So here it is. Our van conversion. I’ve always wanted a big van. Seeing people on the internet seemingly living a life of freedom and ease has always made me twitchy. I know that its easy to be mislead by set up pictures of this fantastic life of luxury when really they don’t necessarily equate to how it actually is. Anyways, I wanted to find out for myself. I knew I had to go BIG because I had a VW Transporter before and spent many nights in it and swiftly realised that this was more of an overnight habitat than an actual living space.
Some friends of mine already had a pimp van conversion so I took some time to look about. I decided that I would go European and head down the Citroen Jumper or Relay as it’s known in the UK. I did this because they seemed to be the cheapest of the 3 vans made on the same factory chassis, the X250. What you’ll find is loads of self conversion products are designed for the X250, Especially underslung stuff. Essentially the Peugeot boxer, Fiat Ducato and Citroen relay are almost the same van with different finishes. Anyways I digress.
I looked around and eventually found a high top van which wasn’t a glass fibre roof or suchlike. I wanted a metal roof so I could attach some ‘hard points’ to do TRX or gym rings from. An added benefit was that this van conversion would also have space above the door to put a fingerboard for some warming up or training. Just to clarify the van I got is an L4H3. So pretty tall.
I can’t be bothered to write all the specific details of the products we put in but here’s a low down of the best things we did during the van conversion and then I’ll add a load of pics for you to sift through.
INSULATION- For Van Conversion
This was key for us to have a good time. We have plans in the next few years to go Skiing and thus wanted the van to stay extra warm. We used a combination of two types of insulation. Firstly we stripped out everything. Then got some of the best insulation we have ever found. Customers can buy it from a company called KIRAVANS. The tech specs are all on their website but it immediately made a difference in such a big space. We stuck it pretty much on every piece of free panel there was.
As well as keeping the heat in it also made a huge difference to the noise you could hear outside. You’ll see later but our bed goes across the back of the van conversion. I’m 6ft and can sleep across the van only if we are into the recess about half way up the van. That meant we only have the insulation stuck to the van panel and then carpet directly over the top. Easy and still warm.
For the rest of the gaps/spaces we doubled up the insulation with recycled glass bottle stuff from B and Q. I’ve made the mistake of going cheap with rockwool before. DON’T DO IT. It gets damp and stinks. Especially in a smaller van conversion. All in all the van holds heat very well.
GAS- For Van Conversion
This was a big decision for us. We ended up going big on the LPG. We got and underslung tank which can run all of the following. Cooker, Oven, Heater, Water heater and fridge. So basically everything runs off gas. We usually get about 4 weeks from a tank and it costs about €15 or £13 to fill up. So ridiculously cheap to run. This also means that our electric is free for lights, laptops, phones etc. I cannot recommend this method enough. especially if you want life to be cheap once you’e sorted. Admittedly its expensive when you’re setting up but fairly easy to install.
POWER- For Van Conversion
After having a chat with a local hippy guy who lives in a converted bus he managed to talk me into a couple of things.
- Trojan Batteries- These don’t come cheap but as far as sealed lead acid batteries go. They are awesome. We got two 130ah and they are flipping awesome.
- Stirling Power unit- This is a marine product mainly but are starting to be used in RV’s. It’s instead of a split relay. As a quick run through a Split relay usually runs at about 4amps. So to charge a 130ah battery would take forever. Stirling units run at up to 60amps. This also only works if you have good quality batteries that can receive a charge faster. Our’s only take on about 20amps. But that still means that whilst you head off to the shops for an hour or so you quickly recharge rather than having to drive for hours and hours or leave your engine running when you want to be out climbing.
- Solar power- We have enough solar power to probably be selling it back to the state. We have 2x 150watt panels. This means we should really never be going below 100% on our batteries. even in cloudy conditions. We quickly realised though that they weren’t working. As the Stirling unit was so effective this wasn’t an issue however I need to sort out the wiring somewhere.
So from what you can see we are pretty much independent whilst in the van. Only really needing to stop for fuel and occasionally some more gas. I’ll stop waffling now and show some pictures of the progress. You’ll notice that we ended up spraying our cabinets etc so as to get a nice finish. A small compressor and spray gun probably cost about £130 in total and the difference is a gypsy job to one which looks pro. Also remember Surface preparation is key to painting 😉
For an Questions about what we did please feel free to fire me a message or comment on here.