There’s a whole lot of information out there about how to go about every stage of a van conversion. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and swamped, especially when planning to set up the bathroom. Whilst this element appears to require some skill and experience with plumbing and building, we can assure you that it’s plenty doable for anyone with the time and motivation. If you’re wanting your motorhome to be a completely self-sufficient space for extended road tripping, a shower is clearly something to consider. And if those road trips include big hikes, surfing or festivals, it’s a no-brainer.
We’ve made a simple guide, compiling resources from some of the most trusted DIY campervan conversion blogs out there, to help you install the best camping shower for your motorhome.
Pumping Shower Water
The best camping shower for your motorhome will be economical with space. Pumps like this 30 PSI Shurflo pump will manage providing water for both your shower and sink.
Heating Shower Water
You can buy a camping water heater that does simply just that, like the traditional-style Cointra CPA 6 Low Nox LPG Water Heater or the Truma Therme Electric Water Heater. The former has an Automatic Pilot Light, includes batteries and a fitting kit. The latter is a slightly more expensive, 5 litre water boiler which supplies hot water in a more compact way. The water is heated by hot air generated from the vehicle’s heating ducting, and also has its own additional heater element. It’s easy to install, and you can find instructions here. Just remember to turn on the heater in advance of your shower! The heating time depends on water storage volume, but can take up to 50 minutes for Truma models.
Or, if you’ll be travelling in colder climes (and have the budget for it), you can install a camping water and space heater like the Truma Combi 4E Gas & Electric Blown Air & Water Heater. It combines all the benefits of the water heater with a space heater, and has integrated heating elements so you can run the heater at campsites without using the vehicle battery.
Find out more about setting up campervan solar panels.
For draining the dirty water from your campervan shower, fit a tank beneath the van and make sure this is securely attached to the shower drain. The shorter and more vertical the pipes which attach the two, the better for drainage. Many people opt to have a custom-shaped tank made to fit under their vans, with a drain tap on the side, so that you can attach a hose to empty it. Or, you could strap something simple under there, like this tank. It’s best to ensure that this tank is simple enough to install and remove, so that it can be cleaned fairly regularly.
Installing a wet room
If you’re thinking of installing a separate wet motorhome shower and toilet room, lack of experience with plumbing or nerves about possible leaks may put you off. However, it’s fairly easy to thoroughly waterproof a wet room, as the method by Rob and Emily of theroadisourhome.com shows. It’s tried and tested, thanks to their large following, with many people saying it’s the best camping shower installation method they’ve seen. Firstly, build the room using a frame of light, sturdy wood, like 44mm x 44mm timber. Make a ply lining for the walls, with 9mm marine ply or something similar. Fit a drain in the floor and seal the walls, floor and sealing with a tanking kit. These kits are ideal for doing a thorough, leak-free job, because they include primer, sealing tape and tanking membrane, plus all the tools you’ll need for installation. Then, install some hard-wearing wet-room flooring, and white PVC cladding for the floor and ceiling. You can secure this easily using Tiger Seal and anti-mould silicone bathroom sealant. To see what the finished product looks like, visit their blog.
Many DIY conversion jobs don’t include a door at all. This is because a simple curtain can still provide privacy whilst allowing windows and extractor fans to pull out steam and saves on weight and money. However, if you do want a door for your motorhome shower, check out the lightweight Tamboor sliding slat door, which comes with runners and a choice of corners or spiral tracks to allow a variety of configurations. The slats are also easily cut to length if you need a different size.
The simple option
If you want to avoid the hassle of installing a shower, or your campervan isn’t big enough, go for a portable shower and camping shower tent. We think the best portable shower kit is the Colapz Rechargeable Camping shower, which has a USB rechargeable battery pump to use with any standing water source (you can use a Colapz bucket or utility bag, or your own water tank), giving 45-60 minutes water flow. The kit comes with a showerhead, thumb-trigger spray attachment, and a jet nozzle. It also has a charging cord, hanging attachment and instructions, and comes in a neat case.
You could also opt for a simple hanging shower bag, which can be solar-heated but in the UK will likely never get more than lukewarm. They use no electricity, and have surprisingly good pressure considering they just use gravity. The best we’ve found is the RISEPRO solar shower bag, which is ultra-packable, has a showerhead attached, holds 20L and is made with very high-quality materials.
For the tents, we’d recommend the Lumaland Gazebo, which has a ready-installed pole system (so you just have to click the hinges into place). It has a removable floor, neat storage inside, and is super roomy. For a cheaper option, go for the Wolfwise toilet and shower tent. It pops up easily, has a removable base mat, and the top opens so you could hang a shower from a tree, and stand inside the tent for a faff-free rinse.
Even if you’re not going on trips long enough to warrant a proper bathroom set up, a camping shower tent setup is also great for cleaning muddy dogs, grubby kids, sandy feet, walking boots, wetsuits and surfboards too.
- It’s important that your water-tight van set up is well ventilated, so we’d recommend installing a skylight above the motorhome shower to avoid damp gathering inside.
- Smaller shower heads and tap bores mean less water passes through a minute, so the water in your tank lasts longer. We’d recommend a 70L tank as this will provide about two 5 minute showers a day for 1 - 2 weeks. You can install this to supply to sink, too, then use separate, smaller food-grade tanks for drinking water.
- Installing a campervan shower head with a trigger so that water only comes out when the trigger is down will save water, too.
- Take weight distribution into account when deciding where your water tank will go. Balance your water tank on one side of the van, with things like the batteries and fridge on the other side. Although 70L may not make a huge impact, it’s important to keep things even and avoid having too much weight behind the rear axle.
- When building the frame and wooden cladding, it’s a good idea to countersink, file and sand your screws in so that you have a nice flat surface for the tanking and pvc cladding.
Like most of the seemingly more daunting steps of a DIY conversion, installing a campervan shower isn’t too complicated for any self-taught plumber or builder. So long as the process is well-researched and planned, and you’re confident that your use of the shower will make the effort and cost worthwhile, you’ll be very glad you did. If you’re still daydreaming, deciding or drawing up blueprints, take a look at our motorhomes for hire with showers, and see how you like staying clean on the road!