Conversion with the DVLA
Before you can hit the road with your campervan, you’ll need to register it with the DVLA. To support your application, you’ll need to include documents such as:
- A complete campervan conversion checklist
- A V5C
- Interior photos
- Exterior photos
- Photos showing the Vehicle Identification Number
Once you’ve gathered this information, you’ll need to send it to the DVLA and they will review your application.
Just like when using any other vehicle, your safety is paramount, therefore, the better condition your van is in, the more suitable it is for conversion.
What is the Best Van for a Camper Conversion?
If you’re unsure of whether your existing van would be a good fit, or you’re looking to buy a van to convert, some of the best vans for camper conversion include:
- Fiat Ducato
- Mercedes-benz Sprinter
- Renault Trafic
- Ford Transit
These are just a few of the most common vans that people use for camper conversions; in reality you can transform almost any van into the ultimate staycation destination!
Decide on Your Van’s Layout
You will need to decide where to place your bed, storage, tables, cooker and other appliances within your van. This can be a challenging task, as you’ll need to make sure that the weight is evenly distributed.
However, it will force you to be more creative with the way you use your space, and make the most of the room you have. You should opt for items that have multiple uses, so that you can create a fully-functional but comfortable space.
Here are some more tips you can take advantage of whilst in the planning stages of your van conversion:
- Look up common campervan layouts for inspiration
- Measure and test your layout in real life
- Use 3D design software to help you visualise your van’s interior
How to Wire a Van Conversion
If you’re going to DIY your camper van conversion, you’ll need some prior knowledge on circuits and electrical systems to get you started. You’ll also need to purchase a wide selection of electrical components to get your camper van up and running. This can include:
- Solar panels
- Circuit breakers
- Battery monitor
- Battery charger/converter
- Van conversion leisure battery
This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you will need for your conversion van, and the items you need will largely depend on the features you want to add. If you’re new to van conversions, it’s likely that you’ll have to enlist the help of an electrical engineer to wire up your van.
On the other hand, if you’re wondering how to wire a van conversion yourself, this guide from Climbing Van offers a great step-by-step process for beginners.
Are Van Conversion Kits Worth It?
You can purchase a van conversion kit that includes everything you need to transform your old van into a liveable camper van. Businesses and individuals provide van conversion kits to those who are looking for a quick and convenient way to set up their new campervan.
Some of these kits include:
- Furniture e.g. beds, dining tables and storage
- Electrical components e.g. leisure batteries, wires, lighting etc.
- Heating and cooling elements
- Bathroom and plumbing components
The price of your kit will depend on the size of your vehicle, it’s interior design and features. It’s likely that you will have to pay the added cost for convenience too. Whilst it can be cheaper to source the components yourself, you can save a significant amount of time and effort by purchasing a conversion kit.
Van Conversion Ideas & Inspiration
Camper van conversions give you the opportunity to show off your creativity and create something totally unique.
However, if you’re new to the process, it can be difficult to get inspiration. Fortunately, there are a wealth of van to camper conversion ideas out there for you to choose from. We’ve compiled a few of our favourites below to help you get started.
How Much Does a Van Conversion Cost?
Your campervan conversion costs will depend on a range of factors including:
- The cost of your van (if you don’t own one already)
- The quality of the materials used
- The size of your van & labour required
- Whether you self-build, or you enlist the help of a camper van conversion company
These are just a few of the things that can influence the final costs of your van conversion. If you’re carrying out a small van conversion, you can spend as little as £500 to kit out your vehicle. On the other hand, larger self-builds can cost up to £20,000.
If you choose to hire a professional to kit out your conversion van, you will need to pay slightly more for the convenience, labour and materials. Some of the most expensive professional camper van conversion companies can charge up to £40,000, however, this largely depends on the features you want to include in your build.
In general, if you’re building your conversion van yourself and you don’t need to purchase a vehicle, you shouldn’t need to pay more than £5,000 to £10,000 to transform your van.
UK Staycation Ideas for You and Your Camper
If you’re ready to hit the road with your new campervan, but you’re unsure of where to go - we’ve got you covered. We’ve found some of the most scenic UK staycation destinations for you to make the most of with your conversion van.
1. North York Moors National Park
You’ll be spoilt for choice of scenery when you visit the North York Moors National Park. It’s peaceful and calm, making it an ideal spot for a relaxing getaway in the countryside.
2. The Isle of Wight
If you want to sample some of the UK’s finest coastal destinations in your van, the Isle of Wight should be the top of your list of places to visit.
Here you can visit picturesque beaches such as Shanklin Beach and Ventnor Beach, or you can traverse one of the Isle of Wights many coastal footpaths to make the most of your trip.
3. Brecon Beacons, Wales
Whilst this has always been a popular destination for UK staycationers, it’s a great place to visit with a campervan because it is one of the UK’s larger landscapes, and it has a wealth of different natural features to explore.