Sunday, October 16, 2011

Let's Build A Shower

Matt recently went out to New Mexico to meet with someone who is familiar with earth bag construction to get some ideas for the shelter in South Africa. He also met and stayed with two new friends, founders of the Zulu Orphan Alliance.

While there, he was given the idea of building a shower out of parts easily available at your local home improvement store.  We wanted to build one for our tiny house, but also think it can be used for camping or even potentially for the ZOA project.

We started with trips to Home Depot and Lowe's to put together the parts. The main component was a garden sprayer. 
We chose this particular one because the sprayer attachment screwed on and off and seemed to be a fairly standard size so we could put on a different type of sprayer.  We were lucky enough to find an actual shower sprayer that would work
We were excited to be able to find this attachment and thought it would work well. But the attachment didn't exactly fit the sprayer, so we had to add a joiner from the plumbing department to make it work. This is what that configuration looks like.
The entire contraption looks like this
The best part about this sprayer is that it has an on off switch, which is essential for the pressurized system to work. If you have never used a garden sprayer, the main process is to fill it up, typically with something like weed killer, and use the pump handle to pressurize the contents. You can then use the sprayer attachment to apply to your garden. In our case, we fill up the brand new never before used sprayer (don't recycle an old garden sprayer) with water at whatever temperature water we're comfortable with. Pump the sprayer and then turn on the shower nozzle.  Viola.  
You can see the water has pretty decent pressure.  This is a two gallon sprayer.  We ran it continuously to see how long it would last. It lasted about three minutes. Truthfully, two people could take a reasonable camp shower with just 2 gallons. Typically, unlike your house shower, you wouldn't leave it running the whole time. Turn it on, get wet, turn it off, soap up, turn it on, rinse, repeat.Because the water is pressurized you also don't have to worry about where you hold the nozzle. With gravity fed systems, you have to make sure the water is always above the nozzle, but that you can hold this sprayer at any level and still get the same pressure. 

We use a Coleman Hot Water On Demand at Mt. Matt. The sprayer will be much easier to fill than the solar shower bags we have been using most recently. Also, if you wanted to, you could easily paint the exterior of the sprayer black and make your own solar shower. Just set it in the sun and a few hours later you'll have great hot water.