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Install a Camper Van Sink System (With Diagrams)

Installing a sink and faucet in a camper van is essential to cook meals in your vehicle. But you don’t need a fancy, complicated RV water system to deliver clean water to the sink. You can easily do just fine with a simple removable water container, a pump, and a few other components.

In this post, we show you how to build a camper van sink & faucet system that is simple to install and flexible, depending on your travel style. Whether you enjoy staying at full-service RV parks or wild camping, this simple water system can excel in both environments.

By the end, you can install the same water system as in the diagram below.

Complete camper van sink diagram connecting water tank to pump and faucet and sink.
Complete camper van sink diagram

In the diagram above, we use a portable water container, which we use and prefer. But in this post, we will ALSO show you how to connect to an RV-specific fixed water tank.

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Step 1: Select Sink, Faucet, & Water Tank

If you haven’t already, you should choose which sink, faucet, and water tank type you will use because you need to know the dimensions of each product to plan their location.

(If you already know which products you will be using, skip to Step 2)

Sink Recommendation

We use a 15×15″ Ruvati Sink specifically manufactured for RVs & camper vans. The sink is spacious and deep, and its robust design protects against the daily grind of van life. Read our Ruvati Sink review for more info.

Ruvati 15x15" RV Sink (Top Mount)

We love our Ruvati sink. Spacious design and solid stainless steel construction will meet your demands for a high-quality & robust sink solution. Includes cutting board & drying rack, which nestles inside the sink during driving days. Makes dish-washing duty a breeze.

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Faucet Recommendation

We love our gooseneck faucet, which comes with a 2-way spray nozzle. The faucet head easily detaches from its mount, making cleaning dishes a breeze. Read our faucet review for more info.

GIMILI Pull Down Faucet
$59.19

We've been using a pull-down faucet like this model and love it. We love the two different spray modes, the pull down spray feature, and that the hole faucet swivels out of the way when not needed.

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04/07/2024 02:01 pm GMT

Water Tank Recommendation

Water tanks for camper vans come in many different shapes and sizes. There are fixed water tanks and removable containers (i.e., jerry cans). Each style has its own pros and cons. Read our water tanks post to learn more.

While fixed water tanks are great if you plan to stay at RV parks with water hookups, we prefer portable water containers for maximum flexibility. These plastic water jugs are easier to take out and fill in a diverse range of environments, including gas stations, National Park campsites, Walmarts, and when traveling internationally (e.g., Mexico).

Reliance 7 Gallon Water Container

This removable 7-gallon tank lasts us ~4 days. Because the tank can be removed, it is easy to fill and clean. Useful cap design for attaching a PEX straw to draw water. Hard rigid plastic is durable for van life.

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PEX Pipe Recommendation

Throughout our plumbing diagrams, you will see thick blue and red lines. These are PEX pipes, and we recommend using them to plumb the water lines between the water tanks, faucets, and showers. PEX is lightweight and easy to cut & connect. It is the preferred option compared to standard copper pipes and PVC tubes. The below PEX starter kit comes with blue and red pipes, fittings, crimp clasps, and all tools.

PEX Pipe Kit (1/2")

Convenient all-in-one plumbing kit. Includes blue & red 1/2" PEX pipe, ring clasps, brass fittings, and assembly tools. Everything you need to get started ASAP.

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Step 2: Plan Sink Install Location

It is wise to plan the layout ahead of time because space inside the van is limited, and you’ll want to maximize the efficiency of your space usage. Making a layout plan also helps you know the dimensions of your kitchen counter before constructing it.

The diagram below shows how we accounted for the sink area, which includes our fresh and grey water tanks. area in this bird’s eye view of our van layout plan. We also made room for a fixed water tank under our benches to feed our outdoor shower.

Digital layout of camper van interior showing the kitchen, bed, and overhead cabinets
Digital layout of our van interior

We used Adobe Illustrator to make our layout plans, but you can create a similar diagram using any free drawing software you already have on your computer. To learn more about making your own floor plan, check out our camper van layout creator.

Step 3A: Connect Portable Container to the Pump

Follow step 3A if you will be using a portable water container. If you opt for a fixed RV tank, skip to Step 3B.

Modify Tank Cap

Most water containers weren’t designed to be integrated into a plumbing system. They were manufactured to hold and dispense water through a spout or spigot.

Therefore, we will modify the tank cap so that the container can connect to a water pump and draw water from it.

Important To Know: If you are following our guide, we highly recommend the 7-gallon Reliance Aqua-Tainer. The cap of this particular tank has a threaded center hole (originally to fit a tap) that we will take advantage of.

Reliance 7 Gallon Water Container

This removable 7-gallon tank lasts us ~4 days. Because the tank can be removed, it is easy to fill and clean. Useful cap design for attaching a PEX straw to draw water. Hard rigid plastic is durable for van life.

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Cap Modification Diagram

We recommend the Reliance water container because of the threaded cap. The below picture shows what we are talking about.

Reliance Aqua-Tainer water container cap indicating the center threaded hole
Reliance ‘Aqua-Tainer’ cap with threaded spigot hole

Follow the diagram below to connect the water container cap to the appropriate fittings. The blue PEX pipe will be inserted into the tank and act as a straw that draws water from the bottom of the container. Scroll past this diagram to see how this modified cap looks.

Modifying the water container cap

If you follow the diagram above, you should end up with a tank cap like in the photos below (we used red PEX instead of the blue PEX in the diagram). All the components fit together into one complete unit.

Showing how to connect PEX pipe to a water container cap to create a straw
Side view of water tank cap
Showing how to insert a metal plumbing fitting through the water container cap
Underside of water tank cap

It’s critical to know that the metal fitting (1/2″ PEX to 3/4″ M-NPT) is NOT being inserted into the cap using the cap threads. You must force the metal fitting through the threads, thus stripping (and destroying) the threads. This is because the cap thread size is specific only to Reliance products (frustrating!), so no plumbing fittings can use these threads.

Prevent leaks: You may need to insert additional rubber washers to ensure a tight fit between fittings.

1/2" Rubber Washer Gaskets
$6.59 ($0.33 / Count)

Place in between 1/2" NPT fittings to create a water-tight, leak-proof connection between them.

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04/07/2024 02:17 pm GMT

Materials List

Aside from the water container, below are the four additional components you will need to connect to the container’s cap.

Connect to the Water Pump

Follow the diagram below to connect the water container to the water pump.

Connecting the water container to the water pump
Water container to pump

Materials List

The Shurflo water pump is one of the most popular 12V pumps used in van conversion. It’s what we use. It provides strong water pressure and easily connects to the leisure batteries.

Top Pick
SHURFLO Water Pump

Compact electric water pump for camper vans & RVs. Can be installed in any direction and comes with attached wires to connect to the leisure batteries. Pair with filter, accumulator, and silencing kit to complete installation.

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Below is a list of all the other components you will need to complete this section.

Once completed, skip the below Step 3B (for fixed tanks) and head straight to Step 4 to connect the water pump to the faucet & sink.

Step 3B: Connect the Fixed RV Tank to the Pump

This step connects a fixed RV tank to the water pump. Although fixed tanks cannot be removed for water refill, they have the advantage of being able to hold more water than portable water containers.

Fixed Tank Set Up

A typical fixed water tank has four ports.

  • Air vent port
  • Water inlet/fill port
  • Drain port
  • Water outlet port (to pump)

Before connecting the tank to the water pump (via the outlet port), we show you how to connect the other three ports.

NOTE: We provide two filling options for the water inlet/fill port. You will need to choose which one to use.

Connecting various plumbing components to a fixed water tank
Setting up the water inlet, air vent, and drain port

Materials List

Below are the materials you’ll need to set up the fixed water tank.

Fixed Tank to the Pump

Below is the diagram that will connect the fixed tank to the water pump.

Connecting the fixed water tank to the 12V water pump.
Connecting fixed water tank to pump

Materials List

The Shurflo water pump is one of the most popular 12V pumps used in van conversion. It’s what we use. It provides strong water pressure and easily connects to the leisure batteries.

Top Pick
SHURFLO Water Pump

Compact electric water pump for camper vans & RVs. Can be installed in any direction and comes with attached wires to connect to the leisure batteries. Pair with filter, accumulator, and silencing kit to complete installation.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Below is the materials to connect the water tank to the pump.

In the next step, we show you how to connect the water pump to the faucet and sink.

Step 4: Connect the Water Pump to the Faucet and Sink

Whether you choose to use a portable water container (Step 3A) or a fixed RV water tank (Step 3B), following Step 4 will show you how to connect the water pump to the faucet and sink. Refer to the plumbing diagram below to see which components you’ll need to complete the system.

Diagram connecting water pump to water faucet
Water pump to faucet

Materials List

Below is the list of materials to complete this section.

Installation Steps

  1. Attach the water pump to the female-female adapter.
  2. Connect the female-female adapter to the accumulator.
  3. Attach the accumulator to the pump silencer tube.
  4. Connect the silencer to the 1/2″ PEX to 1/2″ NPT Male adapter.
  5. Connect the adapter to 1/2″ PEX pipe.
  6. Use PEX elbows to direct the PEX pipe towards the PEX to 3/8″ angle valve.
  7. Connect the stop valve to the faucet’s inlet tubes.

Step 5: Connect the Sink to the Grey Water Tank

The last step is to connect the sink to the grey water tank. In the below diagram, we use a portable jerry can to collect the used water. (Hover over the yellow markers for more product-specific information)

Connecting sink to grey water tank for camper van sink system.

Material List

Below is a table listing all the products you’ll need to complete this step.

Looking for the perfect sink? Read our Ruvati RV sink review to learn why we love ours.

Installation Steps

  1. Attach the Camco sink drain hose to the drain under the sink.
  2. Stick the other end of the drain hose into the grey water tank.

Conclusion: Building A Van Sink System Is Easier Than You Think

And there you have it! We hope you found our camper van sink setup guide informational and insightful.

If you follow our diagrams piece-by-piece, we’re sure you’ll have set up your camper sink in no time. For more general build information, read our camper van conversion guide.

If you have questions about installing your sink in your camper van, please comment in the section below.

Happy plumbing!

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