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Dry run with our solar hot water system and privacy curtain

Sprinter van rear door privacy curtain

Our Roof-top Solar Hot Water System

We built our roof-top solar hot water system out of 4″ ABS black pipe. We cut some holes in it and put in some openings so we can fill it with water. Shrader tire values were added so we could pressurize it and a hose bib with a quick-release value lets the water out.

I know, some of you might be wondering why we took such a simple approach to our hot water system. And the answer is, this provided a quick and affordable way to get some sort of hot water for our camping trips while we get a better sense of how we might integrate other systems down the road. Essentially, this gets us hot water right now while we figure out  want we want for a permanent solution at some future date. (Did I pretty much just say the same thing twice?)

Sprinter van rear door privacy curtain
Our roof-top solar hot water system is the black tube on the upper left side of the van. The grain curtain hanging across the doors is our privacy curtain. Keep it simple silly!

Performance Review of the Solar Hot Water System

I’d love to write about how our hot water system was just totally awesome. I could do that, but I like to be honest. So what is the verdict? It works. It’s fine. It’s good enough for now. You fill the tube with water, let it sit in the sun for a while and then attach a hose and use the water. It definitely falls within KISS.

When we went out on our birding day trip we didn’t pressurize the system so we only got the water via gravity. We do have a DC air compressor, but it has to be hooked up to the battery and isn’t super convenient. My plan was to pressurize it for this outing, but the birding was just too good and I didn’t make the time for it.

Needless to say, without the air compressor the pressure from our roof-top solar hot water system was less than exciting. I was hoping given the height of the van that the pressure due to gravity might be a little better, but it was only so-so. It will work for now, but like I said, this is just a temporary solution until we decide on the right long term hot water system.

Sprinter Van Rear Door Privacy Curtain

Fortunately our privacy curtain gets a better review than our roof-top solar hot water system. The privacy curtain rocks! It snaps on with powerful neodymium magnets in less than 30 seconds and covers the entire width of the rear doors.

Our van with the very bottom of our rear door privacy curtain barely visible.
Our DIY privacy curtain stuff sack.

Let me know if you are interested in seeing a write up of how we made our privacy curtain (and stuff sack!). It was a fun project that helped get us comfortable with our sewing machine.

What about you? Do you have a KISS hot water system in your van? Do you have a more sophisticated system? If so, please, let me know what you do or don’t like about it.

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