Innovative Van Sink Ideas for a DIY Campervan Conversion

When building your own campervan, considerations must be made for every component of your build. A camper van sink is one of those components. And…

When building your own campervan, considerations must be made for every component of your build. A camper van sink is one of those components. And not just any component – your van sink will be used daily for various tasks, so deciding what type of van sink you should install is a big decision.

In this article, we’ll explore why you should have a campervan sink, how to choose the right one, give tips on how to set up your water system and provide you with examples of campervan sinks you can buy. Let’s dive in!

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First-hand Experience with a Camper Van Sink

sink inside a campervan
The Wayward Home writer Sierra Eberly’s sink

I have lived full-time in two different campervans. Guess what the only thing they had in common is? The camper van sinks.

Personally, I love a deep stainless steel sink that has a faucet with water that pumps out from your water tank. I cook a lot and have a dog, so having easy access to my water, and a space to clean veggies, wash my hands, and store dirty dishes in a hurry just makes life easier.

This definitely isn’t something I would compromise on for my own needs, but I have friends who have setups as simple as a little bowl and a gallon jug of water and it works just fine for them!

On that note, let’s dive into all the different types of camper van sinks there are and some tips on how to choose the right one for your needs.

Why a Campervan Sink Matters

Sink and stove combo in a VW Grand California campervan
Sink in a VW Grand California

Often, you’ll hear people talk about how van life is all about simplicity and minimalism and that you don’t need as much as you might think when living on the road. While there’s truth to this, a camper van sink is an important piece of your DIY van build.

Access to clean water and a functional sink is invaluable when you’re on the road. It allows you to wash dishes, prepare meals, and maintain personal hygiene conveniently. Without a sink, you’d depend on public facilities or awkward makeshift solutions.

Campervan sinks come in various styles and sizes, making them versatile additions to your van. They can be integrated into your kitchen setup or designed as portable units, offering flexibility for different van layouts and purposes.

Examples of Campervan Sinks You Can Buy

When talking about a DIY sink, you don’t actually have to MAKE your own sink. But you can certainly choose what type of sink you want, install all the parts and fittings for it, and set it into your countertop yourself.

Portable Sink Options

A portable sink is a great idea if you don’t want to add a full-on water system to your van, which is time-consuming if you’re doing a DIY campervan build. Plus, with a portable sink, you can use it both inside and outside of your campervan.

Collapsible Sink and Cutting Board Combo

This portable sink doubles as a cutting board, so you get two kitchen items for the price of one. Plus, it's super easy to store and durable. Pop it into the dishwasher whenever you have access to a "house kitchen."

BOXIO Wash Portable Sink

Boxio is a German company making innovative products for campervans and camping in general. It comes with a separate canister for water and it works with a pumping mechanism, no electricity required.

Built-in Sink Options

Built-in sinks provide the same comfort and ease of a kitchen you’d find in a house. Adding a built-in sink to your van requires a lot more work, such as a water system and a way to pump and store gray water. Some van lifers opt to use a foot pump solution, which doesn’t require an electrical connection.

Here are some built-in sinks for you to look at.

Dometic Range/Sink Combination

Dometic is a well-known brand in the campervan and RVing industry and creates hardy equipment for DIY builds. This range and sink combo is perfect for your campervan build.

TORVA 14-inch Undermount Sink

Specifically crafted for van lifers, this elegant black undermount sink maximizes both form and function in your compact kitchen. It comes complete with essential built-in accessories like basket strainer drains and a quality towel, designed to optimize your limited space. The undermount installation not only amplifies available counter space but also ensures a seamless aesthetic and easy cleaning.

Tec Vanlife Sink - Matte Black Folding Faucet

Constructed with premium, extra-thick stainless steel and the market's leading black nanotechnology coating, this campervan sink is engineered to withstand the demands of a nomadic lifestyle. Its standout feature, a 52-inch pull-out faucet head, serves dual purposes: rinsing off gear and doubling as a shower, effectively transforming your galley into a versatile, multi-functional space without the need for additional plumbing.

    Here’s an example of a custom van kitchen equipped with a regular sink and a gray water jug.

    Choosing the Right Camper Van Sink

    pump faucet kitchen sink on wood slab with live edge
    Photo Credit: @jeremyconte

    Who would have thought there were so many camper van sinks to choose from? Whether you’re looking to buy a stainless steel sink or plan to make your own camper van DIY sink, here are some suggestions of what to look for.

    Sink Types

    1. Built-in Sinks: These are permanent fixtures, often integrated into your kitchen counter or cabinet. They offer a seamless look and can come in single or double-basin configurations. These often have a cover that doubles as a cutting board and, when in place, expands your countertop by making the sink area usable counter space. You can choose one with a soap dispenser to minimize containers floating around in your van.
    2. Portable Sinks: These are freestanding units you can move around as needed. Portable sinks are ideal for smaller campervans or those with limited kitchen space. Some portable sinks are collapsable and can fit into small storage spaces. Others have stands you can set up for the sink, with a plug on the bottom to drain water easily.

    Material Options

    1. Stainless Steel: Durable and easy to clean, stainless steel sinks are a popular choice for campervans. They resist corrosion and can withstand rugged use.
    2. Plastic: Lightweight and budget-friendly, plastic sinks are suitable for smaller vans or for someone who doesn’t need a full kitchen sink. These are often collapsable, making them easy to store. You can also opt for a plastic basin, or even a bucket can be used as a sink.
    3. Composite: Composite sinks combine the best of both worlds—durability and aesthetics. They are available in various colors and designs to match your campervan’s interior.

    Size and Layout Considerations

    classic campervan kitchen unit
    Photo Credit: @vanlifecustoms

    Consider the available space in your campervan when selecting the sink size. Additionally, think about whether you prefer a single or a double basin sink, depending on your cooking and cleaning needs. Most RV sinks are single basin to save space. But a double basin might be worth the space if you want space for washing dishes and a separate section for rinsing, washing hands, etc.

    Faucet Options

    • Foldable vs. Fixed: Foldable faucets save space when not in use, while fixed faucets offer a more traditional look. In some small campervans, foldable faucets are incorporated into little stainless steel sinks.
    • Gravity Fed: To keep things super simple, you can opt for a gravity-fed faucet. This can literally be a 2-gallon jug on your countertop that has a spigot on the bottom you can open and close. This could be your entire water system if you choose. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to make your camper van DIY sink. Whatever meets your needs and falls within your budget will be just fine!

    Budget and Quality

    Balancing your budget and desired quality is crucial. Purchasing a high-quality sink can save you money in the long run, as it’s less likely to require replacement or repairs. But if you don’t need a fancy sink, don’t feel obligated to buy one.

    Figuring Out Your Campervan Water System

    kitchen sink in a van
    Photo Credit: @cvs_vans

    Now that you have an idea of what type of camper van sink you want to have, it’s time to talk about your water system options.

    Water Source Options

    1. Onboard Freshwater Tank: Many campervans have onboard freshwater tanks that supply water to the sink. Determine how much water you will need and the space available for a water tank so you can decide on what size you need. Water tanks come with a holding capacity of 10 to 40+ gallons. If you have an on-board shower, you will obviously need more water storage than if you’re only using water for drinking, cooking, washing dishes, and washing your hands.
    2. External Containers: If you don’t want a permanent water tank installed in your rig, you can use external containers or jerry cans to transport water. Five-gallon jugs work great since you can take them into most grocery stores and refill them at their water refill stations. An external water container is a great option if you won’t be near places with hose hookups to refill an onboard tank.
    3. Filtering and Purification: Consider adding a water filtration system to ensure your water is clean and safe. This can be as simple as using an RV water system filter like this one when you put water into your tanks or by adding a filtration system between the fresh water tank and the intake for your faucet.

    Gray Water Management

    Gray water is any water left over after home use, such as dishwater, water from washing your hands or brushing your teeth, or water used to wash clothing.

    1. Holding Tanks: Make sure you have a way to collect wastewater from your sink. How much water you use will help determine how big of a holding tank you need. Your gray water tank can be installed under your van, as an interior tank in a cabinet, or it can even be a small jug under your sink. Dispose of this waste responsibly according to local regulations. We love this 11-gallon holding tank by Agile Off Road.
    2. Environmental Considerations: Be mindful of where you release gray water. Some campgrounds and areas have specific rules about wastewater disposal. Always use biodegradable soap products and never dump water on the ground near where people are camping or if there is any possibility of a contaminant being in the water, such as bleach.

    Pumping Solutions

    Depending on the plumbing system you choose, there are various options for what type of water pump you can use in your DIY sink.

    Electric Pumps:

    Electric pumps can provide instant water flow with a button or by simply turning on the faucet handle. An electric water pump is typically installed under your sink, between the fresh water tank and your van sink. Your van sink will work like a regular kitchen sink, and if your water system includes a hot water heater, you might not notice the difference!

    Foot Pumps:

    Foot pumps offer a hands-free option for operating your sink. They are simple, inexpensive, and reliable. Water is forced through your faucet with a pump you step on located on the floor. A foot pump is convenient since you can have both hands free while “pumping” water into and through your faucet for various tasks.

    Hand Pumps:

    Hand pumps work just like foot pumps, but you use your hand. This isn’t very helpful if you need to wash your hands, but can be a good option for someone who just wants to pump water into a tea kettle or water glass.

    Battery:

    A nice compromise between a manual foot or hand pump and an electric water pump is battery-operated. Some great budget battery-powered faucets can pump water from a jug into whatever container you want. Some battery-operated pumps are rechargeable via a USB cable, so you won’t have to replace regular batteries continuously.

    Tips for Optimizing Your Camper Van Sink Experience

    Things that are used a specific way and work certain ways in a regular house are always different in a campervan. Van life has many nuances that can make even something as simple as using a sink in your van be challenging. Here are a few tips to help you:

    Water Conservation Strategies

    1. Low-Flow Faucets: Install a low-flow faucet to minimize water wastage. When living van life, every drop of water is precious, and you don’t want to waste any water you carry.
    2. Use of Dishpans: Use dishpans or tubs to wash dishes efficiently, conserving water in the process.
    3. Alternative Cleaning Methods: For simple cleanups, consider using a simple mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray your dishes and wipe them down with a clean cloth to save water.

    Organizational Accessories

    1. Sink Covers and Cutting Boards: These multi-purpose accessories provide extra counter space and keep your sink area clean.
    2. Storage Solutions: Optimize storage with organizers designed for sinks, such as a small bin that suctions to the inside of your sink or a sponge holder that hangs from your faucet.

    Cleaning and Sanitation Supplies

    1. Biodegradable Soaps: Use environmentally friendly, biodegradable soaps to minimize your impact on the environment. Never dump gray water that has been contaminated on the ground.
    2. Waste Disposal: Dispose of wastewater according to local regulations and always respect the environment. You can use an app like iOverlander of Campendium to find dump stations nearby to dispose of waste properly.

    Conclusion

    A campervan sink is more than just a convenience; it’s vital to a comfortable and efficient mobile lifestyle. You can enjoy the benefits of clean water and hygiene on your adventures by choosing the right sink for your needs, setting up a reliable water system, and following installation and maintenance tips. Start your campervan sink project today and enhance your van life experience!

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