Camper Van Water Systems: Tanks, Toilets, Showers, Water Heaters and Plumbing

Whether or not to have a full indoor bathroom in your van seems to be one of the most controversial topics in the van conversion world. Some people don’t think it’s worth the space, while other van lifers say they couldn’t live without it.

In this lesson, we talk all about van bathrooms and water systems. Whether you want a full indoor bathroom with a shower in your van or if you prefer something simpler, we’ll help you decide and will cover different options for water storage, water heaters, showers, toilets, and more for your van.

In this lesson, you’ll learn:

  • How to determine how much water you want in your van
  • Permanent vs portable water tanks and the pros and cons of each
  • When gray and blackwater tanks are needed and how they work
  • Considerations for indoor vs outdoor showers and options for both
  • Diesel vs propane vs sun powered water heaters
  • Pros and cons of having a toilet in your van
  • Best toilets for van life
  • Where to go to the bathroom if you don’t have one in your van

It’s a lot, but all this is important to consider upfront because these are key components for your conversion. Plumbing is a big step in the build and an important one to plan correctly.

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How Much Water Do you Need?

Planning for water in your camper van is so important because water is essential to our survival – it’s not a luxury. A 5-minute hot shower might be a luxury, but when it comes down to it, you don’t want to run out of water in a tight spot unsure of the nearest fill. Plus, it’s not fun having to search for a water source when you’re in the middle of cooking or cleaning in your van or right before you head out for a big hike.

Two major things to consider are:

  • How much water do I want in my van?
  • Where am I going to store it?

Determining how much water storage you need in your van comes down to your usage and how long you want to be able to go without refilling. The longer you plan to be away from facilities, the more water storage you’ll need. Washing dishes, brushing teeth, cooking, boiling water for coffee or tea, drinking water for you and your pets, showering, hosing off gear – these are all things you’ll be using your water for.

In my current van, we have a 25 gallon permanently installed water tank. If we aren’t using it to (outdoor) shower, we can go 5-7 days without needing to refill. This requires conscientious use when we’re doing our dishes, filling up at gas stations and campground spigots when possible, and never letting the water run unnecessarily.

You might ask, why not get a 35 or 40-gallon tank? The answer is weight. A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds, so a 40-gallon tank would set you back 333 pounds. We talked earlier in this module about van weight considerations and payloads, and water is one of the heaviest things you’ll be loading up your van with. If you simply size up your water tank without thinking about how this affects your overall weight, it could put you over your vehicle’s maximum payload. If you do know that you need 35 or 40 gallons, you should consider this when choosing a vehicle since payloads vary, even across different Sprinter Van models.

Once your plumbing system is set up, it’s a good idea to do a practice run to find out how little water you need to completely wash your dishes, brush your teeth, cook, shower, etc. Carefully conserving water can take some getting used to when you first hit the road, but it’s easier to keep track of than in a regular house since you’ll be refilling the water yourself. Your water conservation habits will get better once you get used to having a limited quantity of water.


Permanent Water Tanks vs Portable Jugs

The two options for water storage in your van are permanent tanks and portable jugs. There are benefits and drawbacks to each one. The first question to ask yourself is: “Can I or will I lift and carry my water containers regularly?”

As I just mentioned, a gallon of water weighs about 8.34 lbs, so if you’re filling a 5-gallon jug, that’s over 40lbs of weight. If you’re not physically able or don’t want to move heavy jugs regularly, this quickly rules out the portable container option.

Permanent Water Storage Tanks

Permanent tanks have a greater capacity, which is helpful if you live in the van full-time. You don’t have to think about water as often, and it’s less of a chore when you need to fill up.

To make it easy, you’ll want to install a fill port on the outside of the van and keep things simple by having major water lines on one side, including your tank, sink, water heater, and shower if possible. Some folks who use portable jugs might argue that it’s easier to find places to fill up 5-gallon jugs vs places you can connect to with a hose, but in Module 4, we will share our favorite resources for finding potable water, regardless of your setup.

The downside of permanent tanks is they require additional steps to winterize. If the van will be sitting for a while in freezing temps, you’ll either need to blow out the entire system with an air compressor or maintain a warm interior temperature to prevent freezing of the pipes and tanks.

Since you’ll be filling up with a hose and you won’t always be sure of the water quality, you’ll also want to get an inline water filter that you can attach to your hose when you fill up or one that’s installed directly in your water lines.

Large permanent tanks also take up precious storage space. Unless you never plan to travel in wintery climates, I highly recommend storing all of your water inside the van. Storing your tanks outside becomes a serious headache if you ever encounter below freezing temperatures and puts your pipes at risk for damage.

Portable Water Jugs

Portable jugs are a budget-friendly option for people who want a simpler setup. If you don’t have a shower, want to fill up anywhere, and like having the flexibility to add or take out jugs depending on the length of your trip, portable jugs might be the way to go.

Most people who go this route have a couple of five-gallon jugs stored under their sink, and you can always throw another one in your garage if you plan to be away from facilities longer than usual. Unlike permanent tanks that need a designated fill station or hose, you can fill them up anywhere you go, including grocery store water dispensers and inside friend’s houses.

As I mentioned, you’ll be carrying these in and out of the van each time you need to refill, so it’s best to use multiple 5-7 gallon jugs as opposed to one larger container. Portable jugs are also easier to clean than permanent tanks and you can dry them out between use.

When it comes to winterizing, it doesn’t get much simpler than portable jugs. All you need to do is take the jugs out of the van and make sure there isn’t any water left in the plumbing lines, and you have nothing else to worry about.

Ultimately, you need to determine how much water you need and want to store at any given time. If you need 25 gallons stored, a permanent tank is probably the solution. If you’re comfortable with refilling regularly, portable jugs will probably work well for you.

Get the water systems in your van dialed. Learn the pros and cons of a full van bathroom and the details on van toilets, showers, water tanks, heaters, and more.
@vanlifecustoms simple portable jug system in one of their van conversions

Where Do You Fill Up Your Water for Van Life?

A commonly asked question is: “Where do you get water?”

We’ll go into this more in Module 4, but I’ll briefly mention that this is dependent on whether you have a large permanent tank or smaller portable jugs. As we discussed, portable jugs can be filled at most grocery stores, inside gas stations or your friend’s house, but permanent tanks require a bit more planning. In the US, there are many places to fill up. RV dump stations are scattered all across the country and generally have potable drinking water available. National Parks, campgrounds, state parks, gas stations, and bike shops are just a few of the places we’ve filled up. Keep in mind that most of these spots do not provide a hose, so it’s good practice to carry a hose and attachments with you.


Gray & Black Water Tanks

If you decide to build a sink, shower, or plumbed toilet in your van bathroom, you’ll most likely need a gray and/or black water tank.

Gray water tanks collect used water that goes down the drain from washing dishes, cooking, tooth brushing, hand washing – everything other than human waste and chemicals. Gray water tanks can be stored inside or outside your van, depending on how big of a tank you choose. If it’s inside, the tank can be hooked right up to the sink drain, otherwise, you’ll need to plumb the line down through the floor to the exterior tank.

Black water tanks collect human waste. Typically, chemicals are used in black water tanks so for this reason you need to empty black water tanks at RV dump stations. We aren’t going to talk too much about black water tanks, because none of the van toilet options we are going to recommend require a black water tank. However, black water tanks are usually stored underneath the van and will need a port installed to make the dumping process easier.

Some people, including myself, opt not to have a gray water tank and instead have a hose that drains directly out of the van. It’s one less thing I have to think about when traveling in the winter. However, not having a gray water tank requires special care to ensure you are abiding by Leave No Trace guidelines when you are disposing of your gray water, as explained below.

Leave No Trace Guidelines for Graywater

Here is the process we use to Leave No Trace when doing dishes and using water in our sink in general:

  1. First, we scrape off all food particles into the trash. We have a strainer in the sink that catches any remaining scraps.
  2. If we used a paper towel to eat with, we wipe off any remaining food particles and sauce with the paper towel.
  3. Then, we only do dishes with the minimal amount of eco-friendly, biodegradable dish soap.
  4. We collect the gray water in a bucket that we place under the van where the gray water drains. Usually, we can get away with doing all of our dishes with less than 2 gallons of water.
  5. When it comes time to dispose of the gray water, we make sure we are at least 200 feet from rivers, lakes, or streams and then scatter it on barren dirt. Even biodegradable soap is harmful to aquatic life and can pollute waterways, so making sure you are at least 200 feet away from water is very important.

Biodegradable soaps need the bacteria in the soil to break down, so it’s only okay to drain gray water if you’re well over 200ft from a water source. Otherwise, the most environmentally friendly option is to have a gray water tank that can be emptied in proper receptacles. Typically a 4 or 5-gallon gray water tank is enough for regular sink use if it’s emptied once a day or every other day, but you’ll have a better idea of what size gray water tank you’ll need once you determine your estimated water usage.

If you do get a higher capacity gray water tank – like 5 gallons or more, best practice is to empty it at an RV dump station.


Van Water Pumps

Water pumps are a valuable component of the entire plumbing system in your van. They move water from your water storage tank to you. Depending on how fast you want your water delivered and your space allowance, there are manual hand or foot pumps, as well as mechanical pumps. Both styles of pumps are commonly used in boats, so check marine websites and stores while you’re researching options.

Manual Foot Pumps

Manual foot pumps are usually mounted on the floor and can pump about an average of 3-4 gallons per minute which is a lot of water. The biggest draw for manual pumps is that they don’t need power to operate. They also help conserve water since you’re manually pumping each time you want water. Available in a wide range of prices, you’ll likely find one that falls within your budget.

Manual hand pumps are also available, but keep in mind that you’ll need one hand to pump so it makes dishwashing and everything else more difficult.

Overall, going with a manual foot pump is simple and saves electricity.

Mechanical Water Pumps

Mechanical water pumps are electrical, so they do require power but you won’t have to think about water delivery, which makes the van feel like a regular house. They also keep the water pressurized, so once the faucet is open the pump will automatically engage and deliver the water at a steady rate.

In most cases, you’ll want to install an on/off switch for the pump and keep it turned off whenever you aren’t running the water. This switch will also prevent the pump from continuing to run if the water tank runs dry. Prolonged dry use can damage the pump.

Mechanical pumps run on 12v DC power, so they can be hardwired right into the battery bank.

Both mechanical and manual water pumps vary in price but average around $25-85, so it doesn’t have to break the bank. Just focus on finding a quality product that will meet your water delivery needs.


Van Shower Options

Let’s move onto camper van shower options. Showering on the road is a hot topic in the van life community for good reason. You’ll likely meet people from all over the spectrum; those with enclosed instant-hot showers in their full van bathrooms, travelers who frequent gyms and campgrounds, van dwellers that go a week or more without showering, and everything in between.

As we’ve been discussing throughout this module, converting your van into a livable space for you is all about your preferences, needs, and priorities. A shower is no exception here, so take some time thinking about what’s important for your hygiene and the options available to you.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you comfortable waiting a few days to shower until the next facility or do you want to be able to shower every day?
  • How much space are you willing to dedicate to a shower in the van and will you be able to store enough water to take showers?
  • Will you be frequently traveling through areas with gyms and community rec centers where you can shower or will you be off the grid more often than not?
  • Are you comfortable taking showers outside, with privacy of course?

We’re going to dive into the pros and cons of having a shower in your van to help you make a decision and we’ll talk about ways you can maintain personal hygiene and shower while on the road.

If you want to be self-sustained and able to shower wherever you are, you’ve decided that you do want a shower. In that case, you’ve got several options, but the biggest decision will be whether your shower will be indoor or outdoor.

Indoor Showers

Building a fully enclosed van bathroom with a shower is appealing for several reasons, privacy and accessibility just to name a couple. Plus, if you plan to live or travel in your van throughout the winter in a cold climate, showering outside will probably not be an option, making an indoor shower even more appealing. In this case, you’ll require a four-season build with all of your water stored inside so your pipes are protected from the cold.

Installing a fully enclosed indoor shower is complex and has a lot of components, including a quality water heater which we’ll talk about soon. For this reason, it can add a huge cost to your build

Get the water systems in your van dialed. Learn the pros and cons of a full van bathroom and the details on van toilets, showers, water tanks, heaters, and more.
Photo from @van_yacht

A built-in shower also requires a lot more water. Without a built-in shower, you can get away with 10-15 gallons of water for 4 or 5 days off the grid, especially if you conserve. Add a shower into the equation and you’ll need at least 25 gallons, if not more, depending on the number of people and usage. Even with 25 gallons, you’re not going to be showering every day, unless you are hooked up at a campground, otherwise, you’re going to be filling up all the time.

When you do shower in your van, you’ll need to carefully conserve, shutting off the water when you soap up. I highly recommend getting a shower head that has an on/off switch to make this easy. You’ll also need to think about where you can store enough water for your shower. Storing this much water inside is feasible if you have a larger van, but you’ll have to do some serious finagling to fit that much water plus an indoor shower into a shorter van.

Another thing to contemplate is how durable the van bathroom needs to be. If you want a sturdy build that can handle rough dirt roads, choose aluminum for the structure and shower pan (like in the Outside Van below). While beautiful tile work looks nice in photos, it’s a heavy material and has potential to crack from the constant vibrations as you drive. You can also cut down on weight, cost, and space by using a simple shower curtain instead of a door.

Get the water systems in your van dialed. Learn the pros and cons of a full van bathroom and the details on van toilets, showers, water tanks, heaters, and more.
Aluminum shower in an Outside Van conversion

You can of course use your enclosed shower for storage, as I did in my first van. But what I found is that by the time I took everything out of the shower and put it back in, I could have gone into a recreation center or a campground shower facility and had a better shower.

One other option that I’m seeing more of are van conversions with retractable or recessed shower pans and removable curtains. This allows you to set up a shower inside the van when you want, and stow it away when it’s not in use. For an example, here is the Halo Hidden Shower system in Storyteller Overland’s 4×4 Mode Adventure Van.

If someone else is converting your van, it’s imperative that they have experience installing showers. Otherwise, you could end up as a guinea pig with a leaking shower and inadequate equipment.

Ultimately, an enclosed shower in your van bathroom has its perks, but it’s up to you to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons and if it’s within your budget, as this is the most expensive and labor-intensive shower option for van life.

Outdoor Showers

If you want a hot shower, but aren’t into the idea of a built-in camper van bathroom, then it looks like you’ll be showering with a view. The perks of showering outdoors are that it won’t take up any real estate inside the van, it requires simpler plumbing, and it’s a whole lot cheaper. You still need to be aware of water consumption if you’re using your reserve, but you’ll also have more options for how you will get hot water. We’ll get to water heaters soon where we share a number of options for both indoor and outdoor showers.

In my van, Outside Van installed a port where I can hook up a shower hose to the back of the water tank for outdoor showers. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’ve only used it a handful of times, but for the purpose of resale, I think it was a smart decision.

Get the water systems in your van dialed. Learn the pros and cons of a full van bathroom and the details on van toilets, showers, water tanks, heaters, and more.

Portable outdoor showers have come up in trend recently because they’re easy and don’t require electricity. There are many brands out there, but RinseKit is a popular one van lifers use to get decent water pressure without any pumping or power needed. The downside of this type of shower is that it doesn’t pack down and the water isn’t hot unless you fill it with hot water to begin with. We’ll touch on some other portable outdoor shower options when we get into water heaters in just a moment.

If you want to forego a van shower set up altogether or want to be prepared in the event you need a shower elsewhere, let’s talk about your other options. There are plenty!

  • Gym memberships are popular, but be sure to verify their locations ahead of time to make sure they’re on route. It’s an extra monthly expense, so you want it to be worth the cost.
  • Recreation centers typically have day passes available for purchase, which often gives you full access to their facilities. Sometimes, they have a shower-only fee, so inquire about that if you just want a shower.
  • Many campgrounds and RV parks have showers, but usually only if you’re a paying camper.
  • Pilot and Flying J truck stops have showers, but these tend to be on the pricier side.
  • Don’t forget about your friends and family! Most of the time friends are happy to let you shower, but if you want to show up clean and polished beforehand maybe stop at one of the other places first.

In the resources section, I’ll share a link to a few blog posts where I’ve discussed the shower issue at length. We’ll also dive into how to find shower facilities in Module 4.


Van Water Heaters

Alright, now let’s talk about camper van water heaters. As you can imagine, whether or not you need a water heater depends on your situation. If you want a fully enclosed indoor shower in your van bathroom, then yes, you will need one. Otherwise, you won’t use the shower much and it will end up being an expensive closet. Having a water heater is also nice for outdoor showering or for doing dishes in the colder months.

There are several options for water heaters with a wide range of costs. We’ll talk about a handful of popular options that meet a variety of budgets. The major difference between the different options is the fuel source. Water heaters can run off diesel, propane, or even the power of the sun.

Diesel Water Heaters

The first option is to use a diesel heater, like the Webasto Dual Top EVO, like the one I have in my van. This is a dual purpose heater that heats both the water and the air by siphoning a small amount of fuel from the vehicle’s diesel tank. This is an efficient choice that consumes a small amount of battery power, although it will still have a noticeable draw if you are running it 24/7. However, you can choose to only run the air heater or the water heater if you don’t need both at the same time to save energy.

The Webasto Dual Top has a decent-sized footprint and is fairly expensive. As for install, the Webasto was designed for exterior mounting, but if you often drive in harsh environments or rough dirt roads where dirt and rocks are being kicked up underneath the van, you should consider installing it inside.

My Webasto in this van lives in the same storage box in my garage as my 25-gallon water tank. Similar to a lot of other water heaters, it can heat about 3 gallons at a time, so for showering, you’ll have to be mindful of your consumption. Other top of the line diesel heaters that heat both air and water include Propex, Espar, and Truma.

Propane Water Heaters

Propane tankless water heaters are another popular option that can be tapped into your existing water tank. The biggest advantage of these is you get unlimited hot water on demand. This means you won’t run out of hot water unless you run out of propane or your water runs out altogether. Available with a pump or without a pump, you can connect a propane tankless heater to your water pump if necessary. This is an inexpensive, easy-to-use option for instant hot water that provides a flow rate of 2-3 gallons per minute. This one by GasLand Outdoors runs ~$150.

Portable propane water heater for a camper van

Solar Showers

Another option that is a lot more economical is to use a rooftop solar shower on your van, such as the Road Shower. This is essentially a black cylindrical tube attached to the roof rack that heats water from the sun’s warmth. An air compressor or bike pump can be used to pressurize the shower for proper flow, or in a pinch you could let gravity do the work for you but your shower would be a trickle.

Get the water systems in your van dialed. Learn the pros and cons of a full van bathroom and the details on van toilets, showers, water tanks, heaters, and more.
Photo of a Road Shower setup from @sprintertothefinish

For an even more economical solar option, the classic solar shower bag holds about 5-7 gallons of water and heats up in the hot sun within a few hours. This is the Advanced Elements 5-gallon solar shower that costs ~$30.

Solar shower bag for camping

Another similar option is the Nemo Helio shower which works via a foot pump that pumps the water up through the hose rather than using gravity like a Road Shower or shower bag.

All three of these solar showers are good options if you plan to be in warm, sunny conditions most of the time otherwise none will reach a very warm temperature.

In all cases, if you plan on showering outdoors, I recommend a pop-up shower tent over stringing a shower curtain across your back doors. While both provide privacy, a shower tent will also provide some insulation from the wind.

Shower privacy tent for camping

That covers a few of the most popular options for camper van showers and water heaters. If you’re handy and want to spend some time browsing the van life forums, people are finding additional creative, but complex ways to heat water in these types of vans. We’ll also share some additional details and links in the Resources section.


To have a toilet or not in your van

Ok, we’ve covered showers and water heaters in your camper van bathroom, now let’s talk about camper van toilets. Everybody poops, and for that reason, it’s not surprising that where van lifers go to the bathroom is one of the most common questions I get.

Understandably, a toilet is another important decision to make in regards to your personal needs. Depending on what you’re comfortable with, you have several options for your van bathroom. If you need a toilet, you need a toilet. If space is more important and a toilet isn’t a concern, you can usually find a toilet when you need one while traveling, but we’ll talk more about this in Module 4.

In my first van (in the photo above), I had a toilet, but I decided to forego one in this van. When I had my first van, dumping the porta-potty was that chore I never wanted to do, and after talking with a few more experienced van lifers, I learned different options for getting by without one.

Get the water systems in your van dialed. Learn the pros and cons of a full van bathroom and the details on van toilets, showers, water tanks, heaters, and more.

So I’ll be really frank with you here. I pee in a wide-mouthed empty trail mix jar with a screw-on lid. It’s kind of like peeing in a cup at the doctor, but way easier. My jar fits nicely under the sink and is easy to get to when I need it. I use this exclusively in the middle of the night or if we are driving and there is no bathroom nearby. It only holds 1-2 pees, so I dump it regularly – either in a toilet or at least 200 feet from lakes, rivers, and streams according to Leave No Trace. I rinse it every day to prevent smells and buildup and occasionally put a few drops of fresh essential oils to mitigate odors.

Without a toilet in the van, you also realize just how common public toilets are. They are everywhere. Trailheads, gas stations, parking lots, rest stops, restaurants, parks, campgrounds, grocery stores. If there is one nearby, I’ll use that, but I always know I have my jar as a backup.

For #2, again, there are public facilities everywhere, but for those times that we are camping off the grid with no access to a toilet, I go outside following Leave No Trace principles. That means digging a cathole at least 6 inches deep away from rivers, lakes, and streams, and packing out all of my used toilet paper. The good thing about having a van is after you do your business, you have a sink with clean water that you can wash your hands in. It’s been liberating as a female to realize I can go anywhere and I personally don’t need a toilet to survive.

Most of the time that is. Winter and cities are a different story. In these situations, you can’t just readily go outside and you don’t want to be dumping your pee jar in someone’s front yard. These are the times I think, “it sure would be nice to have a toilet in here!”. And that’s where a portable toilet comes in. A portable toilet is nice because you can have one when you want, but if you won’t need it for a certain trip, you can always leave it behind.


Van Life Toilet Options

Now that I’ve shared the dirty deets of my daily business, I’ll share some options for toilets that are good for van life.

Composting Toilet

For a permanent van toilet for everyday use, one popular option today is a composting toilet. These are expensive, but everyone I know who has one loves it. It requires a dedicated compartment and takes up a decent amount of space, but not nearly as much vertical space as an enclosed van bathroom would. One of the most popular brands is Nature’s Head. For a budget option, refer to the Resources section below.

Composting toilets usually separate pee and poo. Ideally, you’ll empty the pee trap every 1-2 days into a toilet or the forest (respecting LNT principles). Using a composting fiber, like coconut or pine dust, the poo breaks down and only needs to be disposed of when it is full. You do need to empty the compost into a bag first, and then that entire bag can be thrown in the trash.

To ensure your van doesn’t stink, composting toilets need to be ventilated to the outside of the van using the toilet’s fan and a hose. This means their installation is pretty much permanent. For all of the types of toilets we cover in this lesson, we will share some recommendations in the Resources section.

Portable RV and Marine Cassette Toilet

Next up are portable RV and marine cassette toilets.

Thetford is a reputable brand and has several styles available. These are small and easy to use and they don’t require any installation. You can pick it up and move it around, or get rid of it if you realize you don’t need it. This is an ideal option for people who want a toilet in their van, but don’t want to build anything for it. Plus, it’s inexpensive. They range from around $60-120. You use it just like a regular toilet: sit, go, flush. It has two compartments, a freshwater reservoir for flushing and a waste reservoir. Once it’s full, just pop off the waste reservoir and empty it in a dump station or public toilet. Using biodegradable holding tank chemicals breaks down the waste and prevents odor. These toilets work well, but it’s wise to clean them regularly if you plan to use it for a long time.

Portable toilet for van life

Luggable Loo

For the least expensive van toilet, Reliance Products Luggable Loo is a very simple 5-gallon bucket with a snap-on lid. You can pee straight into the bucket and dump and rinse in the morning. Or for #2, you can line the bucket with their compatible Double Doodie Bag which contains an absorption powder to neutralize odors. When you’re done, just seal the bag and throw it away. You can also DIY something just like this that should work fine.

Budget-friendly toilet for van life

Having a toilet means you won’t have to search for a bathroom, you’ll be more comfortable in your own space, and your toilet will be as clean as you keep it (unlike most public restrooms). But, you’ll have the chore of emptying it out, a potential smell in your van, and it can take up a lot of room. Some of these factors may vary, but no matter what toilet you have, plumbed or portable, at some point you’ll have to empty out the toilet, which is never fun. But, neither is having to find a public toilet at the last minute.

If you decide you need a toilet, be sure to make room for it in the floor plan and structural design. Even a small portable cassette toilet needs a fair bit of space, so plan accordingly.

While decisions about your camper van bathroom can seem big, it’s important to remember that everyone has different priorities, needs, and experiences. What works well for one person might not work well for you. Hopefully, after learning about the various options for water storage, showers, water heaters, and toilets, you’re able to make choices that will suit your lifestyle and budget.


Recommended Van Bathroom Products


Resources Section

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Explore more on van conversions in Module 2

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5 comments on “Camper Van Water Systems: Tanks, Toilets, Showers, Water Heaters and Plumbing

  1. Really helpful as I am in the planning stage of a van build. I’ll be building on a ford transit mid roof 144” or 148” wheel base. I may use the 3.5 ecoboost engine or Atlis electric platform if available. Some of my desires are, 1. Radiant heat flooring, 2. Shower recycling water. 3. 1,000 solar. 4. Induction stove. 5. A lift style bed. I look forward to following your blogs as I venture into the van world. Great information, thanks

    1. Thanks for sharing that! Glad to hear this has been helpful. Sounds like you have a good idea of what you want which is great – best of luck with your van and keep us posted!

  2. Is it possible/practical for someone who has a very difficult time using public bathrooms (for reasons I’d rather not state) to live in a van at all? Because that’s one big roadblock (heh) for me that I don’t know if I could deal with.

    1. If you set up your van with a toilet and blackwater tank you can avoid public bathrooms but you’ll need to empty the tank in designated RV dump stations every so often – likely weekly, potentially more or less – depending on the size. In short, it’s possible but will take a little more planning during the conversion process and as you travel/live on the road.

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