One of the many conveniences about modern living that people often take for granted is having clean, running water. I’ve lived in multiple places during my life where running water wasn’t a luxury that was available. Even though I hope to live in my tiny house as more of an off-grid thing, I still want running water. It’s simply a delight to have.
My system is made up of a few different components, starting backwards:
Since I’m designing my tiny house to be able to maintain itself without connections to the grid, I decided a good idea would be to build in a water filtration system. I did this for a few reasons:
- I don’t know my source of water. Ideally it will be from a well or city water, but the water could come from anywhere since I have a holding tank and the options for filling it are only limited by one’s imagination.
- Better tasting water. The filters will help to remove bacteria and other contaminants, such as rust, chlorine, and sediment.
- Saves money. Even with the two-stage filtering, it only costs about $40 per year to replace the filters. It’d cost nearly six times that amount to drink bottled water.
The system is pretty basic and only cost me $60 to set up. I bought two DuPont Whole House Water Filters to create a two stage system. The first stage does a pre-filter using a Poly Block Cartridge and then the second stage uses a Carbon Wrap 2-Phase Cartridge to really get the water clean. Both of the filters can filter up to 15,000 gallons of water and I’m pretty sure I’ll never even come close to that limit before I have to replace each filter.
You could easily spend a lot more money to build a more complicated system, but chances are I will be out in the country living on water from a well and I’m only concerned about basic filtering.
I decided to install a WaterWorker Well Pressure Tank for two reasons:
- To help reduce the amount of times the water pump has to kick on, which will hopefully increase the life expectancy of my pump.
- To increase my water storage capacity. The pressure tank I bought says it holds an additional 14 gallons of water. Frankly, I’m skeptical it could hold that much water but I’m confident it can hold more than a few gallons.
A normal RV is likely to have a water pump followed by an accumulator. The main job of the accumulator is to store a small amount of pressurized water to provide a constant flow in between the pump’s cycles. When you turn on the faucet, you get a steady stream of water just like you would in a normal house.
A pressure tank does the exact same thing an accumulator does, only on a bigger scale. They typically hold several gallons of water, which means you can run the faucet for a lot longer before the pump will need to kick on. Even if you didn’t have power, you could still run the faucet because the water in the tank has already been pressurized.
- Pressure gauge. Allows you to see what the pressure in the tank is. A typical home has water pressure around 40-45 PSI.
- Pressure switch. Automatically turns the pump on and off when certain pressures are reached.
- Pressure relief valve. If the pressure gets to high, the relief valve will open to reduce the pressure.
- Drain valve. Can be used to manually drain the tank. Or you could hook up a garden hose and water the lawn. Your call.
- Check valve. Only allows water to flow in one direction. The check valve is important to install so that you don’t have the pressurized water from the tank backflowing into your pump. Water should only flow from the pump into the tank.
The water pump is obviously the most important part of a stand-alone system. It’s job is to take water from the holding tank and pump it into the rest of the system. Since most of my tiny house is designed to run entirely off of DC power, my SHURflo water pump is no different. On the inlet of the pump, you’ll also want to attach a strainer to filter out any debris so you don’t damage the pump.
I used the exact same water pump when I built my campervan and never had any issues with it. It produces plenty of pressure and can pump three gallons per minute.
I bought a relatively small holding tank, as it only holds 20 gallons. Since my entire water system is housed under my sink area, I tried going with something that wasn’t too large but also wasn’t too small. Being that I live in a cold weather climate, having the tank outside of the house itself isn’t really an option. Obviously if you live in a warmer climate, you could go with a bigger tank and install it under the house or elsewhere to save a little room.
Lastly, we have the water inlet. I expect my main usage of the water inlet to be for filling the water tank. However, there’s also a connection for attaching a garden hose to which would allow me to bypass my entire pressure system and connect into my water system directly before the filtering stage. So, whether I’m connected to city water or using the holding tank water, all of my water will still go through the filtering stage and be crispy clean.