Despite windows being one of the first steps of a van conversion, its really important to consider the full layout of the van before embarking on drastic metal work or forking out for someone else to do it. Most commonly, windows are fitted in the front panels, i.e. in the sliding door and equivalent panel on the drivers side. This provides a good amount of light inside and offers visibility in both directions especially for any seated passengers in the back but does not greatly restrict layouts for the conversion. Some vans come with these two windows installed already and its becoming easier to find ex-workforce crew vans on the market.
Other options include windows in the rear side panels which come in at roughly the same cost, however we found that installing these would limit your options when designing a van with lots of storage space. Rear-door windows are also pretty common – not only allowing more light in and a different view for sitting in the back, but also a line-of-sight for when driving. More windows seems to be quite popular but we have a few concerns over this. Taking a conversion incorporating windows in all of these positions compared to what we’ve done in 2018, consider the following
- 360 degree panoramic views (180 degree in 2018 layout from rear passenger seat position)
- Light in-vehicle ambiance (2018 is darker near the back but we have lights)
- Good visibility while driving (no rear windows but camera fitted)
- Low level storage options possible (full height cabinets for access while bed is out)
- Cost of windows (£440 increases to £800)
- Necessity of curtains for all round (£90 -increases £250)
- Thermal insulation decrease – both during day and colder during night.
- Storage / wall mounting options decreased
- Less stealthy
|Item||Product Example||Supplier Suggestion||Rough Cost|
|Side window / rear side panel||Privacy – solid||Vehicle Glass Company / Van Demon / Kiravans||£100 (non fitted)|
|Side window / rear side panel||Privacy – half slider||Vehicle Glass Company / Van Demon / Kiravans||£200 (non fitted)|
|Rear door window||Solid||Vehicle Glass Company / Van Demon / Kiravans||£50 (non fitted)|
|Other windows||Port holes / part-panel||Various||£30 – £150|
|Window adhesive||Total Seal 5033||Vehicle Glass Company / Van Demon / Kiravans||£20|
|Professional fitting||–||Local garages / vehicle glass fitters||£50 per window|
We opted for a solid window with a privacy tint in the 2016 van. This was mostly for security and privacy but also cost came into consideration too. We’d read about opening side windows being targeted and broken into, and heading out on our first trip across Europe potentially leaving the van for nights while we walked, we decided that having a more secure window was what we wanted. This conveniently came in at a low cost (just a single piece of glass with no sliding mechanism) which we could manage on our student budget. We did fork out a bit extra for someone to fit it too. I’d usually do this sort of work myself, but cutting a hole in your only vehicle just a week or so before heading out on a 6 week road trip was cutting a bit fine. We don’t regret the choices we made back then, but going on our increased experience, i’d definitely recommend anyone thinking of doing their own to do it. It’s not a particularly difficult process, its just a bit scary cutting holes in your (probably) 2nd biggest investment, especially the driver’s side!