One of the most common questions people ask us on Instagram (@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?’. So, in this post, we explain what you need to consider when understanding what Sprinter van conversion cost you should plan and budget for, whether you are wondering about a DIY van conversion cost, or looking to buy a Sprinter van and work with a specialist van conversion company to build out your dream rig, which would often come at a higher van conversion cost than a DIY van build.
This post also includes the key questions to ask yourself to refine the areas you need to spend or save on in order to build the best camper van for your budget. We also discuss the average cost to convert a Sprinter Van, and how the van conversion cost can vary from a full professional Sprinter van conversion down to what a DIY van conversion would look like if you did a really cheap build out. If you are wondering how to do a cheap DIY van conversion, we also break down how a Sprinter van conversion can cost under $5000 USD!
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 your total Sprinter van conversion cost.
This is not an exhaustive list but thinking about these will give you an appreciation for how van conversion costs can add up, and where you can afford to go more cheap vs. expensive in your van build budget.
There is no right answer when it comes to what to include, and what not to include in your camper van conversion. If you are happy not to have some things in your van build that are essentials for others, then you won’t have to include the cost of those things in your overall van build budget. Ultimately the beauty of custom-building and planning your own Sprinter camper van conversion is that it’s yours, it’s customized to your needs and preferences, and if you can get even close to what you first wanted in your van when you started planning your conversion, we’re sure you’ll be really happy with the result, and in love with your new camper.
How new and spec’d out will your Sprinter conversion van be?
Are you buying a new or nearly-new van to convert? Are you dreaming of a Sprinter camper van van with lots of performance and comfort-focused factory add-ons, or are you planning to buy the most basic Mercedes Sprinter cargo van you can get your hands on?
How much does a Sprinter van cost? Well, there’s a big difference in budget when you compare buying a five-year old former work-van with buying a brand new Mercedes Sprinter with a ton of upgrades, which can easily cost $60k USD when new (or more if you choose the most options and go for a 4×4 model).
Also think about whether you want a long wheelbase van or a shorter van. Generally, how you plan to use your van will influence your choice of Sprinter van size. If you plan to live in your camper van, 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 Sprinter van conversion specifications?
Some aspects of your van build will quickly bump up your Sprinter van conversion cost. 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 will significantly add to your van conversion cost 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? This is useful if you’re planning a cheap Sprinter van conversion, as if you’re going to build a stealth camper then that takes most of these expensive mods off the table.
Do you want some luxuries or do you prefer a more minimal camping-on-wheels setup?
The more minimal, the less ‘stuff’, fewer gadgets, the lower your total camper van cost will be. If you want internet, a coffee maker, enough electricity to power loads of gadgets and a hot water heater and shower, then you’re definitely leaning towards the ‘luxury’ Sprinter van conversion end of the spectrum!
Do you care how fancy / Instagram-worthy your Sprinter camper van 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.
It’s worth having in mind that 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 vinyl flooring and don’t particularly need it to look like a premium hardwood floor.
If you aren’t too bothered by the aesthetics because a greater concern is keeping your overall van conversion cost down, then you can save lots of money on your camper van’s total cost if you’re happy to spend the time shopping around for discounted end-of-roll flooring, waiting for sales on fittings such as your sink and faucet, looking for wood off-cuts at your local lumber yard, and sourcing reclaimed wood (which may actually end up looking awesome anyway).
Are you going to do a DIY van conversion or work with a professional van conversion company?
Generally, a DIY van conversion cost will be signficantly less expensive than if you are considering paying someone else to convert your Sprinter van into a camper.
However, perhaps you don’t have the time or interest in doing some (or all) aspects of your Sprinter van build, and would rather work with a professional van conversion company 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 Sprinter van build.
Doing a DIY van build on a tiny budget: How can a camper van conversion cost under $5k?
We’ve heard of people doing minimal, no-frills DIY van conversions at a cost of less than USD 5k. It is definitely possible to do a cheap Sprinter van build! But if $5k is your intended overall van conversion cost, then you need to be realistic about what your DIY van build will include, what materials you will use, its limitations, and functions.
Also, this all assumes you do all of the work yourself or have nice friends who will help you out for free – and that you already own or have access to the tools you need to do a van conversion, so you don’t have to go out and buy them first.
An example of what a $5k DIY van conversion budget on a small Sprinter 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
When trying to keep your van conversion cost at the cheap end then you definitely need to consider taking your time to shop and hunt around for bargains, end of line sales, and look into using reclaimed or scrap materials that are less expensive (or free) than buying new van build parts.
If the focus is on minimizing your DIY van build costs it may therefore take longer to accumulate all the parts and components you need for your van conversion due to waiting for sales, looking for bargains and tracking second hand parts online such as on eBay and Facebook groups.
What does a professional Sprinter (or other) van conversion cost?
The answer to this question is unsurprisingly, “it depends”. The bigger, more well-known Sprinter van conversion 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 $30k – $50k – possibly more, possibly less, depending on what you want doing in your conversion, and their pricing.
Remember that much of the camper van 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.
To give you an idea of how the overall Sprinter van conversion cost can add up to the region of the numbers set out above, here’s how quickly the cost of a high-end camper van build can add up, 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 van conversion company who may spend several months working on your dream Mercedes Sprinter camper 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 Sprinter van conversions, there is not often just ‘one right way’ of doing things, so while we have shared this information about camper van costs 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 to build out a Mercedes camper 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.