Many of us are familiar with outdoor showers found on the beach or at the pool, but perhaps showers in the garden are less common. Well, with more of us looking to live an increasingly sustainable lifestyle, outdoor showers are becoming a popular garden feature.
Whether you're living off-grid or frequently find yourself getting dirty in the yard, DIY outdoor solar shower complete with hot water is the perfect sustainable solution to keep you feeling fresh. It's also a fun and satisfying task that's entertaining for both you and the kids!
Why build your own outdoor solar shower?
Building your own DIY solar shower is a fantastic project to take on. Whether you're a beginner at DIY or a pro, you can make the design as elaborate as you like but ultimately, solar showers are simple.
If you want to live more consciously and you're building your off-grid dream home, an outdoor shower is a great way to get clean without relying on non-renewable energy sources. They are economical, save energy, and since the water heater can be made with pretty much anything, you won't have to forgo hot water.
Better yet, building your own solar shower saves money and will allow you some creative freedom with the design. Furthermore, they don't require any complicated plumbing system so you'll be enjoying your hot water shower under the blue sky in no time.
DIY Outdoor Shower Ideas
If you do your research, you'll find many different outdoor shower ideas - it can be quite hard to choose a single design! Here are a few tips that will help guide you to the right shower for you.
It can be tempting to go online to purchase all the top-of-the-range equipment for a DIY project, but before you do, take some time to see what you already have available to you. It's amazing what one can find in the garden shed!
Recycling items will cut down the cost and it's better for the environment - it's a win-win. Look out for an old garden hose, PVC pipe (black ones will be great for your water heater, and any wood or materials you think could be used for the cabin frame.
When it comes to a project like DIY outdoor showers, creativity is essential. Every outdoor shower will be different depending on the budget, the location, and its purpose.
Take inspiration from other designs but keep in mind that this is for you. So if you know you need a water tank with the capacity to wash yourself, three kids, and a dog, you're going to want to find a large enough vessel. People have even used old trash cans - paint one black for a makeshift water heater that supplies hot water.
As well as materials, you may need to get creative with the water supply. If your outdoor shower isn't going to be connected to the water mains, make sure it's within easy reach of your chosen hot water supply.
Consider your requirements
Consider what you're planning to use your shower for. If you're lucky enough to live in an area where it's always warm, a simple design with only cold water will suffice.
However, if you spend hours gardening in the cold you'll be wanting hot water as well, which means installing a water heater.
Another thing to consider is the complexity of the design. If this shower is your everyday washing area, you'll want a more comfortable shower block that provides privacy as well as hot water.
How To Build Your Own Outdoor Shower
1. Find the right spot
The right spot is essential when building anything solar-powered. Ensure that your site has ample sunlight exposure; if you can't get southern exposure, a southwesterly or southeasterly exposure will do.
If you have an area of high ground, this could be a good spot to choose. This will allow the water to drain nicely and irrigate soils.
Finally, location will also depend on what water source you plan on using. If you're using mains, you'll need to be within 90 feet of an outdoor tap as most garden hoses will reach about 100 feet in length.
2. Prepare the foundation
Use what's available to you. The easiest foundation is an area of cement or a part of a patio. If you lack these, it's easy to create a well-drained base yourself.
Crushed rock in an excavated area will allow the water to drain slowly into the soil. Just cover this up with landscape fabric, clean sand, and top off with a few bricks. The water will filter nicely through the gaps and over the crushed rock.
3. Build your shower cabin
You can use anything to build your cabin. It can be as simple as a few bamboo screens attached to wooden posts and a wooden pallet for the entrance.
You could make it more elaborate by using pre-built privacy panels for the walls and then making rafters with weather-strong wood. Remember, the south-facing rafter needs to be sheeted so you can install your solar unit!
4. Choose and install your solar unit
There are many options when it comes to a solar thermal water heater. The simplest being the black hose method which uses a black pipe that is heated by the sun and can provide hot water for 8-10 hours.
But water heaters can be made out of anything. Like the garbage cans I mentioned earlier, try painting one black on a sunny day you'll notice a definite increase in water temperature.
5. Figure out the plumbing
The plumbing starts with the tank. Choose what container will hold your water, whether it'll be plastic or stainless steel will be determined on the shower's purpose and your design.
Then you'll need to connect it to a water supply. You could get a professional to do the plumbing fittings for you, however, if you do it yourself ensure that your design includes easy access to an "air vent". This will allow the pipe water to fully drain so that if temperatures do plummet, you won't suffer any burst pipes!
How much does it cost to build an outdoor shower?
Installation can be extremely low-cost if you already have most of the materials and build it yourself. But if you're looking for a little more luxury, expect your budget to increase.
Can an outdoor solar shower work in winter?
Yes! If you use the right solar thermal water heater. Four-season systems do exist and this helps maintain water temperature even in lower sunlight conditions.
How do I install a solar shower?
Do your research and check out the handy guide above that will take you step-by-step through your outdoor shower installation.
Are outdoor showers worth it?
If you love DIY then definitely! The great thing about an outdoor shower project is that it never has to be finished; there are always modifications to be made.
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