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How To Install RV Windows In A Camper Van

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How-To-Install-Camper-Van-Windows

Camper van window installation is a surprisingly tricky process. That’s because, unlike when installing a vent fan, the entire process is done on a vertical plane, as opposed to a horizontal surface.

But as every part of a van conversion process, take it slow, think ahead, measure twice, and cut once. Being slow and methodical when installing an RV window will greatly increase the quality of your installation and reduce mistakes.

In this post, we detail our step-by-step process for installing a window in a camper van.

So if you’re ready, let’s get to it!

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    Not what you need? Check out our “Camper Van Foundation” page for more similar content.

    Step 1:

    Outline Your Cut With A Template

    Cutting out a template for our camper van window installation

    Before you start sawing through your van’s sheet metal, tracing your cut line with a marker is a very good idea.

    But since windows are bulky and heavy, it’s helpful to create a template of the window area out of cardboard.

    To do this, simply set the window on top of cardboard and trace around the window flange with a marker. Then cut out the template with scissors.

    Building a camper van? Download our free e-Books with intuitive electrical, solar, and plumbing diagrams.

    Step 2:

    Place Template On Inside Van Wall And Trace Cut Line

    A cardboard template of an RV window being taped up inside a camper van

    Once you have your cardboard template, tape the template on the van’s wall where you want to install your window.

    Depending on the window’s size, it may make sense to set your template up either on your van’s inside or outside wall. In our case, because our window was small, we set up our template inside.

    Once your template is taped up, trace around the template with a marker. This will be your cut line.

    When finished, it should look something like the below photo.

    Step 3:

    Drill Holes Along The Cut Line

    Once you’ve traced your cut line with a marker, take your electric drill with a 1/2″ drill bit, and drill several holes all along your cut line.

    For reference, check out the holes we drilled along our cut line in the picture of the following step.

    Step 4:

    Cut Out Any Interior Supporting Beams

    Cutting the support beams in a camper van in order to install a window

    You will eventually be using a jigsaw to cut away the sheet metal, but a jig saw will have a difficult time cutting through any vertical support beams on the van’s panel.

    In the above picture, you can see how our cut line intersects three panel support beams.

    So before using a jigsaw, take a Dremel or an angle grinder and cut away these support beams.

    Step 5:

    Draw Cut Line Outside The Van

    Marker Cut Line Before Cutting Out Window Hole

    If you created your original cut line inside your van, like us, you’ll need to transfer that cut line to the outside of the van.

    By now, you should have already drilled out several holes along your cut line (from step #3). Simply connect these holes with a marker to re-create your cut line outside the van.
     
    When you’re finished, you should have replicated your cut line and are now finally ready to start sawing!

    Step 6:

    Cut Along The Marker Line With A Jigsaw

    Using a jigsaw to cut along the marker line for our camper van window installation

    At this point, take out your jigsaw and begin cutting along the marker line. Remember to use jigsaw blades that are designed to cut through sheet metal.

    Tip: Press the jigsaw firmly against the van’s frame, keep the blade saw moving at maximum speed, and move the jigsaw slowly along your cut lines.

    Go slow, you can do it!

    Step 7:

    File & Treat The Edges

    How To Install Camper Van Windows - Preparing The Window Hole
    Smoothing out the cut edges

    Before installing your RV windows, prepare the cut site by smoothing out the edges with a metal file (or an angle grinder, in this case) and painted the edges with Rust-o-Leum anti-rust paint.

    Step 8:

    Screw The Window In Your Van

    Van Build Guide - Camper Van Window Installation
    Fixing the window to the van's frame

    With the cut site properly prepared, you’re ready to begin installing the window in your camper van.

    Every window brand comes with slightly different installation instructions. So it’s important to read the instructions carefully before starting.

    Our windows (from Motion Windows) came with water proof seal tape, which we applied on the outside part of the window’s flange. We then hoisted the window into the hole.

    With the window firmly in place, we took a drill and screwed the window to the van’s sheet metal frame with the supplied screws.

    Step 9:

    Admire Your Camper Van Window Installation Work

    How To Install RV Windows - FInished Result 2
    How To Install RV Windows - FInished Result

    When all was finished, we had two small sliding windows installed on the rear left and right sides of our van. Not as easy of an installation process as the ventilation fan, but with the windows behind us, we were ready to begin converting the interior of the van.

    Was This Post Helpful? We have lots of other useful articles to help you build the foundation of your camper van. Check out our Camper Foundation page to read more great van build content!

    Building a camper van? Download our free e-Books with intuitive electrical, solar, and plumbing diagrams.

    Camper Van Window Installation Video

    Are Camper Van Windows Important?

    Install Camper Van Windows - Windows with Plywood

    When we first purchased our new Ford Transit, we knew right away that we would install windows in our van. The benefits clearly outweighed any downsides.

    Brings Fresh Air Into Your Van

    Though just a window alone is nice to bring in fresh air, pairing a window with a vent fan really helps to have strong air circulation all throughout you van. Pulling fresh air into your vehicle instantly increases your van’s livability, especially during hot, muggy, and rainy days.

    Read: How To Install A Vent Fan In A DIY Van

    Allows Natural Sun Light To Enter

    Even though our camper van windows are small, they still let in lots of sun light to brighten up our tiny interior space. Compared to lights, natural sun light is better at brightening up your space and better for your mental health. Who wants to live in a dark coffin of a van?!

    View The Beautiful Outside World!

    Your camper van can take you to lots of beautiful places and environments in this world. Windows help you to view this these stunning locations from inside your van.

    Side benefit: installing RV windows also helps you to peak outside at night to make sure everything is safe.

    Reduces Claustrophobia

    Installing camper van windows dramatically changes the interior feel of your vehicle. By letting in outside light and being able to peer outside, your van’s interior instantly feels bigger and more spacious. This reduces claustrophobia and tension.

    ..."But What About Stealth?"

    Just like with installing our vent fan, we are very aware that installing a camper van windows significantly reduces our vehicle’s stealth factor. In fact, RV windows probably do more to reduce a vehicle’s ‘stealthiness’ than a fan.

    BUT, while we do like to travel under-the-radar and not draw serious attention to ourselves, we strongly believe that forgoing any window installation to become a 100% stealth campervan is a terrible idea.

    Enjoyed reading? Check out our “Camper Van Foundation” page for more similar content.

    Conclusion: Installing Camper Van Windows Can Be Tricky...

    …but if you do your search and go slow, we’re confident you can successfully install your own camper window. Just remember to always measure twice and cut once!

    If you have any questions on how to install a RV window in your DIY van, please let us know in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

    For more resources, check out our DIY Camper Van Guide

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