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So you bought a Van

Bringing home your new van

You are excited and beyond thrilled. Ready to make that dream come true. The van is yours now. Time to start your build. Where do we start. What do we do first. So much to think about.

If you are anything like us you follow hundreds of people that build and live in a van. You watch youtube videos all the time. Stalking #vanlife on instagram is your new hobby. Work countless hours putting together a list of everything you want out of your new home on wheels. Where to start.

Our advice is start a list. Add everything to your list you could ever want in a tiny home. Think from the outside in. Yes you will probably eliminate items from your list after you find out the cost involved. My advice is to be prepared to have as many items on your list as you can. Adding items after you have started can, more times than not, be more expensive than if you had just done it from the start.

You will want to now choose if you will be the do it yourself-er or have a builder, like Wicked Cool Vans, build for you. Do you have the tools needed to do a quality job yourself? Tools can be expensive. Do you have the know how to do it yourself? Do you have the time to do it yourself? Time is money. Lots of questions to answer before you start.

Here at Wicked Cool Vans we encourage our clients to do things themself. We also encourage our clients to have Wicked Cool Vans do the jobs they don’t have the time or tools to tackle the job. We try to provide tips and list of how to do it yourself.

You will find below a list of basic items used in a van build. This is a suggestion list. You will definitely need more items not listed. If you find you need a suggestion send us an email we will try to help out if we can.

Exterior Cuts:

Aftermarket window

Fresair air cooling system- Purchased through Wicked Cool Vans

Max air fan

Max air fan with remote

External ports for 30amp power

Internal Walls:

Sound Deadening

Wiring 4 gauge awg amount of feet depends on plan 10/3 wire for shore power set up, feet depends on plan 14 gauge wire, feet depends on plan 16/3 shore power set up, feet depends on plan


Havelock wool 3-6 batts depending on van model

Wood for framing of walls




¼ inch Plywood for finish walls

¾ inch Birch plywood for cabinets and floors

Ceiling material


Paint or Shellac/polyurethane





Drawer pulls

Drawer slides

Door hinges

Magnetic locks

Lofted Bed – 2×4’s & strapping

Shower pan option 1 option 2 more options are available depends on plan/layout

Water heater 4 gallon 

Plumbing supplies depends on plumbing plan

Fresh water tank 30 gallon

Grey water tank  13 gallon 


Pex pipe

Sink undermount

Sink counter mount 


Shower walls

Shower fixtures


Composting toilet

Refrigerators some choices it depends on layout for size restrictions

Table mounts


Solar Panels 

Solar charger size depends on plan

Inverter size depends on plan

Battery amount of batteries depends on plan

Battery charger depends on battery type and plan

Misc electrical

Amounts and sizes of electrical components depends on plan of system


Swivel Seats

Roof Rack -at Wicked Cool Vans we make a custom rack for your van but some others are available at amazon just make sure it is for your make and model van.

Running Boards tips on running boards is for them to be useful they need to be of a size your foot will fit. I prefer 7 inch ones at least.

Trailer hitch make sure it will fit your make and model

This list is a suggested parts list. Many other items are needed and will depend on layout,plan,make and model of van.

Wicked Cool Vans

*links are a part of an associate program Wicked Cool Vans takes part in.

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What’s in a name

Wicked : Going beyond reasonable or predictable limits : of exceptional quality or degree

Cool : Very good : EXCELLENT

Vans : A multipurpose enclosed motor vehicle having a boxlike shape, rear or side doors, and side panels often with windows


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Solar in your Wicked Cool Van

Solar panels on our Wicked Cool Vans Four 100 watt solar panels provide power for our Wicked Cool Vans.

Solar power gives you power from the sun. Building your solar system for your particular needs is the goal. Here are some tips from Wicked Cool Vans.

What items will you need power for? How much sun where you will be traveling? Do you have a maximum price you are able to spend on your solar system? Are you going to depend entirely on solar power? Will there be a back up plan for power?

Food for thought. Will you be shopping for food often? If you need to keep food cold or frozen you will need a place to store such items. A refrigerator is most likely an item you want in your van. Refrigerators draw a lot of power. The option of a smaller 12 volt refrigerator is your best choice. The 12v systems can keep your items cold or even frozen. Having a small refrigerator can let you stay away from civilization longer.

This unit is a refrigerator freezer. Available on Amazon

The unit above is calculated at 45 watts of power. The motor only kicks on when the temperature falls below your settings. We find it a perfect unit for our needs and solar system size.

There are other options for cooling your food. We recommend one like this cooler style refrigerator. Cold air sinks. With the units that have a door on the front tend to loose the cold air faster. This makes your unit turn on more often. In turn this uses more power and is less efficient.

Here are some other refrigerators we recommend:

Dometic CRX-65 75500.000.21 12/24 Volt DC Compressor Black Refrigerator and Freezer

Norcold Nr740Bb Dc Refrigerator 1.7 Cu Ft, 20-1/2″ x 18-1/2″ x 21-1/16″, Black

Dometic CD-50 (DC only) Drawer Refrigerator 47-Liter Capacity and Removable Freezer

Other power items we use are water pumps, water heaters, USB ports, lights, heaters, cooling systems and fans. All of these items can be found with 12 volt power options.

The items require a draw off of your batteries. The wattage they use must be added up to find out what amperage you will need for your system. After you come to that number you must choose your batteries. Lithium batteries or sealed gel batteries? What will your budget allow? We personally have sealed gel batteries in our Wicked Cool Van. We suggest to our clients to go with the lithium from the start if your budget allows.

Battle Born LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery – 100Ah 12v with Built-in BMS – 3000-5000 Deep Cycle Rechargeable Battery – Perfect for RV/Camper, Marine, Overland/Van, and Off Grid Applications

Three Lithium Battery Bank

After you find your wattage needs you will be able to pick your solar panels. We like the Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel, Compact Design 42.2 X 19.6 X 1.38 in, High Efficiency Module PV Power for Battery Charging Boat, Caravan, RV and Any Other Off Grid Applications we have four on our van.

Size of the panels and your roof top application can determine how many you can fit. We have four 100w panels on our van. More could fit if we needed extra charging power. The Renogy panels are a good size for multiple configurations.

Renogy Rover 40 Amp 12V/24V DC Input MPPT Solar Charge Controller Auto Parameter Adjustable LCD Display Solar Panel Regulator fit for Gel Sealed Flooded and Lithium Battery is needed to connect your solar panels to your batteries and other equipment.

Renogy 3000W 12V Pure Sine Wave Inverter 3000 Watt Solar Power Battery Converter 12VDC to 120Vac ETL Listed is needed if you intend on using items that require a 120v plug. The inverter allows your solar to power most any lower wattage plug in items. If you intend to charge a computer, plug in a cooktop or run a water heater an inverter is needed.

Multiple breakers and fuses are needed in any system. This allows the proper amount of energy through your cables. If the cable is overloaded the breakers or fuses with break/stop. Helping your system perform in a safe manner.

Blue Sea Systems ST Blade ATO/ATC Fuse Blocks

T Tocas 100 Amp Circuit Breaker with Manual Reset, 12V- 48VDC, Waterproof (100A)

Above are a few we use. The sizes and how many you need depends on your particular system.

Other items you will need on hand to make connections

Glarks 300pcs 22-16 16-14 12-10 Gauge Nylon Fully Insulated Male/Female Spade Quick Splice Wire Disconnect Electrical Insulated Crimp Terminals Connectors Assortment Kit

Wire Lugs Ring Terminal Connectors AWG8-2 Ends Heavy Duty for Battery Cable Lug tinned Copper Tubular Wire Electrical Eyelets Terminal 12Size 120PCS with 3:1 Dual Wall Adhesive Heat Shrink

Hammer Battery Lug Crimping Tool for 8, 6, 4, 2, 1/0, 2/0 American Wire Gauge (AWG) Wire and Cable

100FT 14 Gauge 2pin 2 Color Red Black Cable Hookup Electrical Wire LED Strips Extension Wire 12V/24V DC Cable, 14AWG Flexible Wire Extension Cord for LED Ribbon Lamp Tape Lighting

4 Gauge 4 AWG 25 Feet Red + 25 Feet Black (50 Feet Total) Welding Battery Pure Copper Flexible Cable Wire – Car, Inverter, RV, Solar by WindyNation

ALOVECO LED RV Lights, 12V Led Lights Dimmable Camper Interior Lights 3000K Ultra-Thin RV Lights Interior Waterproof 12 Volt LED Ceiling Lights Motorhome Sailboat Yacht Case of 8 Packs

Ulincos Touch Switch UT19T1 Stepless Dimming Switch DC 6V to 24V Blue LED Suitable for 19mm 3/4″ Mounting Hole

HBOX Solar Panel Connector Y Branch Connector 1 to 4 Solar Connector Solar Cable Combiner – 1 Male to 4 Female(M/4F) and 1 Female to 4 Male(F/4M) Solar Panel Cables and Connectors (1 Pair 1Y4)

BEP Battery Switches

Quick Charge 3.0 Cigarette Lighter Outlet Splitter, 12V USB Charger Waterproof Power Socket Adapter DIY Kit with Blue LED Dual USB Ports for Rocker Switch Panel on Car Boat Marine RV, etc

Link Solar Weatherproof ABS Solar Double Cable Entry Gland for All Cable Types 2mm² to 6mm² for Solar Project on Rv, Campervan, Boat

Titan 11477 Ratcheting Wire Terminal Crimper Tool for Insulated Terminals, Fixed Jaw Crimper

If you are going to add a 30amp service to your electrical here are the item we suggest:

3-Bank, 30-Amp (10-Amp Per Bank) Fully-Automatic Smart Marine Charger, 12V Onboard Battery Charger, Battery Maintainer and Battery Desulfator with Temperature Compensation for lithium batteries

ProMariner 44020 ProSportHD Series Battery Charger – 20 Amp for agm batteries

10/3 AWG Triplex AC Marine Wire – Tinned Copper Boat Cable – Made in The USA the size wire will depend on what you will be hooking up

Custom Cable Connection 16/3 SOOW 16 AWG 3 Conductor 600 Volt Portable Power Cable – 50 Foot Roll in a Bag

Leisure RV 125V 30 AMP Power Plug Twist Lock Inlet with 3 Stainless Steel Pins, White

Square D by Schneider Electric QO2L30SCP QO 30 Amp 2-Space 2-Circuit Indoor Main Lug Load Center

15-Amp 1-Pole Plug-On Circuit Breaker

20-Amp 1-Pole Plug Circuit Breaker,

30 amp female locking connector with LED Power Indicator

You can choose a few different sources for back up power. The most popular is a generator. This option can be less convent. Generators tend to be noisy and not always welcome. Champion 4000-Watt RV Ready DH Series Open Frame Inverter with Quiet Technology large size one like this. To smaller options – 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator w/Fuel Shut Off, CARB Compliant, Ultra Lightweight

We find staying parked in the sun gives us enough power for our needs. This way we are only drawing excess overnight from our batteries. Recharging again in the morning.

The links provided in this post will help you build your system. Links will bring you to our affiliate program. You many need more or less of our suggestions. If you would like Wicked Cool Vans to build your solar system send us an email

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Maine Lobster

Maine, the way life should be. True statement. Visit and explore. Beauty where ever your day takes you. From sea to mountains to the wonderful lakes. You could explore for years and never see the same thing twice.

One of Maines beautiful lighthouses

The coastline of Maine is something that never gets old. You are able to find quiet places just to soak up the view. Mainers are friendly outgoing folks. Be prepared to have a conversation with complete strangers passing by.

Don’t forget to get some tasty seafood. Our lunch this day came from the cutest ocean side restaurant. The best seafood we have had in a long time.

Lake side is defiantly a breath of fresh air. More than 6000 lakes located in Maine you are sure to find a favorite. We personally live near Lake George. Lake George in Canaan Maine consist of 335 acres. With its tranquil surroundings you can swim, boat, fish or just lounge at the beach. Perfect place for a picnic. Lake George provides year round enjoyment.

Spend your day driving through the mountains with million dollar views. It is truly breathtaking at times. Tranquil places to stop on your journey. Just pull off the road. Many road side spaces available along your way and take that beautiful photo. Make memories that will fill your dreams.

Continue to follow our blog for more great places we visit in Maine. Stop by our online boutique at

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Holes in Your Van

You just brought your new van home. The first thing in a build is to put holes in your new van for windows, vents, air conditioners, heaters any outer device you are planing in your build. This requires cutting a big ole hole in your new van. A scary thing. No turning back now.

Hole in a new van for our clients Fresair cooling machine.

Most items you will be installing will have a template. The key is to make sue where you are cutting does not have any structural beams in the place you would like your new product. At times you may have to place the new item in a different place. Research is important. Reading the description and measure for placement ahead of time to make sure your vision can be accomplished. The reason why these items must be installed first.

No template with this window.

You have to be prepared for the item to come without a template. The cardboard box it came in will work. Read the instructions and watch a video on installation. This way you can get tips on what not to do. A lot of videos will share their mistakes. That way you don’t make the same ones. One thing we always do is make a practice cut from our template. We will take a piece of scrap wood. Trace out our template on it. Make the cut. Fit the item in the cut hole to make sure your template is spot on.

We make sure the area is clean and free of any debris. Check you are not placing it where you will interfere with a structural component. Measure many times. You will want to make sure you are placing the hole level and even. Draw your outline. Step away. Make sure it looks right. Take some final measurements. After the outline we always place tape on the outer side of our outline. This helps prevent your tool from making scrapes on outside of your cut.

Make sure you have a new blade for your saw. This will insure a clean cut. After the cut you will need to file the edges and paint with primer. This helps avoid rust from exposed metal.

Metal Primer then paint will help prevent rust.

After the paint dries dry fit your item. If all looks good you can start your placement. Butyl seal tape on the edge of the item before we do the final screw in. Here is a link to some on Amazon the butyl seal tape is a great thing to have on hand for your build. If it is an item on your roof you will want lap sealant on hand as well. Here is the lap sealant we recommend. The final step is to secure your item into place. Make sure you are plumb and level. It wasn’t that bad was it?

Here is a list of item I would have on hand for putting holes in your van:

Jig Saw make sure you have new blades

Butyl Seal Tape

Lap sealant if its on your roof

Paint Tape

Sharp Marker

Metal File

Primer Paint

Metal Paint

Tape Measure

Rubbing Alcohol

Emails are welcome if your have any further questions check out other blogs at you will find more pictures and videos at

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It’s a dogs life

Miss Tessa our Bullmastiff. She is five and full of spunk. In fact the day this picture was taken she decided to get into it with a porcupine. Which left us spending all night at an emergency vet to get her de-quilled. Lesson learned, don’t let her explore in the woods on our walks.

We have five big dogs. Three Bullmastiffs and two Boxers. Never ending love in our house. They all love to go camping or just for a ride. As soon as they hear the engine start they are ready and waiting. Most think we are crazy but we disagree. Well maybe a little crazy. Both breeds are full of love and loyalty.

We try to always take them with us. Sometimes we just take one or two. It is important to us to try and give them each one on one time. We get someone to stay at our house. It is always someone we know and are familiar to the the dogs.

A van fits right in with our lifestyle. What else can you fit this crew in? The van is perfect. Not that they need a lot of room. Definitely lovers.

Do you travel with animals? There is no way we could just check into a hotel. Having a Wicked Cool Van or our RV makes it like we never left home. Living the dream. Wicked Cool Vans keeps us close to home lately. Every spare moment we get we hit the road. With the entire crew.

If you want to see more pictures about our babies check out

Thanks for reading today’s blog. Enjoy your weekend. Continue to follow us

If you are looking for the perfect pet bed for travel we love taking a cot. It can be taken a part for easy storage. Perfect for when you’re stopped at a place where the ground is rocky and you want your pup to lay down and relax. Here is one we use for you to check out or check out more

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Van For Sale

For over a year we searched multiple listings of “Van For Sale”. We entertained buying new from our local dealership. Russell works for an automotive dealership. He works for Chevrolet GMC his company owns a Dodge and Ford store. Chevrolet/GMC’s were out. They do not make a high roof model. We needed to be able to stand up inside. His Dodge dealership had one in stock it was a gas engine and not the extended model. The Ford shop had high roofs in stock with the shorter wheel base. Ordering new was a possibility, the wait time was long. We decided to continue our journey for a used, new to us Van.

Never ending road

The road seemed never ending. We really wanted a diesel engine. With plans on traveling a lot. We really wanted the diesel. We are getting great miles per gallon.

The high roof was at the top of my list. I wasn’t going to budge on this one. We entertained all manufacturers. Mercedes was my favorite with the longest wheel base. We almost pulled the trigger on a couple of them.

I was going to hold firm on a high roof, extended wheel base with a diesel engine. Thinking a used van with a diesel engine can have higher miles. Buying used is always a risk. Russell is not a mechanic. We did not want something we would spend money to keep it running. All vehicles needs regular maintenance and upkeep. We just wanted to be able to focus on spending on the build.

We ended up with the 2016 3500 Ram Promaster extended. I have to admit I was in love from day one. The drive was three hours to get her. We did our research to get her history. She was not perfect. I mean if you think you will find a used cargo van in perfect condition, think twice. Just a reality.

The day she came home.

This is where it all started.

Our first Wicked Cool Van. It would be great to say done, we are always adding something. It will be that way with most vans.

Our current Wicked Cool Vans client changed things up a bit. Sometimes you just need to see it. Decide if it was what you thought. Change or add to it. Spending time in a small space you need to be comfortable.

Wicked Cool Vans current build

We decided to build Wicked Cool Vans #1 with a loft bed. We have pets and wanted it pet friendly. If we travel without our fur babies or use it for business that area is full of our stuff. I feel it was a good choice for our needs. We spend most of our time outside. Being able to just reach in slide out the fridge, grab a cold one is a game changer.

Slide out fridge easy access from in or out of the van.

These coolers should have lots of breathing room. Circulation is the key to keeping it running for a long time. It can be used as a refrigerator, half refrigerator half freezer or a freezer. These are great options. Here is the link to check it out on amazon

No mater where we go people want to check it out. We are proud to show it off. Now we can just jump in and go, anywhere.

Here she is finished….

Wicked Cool Vans Maine

Thanks again for taking time to read our blog. We are happy to share our journey.

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Baby it’s cold outside

Embrace the cold or drive to the warm weather?
A fresh coat of snow

Good morning in Maine with a fresh coat of snow. Freezing temps compared to toasty warm. Both have pros and cons in van life. Personally we can not wait until the day we can follow perfect warm climate. For now we find the best way to endure winters in New England.

We are able to keep warm with our Diesel Heater. Click this link to get yours

You can install yourself or hire Wicked Cool Vans to do the job. You will find many DIY videos on Youtube. If you have some tools, time and a bit of patience you can do it yourself. You must feel comfortable putting holes in your van and be able to crawl under the van. It is defiantly a two person job. It can be done alone but we would suggest a partner to complete the job.

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What to pack for your next trip. In a van every inch counts. Why bring clothes you will not need. We pack based on how often we will need to do the laundry. Doing laundry takes time away from our site seeing. Doing laundry can be an adventure. We like to find a laundry mat near something exciting. Maybe a restaurant or close to a supermarket. This way we can kill two tasks with one stone. Grab a snack while it is washing then pick up some needed supplies while it drys.

Shopping while you do your laundry

Even if we make doing laundry fun its something we don’t want to do often. We find using packing cubes helpful. They let us bring along more clothing. It also helps with organizing. We keep one larger one for the dirty clothes.

hanging packing cubes a great way to store your clothing

We installed bars on both sides of the bed to hang the packing cubes. The bars are from IKEA. They are meant to store kitchen items. In van life you look for creative ways to make use of the small spaces.

We also use the cubby above the drivers seat. This makes a great space for your extra blankets and clothing cubes. In our van we only have overhead cabinets above the sink. We find no need for ones over the bed. This gives us a more open feel.

See the perfect place for our packing cubes full of our clothing

Thanks for following our blog. Like our blog at the bottom, find us on facebook and instagram. Have a fantastic day!

Our favorite packing cubes on amazon – Gonex Compression Packing Cubes, 4pcs Expandable Storage Travel Luggage Bags Organizers

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2016 Ram Promaster

Our current finished van is the 2016 Ram Promaster. It is the 159 wheelbase extended. This size is perfect for a van lived in full-time or even if you are a weekend warrior. The interior size gives enough room for all your necessities. The outside length can fit in a parking space with just a tad poking out. We find parking at the back of a parking lot, pulling in moving as far forward to the front spot works perfect. Be ready for lots of envious looks. Van life is a huge idea right now. Everyone wants to inquire or check it out. This is where our name came from. Living in New England people would approach and state Wicked Cool Van. It stuck with us now all vans we build will be part of our Wicked Cool Vans company.