Van life check list - Van build essentials

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

So this isn't really one of my typical blog posts where I go into lots of specific details on what to do in specific situations, It is more a check list of basic things you will probably need whilst converting your van.

You can use it as a quick guide to what you will need, for estimating your costs, for ordering stuff hassle free and as usual for my personal recommendations on brands and specific items.

As usual I will post links to the brands and items that I personally recommend, As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Gorilla Tape

You will get through a lot more of this stuff than you can ever imagine. It's best to go for a really good quality if you want it to last.

Instant contact adhesive

This contact adhesive is very strong and ideal for sticking heavier items like insulation board into place without the need to support it. It is quite expensive at £11.66 per can but you will only need a few of these as there are cheaper spray adhesives you can use for stuff like carpets and thermawrap.

Trim-Fix 3x 500ml High Temperature Adhesive Glue Spray for Van Lining

If you are going to cover your camper in 4 way stretch carpet for a modern camper look or to keep the weight down then this stuff is amazing. As it is high temp the glue will not fail in summer leaving you with a saggy carpet.

Hammerite Krust

This amazing stuff turns small rust patches into a stable surface you can paint on in just 3 hours. Perfect for anybody that couldn't afford a shiny new van. it can be used on exterior and and rust you may have on the interior

before you build over it.

Metal spray paint primer

You will need this for your body work if you cut any holes in it, drill any holes in it, screw anything into it or even scratch it. Any exposed bare metal will soon rust and your van will fall apart. You need to cover it with a healthy covering of this stuff. If your interior body work is going to be covered then grey primer is perfect. No need to colour match

Super foil (thermawrap, relectex)

You might have heard of this being called thermawrap or if you have been watching American tutorials or youtube Reflectex. You can use it for a layer of insulation, moisture membrane, windows insulation etc. Again it is best to buy this in bulk as you will use a lot of it. I have 2 full layers of it covering the whole of my van with other types of insulation.

These rolls will cover 37.5 square meters each.

Mammoth Aluminium Tape 100mm x 45m

You will need foil tape for sealing the gaps between your thermawrap, celotex and to form an effective vapour layer. This is a thick one 100mm to make life easier.

Xtratherm or Celotex

If you want to insulate your van from freezing cold weather and to keep the heat in then you need to go all out. I have 50mm of Celotex on my roof walls and floor. If you want to save some head room I recommend getting 25mm for the floors and roof.

AirComfort thermal insulation roll 8M X 37CM 11CM thick

Just like above this is really good insulation for your van. Its not quite as good as the Celotex for walls and floors but it is a lot lighter, easier to mould to shapes and fit into small gaps. It is also a lot cheaper! The specific one is itch free and that is a big plus. Use this then a layer or thermawrap on top and your doing well.

Silent Coat 40 Sheet (375x250mm) Bulk Pack Car Sound Deadening/Proofing

One of the first things you will need to do when converting a van into a. camper is some generous sound deadening. Panel vans have huge panels that will vibrate and the only way you can stop that is by sound deadening before you insulate. This stuff is really good and not the most expensive out there.

Dodo Van Insulation Thermo Acoustic Liner 10M Roll

If you are looking for a quick, clean and easy way to insulate your van then this is a really good choice. You just cut it to size and stick it in place as it has a self adhesive back. It is moisture resistant and and when sealed with foil tape creates a moisture layer. Its not the cheapest stuff out there at £110 for 10 square meters (107 square feet) but it is good. It is very low profile too so takes up no room at all . A full layer of the sound deadener above then a full layer of this would be amazing. It would also only take you about a day to insulate and sound deaden your whole van.

Cork Tiles Natural (1.44 Sqm Coverage) - 300x300mm

If you are looking for low profile insulation on a budget then cork floor tiles might be a good option for walls and floors. It has really good insulation and sound proofing properties and weighs next to nothing.


If you want to save weight and money by not cladding your van with heavy wood the best thing to do after insulating is line it with van lining carpet. It is SUPER easy to do as the carpet stretches to fit pretty much any shape and and you just stick it down with spray adhesive, with this carpet they even include 5 cans of spray adhesive in the deal. With this link you will have enough to do at least one whole side of your van and maybe even the back doors or bulkhead too. It comes in loads of colours so you can make your van look awesome inside. This link is for black

High Density Upholstery Foam 20" x 20"

This high density foam is perfect if you are going to make your own seat cushions. You can get various sizes but this link is 20 inches by 20 inches. It is very easy to trim to size


Another thing you will seem to use endless amounts of are screws. This box contains loads of different sizes and I promise you at one point or another you will use every size. This box has 1700 screws in it and should keep you going for a. while.

Wafer Head Self Drilling Screw Sheet Metal Tek Screws

For screwing wood to the body work of your van these are the best option. You can use the wood screws but these will hold more secure and for longer

Panel Pins x 200 25mm

If you are cladding your van the quickest and easiest way to attach it to your walls is to use panel pins.

16 Pieces Stainless Steel Folding Butt Hinges

If you are building your own cupboards then there is a. good chance that you will need some hinges. This set is perfect for cupboard doors and you get enough for 8 doors in 1 pack

Angle Brackets

These are perfect for adding extra strength to anything that you build with wood. The also have a 90 degree angle helping you to keep your build square.

Hankook 12V 110Ah Low Height Leisure Battery

If you are looking for a decent leisure battery for your van then these are a good choice. I have 4 of these to run a lot of equipment.

Spartan power 4 AWG power cable set

If you would like to join multiple batteries in parallel for more power then you will need thick enough wire to join them together. These cable sets are the perfect size and are exactly what you need. You will need battery terminal clamps to attach to the batteries though. These are also perfect for connecting your batteries to blade fuse boxes

Deutschauto 12V 3-way Leisure Battery Terminal clamps

To connect anything to your leisure battery you are going to need a set of terminal clamps. If you are joining batteries together you will need one set per battery.

Split charge relay kit 140 Amp 5 Meter cable

Once you have a leisure battery you need a way of charging it back up. With this kit your vans alternator will charge your leisure battery after it has finished charging your vans starter battery. This isn't a very quick way to charge them but whenever you are driving it will top you up

Waterproof inline fuse holders 2 pack

Now you have a battery and a way to charge it you can now add a 12v electrical system to your van. For this you will need a blade fuse box, the fuse box needs to be connected to the battery with a set of the 4 AWG cables above but to do that you should add an inline fuse between your battery and fuse box. For that you will need one of these. The other one is for your inverter. The fuses you use in these holders will depend on what you are powering

12 Way blade fuse box

So once you are ready to start wiring up all of your accessories and electric's you are going to need a blade fuse box. With these you just wire it to your leisure battery with an inline fuse in between then you wire everything else to one of these. Each thing wired into it then has its own correctly sized inline blade fuse. this particular model has LED indicators so you can see when a fuse is blown.

Blade fuse assorted blade fuse kit 150 piece

Different accessories take different size blade fuses. If you get this box you shouldn't get stuck whilst wiring your vans electric's

500 Piece wire terminal and connector set

To connect all of your wires to your fuse box and accessories you will need wire terminals and connectors.

This box has a mixture of different connections & sizes and should cover all of your wiring needs

12V LED Recessed down lights X 8

The first thing you will probably want to install once you have a decent 12v power supply will be lights. These lights are recessed into your ceiling making them look very neat and tidy. They are also very low power at 1.8 watts each and have a life span of 20,000 hours each. Perfect for a camper

12V LED Strip lights 5M DAYLIGHT

As well as the down lights a lot of people like to install strip lights too. These are very easy to install and have a sticky back that sticks to any smooth surface. I like the DAYLIGHT ones as it gives off a nice white light. You can also get warm white that gives off more of a warm yellow hue more like the old fashioned house light bulbs. These are very cheap to buy and you could light you whole van for under £20. Make sure you get the right type with just the red and black wires on the end so you can wire it straight into your blade fuse box instead of one with an adaptor on the end

12V LED Strip lights 5M WARM WHITE

Just like I mentioned above these are the warmer versions of the strip light. I did not have space to mention above though that they have a very low power consumption and have a life span of over 50,000 hours. You can also cut them to size by cutting along the lines after every third bulb

TUOFENG 22 Gauge PVC Electrical Wire 30 Meter Reel

For connecting your down lights and strip lights to your fuse box and light switches this cable is perfect. As the wattage of the lights is so low the cable does not need to be thick at all. The thicker the cable the more expensive!

Use this cable with a 3amp fuse in your fuse box.

12V 5 Gang toggle switch panel

Once you have lights you will need switches to turn them on and off, for this I recommend one of these. You can have all of your lights running off of one blade fuse and you will only have to run one wire from the fuse holder to the switch, this will save you money and effort. I run two lights off of each switch so if you are running low on power you don't need to have all ten lights together, thats eight down lights and two strip lights all from one panel.

12V 5 Gang toggle switch panel with voltmeter, double USB sockets & lighter socket

You will also need another set of switches to turn the rest of you accessories on and off like your fan, fridge, sockets etc. This one matches the switches above so will not look out of place. it also has three other essentials attached to it all neat and tidy in one place.

Quick charge 3.0 dual USB power socket

As well as the above you will probably want one or two of these USB charging sockets in your van in convenient locations. I have one next to my bed so i can charge my phone next to me whilst I sleep, one in my kitchen area for my USB blender and one next to my bench and table for extra charging capabilities. I am a photographer & Cinematographer so need all the power points i can get hold of for my equipment. You can find cheaper versions online but they are not the 3.0 quick charge version.

12V USB & USB C 3.0 Quick charge power socket

If you are like me and try and look forward into the future a little bit you might want to install one or two of these somewhere in your build. The old USB cable will soon become redundant when it gets replaced with the newer USB C cables. This power socket will cover both old equipment and new equipment. You can already charge some new laptops with USB C cables so soon you may not even need a power inverter or model specific car chargers for charging laptops. Again its matching to the item above so will not look out of place next to them.

Electrical Wire 18 AWG - Extension Electric Cable 2 Cord (21.3 Meter Red + 21.3 Meter Black)

For all of the power sockets above and the vents/fan,

water pump and tap below you should use a thicker cable that can handle more power like this cable here. you should use a 10amp fuse in your fuse box with this cable


It is a good idea to get a roof fan for your van for multiple reasons and this a really good one to get. It has a remote control, thermostat so you can control the room temp, it extracts air from your camper or can blow fresh air in and it comes with everything you need to fit it. It is a bit expensive but the cheaper ones are nowhere near as good. It comes with a smoked top, white top or a clear top.


As well as a fan you might want to add a roof light/window for extra natural lights and fresh air.

This one is perfect letting in lots of fresh air and natural

light it also has built in LED lights for when it gets dark.

It can be vented or unvented you decide as both the options come with the package. So even with it closed . at night your van will still be ventilated enough to stop condensation

Sikaflex 512 Caravan Adhesive & Sealant

If you're cutting holes in your roof to fit fans or vents then it is a good idea to make sure they have a good waterproof seal. This stuff is made for that exact job.