Sleek, reliable, practical, and efficient. There’s not much that a sprinter van doesn’t offer. This is why they are a fantastic choice for a camper van conversion.
If you want to explore and experience “van life” for a while, a sprinter conversion may be the way to go. However, converting these excellent vans can come at a cost.
Before getting to work on a sprinter van, most people have one question: how much will it cost?
Well, in today’s article, we are going to explore the overall costs of modifying a sprinter van into a luxurious camper van.
The good news is that there are endless ways to convert your van, even for full-time living. While it can be difficult to estimate how much the overall project will be, it’s not impossible.
So, how much will it cost to convert a sprinter van?
Depending on a variety of factors, a sprinter van conversion can cost anything from $30,000 to the dizzying heights of $150,000.
However, these costs are greatly impacted by the features you choose like wheelbases and body styles. As well as this, whether the van is used or new can have a say on the price.
Some are already converted and just need a little updating. If so, costs will be on the smaller end of the scale.
Generally, a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter conversion will cost approximately $30,000 to $32,000. But, as we mentioned, factors impact this price.
Whether you’re converting the van yourself or using a company, we are going to take a look at the complete breakdown of prices so you can decide if it’s the right route for you.
Sprinter van options
Don’t be put off by the initial prices we mentioned. While the costs mentioned above are the average price range of conversions, you could complete a full DIY conversion for as little as $5,000.
If you’re creative with your materials and go down the DIY route, then you can save thousands of dollars.
Firstly, you will need a sprinter van. If you haven’t already got one, there are many different configurations of these powerful motors on the market.
Here are some of the best options to choose from.
Mercedes Sprinters, Freightliner Sprinters, and Dodge Sprinters
You may not believe it but apart from the differing names, each of these Sprinter vans is the exact same.
Mercedes-Benz, the German automobile car manufacturer, is part of Daimler AG. Daimer currently owns Freightliner and until 2007, Mercedes-Benz actually owned Chrysler who owns Dodge.
Domestic automakers in the US were given an advantage over foreign automobile manufacturers in 1964.
Since then, the “Chicken Tax” has had a 25% tariff in place on light trucks as well as other aspects of the automobile industry.
Included in this tariff are Sprinter vans. However, Mercedes found a way around the added tax.
By building their vans in a German factory and then disassembling them, they could ship the pieces to South Carolina.
Here, an American workforce reassembled the vehicles. This resulted in locally manufactured vans. And, of course, these were no longer subject to the tariff. Genius!
Until 2007, Daimler owned Mercedes, Freightliner, and Dodge.
These Sprinter vans were sold under the three names. Different names but the exact same vans, remember!
Since the separation with Chrysler and Dodge, the vans have continued to be branded as Mercedes or Freightliner.
Recently, in 2016, Mercedes-Benz built a $500 million factory in South Carolina to specifically produce Mercedes Sprinters.
Again, this means they can avoid the Chicken Tax and extra costs of labor that come under the tariff. So, since 2019, all Mercedes Sprinters have been made in the United States.
Why should you buy a Sprinter van and convert it?
Before we consider the conversion costs, we need to examine the cost of a Sprinter van. They remain a highly popular choice for van life due to the spacious offerings inside and their sheer reliability.
Although highly popular and practical for living in, the one thing that stops most people from realizing their Sprinter conversion dream is the cost.
If you want to buy a new Mercedes or Freightliner van, you will be looking at a cost of around $40,000. And guess what, this is before any conversion takes place.
If that’s too much, you can always consider buying a used Sprinter but even these tend to be pretty expensive.
However, a Sprinter’s value rarely decreases as much as other vans so you could look at it more as an investment.
Once you have converted your Sprinter, you could sell it in the future without losing much money from your investment.
As well as a return on your investment, other benefits of buying a Sprinter van include its reliability, its interior space (which is huge), and how easy it is to maneuver.
Furthermore, the diesel version of Sprinter vans tends to achieve better MPG than similar vans. So, while you may pay more initial costs for the van itself, you could save a lot of money in the long run.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to buying Sprinter vans as with any vehicle. Although they are reliable and sturdy machines, repair and maintenance costs can be quite expensive.
This is because of the technology and features you may install when converting the van. They can be hard to replace and fix, especially if they are unique items.
Most of the time, your Sprinter van will require servicing at a Mercedes dealership. Thankfully, there are Mercedes dealerships in all 50 states.
Sprinter van specifications
So, Sprinter vans have three different names but they’re all the same. Confusing right? Now we understand the confusion around these names, let’s take a look at the available specifications with Sprinter vans.
Gas and diesel
Mercedes Sprinters have always offered diesel engines. Recently, however, they debuted a gas engine which has some distinct advantages.
For instance, gas models generally have higher maximum speeds with faster acceleration. Their fuel efficiency is improved when dealing with stop and start traffic jams and the engines tend to start quickly and easily, even in cold conditions.
Altogether, this can result in cheaper maintenance.
If you are dead set on a gas engine, you will probably have to buy a new model as most second-hand Sprinters are diesel engines.
Nonetheless, diesel engines can go for longer in between repairs and maintenance works. Diesel engines also have better hauling power and overall better performance over long-distance journeys.
For the strongest and most dependable engines, diesel has a hold over gas models.
How much weight you intend to add to your Sprinter conversion and the distance you will be driving are key factors to consider before working on your van.
You can choose between three types of Sprinter vans with each offering different body styles and sizes. However, 2019 and later options all come with an interior width of 70.1 inches.
Perhaps the most popular sprinter for conversions is the Cargo van. These start at around $33,790 and are favored by many because of their blank canvas with four body options to choose from.
Cargo van different specs
- 144-inch standard wheelbase with an interior height of 67.7 inches and an interior length of 132.9 inches
- 144-inch wheelbase high with an interior height of 79.1 inches and an interior length of 132.9 inches
- 170-inch wheelbase high with an interior height of 79.1 inches and an interior length of 173.6 inches
- 170-inch wheelbase extended high with an interior height of 79.1 inches and an interior length of 189.4 inches
You can choose from three different engine types:
- 4 cylinder gas engine
- 6 cylinder diesel engine
- 6 cylinder diesel engine with 4×4
There are an additional five options for the payload class.
Passenger van specs
The second option is the Passenger van. The starting price for these is approximately $43,000. You can choose from:
- 12 passenger or 15 passenger models
- An interior height of 75.5 inches for both sizes
- 4 cylinder gas engine
- 6 cylinder diesel engine
- 6 cylinder diesel engine with 4×4
Unlike the Cargo van, Passenger vans only have two options for payload. One downside to a Passenger van is that they don’t offer a blank canvas like Cargo models. Therefore, you would have to strip out most or all of the seats inside which means more labor and extra costs.
Crew van specs
The last option is the Crew van. These start off with a price of $41,290. You can choose from two different sizes:
- 144-inch wheelbase high with an interior height of 76.7 inches and an interior length of 103.5 inches
- 170-inch wheelbase high with an interior height of 76.7 inches and an interior length of 144.3 inches
The engine options are the same as the Cargo and Passenger vans but with four options for payload.
Whichever model you choose, you will have many customization options. You can even choose these straight from the manufacturer. Some custom items include:
- Chrome grilles
- Exterior state-of-the-art lighting
- Sliding doors on the driver’s side
- Additional windows
- Swivel seats
- Bluetooth options
- Cooking appliances
The list goes on and on. It’s all about how creative you can be! There are some restrictions on certain custom options so double-check with the manufacturer before splashing any cash.
New, old, and pre-converted Sprinter vans
From looking at the base costs of Sprinter vans and considering extra features, you can see how easily it can be to spend $40,000 to $90,000 on a new custom model.
Then there’s the price of the conversion!
If you can afford this, you could get the best looking, best running, and, well, the best Sprinter van out there.
The reality is that most of us have a smaller budget than this. If so, don’t worry! You can opt for a used non-converted Sprinter for as little as $20,000.
Other pre-converted Sprinters are also available with more affordable price tags.
Opting for these types of Sprinters can be an excellent choice if you want to get out on the great open road as soon as possible without spending extortionate sums of money.
Of course, the van won’t be customized to your personal preferences but this can always become a possibility further down the line.
Although pre-converted Sprinter vans are the most affordable options, prices can vary vastly. Therefore, you should do your research before jumping the gun and choosing the first one you see.
You can take advantage of various sites when looking for your new Sprinter. These include:
- Facebook Marketplace
Each site has hundreds of listings for a range of pre-converted vans. Do enough research and you should be able to find one for $25,000 to $40,000.
Van conversion companies
You can take advantage of numerous professional van conversion companies that will convert your sprinter for you. However, these generally come with a hefty price tag.
The majority of these companies have been running for at least 20 years and boast a range of van conversion specialists. From solar experts to woodworking experts, you will have everything covered when using such a company.
There is a catch or two with a few of these companies. Some will only accept conversions for specific models while others only specialize in a particular van type.
Therefore, you must be sure you choose a company that can handle Sprinter vans.
While there are some drawbacks involved, you can also benefit hugely from working with a professional van conversion company.
- These companies offer expert designs and guide you through the planning stages
- The conversion will be undertaken by highly skilled, professional craftspeople
- They understand intricate storage solutions and creative functionality
- Various companies can install solar technology and specialize in electrical devices in vans
- The materials and features are generally of a much higher quality while being more affordable due to the company buying in bulk
- Some companies tend to offer a warranty with the conversion
- Financing or support is offered by some companies to help you spread your costs (you must be eligible for this on most occasions)
Various van conversion companies offer partial conversions. This is a great option if you’re looking to save on costs or want to have a bit more control over the whole project.
If you choose this, you can have a say in the basic design while the company deals with the more complicated side of things.
So, if you decide to choose a van conversion company to work on your beloved van, prices can range from:
- Low end – $7,500 to $14,000
- Mid-range – $32,000 to $40,000
- High-end – $65,000 to $100,000
DIY Sprinter van conversions
Don’t like the idea of a van conversion company? No worries! You can always go down the DIY road. This is the route many “van lifers” go down.
Be prepared, however. Be prepared for long hours working on the van. Be prepared for frustration.
And be prepared for things to go wrong. Even if they do, there’s always a way to remedy the issue!
The biggest benefit of DIY Sprinter conversions is the amount of money you can save. Again though, costs could build-up down the road if you install a stem incorrectly.
If you do the proper research every step of the way, you can avoid these potential problems.
We recommend investing in a useful guide or instructional handbook to help you along your way. One example is The Wayward Home’s Sprinter RV Conversion Sourcebook.
As we mentioned, you can save a lot of money by converting a van yourself. You can save even more by being creative and cunning!
Consider using recycled materials for your interior. Cheaper materials will drive down overall costs significantly too.
If you’re handy with a sewing machine, consider making upholstery such as curtains and mattresses yourself.
Second-hand items will always be cheaper than brand new versions too. You can find some great bargains on electrical, solar, and other tech appliances on Craig’s List or eBay.
Use cheaper lighting options such as rechargeable LEDs or fairy lights too. Over time, this can have a huge impact on your running costs.
Then, there is the plumbing. This can be extremely expensive but there are cheaper alternatives to look into.
Simpler plumbing solutions are always available, especially if you will only be using the van for short breaks away.
While building your own van conversion can be a difficult process, it can also be wonderfully rewarding.
Seeing an empty van become your prized home or campervan in front of your eyes can fill you with immense joy.
Don’t forget that doing it yourself means you have full control over how you customize the van. Whether it’s the overall layout, the features, or the fixtures, you have the first and final say in it all.
You can also plan ahead. If you love the idea of a certain feature but are unable to pay for it at the time of conversion, you can plan to add it later on. Therefore, you can build your van around this future fixture.
Choosing a professional van conversion company means these perks are not possible.
So, what are the prices for a DIY Sprinter van conversion? It’s entirely up to you!
You may only need to spend as little as $5,000. Nevertheless, a realistic budget should be at least $30,000 to ensure the van is kitted out with the bare essentials.
Figuring out your DIY van conversion costs
Before you begin converting your Sprinter van yourself, you need to find out an estimate for the overall costs.
While this may not be the final price, knowing whereabouts you should be will make it much easier as the process continues.
You will need to start with the basic layout and necessary items for your van. One of the most important factors is the interior height of your van.
Knowing this will help you understand what you can and cannot install inside.
You should also consider your lifestyle and the requirements you need to make your life on the road as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible.
Some of the key considerations to make when converting your van are:
- The number of passengers you will be transporting most frequently for you to decide how many beds and seatbelts are required
- Plumbing requirements (ie, toilet, sink, shower, etc)
- Certain systems like solar or electrical power
- Cooking appliances, whether it’s indoors or outdoors
- Storage for various items including clothing, cooking gas, water, and much more
Firstly, you need to make a price plan for the largest and most expensive items and systems.
Once you understand what large items or systems are necessary for your Sprinter, then you can begin research into the estimated costs of your build.
You must figure out what your budget will be before focusing on the smaller details such as the decor of the van. While some systems and items may seem useful, they may not be necessary.
Weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of using these systems. If they are not required, you could save a substantial amount of money by excluding them from your final conversion.
To get a better idea of what you’ll be paying for larger items or certain systems for your Sprinter, here are some price listings:
- Solar panels, inverter, etc – $400 to $2,580
- An electrical system such as a charge controller or auxiliary batteries – $1,350 to $3,850
- Bed and mattress – $150
- A kitchenette (refrigerator, cooktop, sink, etc) – $400 to $2,250
- A vent fan – $120 to $220
- A swivel table – $180
- A toilet – $140 to $200
- A shower – $440 – $1,340
- Upholstery materials/sewing – $1,150
- A hot water heater – $250
- PLumbing system – $670
- A 10 gallon water tank – $33
- A 15 gallon propane tank – $50
If you add all of these together or just include a few, you’re looking at a total cost of approximately $5,500 to $13,000.
Add this to the initial cost of the van and you can see how the budget can easily climb.
Another thing you need to do when estimating your total costs is to price out the materials you will need for the build.
If you have to rent or buy expensive tools for the job, the costs of the project will obviously be a lot higher.
But, assuming you have the tools on hand, we will estimate these costs.
As we mentioned earlier, recycled or reclaimed materials can be cheaper to use.
You can significantly cut down prices by using materials you already have lying around such as pieces of wood or leftover tiles from other projects.
Consider checking out some construction projects in your local area. It may be worth asking if you can have any scraps or discarded items from the site.
Who knows? You may find some absolute gems! Waste not, want not!
With the larger items and systems previously mentioned, you can easily go without a few on the list.
This may not be possible when considering certain materials for your conversion.
Therefore, trying your best to find more affordable options will always help your bank balance.
Some vital materials you will need to find and budget include:
- Wood (plywood, etc) – $475 to $4,300
- Insulation – $220 to $500
- Hardware items such as screws and nails – $320 to $500
- Tiles – $50
- Paint, primer, and caulk – $230 to $300
- Flooring (carpets, etc) – $160 to $200
Remember, these are just estimates, the final costs could end up being less or considerably more.
But assuming you buy all of these materials for these prices, you will be looking at $1,450 to $6,000.
Next, you will need to estimate the prices of decor and various accessories you may want for your conversion.
These costs can vary hugely from one person to the next. Some people like a minimalistic style while others want all the gadgets and ornaments possible.
Maybe you already own all the accessories you want inside your van. If so, that’s great! This would save a lot of money!
Don’t forget the outside of your sprinter van too. While a lot of work goes into the interior of the van, you may want to invest in an awning for an outdoor relaxing area.
With this, you may also require a heater. Some outdoor features can be quite expensive but they can really improve your van life.
Here is a rough guideline to the costs you may be looking at when adding accessories and styling the van:
- Accessories – $300 to $650
- Decor – $160 to $200
- Lighting – $75 to $100
The total cost of these accessories and decor adds up to around $530 to $900.
Total estimate for a Sprinter van conversion
So, you’ve decided to add all of the items on our lists to your van conversion. The total cost of all this put together would be approximately $7,500 to $20,000.
As you can see, the DIY method can be significantly more affordable than hiring a professional van conversion company.
And you get a custom van with all of the features and systems that you need and want for an easy life on the road.
Our examples are just some of the basic, most regular features, and accessories available. If you have a slightly larger budget of around $30,000, there is a lot more you can add to your van.
Judging by these price estimates, it seems like the right choice. It’s cheaper and you get exactly what you want.
Just remember that it will be more difficult for you and it will cost you your time.
But hey! If you have the time and enjoy a challenge, go for it!
Whatever option you go for, you will end up with a prized possession, your very own converted Sprinter van!