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8 Must-Have Features for Your Van Conversion

Updated: Aug 13, 2022

Without a doubt, building a camper van conversion and setting off to explore new horizons is one of the most fulfilling things you can do. But before you start turning that bare-bones cargo van into a luxury Class B motorhome, you need to decide the must-have features for your camper/van.

In this post, we will share with you eight essential features for your conversion van. They will make your van more functional and versatile and help you stay comfortable throughout your nomadic adventures.

And for those who want to leave their cares behind and take on the van life adventure but don’t know how to get started with building a conversion van, reach out to 27North, a custom van conversion company based out of Springfield, Missouri.

Let’s dive in.

A Functional Kitchen

Having a kitchen, however tiny, inside our campervan is a huge plus. It’s an integral part of a van build, allowing you to whip up 5-star meals in a snap and eat healthier foods. Even better, you won’t be at the mercy of sketchy or pricey restaurants along the way.

After planning your galley layout and creating cabinets for the stove, sink, and storage, it’s time to find the right appliances. Every kitchen equipment you invest in should be super light, efficient, and able to withstand the rigors of the road. Must-have kitchen appliances are a stove, fridge, and sink. You’ll obviously need pots, dishes, and silverware. If the space allows, you can add a microwave and a coffee machine.

Heating, Cooling, and Temperature Control System

If you’re a full-time van lifer, proper temperature control is a must-have feature. It not only keeps you comfortable in all conditions but even allows you to camp off-season. Although the van shell will be your first line of defense, it isn’t sufficient, so you need to install additional protection.

Start by adding some type of insulation to the walls and ceiling of your custom conversion. It will keep warm air in when it’s cold out and cool air in when it’s hot outside, as well as prevent condensation from building up and damaging the built. Next, install a ventilated source of heat, air conditioning, and one or two ceiling fans. Make sure you have windows that can open for added airflow.

Water System

Having water aboard your wheeled home is an essential addition that makes everything a lot more easier, from cooking, cleaning, and showering. To have a steady supply of fresh water in your van conversion, you’ll need to install plumbing(pipes and fittings), faucets, a sink, a water pump, a freshwater tank, a gray tank, and even a black tank, depending on the type of toilet you choose.

The tanks’ sizes will depend on your general water usage, the space you have, and the gross vehicle weight rating of the van. Note that setting up a van’s water system can be a daunting task, and getting it wrong will can cause costly leaks. The smartest thing to do is to have professionals, such as 27North install the major systems and features for you.


Having a bathroom in your campervan conversion is super important. With a shower and toilet, you don’t have to rely on public facilities when you got to go, and you become more self-sufficient. However, the type of shower and toilet you pick is a matter of personal choice and the amount of space your van has.

For toilet options, you can choose between a portable cassette toilet that you have to empty every few days or the more convenient but pricier composting toilet. Regarding the bathroom, you can opt for a full indoor shower or settle for an outdoor shower. You can create a separate compact room for the indoor shower and toilet, commonly known as a wet bath.

Solar and Electric System

Harnessing the power of the sun allows you to embrace boondocking without compromising on the comfort of electricity. A solar system will constantly generate free electricity that is also environmentally friendly and enhance the feeling of independence.

The type of solar system you install will depend on the number of devices and equipment you bring on board and how much power they use. There are systems that can charge phones and laptops, run the fridge and lights, heat showers, and even provide cooking heat. Don’t forget you’ll also need batteries to store the energy and an inverter.

Cargo and Gear Storage

Another feature that will turn your van into a complete Class B motorhome is clever storage. This will help reduce clutter and chaos inside the compact space. The storage options you go with should not only look great, but also work intuitively. Indoors, maximize storage wherever possible by installing cabinets, drawers, or cubbies. Make use of space below the sink, under the bed, and overhead.

Use a behind-the-door organizer to hold kitchen supplies and utilize vertical space to hang a laundry bag, shoe rack, or peel-and-stick wall hook. Cup hooks can also be used for hanging small items like keys and flashlights. On the exterior, add a rack on the roof for storing extra gear, plus a bike rack at the rear.

Security and Safety Systems

When traveling and living in a mobile abode, you’ll need to consider safety and security just like you would in a home. Install systems to protect yourself, your van, and your belongings. Start with basics such as a carbon monoxide detector, propane detector, fire alarm, fire extinguisher, and first aid kit.

To protect your investment, install deadlocks to make it more difficult for thieves to get in. A hidden vehicle GPS system and an aftermarket vehicle alarm will also alert you if your van is broken into or stolen. In addition, a fixed secret safe somewhere in your van could be used to stash away important documents, some cash, and small valuables.

A Full-Size Bed

When building your conversion van, don’t underestimate the importance of having a comfortable bed. Whether you opt to go for a permanent bed or one that transforms into a seating area is a personal choice. Some vanlifers prefer a fixed bed, as you don’t need to constantly set it up and pack it away. Plus, you can build it higher so you can have plenty of storage underneath.

Other van dwellers love the extra living space created by packing your bed away. When choosing bed options and dimensions, consider your height, the number of people accompanying you, and whether you plan on selling the van sometime in the future. Regardless of your tastes, the better option is to build a full-size bed and pair it with a comfortable mattress. If you have kids, you’ll need bunk beds.

Complete Your Van Conversion with These Essentials

The number of features that can be added to a custom conversion van is virtually endless. However, some amenities are a must-have, as they make your mobile abode feel like an actual home. When you start building your van, don’t overlook any of the essentials above.

Need help converting your empty van into a capable camper? 27North can help you out. We are a distinguished custom van conversion builder that transforms vans into elegant, comfortable, and functional homes on wheels.

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