18/04/2024
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Caravan showers: all you need to know

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In this guide, we’ll discuss the different types of showers, how they work, and how to fit an external shower point to your caravan

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Words by Val Champman

 


An introduction to caravan showers

Caravans are a home from home, with many being fitted with all the luxuries we’ve come to expect, including a shower. Not only does a shower allow you to be self-contained, but it can also open up a wider selection of sites, such as Club CL or CS sites that may not have an on-site shower block.

Modern heating and hot water systems allow couples, families and solo travellers to take a shower whether they have a 230V hook-up or not, thanks to water heaters that can power showers with an array of energy types.

Do caravans have showers?

Yes, many caravans are fitted with showers, from smaller two-berth tourers to larger family models.

Not all caravans have showers, but it's becoming increasingly popular for shower units to be fitted to many UK and European models. Caravan shower use is a popular topic on many forums, with an even split between caravanners who only use the on-site shower block and those who choose to use the shower in their caravan when on holiday.

As previously mentioned, a caravan shower allows you to enjoy campsites (Club CL and CS sites) that may not have a shower block. Caravan sites without such facilities tend to be easier to book at the last minute, which makes the caravan shower an essential piece of kit.


How does a caravan shower work?

An ecocamel shower head

(photo courtesy of Lee Davey)

Much like a shower at home, a caravan shower works by mixing hot and cold water to achieve the perfect temperature. Water temperature is a personal preference, so a caravan shower mixer tap regulates this accordingly. The water flows from the mixer tap along the shower hose and through the showerhead. Showerheads can vary, but we’ll discuss this shortly.

The hot water in many caravans is provided by either a Truma or an Alde system, with the unit typically housed under a seat or bed base. These water heaters can be powered by a 230V electric supply or a combination of gas and 12V electricity from the leisure battery. This allows caravanners to enjoy a hot shower whether they have an electric hook-up point or not.


How to clean a caravan shower

Shower panels in caravans are typically of plastic construction, so abrasive cleaners are best avoided. At the very least, an abrasive cleaner can dull a shiny finish. Non-abrasive cleaners work well, usually the type that’s available in a spray bottle.

Thetford Bathroom Cleaner comes highly recommended. It's worth testing any new cleaning product on a small, out-of-sight area to ensure it's suitable.


Types of caravan shower cubicles

A seperate caravan shower

(photo courtesy of Lee Davey)

A caravan wet room style washroom

(photo courtesy of Lee Davey)

There are two main types of caravan showers – separate shower cubicles and wet rooms.

Separate caravan shower cubicles are similar to shower cubicles at home. They have three walls (usually plastic, but they could be plastic-coated wallboards) and a hinged/folding caravan shower door. They keep the water contained, but this shower type requires more room; hence, they are usually fitted to larger caravans.

The wet room type is often fitted to smaller caravans as it maximises available internal space. A large shower tray will usually encompass the entire loo/shower/basin area, although a caravan shower curtain can divide the sections where possible. However, the loo, basin, and the rest of the room can become wet when showering.


How to install an external shower point to a caravan

I installed an external shower point on our vintage caravan and chose the Whale Easi-Slide system as the external unit is very slim. The push-fit connectors made it simple to install. Here's how I did it:

  • Decide on a location for the external shower point. Take pipe runs into account.
  • Mark the hole to be cut using the supplied template. Measure twice and cut once, as you won't get a second chance should your calculations be incorrect.
  • Depending on your caravan’s construction type, you may need to cut a separate hole in the interior wallboard and brace between the inner and outer skins with battens.
  • Clean the area around the external hole and the rear of the external shower point. I used panel wipe, although brake cleaner would be an ideal substitute.
  • Apply a recommended sealant to the rear of the external shower point and push it into place. I used Soudal RV61, although many sealant types are available. The unit will then be held with screws. An even bead of sealant should emerge from the edges of the external shower point unit when the screws are tightened. Clean any excess sealant from the relevant surfaces when the screws are tight.
  • Our shower kit was supplied with a plastic pipe cutter, which allowed me to splice into the existing hot and cold water supply easily. Push-fit connectors made plumbing in the external shower point simple.
  • It’s worth noting that any DIY work of this type will likely void any remaining warranty. To keep the warranty intact, a manufacturer-approved workshop should only carry out such work.


FAQ

How to remove a caravan shower mixer tap

  • Removing a caravan shower mixer tap is relatively straightforward, but the task's ease depends on access to the rear of the unit.
  • Ensure the water system is empty and the water pump is turned off.
  • Undo the main shower hose from the front of the shower mixer tap unit.
  • Undo the flexible tails at the rear of the caravan shower mixer tap unit, which supplies hot and cold water. Removing the far end of the tails from the caravan pipework is likely easier.
  • Unscrew the fixing nut from the rear of the caravan shower mixer tap unit. The nut is usually 10mm and holds a fixing plate.
  • With the nut and fixing plate removed, the caravan shower mixer tap unit can be pulled forward and away from the shower cubicle. Be sure to also remove the rubber grommet if fitted.

Do caravans have showers?

Yes, many caravans are fitted with showers, from smaller two-berth tourers to larger family models.

Which caravan showerhead is best?

I haven’t tested every caravan showerhead available, but we have used Ecocamel showerheads in many different caravan models as a family.

Ecocamel units have holes at the base of the showerhead that add air to the water flow, giving the user a feeling of increased pressure without using excess water.

How do I shower in a caravan?

With a limited amount of hot and cold water, the process is slightly different to showering at home. With the water set to the desired temperature, wet yourself before turning the shower off. Then, use shampoo, shower gel, or soap as you would at home.

Turn on the shower to rinse clean. It really is as simple as that!

How much water does a caravan shower use?

Caravan hot water systems usually contain 10 to 13 litres of hot water. An external Aquaroll will hold 40 litres. Hot water from the boiler is then mixed with cold water from the Aquaroll. As a rough guide, if the caravan hot water system is turned to maximum, we can have two relatively luxurious showers before running out of hot water.

It's worth getting into the habit of checking the Aquaroll before getting into the shower. This is not a mistake you make twice, trust me!

How do you fix a cracked caravan shower tray?

Although rare, caravan shower trays can crack. Specialist companies, such as Speedcoat, can repair them. Such repairs can be carried out either by a mobile service agent or your local caravan dealer.

The technician will likely repair/strengthen the crack and recoat the shower tray surface. Although I haven't had this type of repair carried out myself, I've heard very good things from people who have.

The other option is to replace the shower tray itself. Shower trays can be sourced from specialist parts suppliers, caravan breakers, or your friendly local caravan dealer.


Final thoughts

The humble caravan shower can open up a wide variety of sites and locations to visit, especially those that don't have on-site facilities. A shower can be incredibly handy if you travel with younger children or prefer to use your own facilities whenever possible.

Some folks choose not to shower in their caravan, but even if the unit remains unused, a shower cubical is the perfect place to hang wet coats, etc. I, however, find the caravan shower to be an essential piece of kit, and we use ours on almost every trip.


Expert Caravan advice to your door!

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