We’re not sure how you got here?! This page is an archive. We have a new, improved water system article here:

 

 

 

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…)

 

TOTAL COST

1100$ USD approx (including the Mr Heater Portable Shower)

 

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MATERIAL

 

TOOLS

 

RESOURCES

 

PRE-REQUISITE

 

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:

Water System Installation Camper Van Conversion (11)

The Tank Support (it’s attached to the bed frames)

 

Water System Installation Camper Van Conversion (6)

The Tank Support Supporting the Tank!

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 (http://amzn.to/2o9rVBw) holds 25 gallons and the dimensions are 8″ x 16″ x 48″. There are more sizes to choose from: 10,12,15,20 gallons and so on, check them here: amzn.to/2ntzEaf

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).

Water-System-Installation-Camper-Van-Conversion-(12-marked)

Holes in the back of the water tank. We’re using the bottom hole as a drain hole.

 

Water-System-Installation-Camper-Van-Conversion-(3-marked)

Hole in the front of the water tank. We’re using the hole for the pump.

 

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):

Tank Straps

Hold On

 

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):

Water Tank Bow Support

 

Hardware

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)

LA-CO Plasto-Joint. Buy from Amazon

 

We carry a 50′ food-grade (lead free) water hose (http://amzn.to/2tbmAct) to fill the tank through the fill hole:

Camco 25 feet Hose

Camco 50 feet Food-Grade Hose. Buy from Amazon.

(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:

Water Bandit

Water Bandit. Get one on Amazon.

 

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:

Cobra Products PST154 4-Way Sillcock Key

Cobra Products PST154 4-Way Sillcock Key. Buy from Amazon.

 

The fill hole is plugged using a Test Plug (http://amzn.to/2nIEWj8):

Water-System-Installation-Camper-Van-Conversion-(plug)

Test Plug. This one fits perfectly in the fill hole: Buy from Amazon.

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.

Water System Installation Camper Van Conversion (10)

Pump (on the left) & Accumulator (on the right)

 

The pump and accumulator are protected by a box and can be turned on/off easily with this switch. We  HIGHLY recommend an easy-to-access switch to prevent spillage or to turn off the pump when leaving the van…

 

Think inside the box:

Water System Installation Camper Van Conversion (4)

Inside the box. Not much to see here…

 

We use the following switch for the water pump and for the cargo lights; we really like the design and the “feel” of it:

JR Product Switch ON-OFF

Turn me on! JR Product ON/OFF switch (Buy from Amazon)

 

Sink

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…).

Folding Sink in action!

 

IMG_20170419_170959-01

Notice the end cap on the unused sink fitting…

 

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 everyday. 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.

Super-Simple-Grey-Water-Management

Super Simple Grey Water Management!

 

 Update December 2017: from SSGWM to SGWM

The SSGWM (Super-Simple-Grey-Water-Management) is probably fine for weekends and vacations, but for full time living we got tired of emptying it everyday. A simple solution is add a 2 way wye valve before the aquatainer: one way is routed into the aquatainer, the other way is routed directly through the floor of the van. If we’re park in a city or if it’s not responsible to dump water on the ground at a campsite, the water is dumped into the aquatainer; otherwise it’s dumped on the ground (we use biodegradable soap). Also, the valve make it easier to dump the aquatainer: just close the valve and remove the aquatainer (there is no water dripping).

Material for SGWM:

Notes:

  • The 2 way wye valve diameter is on the small size; we have to make sure to leave the sink strainer at all time or it could probably plug the valve. It hasn’t happened yet, but it could. Since we are on the road full time, we had to work with available hardware and our actual system. If you are designing from scratch, maybe you can find hardware with larger diameter to make sure it doesn’t plug.
  • We used a 1-1/4 hole saw to drill through the floor and filled the gap (winter is coming) with Great Stuff Window & Door (this one doesn’t expand as much as the others; you don’t want to compress the hose!): amzn.to/2ChN15y. We then trimmed the Great Stuff flush with the floor and sealed it with Silicone II: amzn.to/2BQ4BN1
  • Not sure where to drill? Use the frame as reference (the one on your left when you enter by the sliding door): the frame continues under the van so it’s a good reference.
  • By routing the hose through the floor, we lost the ability to unscrew the cabinet and move it away (if we ever need to); now we would have to “break” the Great Stuff and re-apply it. Not a deal breaker, but it’s worth mentioning.
  • We extended the hose outside by only 1 or 2in and pointing straight down, because we don’t want water to freeze and block the hose in winter. (time will tell if it works, we’re not in winter mode yet)

 

Inside:

 

Outside:

Garden Hose Under the Van

 

 

 

We have running water!

Sink-Animation-(small)

 

Hot Shower

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:

  1. It is very well rated
  2. It is very safe (gas is cut if it tips-over)
  3. It is portable (it has an internal battery and can be operated with 1 pound propane cylinder)
  4. Output temperature can be controlled with the digital panel
  5. It has a faucet on the side
Mr Heater BOSS XCW20

Mr Heater BOSS XCW20 Portable Propane Shower. Buy from Amazon.

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.

 

Here is our exterior shower setup:

Exterior Shower for Camper Van Conversion

And here is our review of the Mr. Heater BOSS:

Mr. Heater BOSS-XCW20 Portable Hot Shower System – Review

 

 

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).

Bike Wash Van Conversion

Clean bike = Happy bike!

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):

Hose-Split

 

We kept a simple approach to install the spray nozzle (amzn.to/2tlT7k5):

 

Winterizing

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:

  1. Ethanol
  2. Propylene/Glycol

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!

Update December 2017:

We modified our grey water system, please see “Grey Water Tank” section above for the details.

 

 

 

 

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ABOUT US

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

 

 

CHEERS!

 

 

 

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