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Home Forums General Discussion new to off the grid…living in camper…water options

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    i’ve just bought a vintage Spartan trailer and i’m renovating it for off the grid living.

    i’m starting to research my options for water collection. now i get my water in a jug from a spring water dispenser at the grocery for drinking. i have access to communal showers at the workshop that i live in now. i’d like to set up water for a washtub i’m building for the trailer and for drinking. from the alex jones commercials the ecoloblue atmospheric water system intrigued me, but it seems to take quite a lot of power. and possibly a system could be rigged from a common dehumidifier + a filter, but i’m not sure what these are made of…if there’s lead, etc. and the other option seems to be rain collection with what seems to be an endless amount of ways to collect it and filter it. and many different opinions on whether it’s drinkable or just potable, etc. i’m still researching, got an awful headache from the computer though and would like a little assistance finding a website or some advice detailing the most common options of off the grid water systems. i’m in the middle of a city near the southeast coast with the camper in a fenced in yard. lots of humidity.

    there’s just too much info online for me to go through…can someone give me some guidance?




    A dehumidifier requires lots of power so it doesn’t really fit with the concept of ‘off-grid’ living. How much volume can you realistically store? I’m speaking now of the cost of a suitable storage tank that will not contaminate the water, or rust out and leak etc.

    Any tank inside the trailer takes away from living and storage space. Not to mention which, the weight of a full tank imposes more stress on trailer suspension or support base. Better to place such a tank outside the trailer. Safest is to use one of the industrial blow molded poly tanks they use for a variety of applications. They are made from a plastic that does not contaminate, will not corrode and is safe for drinking water and except when completely full, is relatively immune from damage in a mild freeze. I worked for a company that took highway coaches and converted them to special use RV or similar use. We always replaced any metal tanks with the poly tanks as a preventative measure. The company retained ownership of the coaches and chartered them out so they were responsible for all maintenance and repair.

    Keep in mind also that if you go for rain water capture it is likely to contain micro organisms which may grow in the presence of sunlight. The last thing you want is a few hundred gallons of green tinged water with a scum on the surface. Poly tanks are translucent so need a sunlight blocking cover if placed outdoors.

    The safest practice is to keep buying bottled water for tea etc. but use rain captured water for washing and flushing.

    Hiking and camping gear suppliers offer a hand pumped RO system. You could use something like that for making rainwater drinkable; while the rest is likely good enough to wash with. Unfortunately even the smallest RO system tends to be expensive, especially in terms of filter membrane replacement cartridges.


    For rain water collection. you can use an awning with a generous slope to avoid pooling the water and holding too much weight. you also want a diverter valve so the initial collection of water is used to flush away the collected dust, spores and assorted airborne contaminants that collected since last rain fall.

    Leave the valve set for dumping into a down spout and only change the diverter valve to feed the tank when you are sure its running clean and clear. Cruising boaters who practice collecting rainwater find they have to treat the stored water with chlorine to prevent the tank getting gungy with microbial growth,


    chlorine is an idea I have never tested, but when I collect rain water I typically use iodine drops. These take care of most microbial growth and parasites such as giardia. My rain collection was using a tarp, which was difficult to place around my LED flashlight lighting system (which is super convenient, by the way!) but it worked anyway. DEFINITELY keep this away from electronics (even the ones that say they are ‘water-proof’


    Collecting rain water is a great way to get your water, you can get a black poly (plastic) water tank, no worries about green water with those… you can physically filter your drinking and cooking water with a Berkey Light water filter, it needs no power or water pressure and the cartridges are scrubbable. It’s gravity fed, can sit on your counter top and works great, it’s what we use.

    The plastic tanks come in many sizes and configurations so you are sure to find one to fit your needs and space, you can even get one that fits in the back of a pickup truck, just make sure your pickup is sturdy enough to carry the weight when full.

    You can add chlorine (plain bleach, not scented, Clorox is best) to your tank to keep it clean, you can also use food grade hydrogen peroxide, it works great and is not toxic to anyone as long as it is property diluted.


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