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A simple water system for camper vans.

I always wanted a really basic sink and water system. No holes in the side of the van for a fill port, removable jugs for filling at filtered water stations, no tanks outside the van to freeze. I wanted an electric water pump. Combined with the fact that I decided I’d be OK boiling water rather than installing a complicated water heater system, I was able to put together a super cheap and functional setup for my van’s kitchen.

My van has come and gone, but I adventured for 50,000 miles over two years in it — which puts me in a great spot to reflect on what I wanted and what I changed over time.

This was the first “system” that I could call done in my build, despite the fact that I’d not even completed the cabinetry yet. My system used a single 6-gallon jug for freshwater and another for greywater. This is about as simple as you can get, if you can live with the limited capacity.

I made a hole in the jug’s cap and pushed vinyl tubing through it to the bottom. For the greywater, I made another hole for the trap hose and sealed around it on the inside with RTV to prevent odors. This wasn’t necessary for the freshwater hoses as they fit incredible tightly into the holes I made in the caps.

What I Ordered

Cold Water Faucet
Bar sink with cutting board insert, grid, and basket strainer
Camco Flexible RV Drain Trap
Seaflo 1.2GPM 12v Water Pump (I’d consider this one if I were building today as this Seaflo is quite noisy with no accumulator, though it works fine @ half the cost!)
2x 6 Gallon Water Containers (I used Ozark Trail jugs, which were fine, but these look sturdier and the price is similar)
3/8″ ID Flexible Vinyl Tubing
Stainless Steel Hose Clamps
PTFE Thread Tape (Remember, white is only for water – no gas pipes)
Fitting for hose to faucet connection: Take the faucet to a hardware store and find a fitting threaded for the faucet that converts it to a 3/8″ barb. I did not make note of this — and the reviews state 3/8″ female compression, but I recall having trouble when I ordered that size. Save the hassle and take it in with you. Let me know what you find out!

What I changed after 2 years..

I gave into the temptation of having 12 gallons of freshwater once I started living in the van full-time. What I did was replace the greywater jug with another 6-gal for freshwater. I re-routed my drain hose through the wall, into a garden hose splitter, fittings, and finally to 3/8″ vinyl tubing that would either drain greywater through a hole in my van’s floor or divert it to a smaller 1.3-gallon holding tank.

I’m not the environmental police, but obviously I have to state that you should be very mindful of what, if any, soaps/detergents/toothpastes you’re using when greywater is dumping onto the ground. Just don’t be a dick, basically.

Here are a few photos — but, for the most part, my initial system remained in-tact. To this day, the only real thing I’d tell you to consider is a water pump with a built-in accumulator (or adding one separately). This setup — the pump will run anytime the faucet is opened, and it’s not quiet.

My water system after 2 years. Note the trap drain now runs into the next cabinet over. I simply switch the lids between jugs when I empty one.
Camco RV drain mounted on the wall, with spigots leading to a hole in the floor as well as a 1-gallon diversion tank for use when dumping was not appropriate.

Additional things I bought for this greywater diversion system

Hudson Exchange 5L (1.3 Gallon) Water Tank
Garden Hose Splitter
90ยบ Garden Hose Elbow (3/4″ Thread)
Garden Hose to 3/8″ Barb Fittings
(from here, you can use the clamps and tubing I linked for the original system)