Water is essential to all human life, and indoor plumbing was one of the important inventions that led to modern-day civilization.
It’s easy enough to install plumbing on a foundational home, but if you intend to travel in your tiny house, you’ll need to assess your water storage tank options.
In this article, we’ll answer all your questions about tiny house water storage tanks, such as:
- Where they’re kept
- If all tiny homes have them
- How big they are (depending on type of water tank)
- How they hookup to your tiny house plumbing
- How to fill and empty them
Where can water storage tanks be kept on tiny houses?
If you live in a fixed foundational tiny home, your water storage tanks are best placed at the rear end of your property, close to your outlet.
If, on the other hand, you live in a mobile tiny home, you’ll need to accommodate these tanks within the design of your home. The best place for your water tanks is close to your kitchen and bathroom because this is where the water will run to and from.
The closer your tanks are to the taps, the less plumbing you’ll have to run. If you place your tiny house water storage tanks at the opposite end of the house to the bathroom, you may spend far more time and money on your plumbing than you need.
Do all tiny houses have water storage tanks?
Not all tiny homes have water storage tanks, and you can opt to go without a direct water source to your home. This option has several advantages: it is simple, doesn’t require any plumbing to be installed, and means that you don’t have to deal with sewage and wastewater.
The problem is that it makes day-to-day life challenging and takes the joy out of the simple things, such as taking a shower in your own home.
Without plumbing, you’ll have to carry in any water you want to use, meaning you’ll need to carry bottles and buckets backward and forwards regularly. In addition, it would be hard to create a suitable place to take a shower inside with no drainage system. This would mean that you would need to shower outside anytime you’re off-grid, which could be torturous in the harsh temperatures of winter.
Tiny houses can manage without water tanks if they’re primarily used for camping or as guest houses. Still, if you intend to live in your tiny home, installing water storage tanks is undoubtedly advisable.
How big are tiny house water storage tanks?
The average size of a freshwater tank in a tiny home is 40-50 gallons, which means the overall tank capacity for a tiny home sits somewhere between 80 and 100 gallons.
The average person in America uses 80-100 gallons of water every day. If you’re living in a tiny home, you’ll need to try and reduce that usage to around 10 gallons or less daily. This helps preserve the life of your water system and water filter too.
A large RV water tank will have a capacity of between 40 and 50 gallons of water. If you live alone, you should be able to make this last for a week; if you’re in a shared household, you’ll still want it to stretch for a few days.
Rainwater tanks can be used if you’re collecting rainwater for your tiny house.
Barrels that are kept outside are usually between 40 and 80 gallons.
However, if you want to collect and store a lot, you can install a cistern which can hold over 1,000 gallons.
Grey water tanks
A grey water tank holds any used water that doesn’t contain human waste – it is one of two wastewater tanks you’ll find in a home. These are things like shower water and washing up water.
These tanks are pretty versatile and can be placed in numerous areas of your tiny house.
Black water tanks
In comparison, the blackwater tank is a dense tank that holds sewage. This tank will be much smaller than the other tanks as only a small portion of your water should end up here. If you have a composting toilet, you don’t have to have a blackwater tank.
The total volume of your grey and blackwater tanks needs to equal the volume of your freshwater. For example, if you have a 50-gallon fresh water tank, you’ll need either a 50-gallon grey water tank or a 35-gallon grey water tank and a 15-gallon black water tank (grey water accounts for 70% of waste, blackwater 30%)
This means that in total, you’ll have around 100 gallons of water storage capacity in your tiny home.
How do water storage tanks work in tiny homes?
Your tiny home has three water storage tanks – fresh water, grey water, and black water. Once you have the tanks in place, you will need a water pump that connects to these tanks as well as your power supply to pump water through your home.
In addition, you may want heated water for taking a shower. While water heaters have historically been the most popular way to heat a tank of water, they are not the most efficient for a tiny home. Instead, new innovations in tankless water heaters are a far better design for tiny houses and possess the ability to heat your water on demand.
If you intend to live off-grid, a tankless gas water heater is likely to be your best option, as gas is a much easier energy source to store. However, if you’ll predominantly spend your time at campsites or RV parks, then a tankless electric water heater is a far more energy-efficient device/
How do you fill up a tiny house water storage tank?
Freshwater tanks are relatively straightforward to fill; you just have to find a freshwater source like those at RV parks or campgrounds. You can manually fill up your tank, though this will get tiring pretty quickly as large volumes of water are heavy to transport.
It’s a great idea to purchase a dedicated freshwater hose for refilling your tank; this ensures you don’t use the wrong hose and contaminate your water supply.
How do you empty water storage tanks on your tiny house?
Hookups can make grey and blackwater drainage simple and efficient when you’re located in an RV park or campground. However, if you’re on the road, you’ll need to find a dump station, commonly located at truck stops and many national parks.
Where possible, you’ll want to hook up at an RV park because emptying raw sewage by hand is not for the fainthearted. If you do choose to empty it by hand, triple-check all seals and fittings before you proceed to avoid any unfortunate (and incredibly messy) accidents.
Greywater is much easier to dispose of, thanks to the fact that it shouldn’t contain any pathogens. This means you can usually empty it into drains, storm sewers, or even directly onto the ground – just check local regulations before you do.