Want to avoid some of the Van Life mistakes we made on our first Van Conversion?
Check out the 10 Changes We Made to Our 2nd Sprinter Van Conversion:
Our first van conversion was a 2008 Dodge Sprinter 170” Passenger van, which meant it had windows all the way around. In fact, it had 6 different windows in the back as well as the windows on the back doors. This caused a few issues:
our bathroom had a window in it. Pretty awkward to shower in there. We ended up putting a shower curtain across the window, but then it would stick to you when we showered.
It wasn’t very stealth - because we had so many windows, it was nearly impossible to keep light out, and on the flip side, not let light out at night time when we had the lights on.
it got REALLY hot. Insulation is nearly worthless if you have windows all the way around your van.
On our second van conversion, we cut back on the number of windows to be more stealth, to have better insulation and to have a more functional van on the inside. This meant we didn’t have a window in our bathroom anymore - yay!!
A Smaller Kitchen
We opted for a smaller kitchen area in our second van build to give us the option of installing a seat at the sliding door for another passenger.
We don’t miss the extra space that we had in our first in our first van because it gives our new van a much more open feel.
A Smaller Sink
Since we made our kitchen smaller, we decided to opt for a smaller farmhouse sink as well. The sink is made by the same company - they make the sink in two sizes. One is 19.625” x 14.5” and the other is a 14.5” x 14.5”.
We opted for the square 14.5” x 14.5” sink on our second van to be able to save some countertop space. The sink is still more than big enough to accommodate washing large pots and pans.
Our first van we used a vinyl tile that is meant for flooring. Over time these vinyl tiles started to fall off of the walls in the bathroom.
On our second van we opted for REAL tile. I know, crazy right?! We used small white subway tiles and gray grout. We absolutely love the way it looks and it’s even more waterproof than our last van. So far, we have no issues with the grout cracking and everything is holding up great.
One of the reasons we went with real tile is because we used a foam backer board instead of heavy hardie board. This saved us over 100 pounds in weight, so adding in real tile wasn’t an issue.
The Lagun Table Base
Our first van conversion had a pedestal bolted into the floor for our convertible table/bed area. This did not allow for much room to get around the table since it was fixed and unable to move.
On our second build, we opted for the Lagun Table Base. This base is incredible because it’s not mounted into the floor so you can easily swivel the table from side to side or even completely remove the base so you have an open seating bench area.
A Full Electrical Panel
Our first van conversions electrical setup was hard to get to. We had our solar controller and monitor in an upper cabinet that we stored a lot of bedding in, so we often couldn’t see what was going on.
On our new van, we decided to create a full command center where we could access our battery monitor, switch our inverter on/off, see our water tank levels, turn our Espar heater on/off, etc. This is way more functional and really easy to access.
Added an Espar Diesel Heater
Our first van did not have a heater unless we were running the van. We definitely experienced too many chilly mornings and evenings, so the second time around we installed an Espar Diesel Heater.
This heater runs off of the Diesel from the fuel tank of the Sprinter van and it’s super efficient. We installed in under the passenger seat and it heats the van up in about 2-3 minutes.
We Made Our Countertops 3 inches Taller
Our first van’s countertops were lower than standard countertop height.
On our second van, we raised them up 3 inches to make them a standard counter height, which allowed us to add one more drawer to our dresser area for laptops and office stuff.
Went with 6 Inches of Memory Foam instead of Just 4 Inches
Our first van only had 4 inches of memory foam for our bed area. Over time, we both woke up with back pain because our hips were hitting the wood beneath us at night.
We increased our memory foam to a full 6 inches and now we sleep like babies! Another 2 inches made all the difference when it came to getting a good night’s sleep.
Added an Aluminess Rack & Ladder
On our first van, we had the solar mounted and screwed directly into the roof of the van.
This time, we opted for an Aluminess Rack and their solar mounts to be able to easily secure our solar to the van without drilling holes into the roof. Not only that, but the Aluminess rack makes it easy to store extra things on the roof like inflatable SUPs, a Thule box, etc.