Water Hoses & Fittings
Most campers and RV’ers are aware that hoses for drinking water are always white in color. You should never use a regular garden hose for drinking water (referred to as “potable” water). Especially in a camping atmosphere, if you used green hoses for everything, it would be too easy to get them mixed up and drink from a wastewater hose! YUK!
But for our recommendation for your minivan camper conversion, the first thing you should carry with you is a small garden hose type pressure regulator. they are available from most hardware stores, RV stores or home improvement stores. Many times, you will find them already installed on water spigots, either because the park has provided them, or some other camper forgot to take it with them when they left. But many times there are none, and you should provide it. Why? Because many water systems do not carry the same pressure. In flatlands, it is usually not a big problem, but if you get into mountainous areas, the water may be supplied from much higher up than the elevation where you are, and the pressure can go up drastically. Even in some municipalities, the pressure may be turned up high enough to reach outlying areas, but if you happen to be closer to the pumping station, the pressure could be higher. Many RV plumbing systems are made out of plastic pipe with crimped rings holding the fittings together. Too much pressure has been known to cause leaks and sometimes even burst pipes on older systems. So always use a pressure regulator, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
The second item is a back-flow preventer. These are required by many places, especially in city campgrounds. They never made much sense to me, but I am not a licensed plumber, and maybe I am missing something. Logically, if you have more pressure coming out, and no means whatsoever to put a higher pressure back in, then how could there be any danger of making water flow backwards into the system? It doesn’t make sense to me, but some people think it does. They don’t want YOUR water flowing into THEIR system, regardless of how illogical that sounds. Again, most of the places that require them will already have them installed. but some may not. They are no bigger than the palm of your hand, just like the regulators, so just carry one with you and you won’t have a problem.
Many people like “quick-connect” fittings on their hoses, to make them easier to hook up. These items are made in both plastic and (usually) brass. I like the brass ones better, but I have used the plastic ones, too. Either one will do the job for you. The plus side of using them is that serve as a “swivel” to allow your hose to turn as it needs to and may help prevent kinking. Some hoses want to twist every which way when pressure is applied to them, and a “quick-connect” can help control them.
The only other thing that I recommend to go between the water spigot and your RV would be a good filter, but we’ll talk more about that in other section on water filtration. We got into a park one time that had just opened up in the spring, and got the most god-awful chemical smell out of the water, that I have ever seen. I don’t know if it was Benzene, or what it was, but just the vapor from the shower caused my eyes to burn even in the other room! I wasn’t about to drink the stuff, or even use it for cooking! After a couple weks, it finally dissipated, but I never before run into such a thing. Even the park couldn’t (or wouldn’t) tell me what it was! But we have lived in many parts of the country, and the water of different areas can all have different characteristics.
As far as any other fittings, having a “spray pistol” or nozzle of some kind is always handy, in case you need to rinse something off outside. We also like to carry a couple “Y” fittings with valves on them, in case we need to hook up more than one hose at a time. Once you get out and use your minivan camper conversion a few times, you’ll figure out what you need.
Water Containers & Tanks
For our minivan camper conversion you shouldn’t have to worry about water tanks like normal RV’s have, where they are mounted and piped. Water containers that we would use in our minivan are the portable type. How much you need depends on how you use it and where you go with it. For typical day to day traveling, you won’t need much. You should already have at least three gallons in the portable sink. The porta-potty tank should be all set with about three gallons of it’s own. So that only leaves what you need for drinking and cooking. Usually about 5 gallons should be more than enough, and some of that can be bottled water.
Water containers come in all kinds of styles, but one thing they have in common.. they are all white blue or clear. They can be anything from quart size to five gallons or more. Some are solid containers, and some are collapsible containers. It is up to you as to what kind works best for you. They are available at most RV and camping stores, and some hardware stores.
For our minivan camper conversion you shouldn’t need anything fancy, unless you want to pump water out of a container into your portable sink, but it’s almost a case of “over-kill” for that application. The only other thing you might want one for is for your shower hookup, to provide pressurized water for your “on demand” shower unit. For that purpose, there are many small portable 12-volt pumps available that are submersible. They actually fit right through the opening in your water container and pump stright out to what ever you have them hooked to. That could be a sink faucet (if you choose to go with a mounted sink and faucet, rather than the portable sink), or they could go to simply a hand-held wand. A quick search for “portable submersible 12 volt water pump” should reveal many of them to you.
There are also “demand” pumps, which have their own pressure switch on them. Usually they run off a 12-volt system, with an override switch to shut them totally off when you don’t need them. When you open a faucet, they sense the drop in pressure in the lines and turn on automatically. When you close the faucet, the pressure builds up and they shut off again. And yes, you “could” use them with your minivan camper if you want to get fancy, but that’s alot of work! You’re suppoesd to be out traveling and enjoying life… not working!
Again, your minivan camper conversion doesn’t have to get fancy. But if you choose to use a mounted sink, there are couple of ways to go. You can go with a manual pump which usually has a lever that you have move back and forth or up and down to literally “pump” the water, or you could use a regular faucet that has a pressurized water line connected to it. There is also a third type, and that is an “electric faucet”. These are simply faucets that have a switch built into them so that when they are opened, it activates a 12-volt submersible pump in your water container to pump the water up to the faucet. Any of them will work with your minivan if you want to get fancy with your plumbing. But why complicate a simple issue?