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The first thing to note regarding van size is that it's not unusual for Movers to sometimes use a larger van than what may seem necessary, for any particular move.
The reason for this is simply down to van availability and also because some Movers just prefer to operate a uniform fleet of certain sized vehicles such as the popular Luton van with tail-lift, because they know it will handle 90% of all man and van removals regardless of whether they are big or small.
In addition most Movers also maintain a couple of larger vehicles, such as the 7.5 tonne Luton lorry, to carry out full house and office removals. Either way, whichever van your particular removalist chooses to use on the day it makes no difference to the rate you have already agreed.
Not sure what size moving company you need? Check our quick Man and Van vs Big Movers guide!
The main thing is the removal van should be at least big enough to comfortably take all of your goods, So always try to ensure you provide a reasonably accurate list of your belongings when completing the quote request form.
The number of boxes and personal goods are always going to be a bit of an estimate until you're fully packed so don't worry about getting the exact number of those right. It's more about how many people are moving and listing any big stuff like sofas, beds and any other bulky items of furniture or white goods.
Also try to provide other useful information such as ease of vehicle access and the parking situation, to make sure you are allocated a removal van that is a suitable size and will ideally do the job in one go.
The Four Different Van Sizes Most Commonly Used
Although there are of course many types and makes of commercial vans, in general our Movers - and most others - use four standard sizes to carry out most of the work.
These are the proven reliable workhorses of the London removals world and will shift pretty much anything from a single room in a flatshare to a fully furnished house - and yes folks, they are almost always in white!
*Important* - Dimensions between different van makes and models do vary, so always check directly with your Mover in advance if access to your property has
either a vehicle height or width restriction, or if any item that you need moving is unusually large or irregular in size.
Medium Wheel Base (MWB) Transit and Sprinter Van
The two different makes and models of medium wheelbase (MWB) vans most commonly used for small moves are the Ford Transit and the Mercedes Sprinter. These are standard panel vans that are either fitted with a normal or high roof, and the interior is usually ply lined to facilitate easy loading.
Medium Wheel Base (MWB) - approximate dimensions
- Overall dimensions - Length 5.3m / Height 2.1 to 2.6m / Width 2.3m (inc. mirrors)
- Loading dimensions - Length 2.9m / Height 1.8 to 2.3m / Width 1.6m
- Loading capacity - 8 to 10.4 cubic metres
How much stuff can I fit in a medium Transit van?
Medium wheel base Sprinter and Transit vans are ideal for small moves and can generally take one or two people's personal belongings of up to 30 to 40 assorted moving boxes, or a single large item of furniture such as a sofa or bed.
Long Wheel Base (LWB) Transit and Sprinter Van
Long wheelbase (LWB) vans are also available with either a low or high roof, and are often referred to as Jumbo Transits or Jumbo Sprinters. As with their smaller MWB counterparts, the exact dimensions and loading capacities vary between different makes and models so always check with your Mover if you need specific details.
Long Wheel Base (LWB) - approximate dimensions
- Overall dimensions - Length 6.9m / Height 2.4 to 2.7m / Width 2.4m (inc. mirrors)
- Loading dimensions - Length 4.3m / Height 1.9 to 2.3m / Width 1.8m
- Loading capacity - 12 to 14 cubic metres
How much can you fit in a LWB Transit?
Long wheelbase vans such as the Transit and Sprinter are ideal for moving one or two people from a flat with a small amount of furniture and white goods, or for several items of furniture alone such as a three seat sofa, double bed, armchair and chest of drawers.
3.5 Tonne Luton Van - with tail lift
The 'Luton' is probably the most widely used removal van in London, and is named after the Bedfordshire town where the old Bedford Lorries were produced. Although it actually has less of a payload limit than most large Transit vans, it is a favourite with Movers because the rear loading area is a perfect box shape with no awkward wheel arches getting in the way making it ideal for home removals and delivery work.
3.5 Tonne Luton - approximate dimensions
- Overall dimensions - Length 6.7m / Height 3.3m / Width 2.3m (inc. mirrors)
- Loading dimensions - Length 3.9m / Height 2.2m / Width 2m
- Loading capacity - 15.1 cubic metres
How much will fit in a Luton van?
The 3.5 tonne Luton van with tail lift is ideal for moving a two bedroom flat or small house with up top 40 boxes of personal belongings, dining table and chairs, two and three seat sofas, two double beds, wardrobes, chest of drawers and all kitchen white goods.
7.5 Tonne Luton Lorry - with tail lift
The 7.5 Tonne Luton Lorry is the biggest vehicle used by most man with van Movers, and is the perfect size for large removals while still being compact enough to access most London streets without too much of a problem.
7.5 Tonne Luton Lorry - approx dimensions
- Overall dimensions - Length 8.3m / Height 3.5m / Width 2.5m (inc. mirrors)
- Loading dimensions - Length 6.1m / Height 2.4m / Width 2.3m
- Loading capacity - 26.3 cubic metres
How much can you get in a 7.5 tonne Luton lorry?
The 7.5 tonne Luton Lorry is suitable for three bedroom house removals, consisting of approximately 40 to 50 boxes of personal belongings, three to four beds, two to three sofas, dining table and chairs, two double and two single wardrobes and all kitchen appliances.
If you are moving from a four or five bedroom property upwards you may need to hire an extra vehicle in addition, or depending on your budget you could look to see what one of the traditionally big removal companies can offer. See our quick Man & Van vs Big Removers guide.
Loading and Unloading
Now this is where any self respecting Mover will really demonstrate why hiring the experienced removal man (or men) to go with the van, rather than just trying to do it yourself, is by far the better choice.
A competent and professional Mover upon arrival at your property will, just by glancing a seasoned eye over your stuff, quickly calculate in his head exactly how it will all fit nice and safely into the back of the van, what needs to go in first, what may need a bit of extra bubble wrap or blanket protection, what can be left to the very last minute to avoid unnecessary risk of damage, and all the other little considerations experience at the removals coal face has taught him. And then set about loading up like a well oiled machine on a mission.
That is what Movers do, they could probably do it blind folded, in the dark while it's raining, and they will usually do it in about a tenth of the time that a non experienced Mover would. In fact the most frequent words a Mover hears during their working day is "I can't believe how quickly you loaded up" closely followed by "that was a lot less painful than I thought it would be".
Music to the ears of any proud Mover, and when you consider the cost of hiring a professional Mover is often less than just hiring a van by itself and definitely much less hassle (see below) it really does make much more sense to do so.
Seating and traveling in the van
Where possible most of our Movers prefer that the customer travels in the van with their belongings as this guarantees that you all arrive at the same time at the new property, and there won't be any unexpected or long delays before they can start unloading the van.
Having said that, it does depend on the type of van being used and how many helpers you have hired as to whether there may be an extra available seat or two. Obviously if it's a small man and van move with just the working driver, then you would normally travel as a passenger in the van.
In certain cases though where passenger seats are taken by any extra helpers you have hired it may be necessary for customers to make their own way to the new property. It's something that can be discussed with your Mover in advance and they will advise on the passenger seating availability.
Each removal van comes fitted with a Sat-Nav as you would expect and is further equipped with a variety of different moving accessories and furniture removal supplies to be used as and when the appropriate situation arises.
The type of handling equipment found in most removal vans and lorries normally includes simple removal blankets used to prevent damage to delicate pieces of furniture, antiques and other items that require added protection.
Removal webbing ties and van straps (made from extra strong Herringbone cotton) which are used to secure furniture and other large items whilst in transit.
A furniture 'dolly' which is essentially a flat platform on four wheels and can be used to assist with maneuvering very heavy items. There are also other specialist removal dollies such as a piano dolly or appliance dolly which may be used as the need arises.
Sack trucks, sack barrows and hand carts which can all be used to transport several boxes at a time along flat lengthy corridors, and are particularly useful for office removals involving multiple crates.
A large roll of bubble-wrap is often stored in the van, although it's advisable to bubble-wrap your own delicate items before the Movers arrive to save time and just in case they've run out!
Some of the large removal lorries also carry specialist hydraulic lifting equipment, it just depends on the nature of the move required and what each Mover has access to.
Although some vans carry spare boxes, unless otherwise agreed with your Mover or if you have opted for a complete packing service, you really need to arrange the purchase of your own packaging well in advance of your moving date and ensure you are ready for when the Movers arrive.
Mover's Tip: If you are going to be helping with the move (i.e. you've just hired a single man and van) then get yourself a pair of work gloves in advance. Yes, most Movers do wear gloves because it helps with grip, avoids minor cuts (important when you do this every day), and generally just makes lifting and carrying a whole lot easier.
The two most important types of commercial van insurance cover that you will hear mentioned in relation to removal van hire is 'Hire and Reward' insurance and 'Goods in Transit' insurance.
'Hire and Reward' Insurance
The first one 'Hire and Reward' is the insurance that covers the actual vehicle and is a legal requirement for any van being used to carry out removals work and the transport of goods for monetary reward.
This particular type of cover is expensive but an absolute necessity for any professional removal company to comply with the law. And it's one important reason why very cheap removals quotes should often be treated with caution as the vans may not be properly insured.
'Goods in Transit' Insurance
The second type of insurance most commonly referred to by removal firms and other businesses that make a living providing transportation services is 'Goods in Transit' insurance. This covers the cost of goods and property while it is being moved or is in storage.
Although many Movers have 'Goods in Transit' coverage as standard they are not legally required to do so, and it's really purchased as an almost complimentary insurance on behalf of their customers.
Whilst vehicle policies by themselves can sometimes include coverage of up to a certain amount of the value of the contents contained within the vehicle, the onus to provide any potentially enhanced cover for the value of the goods being transported is actually on the customer.
As mentioned, some Movers already take out this cover on behalf of their customers whilst others prefer to offer customers the option to purchase short term or temporary 'Goods in Transit' insurance for their move if they wish.
Goods in Transit insurance will usually cover the cost of the goods being moved up to a maximum of around £10,000 (depending on the policy). In certain cases, such as moving expensive artwork or valuable antiques, it may be prudent to check the specifics of any coverage, while for other more standard jobs it is usually less of an issue.
It really depends on the nature and value of what is being moved, what your particular requirements are and what the Mover's own particular policy is, so always check with them in advance as appropriate.
Other Makes and Models of Large Removal Van
Whilst the makes of vans that we have covered above are far by the most common used by our Movers and most other removal companies in London, there are obviously quite a few other makes and models of big vans that are perfectly adequate as follows:
- Citroen Relay
- Fiat Ducato
- Nissan NV400
- Peugeot Boxer
- Renault Master
- Volkswagen Crafter
- Vauxhall Movano
- Iveco Daily
Whatever the make used though, the one thing that remains constant are the four general sizes of removal vans used by our man and van Movers to carry out their work.
One of the smallest (and rarest) types of removal van you'll sometimes see moving people around in London, is the reliable Volkswagen Transporter which is excellent for small moves with little or no furniture.
It's versatile and very easy to park in tight spaces, and it's surprising how much stuff will actually fit in to one of these. The T4 and T5 models normally have at least 8ft loading length, which will comfortably accommodate an average size three seat sofa, whilst leaving plenty of room for one (or even two) person's personal belongings.
The Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter also comes in a short wheel base (SWB) model and will do a great job for small removals.
The problem with smaller vans though is if someone underestimates the amount of stuff they have - which is actually very common - it can often be a tight squeeze getting it all in, so it usually just makes more sense for most removal firms to operate with a fleet of vans that are going to be easily big enough for almost any job.
Electric Removal Vans and Eco Vans
Due to the obviously growing environmental concerns (especially with diesel engines which many commercial vans still are), it's highly likely that we'll continue to see increasing numbers of electric and eco-friendly vans with low or zero emissions appearing on the streets of London, and a few to note are:
- BD Otomotive eTraffic and eDucato
- Daimler Mercedes-Benz Vito e-Cell
- Nissan e-NV200 cargo van
- Smith Electric Smith Edison
Although most electric and zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) are still currently on the smaller side, this will no doubt change over time as advances are made in the production of such vehicles, so it's only sensible to assume the numbers of electric and eco friendly vans (and eventually removal lorries) used for moving home and deliveries will continue to expand.
Removal Van Hire
If you're considering hiring a van and moving yourself you need to weigh up whether it's worth the extra time and inconvenience compared to the man and van hire that will turn up at your door and include professional assistance with the loading and unloading. So before you start searching for 'van hire near me' let's take a look..
Van Hire - the key points
- Travel to pick up the van (from the depot or wherever it is located)
- Complete lengthy paperwork
- Pay a large deposit (which will be lost if there's even minor damage)
- Drive an unfamiliar large van on busy London roads
- Hope your mates turn up to help as they promised
- Take about 10 times longer than an experienced Mover to load the van
- After you've finished, take the van all the way back to wherever you got it from
- Make your own way home again, cursing yourself for not hiring a man and van
In addition to the above points, the cost of van hire alone is often more than hiring a professional man and van (or men with van) anyway so unless there's a very particular reason you wish to hire just the van and do all of the work there's usually no real advantage in doing so, and lots of reasons not to.
Find out more about man and van costs and why it just makes much more sense to hire an experienced removalist to help you with your move.
And that is basically it! If you've managed to read this post all the way to the end, you'll now be able to banter with the best of them when talking vans and we wish you all the best with whatever moving job you have coming up.
Visit our homepage and get quotes for your London move the easy way.