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$16K Off-Grid Van Conversion: Uma by The Secret Van Man in the UK


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UPDATE: Uma is sold. Today, we’re introducing you to “The Secret Van Man,” a camper conversion business in the United Kingdom that’s creating gorgeous vans. Like many conversion companies, this one started with a personal passion project — a 2020 van conversion that went right!

Below, Joseph shares his story about getting into van life and then into professional van-building, and the pictures are of his latest creation — the Uma! This campervan may be compact, but it’s bursting with features so one can live the road. The asking price? £12,995, which translates to about $16,414. Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Meet Uma & “The Secret Van Man”

Uma Off Grid Campervan 6

Images via Quirky Campers

Our journey started in 2020 when a trip to Central America fell through. With the day job quit & foreign travel out the window, we bought an ex council Vauxhall Movano minibus. With the vision of my partner, Mandeep, and a helping hand from my old man Les, a passion project was born.

Uma Off Grid Campervan

Images via Quirky Campers

We hand-build all of the units in every one of our campers. The upholstery is done by a small local business & the electrics by a childhood friend whose now a professional auto electrician. Each van build takes us roughly a month — that’s full-time 5 days a week work!

Uma Off Grid Campervan 5

Images via Quirky Campers

We don’t live permanently on the road quite yet (though we get away as much as we can!). Mandeep still works for the NHS whilst I’m lucky enough to build vans full-time.

Uma Off Grid Campervan 7

Images via Quirky Campers

Having a campervan has absolutely transformed our lives. I recommend it to everyone.

Uma Off Grid Campervan 4

Images via Quirky Campers

The hardest part of living in a van is keeping it tidy with a puppy on board! But we love the freedom to finish work & head straight off to a country pub…without having to worry about driving home that evening.

Uma Off Grid Campervan 3

Images via Quirky Campers

Details for this Van:

Uma is a beautiful new campervan with off grid capabilities. She is 4.8m long, easy to park and is economical to drive. We have recently performed a full conversion of her in order to take her from a working minibus to a mini home on wheels. This includes a new compressor fridge, elegant colour theme throughout, new flooring and kitchen unit with stunning sink for a fresh and cosy new look. Behind all that is a full layer of insulation & sound deadening. All her windows have been tinted for privacy. She also has a split charge relay powered leisure battery so you really can go off on the adventures of your dreams without having to plan around power.

The interior design is one of our bespoke campervan colour themes that really stands out from the crowd. There’ll be no grey carpet & dark plastic units here! We also know how important it is that we maximise the use of space. The fridge unit encompasses a good size pantry section, whilst there is plenty of easy to use storage running the length of the sofa. A simple pull out system is in place to create the double bed. The kitchen unit with two cupboards completes the storage options. You can also fit a portaloo in her storage units if required.

The kitchen has over 1m of usable worktop, perfect for a portable stove or for doing your make up in the morning! In addition the sink & hand pump tap provide running water, which is housed underneath one end of the unit in two 10L containers. We like to use 10 litre containers which can be filled up anywhere including fountains, streams, fuel stations etc. Sometimes it can be tricky to fill up permanently fitted tanks if there isn’t a hose which is why we went for easily removable jerry cans.

Electrics wise a split charge relay provides power to the leisure battery. Running from this are two USB charging ports, LED lights & an 18 litre fridge. All the electrics are installed by a professional auto technician.

If you are interested in Uma and would like more information please contact us, we are happy to help with any questions you may have.

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.

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