Does interior roof height make a difference?
Conversion vans are versatile vehicles that make great family or passenger vans as well as travel or recreational vehicles. Vans can often be modified depending on their intended use, including the height of the roof.
Conversion Van Types
The main types of conversion vans are:
- Low tops
- High tops
- Camper vans
- Handicap accessible vans
- Cargo/office vans
- Passenger/shuttle vans
Most vans can be modified for specific purposes. For example, office vans are often be customized to offer all the benefits of an office, complete with a desk and multiple outlets for computers and electronics.
One of the most common modifications is the roof or ceiling height — better known as “low top” and “high top.” Continue reading to learn more about differences between these two style options.
Low top conversion vans keep the factory-made roof of the original van. Due to this fact, they tend to be more aerodynamic and easier to drive in bad weather conditions. These vans were less popular during the 1980s and 1990s due to people wanting to include entertainment equipment and more interior space. Back then, such equipment was large and bulky, and low top vans simply didn’t provide enough room.
Nowadays, however, technology is much more compact and slim, which makes a low top van just as accommodating. Low top vans are usually around 82 inches (6 ft. 8 in.) in height, but can be as high as 90 (7½ ft.). Because of their standard factory height, they can normally fit into regular garages without any problems.
- Better aerodynamics and fuel efficiency
- Fits in most normal-sized garages and parking garages
- Easier to handle in bad weather conditions, such as high wind
- Occupants over five feet will not be able to stand up in the van
- Less overall interior room than high tops
High top conversion vans have had the original roof cut away in places, then replaced with a fiberglass roof to give the van increased height. This modification creates more interior room in the van, which allows most passengers to stand up as they move around inside. High tops are generally more popular than low tops due to their versatility and increased space. These vans are most often used as disability vans, camper vans, and office vans.
To maintain the structure of the van, the front and rear sections of the roof are usually left intact. Inside, these lower sections usually serve as an area for shelves, lights, and entertainment components. Older high tops often mounted TVs in these parts.
Vintage high top vans weren’t much higher than the original roof. They were usually raised from the driver’s side, and skylights were added. However, these roofs occasionally had issues with leaking and undesired light. More modern high tops rise in a gentle slope with a steep center. The middle area has an internal antenna and ample space for larger TVs. High tops usually stand somewhere between 94 (nearly 8 ft.) and 101 inches (8½ ft.) tall.
- More interior room
- The ability for most occupants to stand
- Anyone using a wheelchair won’t have to duck upon entering
- More options for including entertainment systems
- Can be harder to maneuver, especially in windy weather
- You may encounter clearances that are too low for the van to fit (rare)
- Reduced aerodynamics means less fuel efficiency
Which Roof Height is Best For You?
When it comes to deciding which style of van you like better, it ultimately depends on your personal preferences and needs.
If you want the most luxurious van with the most interior space, then a high top van is likely to better fit. Also, if you or a loved one are mobility impaired, or are traveling with someone who is, then a high top van is likely the better choice. However, if standing up inside isn’t a concern, or you don’t need the increased interior space, then the more efficient and practical performance of a low top van might be your best choice.