How to get hot in the water?

Having hot water in a van is not only for large purses. There are plenty of different ways to be able to shower with warm water, or to make your dishes comfortably. And these means they are for all budgets! Can we explain to you?

Solution 1: Boil water

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This first solution is old as the world. We don’t explain how we do it, do we?

On the other hand, to use this boiled water, you have several options. This system will be difficult to use if you have tanks, but very easily usable if you have jerry cans as a water reserve.

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For the shower

If you use a jerry can for the shower, you can fill it half with cold water and half with water porridge. As a result, the temperature is PERFECT for a summer or winter shower.

To be able to use the water from the jerry can for your shower, you can use the shower head equipped with a very convenient and very cheap 12V submerged pump that plugs into a cigarette lighter socket:

For Tableware

For dishes, you can use the same principle. Even if it will be a little more complex than the 12V hand shower. If you put a jerry can under your sink, you can fill it half with hot water and half cold water when washing.

You can then use a 12V submerged pump (connected to your auxiliary battery) to create a simple small circuit to have hot water flowing! For make it even easier, you will be able to install a manual pump on foot: no need for electricity to operate it!

  • Example of a submerged pump

  • Example of foot pump

We made several trips using this method to clean the dishes and take a hot shower from time to time in our van debut. And we validate, even if it is not a viable solution to live year-round in van, compared to comfort (in our opinion).

Be careful with the submerged pumps: think they have a certain size, and that they will have to be put in the jerry can. It is possible that you may not find jerry can with a large enough neck anywhere else than on specialized sites motorhome.

Solution 2: Resistors

If you have a water circuit consisting of jerrican, this solution may interest you. A 12V immersion heater for jerry can is the alternative solution at a very low price.

It is also an ideal solution when there is no room for the installation of a conventional water heater. Intended instead for casual vanlifers or leaving in summer or to hot destinations, this type of product can heat all the water present in the jerry can.

It is a product, however, that consumes a lot of electricity (75W for the product in the photo below) and that raises the temperature of the water “only” to 37 degrees (the “only” is so that anyone who loves to stand out the red legs of the shower forget this system).

Solution 3: the boiler type water heater

There are a number of water heaters on the market, but they all work more or less the same way by heating a mass of water in a tank called a boiler (about 10L capacity). Most of them use gas, diesel or electricity (12v or 230v) when connected to the mains. On average, they take about 30 minutes to heat the water, they are VASP approved and sometimes requires installation by a professional. These are real nomadic hot water balloons! Regarding those who run on gas, the consumption is really reasonable. For example, we use one gas cylinder per month in our van in the middle of winter, taking 2 showers a day and putting on the heating!

A little plus: some models also exist in combination, that is, heating and water heater in the same accessory!

We are preparing a detailed article to help you choose your water heater according to your budget and needs.

We currently have a Truma CP4 plus water heater, which is of this type, and we are fully satisfied with it. Showers are nice, like at home! What is great in itself, but necessarily makes spending a little more water: it’s so pleasant and comfortable, that we forget that we have a limited amount of water!

Solution 4: Instant Water Heater

Instant hot water and no tank like in a house? It is possible in a fitted van! (it rhymes, we could propose this slogan to water heater brands).

These water heaters are in the majority of cases incompatible with a VASP approval (although some have succeeded anyway), but they can be quite effective and safe for use in a van (be careful with insurance anyway). Powered by gas, this type of water heater releases burnt gases without real protection, requires a lot of ventilation if you use it indoors. Always read the installation instructions of this kind of device scrupulously and be sure to ventilate well to avoid accidents.

Solution 5: Solar

Here 3 choices are available to you. Either via a solar shower bag, which is the simplest and cheapest way, with a consistency of 10 to 20L of water depending on the models. Operation is simple with water that flows by simple gravity.

The second solution is also a solar shower but a little more elaborate, with a manual (foot) or electric pump model depending on the models. The last one that offers even more comfort is the solar shower with mounting on the roof, known as the “road shower”. Operating using a long aluminum tube to be installed on the roof rack, this kind of shower can offer up to 38L of hot water.

Source: survivalgear

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