Caravan Water Tanks: The Ultimate Guide

For many campers, having access to freshwater for drinking, showers, and sinks can be a true luxury. However, if you want to be able to access freshwater, you’ll need to carry with you your own water source.

That means having a water tank installed on your caravan. There’s a lot to know, and plenty to get right when it comes to selecting, installing, and caring for your caravan water tank. 

What Are Caravan Water Tanks?

A caravan water tank acts as a water supply for your caravan, providing fresh drinking water and clean water to your showers and sinks. However, there is actually a larger system at work than you might expect, using up to three separate caravan water tanks. These are the:

  1. Freshwater tank
  2. Grey tank
  3. Black tank

Clean water is stored in freshwater tanks that are moved to your taps, toilet and shower via water pumps. Water pumps can be electric, or manual. Foot pumps and hand pumps are both commonly installed types of manual pumps.

Dirty water from your sinks and shower drains into a grey water tank, whereas used water from your toilet is drained into a separate black water tank.

Water heaters can also be installed if you’d like access to hot water while camping. If you don’t install a water heater, you’ll obviously only have cold water for your showers and taps.

What Types of Caravan Water Tanks Are There?

Caravan water tanks are available in a wide range of sizes and materials, you can be sure to find something that suits both the needs of your lifestyle and your caravan.

Commonly used water tank materials are:

Polyethylene Plastic

This material is the most commonly used due to it being both very lightweight and flexible. Tanks made from polyethylene plastic are also food-grade approved.

Galvanised Steel

Tanks made from galvanised steel are heavy but are easy to repair and offer excellent protection against corrosion.

PVC and Nylon

The lightweight nature of PVC and Nylon makes it well suited to smaller, soft-sided, bladder system tanks. These are an easily portable option and suitable for small caravans.

Which Caravan Water Tank Is Right For Me?

Answer these questions to get an idea of which water tank is right for you.

How Many People Will Be Travelling In Your Caravan?

It’s important to consider how many people will be using the caravan, and how many litres of water they’ll need. It might be obvious, but more people means you’ll need more water. 

For example:

  • A 22L water tank will offer enough water for two people for two days.
  • A 30L water tank will offer enough water for four people for two days.

How Long Do You Spend Camping?

It’s important to consider how long your average camping trip will be as well as how many people will be on the trip. As a general rule of thumb, water tanks that can hold 30L or more will be adequate for most extended caravan trips. 

Will I Be Camping Off-Road?

If you’re planning on camping off-road in secluded areas, it is wise to choose a larger water tank. If you also plan to camp in wet areas, choosing a water tank made from galvanised steel is a smart choice due to its resistance to corrosion.

If you don’t plan on camping off-road and instead like to visit caravan parks, then you can afford to install a much smaller water tank.

This is because most caravan parks will have an accessible water source where you can refill your fresh water tanks from. 

How Big Is Your Caravan?

If you have a small caravan or one with relatively weak walls, then installing a tank made from galvanised steel is not advised, due to its size and weight. Smaller caravans are more suited to water tanks made from polyethylene plastic, PVC, or nylon.

Galvanised steel water tanks are better suited for large caravans.

Caravan Water Tank Installation Guide

Many older caravans do not have a grey water tank pre-installed, and with changing council regulations across Australia, it’s common for camping enthusiasts to have to install their own grey water tanks. This can be done in three steps.

  1. Choosing the right tank for your caravan
  2. Installing your grey water tank close to your plumbing fixtures. This is usually close to the shower and sink.
  3. Mount the tank in an easy to reach the place. Make sure your caravan water tank fittings are close by. Installing extra support bars may be necessary for larger tanks. Your tank should come with the manufacturer’s instructions detailing the installation process required for your specific tank.

Maintenance

Keeping your water supply clean is the first step when it comes to caravan water tank maintenance. Never use a garden hose to fill your fresh water tank, instead use food grade hoses. This will prevent your fresh drinking water from tasting or smelling like plastic. 

Your freshwater tank, grey water tank, and the black tank should all be drained and cleaned regularly to prevent problems such as bacteria or foul odours. Chemical treatment is always necessary when cleaning your black tank.

Also, note that when dumping water from both grey and black tanks to use dump points. These will be free to use both at a caravan park or in town.

Extras For Your Water Tank

Water Filters

Water filters will improve the quality of water that you use, however with the B.E.S.T inline water filter you can quickly attach it to your hose and fill your fresh water tank. With a small size and a lifetime of 5000 litres of water, you can be sure this water filter is built to last.

Tank Cleaners

Don’t store water in a dirty tank, use an effective tank cleaner to prevent the buildup of algae, mould, and bacteria in your tank. Camec Tank Cleaner is a great choice.

Tips For Travel

When driving with a caravan water tank, you need to consider how much to fill your tanks as this will impact the driving experience. You can always check the water level with a caravan water tank gauge. 

Full Tank

Pros

  • Greater stability thanks to lowered centre of gravity
  • Ensures the quality of your water supply

Cons

  • Increases the weight of your caravan. If towing your caravan with a 4×4 or other vehicle, check the maximum weight you can safely tow.
  • Increased strain on vehicle transmission

Empty Tank

Pros

  • Improved fuel economy thanks to caravan being less heavy
  • Less stress placed on suspension

Cons

  • Decreased stability

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