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Calijim

Water conservation while dry camping

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This is more of a research question for rig owners that do a lot of dry camping.

How much water do you think goes down the drain before before your shower water gets hot?

 

 

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The amount of water lost before hot water arrives at the shower or any faucet is a factor of the distance between it and the water heater. For that reason it veries quite a bit from 1 RV to another. Our current RV has the water heater below & between the kitchen & bathroom sinks so the hot water line is less than 3’ long to any faucet. We once had one that was located more than 20’ from the bathroom and 10’ from the kitchen. Proper design is the key to this problem. I have measured and our current RV wastes about 1 quart to get hot water. 

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  A couple methods to avoid water loss waiting for it to warm up I have seen is a line (say 1 1/4 inch fill hose & adapters) back to the fresh tank you stick the shower head down into until she runs hot or just a small bucket handy which you later pour back into the fresh tank. Obviously the closer the shower is to the water heater matters WELL DUH. Our typical two person average use is around 12 gallons per day and I'm ready to move on (or at least drive to a water source) after a week  anyway so we get by fine with 86 gallon storage. I've also seen dudes stick a 20 or 50 or even more gallon collapsible bladder tank in the back of the toad.  With all my solar panels and batteries I NEVER run out of energy, so like other dry campers its fresh water capacity that determines my stay time. My best guess of wasted water prior to warm up varies depending on distance to water heater, but its easily a quart or more.

 

John T

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About a cup. I don't do ultra conservation, I get more water.  Of course that depends on how far I have to go for more water.

I've even been known to wash my truck.

Edited by hemsteadc

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As stated... it depends on distance. There are a number of strategies to conserve water while dry camping. Barb's bucket method is common, easy and cheap.

You "can" get creative. In my rig I installed a 12v water valve (manual works too) in the bathroom and plumbed in a return pipe to my fresh water tank. About $20 all told. Hold the button... valve opens and water flows from the WH back to the fresh water tank until the hot water arrives. I also keep a bucket in the shower to capture a portion of water run-off that is used for flushing.

As John said... water capacity is the biggest limiting factor for boondockers. Having a water purification system to process your own potable water from any given source (or questionable "potable" water sources) in conjunction with a water bladder (that folds up to about the size of a 1lb folded paper sack) can greatly extend your dry camping stay.

My water system consists of something similiar to the waterfixer (dual filter and UV chamber), a water softener tank and a 12v RV style water pump.

Where potable water isn't so much an issue for me... the size of my gray and black holdings tanks ARE. Haven't quite figured out how to get around that... yet. 😉

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7 hours ago, Calijim said:

This is more of a research question for rig owners that do a lot of dry camping.

A great deal of making water last when dry camping is knowing how to conserve it. Our first motorhome only had 20 gallons of water but we could make that last for a 3 day square dance festival, even when both took a shower every day. It all depends on how serious you are about longer term dry camping. We did a lot of that in our popup days when we traveled with 3 boys and a 10 gallon water tank. 

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A small circulation pump controlled by a timer will pull water from the hot side of the bathroom plumbing and pump it into the cold side.

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I time the water heater.  Usually about 20 minutes does it.  I then run a little water until I get warm water.  Then I do a Navy shower.  Wet down while soaping, then rinse.  Total use of water is about 1 gallon.  I typically also use 2 more gallons during the day for drinking, hand and dish washing.  If I used paper plates I could probably save another half gallon.  My cassette toilet has a separate 6 gallon supply that lasts about 2 weeks.  So 3 gallons for just me and if my wife is along we will total about 5 gallons per day.

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14 hours ago, Yarome said:

the size of my gray and black holdings tanks ARE. Haven't quite figured out how to get around that... yet. 😉

Yo Yarome, I would NEVER do this nor you,,,,,,,,,,,,,but as I'm sure you're well aware, if parked out in the boonies especially if over sand or where a small amount of gray water isn't gonna destroy the planet, some "dudes" have been known to discharge some gray water on the ground !!!! A Dastardly Deed Indeed !!!

As far as extending dry camp time by not having to go dump your black tanks as often. There are composting toilets and there are Marine Recirculating Toilets (like my Thetford Electra Magic 80) which greatly extend the time before your black tank is full. The two of us can go almost two weeks before we need to dump the black tank, but that's not the limiting issue as we can only go around one week before we need to take on fresh water, yet after a week I'm ready to move on anyway. That was MY goal and resulting design ONE WEEK of dry camping at a time............

At the RTR rendezvous or Burning Man etc (check out on You Tube) there are extreme and radical dry campers and water conservers . I conserve but am not so radical I cant keep clean and comfortable to my wishes and preference BUT TO EACH THEIR OWN 

John T

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Water and waste tanks are identical at 125 gallons each. We can go 10-12 days between fills. That's not super conservation. But not bad for no paper plates and no eating out with showers as needed.

 

Bill

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I installed a ball valve at the shower head so you don't need to adjust water temperature when you turn off.  Get wet. Turn off.  Wash up. Turn on rinse. Turn off.  Also use to throttle shower to lessen water use. 

Later,

Edited by KodiakJack
typo

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save water? no showers. drink your p. not.

really. do very short "dry" showers. need hot water only,  recycle the cold in the line, bucket or pipe back to the fresh tank.  have many water jugs, bottles for drinking water, use the tank only for cleaning up. guys, do number 1 outside. ladys can too, just takes more effort.  a add on supply tank, ( mounted where???).  dry wipes? frends camper? group rent of a motel room?  paper plates, reuse the pasta water. (the starch thickens up food things).

no need to do a " burning man" crazy dirty camp. look and do a work around your needs and you can save a lot of water.  i can go two days without a shower. but for me that is the extream.

but never forgo drinking X amount of water each day. save water, but do not hurt yourself.

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I think of the most famous man in the world, when reading threads like this:

"Stay thirsty my friends!"

(Which, is ironic - as you'd think a beer commercial would say "Quench your thirsts, my friends!")

It does all come down to how extreme you want to go... 

We have 100G Fresh, 60G Gray and as a surprise to me - 40G Black (All of 04 Allures and Intrigues from County Coach I'd looked at - had 60G Black. Our coach came in on consignment and I feel I did a solid B+ job on due diligence inspection and negotiations on our unit. It was a full three months later, before I found out that the specific Model of Allure we bought, had 40G Black:)!) So, Black is your pacing item for Boon Docking:)!

When really trying to stretch it out, we'll both use campground facilities during the day. Night, well if Yellow, we let it Mellow! Wash dishes in one pan that sits in one side of the sink, and rinse with another. Use them both to flush. Our shower's are easy for the DW, I get in first, and wet down with the cold, lather up, and rinse - it's nice and warm for her when she gets in:)! 

We've done for us, some longer 11 day stays, like Muncho Lake on the way to Alaska. But we usually find it's pretty easy to go 6-7 days. A few times, we have dumped Grey in we fell an appropriate way. We have 3 collapsible 2 1/2 gallon bottles, and will top of the tank as needed to extend stays. Black, is the pacing item for us... 

But, we also find that we're also usually ready to move on in the 5-7 day range, so it's unusual events that keep us longer in a boon docking locations.

I've also just spent 5 minutes looking at our logs over the last two years. We've boon docked for over 5 days, only three times in this period. We seem to be in a more recent cycle of less boon docking... And I'll also share, that if at a place where potable water is available, and a dump station too - we do still conserve, but not as stridently. No big deal to take an hour to go dump, feel and reset up... 

Best to all,

Smitty

 

 

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8 hours ago, Smitty77_7 said:

We seem to be in a more recent cycle of less boon docking...

I suspect that most of us tend that way. We started our family trips with a tent and later with backpacks and horseback. We did nearly all boondock type camping with the boys in 2 different popup trailers. We used to make 20 gallons of water last long weekends for a family of 3 boys and parents.  As we acquired nicer RVs and older bones we also did less and less true boondocking and even our dry camping has become pretty rare. Even so, I still enjoy observing what is now available for those who are roughing it. And I still enjoy telling younger folks what it was like in the "old days" like my father did with us.  (Dad was backpacking in the Rockies in the late 1920's)  😄

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As we mostly boondock we have it so that our limiting factor is our black tank which will last 2 weeks. I carry a 45 gallon bladder under the coach so a trip for water is not a hardship with the toad (gmc half ton). I usually have to fill up our 2 jerry cans for the side by side by then anyways, and get some milk etc.

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My van had only a 2.5 gallon electric water heater. I learned I could turn on the circuit breaker for 10 minutes and the water would be the perfect temperature for a shower. Since I didn't need to add cold to that I didn't lose any down the drain trying to get the temperature right. 

Linda Sand

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On 8/24/2018 at 5:32 AM, Kirk Wood said:

I suspect that most of us tend that way. We started our family trips with a tent and later with backpacks and horseback. We did nearly all boondock type camping with the boys in 2 different popup trailers. We used to make 20 gallons of water last long weekends for a family of 3 boys and parents.  As we acquired nicer RVs and older bones we also did less and less true boondocking and even our dry camping has become pretty rare. Even so, I still enjoy observing what is now available for those who are roughing it. And I still enjoy telling younger folks what it was like in the "old days" like my father did with us.  (Dad was backpacking in the Rockies in the late 1920's)  😄

I hear you Kirk. Old Boy Scout here from Southern California area. 6V's Camel Backs, 4 X's San Jacinto, 3 X's San Gorgonio, three summers hiking the Sierra's near Bishop, CA - etc. Never did any Horse Back riding, but three other buddies and I did a 4 week trip riding and camping on Honda combo street/dirt bikes with a girls friend driving my old Jeep Wagoner with four extra cans of gas. We had those bikes places they did not belong:)! So really did get out in our younger years in the wilderness. (We woke up one AM in the Sierra's, with a Moma and two cubs Black Bears walking down to drink at the stream we were camping along... We all stayed in out tents to watch them, way cool - and in hindsight, lucky we did not some how spook Moma bear:)!. The DW tried to like camping, we had my then 'mini RV', a 1965 Nova Station Wagon, that we took camping down allover Baja for 4 weeks... She was a good sport about it, but that was the last time we did that. Almost had her happy with a 1968 VW WunderKamper, sink, little water, and I even set her up a small porta potty for privacy inside... But she missed the showers, and kept walking around in the woods looking for an outlet to plug in her hair dryer and curling iron:)! (Not really, she was truly a good sport about it - just not 'her thing'.). 

This has been sort of non planned absence of dry camping. We have favorite places we'll be attending again over the next few years. And have the coach relatively set up for boon docking. Not hard core, but more then adequate power. Are pacing item is our Black tank capacity, smaller then I thought when I bought the coach (Assume, my bad!! It was a 60 Gallon Black, like all of the other Allures of my model year. But this specific model, had a 40 Gallon Black. Regardless of how much the DW liked the galley size - if I had caught that when doing my due diligence - we'd have kept on looking:)!). 

Their is two kinds of boon docking in my definition, when talking with friends. Both are no hooks, but very different. For example we never get tired of Gros Ventre in the Teton's. We try to hit it in the late offseason's, for smaller crowds and change of seasons. But even then, you have many other's camping, and many do not have the solar power we do, so thus the need to run their generators. (Depending upon shading, we can go several days without needing to run our generator. With no shading, and even patchy cloudy day's - we don't need the generator at all.) The other kind of boon docking we do, is off by ourselves, or with one or two other couples. Like Borrego area as one example. Away from the crowds, great sunrises and sunsets... Or a mountain with streams and meadow views is another example. 

So we for sure are not stopping completely, and when the BIL retires in 3-4 years - he wants us to head back up to Alaska with him... So opportunities ahead:)!

Best to you, and all,

Smitty

 

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Question:

If you have a bucket in the shower to save water for flushing, when you push the flush pedal, doesn't the water flow in the toilet anyway?  How do you use a bucket to flush with?  I'm going to feel dumb when I get the answer...

Edited by Dan Hannah

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54 minutes ago, Dan Hannah said:

Question:

If you have a bucket in the shower to save water for flushing, when you push the flush pedal, doesn't the water flow in the toilet anyway?  How do you use a bucket to flush with?  I'm going to feel dumb when I get the answer...

We just turn the water pump off

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2 hours ago, Dan Hannah said:

Question:

If you have a bucket in the shower to save water for flushing, when you push the flush pedal, doesn't the water flow in the toilet anyway?  How do you use a bucket to flush with?  I'm going to feel dumb when I get the answer...

I installed an easy to reach shut-off valve in the toilet water feed line. The original intent was for toilet servicing, but of course it works well for boondocking as well.

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