Pretty near the top of most people's wish lists in a basic campervan conversion would be a sink with a tap and running water. Its pretty easy to install a cold water system, so why not!
Well, you obviously need a unit to house the sink and somewhere secure to store the water tank as well as a power supply (e.g. a leisure battery)
Installing Running Water in a Campervan
All this should set you back less than a couple of hundred pounds. As with all things in your conversion installing running water requires a fair amount of forethought and preparation to get things in a good place. Planning out where things will fit before embarking on any alterations. The key issues are:
Many people opt for a sink/stove combi situated in a unit at the side of the van under the sliding window (for ventillation while cooking). The water tank is in a unit to the right of the stove, upright with a small hatch for access and refilling. The waste tank is down on the floor to the left of the unit. Try to attain a sensible compromise between the space required for the tank and the need to refill often.
Many people seem to think that the whole tap, pump, and water tank thing is complicated but it really isn't even slightly. For sure adding hot water starts to get a bit more involved, but just adding cold drinking water to a campervan conversion is dead simple and is a hugely desirable and cheap addition to any campervan conversion - so what are you waiting for!
To get running water you need a water storage tank, a submersible pump which sits in your storage tank and connects to one end of some water hose, the other end of which then connects to the bottom of your tap. The pump needs power and needs some form of switch to tell it when to turn on and off so it needs wired in to your leisure / second battery. In the vans we've converted the pump is connected to a micro switch which is built into a single tap. You can however also have a pressure switch system which can even work with conventional house taps.
In a micro-switched system each tap contains a tiny switch. When you turn a tap on the switch inside it is operated and the water pumps runs. Turn the tap off and the switch is turned off again stopping the pump. In a campervan with one tap, say just for cold water this is a neat system. The beauty of a purpose made tap is you can also get space saving swivel / folding ones (like the Reich one in the online shop) allowing you to tuck it away so the sink can be covered and double as a work surface.
A pressure switched system contains only one switch for the whole system (rather than one in every tap) and the taps can therefore be of the conventional domestic type - again these are just plumbed into the water tank with water hose but there is a switch connected into the hose between the taps and that water tank (with pump). Water in the system is kept under pressure by being trapped between the taps and a one-way valve at the inlet. When a tap is turned on, the water pressure drops. This operates the pressure switch (which is wired to the pump) and turns the pump on. When the tap is turned off the pump continues to run until sufficient pressure has developed to trip the pressure switch off. The tricky part can be getting the pressure switch adjusted correctly.
With both systems you need to keep an eye on the amount of water in your storage tank so you don't burn your pump out trying to pump fresh air.
If you want to use ordinary household taps you would have to go for a pressure switch system. Quite how they would connect in depends on the diameter and any fittings underneath, washers etc.
Q: How do you stop the wastewater tank getting all festy?
A: Good question!! The best solution is a combination of things - The main solution is to minimise the amount of waste food, drink and chemicals e.g. soap, toothpaste etc which you wash away down the sink and to clean out your wastewater tank regularly. Alternatively, don't worry about using it for whatever but replace your tank regularly. Using an old car windscreen wash tank or similar will be cheap and easy to change every time you need to replenish your vehicles screen wash!
Q: I'm thinking of putting a shower in my campervan and need hot water. How do I do this?
A: Simply, you need some form of water heater - we sell a great campervan water heater which has a mains electricity heating element heats things up quickly and works particularly well for those of you with mains hook up electrics. Most campervan water heaters are now of the 'storage' variety meaning it does take a little time for the water to heat up and you are restricted by the volume which can be stored (which has implications on space) - the one we sell stores 10L which we think is the right balance of storage vs space taken up. Instantaneous water heaters (which as the name suggests heat water instantly) are no longer recommended by the NCC which advises that these should be replaced by approved storage heaters.