January 25, 2017 at 2:12 PM
If you want to hire or buy a van, you'll face a bewilderingly large choice of different shapes and sizes. Which van you need depends largely on the type, size and bulk of the loads you'll be carrying.
Things you need to think about
Most vans state their load capacity in cubic metres. That's relatively easy to work out if you are carrying medium sized boxes, but if you have awkwardly shaped or bulky things to carry, like ladders or furniture, you also need to think about the largest dimensions. Is the van long enough and wide enough? (Remember that in most vans the space between the rear wheel arches will be 40-50 cm tighter than the overall width.)
You also need to think about the weight that you're carrying; if you have a heavy cargo, like machinery or beer casks, you may hit the payload limits long before the van is full.
Fuel consumption for small vans ranges from 40 to 50 mpg and falls as you go up the sizes to just 20-30 mpg for a Luton van. If you only occasionally need a bigger van, it might be cost-effective to buy a smaller size and hire when you need something bigger. What you lose on hiring you'll more than make back in lower fuel costs and a cheaper purchase price.
Types of van
Small vans are quite similar in size to larger cars. They can take boxes and small items of furniture, or workmen's materials and tools, and are great vans if you need manoeuvrability and fuel economy, and don't need huge carrying capacity. They drive just like a car, so if you're not used to van driving, they're an easy step up.
Your next step up is the medium sized panel van. These have a car-size wheelbase, and the larger load compartment plus up to 50% bigger payload gives you a lot of carrying capacity. As a rough guide, you could get 30 regular cardboard boxes into the van. From this size up, you get three seats instead of two, useful if you want to carry your team with you.
Larger panel vans have a much longer wheelbase, so you'll need to get used to the need to leave more space when overtaking or manoeuvring. They're good for small house or flat moves, and at 3.4 metres long typically have over a tonne payload.
Right at the top of the tree is the Luton van. Its raised carrying compartment gives you a flat floor with no wheel arches to worry about, but it's very high off the ground so you may need a tail lift. A 3.5 tonne Luton van can handle most flat and small house moves, while a 7.5 tonne can cope with a 3-4 bed house. (However, drivers who passed the test after 1996 may not be entitled to drive a 7.5-tonne van.)