Water storage and water disposal (New van lifer here) (1 Viewer)

Oct 16, 2022
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Hey guys,

I am in the process of planning my camper van build (just bought it) and never really travelled in mobile homes before. Certainly never owned one.

I am thinking through the water filling / discharging process and trying to weigh up the options between water stored internally or externally. Also thinking about disposal of grey water.

My first question is: Is it OK to allow the grey water to pass straight out of the van to the environment or should it be collected and disposed of down a drain? I am thinking it is probably not OK to dispose to the environment (although its just soapy water so not sure). I wouldn't want to give van lifers a bad reputation or anything like that.

Secondly, what are the pros and cons to water storage under the van vs water storage in the van? The obvious one is space saving inside the van, but is there anything else that I should be considering when making this decision? Any recommendations on whether to refill water internally or externally?

Many thanks
 
Apr 26, 2015
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Welcome, the following is just my opinion, others may have different opinions. It is better to store your grey water in a tank and dispose of it at a site or dispose of it into a hedgerow, the general public don't like to see any kind of effluent being disposed of in public places, with regard to tanks you don't want your tanks freezing in the winter so if they're external they need to be well insulated. Filling your fresh water tank is best done from outside to save getting the inside of your van wet so an external filler would be best.
 
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Oct 29, 2016
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Not being funny but, there are thousands of self build videos on You Tube, most show their options for fitting fresh & Grey water storage tanks, plus all the other usual questions about the best way to insulate/sound deaden the van, plus floating floor options.
Everything else also, layouts, 240V mains, Chargers and 12V power distribution, solar panels, Batteries, etc, etc.
Go on you will have hours of fun. Don't forget....measure twice, cut once.(y)
LES
PS: CAK Tanks Ltd are your friend for all water tanks, brackets etc.
 
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MisterB

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enough to know i shouldnt touch things i know nothing about ....
have you worked out how much water you would want to carry at any one time? that will give you an idea of how much storage space for liquids you need.
work out how much water would last you for one, two, three days before you needed to fill, then reduce that amount by about a third (just a guess on my part) to calculate how much grey water you would need to store and the space it would occupy.

also consider how you will fill up your water tank and from where - you might be better off with a couple of 20l containers you can get under a tap - also consider what hose and tap connections you need.

grey water can be disposed of straight into the environment but is often frowned upon, yet thats exactly where the water from my septic tank goes, soap suds and all, albeit at a lower level in the ground, but thats because its grey AND black water. As its not really worth debating with someone who may be 'offended', pick and choose suitable places to empty GREY waste - having a remote opening valve would be an option i would def install !

as has been pointed out, lots of self builds on you tube, but that shouldnt stop you asking questions on here as you cant talk to a you tube video and expect an answer, even those who make them might not be willing to enter into long discussions ...

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Greasy Chap Butty

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We self built from scratch, and went through these same questions.
Ours is what will be know here as a PVC - panel van conversion.
Ours is a Peugeot boxer.
Tanks outside, underneath, between the chassis rails.
Fresh water fills from what looks similar to a petrol filler.
Grey water , store it and discharge at a campsite or down a drain. You do need to be aware, other people don't know if it's soap water or sewage.
Ours aren't insulated as we wouldn't have them with anything in when it's sub zero.

Ask the questions, and YouTube, and see what you can buy that's recommended or made to fit your van.
 
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Greasy Chap Butty

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have you worked out how much water you would want to carry at any one time? that will give you an idea of how much storage space for liquids you need
This is a very good point. We built ours based on 2 adults and two teenagers.
You can be anywhere between needing a hundred gallons for an onboard jacuzzi, to a litre to make a cup of tea on a morning.
We have a friend who built one for their daughter. Only needed a simple water canister under the sink. Cheap , quick easy. You might need a big tank underneath the van.
There's no right way, except the right way for what you need. Work how much based on how you'll use the van , then you can research how to store it.
 
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ManTheVan

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Your grey water definitely should be stored in a tank. It would be unacceptable to let it flow straight out into the environment always, as you might be parked up in a location where it would be extremely inappropriate. At other times, you can certainly have it flow to the ground, if in the right location, especially if the landowner has no issues with you doing so. Many campsites will be happy for you to discharge grey water onto the grass, others will be appalled if you do do.

Long and short, you need a tank. As others have said, make sure it’s well insulated.
 
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Greasy Chap Butty

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Long and short, you need a tank. As others have said, make sure it’s well insulated.
I would say definitely don't bother insulating a grey water tank, unless they are going to all-year in it. It's a fair expense if unecessary.
Just drain it down in winter, and add a bit of the tank anti freeze stuff.

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Oct 9, 2019
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A number of Funsters have suggested CAK tanks, they will have a complete kit including tank, fittings and piping designed specifically for your model of base vehicle. They are reasonably priced.
 
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RedFrame

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I would say definitely don't bother insulating a grey water tank, unless they are going to all-year in it. It's a fair expense if unecessary.
Just drain it down in winter, and add a bit of the tank anti freeze stuff.

As this thread is relevant to our build, does anyone know of an antifreeze that could be used that is animal friendly?

Cheers
Red.
 
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Is it OK to allow the grey water to pass straight out of the van to the environment or should it be collected and disposed of down a drain?
If you are on a formal pitch the next occupant won't want your greasy washing up residue or soapy shower water underfoot. Some pitches are naturally soggy enough without my contribution.
When travelling I dispose of grey water into a hedgerow or a street drain, e.g at a layby.
 
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Oct 9, 2019
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As this thread is relevant to our build, does anyone know of an antifreeze that could be used that is animal friendly?

Cheers
Red.
No but you can buy heat pads of eBay which use hardly any power to stop the tanks from freezing, also worth considering using sticky insulation roll to cover tanks, the same stuff you would insulate the panels inside van
 
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Greasy Chap Butty

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As this thread is relevant to our build, does anyone know of an antifreeze that could be used that is animal friendly?

Cheers
Red.
What do you mean by animal friendly?
The stuff should just sit in your tank, then be discharged to drain in spring.
Do you mean environmentally, or for pets managing to get to it?

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RedFrame

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What do you mean by animal friendly?
The stuff should just sit in your tank, then be discharged to drain in spring.
Do you mean environmentally, or for pets managing to get to it?
We'll use a bit more than a tank of grey water over winter, it could need to go into a hedgerow depending on how remote we are so I mean both environmentally and for animals managing to get to it...

Otter Spotter that is plan A (y) .

Cheers
Red
 
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OP
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A number of Funsters have suggested CAK tanks, they will have a complete kit including tank, fittings and piping designed specifically for your model of base vehicle. They are reasonably priced.
Their website is very poor though
 
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DBK

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I'm not sure if this helps but the fresh water tank in our Murvi is internal and is slightly unusual in being a vertical tank. It's about a foot square and about three feet high. It sits in a corner of the kitchen behind one of the rear doors, on the left in the photo below. The fridge, oven and water pump are all against the rear door as well which is very handy for any maintenance required. The toilet/shower cubicle is behind the other door. :)

The waste tank is external and underslung. It isn't insulated as in a prolonged freeze any water in it would freeze. Insulation would just delay this. Heaters are needed with insulation if you want to use an external waste tank when its very cold.The method I use in a freeze is to leave the drain tap open and run the waste into a bucket which you empty as required.

PXL_20210510_120557937.jpg
 
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Greasy Chap Butty

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Thanks for all this advice... really helpful
The biggest bit of advice I would give, covers your whole build:-
Have a good think about how you will use your van and what you realistically need Vs your budget.

There a million and one ways to build a van, from very cheap and simple, to really plush with every mod con.

We put quite a lot in ours, but tried to stay practical, it took many months and thousands of pounds.
At a similar time a guy who worked near us, did a SWB transit for his daughter in a few weekends. Bandq kitchen unit, wood walls, seats that fold into a bed.
It was all she needed and she loved it, and suited her needs.

Horses for courses as they say. Trawl the internet and especially YouTube. Try not to get carried away, you want to be away having fun. Not laid under the van all summer!

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Apr 26, 2015
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The other thing to mention is weight, 1ltr water weighs 1KG so along with the materials you use in your conversion keep a tally of what everything weighs, otherwise you may find yourself with no usable payload for passengers and their luggage.
 
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Well, I finally got around to finishing the exterior of this project. Had so much fun. Now onwards and upwards with the interior jobs!!!

 
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Nov 9, 2015
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Hey guys,

I am in the process of planning my camper van build (just bought it) and never really travelled in mobile homes before. Certainly never owned one.

I am thinking through the water filling / discharging process and trying to weigh up the options between water stored internally or externally. Also thinking about disposal of grey water.

My first question is: Is it OK to allow the grey water to pass straight out of the van to the environment or should it be collected and disposed of down a drain? I am thinking it is probably not OK to dispose to the environment (although its just soapy water so not sure). I wouldn't want to give van lifers a bad reputation or anything like that.

Secondly, what are the pros and cons to water storage under the van vs water storage in the van? The obvious one is space saving inside the van, but is there anything else that I should be considering when making this decision? Any recommendations on whether to refill water internally or externally?

Many thanks
Why not just buy a used van and see if you enjoy living in one first?

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Oct 16, 2022
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Why not just buy a used van and see if you enjoy living in one first?
Nah thats way too boring. We are buying a plot of land after this project is finished and building a house on it. I need a camper van while that project is happening so that I have somewhere to live!! I have no choice but to enjoy it in other words. Best option is to build it to my spec so I have all I need to be off grid for 18 months or so.

Also enjoy the design and build element so its a nice little project to keep me busy.
 
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