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PEX Pipe For Van Conversions: Is It A Good Idea?

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When you’re at most hardware stores, you’ll likely be inundated with lots of different ways to build a plumbing system. There’s an incredible number of different fittings and pipes made from different materials, such as copper, PVC, vinyl, and PEX. It can be quite confusing if it’s your first time in the plumbing aisle.

Most of us aren’t certified plumbers. And we don’t want to pay a certified plumber to build our camper. We just want to find a material that is easy to customize, simple to put together, and won’t leak. And that’s exactly why PEX pipes are the best choice for RVs and camper vans.

In this post, we will discuss why PEX pipes are the best solution when building your camper’s water system. We’ll also look at which components and fittings we used, in conjunction with PEX pipes, to build our sink and shower plumbing system.

So if you’re ready, let’s get to it!

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    Not what you need? Check out our van “Plumbing” category page for more similar content.

    Why PEX Pipe Is Best For Van Conversions

    Half Inch PEX Pipes With Cutter And Rings

    PEX pipe offers 4 distinct advantages for those building a camper van and/or RV.

    1. Quick & Easy Installation

    It’s hard to over exaggerate just how easy it is to piece together different PEX pipes. You simply cut the PEX pipe to size, insert the tube over a metal fitting, and crimp a copper ring to keep the pipe in place. It really is that simple.

    Compare this to having to weld copper pipes together or use messy glue to hold together PVC tubes.

    We link to a useful YouTube video at the end of this post showing how easy it is to put together a PEX pipe plumbing system.

    2. Flexible Tubing

    PEX pipes are made out of flexible plastic (cross-linked polyethylene), which is perfect for DIY van conversions. Because this material can flex and bend, the pipes are much more forgiving if your measurements aren’t 100% accurate. This is perfect for plumbing beginners, like us!

    3. Lightweight

    Unlike traditional copper pipes used in homes, PEX pipes are lightweight. They’re essentially a non-factor in deciding the overall weight of your camper.

    4. High-Grade Plastic

    The cross-linked polyethylene material resists high-temperatures, corrosion, and abuse. Which is perfect for camper vans that intend to travel in a wide range of temperatures and climates.

    PEX Pipe (with pipe cutter)
    • Directly from One of the Biggest Pex Systems Manufacturers.
    • EFIELD Pex-B Tubing for Potable Water and Hot Water Applications
    • Efield Pex Pipe is NSF Certified. Compatible with Pex Crimping fitting, Push-fit Fittings

    Building a camper van? Download our free e-Books with intuitive electrical, solar, and plumbing diagrams.

    What Size PEX Do Campers Use?

    You can easily find PEX pipes that have an inner diameter of  ½” and ¾”. But for camper vans and RVs, the ½” pipes will be sufficient. The ¾” pipes are primarily for main water lines that enter a residential home.

    PEX Fittings

    Assorted brass PEX fittings
    Assorted PEX fittings

    In order to build a complete plumbing system you’ll need to pair PEX tubing with several types of metal fittings. These fittings allow you to:

    In order to connect the PEX tubes to these fittings, you’ll need to crimp a copper ring over the PEX tube and fitting to create a water-tight connection. You’ll need some hand strength to do this, but it’s an easy, straightforward procedure.

    We talk about this below.

    How To Crimp PEX Pipes

    To crimp the copper ring over the PEX tube and fitting, you’ll need a specific crimping tool.

    We recommend getting the IWISS Ring Crimping Set. It not only comes with the tool you’ll need to crimp the ring over the PEX tube and fitting, but it also comes with a pipe cutter and 20 ½” copper rings, which should be enough for most basic plumbing builds.

    PEX Pipe Crimping Kit
    • All-in-One PEX Piping Tool Kit: IWS-1234C PEX plumbing kit is designed to make copper crimp ring and...
    • Patented Copper Crimp Ring: Annealed copper crimp rings are used to secure PEX piping to F1807 Brass...
    • PEX Crimping Tool: Dual cavity plumbing PEX crimping tool for PEX Copper Crimp Rings 1/2" & 3/4"....

    Check out the below video to see just how easy it is to construct a PEX-based plumbing system.

    Can PEX Pipes Resist Freezing Temperatures?

    PEX pipes are proven to be more flexible and durable than their PVC counterparts. This makes them more resistant to bursting when water begins to freeze in sub-zero temperatures.

    However, PEX tubes are not freeze-proof. Meaning, if you plan to travel in areas that will expose your PEX pipes to freezing temperatures, you should still take the proper precautions to winterize your pipes to prevent permanent damage to your plumbing system.

    Enjoyed reading? Check out our van “Plumbing” category page for more similar content.


    We hope this post convinced you that going with PEX tubing is the best option for your camper van plumbing build. Of course, PEX is just one of the many components in building a complete system for your sink or shower.

    To learn more about how to build a complete water system, check out our articles below.

    Thank You For Reading!

    We’re Yuko and Eric! We both grew up in Asia ( Japan & Hong Kong ), we left our jobs and homes in 2018 and started traveling full time from Canada to Argentina in our self-converted camper van since end of May 2019. “Asobo” means “Let’s play” in Japanese. We named our site “Asobolife” because the life is always uncertain and we live only once so it’s important to always keep positive, playful mind and enjoy the moment you are in the present. We also want to use this website to share our road trip and van building experiences to inspire our readers. We hope you enjoy!

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