Converting a van into a camper takes a lot of accomplished DIY skills.
You’ll need to be a carpenter, metalworker, electrician and plumber. At times you’ll wish you were a magician!
If you have all of these skills in abundance, a conversion might be relatively straight forward.
Not everyone knows how to build a camper van though.
If you don’t have any DIY skills, then buying a pre-loved camper is a great option.
You’ll need deep pockets to outsource the entire project to a custom van conversion company.
If you don’t have the money for a custom build nor the skills to do it yourself, camper van conversion kits can help save the day.
Instead of building everything from scratch, a kit already includes the major components. All you have to do is install it.
Van conversion kits vary in quality, components and cost.
Some are simple packages of components, not specific to any vehicle model.
Others are complete furniture modules, designed for the most common vans likes Sprinters, Promasters and Fords.
In this post, we’ll show you the best DIY campervan conversion kits.
We’ve included the popular pre-packed furniture modules as well as kits to install all the amenities like plumbing, electrics and bathrooms.
What Are Camper Van Conversion Kits?
Camper van conversion kits are a great way to customize your campervan for your specific needs. They can include anything from a new kitchenette to a bed or even just extra storage space.
A conversion kit is a great way to do it if you’re looking to convert a van quickly. They can be expensive, but they can also be an excellent investment.
They can add value to your campervan if you ever decide to sell it, especially if you’re not great at DIY. Compared to a bodged DIY job, a conversion kit can make your trips more comfortable and enjoyable.
If you’re thinking about buying a conversion kit for your campervan, here are some things to keep in mind:
- What kind of conversion kit do you need? There are conversion kits available for all sorts of different needs. If you’re unsure what kind of kit you need, it’s worth researching to figure out what would best suit your campervan and your lifestyle.
- How much does it cost? Conversion kits can vary widely in price, depending on the materials’ quality and the design’s complexity. So it’s worth shopping around to find a kit within your budget.
- Will the conversion kit be compatible with your van? It’s essential to ensure that your conversion kit is compatible with your van. Otherwise, you may need to make significant modifications to your van, which could be costly and time-consuming.
- How easy is it to install? Some conversion kits are designed for do-it-yourselfers, while others require professional installation. If you’re not confident in your DIY skills, it’s worth paying for a kit with installation instructions. Even better, consider a professional installation.
- What kind of warranty does it come with? Most conversion kits come with a one-year warranty, but it’s worth checking to see what kind of support is available in case of any problems.
- Is the company reputable? It’s worth researching the company that makes the conversion kit to ensure they’re reputable and have a good track record.
- What’s the quality of the kit? It’s important to ensure you’re getting a high-quality kit, especially if you’re paying a lot for it. If possible, try to find reviews of the kit before you buy it to see what other people’s experiences have been.
Keep these factors in mind when shopping for a conversion kit, and you’ll be sure to find one that meets your needs and budget.
Camper Van Conversion Kits vs. DIY Van Build
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether a camper van conversion kit or DIY van build is better. Both have pros and cons, varying depending on your needs and budget.
Van Conversion Kits
Camper van conversion kits are a great option to save time and money on your conversion project. They are also a good choice if you don’t have the necessary experience to build your own van.
Conversion kits include all the parts and instructions you need to convert your van into a camper, and some can be installed in just a few hours.
However, conversion kits can be more expensive than doing it yourself. In addition, they may not include features you want, such as a bed or a kitchenette.
And they don’t include the electrical system (more on that later).
Additionally, if something goes wrong with your kit, finding someone who can help you fix it can be challenging.
- Usually faster than doing it yourself
- Easier to follow instructions than doing it yourself
- Often include all the components you need for the conversion
- May not be as customisable as doing it yourself
- May not be as durable as doing it yourself
- Can be more cheaper expensive than doing it yourself
DIY Van Conversion
DIY van builds are a great option if you want more control over your conversion project and are comfortable with DIY carpentry.
With a DIY build, you can choose the features and layout that best suits your needs and budget. You also have the flexibility to make changes as you go.
However, DIY builds can be more time-consuming and challenging than conversion kits.
In addition, if something goes wrong with your build, you’ll also need to be able to fix it yourself. But if you’ve built it yourself, you’ll have learned those skills, which will be invaluable once you hit the road.
- More customisable than using a conversion kit
- Can be more durable than using a conversion kit
- More affordable than some conversion kits
- Easier to find parts and materials for than conversion kits
- Can take longer than using a conversion kit
- May be more challenging than using a conversion kit
DIY Campervan Conversion Kits vs. Professional Van Conversion Companies
When converting a van into a campervan, there are two main options: DIY campervan conversion kits or professional van conversion companies. Both have their pros and cons, which we will explore in this article.
DIY Campervan Conversion Kits
- DIY kits are cheaper than hiring a professional conversion company.
- You have complete control over the finished product.
- It’s a fun project to do with friends or family.
- There’s a lot of work involved in converting a van yourself. This can be time-consuming and frustrating.
- If you don’t have any experience with DIY projects, you will likely make mistakes that can be costly and time-consuming to fix.
- The finished installation may not be as good quality as if it had been done by a professional.
- You need access to essential tools and equipment to do the conversion yourself.
- If you want to change your mind about the finished product, it can be difficult and expensive to undo any DIY work that has been done.
- If something goes wrong with the kit while you are converting the van, you may not be able to get help or support from the manufacturer or supplier.
Professional Van Conversion Companies
- The finished product will be high quality and to your specifications.
- You won’t have to do any of the work yourself – the company will take care of everything for you.
- The company can advise you on what is possible with your van conversion project.
- You may be able to get a warranty or guarantee with a professional conversion company.
- The company will access good quality materials and components for your van conversion.
- If something goes wrong with the conversion, the company will be liable and will be able to rectify the problem for you.
- The company may handle any paperwork and regulatory requirements for your van conversion.
- Van conversions done by professional companies can be expensive.
- You may only have limited control over the process or the finished product.
- The company may not be able to accommodate all of your specific requests or needs.
- The company may not be able to complete the project within your desired timeframe.
- You may have to compromise on some aspects of the design or finish to stay within your budget.
The Best Campervan Conversion Kits: Easy Fit Furniture Kits
Building beds and furniture into a van conversion demands a level of carpentry skills.
Our own Sprinter van conversion is built around an aluminium frame so we relied on our (Graham’s) metal working skills.
But if you don’t know a dovetail from a miter or one end of a claw hammer from a spirit level, building a camper interior is a tall ask.
That’s where furniture conversion kits providing modular interiors come into their own.
There are several types of kit on the market and many companies with products and services available.
Researching this post, we found it a pain trying to figure out and compare what each includes (and more specifically, doesn’t include).
We’ve summarized it here.
Complete Modular Conversion Kits
Some companies provide complete conversion kits, often designed for specific vehicle models.
The high end companies are virtually offering a custom build, but with predesigned layouts to choose from.
Others offer pre configured modules you can mix ’n’ match, a bit like Ikea wardrobe systems.
Some companies will post your flat pack interior while others insist you bring the van to them for installation.
Few, if any, offer a bathroom module and water tanks aren’t usually underslung either.
Also read: How Much Does it Cost to Live in a Van?
If you’re considering going down this route with your build, have a list of question to ask the companies before making the final decision.
We suggest you read our complete guide to converting a camper first.
Even if outsourcing the job, this will help you ask the right questions before handing over any hard earned cash.
Ask questions like:
- If insulation or heating is included, is it enough to keep you warm in the conditions you will travel?
- What materials are used in the build? We recommend steering clear of flimsy materials and fittings. A few hundred kilometres on the road, especially tracks will make screws and bolts loosen with ease
- Is the electrical system sized to meet your needs? Use our electrical calculators to work out what size setup you need.
- Can you speak with previous customers for references?
- Check out guarantees and warranties offered.
The following companies are popular for these types of conversion kits:
- Location: Portland, OR
- Cost: $18,000+
- Specialties: Mercedes Sprinter 144 and 170
- Kits Include:
- Upper cabinetry
- Fold out gear drying rack
- Bamboo panels
If you’re looking for a luxurious and stylish camper van conversion kit, ZENVANZ is the perfect option.
Their kits are made of high-quality materials, like aluminum and bamboo, and are easy to install using your van’s factory holes.
This means there’s no additional drilling required, and the kit can be easily removed if you need to use your van for daily driving.
ZENVANZ offers a wide range of conversion kits that can be tailored to your specific needs.
Whether you’re looking for a kitchen with solid bamboo cabinets, a bed system, or upper and bedside cabinets, they have you covered. You can also choose to add on the bamboo ceiling, door, and wall panels to complete the look of your van conversion.
Prices start at around $18,000 for a short-wheelbase and $22,000 for a long-wheelbase.
If you’re looking for a luxurious and easy-to-install conversion kit, ZENVANZ is definitely the company to check out.
- Location: Portland, OR
- Cost: $13,000+
- Specialties: Mercedes Sprinter 144 and 170; Ford Transit High Roof Long and High Roof Long Extended
- Kits Include:
- Insulation & sound deadening
- Electrical system Ventilation
- Optional extras include a MOAB bed and mule bags
If you’re looking for a way to turn your van into a comfortable, fully-functional campervan, you should definitely check out Adventure Wagon. They offer high-quality conversion kits for both the Mercedes Sprinter and the Ford Transit that can be installed in just a few days.
Adventure Wagon’s conversion kits come with everything you need to turn your van into a cozy camper, including:
- a full wiring harness,
- ceiling fan,
- L-track to enable a modular setup,
- wall and ceiling panels,
- molded trim,
- and wall and ceiling bracers.
You can choose from a variety of fabric colors for the wall paneling, or you can go with bare plywood if you want to customize the look of your van yourself.
The best part about Adventure Wagon’s conversion kits is that they’re totally modular. That means that you can add on additional components easily, like kitchen units, cabinetry or a MOAB bed.
And their L-track system lets you mount additional accessories exactly where you want them.
- Location: Colorado Springs, CO
- Cost: $5,600+
- Van Types: RAM Promaster, Ford Transit, RAM Promaster City Cargo + more
- Kits Includes:
- Floor system
- Ceiling, wall and door trim
- Kitchen cabinetry
Wayfarer offer a range of conversion kits for different types of vans, and all of their kits include flooring, wall and ceiling paneling, insulation, shelving, and more.
Plus, they offer free installation on all of their kits so you need to drive to Reno or Colorado Springs. Some of the smaller kits can be shipped to you, if you’d prefer to install them yourself.
So what do their kits include? The complete conversion kits comes with:
- integrated cargo management tracks,
- wall and ceiling paneling with 100% natural wool insulation,
- perimeter shelving,
- a kitchen galley with 5 gallon fresh and grey water tanks, sink and hand pump,
- bed platform with cushions,
- boot box, and
- privacy paneling for the sliding and rear door window areas.
Installation is free with all of Wayfarer’s kits, and they also offer a 1-year warranty on all parts and labor.
- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Cost: $10,000+
- Van Types: Mercedes Sprinter
Happier Camper Conversion Systems is a company that is changing the game when it comes to van conversions.
With their easy-to-install Adaptiv™ floor grid, van owners can quickly and easily change the layout of their van to fit their needs for any adventure.
The modular floor grid provides a foundation for installing seating, tables, beds, storage, appliances, and more.
Whether you need to add more seating or storage, want a bed for sleeping, or just need a place to cook and eat, their Adaptiv system has you covered.
The modular floor grid installs quickly and easily and is optimized for the easy installation of an electrical system. This makes it easy to customize your van’s electrical system to meet your specific needs.
You can also add or remove components as needed, making it easy to adapt your van, whatever the adventure.
Weekend Camping Modules
These pre-configured kits are designed for part time van lifers and shorter camping trips.
Some can turn pretty much any car into a camper. You don’t even need a van.
Ideal for weekend camping trips or short term camper holidays, these modules quickly and easily transform a good sized people carrier or small van.
And most can be removed just as quickly when not in use.
Some of the popular modules include:
- QuQuQ – starting at ≈ US$ 4000
- Freeway Camper kits – starting at ≈ $1000
- TrailKitchens – starting at ≈ $2700
Campervan Conversion Kits UK
The UK market isn’t left out of furniture modules either.
Some popular kit manufacturers include:
Most of these target the VW Transporter type van.
We highly recommend checking out the quality of the builds before committing.
Utilities Conversion Kits
Of course there’s more to a campervan conversion than the furniture.
Onboard amenities lift a van with a bed and some storage to a cosy home on wheels you can live in indefinitely if you want to.
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Campervan Electrical Kit
Installing a well sized, fit for purpose electrical system in a camper is one of the most complex and important elements of the entire build.
These are the key components you’ll need. They’re perfectly sized for a couple living in a van full time, off grid and through all seasons.
This kit provides solar electricity and charges the leisure batteries from the camper’s engine as you drive too.
- 170ah lithium ion battery
- 4 x 100 watt solar panels
- 150/35 MPPT Controller
- Battery to battery charger
- Battery Monitor
- Fuse Block
- 300w inverter
Mains Hook Up Kit
Though a well sized solar system means you can live off grid, it’s a luxury to have the opportunity to top up the batteries from mains power.
Adding a hook up kit is low cost and doesn’t take up much inside space, so we recommend including this in your conversion.
Heating & Ventilation Pack
Good ventilation will help stop condensation in a van, critical to keep rust and mould out of the camper. An electric roof vent is best.
A heating system in the camper forms part of the solution to condensation but as importantly, helps keep you comfortable and toasty, even in the coldest of winters.
If you don’t need heating year round, a good quality portable heater will serve you will on chilly summer evenings.
Plumbing & Bathroom Kit
How much of this you need in your camper is down to how you’ll use the van once it’s built.
Living in a van full time is much easier and has more freedom with all onboard amenities installed.
But if you only plan to use it for camping weekends a few times a year or maybe a week here and there, depending mostly on campsites, these are luxuries you could easily live without.
We’ve included below the major components for installing a water system.
* Read our review of our composting toilet – we swear by it!
** Read our post on campervan showers for more information about the options for getting hot water. They make a difference to the shower components needed.
DIY Camper Kitchen Kit
The heart of many homes and it’s no different in a camper.
Whether you have a van big enough to cook inside or a camper to cook beside, a well equipped kitchen makes for a happy camper.
Here’s the major components of a DIY camper kitchen we feel make a massive difference to van life.
Accessories & Interiors Fittings
Kitting out a van so you get everything you want and making the build as straightforward as possible, takes forward planning.
It’s easy to overlook some accessories and fittings at the outset. The major components of the furniture, plumbing and electric will likely take most of your attention.
But there’s a few other items to consider in the early stages of the build.
If you plan on fitting an awning, do it early so you don’t have to rip out the insulation and panelling.
Adding swivel seats may be a great way or making the most of the space, so affect the floor plans.
Here’s the components to consider before you get too far into the build. You don’t need them all by any stretch but it’s easy to build into the plans than to retrospectively fit.
Safety & Security
After all the effort, time and money spent on the conversion, keeping it secure and the occupants safe is a major consideration.
Try to avoid this being an after thought though. We added extra security bolts to our van before we even started the interior fit out.
And adding a safe and building the furniture around it add another layer of security too.
Mix ’n’ match from the these do it yourself van conversion kits. Swap out specific components if necessary, refining the build as you go.
And most of all, have fun! A van conversion is one of the most rewarding things you can do.