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!
Outline Your Cut With A Template
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.
Place Template On Inside Van Wall And Trace Cut Line
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.
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.
Cut Out Any Interior Supporting Beams
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.
Draw Cut Line Outside The Van
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.
Cut Along The Marker Line With A Jigsaw
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!
Screw The Window In Your Van
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.
Admire Your Camper Van Window Installation Work
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.
Camper Van Window Installation Video
Are Camper Van Windows Important?
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.
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.
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.
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