Make Your Own Camper From a Chevy Suburban

Make your own Camper from a Chevy Suburban, or any other SUV vehicle.   Many of these SUV’s  have enough room, and if yours in paid off even better.  Converting a Surburban into a Camper saves time and money and allows you to go places where many RV’s can’t go.   If you like camping, converting an existing vehicle might be the perfect solution for you.  It was for me!

turning a Suburban into a Camper

Transforming your Suburban or SUV into a camper allows you to go exploring without having to tow a trailer, or spend a fortune on gas driving a large RV or motorhome.  You can also go down roads the RV might not be able to, all the while having the basic amenities for comfort.  Another perk is Van Dwellers don’t have to worry about being stealth as these vehicles fit right in, everywhere.



Batteries and Inverter For Conversion Camper

A small refrigerator is so much better than an ice chest, but how do you keep it running, and keep your food cold?  A powerful inverter, and deep cell batteries is the key.

Inverter to power small r efridgerator and microwave

Having a small refrigerator and a microwave really makes a difference when Van Dwelling,  or just camping.  This one was picked up for under $200 and has a small freezer.  One tip is that if you get one of these, the microwave will interfere with your ability to see out the window, or behind you.  I ended up swapping this one for a smaller one to fit my needs better.  It all depends on your needs. 

The microwave is tied down.  You do need to take the glass plate out of it when traveling as it tends to rattle and could break.  Also, you need to be level for the microwave to work, and unplug the refrigerator when you want to use it.  This is just an 800 watt in order to have less drain on the batteries.


Batteries and Inverter Suburban Conversion Be careful what kind of batteries you buy.  It is illegal to have certain kinds of batteries in a closed vehicle due to health risks.  Golf Cart, or Marine batteries work just fine and are the kind you want for inside. You want the deep cell as they will withstand being recharged over and over.

You  want to make sure nothing touches the positive or negative terminals.  For my Suburban Camper conversion I  put the batteries behind the drivers seat on a small platform. The batteries are wired to the alternator.

 Get a strong enough inverter that has a higher surge, and at least 2000 watts. The inverter was  placed over the cup holder on the  back of the console. Everything was secured so they wouldn’t move, including a microwave. Unplugging the refrigerator gives you enough power for the microwave, and unplugging at night  prevents draining the batteries.



insulating refridgerator in camper


One thing I added was an insulated wrap to the rear of the fridge so any heat coming in the window wouldn’t make the fridge work harder. The insulation also helps it stay cold at night when unplugged,  also saving the batteries.  Make sure you keep the vents and the bottom part clear so it has proper ventilation.




How Do You Take a Shower and Use the Toilet?

Taking a shower, or using the bathroom is  one of the most asked question of those that live or camp in a car or conversion.  It’s totally doable, and there are many different options, depending on how you set up your conversion. Because I left the one small seat in the middle I have room between the fridge and the seat for a porta potty.  There is also room on the side of the fridge to store it, then just move it when you need to use it.   The toilet I picked was a Thetford 260B.  This is one of the smaller portable toilets, but it has a  holding tank, with a handle, that you can carry and dump.  The other benefit is it fits in a small space.  I only really use mine for emergencies as there are many options for bathrooms when traveling.

Showering is different and can be done a few different ways.  One is with a bucket of water and a piece of plastic on the floor.  My choice though is the Coleman 5 Gallon Portable Solar Shower that I hang onto the roof rack.  The nice thing though is many campgrounds have showers, and my solar shower works well for those times when I’m too far from a campground, but it’s also good for washing dishes, hands, etc. You could buy a popup shower enclosure also.  Gyms and the YMCA also offer shower solutions if you weren’t actually camping.  Think outside the box, there are solutions to most of the problems a converted camper or a Van might cause.  In my case it all worked out

More Tips to Converting a  Suburban

Once you have made a few trips in your new conversion you will find things that you might want to change.  My first trip I had cut out insulated panels for all the windows.  Putting these up at night became more of a chore than I wanted.  Another thing I learned was the little refrigerator with the freezer blocked anyone riding with me from seeing out the window.  For my lifestyle this wasn’t an ideal situation. 

Here are a few tips I learned and that helped make my camping experience better.

  • Tint the side and back windows- if you don’t use a light, no one can see in at night. It also helps if you want to sleep during the day, use the porta pot, or change clothes.  Another benefit is it helps keep a lot of the heat out.


1 reply
  1. Jay
    Jay says:

    Great read! I converted a 97 Tahoe into an urban camper which I’ve stayed in for 2 years now. I haven’t seen many Tahoe/Suburban conversions so when I do see one it’s pretty cool. Eventually I’ll buy a van for more room, but I’ll be rolling this till the wheels fall off. (203k) peace!


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