• Nate Murphy

Roman and Ioana's Solar Powered Volkswagen LT35 Conversion

Updated: Jul 4

Over the years, Volkswagen vehicles have become synonymous with adventure. So it’s no surprise that they're extremely popular in the world of van conversions. From classic Campervans to smaller Caddy’s, we’ve seen it all. But this solar-powered LT35 is like no other.

About Roman and Ioana

Roman and Ioana’s off-grid journey began in 2017. After years of dreaming about the nomadic lifestyle, the pair decided to take the plunge and start looking for a van of their own. They scheduled a full day of van tours in their home country of Switzerland, but nothing stood out to them.

On a whim whilst travelling home, Roman and Ioana decided to make a pit stop to see a 1990 Volkswagen LT35. Ideally they wanted a van that was less than 10 years old, so they didn’t have high hopes. But to their surprise, it was love at first sight.

Nicknamed ‘Leni’ after the Latvian word for ‘slow’, the 30-year-old van has a 2.4 litre, 92 horsepower diesel engine and weighs 3.5 tons.

Leni is wholly self-sufficient, and allows Roman and Ioana to live completely off-grid. They primarily tour the van around Europe, alternating between wild camping and staying in campsites. Most recently they visited Sardinia, and they noted that they loved having the ability to move to another beautiful location whenever they get bored.

Follow Roman and Ioana on Instagram: @riexploring

Follow Leni the VW on Instagram: @lenihippiebus


  • 2.4L, 92 horsepower diesel engine.

  • 3.5 tons.

  • 2 x rear reversing cameras

Kitchen and Appliances

  • Domestic 2-burner hob

  • Slide out chopping board

  • Magnetised utensil holder

  • Stainless steel sink – Before they renovated the kitchen area, their sink was a lot smaller and the struggled to wash dishes. This size is a lot more practical.

  • 100 litre fridge – More than enough capacity for the two of them.

  • Air extractor – This is a newer addition to the van. It helps to prevent the windows from steaming up when the hob is in use and minimises the smell of food.


  • 2.2 x 1.6-meter queen sized bed

  • Fixed above the seating area – One of their main priorities was having a fixed bed. This is ideal for them because they can enjoy the comfort of a queen sized bed but at the same time don’t have to compromise their seating area.


  • Natures Head composting toilet – Previously they had a chemical toilet but found it very difficult to maintain. So they opted for a composting toilet that has two separate containers: one for solids and one for liquids. They empty the liquids daily and the solids once a month. In the solids container they use coconut coir bricks to compost the waste. The toilet is designed to be air tight so no nasty smells leak out, which is ideal for motorhomes.

  • Full sized shower – Complete with water pump that sucks out excess water from the bottom of the shower.

  • Cool toned LEDs make the area feel more spacious.

Power and Electrical

  • 200Ah Lithium batteries and a 2Kw power inverter

  • 70 litre gas tank – This powers the gas stove and the gas heater. In the summertime they only have to refill the tank once, but during winter when the weather is cooler it needs to be refilled more frequently. Inside the van they also have an LPG gas alarm.

  • 460 watt solar panels on the roof – They are connected directly to the 2Kw power inverter. During the summer the panels generate enough energy for Roman and Ioana’s needs.

  • Engine alternator – When the days are shorter in winter and the solar panels don’t generate enough energy, a short drive is enough to recharge the vans battery.

Heating and Cooling

  • Remote control air vent – On hot days this helps to circulate air in the van and keep the temperature cool. Features an intelligent weather sensor that tells the vent to automatically close when rain is detected.

  • Gas heater – Even in minus 25 degree weather they didn’t have any problems.

Cabinetry and Finishes

  • Solid wood cabinets.

  • Full length storing cupboard for all of their equipment e.g scooters, pedal boards, yoga mats.

Water System

  • 100 litre water tank – This is concealed under the seat in the living area. 100 litres typically lasts around 3 to 4 days.

  • 12v heating mat fitted to the water pipes – During their first winter in the van they had trouble with the water pipes freezing. To ameliorate this, they installed a heating mat running on 12v that is controlled from inside the van.


  • Comfortably seats 4 people.

  • Fold down table allows for extra walking space when not in use.

  • Sofa bed – The main seating bench converts into a bed for when they want to accommodate guests.

  • Swivelling driver and passenger seats.

Exterior Accessories

  • Bike rack that holds two bikes

  • Lockable container for storing spare tires, water hose etc.

Special Features

  • Spirit level on the passenger door and under the dashboard – This helps to check that the van is level and not leaning.

  • Magnetised blinds – Previously they found that standard blinds would fall down in the middle of the night, so they opted for magnetised blinds that don’t need sockets.

Check out the full tour of Roman and Ioana’s van over on our YouTube. Don’t forget to subscribe while you’re there!


© 2019 Nate Murphy

Thank you for being you!