Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why do you want to live in a van? part 3 - Water

All Posts:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5


The VW Westfalia comes with a 50Liter (13gallons) water tank that can be filled from inside or outside via the utility hook-up ports. The recommended amount of water humans need is approximately one gallon per day, so the stock tank will give you a few days worth but the problem is when you go to wash the dirty dishes. The US model Westfalia does not have a tank to catch any of the water coming out of the sink. Why? I don't know, there is a tank that was made to go there but not fitted to the US models and then it doesn't fit if you have A/C. This dirty/soapy water can not just drain onto the ground or into a sewer drain, it needs to be treated before returning to streams/lakes. Untreated, it can lead to increased algae growth and other contamination.


The solution is to capture the water and dispose of it into an rv waste station or septic system. This can be as easy as attaching a hose from the output pipe on the bottom of the van to a collapsible container on the ground or as fancy as a 45Liter grey tank from eurocampers.com, either way it must be done. Obviously I went with the grey tank but one could easily fabricate a metal tank that fits directly under the sink drain which I may also do to increase the storage capacity.

I suppose now is a good time to bring up the shower situation. There are a couple of options, at a gym, someone's place, solar shower bag, shower attachment on sink faucet, and spray bottle. The gym and someone's place are the most luxurious options, the shower attachment to the sink faucet on the van works but you have to run the pump and have no temperature control and the shower bag requires a high hanging spot. Both the faucet attachment and shower bag will need some sort of way to collect the waste water. Some people use a large plastic bin and others use a kiddy pool on the floor of the van while some simply shower outside of the van with or without a portable shower tent. Use your imagination with how to use the spray bottle method.

If you want hot water, there are some options, heat some on the stove, use the engine to heat some via cooling lines, use the sun. Heating on the stove is not very fast but it is easy, using the sun is easy but only works during the day obviously, heat by engine is an interesting way to go because the coolant temperature is hotter then you would want for a shower so wherever you have the coolant lines circulating into and out of the water you want to heat will need a thermal regulator. If the space exists, I may try and do something like this and tap into the rear heater lines but I plan on using the solar shower bag and stove to take care of all my hot water needs.
I find that the only time I want hot water is for showers and making tea/soup, since my initial plan is to use the shower at work I think I can get by with making tea/soup on the stove.

Next: Part 4 The Fridge

All Posts:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

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