Our Off The Grid Shower

The folks here at Tiny House Listings wanted me to share a little about my shower. Not just how to build it but why we use it.

We chose not to plumb our tiny house. Instead, we get all of our water from a spring on the land that we purify using a Berkey water filtration system. This works very well for us and it also means we don’t use anywhere near the amount of water that a conventional household uses.

Over the years we tried several camping shower systems. We used a pump that heated the water. We used a gravity shower bag. All of these were fine, but they weren’t exactly right for us. Then Matt went out to New Mexico to meet with some people about the project we started in South Africa last year. There he met a guy who lived on a boat and he told Matt about using a garden sprayer as a shower and Matt got inspired.

Compression garden sprayers work by using a hand pump to create air pressure in the tank which then forces the contents, usually chemicals such as weed killers, out through a hose. Because it relies on the pressure in the tank, the hose typically has an on/off switch. The guy on the boat just used the garden sprayer with its little nozzle for his showers, but Matt was certain he could improve the design. So we were off to the home improvement store to find the parts.

We started with a 2 gallon garden sprayer. Whatever you do, don’t use one that has already been used with chemicals. This seems obvious, but I want to make sure I say it.

The product we chose had a spray nozzle that could be unscrewed from the rest of the unit. So we bopped over to the bath department to see if we could find a shower attachment that would fit. Matt originally had in mind to use the type of sprayer you might have on your kitchen sink with the on off button, but we ended up with a hand held shower sprayer that based on the packaging is used to attach to your shower and wash your dog.

However, the sprayer wasn’t a perfect fit for the shower nozzle, so we wandered over to the plumbing to find a connector that would work.

Once we put it all together, we had a pressurized shower system.

To use it we fill it up with a gallon of air temperature water. Then we boil a kettle full of water which measures out to about a half-gallon. The boiling water quickly heats the rest of the water and we are left with a very comfortable shower.

So, is there anything that we would do differently?

Our shower seems to have a lot of extra hose. This is because of the original hose from the sprayer and the hose from the hand held shower nozzle. The hose is a little excessive and occasionally unwieldy. We might reconsider the kitchen sprayer idea for the next time we build one. Another change might be to paint the sprayer black so it can be used as a solar shower.

Laura is a contributing writer for Tiny House Listings and she walks the walk. Her and her husband live in a 120 square foot cabin in Asheville, NC that her and her husband Matt built themselves. You can learn more about Laura and Matt at their website 120squarefeet.com.


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Category : Blog

13 Comments → “Our Off The Grid Shower”

  1. When I see things like this, I wonder why I feel the need for more elaborate “solutions”. This is a great set-up. Sure, it’s not the sort of shower you would stand up for hours, relaxing. But it does what it sets out to do.

    Reply

    • Laura M. LaVoie

      Oct 12, 2012

      You have that right – it does get the job done. And, if I fill it all the way up and I can stand under it and luxuriate for a few minutes at least. Functional and simple is what we were going for.

      Reply

  2. Mark

    Oct 12, 2012

    Wonderfully simple. I would love to be innovative like this when it comes to building my own tiny house.

    Mark

    Http://www.minimalistlifestyle.wordpress.com

    Reply

  3. Keith Levy

    Oct 13, 2012

    I’ve been using a garden spray for a shower and to rinse dishes and as pressure water for over twenty years and funnily enough, I too use a Solo brand, it’s exactly the same as yours.
    I’ve been through two or three of them, one I painted black and left it out in the sun to heat the water…
    The unit itself is a top of the range product, it pays to buy quality, and I wouldn’t be without it. It’s by the door of my bus and is handy too for rinsing sandy feet prior to entering the bus.
    There’s nothing new under the sun is there.
    I’ll post a story about it on my blog one day soon…
    Best wishes
    Keith

    Reply

  4. Truss316

    Oct 13, 2012

    I had the idea of using a garden wand with an off-on tigger and a variety of spray patterns…love the pressurize idea! Thanks!

    Reply

  5. MIKE

    Oct 13, 2012

    The only problem I see here is that you have to pump the handle to many times during your shower…kinda dumb if you ask me..My idea whould be to hook up a small RV 12volt water pump now you got something that really works well…and it can operate the rest of the house also.

    Reply

    • Laura M. LaVoie

      Oct 17, 2012

      I think “dumb” is a strong and unnecessary word. Pumping the shower takes about two seconds and really doesn’t create any sort of hardship. If I can’t pump the shower sprayer, I have bigger problems. We bought a battery operated pump and have never used it. It seemed excessive when the solution we developed was so simple.

      Reply

  6. Allison J

    Jan 23, 2013

    I have referred back to this repeatedly. As a housing counselor, I have given it to many people. Sometimes the most simple things are brilliant. In the summer we use solar showers. This is the perfect winter shower.

    Reply

  7. Tara Morrison

    Oct 07, 2013

    If you painted it black it would probably heat up faster.

    Reply

  8. Joy

    Oct 10, 2013

    Great idea……….

    I have also discovered that wal mart now carries a simple botle sprayer that pumps 3x or 4x times as much in one pump. I’ve used this to wash my dishes for a year now. I also use one to spray myself down with a baking soda solution, used originally to ease pain of bug bites, but cleans you well and fast, as well.

    Another idea…..why not make a 3 gal or 5 gal container, paint it black, and enclose in a plexiglass fronted box on outside of the home. Mount it for gravity flow. If you are in a permanent location, even do a larger one, hook up to fill with rain water, and have hot water all the time. I’m not an engineer, but simple makes sense to me.

    Reply

    • Steven

      Oct 10, 2013

      Great idea Joy! If you decide to build something like this, please share it with us!

      Reply

  9. Jerry Fisher

    Oct 13, 2013

    It is simple solutions to everyday tasks many of us take for granted in regular houses that inspire me. This is one of those inspirations. It seems so obvious and yet it never would have occurred to me.

    Living up here in the wind-swept prairies of South Dakota, the power sometimes gets knocked out by storms (both summer & winter). Luckily the house I’m living at has gas for the stove so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep a sprayer in the closet for exactly this sort of situation should the need arise. Then I won’t have to nearly have a heart attack from the shock of chilly water zapping me when I have to take a shower!

    I can’t say enough good things about this website in general. I’ve long wanted a small home of my own and I’ll do it someday. In the meantime, I’ll keep reading stories like yours and stay inspired.

    Reply

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