Camper Van Plumbing System
Get started on your plumbing adventure with this guide. From this page you’ll find resources on how to build a camper sink & faucet system, install a shower, and pick up key product recommendations that have made van life easier and more convenient.
Thought our camper plumbing section you’ll come across detailed diagrams and step-by-step installation instructions.
So if you’re ready, let’s get to it!
For specific articles, scroll through our 8 posts we have to help you choose your ultimate van life vehicle.
Not what you need? Check out our complete “DIY Van Conversion Guide” for more content. (50+ detailed articles.)
The easiest way to build your camper’s plumbing system is with PEX pipes. These pipes and all related fittings are available at Home Depot or most local hardware stores.
- Lightweight: Great for RVs & campers
- Quick installation: Easy to cut and connect PEX pipes
- Flexible tubing: Perfect for DIY jobs and imperfect measurements
- High-grade plastic: Resists high-temperatures, corrosion, and abuse
1/2" PEX Pipes
To build a plumbing system using PEX pipes, you’ll need:
- ½” PEX Pipes: This set INCLUDES the pipe cutter, which makes cutting the PEX quick and easy.
- PEX fittings: 90-degree, splitters, and extenders.
- Copper Rings: Crimp these onto the PEX tube and fittings for a water tight seal
- Copper Ring Crimper: You’ll need this massive crimper to crimp the copper rings
PEX Pipe Installation Tutorial
This simple video is a great tutorial on how to cut and crimp PEX pipes. It really is that simple.
Fresh Water Tanks
Who knew that there were so many different ways to store water in a camper van?
Below are the most common three methods camper vans & RVs store their fresh water.
Each type of water container has their pros and cons. For example, we use jerry cans under our sink because they can be easily removed and filled from practically any water source.
Check out our post below to learn more about all the water storage options available to you.
Related read: Fresh Water Tanks For Camper Vans
Hot Water Heaters
Having a hot water boiler in an RV is a very nice luxury to have, but it’ll mean having to carry additional battery capacity or propane in order to heat your water.
Mini-Tank Water Heater: Bosch Tronic 2.5 Gallon – This water tank heater is a popular option for those building their own camper plumbing system. However, you’ll need decent battery capacity and at least a 3000VA Inverter to power it.
Tankless Water Heater: Camplux Propane Water Heater – This water heater was made for campers and RVs in mind as it comes with a built in shower head and hose. However, having a propane water heater takes up more space than an electric heater and you’ll need a larger propane tank if you plan to use your heater often.
Mini-Tank Water Heater
Tankless Water Heater
Even building a simple sink & faucet system in a camper can be complex because there are so many small components involved.
In the sink plumbing diagram below, you can see just how many parts are involved in a successful installation.
To build the EXACT same system as above, we detail the step-by-step installation process in our camper sink installation post. In that post, we include:
We’re sure you’ll have your sink system set up in no time.
Related read: How To Install A Camper Sink & Faucet System
Sink & Faucet Recommendation
When it comes to cooking meals & cleaning up afterwards, we believe that they should be done as easily and conveniently as possible. Living in a van is hard enough, so we should invest in products that help make van life simpler, not more frustrating.
That’s why we did so much research as to which sink and faucet would help make dish cleaning quicker and more enjoyable. This would also help incentivize us to cook more and eat out less, helping to save us money.
Below, we link to the exact same sink and faucet that we use in our van.
Fig 2.2 - Sink & Faucet Recommendation
Where To Buy?
Ruvati RV Sink
Want to learn more? Check out our sink & faucet review write-ups and decide for yourself.
Don’t lie, one of the first thoughts you had when you decided to try van life was how you were going to deal with the bathroom situation. That was us, too!
In essence, there are four general bathroom options for a camper van:
We purchased a compact Porta-Potty chemical toilet to start, but never used it once in 7 months of travel. So we threw our toilet away and NEVER LOOKED BACK!
Seriously. After more than 2 years since the toilet purge, we’ve been improvising just fine. And we think you’ll be OK, too.
That’s not to say we don’t have a toilet ‘solution’. Learn more by clicking the link below.
Related read: Do You REALLY Need A Camper Toilet?
There are several different camper shower setups out there. These include:
Of all the above options, we most prefer showering with a solar shower bag. It’s the most economical and space efficient solution.
However, we did install a camper shower system so that we could take hot showers while standing out the back of our camper van. Read our post below to learn how to build and install your own camper shower system.
Related read: Camper Van Shower Diagram & Installation Guide
Sanitize A Water System
Once every 3-4 months, we like to sanitize our water & plumbing system by flushing chlorine solution through our water tanks, pipes, and pump.
Water Tank Sanitization Steps
- Prepare a chlorine solution by mixing ¼ cup of household, unscented bleach with one gallon of water.
- You will need one gallon of this chlorine solution for each 15 gallons of tank capacity.
- Never pour pure bleach directly into your water tanks
- Pour the diluted chlorine solution into your water tank and fill the remaining capacity with water.
- Turn on water pump and allow chlorine solution to sit in the pipes.
- Allow the solution to sit in the water tank and pipes for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours, drain and flush with fresh water
Free Plumbing eBook!
If you’re looking to build your own van plumbing system, we created a free eBook with detailed diagrams that show you how to set up your own:
For more, click the banner below to download. It’s completely free and no email sign-up required.
Water System Van Tour
In our van tour video above, we skip directly to our campervan’s water system. Here we talk about our sink and faucet installation and give a quick look at what’s under the sink.
Hope you enjoy!