We hesitated to install a draft beer system, but we finally installed a pressurized water system instead. Here are the main features:
- Easy to winterize, easy to rinse & drain
- Pressurized (55 PSI)
- 25 gallons fresh water tank
- Grey water is dumped in a 4 gallons Aqua-tainer
- Portable Propane Shower
TIME SPENT ON THE JOB
40 hours (this is very approximate, as we lost track of time…)
1100$ USD approx (including the Mr Heater Portable Shower)
DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click and commit to buy one of the product linked, we will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not. Buying through our affiliate links is a great way to say thanks if we were of any help in your van conversion! Alternatively, you can visit our Say Thanks! page.
- Dometic Sink VA7306 with integrated folding faucet & cover (Buy from Amazon)
- JR Products 9490-215-022 Sink Strainer (Buy from eBay)
- 25 Gallons Fresh Water Tank (Buy from Amazon)
- BoatBuckle Kwik-Lok Tie Down 2″x4′ (Buy from Amazon)
- Tie-Down “D” Ring (Buy from Amazon)
- 50 feet food-grade water hose (to fill the tank) (Buy from Amazon)
- Shurflo 4008 Revolution Water Pump 3 gallons per minute (Buy from Amazon)
- SHURflo 182-200 Pre-Pressurized Accumulator Tank (Buy from Amazon)
- JR Product ON/OFF switch (Buy from Amazon)
- Mr Heater BOSS XCW20 Portable Propane Shower (Buy from Amazon)
- Camco 37420 Flexible Camper Drain (Buy from Amazon)
- Garden Hose Quick-Connect Fitting (Buy from Amazon)
- SHURflo 234-2926 1/2″ FPT X 1/2″ Barb Straight Swivel (Quantity 2, Buy from Amazon)
- LDR 516 B1210 Braided Nylon Tubing, 1/2-Inch ID x 10-Foot, Clear (Buy from Amazon)
- Test Plug for 1-¼ diameter hole (Buy from Amazon)
- Aqua-Tainer 7 gallons (Buy from Amazon)
- Aqua-Tainer 4 gallons (Buy from Amazon)
- LA-CO Plasto-Joint Plastic-Safe Thread Sealant (Buy from Amazon)
- Exterior RV Spray Faucet (Buy from Amazon)
- Dometic Sink VA7306 Manual
- Sureflo Revolution 4008 Water Pump Manual
- Mr. Heater BOSS XCW-20 Manual
- Again, we were inspired (a lot) by Traipsing About. Check them out!
HERE IT IS!
*Disclosure: You will see a bunch of hanging electrical wires in the pictures below; these wires will be secured and protected a bit later. This is temporary as we progress…
First, we had to make some room. The tank is installed above the wheel arch:
There is a “bumper” at the forward and rear of the tank (so it stays in place in case of sudden braking) and it’s attached with a strap (for now) so it can be easily taken out of the van for draining or rinsing.
Fresh Water Tank
The tank comes with all the fittings built-in the tank: 1¼” fill hole, ½” FPT vent, ½” FPT drain or pump connection in the back and ½” FPT drain or pump connection in the front. The fittings are female-threaded, but you will have to drill them depending on which one you plan on using (hey that’s easy to do).
We upgraded the straps for heavy-duty BoatBuckle Kwik-Lok Tie Down 2″x4′ (amzn.to/2tm6KzC). They’re super strong and easy to install/remove. They are attached to Stainless Steel Tie-Down “D” Ring (amzn.to/2tbkMAe):
When the tank is full, there is noticeable “bow” on the unsupported side of the tank; we therefore added a wood support to counterbalance the bow (the straps alone won’t help). Note that the wood support must go across the entire height of the tank (from bottom to top) to be effective (otherwise the strap will flex):
Some hardware is required to connect the pump, the water tank and the faucet: high-pressure braided hose 1/2″ I.D. (http://amzn.to/2mYVt5p), ½ MPT Sureflo fittings straight with wingnut (http://amzn.to/2nulnKk) or elbow with wingnut (http://amzn.to/2nqWFtq), ½ MPT plastic fittings (http://amzn.to/2ou2oAn) and hose clamps (http://amzn.to/2nufFrT). DO NOT USE METAL FITTINGS as you will damage the (very) fragile plastic threads in the water tank.
Installation Tips for Plastic Fittings
- Do not use Teflon tape or Teflon paste! These are lubricant, not sealant, and will promote over-tightening.
- Don’t over-tighten: finger tighten plus one or two turns (because the threads are tapered, over-tightening will make the female fitting crack)
- Use plastic-safe thread sealant (not lubricant) such as LA-CO Plato-Joint (http://amzn.to/2nFhT70)
We carry a 50′ food-grade (lead free) water hose (http://amzn.to/2tbmAct) to fill the tank through the fill hole:
(we first looked for an expandable hose, but we could not find one that is lead-free)
To increase our chance of finding water while we’re on the road, we carry a neat Water Bandit. It can be fitted on almost any tap thanks to the rubber side, then a hose can be connected to it thanks to the “garden-hose-fitting” on the other side:
Following this post, many of you recommended us to get a Sillcock Key. Apparently, this tool can open water supplies of several rest areas, campgrounds, corner stores, etc. We’ll give it a try! Here is the tool:
The fill hole is plugged using a Test Plug (http://amzn.to/2nIEWj8):
The changing volume of water in the tank must be replaced with air; this is achieved through the filling vent. To prevent water spillage, we connected a 3/8″ I.D. clear hose (http://amzn.to/2nu7wnq) via a 1/2″ MPT to 3/8″ barb fitting (http://amzn.to/2oLeDI9 ) and raised it a few inches above the tank (shown on the first picture in this post).
To drain the tank, we installed a PVC ball valve (http://amzn.to/2nr1mni) attached via a few elbows and straight fittings (http://amzn.to/2nLColM) (shown in the first picture in this post). We can connect a hose to it when we want to drain the tank.
Water Pump & Accumulator
We chose to install the Shurflo Revolution 4008 water pump (http://amzn.to/2kFINP8), because it’s been around for a while and it can be trusted. It delivers 3 gallons per minute at 55 PSI. It’s a diaphragm pump, meaning there is no on-off switch; it’s pressure sensitive. The pump will turn on when the pressure in the hose drop below 40 PSI, that is when we open the tap at the faucet. The pump will turn off when the pressure in the hose raise above 55 PSI, that is when there is no demand for water. It is self-primed and can be run dry, neat!
This pump has an internal bypass to prevent rapid-cycling. This is when the pump will turn on-off-on-off-on-off very rapidly; it occurs generally when a very low volume of water is demanded at the faucet. That being said, after reading some reviews on the internet, we still decided to install an accumulator (http://amzn.to/2kFQ6q8) to prevent rapid-cycling. It might not be required, but it can apparently improve things a little.
Think inside the box:
We use the following switch for the water pump and for the cargo lights; we really like the design and the “feel” of it:
We splurged on a very nice Dometic sink with integrated folding faucet & folding glass lid (model VA7306, Buy from Amazon). We already covered the installation into the cabinet in our Sink & Stove Cabinet article. The sink comes with two ½” MPT fitting (one for cold water, one for hot water), but we’re only using the cold water fitting (make sure to plug the unused fitting with an end cap to prevent spillage! Yes, we learnt that the hard way…).
Grey Water Tank
We went for a modest installation that suits our modest needs: just a 4 gallons Aqua-Tainer (http://amzn.to/2kFK58U) that we empty every other day or so. The Aqua-Tainer is connected with a Camco Water Drain (http://amzn.to/2kFOH2Q) and a garden hose quick-release (http://amzn.to/2oEe1rr) for quick & easy dumping.
We have running water!
We wanted to have a tank-less solution for the shower, for energy efficiency sake. We went for the Mr Heater BOSS XCW20 portable propane shower (http://amzn.to/2oD3JIy) because:
- It is very well rated
- It is very safe (gas is cut if it tips-over)
- It is portable (it has an internal battery and can be operated with 1 pound propane cylinder)
- Output temperature can be controlled with the digital panel
- It has a faucet on the side
The Mr Heater BOSS cannot be integrated to a pressurized water system; it has to pump water from a jug (such as the aqua-tainer we’re using). That’s fine with us.
Bike Wash // Filling Station // Quick Shower
After using the van for a few occasions, we installed a spray nozzle (amzn.to/2tlT7k5) in the back. It is quite convenient to quickly wash our legs and feet (after a muddy ride), to fill water bottles or wash the bikes (yeah let’s pretend we have unlimited water reserve).
To add it to our existing water system, we split the hose right after the accumulator and added a 1/2″ Barb x 1/2″ Barb x 1/2″ MPT Tee, a straight-stop-valve and a SHURflo 234-2926 1/2″ FPT X 1/2″ Barb Straight Swivel (amzn.to/2kFSdWU):
We kept a simple approach to install the spray nozzle (amzn.to/2tlT7k5):
Frozen water causes damage to the pump, accumulator, pipes and Mr Heater BOSS. Our system (or any other system if that matter) must be winterized if temperatures are below freezing. It seems that there are two types of anti-freeze:
We’re not expert on the topic, but we read that ethanol based anti-freeze is very flammable, could damage the seals of the components and could affect the taste of the water. Propylene/Glycol based anti-freeze is not combustible, help to lubricate the seals of the components and is tasteless. I guess we will use Propylene/Glycol based anti-freeze…
ON SECOND THOUGHT
First month on the road review:
(The following text is extracted from faroutride.com/first-month/)
We last about 5-6 days before our 25 gallons fresh water tank (http://amzn.to/2wwQ2z7) runs empty (we expect much less when we’ll be mountain biking and showering every day…). Filling our water tank was one of our concerns (because we don’t sleep in serviced RV parks), but it turns out we never had an issue finding a source of water. So far we almost exclusively went to gas station (we ask if we can use the water faucet, then fill up both our gas and water tank!). Sanidumps.com is a good resource to find water: just Google “Sani Dumps Montana”, first search result is normally sanidumps.com, access it, then click the Google Maps icon to see the map of Montana (or any state…).
As for the grey water, the 4 gallons aquatainer we’re using now has to be emptied every day to ensure it doesn’t spill, and that’s a bit irritating in the long run. We’re thinking about installing a valve to give us the ability to get rid of the water from the sink either into a container to be emptied (like we’re doing now) OR directly outside through the floor.
And finally, a “normal” shower is what we missed the most, as showering outside is a lot more logistics and not as satisfying! But at least, we are clean!
STAY IN TOUCH!
Join 7,000+ followers via Facebook, Instagram or e-mail:
Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine, a couple dreaming of being on the move and we’re seeking for the ride of our life. We bought a Ford Transit van, converted it to a campervan, sold our house and hit the road full-time to make our dream a reality. We are sharing this in hope of inspiring and helping others to follow their dreams too!