Tips & Advice

Bonded Windows vs. Caravan & Motorhome Windows

If you are thinking of converting a panel van into a motorhome or campervan, then one of the items on your list will almost certainly be windows (especially if you want to be able to re-register the van as a motor caravan with the DVLA).

If you are converting a panel van, then there are two main types of window you can choose to use:

  • Vehicle windows – usually bonded windows
  • Motorhome windows – moulded, double-glazed plastic units
This Autosleeper Topaz has bonded windows - probably VW factory fitment
This Autosleeper Topaz has bonded windows - probably VW factory fitment
Nu Venture opted for proper motorhome windows with this Rio coachbuilt motorhome
This Nu Venture Rio sports top-quality double-glazed motorhome windows with built-in blinds and flyscreens

Vehicle windows are normally single-glazed and may or may not have an opening panel for ventilation. Most current vans are designed for bonded windows – these are basically glued to the side of the vehicle, covering the window hole and providing a flush fit with the side of the vehicle.

Bonded windows look very smart but do have a number of limitations when it comes to motorhome use:

  • Single-glazed means much more condensation and poorer insulation
  • Often do not open – poor ventilation
  • Require seperate curtains and/or flyscreens
  • Can only really be fitted to metal-sided vehicles like panel vans

Motorhome windows, on the other hand, are the moulded plastic windows you see in all caravans and larger motorhomes.

They stick out slightly from the side of the van and normally open outwards, although sliding models are available. While they don’t look as smart as bonded windows, they have several major functional advantages:

  • Double-glazed – much better insulation and less condensation
  • Always open, allowing controlled ventilation
  • Many models have built in heat-reflecting blinds and flyscreens, meaning curtains are unecessary
  • Can be fitted to any type of vehicle body

In terms of cost, there is surprisingly little difference between the two types of window. Both can be fitted professionally or by a competent DIYer – although bonded windows are probably easier left to the professionals, who will have the right equipment and adhesives.

I’ve fitted motorhome windows to a panel van and it is not especially difficult – the key is to measure very carefully on both the inside and outside of the van before you start cutting! You can see my illustrated guide to fitting motorhome windows here.

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