One of the most common questions people ask us on our Instagram account (@sprintercampervans) is how much does a Sprinter van conversion cost? Asking this question is very much like asking someone ‘how much does it cost to build a house?’, but here we share some things to consider when understanding how much your Sprinter campervan may cost you to convert (or have converted), so you can budget for your van build.
As well as helping to give you an idea of how much your dream Sprinter van conversion will cost, in this post we also answer some other commonly-asked questions about Sprinter campervan conversions, which may be helpful if you are thinking about converting a cargo van and on a mission to learn more about how to get started and the costs and time involved in the process.
How much does a Sprinter van conversion cost?
Here are some questions to think about and ask yourself. The answers to these van conversion questions which that will affect how much your Sprinter van conversion costs.
This is not an exhaustive list but thinking about these will give you an appreciation for how costs of a van conversion can add up, and where you can afford to go more cheap vs. expensive in your conversion budget.
How new and spec’d out will your cargo conversion van be?
Are you buying a new or nearly-new van to convert? Are you going for one will lots of performance and comfort-focused factory add-ons, or are you planning to buy the most basic cargo van you can get your hands on? There’s a big difference in budget when you compare buying a five-year old former work-van with buying a brand new Sprinter with a ton of upgrades.
Also think about whether you want a long wheelbase van or a shorter van. This is the subject of a whole post in its own right – but generally, how you plan to use your van will influence your choice of van size. If you plan to live in your campervan, travel with kids, want a bathroom, or want a separate sleeping and seating area then you probably need to get a longer van than if you’re a solo or couple using it for weekends or a week or so at a time. Other factors to consider when choosing your van, which can impact on the cost, is whether you go for a high roof or low roof, and if you need 4×4 or are fine with standard rear-wheel drive on your conversion van.
Are you going budget or high-end with your specifications?
Some aspects of your van build will quickly bump up your costs. Some examples of those are:
- Off-grid battery and charging capability – this typically means solar panels, a solar charge controller, lithium batteries and more – all of which are much more expensive than a more basic AGM-battery setup with no solar.
- Hot water capability and bathroom facilities – you’ll need to spend on the propane water heating / electric shower (and an electrical system that can handle it) and a toilet.
- Do you care about weight? Much of a van conversion can be done using wood, but if weight is an issue, then you may prefer to seek out more expensive aluminum-based framing for your walls, bed and cabinets.
- Will you be installing flares or extra windows? These can set you back several thousand dollars
- How many exterior modification do you intend to do? A nice roof rack, metal bumpers, side steps/nerf bars, light bars, bike racks, SUP/surf rack, awning – these are all individually very expensive to buy, and not things most people can make themselves.
- Is air conditioning important to you? A roof-mounted unit is not cheap and will require enough electrical capacity to handle it.
Do you intend to be a stealth or luxury camper?
Often, stealth campers are more minimally-decked out than luxury campers. For starters, if you plan to use your van for stealth camping (that is, parking on city streets and in parking lots and hopefully being mistaken for a parked builders van and not someone camping out), then a lot of the exterior mods are not likely something you’ll need to spend on – bike racks and an awning kind of give the game away, you know?
Do you want some luxuries or do you prefer a more minimal camping-on-wheels setup?
The more minimal, the less ‘stuff’, fewer gadgets, therefore lower cost to buy and kit out!
Do you care how fancy / Instagram-worthy your campervan will end up being?
The stuff that most people pay attention to, but not necessarily the most important aspects of a van build (depending on your perspective), are the aesthetics – the countertop, flooring style, the look of the wall panels, etc etc. The function of a countertop and flooring is pretty similar, whether you spent $50 or $500 on them, but if you want a more attractive, lighter-weight, waterproof finish then perhaps you’ll end up spending more than if you just want some flooring and don’t
Are you going to do a DIY campervan or work with a professional van conversion company?
Generally, your van conversion will be less expensive if you can spend the time doing it yourself, rather than paying someone else to do it. However, perhaps you don’t have the time or interest in doing some (or all) aspects of your van build, and would rather work with a professional who can take your campervan dream and turn it into reality for you. If that’s the case, then expect to pay more for your finished van build.
Doing a Sprinter van conversion on a tiny budget
We’ve heard of people doing minimal, no-frills DIY van conversions for less than USD 5k. It is definitely possible! But if this is your intended van conversion budget, then you need to be realistic about what your van build will include, what materials you will use, its limitations, and functions. Also, this assumes you do essentially all of the work yourself, and already own or have access to the tools needed to do the job, so you don’t have to go out and buy them first.
An example of what a $5k van conversion budget on a small van may look like is as follows:
- Prep and insulation $250
- Roof vent $200
- Wood for framing, walls, bed and cabinets: $500
- Flooring $100
- Basic electrical system $2,500
- Cold water tank, hand pump, sink and gray water tank: $500
- Refrigerator: $750
- Mattress and seating $100
- Miscellaneous (tools, screws, etc) $100
What does a professional Sprinter (or other) van conversion cost?
The answer to this question is unsurprisingly, “it depends”. The bigger, more well-known companies are likely to charge $100k plus for many conversions, and that’s on top of the cost of your van. It’s not unusual for a conversion to cost $150k plus the van, if you’re doing high quality specs and have upgrades such as lithium batteries, solar power and bathroom facilities. Other, smaller conversion companies may be able to do a basic conversion without these upgrades for around $50k – possibly more, possibly less, depending on what you want doing in your conversion, and their pricing.
Remember that much of the van conversion cost isn’t going to the conversion company, if they’re buying a load of parts for you then they don’t necessarily make that much money on the components.
Here’s how quickly a high-end van conversion can add up, in terms of cost, even if you’re doing this work yourself:
- Additional windows installed $1,500
- Waterproof wood laminate flooring, insulation and underlayment $500
- Thinsulate wall and ceiling insulation $500
- Diesel heater $1,000
- Insulating window shades $750
- Rain-sensing roof vent $400
- Air conditioning unit $2,500
- Awning $1,000
- Aluminum roof rack and ladder $4,000+
- Rear tire carrier, front and rear aluminum bumpers (with bike racks, storage boxes, etc), nerf bars, etc $5,000+++
- Refrigerator $1,000
- Aluminum framing for cabinets, walls and bed $2,000+
- High-capacity electrical system with solar panels, charging, inverter, and 2-3 lithium batteries, branded components $8,000+
- Water tank, electric shower, electric water pump, tiny-home style sink and faucet $1,000
- LED light bar, exterior driving lights and garage lights $2,000+
- Custom bed and seating $2,500
- Galley units and countertop $2,500
- Composting toilet $1,000
- Suspension upgrades $1,000
This list gets you into the $30ks range, but you can see how easily the cost can be higher when you start to choose specific components and invest in tools – and how much more it would be if you were to work with an expert who may spend several months working on your van build for you.
In summary: The True Cost of a Sprinter Van Conversion
I hope that having read this post you now have a better idea of what it costs to convert a Sprinter cargo van into a campervan, so you can plan your DIY or custom professional van build budget around your dreams, needs and budget.
As with most aspects of van conversions, there is not often just ‘one right way’ of doing things, so while we have shared this information about the cost of a van conversion and finding a suitable van to convert, this doesn’t mean you couldn’t do things differently – that’s why learning about the different ways to plan and do a van conversion is so interesting to so many of us – you can be very creative and no two vans are the same in terms of look, layout, function or cost!
If you are planning a van conversion and have different experiences, we’d love it if you want to share your thoughts, questions and experiences in the comments to help fellow readers inform their van conversion decisions.