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Camper Van Shower Plumbing Diagrams & Installation Guide

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For many, installing a hot water shower is a critical part of van life. Not only would you be able to clean off after a long day of exploring, but having your own shower means you wouldn’t be dependent on staying at paid campsites or using public facilities.

When we converted our camper van, we built a convenient and functional outdoor shower system. But installing the shower plumbing system was challenging because there were hundreds of tiny fittings we had to sort through to find which pieces would work for our system.

That’s why we created this post; to help you easily build your own shower system based on our experience.

In this camper van shower installation guide, we give step-by-step instruction and provide useful diagrams to help you along the way. And when you’re finished, you should have a shower plumbing system that resembles the diagram below.

Shower plumbing diagram for camper vans that includes connection to an electric hot water heater.

So if you’re ready, let’s get to it.

Step 1:

Select Fixed Water Tank Size

The first step is to decide what size water tank to feed to your shower. Typical RV water tanks range from 5-65 gallons. Whichever tank size you choose, we recommend getting Class A Custom’s ‘spouted’ water tanks. These RV tanks are made from food-grade polyethelene (PE) and the unique spouted inlet port simplifies the installation process.

Recommended Fixed Tank
Class A Customs Spouted 20 Gallon Water Tank

We also use a water tank from Class A Customs and love the strong, rigid plastic build. We recommend getting a 'spouted' water tank, which simplifies the water inlet installation process.

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12/03/2023 04:14 am GMT

Shower Water Usage Rate

A typical conservative shower uses about 3.5 gallons per person. So a 20 gallon water tank would last ~6 showers. Below, we list several other popular tank sizes with ‘spouted’ water inlets.

Spouted Water Tank Size

Where To Buy?

10 Gallons

16 Gallons

20 Gallons

25 Gallons

30 Gallons

For more specific information, read our camper van water tanks post.

Step 2:

Set Up Fixed Water Tank

Once you have your selected tank, you’ll notice that there are up to four ports located on one end of the tank. Each of these four ports has a different function:

  1. Water Inlet: Where the tank gets filled with water.
  2. Water Outlet: Where the water exits to the water pump and shower.
  3. Air Vent: Where air enters and exits the tank as water fills and drains.
  4. Drain: Where water can drain out during maintenance.
Fresh Water Tank Ports/Openings

In the below diagram, we show you how to connect the correct components to every port EXCEPT the water outlet port. The outlet port will eventually lead to the water pump and shower, but we will take care of the outlet port in step 3, next.

Note: For the water inlet port, we show two different methods. One is a more traditional RV water fill method with a ‘water inlet dish’. And the other is with a ‘fill tube’. You must decide which version to use.

Connecting various plumbing components to a fixed water tank

Materials List

  • Description:

    Connects to fixed water tank and allows water to drain out of tank.

  • Description:

    Plugs RV tank's water inlet port to prevent leak. (Used in conjunction with Camco water fill tube).


Connects to fixed water tank and allows water to drain out of tank.


Attaches to fixed water tank and connects to 1/2" ID braided hose.


Clamp's 1/2" ID braided hose onto 1/2" barb fitting.


Attaches to air vent port.


Plugs RV tank's water inlet port to prevent leak. (Used in conjunction with Camco water fill tube).


Inserts into fixed water tank to fill tank with water.


Connects the water inlet dish to the recommended spouted water tank.


Attaches to van's exterior and allows you to fill water tank from a public source.

Installation Instructions

Air Vent Port

  1. Attach the 1/2″ Male NPT to 1/2″ hose barb to the air vent port.
  2. Fix the 1/2″ braided hose over the hose barb.
  3. Use a hose clamp to tighten the hose over the barb.

Water Inlet Port

Option 1: No connections necessary.

  1. To fill water, insert the tank filler tube into the water tank and fill with a hose.
  2. When finished, remove the filler tube and insert the plug.

Option 2:

  1. Attach the 1.25″ ID Hose Tubing over the water tank spout.
  2. Use the 1.5″ hose clamp to tighten the hose over the spout.
  3. Fix the other end of the hose tubing over the hose barb of the water inlet dish.

Water Drain Port

  1. Attach the drain valve into the drain port.
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Step 3:

Connect Water Tank To Water Pump

In this section, we connect the fourth port, water outlet, to the 12V water pump. The Blue Colored Pipes you see in the below diagram are PEX pipes and are the recommended plumbing material in camper vans & RVs. They’re lightweight, easy to cut & attach, and affordable. We use them in our van and highly recommend them for your own build.

All-In-One Plumbing Kit
PEX Pipe Kit (1/2") - Tubing, Fittings, Clasps, & Tools

Convenient all-in-one plumbing kit. Includes blue & red 1/2" PEX pipe, ring clasps, brass fittings, and assembly tools. Everything you need to get started ASAP.

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12/03/2023 05:37 pm GMT

Below is the 1st half of the plumbing diagram from the fixed water tank to the pump. We will connect the pump to the shower later in the next step.

Connecting the fixed water tank to the 12V water pump.

Good to know: A pump silencer muffles the noise emitted from the pump by reducing the vibration intensity. Two silencer tubes are provided in the kit. One tube is installed before the filter, and the second tube is installed after the pump.

Materials List


Connects NPT fittings to PEX pipe.


Perfect all-in-one starter plumbing kit. Includes tubing, basic fittings, and tools.


Stops the flow of water.


Makes 90-degree turns with PEX tubing.


Reduces vibration from the pump, helping to quiet the pump when in operation.


Filters out harmful particles before they enter the water pump and cause damage.


Compact electric water pump for camper vans & RVs.

Installation Instructions

  1. Attach 1/2″ Male NPT to 1/2″ PEX to water outlet port.
  2. Crimp PEX pipe onto 1/2″ PEX fitting
  3. Crimp PEX pipe onto 1/2″ PEX to 1/2′ Male NPT
  4. Attach 1/2″ Male NPT into pump silencer tube.
  5. Fix pump silencer tube to pump filter.
  6. Attach pump filter to water pump.

Step 4:

Pump To Water Heater & Shower Head

In the final section, we connect the pump to an electric water heater and finally to the shower head. In the middle we will connect to a simple water mixer so that you can adjust the temperature of the shower water. We will follow the below plumbing diagram. Notice how cold water (with Blue PEX) enters the heater and hot water (with Red PEX) exits the heater.

Note: In order for this electric heater to work, you must have an electrical system with sufficient battery size and a 3000W inverter.

Connecting the 12V water pump to an electric water heater and a shower head.

What is an 'accumulator'? An accumulator helps to sustain the water pressure in the system so that a more even flow of water exits to the shower & faucet. The accumulator also reduces the workload of the pump, helping to prolong its life.

Materials List


Required to attach the Shurflo water pump to the accumulator.


Maintains water pressure to deliver smoother water flow to the faucet. Also prolongs the pump's lifespan.


Split PEX pipe line into two paths.


Connects NPT fittings to PEX pipe.


Simple hot & cold water mixing valve for showers.


Great water saving shower head recommendation. Includes on/off pause switch.


Compact, yet powerful, mini water heater. Uses 1440W of power.

Installation Instructions

To Water Heater

  1. Fix female-female adapter to pump’s water outlet
  2. Attach adapter to accumulator.
  3. Attach 2nd silencer tube to accumulator.
  4. Fix 1/2″ Male NPT to 1/2″ PEX to silencer tube
  5. Split the PEX pipe with a 3-way PEX Tee
  6. Attach PEX pipe to 1/2″ Female NPT swivel adapter and connect to water heater inlet.

To Shower Head

  1. Connect a swivel 1/2″ Female NPT to 1/2″ PEX to the water heater’s outlet port. Use Red PEX for hot water indication.
  2. Connect the Blue PEX and the Red PEX to the water mixing valve with more female swivel adapters.
  3. Connect the shower head hose to the mixing valve.

Step 5:

Connecting 12V Water Pump To Batteries

If you are using a 12V electric water pump, like what we use in our diagrams, then you will need to connect the pump to your leisure batteries in order for it to function. In the diagram below, we show you how to wire the pump to a 12V fuse panel, which is then connected to the batteries. You’ll see that we also wired in a simple 12V switch so that you can control when the pump is on.

In our 12V electrical post, we show you how to connect this fuse panel to the leisure batteries to complete the circuit.

Wiring 12V water pump to switch and fuse panel

Materials List


Distributes power from the leisure batteries to each 12V device, including the pump.


Fuses individual 12V circuits and protects 14 AWG wire.


Attaches 14 AWG wire to 12V fuse panel.


Ideal wire size for connecting 12V devices to the fuse panel. Pure copper wire with protective outer jacket.


Turns water pump on & off.


Attaches 14 AWG wire to switch.


Extends water pump wires to switch.

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

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Final Thoughts: A Van Life Hot Water Shower Isn't Fantasy

With proper planning, an outdoor camper van shower is possible. And we hope this shower installation guide simplifies the process for you.

For us, plumbing was our least favorite part on the van build because it was difficult to locate all the different components needed to put the system together. That’s why we created this guide; to help you easily source all the tiny parts and fittings.

If you have any questions regarding this simple outdoor shower guide, please send us an email in our contact section.

Happy building!

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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