In this article we will cover the part of the water, the gas and the plumbing of our transformation from a van into a house on wheels.
In a motorhome the water system is basically divided into two, the part of the dirty water and the part of the clean water, so let’s talk about each one separately.
First of all there are the 4 main components of the system: the water pump, the expansion vessel and the tanks.
In our van we opted to make a dirty water system similar to that of a motorhome, that is to have a fixed deposit abroad with faucet.
For smaller vans, and without a bathroom you can also make a simpler system, with a deposit of for example 15 / 20L under the kitchen sink.
In our case we put an 80L deposit under the back of the van, it was not us who applied the deposit because when we went to put the windows in CampersLife Gaspar we buy one and they attach him.
For those who want to do it, it’s nothing out of this world, the important thing is to choose the place where the straps are fastened and use the right material.
The storage room has two tubes, one that goes to the bathroom’s shower, and the other goes to the kitchen sink.
We chose not to have a washbasin in the bathroom, first because we had more space and second because in our way of being in the van we feel that we do not need one. We have one in the kictheen about 1 meter away, so…
The dirty water tank has two pipes, the first goes to the kitchen sink. As we made the electrical system near the sink we decided to put the tube on the side of the driver’s seat, because if there is any problem the water runs away from the electrical part.
The tube is almost 7 meters and fits directly into the lavatory outlet. For this we had to buy adapters to be able to adapt the output of the lavatory to the tube.
For the clean water system we put a 100L tank in the back of the van under the bed.
From our experience, a 100L deposit takes about 4/5 days with two people to “live” inside the van, with baths, washing dishes. What we do is have two more 10L barrels for the if we run out of water.
For now we do not have hot water as we are still trying to figure out which is the best solution.
The first thing we did in our water system was to pass the water pipe from the tank into the kitchen / bathroom area. We could have passed the tube on the floor, but for the sake of possible future problems we decided to pass it by the side of the van, where it is more easily accessible.
For water to flow from the tank to the various taps, a water pump is required. There are various types and models, from submersible to outdoor.
Our pump is a 10L / min 12V Automatic Shurfluo, this pump feels the pressure difference when you open a tap and turns on automatically. It is a pump that is placed on the outside of the tank.
When assembling a pump of this type it is advisable to mount an expansion vessel as it will make the water leave more steadily and increase the life of the pump.
First of all it is necessary to make a hole in the tank to later fit the tube that will connect to the pump, to supply water to the van.
Then we assembled the pump and the expansion vessel into a wooden board that we screwed up to the structure of the van.
We used water tubes of two layers with 10mm of aperture, and on the threads we put tape (Teflon) to avoid leakage.
Note: If it were today we had used 12mm, as it would be easier to adapt this hose to house taps
The order is: tank, water pump. expansion vessel
The pump runs at 12v so we used a wire that we had previously passed to the back of the van.
It is advisable to leave the “half-accessible” expansion vessel so that when it is under less pressure, a pump (which increases the pressure) can be connected through that protrusion on the underside.
The tube then passes through the seat area and goes through the area between the toilet and the van panelto the kitchen area.
At this point the tube has to divide into two, part that goes into the kitchen and the part that goes into the bathroom.
For now as we do not have hot water, the pipe just has to split in two, in the future there will have to be another room for the water to go to the boiler and turn back.
We wil make this separation on the ‘L’ which is following the ‘saida agua fria’ pipe.
In the beginning we had a few leaks, but we managed to solve them all, the trick is to tight the clamps very well and stick the tube well in the connections.
Behind the bathroom showe mixer, we connected the 2 elbows with reductions so that the hoses entered.
We decided to use silicone glue and seal at the joint along with the clamps since the last piece of brass was not too deep. This is not the ideal solution, but in our case it worked well.
We were careful to leave these areas accessible, at the top just take a piece of wood with a screwdriver to access, and on the bottom a piece of wood. This is to be able to go with possible leaks and to be easier when we put the hot water.
For the kitchen part, we also had to buy new adapters, so we could connect the hose to the tap outlet. Since we wanted to use a normal shower and a tap we had to solve this type of problem and in total it cost us almost € 20 in reductions, but we liked the result.
Gas is another fundamental issue in a convertion, because without gas there is no stove and in most cases neither refrigerator or hot water.
Of course this part requires special attention because badly done things can lead to major problems so we try to simplify things to the maximum to minimize the risks.
What kind of gas to use?
At gas level there are 4 different hypotheses: LPG, Butane, Propane and CampinGaz jars.
For those who can (vehicle dimensions and €) the best option in our opinion is to have a LPGsystem. This system makes it possible to supply any pump in Europe that sells LPG (adapters are needed), which is more practical and cheaper because LPG is cheaper than buying gas bottles.
In addition, it is not necessary to change the bottle, which for some people can be a great advantage and can be used in negative temperatures as opposed to Butane.
We installed this system in our motorhome when we made the trip through Europe and it cost us € 300.
We never use this type of gas, but its advantage is that the tanks are available in smaller sizes (2kg …). Another advantage is that they can be exchanged in almost all European countries, but it is not always easy to find the appropriate sites.
The big disadvantage is that it is a lot more expensive than the other types.
Butane and Propane
The most common is to use Propane or Butane bottles, which are sold by various brands in Portugal and in Europe. Previously all brands had different reducers (part that fits the hose in the bottle), nowadays already there are marks that use similar reducers reason why it makes easier the exchange of bottles.
Abroad ( Out of Portugal) things are not like that, that is, with the exception of Spain, which has Repsol and Cepsa, for example, in other European countries it is impossible to find bottles that can be used in the reducers here.
Regarding the type of gas itself, Butane is a bit cheaper but has the inconvenience of being able to freeze when temperatures drop from 0.
In addition Propane offers a warmer flame. We switched from Butane to Propane because with the first type of gas the stove did not give a good yield but whene we change to a propane botle he begun to work great.
The problem of Propane is because it is considered more dangerous, in many cases neither is advised to use in homes. In our view, this extra danger is due to the fact that propane reducers normally operate at a higher pressure, which increases the risk of pipe / junction problems, hence likely to pose a greater hazard to some people. In our case the reducer even has a pressure similar to normal butane (30mb).
But the truth is that we have not found any really reliable information to explain why Propane is more dangerous and in any possible problem inside the van the two types of gases offer the same risks as we opted for Propane.
At the beginning we had planned to install the gas in a professional workshop in the area but then we partially abandoned this idea and decided to do the first part of the installation ourselves and then when we put the boiler or the water heater the person who does the service does the part then that is the separation of the pipe, so as to have two exits (stove and water heating).
What we did was start by putting 8mm copper tube from where we got the bin up to the kitchen area.
The tube is malleable, but it should not be bent to many times because it begins to gain curves. We fixed everything with metal fasteners in which we glued what we normally put in the feet of the chairs so as not to damage the tube. The tube should not shake or make sharp curves.
The dangerous part is the part of putting the bicones (part that allows to join of the tube with other pieces) since they have to be well done or gas leaks.
We have chosen to do it differently and not use connecting parts. As only have one gas appliance, the stove, we do not need to split the gas flow, so what we did was connect the copper pipe directly to a gas hose.
In other words, instead of having to connect the copper pipe to a bicone which then allows to connect a gas hose and to have two potential escape sites (side of the pool and side of the stove), we put the tube in the hose 10cm and we put two clamps .
Who works in the area or is accustomed to working with gas and this can do it in a safe way obviously, but in our case the hypothesis of doing something wrong is greater and in this way the risk is almost zero because it is clear that no there are leaks and we are putting copper pipe to gas, inside rubber hose to gas, with appropriate clamps … so we are confident with the choice.
When we put the hot water the person indicated will turn on the gas tap with two exits, which we happen to have already bought.
This way although not the most orthodox was advised us by a professional of the sector and ended up making easy and without major complications something that should be really well done.
In relation to the botle we decided to put it under the bed. The only place where you should not have the bin is at the foot of the stove. Having it under the bed seems dangerous but the reality is that if we are to think of a risk of explosion, that in a botle is almost non-existent and when we are sleeping is precisely when there is even less risk.
The only precaution is to have it on hand so that you can change it or take it out in an emergency. In the future we will make a kind of box with holes for the floor of the van, because as the gas is heavier than air if there is an escape the gas will tend to go down and so get out of the station wagon.
We fixed the botle to a wooden clapboard with its own strap.
The article will be updated as we go about doing the things that are missing.
Price of the Materials
- Water pump Shurfluo 10L – 61.9 €
- Fiamma Expansion Vessel – € 24
- Red pipe 5m 10mm – 6.9 €
- Blue pipe 5m 10mm – 6,9 €
- Tank 100 Liters – 70 €
- Tank 80 Liters – 100 €
- Pipes for dirty water 12 Meters – 40 €
- Shower Mixer – 12 €
- Shower, booth and stand – 6,9 €
- Mixer for Washbasin – 20 €
- Adapters / Reducers – € 20
- L’s and Y’s for the pipes – 6 €
- Outdoor shower – 10 €
- Shower – 10 €
Total: € 400
- Copper tube 4 meters – 20 €
- Hoses / Hugs – We already had, but by chance in the purchase of the bottle Cepsa offered.
- 2 Way Gas Tap with Bicones – 31 €
Total : 51 €
other articles about this conversion
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