Sprinter vans are often called cargo vans due to their versatility and ability to hold a large volume.
These vehicles are available in various shapes and sizes and can be equipped to seat as many as 15 passengers at a time. Because of their vast indoor space, they are the ideal vehicle to use for camping trips. These vans are also one of the most popular options for avid outdoor enthusiasts who want to convert them into camper vans.
Sprinter vans are ideal for camper van conversions because they can provide you with many of the luxuries of home while you are on the road. They are also a great choice when wanting all the conveniences of a large camper or RV but must stay within a reasonable budget.
To convert a sprinter van into a fully functional camper, the cost can range anywhere from $500 up to $10,000 or more depending on what features you want and how much you are willing to pay. If you are interested in saving money by converting a sprinter van, here are a few things you will need to know concerning the cost of the conversion process.
The Initial Cost of a Sprinter Van
The first thing you will need to consider if you don’t already own a sprinter van is how much it will cost to purchase one. A new sprinter van will cost between $35,000 to $45,000 or more. You can also find a used sprinter for as little as $3,000.
The three most popular sprinter van models are 1500, 2500, and 3500. 1500 is the base model is sells new for around $35,000. The 2500 model sells for around $41,000, while the 3500 ranges between $37,000 to $50,000 or more.
Used sprinter vans can be a better option if you can find one from a reliable seller or dealer. You can find used vans for as little as $3,000. If you are willing to deal with the depreciation and possible repairs, a used sprinter could be your best option. You may even be able to find a used mid-level or 3500 model for a very reasonable price.
Getting the Best Deal on a Sprinter Van
To get the best deal on a sprinter van, you need to use many of the same tactics as you would with buying any other vehicle. Do your research and shop around to find the van with the best features at the most affordable price.
There is always room for negotiation in most cases, so asking if the seller will go lower to get closer to your budget could help you save a few hundred or even a thousand if possible. Keep in mind that paying for a vehicle in cash will usually work to your advantage when it comes time to negotiate the price.
As with any other vehicle, the current state of the market will determine the price. Newer vehicles will sometimes sell better due to all their modern features, while used vehicles will often be harder to sell due to excessive mileage and repairs, making them sell for much less.
Use these factors to your advantage and keep an eye out for deals, especially near the end of the year or around tax refund season.
When buying a used sprinter van, the mileage should be your initial concern, followed by the year and any reported accidents on file. Other factors include the interior dimensions for conversion, the engine size, and the vehicle’s fuel economy.
Expenses for DIY Conversion of a Sprinter Van
Once you have your sprinter van, there are several things to consider if you want to convert it into a camper van. You can choose to either convert your van yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. If you have experience with these types of DIY projects, it may be more affordable to take on some of the conversion projects on your own.
Here are some of the most common conversions and upgrades when you want to change your sprinter van into a fully functional camper.
Sheep Wool Insulation
Insulating your sprinter van to keep it warm and comfortable while camping in cooler areas is one of the most essential conversion upgrades. You can find suppliers for sheep wool insulation by doing a quick online search. Generally, the wool will cost on average $135 for every 100 square feet purchased. Depending on the size, most sprinter van owners will need around 400 square feet of insulation or more.
Roof vent fans for RVs and camper vans are ideal for keeping the temperature cool inside your van and allowing fresh air to circulate throughout. These fans can run between $140 and $250, depending on which model you choose.
Some may have more features than others, such as multiple speed settings. You can also find some vent fans with included remotes for ease of use. Additional supplies such as mounting putting, a jigsaw, or silicone caulking will cost extra and add between $5 and $50 to your total vent fan installation price.
The cost of installing cabinets in your sprinter van will vary depending on the type of cabinets you use. You can reasonably price used cabinets salvaged from old RVs or houses and spend between $30 and $50 for a complete set. However, if you choose to purchase brand-new cabinets, you should expect to pay $200 or more from most retailers.
Due to the lack of interior space, installing a shower in your sprinter van can be difficult, but it is not impossible. You can choose to add the shower separately or create a bathroom with a toilet and shower inside. You have the option to build your shower or use an electric or gravity-fed shower.
While it’s not a requirement to have a toilet inside your conversion van, if you want a fully functional camper, adding a bathroom with a toilet and shower will be a necessity. Fortunately, you can choose between low-end options such as a bucket toilet that is simple and affordable or a higher-quality compost toilet that will cost around $150. You can use hoses and plumbing to create your own DIY flushing system but expect to pay as much as $500 extra for that project.
Kitchen and Appliances
To make your conversion camper van feel more like home, you will want to have a small kitchen area with cooking space and appliances. There are several stove options available to choose from that range in price due to size and features. Typically, you can expect to find a stove that costs between $100 and $500, depending on your personal preferences.
Adding a refrigerator to your sprinter van can make life on the road much more manageable. Your fridge, as well as all other appliances, can be connected to solar power, providing you with energy while on the go that’s free of charge to use. Camping fridges are available to purchase between $400 and $1,200 brand new, or you find more affordable options if you buy a used refrigerator.
Solar panels are an essential component when it comes to converting your sprinter van into a camper. If you are interested in camping often, you can expect to spend between $400 and $3,000 to install the correct number of solar panels. You can find reasonable solar kits to help you get started by searching for solar power companies online.
Materials for the Walls, Floor, and Ceiling
After installing your new installation, you will need to cover up your walls, floor, and ceiling using new materials. You can choose from a variety of designs and styles to give the interior of your van a natural look. Look for wood such as oak or maple that will upgrade your camper van. For the most affordable option, go with plywood panels. These usually cost around $200 to convert your entire van.
The Cost to Have a Professional Convert Your Sprinter Van
Hiring a professional company to convert your sprinter van into a camper may be the most expensive option of the two. Still, if you have minimal experience with these types of DIY projects, you can save yourself some time and a lot of stress by calling on a professional to take care of the job for you. Keep in mind that you will not just be paying for the materials to upgrade your van but also the labour as well. The task will take a few weeks to complete and will cost you between $6,500 and $100,000.
The good news is that most companies that perform these upgrades will provide you with a quote before they get started and discuss all the upgrades with you, so there will be no surprises. If a well-known company has been around for many years, you can expect to pay more for their services than if you hired a company that is just getting started.
Keep in mind that the number of changes you want with your van will increase or decrease the total cost of your conversion. Some of these conversions are simple and do not require as much labour. Therefore, that will affect the total amount due.
The Pros and Cons of DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Doing a sprinter van conversion on your own may not be much of a challenge if you are mechanically inclined and have a lot of experience with DIY projects. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about the idea of professional assistance with this significant upgrade altogether. Here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages of both options for you to consider.
The Benefits of a DIY Camper Van Conversion
The main benefit of taking on the project on your own is that you will save a lot of money. You will not have to pay additional fees for labour or worry about the cost of materials used since you will be comparing prices and purchasing these items yourself.
Whenever you take on a DIY project like this without the aid of professionals, you have a complete understanding of how you installed everything. You will not need to call a company to learn more about how things work, and if you have any complications in the future, you will be able to uninstall and reinstall the specific item.
When you convert your van on your own, you have the advantage of working on the project on your schedule. Unless you have a trip planned you want to use the van for, there is no set time to complete the job and, therefore, no rush. It gives you the chance to look around, compare prices and find the upgrade products that you want to add to your van that is the most affordable.
The Downside of a DIY Camper Van Conversion
The disadvantage of doing all the repairs and upgrades on your own means that you are also responsible for any mistakes made along the way. If there is an issue with your updates, you can’t call a company and fix the error. And if you are not confident with your skills as a DIY camper van converter, you may want to rethink your options.
Many companies will void warranties on vehicles if you make any significant modifications. Upgrades that will harm the overall construction of the vehicle, such as drilling a larger hole for your roof vent or solar panel installation. Some auto insurance companies will charge more on your monthly premium for converted camper vans as well, especially if the upgrade was a DIY project.
The Benefits of Hiring a Professional for Camper Van Conversion
The best part about hiring a professional for your conversion job is that if you hire a company with plenty of experience, you know they will complete the job correctly. All you have to do is sit back and wait for the job to be finished. Another plus is that many companies will offer warranties on their upgrades, so if you find any issues when you get your van back, you can have these problems repaired free of charge. For that reason, it is always a good idea to ask about warranties before you hire a company for the job.
A professional will also know about new upgrades that you may not be aware of and can suggest a variety of improvement options that you and your guests can benefit from while travelling in your conversion van.
The Disadvantages of Hiring a Professional Camper Van Conversion Company
The main disadvantages of hiring a professional to convert your sprinter van into a camper are the price and the scheduling. If you hire a popular company, they may be backed up with multiple orders, and it could take a long time for them to get started on your project. And hiring a professional is always going to be more expensive than doing the job yourself because you have to factor in the cost of labour and materials.
Remember, you should never settle for a good deal on a sprinter van if it means you are getting a vehicle that doesn’t meet your requirements. If you have found a van you love but it’s out of your price range, always try to negotiate something more reasonable. There are plenty of options out there, and you will be spending a lot of time in your sprinter van once it is converted. So this purchase should be one that you will be completely satisfied to own.