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In May of 2022, we drove over 16 hours roundtrip to pick up a 2016 Ram ProMaster 2500 van. We have dreamed of a van conversion for years, and after selling our Class C RV, we knew it was time to take it on. With a high roof and 159″ wheelbase, this van was the exact size we were looking for our next home on wheels!
Neither one of us had much building experience prior to this. We have taken on a few renovation projects like our first travel trailer and more recently, our a-frame cabin. But we have never built anything from the ground up. We wanted to keep the build simple and affordable but livable. Although we won’t be living in this van full time, we knew we plan to be living in it up to 6 months at a time so it needed to be comfortable. Our build budget was at the lower end at $15,000 but we felt confident we could still create a beautiful but functional camper van at that cost.
One of the first big challenges we took on in this build was our electrical system. We installed solar panels to our last class C RV but never upgraded our batteries and really struggled with having enough power. We made sure to upgrade our batteries this go round and Ryan managed to figure out all of the wiring and electrical components of our van!
We have used Renogy solar panels in the past and know and trust the brand so we decided to go with them again! Our van is equipped with 4-100 Watt Solar Panels mounted to the roof that feed into our 40A MPPT Solar Charge Controller to maintain our two 12V 100Ah Smart Lithium Batteries. We also have a 2000W 12V Pure Sine Wave Inverter to convert our DC power to AC for our 120v household items.
Ryan and I went back and forth for awhile on including a shower in this van, and ultimately opted for a small 24×24″ shower/wet bath. We went with a 33 gallon fresh water tank and a 21 gallon grey water tank. For our water heater, we decided on the Bosch Electric Mini-Tank 2.5-Gallon Water Heater. Although it does draw significant power, we wanted to avoid a complicated propane system.
We wanted to go with a composting toilet but I wasn’t loving the look of any of the leading brands. That’s why I am really excited about the Cuddy Composting toilet we went with. It’s sleek design was a huge selling point for us since we knew it would be living in the shower. Speaking of…
I wanted to do something really fun with the shower tile because I knew it would be the first thing you see when you open the van door. During our a-frame cabin renovation, I fell in love with Fireclay Tile. I used their hand-painted tile in our kitchen and knew that we wanted to go with them for the van as well! The tile is made in California and their commitment to color really shows! I was inspired by Harvest Moon Bungalow‘s shower and wanted to bring that vintage sunset vibe into the van.
Colors (Top to Bottom):
I knew from the beginning I wanted live edge countertops for this van but was having trouble sourcing the right size piece. I finally came across this beautiful slab of black walnut for only $60 on Facebook Marketplace! I spent many hours removing bark and sanding it to perfection but I love how they turned out.
We kept this kitchen space simple but functional. We do all our cooking on this 2 burner gas cooktop. Our sink is amazing and so spacious for a van. Having a deep sink in the van makes a huge difference when it’s time to do the dishes! For our fridge, we went with the SetPower 60Qt 12V RV Refrigerator. This is a fridge/freezer combo and has ample space for over a week’s worth of food for the two of us! It is also extremely efficient and uses minimal power.
I wanted to add some texture to the only flat wall we had in the van so I decided to do a faux lime wash! Since it was such a small space, I didn’t want to spend the money on actual lime wash paint so I tried to create the same look with regular paint and was surprised with how well it turned out! We also added in more Fireclay tile in Overcast 2×4 behind the sink to protect the walls and bring in a little more color!
We’re really happy with how the build turned out! It really feels like a dream come true to us. After a couple weeks on the road, we can happily say everything is working as it should. The layout feels really functional for us as well as beautiful. We ended up staying on budget and love our new home on wheels!