The Complete Guide to Camper Van Conversion - Jackery Australia

The Complete Guide to Camper Van Conversion

The Complete Guide to Camper Van Conversion

With camper vans and caravans becoming increasingly popular as vacation vehicles, some people may choose a more hands-on approach and seek to convert their camper van. With plenty of time before the next vacation, now could be an excellent opportunity to consider this fascinating and daring proposition. One of the most thrilling and daunting things a camper van lover can do is design and build their van from the ground up. 

camper van conversion

We've got you covered if you want to make your DIY camper van conversion but only have a little time or money! This article is jam-packed with helpful hints and instructions for completing your DIY camper van conversion on a shoestring budget. Furthermore, the Jackery Solar Generator, which combines solar panels with a portable power station, provides a consistent and dependable solar energy power supply to camper van equipment. 

Key Takeaways:

  • During the preparation phase, you need to ask yourself some questions about using your campervan, check your budget, make a checklist, and choose a plan to convert your campervan by professionals or yourself.

  • There are twelve steps to make a camper van conversion. Firstly, you should choose and design a campervan, then set up the basic arrangements, such as insulation, heating & cooling, water, electricity, floor, wall & ceiling, and lighting. Then, go through the detailed interior makeover, like the kitchen bathroom. Finally, add some furniture and a final touch.

  • We highly recommend Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro and 2000 Plus to provide a stable and consistent power supply for the campervan.


Camper Van Conversion Preparations 

Anyone interested in converting a campervan should begin with a clear vision of what they want to achieve from the completed product. You could be turning the key and heading out on your first journey with your self-built campervan in as little as a few months. Envisioning it is one of the most significant things you can accomplish at this early stage. The more precise your notion, the better. Before camper van conversion, consider the following questions:


1)How many people will be traveling? Will there be any pets? Is it just you and your little dog? Or you want a camper that can accommodate the entire family.


2)How will you use the camper? Your preferred camping style and travel time of year can significantly impact your plans. If you prefer to camp, there should always be an adequate electricity and water supply. However, if you enjoy being off the grid, you must increase the camper's self-sufficiency.


3)Do you intend to live in your van full-time? You should consider roof height! Standing tall in your vehicle will improve your posture and make your driving experience more comfortable. Choose a car with a high roof.


4)What are you bringing with you? We don't only mean whether you require additional shoes or storage for winter jackets. Food, clothing, and other necessities will be provided, but what about bikes and surfboards? Will you need roof racks or bike racks to transport your valuable equipment? Your perfect holiday might include tea and cake on the beach, but many campervan enthusiasts enjoy outdoor sports.

Plan Your Budget

Buying a van and converting it yourself is a lot of joy, and it can save you money over purchasing a ready-made campervan. However, these savings might quickly disappear if you don't carefully check your budget.


A camper van conversion can be rather expensive. As a general guideline, you should spend half the cost of the van on the modification. If you spend $10,000 on your vehicle, keep your conversion costs to roughly $5000. This is due to the degradation of the van's value as the miles accumulate. To estimate the cost of building a campervan, list everything you need and price it.

Is Camper Van Conversion Right for You?

For various reasons, enthusiasts enjoy converting a vehicle into a camper. However, whether you want to save money on living expenses or spend more time exploring the open road, a conversion project should be handled seriously. The time, effort, and money required can be significant.


There are three significant ways to convert a campervan to consider:


Campervan Conversion Firms: If you need more time or abilities to perform a campervan conversion yourself, numerous firms can help you. Knowing what goes into DIY projects like this means you can tell the company exactly what you want and better understand what's feasible within your budget.


Conversion Kit: While some people may gladly tackle the entire conversion and make a masterpiece, others may need more time. A kit to put in your van could be an excellent alternative.


DIY Campervan Conversion: If you have the time and know your way around a toolbox, a complete DIY conversion will save you money and give you the most control over the product. Another advantage is that because you did all of the hard work yourself, you'll have a decent notion of how to address difficulties if something goes wrong later on.


Camper Van Conversion Guide: How-To Steps

For many adventure seekers and travel enthusiasts, transforming a vehicle into the camper of their dreams is an exhilarating adventure. However, one of the first queries is, "How do I convert my camper van?" Then, in this section, you'll get a step-by-step tutorial for a camper van conversion.

how to convert a campervan steps

Step 1: Choose A Camper Van

Choosing a vehicle for your campervan conversion is the first and most significant step toward van life. Numerous vehicle kinds and models are available, and the best one for your small home on wheels is determined by your needs and desires. Purchasing a van to convert is a huge decision, and there are various aspects you should consider before doing so, including:

  • Budget: You can convert a vehicle into a campervan on any budget if you are realistic about what you want from the finished product. It's ideal to start by outlining your overall budget for the conversion, including the cost of the van and project expenditures.
  • Size: Once you've determined your budget, determine what size and height the van would best meet your demands. For example, would you use your campervan to live in or for road trips and vacations? Consider whether you must transport specific equipment, such as bikes or climbing gear.
  • Maintenance: Once you've decided on the sort of van you want to convert, consider any continuing care it might require and its costs.

Small vans like the Citroen Berlingo or Renault Kangoo are frequently straightforward to convert to camper vans and can easily sleep two people. For many first-time converters and campervan owners, they are a practical and cost-effective option for the occasional holiday. They have various limits, including head height, but they may still make excellent tiny campervans.


Medium vans provide the best of both worlds in size and expense for your DIY campervan conversion. It is slightly easier to drive, less expensive to purchase, and offers more space than compact vans such as the Vauxhall Vivaro or Volkswagen Transporter. Larger vans, with their longer wheelbases and higher head heights, are an excellent choice for campervan trips.

Step 2: Design Campervan Layout

One of the most fascinating aspects of building a camper van conversion is designing the layout of your new home. At this point in the build process, the choices are unlimited, and it's a lot of fun to imagine how everything will come together in your DIY van project. However, efficiently arranging your vehicle requires thinking and meticulous preparation. You must figure out how to fit everything you need into a compact space while being pleasant and liveable. Some standard campervan layouts are as follows:

camper van layout 1

Fixed Rear Bed Platform Layout

It's the most popular camper van configuration in general. Many different campervans have variations on this floor arrangement. This configuration is distinguished by a permanent bed platform in the back that also serves as a sofa and a kitchen unit along the wall behind the driver's seat. A 12V refrigerator can be built inside the kitchen or couch, hidden behind the passenger seat, or wedged between the front seats.

camper van layout 2

Convertible Dinette Layout

This adaptable layout incorporates the best features of the first two floor designs. During the day, the back of the van serves as a dining space with a large table; at night, it changes into a bed. Some camper van designers place the dinette on a raised platform with storage beneath. This structure provides plenty of storage space and is simple to organize. Because of the convertible bed design, the entire vehicle is a functional hangout area throughout the day.

camper van layout 3

Kitchen Behind Layouts

Some DIY camper van conversions include kitchen units immediately behind the cab, effectively closing it off from the rest of the vehicle. These arrangements provide more privacy and stealth, especially if you partition off the cab and leave some room in the back of the van exposed. This design can be combined with a longitudinal, fixed, or convertible dinette bed. You can also put your propane and water connections right next to the door, making replenishment easier.

Step 3: Insulation

Insulation is frequently the first step in any do-it-yourself van build, but it is also one of the most misunderstood. Many people waste money and effort on unneeded actions and items because of misconceptions and wrong information about van insulation. So, what's the best approach to insulate a DIY camper van conversion? 

  • Conduction: Conduction is heat transfer over solid surfaces, such as touching a hot stove. In the winter, it's also how heat escapes from your van. Heat is transferred through the solid surface of your camper van's walls and ceiling.
  • Radiation: Radiation is heat transferred via air or a vacuum--imagine the heat radiating from a fire. The primary source of radiant heat in a camper van is the windows. The sun pours through the windows, heating the inside of your van. A reflective window covering will assist in deflecting radiant heat and keeping your van cool.
  • Convection: The third method of heat transfer, convection, refers to the natural rising of heated air to the ceiling. As a result, insulating your roof is critical for keeping your camper van warm. We recommend adding insulation on the top if you have the extra height.

A rigid foam board is an ideal alternative for insulating a DIY camper van conversion. It provides the most bang for your money - you can protect an entire vehicle with it for less than $200 - and offers high R-value without sacrificing too much internal space. When working with foam boards, however, appropriate installation is critical.

Step 4: Heating & Cooling

The first step towards being comfortable on the road is properly insulating your vehicle. However, insulation alone will not keep your van at a comfy temperature, regardless of the weather. In chilly weather, heating your van is simple: use a heater. However, there are numerous sorts of van heaters, which we will discuss further below.


Keeping your van cool can take more work. Active cooling equipment, like air conditioners, consumes much power and is only an option if you install an extensive electrical system or keep it hooked at campgrounds. You must have a vent fan when you live in a vehicle full-time. Your vent fan will keep your van cool and moisture-free, and the airflow will be handy in hot weather. You should also keep it running while cooking inside the van to suck up any fumes.


Many van lifers opt for two vent fans in their van builds, with one blowing fresh air in and the other sucking air out. It will undoubtedly boost air circulation in your van, one of the key strategies to stay refreshing. This is optional. Installing two vent fans increases the cost and takes up more roof space, so some may have better options.

Step 5: Water & Plumbing

Whether you only need drinking water or a full-fledged sink setup, having a water source in your van is necessary. And, while water systems can become intricate, they don't have to be. Will you be preparing meals in your van? If so, you'll need a technique to clean the dishes. Do you intend to boondock away from civilization for an extended period? Then, you'll need to ensure adequate water and a suitable water filter.


Nothing beats a built-in sink and faucet to make your van feel like a home. A built-in sink gives an accessible area inside your van to replenish drinking water and wash dishes, and installation isn't complicated with some preparation and a little elbow grease. Set up your water system in various ways and make it as straightforward or sophisticated as possible. However, all built-in manual pump systems share the following fundamental components:

Camper Van Water System

Water Pump

Faucet

Spout

Grey Water Tank

Freshwater Tank

Sink

Drain

Plumbing

Tubing

Step 6: Solar Electricity 

Electricity is required in your DIY camper van if you want to refrigerate food, see at night, or do computer-based work while on the road. However, it is also one of the most frightening components of any camper van conversion.


Jackery is a remarkable brand that produces high-quality solar equipment, such as solar generators, solar panels, and portable power stations. Jackery Solar Generators combine Jackery Solar Panels and Portable Power Stations, like the mobile campervan solar systems, providing 240Wh to expandable 12 kWh capacities to meet your demands.

jackery solar generator 2000 pro and 2000 plus
Combining Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro and SolarSaga 100W solar panels, the Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro has a capacity of 2160Wh and an output power of 2200W. The Solar Generator 2000 Pro is ideal if you require dependable electricity for RVing, camping, other outdoor activities, or an outage.

You can use the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro portable power station twice weekly for ten years. Boasting a standby capacity of 100% over a year, it is a dependable reserve power source for campervan purposes. It is the optimal selection due to its state-of-the-art attributes, including rapid charging (requiring only two hours with AC input), robust security measures facilitated by a top-tier BMS, and a user-friendly, high-contrast interface. The portable generator has a foldable handle and weighs 19.5 pounds for portability.

Product

Explorer 2000 Pro Portable Power Station

Capacity

2160Wh (43.2V/50Ah)

Life Cycle

1000 cycles to 80%+ capacity

Dimension

30.75x26.9x38.4cm

Recharging Methods

Explorer 2000 Pro + 6*SolarSaga 100W: 5.5H

AC Adapter: 2H

12V Car Adapter: 24H

Output Ports

2*AC Output: 230V, 2200W (peak 4400W); 2*USB-A: Quick Charge 3.0x2, 18W Max; 2*USB-C: 100W Max, (5V, 9V, 15V, 12V, 20V up to 5A); 1*Carport: 12V⎓10A

Jackery introduces the high-performance Solar Generator 2000 Plus, a significant advancement in portable power options. With its enormous capacity and high power output, it can power a standard camper van appliance for weeks and meet all the power requirements of outdoor exploration or professional work.

The Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Plus enables add-on battery packs, increasing capacity from 2 kWh to an impressive 12 kWh and taking RV life to the next level. Expandable to 3000W, a 30% increase in rated power over other 2 kWh items on the market. Almost all critical RV devices are powered. The advanced LiFePO4 battery ensures a 10-year lifespan - even if used only once daily.

Product

Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Plus

Capacity

2042.8Wh (13A/638.4Ah)

Life Cycle

4000 cycles to 70%+ capacity

Battery Cell

LiFePO4 battery

Dimension

37.36x35.94x47.3cm

Recharging Methods

Explorer 1000 Pro + 6*SolarSaga 100W: 6H; 

AC Adapter: 1.7H; 

12V Car Adapter: 25H

Output Ports

3*AC Output: 230V~ 50Hz, 3000W Max, 6000W surge peak; 2*USB-A: Quick Charge 3.0, 18W Max; 2*USB-C: 100W Max, (5V, 9V, 15V, 12V, 20V up to 5A); 1*Carport: 12V⎓10A

Step 7: Flooring Arrangement 

Following the installation of insulation and power in your new home, the following phase in a van build is to add a floor. This simple method makes your van look great and feel like a home. There are various flooring configurations: Insulation, Sound Deadener, Subfloor, and Main Floor.

When you're driving, loud road noise might be quite bothersome. However, you may install a sound deadener under the floor of your van to help remove road noise and make your van a lot more enjoyable to drive. Because warm air rises, there is minimal chance that heat will escape through your floor. However, you should still consider this component of your van's insulation. The subfloor is a stable layer - a piece of plywood - on which your floor will sit. Sheet Vinyl Flooring, Cork Flooring, and Laminate Flooring are all recommended for the primary flooring.

Step 8: Wall & Ceiling

After you've built your floor, it's time to put up your walls and ceiling. We advocate using two primary materials in your van build: plywood sheets and tongue-and-groove paneling. Depending on your van, installation can be simple or complex. Typically, you'll use self-tapping screws to attach your walls or ceiling to the metal "ribs" of your car frame.
  • Polywood Sheets: The simplest and cheapest method is to build your van's walls and ceiling out of plywood sheets. The main advantage of plywood is that it bends easily, which is essential when working with curved surfaces within a van. You can also stain and paint or cover any color in a tapestry.

  • Tongue-and-Groove Paneling: If you want a homey cabin feel within your van conversion, tongue-and-groove paneling on the walls and ceiling is an excellent option. The paneling looks great - the cedar paneling on our ceiling is one of our van's distinguishing features. We chopped ours to various lengths and stained it in multiple colors to achieve that mismatched, rustic look.

Step 9: Kitchen Setup

You must have a vent fan and a good carbon monoxide detector if you cook inside your van. Any stove will produce some fumes. Integrating a built-in cooktop into your design will give you a more permanent kitchen feel in your camper van if you're ready to spend extra time and money installing a stove and piping fuel lines. These stoves typically look lovely; some even have coverings that convert them into counter space when unused.
jackery solar generator for campervan

Step 10: Bathroom & Shower

Some of the most prevalent concerns we get from folks thinking about van life are how to include an elaborate bathroom and shower setup inside their vehicles. A bathroom setup may seem necessary initially, but there are certain compromises to consider before installing one in your rig, such as taking up a lot of space, potential risk, and foul odors. There are several solutions to this problem:

Tips & Solutions

Bathroom

1)Public restrooms; 2) campground restroom; 3) poop shovel

Shower

1)Shower at a gym; 2) National Parks; 3) portable showers; 4) how water heater; 5) developed campground; 6) truck stops; 7) baby wipe shower.

Step 11: Lighting System

Interior lighting should be considered when designing your DIY camper van conversion. There are numerous lighting solutions available for modifications. Installing LED strip lights is one of our favorites. They are tailor-made for campervan conversions, with an ultra-long life duration, efficient power consumption, and simple installation. And, with many different hues and lighting options, you can set your lighting to match your mood!

Step 12: Final Touch

If you intend to cruise over a few days, prioritizing storage in your DIY campervan conversion is critical. There are so many inventive storage hacks and ideas on the internet that there isn't enough room to cover them all! Use the backs of doors and chairs, and remember the roof, which can be used for a roof-top tent or awning.

While considering all the difficulties that must be addressed while converting a campervan, interior décor may not appear high on the priority list. You'd be correct, but if you want your freshly converted camper to feel like a home away from home, putting some time and work into this component is well worth it - and a lot of fun!


Final Thoughts

Exploring in a campervan allows you to be in nature on your own time and at your speed. Living in a van is entirely up to you; nowhere is this more accurate than in the van you live in. Vanlife is ultimately about independence, defying convention, and living on your terms. This article will give you all you need to know about camper van conversion, from layout to specific components. Remember to own a Jackery Solar Generator to use solar energy to power all of your appliances. 

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