We updated our outside shower to something honestly quite amazing. It’s missing finishing touches but we have most likely found the final location and configuration.
Now before I get into the details, the one big gain here for us is infinite hot water, at will. I know it doesn’t sound like much but believe me, to us it’s the most amazing thing in the world.
First of all, this is water we do not move by hand, which is a first in 5 years. How does it works in the middle of the woods? Well we improved an abandoned beaver dam to buffer some water in the stream. Stream water can be murky so we made a siphon between the beaver buffer upstream and a giant tub downstream. The tub is one more opportunity for sediment to settle. I tried to make the water run down a long hollowed out pine tree but we couldn’t get the level quite high enough. Turns out a siphon is a thousand times better anyway.
From the giant tub, a simple 12V pump pumps the water into a tankless heater.
I had enough spare parts for a whole other solar setup. 1 charge controllers, 3 super dead lead acid batteries I revived with the water trick, and finally 1 charge controller. It’s not much of a solar setup, it’s what we started with years ago, but it’s perfect for 1 water pump in the woods.
This pump is setup to stop when a certain pressure is reached. So it keeps the line to the tankless heater pressurized and then stops drawing power. When you call for water, the pressure drops and it starts up automatically. The tankless heater lights up and you get hot water.
There is literally no work to the whole operation, no moving water nor applying heat with a fire like we did before when we wanted hot water.
Now the one imperfection of this system is that heating is done with propane: a fossil fuel not from our land. I’m sure no one in the family will dare disparaging the approach given how much time we all spent taking hot showers. The kids especially spend extra long in a small tub, toys have been replaced with various forest things we find and throw in the water (ferns, sticks).
It’s worth mentioning that hot water is a mixed blessing. On the warm days, there is nothing better than being forced to take a uncomfortably cold shower. It really cools you down for several hours. With this luxurious shower it’s impossible to resist the temptation of comfortable warm water, this does nothing to help you bear the oppressive heat of a Summer day. I’m sure there’s a moral in there about easy choices not necessarily being the best ones. I chose to ignore it from the depths of my steaming hot water.
Funny language anecdote: shower is quite funnily “douche” in French, and so when we used solar heated camping water bags years ago, we inevitably called them douche-bags. This new one’s been dubbed mega-douche.