Finding the best window for your camper van conversion

Finding the best window for your camper van conversion

17. February 2020 0 By Van Bro #2

The first big question for our camper conversion has to be decided: Which (and how many) windows should we install?

 Camper van conversion Dometic hinged window 700 300 iveco daily

The choice of possible windows is large. From hinged windows, to sliding windows with and without inner frames to firmly glued glass windows, there are really many options. But what makes sense? After all, a single hinged, framed window can quickly cost 500€.

To make the right choice, you should think about what exactly it is you need. For example, is it important for you to be able to open the window? Is it enough if you can open it while standing or do you want to be open while driving? So there is a lot to consider. In the following article we have summarized what the relevant details of the different window variants have been for our camper conversion.

Write us a comment, if other aspects were more important for your decision!

Hinged windows for Camper vans

Hinged windows are probably most commonly used for camper conversions.

 Camper van conversion Dometic  S4 hinged window 700 300

The basic advantage of a hinged window is obvious: The window can be opened completely, even in rain! Moreover, hinged windows of the well-known manufacturers (e.g. Dometic) are made of double-walled plastic and therefore provide much better insulation than glass windows.

CONS: Hinged windows

However, there are also disadvantages: opening a hinged window in summer may ensure a quick exchange of air, but it also allows burglars to get into the vehicle relatively easily. It is almost impossible to build a camper burglar-proof, but with a hinged window you only have to lift up the window.

An aspect that was relevant for our choice, since our camper does not have air conditioning: Hinged windows must be closed while driving.

It should also be noted that a hinged window should not be installed in the area behind the sliding door. Because the result will be: 50 times you think about the fact that the window must be closed before the sliding door is opened. The 51st time the sliding door slides open, it bends the open hinged window and in the worst case breaks it.

Sliding window for Camper vans

The classic hinged windows are also available from at least Dometic as a sliding version. These sliding windows are available in the same sizes and their installation does not differ from the hinged version.

 Camper van conversion Dometic sliding window S4 700 300

From my point of view, the most important thing in favor of a sliding window is that it can also be open while driving. This way you can ensure a constant exchange of air on warm summer days.

Furthermore, a sliding window does not open to the outside, so the window does not stick out and therefore cannot be accidentally damaged from the outside.

Depending on the size of the sliding window, it is also already more difficult to get through the window into the interior of the motorhome, as the window opening is considerably smaller due to the vertical strut in the window.

CONS: Sliding window

The main argument against a sliding window is that the opening of the window is considerably smaller than the hinged variant.
Another aspect is that it can rain into the van during bad weather with a little wind. Whether this is relevant at all, everyone should decide for him-/herself. We think that in bad weather we can usually provide sufficient fresh air even with roof windows.

Glued glass windows

Depending on which base vehicle is used, the installation of a glass window might be unnecessary. Since we want to install a 2nd row of seats, it is clear to us that we need a large window behind the drivers seat. Whether the window can be opened or not is irrelevant to us.

A PRO for a glass window is clearly the price and installation effort. With a sheet metal nibbler drill attachment the cutting is quickly done and afterwards the window (after some preparation steps) can be glued in. So there is no need to build a wooden frame to achieve a certain wall thickness. For many vans there are already suitable windows for the loading area, which only need to be glued.

Camper conversion glass window for iveco daily side window sliding door window

Our approx. 123 x 75 cm large window cost just under 170€ including glue and shipping. A comparable display window costs about 500€, even more if you consider a variant with a slightly curved window (e.g. Dometic S7).

CONS: Glued glass window

We chose 2 glass windows, since these were altogether nearly 600€ cheaper than comparable hinged windows. But such large glass surfaces also have some disadvantages:

Glass is a thermal bridge! In contrast to the double-walled plastic windows from Dometic, you can feel when the outside temperature is lower near the glass window. This also means that at night the cold is conducted into the interior of the camper. A side effect is that warm air condenses on the glass, which means water drops will form. A complex insulation of the entire vehicle is therefore only of limited use if you install big glass surfaces that are transmitting the temperature differences.

Fortunately, one can take good precautions against condensation and the effect of a thermal bridge. We will build window covers that will provide some insulation at night and reduce condensation.

Finally, for a fair comparison of the 3 presented window variants, the following should be considered: The hinged and sliding windows from Dometic come with inner frames. The inner frame has a modern look and has a roll-out insect screen and a privacy screen (blackout). Our large glass window does not have this! A creative solution is needed to give the interior of the vehicle a high-quality impression.

The choice for our Iveco Daily

We need 4 windows. 2 windows for the back in the sleeping area of the van and 2 windows behind the driver seat. In the end, we decided on two 700mm x 300mm hinged windows from Dometic, which are mounted in the sleeping area. We hope to get a nice view and fresh air. Since the windows are very narrow, it is not (easily) possible to penetrate into the camper. The fact that the windows are now hinged and not sliding was only due to the price difference.

 iveco daily Camper van conversion Dometic hinged window 700 300

For the area behind the driver’s seat we have chosen 2 glass windows. Probably one window would have been enough, but the shipping cost was almost as high as the price of the window itself, so we ordered 2. As soon as the temperature rises a bit, we will glue the glass windows.

If you like to know where we bought our windows and what they cost, which glue we used and more, have a look at our conversion cost overview.

In the coming weeks we will install the windows. Currently the 2 Dometic windows are already glued in. More details about the installation of the windows can be found in the next article!