Class B Motorhomes vs. Converted Vans: A Complete Guide

Motorhome rentals are becoming extremely popular and with good reason. If you feel attached to your home but want the opportunity to travel a lot, it seems like the best of both worlds.

But with so many options and a large range of prices, it can be difficult to come to a decision as to which particular type of motorhome is right for you. Are Class B Motorhomes more your style, or would a converted van be better for you?

Keep on reading to learn more about these choices and how to decide between the two.

What are Class B Motorhomes?

Class B motorhomes, or “camper vans,” are an excellent option for those seeking an economical, efficient, although often limited, amount of space as far as recreational vehicles go.

They are built on a van chassis and generally offer sleeping, dining, and living space, bathroom, and storage. They range from 16-22 feet in length. This allows for excellent maneuverability and parking in regular spots, with much lower fuel costs.

Class B motorhomes are the smallest and least expensive of the motorhome classes. Yet, they still offer many of the luxuries of a larger RV. This includes full bathrooms, fully functioning kitchens, comfortable seating, beds, and storage space.

They are often easy to drive. They require minimal maintenance and offer amazing views of the outdoors. This is due to the generous windows and pop-up roof options.

What are Converted Vans?

Converted vans are vehicles that have been modified to include many of the luxuries found in a home. The modifications can range from insulation and heating in the winter to sound systems, refrigerators, and other amenities.

Converted vans also have extended storage capabilities and extra seating to maximize space. They can be equipped with beds, sinks, and cooking stoves to make them homey. Converted vans are perfect for camping trips, weekend getaways, road trips, and extended trips around the world.

The comfort, convenience, and portability make them the optimal way to explore your van life in style. No matter the type of adventure you are looking for, a converted van can offer the opportunity to bring the home with you wherever you go.

Differences in Cost of Initial Investment

In terms of cost differences between Class B motorhomes and converted vans, there are significant variances. Class B motorhomes typically come with a price tag of around $50,000 to $100,000, depending on the make and model and the features included.

Converted vans can be purchased for much less, usually costing $10,000 to $25,000, depending on the market. However, the cost of converting a van into a mobile camper can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.

The bare bones conversion can range from $500 to $1,500, while a more luxurious conversion can reach up to $10,000. Therefore, both options have the potential to have a significant cost difference when it comes to the initial investment.

Differences in Size

Class B motorhomes, also known as van campers, are small and compact recreational vehicles that are usually built on a van chassis. Converting a regular van into a camper is a popular choice for those who want a more personal, customizable motorhome experience.

While many people assume the two are similar in size, there are several differences that make them unique in their own right. Class B motorhomes are typically larger in size, ranging anywhere from 12 to 35 feet. This allows for features such as queen beds, small kitchens, and bathrooms.

Converted vans, by contrast, can more easily fit a bed and basic kitchen but are usually much smaller, ranging from just over 6 to 11 feet. There is also less space for storage and personal belongings. Due to their smaller size, converted vans may offer more maneuverability, but they lack the amenities of a larger class B motorhome.

Differences in Customization

When it comes to customization, class B motorhomes, and converted vans have their own unique benefits. Class B motorhomes are built directly on a chassis, allowing for spacious living space and a wide variety of accommodations. Converted vans, on the other hand, provide more space in a smaller footprint and can be customized to an individual’s exact needs.

Class B motorhomes come with standard fixtures such as a kitchen, bathroom, flat-screen TV, and other luxury items. While these are customizable, the options for customization are quite limited as the vehicle is made for regular use.

With a converted van, the owner has much more freedom to build exactly what they need. It is possible to customize fixtures. This includes cabinets, counters, and beds. It also includes swapping out furnishings, appliances, and electronics.

Differences in Intended Use

When comparing Class B motorhomes vs. converted vans in terms of intended use, there are several key distinctions to be aware of. A converted van may be more advantageous for those who are looking to save money and don’t plan on spending much time on the road.

Since they are smaller, they are more budget-friendly and can be modified more easily to suit the traveler’s specific needs. Class B motorhomes, on the other hand, are typically larger and come with many more amenities. They are designed for longer trips. They are capable of accommodating multiple passengers. It provides storage space for luggage and other items.

For those who need to hit the road for extended periods of time, a class B motorhome is a better solution. Ultimately, the main differences between the two stem from their intended use and level of comfort.

Differences in Insurance

Class B motorhomes and converted vans are different in terms of insurance. Both are self-contained recreational vehicles and qualify for RV insurance. But when it comes to specific coverage, there are some distinct differences.

Insurance for Class B motorhomes often includes the following:

  • personal property coverage
  • vacation liability
  • personal injury coverage

As they are more powerful than a converted van, they cost more to insure. They may require additional specialized coverages, like mechanical breakdown coverage.

Converted commercial vans have more minimal coverages, typically just liability and collision coverage. Private passenger auto insurance can cover a converted van and may be cheaper than full-fledged RV insurance.

Differences in Maintenance

Class B motorhomes and converted vans have some differences as far as maintenance. This is because of the differences in their construction.

Class B motorhomes will require more routine maintenance. This includes fluids and filters. It also includes brake and suspension inspections for more reliable long-term performance.

Converted vans generally have fewer inspectors and fewer maintenance tasks. This is because they’re built on a more standard foundation, such as a Ford Econoline or Chevy Express.

With converted vans, it’s important to pay attention to the basics, such as oil and tire maintenance, as well as any modifications made to the van. Both Class B motorhomes and converted vans need regular maintenance. But Class Bs will require more extensive care overall.

Differences in Interior Amenities

Class B motorhomes are larger than converted vans and, as such, have a number of amenities not typically found in a converted van. These motorhomes enjoy having a more spacious interior with higher ceilings. They can also enjoy an interior slide-out on one or both sides that can turn into additional bedrooms, wet baths, refrigerators, and ovens.

Power generators, solar panels, and a variety of other power sources can also be installed in a class B motorhome. In converted vans, on the other hand, there may be little other than a bed, one or two seats, and a sink. In this sense, a class B motorhome often provides more amenities for travelers compared to a converted van.

Differences in Performance

Class B Motorhomes have more powerful engines and more luxurious amenities than converted vans. Motorhomes also offer more storage space than converted vans. This gives you more options when it comes to packing your belongings. With motorhomes, you get a slew of interior appointments. This includes TVs, stereo systems, and full kitchens.

Converted vans, on the other hand, lack the power of a larger engine and may not be able to handle driving in the same manner as a motorhome would. Converted vans are also often more cheaply and quickly customized. You may have to sacrifice some luxury in order to change up the interior of your van.

Differences in Towing

Class B motorhomes and converted vans are popular choices in recreational vehicles. Both have their own towing capabilities, but they vary greatly.

Class B motorhomes are built on a traditional van chassis. It comes with a factory-installed and engineered towing system. They are intended for a range of recreational vehicles, from small boats to trailers and ATVs. This makes it easier to tow heavier loads.

On the other hand, converted vans require an aftermarket towing system for towing. They have much lower towing capacity than a motorhome because the van chassis is not designed for towing. The lower capacity also means you need to be careful when towing. It also means you may need to limit the size and weight of what you’re towing.

Differences in Storage

Class B motorhomes, otherwise known as camper vans, differ from converted vans in several ways. One of the main differences lies in storage. Class B motorhomes are specifically designed to contain ample storage space. Passengers have access to cupboards or drawers built into the side walls or beneath the bed. This space is perfect for storing snacks, clothes, books, or any other items.

On the other hand, converted vans tend to contain limited storage options. In addition, passengers often have to fabricate their own storage compartments located above or under the bed. This generally leads to less overall storage space than what the class B motorhome has to offer.

Differences in Safety Features

Class B Motorhomes and converted vans are both considered recreational vehicles, but they have some distinct differences in safety features. Class B Motorhomes are built on a larger, sturdier chassis than converted vans, and they offer more stability and protection. The exterior of a Class B Motorhome often has larger side mirrors, a more substantial bumper, and additional airbags to protect occupants.

Additionally, Class B Motorhomes usually have larger windows for better visibility, as well as safety features such as rollover protection and seat belt systems.

Converted vans, on the other hand, don’t have the same stability as a Class B Motorhome and are often constructed without structural reinforcements or additional safety features. They also tend to have smaller windows, making visibility more limited.

Differences in Fuel Costs

Fuel costs differ substantially between Class B motorhomes and converted vans. Class B motorhomes use more fuel than converted vans due to their increased weight and size.

The larger motorhomes can consume up to 10-12 gallons of fuel in an hour of highway driving and about 6-8 gallons for the same distance in city driving. Converted vans, which are typically built on a van chassis, usually consume about 4-5 gallons of fuel on the highway and 3-4 gallons in city driving.

With both vehicles, fuel usage can be affected by terrain and wind. Motorhomes, due to their larger size, will typically have higher wind resistance and, thus, higher fuel costs. For shorter distances, converted vans can be more fuel efficient, but motorhomes may be more cost-effective if you are visiting multiple places, as they offer more space and comfort.

Differences in Environmental Impact

Class B Motorhomes and Converted Vans have similarities and differences when it comes to their environmental impact. Both are designed with fuel efficiency in mind, and both can run on alternative fuels like propane or biodiesel which reduces their carbon footprint. The main difference is that larger Class B motorhomes usually have larger engines and heavier bodies, resulting in higher fuel consumption.

Mini motorhomes have increased efficiency due to a lighter body and smaller engine, making them a more eco-friendly option for travel. Motorhomes can often store more items, meaning more fuel is needed to transport them, whereas a converted van can remain lightweight and more fuel-efficient if not overloaded.

Learn More About Class B Motorhomes

Class B motorhomes offer convenience, comfort, and efficiency for travelers who want a good balance between the comforts of home and living on the road.

For those still undecided, the best advice is to research both options, weigh and consider the pros and cons, and take the time to test drive each. To learn more about Class B Motorhomes, visit your nearest RV dealer and let them show you the possibilities.

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