these are the products I used to convert my van into my dream home
being conscious of the environment and my impact
please only use this as reference and be sure to make your own decisions
I am not a professional, so cannot recommend any of these products
some of the products linked
below contain affiliate links
uk van build
For ventilation and as an extractor fan when cooking, I installed the 40x40cm maxxair deluxe roof vent fan in clear tint. It not only has 10 speed settings, which can be controlled from a remote control, which can switched it between intake and expel. It can also be used in the rain and when driving, which is very convenient when travelling in England as you can never rely on the weather. Plus it has a bug screen already fitted to stop bugs entering your home.
I knew from the start I wanted a skylight in my van, being able to watch the stars at night from the warm and comfort of my bed, it was a no brainer. So when I found the maxxair roof-light which wasn't only reasonably priced, but also came in a 50x70cm model I couldn't resist. It comes with a preinstalled bug screen and blind, plus ventilation even when closed to keep airflow in your van at all times.
For panoramic views in bed, I went for two vent windows with privacy glass and build in bug screens. I chose the larger model which is 101.6x38.1cm, so I could see more when lounging. I wanted lots of windows to allow a tonnes of natural light into the van and also allow me to be surrounded by nature, even when it's raining.
To dull the rattle of the van and the exterior sounds of rain or rowdy neighbours, I chose to sound deaden my van, also since I have two dogs who bark at everything. For the first layer I went for 'Dodo Mat Deaden Hex Roll' which is placed over 50% of each panel to stop the vibration. Then on top as a second layer I went for "Dodo Super Liner 6mm" which is a thermal and acoustic liner which not only dulls the sound but also keeps the van cool in the summer and warm in the winter. I decided to add this layers to make sure all the exterior panels were covered with something to prevent condensation.
Since I shall be using this van in all four seasons, I wanted to well insulate the floor. Due to the ridges I felt a granule insulation would work best for filling all the gaps. Cork is a 100% natural material, harvested from the Quercus Suber tree. It's free from chemicals and toxins. Both thermal and acoustic insulating, water and fire resistant. A renewable raw material, which is lightweight and recyclable, an all round great eco-friendly solution.
For my walls however, I chose to go for sheeps wool, another great eco-friendly choice. Wool has great thermal and acoustic insulating properties. It's natural and free from toxins. It does absorb water, however this is beneficial for a van, as instead of condensation sitting on the van wall and turning to rust. It gets absorbed and released when necessary. The absorption of water doesn't affect its insulating properties or make it rot.
When buying a secondhand vehicle, it will no doubtably come with a little or a lot of rust. This is very bad for your van, rust is a disease and will spread, deteriorating the metal of your van. So this must be the first thing you deal with. To remove it, simply sand or grind down any areas till there is no more rust, just shiny metal. If it is penetrated the surface and formed a hole, remove all the infection and seal it up. To treat the area and prevent future rust, clean the surface of debris and grease with vinegar. First apply some rust convertor to stabilise the surface, then for interior use apply some direct-to-rust paint. For the exterior apply some galvanised zinc paint then a matching exterior paint.
I decide to use rivnuts to bolt my strapping to the walls of my van, this creates a strong base to attach my furniture to. This tool compresses each rivnuts into the wall of the van, so you are able to bolt into them. It's especially handy for attaching bulkier items, like bed struts, upper cabinets and bunk beds.
I chose to install two 175w rigid monocrystalline solar panels, for a combined wattage of 350. This will provide me with free renewable energy, as long as the sun is shining. I ran these in parallel to keep the voltage low enough for the dc-dc charger.
I went with the 50a DC-DC charger with MMPT to convert and direct my solar and alternator power to the batteries.
To store my power ready for when I need it, I have two 100amp 12v lithium batteries. These are lightweight, longer lasting and able to be used even at a low battery charge.
To be able to plug in my laptop to charge, run an induction hob and sewing machine I needed an inverter, to convert my DC battery power into AC power.
As a back up energy source when it's not sunny and I'm not driving fast, I installed a shore inlet to recharge my batteries, by plugging in to a mains source at a campsite.
To keep any eye on your electrical system, power usage and battery condition a monitor is a must have.
A battery switch is used to cut all power to your system for emergencies or when you need to work on anything so you wont get a shock.
To protect all my 12v appliances and lights, I added a fuse box between them and the battery. This will protect it by blowing the fuse before damaging your appliance / light.
To protect my electrical systems components I installed reset-able breakers on all the positive connections. These will blow before damage can come to your component and all you have to do is reset the switch, rather than replace it, which can be expensive.
To protect my solar panels and system, I installed a 12v breaker on the positive line. This will prevent too much amperage damaging the solar charger.
To connect all your components its cleaner to use a bus bar, one for positive terminals and one for negative. This stops you pilling everything up on the battery terminal and helps electricity flow smoother.
I went with the Auto Vox V5 Pro reversing camera, as it acts just like a rear view mirror, with anti glare and HD resolution. It also automatically starts recording if a collision is detected, which is amazing if someone hits your whilst parked up as you have evidence, especially if your not in the vehicle at the time.
For GPS navigation and hands free calls I went for the Carpuride 9" Portable Car Stereo, it simply plugs into your cars cigarette port and connects wirelessly to your phone and has voice control for hands free control. With it's own speaker, plus the ability to connect to your car via an AUX or FM frequency. You can also add a rear camera and internet box to watch Netflix.
I decided it was worth investing in a smart battery charger incase of emergencies. I went with the Noco Genius 5, as it will charge my dead vehicle battery in the case it dies and I don't have anyone around to jump start my engine. It has saved me once or twice.
I chose to include a simplisafe security system with monitoring in my build as I will be solo traveling, so this will give me and my family piece of mind. It means that if I am in the van and someone breaks in and attacks me, the security team can view this live and ring the police for me. To my system I added a motion sensor, glass break sensor, entry sensors on all the windows & doors, key fob, temperature sensor, water sensor, carbon monoxide sensor, fire detector, key fob and extra camera.
As a deterrent primarily, I chose to add a steering lock, mine was secondhand, but if I was to buy a new one I would go with the disklock which covers the whole wheel and is much more difficult to remove. A steering lock jars the steering wheel enabling the van from moving.
I decided to install a carlock tracker to my van, this allows me to track my vehicle if stolen, on a ferry or at the garage, giving me piece of mind. It alters me straight to my phone if my van moves, the engine starts or the device is removed, so I am aware my van is being tampered with and can immediately respond. It does however cost 6.95 per month for the app.
Air Tags are extremely small and convenient trackers, that can be hidden inside your van and undetected by thieves. With no max distance as it bounces off other iPhones, just upload it to your Find My app. It will tell you exactly how far away your van ins and in what direction.
A deadlock is a great addition to your vans security, blocking access to the cargo area. It works by being fitted to each van door and it's connecting body panel, the deadlock works by throwing a bolt into a receiving bracket which is fitted to the vans internal bodywork and operated by a high security external key.
Or you can purchase a false deadlock sticker which creates the illusion of a deadlock, without having to install a real one, working as a deterrent for thieves, a great budget friendly option.
StopMyEngine is an anti-theft device that uses bluetooth to connect to your smartphone and prevent your vehicle being seized. How it works; if your vehicle is seized from you whilst driving, it will run normally for 7 seconds and then enter a short period of repeated ignition interruption as Bluetooth connectivity is lost with your phone, bringing your vehicle to a safe and complete halt 20 seconds later. With your vehicle immobile, the horn starts sounding, helping you to audibly locate your vehicle.