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Tiny House Shower Plumbing Explained (3 Interesting Options)

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tiny house shower from the niagra model from modern tiny living

Do tiny houses have showers?

The answer is yes, tiny houses sure do have showers. Most include all the bathroom facilities you would find in a regular size house. Using a shower is a great way to make the most of the limited space and water you have in your tiny home.

When people ask us, “do tiny houses have showers?”, we think about the fine balance between having enough functionality and how tiny you want your home to be. There wouldn’t be much point in downsizing to a smaller house if you’re not able to access one of your basic needs like showering.

So, how do showers work in tiny houses?

To have a shower in your tiny house, you must understand its dimensions, its layout in the bathroom and how to access and dispose of water properly (shower plumbing). We’ll take a look at the three different tiny house plumbing options we’ve found for showers: on-grid, off-grid and no plumbing.

Disclaimer: This article does not contain any legal or professional advice. For advice tailored your situation, contact your relevant authorities. For any decisions that impact the safety and well-being of humans please always seek advice from professionals. 

Table of Contents:

Tiny House Shower Plumbing

Key Terms

There are some key terms you should be aware of before we dive into the details:

  • On-grid: When you are “on-grid” it means you are on land where a water source and infrastructure is provided.
  • Off-grid: When you are “off-grid” it means you are on land where no water infrastructure is provided that you can directly link up to.
  • Greywater: This is used water that is not clean because it has been mixed with soap, detergent or other chemicals. It is not safe to drink. Greywater is used shower water for example. 
  • Blackwater: This is water that has been soiled and must be disposed of properly in a lawful manner, i.e. via sewers. Blackwater includes toilet water for example. 
Do tiny houses have showers? Yes, the Braxton from Modern Tiny Living has a gorgeous and spacious walk-in shower.
Tiny House Shower Example #1. The Braxton from Modern Tiny Living

Option 1: Connecting to a water supply (on-grid shower plumbing)

When you’re “on-grid”, you’ll have access to either the mains infrastructure or plumbing. You could be at a campsite, in someone’s back yard or just on your own property. Here’s how on-grid tiny house shower plumbing works:

Using the mains supply in your tiny house

When you’re in more of a built-up area, by far the easiest way to go about plumbing your tiny house is by connecting to the mains water supply. This is very similar to how regular houses manage their water intake. It makes sense to go this route if you have access to the mains supply and you intend to stay in the same position for a long period of time. To get rid of wastewater, you connect to the mains through a drainage point. 

Connecting your tiny house via a water hose

When you’re at a campsite with access to plumbing, but not the mains supply, you’ll have to connect in a different way. You can use an RV-style water hose from an external tap or spigot. This is most commonly used in tiny homes that need to be mobile and are on wheels. When you connect your hose from the on-grid water source to the ‘hole in the wall’ on the side of your house, you’ll be able to pump water in quickly. 

Shower drainage for on-grid tiny houses

We’ve talked about the two main ways to connect to an on-grid water source but getting rid of used water is also essential for your home. Tiny house showers produce greywater which needs to be disposed of properly. Other bathroom appliances, such as a flush toilet, produce blackwater waste which must be dealt with differently to greywater.

So, where does shower water go in a tiny house?

Drainage works in two ways for tiny houses that are connected to an on-grid water source:

  • For tiny houses that are connected via the mains, access to the sewer is provided via a drainage point. When you connect to the mains to input your water, access to the sewer should be available at the same time. This is the same way regular houses connect to a water supply and drainage.
  • For houses that are connected to plumbing via a hose in a campsite or property using a hose and tap/spigot, a full service hook-up should be provided for drainage.
This tiny house shower from Summit Tiny Homes is spacious and features an eye-level window.
Tiny House Shower Example #2. The Cabana from Summit Tiny Homes

Option 2: Storing and plumbing your own water (off-grid shower plumbing)

Living off-grid means you don’t have the luxury of being able to connect to a mains water supply. You’ll have to source your own water, store and pump it into your bathroom. Here’s how on-grid tiny house shower plumbing works:

For your tiny house shower, we found you can source water in a few different ways.

  • Find a well or natural spring. As long as you have permission to use the water you find in wells or springs and the water is clean, you can use it for showering. Make trips to the water source and fill up containers or pump water into your house if you’re close enough.
  • Rainwater collection. Again, as long as you have permission to collect rainwater (check with your jurisdiction) you’ll be able to use it for showering. You can collect rainwater from the runoff on your roof and store it in barrels in or outside your house. If your roof is too small to collect substantial rainwater, consider building extra catchment area on your house or around it.
  • Other sources, such as clean water taps. When you have access to any other clean water supply that you have permission to use, you can collect it in containers and transport it back to your house.

Whichever water supply you go with, you’ll have to store it in your tiny home. But what are the different options available for storing water ready for showering?

Tiny house water tanks and pumps

Most people use tiny house water storage tanks with an outflow pipe and water pump for their showering. It provides a high pressure shower, giving the same experience as being on-grid would.

Using a storage tank and pump also gives you the freedom to go and live completely off-grid, if you can source clean water.  However, a downside of storing all the water yourself is that it takes up a fair amount of space and will add a lot of additional weight to your tiny house.

Keep in mind how much space you need to leave for a water tank, where you want to store it and how much weight you can spare. A water tank is not very aesthetically pleasing, and many people choose to place them in the kitchen under the cabinets.  

Gravity fed showers in your tiny house

Instead of using an outflow pipe and pump connected to a main storage tank, you could take advantage of gravity for showering. Once an overhead storage tank is filled with water, no pump will be needed to push the water into your shower – gravity will take care of it.

There are a few advantages to using a gravity-fed shower, one of which is that you will conserve energy in your home. However, since water pressure will be lower than if you were using a water pump, make sure that your water tank is more than one metre above your shower head so that you have enough water pressure to give a satisfying shower.

Furthermore, hooking an electric shower up to your overhead water tank via a water pipe will ensure a high-water pressure shower.

Hybrid tiny houses with on and off-grid capabilities

So what happens if you want to live on-grid for some parts of the year but then travel and be off-grid for the rest of the year?

If this sounds like you, you may want to consider a hybrid plumbing system in your tiny house. This means you have standard off-grid plumbing architecture (water tank and pump) as well as a system to connect to the mains (using an RV style water hose to connect to your tap point or spigot for example).

You have the option to link up to the grid when you decide you want to stay put for a little while, maybe when you’re on your own land or a campsite. If you want to have the flexibility to move around, you can fill up your tanks inside.

It obviously gives you more choice when you have a hybrid system, so if you’re not sure what or where you’ll be going in the long-term with your tiny house, it may be worth considering. One potential downside, however, is that the tank will always be in your home even when you are using on-grid water. It may become “wasted space” if you never need to go off-grid and use it.

Shower drainage options for off-grid tiny houses

Since tiny house showers produce greywater, it is easier to section this off and deal with compared to blackwater.

We’ve found that in some areas, greywater cannot just be dumped anywhere. It must be taken to a dump station or put back into the earth. Please check with your local jurisdiction to see if there are any different rules on releasing greywater.

Putting it back into the ground is the easiest option, you can let the ground soak it up. However, it’s also important to consider how dumping greywater could affect your home. If you’re releasing the water too close to your house, it may cause the ground to become more saturated. Consider creating a soak way or dumping the water further away from your house.

If you’re unable to dispose of the greywater in this way, your other option is to visit a dump station. This is also where you will have to dispose of blackwater too. If you’re disposing of both types of water, make sure to collect them separately.

This shower by Modern Tiny Living showcases a beautiful monochrome mosaic.
Tiny House Shower Example #3. The Niagra from Modern Tiny Living

Option 3: Tiny house outdoor showers

The last option when it comes to tiny house showers is having no plumbing at all. This is probably the least common solution because it’s obviously not as practical as having either off-grid and on-grid plumbing. It means you won’t be able to simply turn on a faucet and use as much water as you want and you won’t be able to enjoy high pressure, warm showers.

If you go the ‘no plumbing’ route, you’ll have to source clean water and carry it to your house. You need to get creative with where you go to collect water and what you use it for. Consider showering in other places that you’re close to such as a public bathroom at a campsite or gym. Furthermore, if you’re living in a tiny house next to a property with easy access to the kitchen and bathroom, you can use these for their utilities or water to bring back to your home.

But, if you’re lucky enough to have access to a bathroom in another property, is it really worth installing a shower and plumbing into your tiny home?

You always have the option too of collecting water in jugs or containers and keeping them in your house. You can then use a gravity fed shower.

Some advantages of having no plumbing at all include:

  • The building costs of your house being reduced (no money needs to be spent on the plumbing)
  • No hassle when it comes to connecting to a water supply and managing it

However, some disadvantages include:

  • Water stored around the home can take up a lot of precious space (similar to an off-grid tank and pump)
  • You run the risk of running out of water, meaning it will not be on-demand
  • It means you will be able to do less with your water, i.e. you won’t be able to use faucets, have hot water, etc

Another option with no plumbing is showering outside. If you plan to build your tiny house in one spot and never move it, you may want to consider building an outside shower as well. 

Outside showers are becoming more and more popular for people living in tiny homes on their own land.
Outside Showering. Photo by Finn Mund on Unsplash

Thank you for reading! If you’re interested in learning more about tiny house living, you can read more of our articles below.