Figuring out what a class B camper is can be confusing. With 3 different classifications for campervans and motorhomes it can be hard to determine the advantages and disadvantages for each.
This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about class B campers.
Camper and Motorhome Classifications
Recreational vehicles are grouped into 3 main categories, class A, B and C. Class A and C are motorhomes and class B are campervans.
A class A motorhome is the largest you can purchase. These can be up to 45 feet long and a packed full of luxury amenities. Class C motorhomes are just smaller versions of their class A cousins. Usually, they are between 20 and 30 feet long.
Comparatively class B vehicles are campervans, meaning they are the smallest vehicle classification. These can be DIY conversions or professionally built campers like some of the new VW T5’s and 6’s.
It can be confusing that the smallest vehicles are not given the class C title but that’s just the way it is.
Class B Camper Design
Class B campers are the most limited in terms of space, however with intelligent design work you can still find room for all the essentials. It’s hard to generalise with campervans as they are incredibly versatile and customisable.
There are so many different layouts that are all very functional. I will try to familiarise you with some of the common themes below.
A typical class B camper will normally have a kitchenette area with sink, hob and possibly a three-way or compressor fridge. In most campervans this kitchenette is found down the sidewall of the van.
However, if you live in areas with good weather, it’s common to have a kitchen setup pull out from the rear of the van as this frees up interior space.
Similarly, bed set-ups vary between campers. VW vans and others of comparative size often utilise a rock’n’roll bed.
This is a combined sofa setup that folds flat to form a bed. For these smaller vans it better not to have a fixed bed as these take up a lot of space.
In larger Sprinter or Transit conversions a raised fixed bed is often found in the rear of the van. Raising the bed provides a large storage space underneath, often referred to as the vans garage.
Storage for personal items like clothes often comes from overhead lockers in the larger sprinter style conversions.
These lockers sit at the top of the van along one or both sides and provide ample storage for one or two people.
In the VW style vans additional storage is often built in with the kitchenette. This provides a wardrobe style cupboard along with a few cubbies.
Hygiene is one of the most important aspects of van life, and when considering a smaller class B campervan, it takes careful planning to get a shower onboard. As with previous examples there are a few different ways to achieve this.
First is to utilise an outdoor shower. Portable shower units cost between £250-350 and can provide you with a hot water shower outside your van. This is a great option that many long term van dwellers choose to use.
Alternatively, you can spend the time and money to plumb in an interior shower in larger campervans like Transit vans. While this is very achievable it is complicated and does significantly increase the amount of water you need to carry in the van.
It would take an entire article to describe how to do it but suffice to say it is possible and has been done before.
Toilets are a little bit trickier to incorporate into a campervan. If you have an enclosed bathroom with shower, then its best to place them in here. If you don’t have a bathroom, then the most common approach is to have a freestanding box that you can store the toilet in.
It must be said most toilets in small vans are typically only used for peeing, largely to limit unpleasant odours.
Campervans often don’t have TV’s, this is due to overall battery power constraints. Larger class A and C campers have space for larger leisure battery banks which can provide power for a TV. Class B campers often don’t’ have this luxury.
The only caveat to this is if you plan to spend all your time at campsites where you can plug into an electric hook-up. This will give you unlimited electricity allowing you to run anything.
Cost of a Class B Camper
The best part about class B campers is that they are so customisable and adaptable. The true cost of a vehicle in this class varies from a few thousand to fifty thousand.
For example, in our article on the cost of converting a ford van into a camper we broke down how it can cost as little as £1,196 for you camper conversion. If the van you buy costs approximately £5,000 then your whole campervan cost is only about £6,000.
A DIY conversion that gives you a full suite of facilities in a Ford Transit can cost around £7000. This doesn’t factor in the cost of the van so for this type of camper you could be looking at a cost of around £15,000.
Comparatively, a new VW T6.1 full equipped as a camper, costs around £46,000. This being a professional level conversion means you get a quality finish but that is reflected in the price.
The average running cost of a class B campervan are too difficult to estimate here. It depends entirely on what van you end up purchasing. If your van is a brand-new Fiat Ducato then it is unlikely to need much maintenance or servicing for the first few years.
However, if you buy an old VW T2 then you could easily spend £1000 a year on maintenance and replacing old parts.
Pros of a Class B Camper
- The smaller size of class B campers makes them easier to explore with. Most of these campers are not much larger than a big car. This means you can use them to go to the shops and don’t have to worry about driving down small lanes. This will enable you to travel further and explore more places than you would be able to with a larger vehicle.
- As they are smaller, and often lighter, you get better fuel economy. This is particularly true for the newer vans. These engines are very efficient which will help you go further. The Fiat Ducato gets an average of 47 miles per gallon. If you are going to be travelling long distance having a fuel-efficient van will save you a lot of money.
- Class B campervans can be a great budget friendly option. If cash is tight then a DIY camper conversion could be a great solution for you. As outlined in previous articles, like how much does it cost to convert a VW van into a camper, the cost of a conversion doesn’t have to break the bank.
- Lots of class B vans are customisable, particularly if you do a DIY conversion. For example, if you like going off-road you can create a rugged camper out of a Mitsubishi Delica that can take you anywhere. Alternatively, if you want the ultimate summer beach cruiser you can deck your van our with a solar shower, surfboard and wets suit storage and an awning.
Cons of a Class B Camper
- Class B campers do have limited interior space. They are the smallest campers on the market and as such often have less living room and are the most cramped. Furthermore, the storage capabilities can be limited, especially if more than two people are using the van.
- The facilities can be limited. If luxury is what you want, then a class B camper may not be the right van for you. The toilet is a particular point of contention, as some people don’t like the idea of storing a toilet in your main living space, which is very understandable. Likewise, some may reject the idea of showering outdoors. If these don’t appeal to you then a larger van may be a good idea.
- If you aren’t planning a DIY camper conversion, then they can easily cost as much as a larger class A or C camper. For example, a new VW will cost at least £40,000, this is equivalent to the cost of class C, and even some class A, vans. In other words, you pay as much for less space and potentially less facilities.
I hope that’s given you valuable insight into what a class B camper is. They are a very popular class of camper due to their compact easy to drive size. Hopefully you are one step closer to deciding what class of vehicle is right for you. We have a similar guide answering what is a class A vehicle, so take a look if you are still on the fence.
Do you think a class B camper is perfect for you? Let us know via email or Instagram DM. Tag us in your tiny home adventures @tinyhomehub.