Windows vs. No Windows: Which Is Better for a Camper Van?


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If you’re looking to buy or build a campervan, you’ve likely stumbled onto the “windows or no windows” debate somewhere online and can’t seem to make up your mind. It’s one of those debates that never seem to go away in the van life fraternity (and probably why you’re reading this). Lucky for you, you’ve wandered onto the right page.

Windows vs. No Windows: Which Is Better for a Camper Van?

Windows are better for a campervan because they make it safer to drive, let in sunlight during the day, and provide additional ventilation. They also make stealth camping easier and increase a van’s resale value. On the flip side, they’re costly to install and may compromise thermal insulation.

Read on for an in-depth look at both sides of the coin as far as installing windows in a campervan goes.


The Argument for Installing Windows in a Campervan

Having windows in your campervan can be beneficial in several ways:

  • It makes your van safer to drive.
  • It lets in sunlight during the day.
  • It provides additional ventilation.
  • It can make stealth camping easier.
  • It may increase your campervan’s resale value.

Let’s take a closer look at these benefits.

Windows Make Your Campervan Safer To Drive

Closed vans with solid sides can be tricky to drive through city traffic because the lack of side windows limits your view. The biggest challenge when driving such campervans is changing lanes. Sure, you can always use the passenger side mirror for that purpose, but having a side window gives you more vision and awareness of nearby traffic when switching lanes. 

A rear window also contributes to driving safety, whether in heavy traffic or on an open highway. When you can’t see out the back on a busy highway, it’s difficult to judge how far behind the next vehicle is, leading to bad decisions on the road. 

Since you can’t see out the black, you may bump into other vehicles in heavy traffic. While this might not necessarily cause an accident, it can lead to conflicts, and you never know what road rage can escalate into. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving (a less extreme form of road rage) is a factor in up to 56% of fatal accidents. 

So having side and rear windows not only makes you a more aware, confident driver, but it also protects you from being the subject of potential fatal conflicts on the road.

Windows Let in Sunlight During the Day

Whether your windows open or not, you can use them to let in natural light during the day for more pleasant interiors. Letting natural light in can also mean not having to turn on your lights and possibly your AC (sunlight also brings some heat) during the day, helping make your campervan more energy efficient. 

A more energy-efficient campervan is good for both your pocket and the planet, and having windows helps with that. That’s not to mention that windows can open up your living space to a scenic view of your surroundings.

Windows Provide Extra Ventilation

Having windows also gives you the option to supplement your campervan ventilation system when conditions demand. It’s especially helpful if you don’t have the most efficient ventilation system. 

Even with an efficient vent system, you’ll likely need the extra ventilation in a campervan. 

Cooking, sleeping, and showering in a confined space is the perfect recipe for hot, stuffy air, high humidity (which leads to condensation), and bad odors. You can install all kinds of vents to beef up air circulation but still need to pop open a few windows when cooking (for instance).

Windows Can Make Stealth Camping Easier

A non-windowed cargo van can sometimes make stealth camping impossible, especially in urban areas. 

Sure, having too many windows doesn’t help either (you know, with people peeping and all that), but having no windows is equally counterproductive when you don’t want to draw attention.

Generally, people are more likely to get alarmed by a van with no windows. So if you’re stealth camping in one of these, your campervan can easily be mistaken for a creeper van and have people dialing 911. 

But when your van has a few windows and possibly curtains, it paints a picture more along the lines of “he/she’s probably just another full-time traveler on their way somewhere or an RVer visiting friends or relatives in the area.”

Windows May Increase Your Campervan’s Resale Value

Most RVers and campers understand that conversions can be costly and time-consuming. So if you’re looking to sell your van in the future, potential buyers may be willing to pay more, appreciative of the fact that they won’t need to purchase and install windows.

Of course, the resale value isn’t entirely pegged to whether your campervan has windows一other factors such as its condition come into play. But if we were to auction off two identical used campervans with windows as the only difference, the van with windows would likely fetch a higher price than its non-windowed counterpart.

Related Articles:
How to Add a Window to Your RV Steps by Steps
Framed vs. Frameless RV windows: What is better?
Cargo Van Window Installation Cost: All You Need to Know

The Argument Against Installing Windows in a Campervan

In all honesty, there isn’t much of an argument against installing windows in a campervan. Other campers agree, too. If you look at online forums like CheapRVLiving.com, you’ll notice that most campers agree that having at least a few well-placed windows on a campervan makes it more liveable.

Perhaps the only issue campers have with windows on a campervan is insulation. There’s no denying that windows are often the weak link when it comes to temperature control in a van. 

Glass windows, especially single glazed ones, can create a greenhouse effect in your van when it’s sunny, making it unbearably hot. Some window types also let out heat, which isn’t something you want happening when it’s cold.

Luckily, the insulation issue is relatively easy to address with double-glazed plastic windows. What’s more, there are plenty of treatments you can use to prevent windows from compromising temperature control in your campervan. For instance, you can put up insulated blinds on your windows to prevent the greenhouse effect.

Last but not least, opponents of installing windows in a campervan cite the costs associated with that. Purchasing specialized windows for your campervan, installing them, and fitting them with insulation certainly increases the cost of a van conversion project.


The Verdict

As you might have already gathered, I’m pro windows on a campervan. The functional benefits and conveniences of windows outweigh the extra cost you may incur to install and insulate them; not to mention, a windowed van looks less creepy.


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Here are some of my favorite van build tools:

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you build your own campervan. Here are some tools that I use daily while living on the road that made my life easier. I hope you’ll also find them as useful as me. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to purchase any of them, I’ll earn a commission.
But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my closest friends and family.


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Power tools: If you’re converting a van, you’ll need some serious tools for the building process. I can assure you, good power tools can make a huge difference. You’ll save time and avoid a lot of frustration while having some professional-looking final results. I personally went big with the full combo set from Dewalt.

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations about van build, check out this resource that I made for you!

Martin

As an independent traveler, I try to share my positive and negative observations about van life as well as tips and tricks to make your life on the road easier. I travel and work in my old RV and would greatly appreciate a coffee from you if you find my content useful.

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