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Installing a Van Shower – Part 3: Fresh and Hot Water for the Van
Installing a Van Shower – Part 3: Fresh and Hot Water for the Van

Installing a Van Shower – Part 3: Fresh and Hot Water for the Van

For the third and final stage of installing our van shower, we had to complete the plumbing to connect the fresh water tank and hot water heater. Besides, what is a shower without water and not just water but HOT WATER! Woo Hoo!!!

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Van Shower

Movable & Folding Design

The previous non-permanent shower was okay, but we found that we only used it when we absolutely had to because it took some work to set up and drain. It was also tough to take a shower outside when it was windy. After all, if you are kiteboarding, you are normally in a place where it is windy.

We were able to incorporate a compact shower design that folds from a bench for seating into a shower in a flash using the aluminum frame from a pop-up privacy enclosure (normally used on pontoon boats).

We also wanted to incorporate our Australian friend, the Joocla HOTTAP water heater, into our new design, while still being able to use it on the go when desired. So we bought an extra Joolca quick-release adapter to make the water heater as portable as possible.

The overall goal was to make taking a hot shower in the van simple and functional after a cold day of kiteboarding, cycling, or hiking.

Fresh Water Tank

As mentioned in our previous post on installing a van shower, originally we had a 23-gallon fresh water tank (39″x16″x8″) in the design. Due to loosing a few inches of space to accommodate the new location of the drain hole (and ultimately the whole shower pan), we had to go down to a smaller 16 gallon tank. This smaller tank had better dimensions (24″x 15.5″x10″) and it gave us plenty of room to work with. Sometimes unexpected changes workout for the best. With the extra space, we had enough room for the water heater, the water pump, and all of the water hose components in the now spacious storage area.

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16 Gallon Fresh Water Tank

Water Pump

Our previous shower worked best when directly hooked to a water source (a.k.a. the garden hose). The consistent flow of water is critical to maintaining even pressure. To maintain a consistent flow with our new system we decided to add a Shurflo water pump. We went with a 12V DC water pump that could be wired into our existing battery system. At 3-gallons per minute, it is a strong enough stream for consistent water pressure to heat the water.

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Water Pump

Portable Water Heater

Although we were moving our hot showers inside the van, we still wanted to make use of the Joocla HOTTAP from our former shower set-up. The HOTTAP runs off of propane and with the lightweight gas regulator, we are able to use the same propane tanks as our stove. The numerous HOTTAP accessories, such as the stands, quick release mounts, and quick release gas connectors make it easy to move the whole rig and shower setup outside in a flash. We have a quick release mount on the back door of the van for quick showers outside the back of the van. We routinely move our hot water heater outside from its storage spot inside the van whenever it is in use. This should be obvious, but as a pre-caution you should always keep things that run on propane outside your vehicle.

CAUTION: There is a very real danger of affixation, explosion, fire hazards, etc. in tight quarters with propane whether or not you are simply cooking or just taking a quick shower. Just be extremely careful and exercise good judgment!!!

Installing the Plumbing in the Van Shower

When the shower area was completed and waterproofed with FRP board, it was time to connect the Fresh Water Tank (our tank has one 1.25″ OD intake/fill hole and three NPT pre-threaded holes [requiring 3/8″ NPT fittings(thread-to-barb)]. For most of our plumbing and water hoses, we ordered a Fresh Water Tank Accessory Hose Connection Kit (this kit includes a number of useful 3/8″ NPT fittings). Andrew started by drilling pass-thru holes from the shower into the water storage area. Then, he sealed the water fill inlet and drain outlet. Once the outlets were all set, he attached the 1.25″ diameter fill and vent hose, followed by the drain hose using hose clamps. All the remaining small hose connections were siliconed and attached using a variety of small hose clamps.

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Fresh Water Tank and Water Pump

To finish installing our van shower, we also created a small water proof area (a tray made out of FRP Board and starboard) below the water pump and hoses in case of minor leaks between the fresh water tank and shower area. Finally a simple on/off rocker switch was connected to the water pump bringing everything together.

ALL SHOWER SYSTEMS ARE A GO!!!

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Water Pump On/Off Switch

Tools

  • Hole Saw
  • Drill (x2)
  • Handsaw
  • LED Flashlight

Supplies

For more on shower installation, check out the rest of the van shower installation project Part 1 and Part 2.

Thanks for reading! ~KiteBikeVan

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Van Shower Complete
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