Plumbing

In the van there will be a small plumbing system. Since I don’t have a shower, and also don’t need an outdoor shower, its limited to the kitchen area only.

I also don’t have water tanks underneath the van, since I don’t need huge amounts of water. Also, I don’t think it’s hard to get water, so no need to take huge amounts with me.
So i went with 2 small portable water cans of 20 Liter each (5.3 gallon). If needed, I can fill a 3rd one and store it in the back.
Both of them can fit in one of the kitchen cabinets. One will be used for fresh water, the other one as grey water.

I use a small submersible pump, which is connected to the kitchen faucet. Inside the faucet is a small microswitch.
This switch is connected to a small relay, which switches the actual pump.
Some people are reporting issues with the small micro switch switching the inrush currents of a pump, so I added a relay, to save the microswitch.

I also installed a small 12V / 200W boiler. This can hold 6L water (1.6 gallon). I also added a switch so I can disable the boiler if needed to save some power. (I calculated the boiler to use approx 35Ah battery capacity, so it’s quite a heavy user…

The boiler is a plastic one, with rather crappy insulation. I’ve installed it below my bench. In order to add some insulation I’ve wrapped it in some 9mm Armaflex leftovers, made a small box around it, and filled that with sheep wool.
And it did fit perfectly, I had just enough to run the duct from the Webasto heater through this compartment as well.

Both the boiler and the water tanks are in separate compartments. I’ve covered both with Vinyl floor liner. Also made all sides fully watertight for at least 3cm (about 1 inch). On the back, there is a gap of 5cm widht (2 inches), so if anything starts leaking, it will leak into the structural framing of the van, which has holes in it so it will drop straight to the ground, instead of damaging my floor.

2 Replies to “Plumbing”

  1. What a great resource!! Looking at starting my second van build, and was also looking at an electric water heater for various reasons. How has it performed for you so far?

    1. Worked fine so far. It is a significant user of electricity however. I didn’t measure it yet, but I think it’s taking 50-60Ah of capacity on its own / 24 hours, more if the ambient temperature is lower. My heater uses 200W, and to heat up the 6L water (1.6 gallon) takes 1u 45min, so thats 30Ah of capacity, just to heat it up. And to keep it hot for longer time takes some more juice.
      I have added a switch so I can enable it when needed. With my battery bank (280Ah LFP) this is possible, and with the DC-DC and solar panels I don’t have experienced issues so far, but if you’re willing to stay offgrid for longer periods a gas or dieselheater might be a better solution. For holiday trips, combined with a big battery bank, it works fine.

      As noted, the insulation is crap, so its best to add some more insulation, otherwise the heat losses will be even more.

      Also, the boiler I use is a cheap one, with a plastic tank. Works fine for me, it was only 169 euro (200 USD), but as said, it’s not the highest build quality, and for example doesn’t support high pressure pumps. Since I only have a sink (no shower) a simple submersible pump will do and is within the specs, but a Surflow or similar pressure pump is no option.

      Edit: I did some testing for the power usage. Ended up using approx 75Ah with my water heater on its highest setting for 24 hour, and running the diesel heater at lowest setting continously. Outside temperature was about 4 celcius (40F). I think 50-60Ah is pretty reasonable in the normal holiday seasons (where it’s not as cold as these days)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *