Campervan Water Supply

Whether it’s a tap for a cup of tea or for a luxury power shower a lot of consideration should be spent on this area of campervan design.  You will need to make sure you have enough water for all the appliances in your van and plenty for everyone that will be using your campervan.

Even competent campervan converters will have come up against problems when fitting the various components of a water and waste system in a van or project.  So we advise careful planning which should negate problems during the installation and save you time, cost and effort.

CAMPERVAN WATER SYSTEM COMPONENTS

You will need to select the most suitable components for your van which will also have an impact on the budget.

This page details the various components to help you design a water system best suited to your camper and your preferences.

Campervan Water Storage

External Portable Units

A simple system used by many caravanners is to use external portable containers, one for water supply and one for waste.  Easily transportable containers such as ‘Aquaroll’ are very suitable for this purpose the largest capacity model can hold 40 litres of fresh water.    A convenient way for your water storage but these tanks will need to be stored when you are touring which will take up valuable space.

Campervan Water Storage
Aquaroll

Fixed Internal Tanks

A fixed internal water tank is convenient and common in a lot of campervans.  This negates the use of external tanks and avoids problems with frost or freezing.  The location of the tank is important so that it can be filled at an external point, be accessible for any maintenance, be located as near as possible to your taps/shower to negate excess supply pipe and sited to provide good weight distribution on you campervan.

Motorhome Water Supply
Internal Fixed Tank

Moveable Internal Storage

Another option is internally stored fresh water containers (plastic Jerry can type with handle).  This system is suitable for smaller conversions due to the lower capacity of the containers.  However, this negates external storage and the space taken up by larger internal fixed water tanks.  Usually two containers are used (one in use while the other is ready for filling) and are housed near to the rear of a van or accessed via a service door.  Water can be easily obtained by removing the tanks or if required you can drive the tanks to the water collection tap.

Water System for Campervans
Portable Internal Storage

Supply Pipes & Fittings

Flexible hose has been used for many years and is very versatile and easy to use.  Drawbacks are that the pipe can become kinked and when this occurs the pipe is hard to get back into shape and restore the flow capacity of the pipe.  Plastic pipe inserts are used to strengthen the pipe and the pipe is secured using ‘Jubilee’ clips which pushes the pipe to secure it against the insert.

Important

Access to pipes and appliances is essential for maintenance and is a very important part of the design of your installation

Where a number of pipes need to be jointed in one location, a quantity if clips require installing which may prove difficult in confined spaces (the less joints the less likelihood of leaks).  12mm pipe is the norm for a lot of campervans and motorhomes.

Water Pumping and Components

This can be quite a technical topic and hopefully we can guide you rather than make you sleepy!

Pump Switching

A switch is required to turn on a pump when required and stop it when not required.  There are two main types used:

Micro-switch

Each tap in the system will include a small micro switch.  When the tap is operated the switch operates the pump and water is supplied.  When the tap is closed the pump is stopped and water supply ceases.

A good system but switches can fault especially where water leaks onto them.  This renders the tap inoperable.  However, spare switches are available for most modern taps.   Ensure taps are fully closed so that the pump does not continue pumping without water.

Pressure sensitive switch

The water in the system is kept at pressure between the pump and the tap (or shower etc).  When the tap is turned on this creates a drop in pressure which activates the pressure sensitive switch.

When the tap (or shower) is closed the pump will continue to work until sufficient pressure has built then the pump will stop.  It is important to get the pressure suitably adjusted so that the pump operates correctly.  Any leaks in the system will trigger the pump so these need to be addressed urgently.  To stop this problem a pump isolation switch can be fitted and the pump can be isolated at night.

Campervan Water Pumps

Non priming simply means that water is required to be in the pump for it to work.  Self-priming is where a diaphragm pump creates a vacuum to draw water to it for pumping on through the system.

Types of pump:

 

  • Non Priming (submersible)
  • Self Priming (diaphragm)
Motorhome Water Pump
Whale Submersible
Whale Watermaster Pump
Whale Watermaster Diaphragm Pump

As submersible pumps are placed directly into water the fact that they are non-priming is not an issue.  Diaphragm pumps do not need to be in direct contact with water and can be located elsewhere.

Submersible Pumps

These are usually fitted in smaller campervans and are widely used by caravans.  The pump is located in an access housing and is simply dropped into the portable water container for use.

Advantages

  • Low noise level
  • Durable
  • Fair flow rate
  • Less expensive than diaphragm pump

Disadvantages

  • Must be in contact with water
  • Usage without water will result in damage to the pump (water level indicator useful)
  • Unlikely to be able to be repaired

Diaphragm Pumps

With this type on pump a filter must be used as any grit in the system will cause damage to the pump.  Regular cleaning of the filter is a task that should be done thoroughly and regularly.

Advantages

  • Powerful
  • Good flow rates

Disadvantages

  •  Cost
  • Noise
  • Repair requires removal

Repairs to this type of pump are usually carried out by the manufacturer, thus the pump would have to be sent away leaving you water supply inoperable.

Additional Components

You may also want to consider the following in yourwater system installation:

Surge Damper

This product lessens pulsating in the water flow which reduces noise and protects the microswitch in the pressure switch system

Water Purifier

For cleaner and better tasting water

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