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Do You Need a Sink In Your Campervan?
Everybody does van life a little differently. Some people prefer to live off the grid, driving to new locations every day. Others like to live more comfortably and stock their van with all types of amenities. However, if there’s one thing almost every van lifer can agree on, it’s the need for a camper van sink.
- Clean dishes
- Wash hands
- Brush teeth
- Drink water
Whether you live in your van full-time or part-time, a van conversion sink is a great asset to have. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about finding and installing the perfect sink.
Van Life Sink Ideas
When it comes to sinks for camper vans, there’s no shortage of size and design options. It’s important to find a sink that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing. If you need inspiration, here are a few of the best sinks for van life.
CAN Srl FL1323 Campervan Single-Burner Sink/Stove Combo for Vans
This compact, Italian-made campervan stove sink combo is designed to fit in small living spaces. It features a sleek, stainless steel cook-top and safe, sealed burners. Along with a modern appearance, this small camper van sink is highly functional. It’s fitted with a heat-resistant, fold-down glass lid, which provides extra working space. Due to the impressive amenities, the combo costs around $490.
Ruvati 15 x 15 inch Workstation Sink
If you’re looking for something simple and compact, then the Ruvati 15 x 15-inch workstation sink has you covered. This van build sink consists of a deep, stainless steel colander and a hardwood chopping board. To save space, the board rests on top of the colander when the sink is not in use. On the inner side, you’ll find small ledges — these help keep the chopping board in place when the van is moving. This small sink for camper vans is also fitted with a sound guard undercoating and thick rubber padding. Overall, it costs around $270.
Dometic VA8005 Sink
Measuring 17.72 x 17.32 inches, this small van sink is definitely on the larger side. However, it’s still compact enough to seamlessly slide into your campervan set-up. It features a tempered, flip-down glass cover that can be used as a working board. The unique size and multi-functional capabilities help make this portable sink for vans stand out. Compared to other sinks, it’s priced reasonably at $217.
Elkay Quartz Classic 15-3/4″ Drop-In Sink
This drop-in sink comes in a variety of colors. It’s molded from natural quartz and has high heat and scratch resistance. Moreover, it’s easy to clean thanks to the non-stick surface. If these amenities weren’t already enough, the sprinter van sink also possesses sound-reducing properties. It’s fairly affordable with a price point of about $225.
What Materials You Need to Install Your Sink
You can conserve costs by executing your own DIY van sink installation. Before you get to the actual construction, you’ll need to gather materials. Here are some of the tools you’ll need to install a sink for caravans.
Start by purchasing a camper van sink (with a drain) to install. Then, assemble the following materials:
- Gray water tank and freshwater tank
- Faucet (and connector)
- Water pump
- PVC pipe
- Power switch button
- Drain hose
- Water filter
- Metal fittings (male and female)
- Self-tapping screws
- Power drill
If you don’t want to search for each material individually, consider getting a camper van sink kit.
How to Fit Your Campervan Sink
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, the next step is fitting the campervan sink unit into your kitchen.
1) Cut Out the Sink Template
Using a pen, trace the outline of your van sink (while inverted) on cardboard or stiff paper. Try to increase the dimensions of the sink template by about a ½ inch on each side to create room for the sink lip. Finally, cut out the sink template using a jigsaw.
2) Mark the Countertop
Transfer the cardboard template to the spot where you intend to place the van sink system. Then, outline the template onto your kitchen countertop (preferably on its underside). This helps minimize splintering.
3) Cut a Hole for the Sink
Now that you’ve identified the sink’s location and marked it out, it’s time to cut a hole for the actual sink. This involves the following steps:
- Drilling holes in your outline
- Cutting out the area
- Waterproofing the area
Start by drilling the corners of the outline using a power drill. The drilled hole should be wide enough to allow the jigsaw blade to pass. Once the holes are made, insert the jigsaw and start cutting the marked-out area while supporting it with your other hand. By supporting the piece, you’ll reduce the risk of breakage.
When you get to the end of the cut, peel off the laminate back of the countertop. Finally, seal the inside of the cut using a thin layer of waterproof silicone caulk. This step helps protect the countertop from water damage.
4) Insert the Sink
Once your cuts are done, trim any irregular areas. Then, test-fit the sink to make sure it fits. If the hole is too small, adjust the length or width accordingly until the sink fits in perfectly.
How to Install Your Campervan Sink
Once your sink fits seamlessly into the countertop, it’s time to install it. Here are the steps required for a well functioning, high-quality sink.
1) Attach the Sink to the Cabinet
The first step is to attach the caravan sink to your van kitchen cabinet. First, see if your chosen sink has screw holes. If it does, you can attach it using self-tapping screws. If not, use an adhesive.
To attach a sink with adhesives, fast smear the adhesive on the sink lips and then press them into the countertop. If you have self-tapping screws, drive them in using either a flatbed or electric screwdriver.
2) Attach the Faucet
Once your sink for van conversions is attached, it’s time to incorporate the faucet. This involves the following steps:
- Marking and drilling a hole
- Inserting the faucet
- Clamping it in place
Start by marking (and then drilling) a hole on the countertop using a paddle drill. Next, insert the faucet into the hole from the top, then clamp it shut with a jam nut.
How to Plumb Your Van Sink
The most challenging part of any conversion van sink installation is the plumbing. It’s one thing to build an appliance — it’s another thing to create flowing water. However, it’s far from impossible (provided you execute the steps carefully). Here’s an outline of how to install plumbing in a sink for vans.
1) Install the Water Tanks
Start by installing your water tanks. There are two major tank types:
- Freshwater tank
- Graywater tank
As the name suggests, a freshwater tank contains fresh water — this comes out of the faucet and is used for drinking, washing hands and cleaning dishes. Meanwhile, the graywater tank is where used water (or wastewater) accumulates.
The tanks can be installed underneath the camper van sink. Since the graywater tank needs to be removed and emptied consistently, it should go toward the back. To ensure the tanks are stable, install steel anchor points on either side of each tank and then secure them in place with tie-down straps.
2) Assemble the Pipe Fittings
The next step is to attach the PVC pipe to your tank. This will enable water to go from the tank to your camper van sink. There are three main pieces you need:
- The male fitting
- The female fitting
- The tank’s quick fitting
Start by cutting a piece of PVC pipe so that it fits the tank (this should be around ½” to ¾” in width). You should also make sure it’s long enough to touch the bottom of the tank — the longer it is, the more water it can access. Once you’ve confirmed the measurements, put the cut pipe into the tank. From inside, attach the male fitting from the pipe to the bottom half of the tank’s quick release.
3) Connect the Freshwater Tank to the Water Pump
To actually get water from the tank to the camper van sink, you need to connect a water pump. Start by attaching the top half of the quick release to the female fitting. Next, attach a male metal fitting to the water pump silencer (this mechanism helps reduce noise when using the sink).
Finally, take PVC pipe and connect it from the female fitting on the quick release to the water pump silencer. You may need to trim your pipe to make it fit. Once this is complete, fit the silencer into your water pump.
4) Connect and Install the Water Pump
Most water pumps are electric, which means you’ll have to connect it to a power source. If you happen to have a manual model (such as a camper van foot pump sink), you can just install it directly.
To power an electric pump, wire the switch to your van’s electrical system (double-check the wiring circuit for any loose connections). Once your pump is connected to power, you can go ahead and install it in place. Avoid positioning it on countertops — since the pump vibrates during use, it can damage your appliances. We recommend mounting it to the edge of the cabinet wall.
5) Connect the Pump to the Faucet
Now that your pump is prepared, it’s time to connect it to the faucet. You can either wire the pump directly to your sink tap, or go through an accumulator (a pressure chamber that reduces noise and electricity). Depending on your sink model, you may have one tap or two (one for hot water and one for cold water). If you want hot water, you’ll need to have a heater for van life.
In addition to connecting your pump, attach a stop valve — this is used to shut off the flow of water. The easiest way to do this is to attach a male adapter to the valve, then connect the adapter to the faucet.
6) Attach the Draining System
Once your camper van sink is assembled, you must attach the draining system so that you can get rid of wastewater. You’ll need the following materials:
- Drain kit
- Drain hose
The water should go through a sink strainer (or the drain in your sink), then through a drain kit and into a hose. Most sinks come with a built-in hole where you can put a sink strainer.
First, install the drain kit underneath the sink. Be sure to apply sealant between the kit and the bottom part of the sink strainer — this will help reduce the risk of odors. Then, connect it to the drain hose. The other end of the hose should connect to the graywater tank. Make sure it’s securely in place — otherwise, you’ll be vulnerable to leaks.
7) Install Doors for the Sink Cabinet
Conduct a final check on the plumbing connections and wiring circuits (keeping an eye for leaks or loose connections). If everything looks good, you can finish up the installation by installing doors for the cabinet under the sink. These will protect your water tanks and make it easy to remove and fill them.
Once you’re done, celebrate the installation by pouring yourself a fresh cup of water from your newly installed sink!
Contact Our Van Life Experts Today
From quenching your thirst on hot days to keeping your dishes and hands clean, there are plenty of advantages to having your own van sink. If you have any questions about camper van sink ideas, our experts are here to help. Contact us today for your van life needs!