Our Van Build Details
We bought a brand new extended 2017 Ram Promaster 3500. Here are some of the products we used in our conversion. You can click on the links to see where we purchased it from. (As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases).
Bathroom & Shower
We decided we wanted to have a separate bathroom and shower instead of having a wet bath. We didn’t like the idea of having our toilet in our shower and having to worry about it getting wet since it’s a composting toilet. We felt like we could make a decent size shower and then use that space for storage when it’s not being used. Since we use the toilet more often than the shower, it made more sense this way. It only takes us a few minutes to move our stuff in and out of the shower so we don’t find it to be a problem. We shower every other day since we only have 40 gallons of fresh water and we would have to fill up water quite often if we showered every day. But it is nice to have a shower and toilet in our van so we don’t have to worry about finding one somewhere. Overall, we are happy with our shower and separate bathroom and we would recommend it. We think it is the best use of space.
We decided to go with a composting toilet, so of course we got a Nature's Head because the reviews said it was the best. We felt that this was a better option than a black tank or a cassette type so that we don't need to go to a dump station to empty it out. We have loved it so far, it doesn’t smell because of the fan that sucks the air out. We would definitely recommend it.
This doubles as our mirror and has enough space to store things like our electrical toothbrushes. We also cut a whole in the back so that we would be able to access our electrical outlet to charge our toothbrushes in there. It also has a key & lock so things don’t fall out when we are driving.
We used shoe organizers to put things like our cleaning supplies so we have easy access to it.
We got a shower door to use for our bathroom because it was the only one we could find that would fit the space. It works fine but I don’t think we would buy it again because it took forever to ship and it wasn’t the easiest thing to install. It also can be difficult to use at times. The nice thing is that it clips out of the way. And it is nice to have a door for privacy.
We chose a shower pan that we felt like would be big enough for us to be comfortable to stand in. It does take up a lot of space but we think it’s worthwhile and we use the shower for extra storage space when it’s not in use.
Shower wall material:
We originally wanted to use tile but we decided it was going to take too much time and we didn’t want to add more weight so we went with these lightweight panels.
We waterproofed the shower with: RedGard 1 Gal. Waterproofing
We liked that this shower head had 2 in 1. It has good water pressure and it works well, however it does use more water than others.
We really like our shower door because it is lightweight, retractable, and self cleaning. It also looks really nice. It was fairly easy to install. The only thing is to make sure you are precise with your measurements and that it is a custom product so it takes longer to ship.
We bought a cheap one from walmart that works fine but we had to secure it to the shower wall to keep it from moving. We also didn’t think about how it gets in the way of the detachable shower head so I think next time we will buy one like this: https://amzn.to/2GuPeja
We use this to store things like extra towels and blankets. We like it and think it works well for our space. It can hold quite a bit of weight and we like that it has a zipper to keep everything enclosed so it doesn’t fall out when we are driving.
We bought an already built bathroom vanity because it saved a lot of time compared to making custom cabinets. It are also nice quality. However, it does not have as much storage as a kitchen cabinet would normally have. All of the hinges and drawer slides are soft closing.
We decided to buy an already built cabinet for this as well to save time. This one has a good amount of storage but I do wish it was slightly longer. The doors also hinge outward and we decided not to change them, though the doors sometimes get in the way.
We added these push latches to all the cabinet doors in our kitchen (and dresser in our closet) to keep the doors locked when driving. They work well and look nice. However, they were a little expensive and we didn’t have the right tools to install them so that was a little bit of a challenge to cut the whole to the right size and in the correct place in the door so that it lined up with the locking point.
We bought our countertop from a local shop but you can find a similar one at home depot (linked above).
We really love how it looks. Even though it does add quite a bit of weight to the van, we feel like we balanced the weight well with our electrical system and shower on the other side. Obviously the one downside of having a white countertop is that it stains easily but most of the marks come off and the ones that didn’t seem to blend in with the existing pattern so it is hard to tell.
We really wanted to have some extra counter space so we added an extra 2 feet with our extension. We just painted a project panel from home depot and used these folding shelf brackets. They work well and support a good amount of weight.
We wanted a big sink to have for washing dishes. We really love this one because it is super deep. The only thing is that it has sharp corners so food can get stuck in there. And when we are ever parked off level, it can be difficult to drain. It also takes up quite a bit of counter space and since it’s so deep, it limits the storage space underneath in the cabinet, but we think it is worth it.
We think that this faucet looks really nice. We like that it has a detachable head and can be used for cleaning. We also like that it can be swiveled around. It has two setting to change the water pressure but one thing we don’t like is that you have to hold the button down to keep it on the spray setting, which can be difficult when doing dishes. It also is difficult to only turn the faucet on part way if we are trying to conserve water because of the way the handle is designed. Having a twist knob type would be easier to regulate. We also can’t tell which side is hot or cold unless we test it. So some of the functionality could be better but overall it works just fine.
We really like our cooktop. We keep it stored in a sliding drawer when we aren’t using it and put in on the countertop when we need to use it, that way we can save counter space. The cooktop works really well and heats up really quick. The only problem we had at first was not realizing that we needed to have specific cookware that is compatible with induction cooktops.
We love our fridge. We think it is the perfect size (4.6 cu ft) and we can fit at least a weeks worth of groceries in it. It also has a small freezer, which we wish was bigger, but we can still fit a few things in it. It has a latch so it stays locked when we are driving. It is 12v and doesn’t use very much power. It is also a marine fridge, so it is made to be off-level. The only thing is that we wish the door was magnetic because we wanted to put magnetic spice jars on it.
One of our favorite appliances in our van is our microwave! It is also a convection oven so we can use it to cook all sorts things but we can also just quickly heat up food. It is relatively energy efficient and made for RV’s. We are lucky that we don’t need to be hooked up to power to use it because our batteries can supply enough power. One challenge was that it is pretty big so it was hard to find a place for it to fit in our van. We made it work but it does stick out a bit so we had to put rubber pads on the corners of the cabinet because we kept hitting our heads on it.
Coffee maker/toaster oven:
This was a gift we received from a family member and at first we weren’t sure if we would be able to fit it in our van. It does take up quite a bit of counter space but we put it under our microwave where it is kind of challenging to reach the counter space anyway. Since we made a countertop extension, we feel like we have enough room. We mounted it the countertop so that it does not move around when we are driving. Overall, we like the breakfast station and think it is super cute. The coffee maker works well and we use it every morning. We also love the toaster oven if we need to toast something or if we are trying to conserve energy it is better to use than our convection oven. It is also nice to have because the convection oven has limited space so sometimes we need to use both to make dinner. We also like that it has a grill on top. There are some challenges in using it when we are off level, but overall it works well.
Stick on Backsplash
The color we bought is currently sold out. But these stick on really well and have lasted great so far. We really like how it looks.
Magnetic Knife strip:
This isn’t the exact one we have but it is similar. We like having the knife strip because it saves space in the cabinet. We decided to mount it vertically to not cover so much of our backsplash. It works well and we have never had a problem with our knives moving around when driving.
We love our fruit hammock. It works well but we did overfill it one time and the rope broke. We were able to fix it and just don’t fill it as much now.
Bed lift system:
We have a bed lift system to have a permanently made bed that can be stored up and out of the way so we can still use our living space during the day. There were many challenges with installing the bed lift and forming our entire layout around it, but we think it is definitely worth it. One of the challenges is that the walls of the van are slightly curved so we had to cut out slots for the bed lift system to fit into. We also had the challenge of making our own bed frame since it didn’t come with one. Another problem was that the chains in the system rattled and were very noisy. We were able to eliminate the noise by putting door corner seals in between the chain and the metal frame. We bought them from home depot: https://www.homedepot.com/p/M-D-Building-Products-2-in-x-1-7-10-in-Brown-Door-Corner-Seals-51501/203175626
Overall, we are really happy with this system and we would highly recommend it.
Bed bands for sheets:
We didn’t like the idea of having to convert our couches into a bed every night, but we still wanted to have that option. And we still wanted to have 2 couches/the lounge space to hangout and work.
We originally bought this one: Garelick/Eez-In Manual Adjustable Table Base (Anodized Finish, Smooth). The problem with this one was that we would have had to cut it to make it the right length to be lowered down to make our bottom bed. So once we saw the Lagun table mount, we decided to return this one and get that instead.
This one works better for our set up because it can be moved around easily or removed completely. We like having a table to work and eat at. And we can still convert our couches into a bed by removing our table.
Gas props in benches:
Battery powered touch lights:
Our electrician ordered and installed all of our switches for us, so we aren’t sure exactly where they are from. But you can order similar ones here: https://rockerswitchpros.com/product/custom-rocker-switch-actuator/ and have them custom labeled.
Our electrician installed these dimmers and they are a lot more expensive than we were expecting. There are also not our favorite because they don’t reset back to full brightness after turning them off/on.
Electrical components/Solar set up
Victron Lithium-Ion Battery 24V/180Ah (We bought 2)
It can also be purchased from amazon: https://amzn.to/2EiOWeL
It can also be purchased from amazon: https://amzn.to/2A6tIg3
It can also be purchased from amazon: https://amzn.to/2ISyeBE
Since we have a 24V system we had to get a step down converter to 12V for things like our fridge, water pump, water filter, and lights. It’s also on amazon: https://amzn.to/2w6UJgG
It can also be purchased on amazon here: https://amzn.to/2EmZerR
For more info on our system and to see the system schematics and more visit:
We purchased most of our electrical system from Peter at PKYS INC. He was very helpful and answered all of our questions. We recommend purchasing these items from here. You can support us by purchasing through our links provided above, as an affiliate we make a small percentage of the sale (at not extra cost to you).
We had our electrical system installed by Jim at Infinity Coach in Sumner, WA. He is a certified electrician and even though this was his first time installing this type of system, he did a great job.
He had help with the installation from Mitchel at AM Solar in Springfield, OR. He is very familiar with the system and helped with the programming and also explaining to us how everything works.
We originally bought this 12V alternator with mounting kit but when we took it to Jim at Infinity Coach for him to install it, he said we should get the 24v instead. So we returned the 12v alternator but kept the mounting kit.
We had this roof rack professionally installed and they were able to modify it to fit our roof. It was much cheaper than most of the other options out there and has worked great for us.
We have 2 100 watt: SP100 Solar Panel Kit with Rocker Mounts
We also have 2 170 watt: ZS170 Solar Panel Kit with Rocker Mounts
That gives us 540 watts total but we can’t rely only on solar to charge our system, the dual alternator has been really helpful for us to charge so we don’t ever have to hook up to shore power.
We wanted to have the option to hook up to shore power just in case, but we haven’t needed to so far.
Having hot water was a must for us and we felt like this tank wouldn’t take up too much space.
We chose this one over a tankless water heater because it’s more energy efficient. Even though it’s only 4 gallons, we won’t have to heat up the water every time we want it hot.
Fresh water tank:
Grey water tank:
Since our grey tank in under the van and close to the exhaust pipe, we wrapped the pipe with Heat Shield Insulation to keep the tank protected.
Garnet 710ES SeeLevel II Sensor Board (we have 2, one for each tank)
Water fill up:
Pump Silencing Kit- We don’t think this is the exact one we have but it is similar
We made these ourselves to save some money.
We used Reflectix and sewed fabric around them to make them look nicer but also so you can only see black from the outside looking in, instead of the shiny material
We also used strong Earth Magnets so they can be secured to the window
Extra heating component for AC- Coleman 472334551 Electric Heat Kit
Cell phone signal booster:
Collapsable water container:
We love our floor and it doesn’t get scratched easily.
It’s also waterproof which has been helpful.
We used this Beadboard White True Bead Panel
It’s pretty light weight and we think it looks nice but it is not flexible so it was tricky to work with on the curves of the van.
It was also kind of annoying to paint to get into all the cracks. But overall we are happy with it.
It is also not waterproof so we had to put a protective coating on top.
We used this for our ceiling because it is lightweight and somewhat flexible.
It also has an acrylic coating so resists staining, fading and mildew
It already had a smooth white finish so we didn’t need to paint it.
However, we think it would have been better to chose a material that was a little more flexible to fit the curves of the van.
Spray foam insulation:
Foam board insulation:
We used this to insulate underneath the subfloor
We got this one because it is cheaper than the other options but still works well