Van Build Kitchen & Plumbing
Updated: Feb 3
For my van build kitchen, I went with a foot pump sink system, and I'm so glad I did. Firstly, I save a ton of water which means less work dumping and filling water. My system meets all of my needs for cooking and washing dishes. If I do need hot water, I can always heat up a quick pot of water on my Jet Boil. Also, my plumbing requires no electricity which is a big deal in a van conversion. My sink system and kitchen is simple, clean and functional.
Foot Pump & Water Containers:
Originally, I had planned the van plumbing system used by "Exploring Alternatives" in which they use a large 5 gallon round bucket that drains straight down through the floor of the van. With this, I feared if there was ever a leak, I wouldn't know about it until it was too late. Also, drilling down through my flooring and through the underbelly of the van seemed too risky as it's too easy to drill in the wrong place and the gas tank is right underneath the van on the driver's side where my sink would be.
I went with a manual jug system. I used the Whale Babyfoot Manual Galley Pump with 1/2" flexible hose and 3 Reliance Desert Patrol 6 Gallon Water Containers, one for grey water and two for fresh water. Simply drill a hole in the top of one of the lids of the fresh water containers to fit the hose. Widen the part of the hose that will be inside the jug, just under the lid, by adding some tape to keep the hose from pulling up and out of the jug. When one fresh water jug runs out, I simple move the hose to the extra jug and dump out the grey water container at a dump station. These can be found at most truck stops and camp sites.
For my drain going from the sink into the grey water tank, I used the Camco Flexible Camper Drain Tap with Hose System. All you need to do is use the end with the cap that came with the jug you purchased so you can easily twist the attachment that fits over the jug without having to bother the drain itself. You'll just need to cut down the white flange so that it fits into the jug. At some point I will cut down the drain pipe as it's a bit too long which makes draining a bit difficult as it gets curled up. Of course, it's nice to have a curve in the hose to keep any smells from going upwards. See my pictures below.
I love my sink! However, I purchased 4 sinks before I found this one. That's right 4 sinks! The first one was an undermount sink, and I realized I needed a drop-in sink due to the way I built my cabinet. The drain hole on the 2nd one was too big. One sink was too small... that's the one I used for my first 5-week van trip. Another wouldn't work with the depth of my Ikea countertop, 1 1/8". So in the end, I used the Better Bath Single Bowl RV Kitchen Sink - 15" Long x 12-3/4" Wide (Parchment) from eTrade, a great company with excellent customer service. I didn't use the fasteners included. As it was so lightweight, I dropped it in so it would fit tightly and caulked around it. So, what did I learn? Know for sure if you need drop-in or undermount, know your countertop depth, and if you're using the Camco drain, which I highly recommend, your drain hole needs to be 2". I find my sink to be the perfect size, too, and it's super light weight and an excellent quality.
I used the Whale Telescopic Faucet which works great with the 1/2" drain pipe. It also matches my sink and works well. Since I have no hot water in my van and I'm using a foot pump, this is all I needed.
Trays to Catch Drips:
I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I bought trays to put underneath my jugs in case there was any dripping while dumping and filling my jugs (seen in first picture at top.) These had to be exactly the right size in order to fit inside my cabinet. I used the Sooyee Serving Tray to hold my grey water jug which left some extra room on the side. It's an excellent quality and would also make a good serving tray. For the two fresh water jugs, I used the School Smart Art Tray which holds two of the 6 gallon Reliance water containers perfectly.
I only use my water jugs for cooking, washing my dishes & face and brushing my teeth. For drinking, I love my Travel Berkey! Just be sure you wait about 45 minutes after filling before you drive so that it has time to finish draining through the system. I LOVE my Berkey. (I do not make any money through advertising from this company.) I would recommend getting the stainless spigot and the extra white filters, too.
I used CamJam tie downs straps to hold my Berkey in place. Actually, I used these same tie downs for all kinds of things, including the tie downs used on my water jugs! They are the best.
My countertops are from Ikea. They were on sale as they were going out of stock but they they are similar to the standard formica Lilltrask model, 1 1/8" thick.
I am so happy with the Smart Tile Self Adhesive Wall Tiles for my backsplash. I read reviews and researched a ton before purchasing. I wanted to make sure I got good quality that wouldn't come unpeeled in the heat. It's already been through a summer heat wave in Utah & Arizona and held up well. It's super lightweight and super easy to install. I used four packs on my build. The backsplash is trimmed with PVC moulding from Lowes.
I bought this little spice rack from Amazon. It comes as a set of 4 but I only used one.
I love this cute little fruit hammock but I wish I had purchased the next size larger, the medium. They are handmade from Etsy.
Please let me know if you end up using any of these things and tell me how it goes!