Designing a Simple Water System

So I'm trying to design a simple water system for a (yet to be acquired) camper van. The one I am looking at-- a 2wd Sportsmobile--has a furnished interior with cabinetry, counters, storage, and a Gaucho bench seat, and Penthouse roof. However it doesn't have a propane or water system. For the water system I would like to install a sink and install the fresh/grey water tanks and other system components in the cupboard beneath the sink. I would like to keep the system as simple as possible, but also incorporate a filter (for taste mostly) into the system. I don't know much when it comes to plumbing or vehicle water systems but I have done a fair amount of research and it doesn't seem too complicated.

The system I envision would use a 5 Gallon Scepter MWC for the freshwater and Greywater tanks (this would allow for a backup 5 gallons of freshwater to be stored on or in the vehicle and easily be switched once the primary MWC is depleted). From the freshwater tank a flexible hose would connect to the water pump and than a water filter/purifier before connecting to the faucet. The sink drain would connect to another flexible hose which would in turn connect to a 2 way valve. This valve would channel water either into the 5 gallon grey water tank or onto the ground through the floor of the vehicle.

Tanks located inside the vehicle (wouldn't freeze)
Ability to carry extra 5g tanks to switch out with empties
Versatile tanks could be removed from water system and used for other purposes or on different rigs

No hot water system (easy to add later i think?)
Tanks located inside the vehicle (lose storage space)

So what do you think? Am I missing something do you see any drop backs not mentioned?
As this is simply theoretical at this point, is it possible to use 5g scepter containers in this manner?
Any advice on an inline water filter (will be traveling in US/Canada potable water sources should be easy enough to find) price, size, flow rate, are my primary considerations. Do you need an extra tank for an RO system?
Any advice on choosing a water pump?

Thanks for the feedback guys!


Expedition Leader
I went thru the same dilemma and came up with a set up based on a tank I already had. The tank is 20 gallons and is plumbed to a fitting on the side of the van for easy garden hose fill ups. It has a drain valve with hose and a vent hose dropped thru the floor. Camping world sells sure flow pumps and one is always on sale. It's wired to a shut off switch but once it's on the pump only runs when you draw water. Everything including the sink is built into one removable cabinet that I built. Lowes or Home Depot sell a small stainless bar sink that is cheap and perfectly sized for a van. The best thing I bought was a metal laundry room sink faucet. That kind has threads on the end that directly accept any garden hose. I use a 10' hose that you can get in the camping isle at Walmart or camping world to use as my garden hose. It's great to hose off dirt boots, dog and I shower with it. I can clean dishes out side as well. For grey water I use a 2.5 gallon bucket under the sink. Remembering to dump it before you drive is important but its been working for me. If I'm at a place that I legally cannot dump grey water I don't use it much or keep a couple of plastic apple cider jugs around to dump the bucket into. Actually I've never had to do that but do have the option. I hope you get some more ideas because on my list is to move mine from over the wheel well to the behind it. I'm going to keep the 20 gallons because I've used all 20 more than once. I bring bottled water to drink because a put a shot of bleach into the tank from time to time to keep the funk out. Having running water and a sink may not be mandatory but after having one it is for me.
Thanks for the reply, Stumpalump.
I'm sold on the laundry room faucet, that sounds ideal in terms of versatility! I'd like to avoid bottled water to keep down costs of travel and to reduce my plastic consumption so I'm planning on some kind of filter, Maybe RO, Maybe something simpler. I might look into a bigger tank than the 5g i was planning but I like the versatility of using the Scepter cans.

Thanks again!

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I am in the process (really a 10 year process so far) of redoing my travel trailer and I totally like the idea using Scepter MWC's to hold water. They are cheap up here and are relatively light to carry and fill.I use a Katadyn to filter my water from natural sources so that won't change. If you can avoid it, don't bother with a grey water tank (we use a hose to let it run into the bushes and no bears have bothered us but we do get the odd racoon hoping for a few handouts).:coffee:


Yup, we use the same one but w/o the faucet kit. They issued us this system in the forces (but not in blue or black):coffee:
762X39 - Those are the same reasons I like the MWCs, price, weight, and versatility. I would like to avoid using a grey water tank as you have said, but it was my understanding that it might be illegal in some states/areas or at the least against the rules at some campsites/national parks/national forests. This is why I would like to have the option of draining grey water into an MWC or through the floor onto the ground depending on my situation.

AeroNautiCal - That filter looks nice although I would probably prefer one that could be hidden beneath the counter-top. does the filter improve the taste of the water significantly? If it was issued to 762X39 in the military I would imagine it would also purify the water at least to an extent?

Thanks for the help guys


Simple? OK:

In my old van (sad to say, gone now) I for years used a couple of these to store/carry/despense water: Other ones are available....the key is have at least one with a spigot valve...the others can be any type: you pour from the spigot in the other types if you go this way. Had 3 filled and carried low in the van when on road - 15 gallons - could have carried more.

To use, I sat the spigot valve one on a small shelf and had at first just a dishpan as a sink. Later added a sink and modded up another 5 gal can as a grey tank.

The good points as I recall: Never any pump issues - and no pump tends to save water use. Simple and foolproof - and flexable use. Water available in and out of van (say at a picnic table outside). Fillable from a hose or a stream (then treat the water)...because a system that mandates a hose fill can have some real limits in some locations. Easy to clean everything or disinfect. The filled water cans were great holding down tarp corners/tiedown that I used as an awning out the side or back. Could plop one jug into our canoe if canoe camping overnight.

IF I was ever to get back into a simple van...I really think I would re-use this system by making a vertical stack type cabinet/counter specifically sized to store one filled 5 gallon supply and the 5 gallon grey in the bottom part when on road AND add a drain hose "Y" valve for draining directly out of van. Above would be a holder/shelf that would hold a filled despenser can over the sink for ready use.


762X39 -
AeroNautiCal - That filter looks nice although I would probably prefer one that could be hidden beneath the counter-top. does the filter improve the taste of the water significantly? If it was issued to 762X39 in the military I would imagine it would also purify the water.
Yes it will purify water that your life can depend on (I am very happy with mine). You also have the option of adding charcoal to clean up the taste (I haven't needed to yet). I use an inline ceramic filter up at the cottage that is almost as good for drinking water (we fill the 4000 litre cistern with water from the north channel). It is more effective than the other filters but the flow through it is slower.The only thing to watch out for is not to let the filter freeze (a $100 mistake I only made once).:coffee:


When I rebuilt my Bethany Pickupper, I revamped the water system…
It was a hand pump faucet with a two gallon jug tank and a outside hose bib for the drain.

I switched it to a 12vdc pressure pump from a full size camper… used a bar top faucet set from home depot and plumbed it to a male hose bib at the rear of the camper. I use (2) 7gal blue camping jugs for water… I rigged one with a hose and check valve to keep the water from draining back. When I get to my camp site, I pull both jugs out and put them under the truck, connect one to the rear hose bib via the built in hose. I did put a charcoal water filter in the line from the pump that runs to the sink… improves the taste of the water at the sink greatly. Not really a water purifier but just for taste.

I also plumbed in a outside hose valve at the back of the camper so I can draw water from system for cooking or cleaning outside... I even rigged up a hand held shower so we can wash our feet off at the beach (keeps the floor of the camper cleaner!) I've even used it for a quick shower, after leaving the storage jug in the sun all day it was plenty warm.

I ran the pressure water to one side of the bar faucet... the other side runs to a outside mounted female hose bib and I carry a extra hose and pressure reducer for connecting to city water at camp grounds.

For the drain on the sink I kept the simple outside hose bib and just connect a extra hunk of hose and either put it in a extra 7 gal jug I carry or just run the hose on the ground under the truck.

Super simple… works without a failure so far.
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Hi, Im new to the forum and I can't seem to find a water heater section, I don't mean to hijack the thread but has any of you ever heard of a water heater that use the truck/rv engine to warm it up. I first thought I could have the hot water going thru the engine coolant system to warm it up but then I realized that I could just coil a copper pipe around the header or exhaust pipe. I know it would cost more to run the engine then the propane water heater but I could charge the batteries at the same time, what do you guys think tho.

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your basically talking about air to water heat exchangers. Those don't work nearly as well. If your going to do it this way, just coil copper pipe and place on a camping stove or propane stove. Just make sure you keep running water through it to cool it down. you just need a small 12V water pump to make it happen.