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Showering is more than one of life’s creature comforts; it’s also a hygiene necessity. If you’re new to motorhomes, you might wonder whether the included showers are good. Are they?
RV showers are great; I shower in my motorhome every day. Many people think RV showers are small and with bad water pressure; changing the shower head for better water pressure is easy, and if you are a large person, maybe an RV shower will feel too cramped for you.
I’m sure you have lots of questions about motorhome showers. How do they work? What about water leaks? Where does the water go? I’ll answer all these questions and more ahead, so make sure you check it out!
The Pros and Cons of Showering in a Motorhome
Personally, I’m a huge fan of showering in my RV. I live in the vehicle full-time, so I couldn’t imagine not using the perfectly good shower for bathing off the day’s dirt and stresses.
Even I recognize that RV showers and household showers aren’t identical. To present a fair picture of what showering in a motorhome is genuinely like, here are some pros and cons.
Have you ever tried washing up in an outdoor shower? Maybe you’ve resorted to taking a dip in a lake at odd hours, hoping to get clean.
Either way, scenarios like these aren’t exactly conducive to privacy.
That’s also the case when you rely on showering at campsites, parks, and wherever else you can find a running water source.
Your motorhome shower is always private. You can close the curtain or the glass door and know that that’s your time.
Those are the same luxuries we have when we shower in our bathrooms at home every day, but we take them for granted because we can’t imagine not having privacy.
Once you lose it when camping, you’ll be so glad to have it again!
If you do opt to save your showering until you find a facility such as an RV park or campground that has running water, there’s a bit of a problem with that. Well, several problems, as you’ll see, but the one I want to focus on right now is reliability or a lack thereof.
You have no idea what kind of shower situation you will walk into. Is the shower stall really small?
How do the faucets work? I know that sounds silly, but if you travel enough and experience all sorts of shower designs, you’ll realize showers aren’t always so cut and dried.
As an adult, you can grin and bear it in these awkward kinds of situations, but your kids–if you have any and they travel with you–might not be quite so agreeable.
A motorhome shower, by comparison, never changes. It’s a reliable means of keeping up with your hygiene day in and day out.
Since living full-time in a motorhome comes with its challenges, I like to simplify my life in just about every other area that I can.
Why, then, would I walk all the way to a service station at a campsite when there’s a nice, warm shower right in my RV?
I’ve already established that the showering situation can be a bit of a mixed bag, but there are still other inconveniences.
For example, you have to bring a change of clothes with you and find a place to keep them when you shower so your clothes won’t be stolen or get wet.
You also have to lug shampoo, body wash, and razors with you because none of those amenities are offered in a campsite shower.
A Motorhome, RV, or caravan shower is much more convenient by comparison!
Another benefit of motorhome showers is accessibility.
You never have to guess where your next shower will be, as the shower is right there in the bathroom waiting for you to use.
You might have read on a website that an RV park has a shower, only to find out that the information was inaccurate or that the shower is there, but it’s since been shut down, or it’s broken.
Well, darn, now what? You have to go without a shower, which isn’t fun.
Owning an RV means you don’t have to rough it quite as much as someone sleeping in a tent, or at least it’s supposed to. Marinating in your own filth is roughing it in the worst way!
- Cost Savings
Water isn’t free, you know. That’s why many campsites and RV parks charge guests a fee to use the shower facilities.
Will you pay a lot for warm water? Probably not, but I’m not going to pretend I know the cost of amenities at every campsite and RV park across the nation.
Little bits of money here and there do add up, especially if you live in your motorhome part-time or full-time.
Let’s say you’re family is paying $5 to use shower facilities at an RV park, and you stay at that park for a week. In seven days, you’ve already spent $35 to shower!
Your motorhome shower is far more economical by comparison since water for your RV at a campsite is usually included in the price. You need to burn some propane for your water heater, or maybe you have an electric water heater with a fixed electric rate already paid.
- Probably Smaller Than Your Shower Back Home
Moving on to what’s not as good about motorhome showers, size is certainly a concern.
Even if you have a relatively small bathroom at home or a campsite, I’d wager a guess that your RV shower will be smaller.
According to shower manufacturer Kohler, the average size of a shower in the United States is 60 inches by 30 inches.
By comparison, an RV shower is 24 inches by 30 inches.
That’s right; you’re losing over half the size of a household shower.
Of course, some motorhome showers are up to 57 inches wide, but you’ll only see those in larger RVs such as Class A and Class C motorhomes.
A small shower is inconvenient for just about anyone. If you’re a big and tall person, you might find a motorhome shower comically too small for you, and in those cases, it might be worth using the campsite shower when you have it available.
- Less Hot Water to Go Around
Do you like to take long, hot, luxurious showers? That’s a perk you’ll have to do away with when living in your RV, even if it’s only part-time.
The size of your motorhome’s water heater tank and your home’s hot water tank is not commensurate. A small residential water heater offers between 40 and 50 gallons, whereas an RV hot water tank has only about 2 to 10 gallons.
You don’t get a lot of hot water to go around. You’ll have to get used to taking very fast showers because once the hot water is gone, you have to wait for more unless you have an on-demand water heater.
You also need that hot water for other things like doing dishes or boiling water, so you want to conserve it as best you can. It’s also nice to save some hot water for the friends or family who live in the RV with you.
Taking shorter showers is not a bad thing by any means. You’re not wasting water, which is quite admirable! Of course, if you find that short showers are just too big of an issue for you, then you can always look into a tankless on-demand water heater. Just know that this will be expensive.
- Not As Pretty
Showers are all about creating a certain ambiance. That extends to bathrooms as a whole, really. You invest in expensive tile, install frameless shower doors, and buy a rainfall shower head to make your everyday showering experiences that much better.
You don’t have nearly as many options for your motorhome, RV, or caravan shower. The shower pan, which is where you stand when you’re bathing, is what it is.
Unless it cracks, then you shouldn’t look into replacing it, as the pan is connected to the shower walls and floor. You’d have to upend half your bathroom just for a new shower pan.
The shower head is fortunately easily replaceable, but a rainfall shower head isn’t really feasible in a motorhome shower. The shower head would spray water and make a mess all over the place. The most you really get are skylights, but even those aren’t guaranteed in every RV.
How Does a Motorhome Shower Work, Anyway?
When the time comes to use your motorhome shower, how exactly does it work? Allow me to explain!
The water supply comes from one of two sources, either from your fresh water tank or if you are connected directly to city water or municipal water hook-up/water spigot.
With City Water Hook-up
When using a water hookup, it’s a good idea to invest in a pressure adapter to ensure the pressure on the hose line doesn’t cause damage to your RV plumbing and pipes.
Once you’ve got the water source connected, this is turned on all the time, completely bypassing your water tank and water pump, which I will cover soon. Since the water pressure directly from the spigot will keep the pressure up throughout your whole freshwater system to your shower, there won’t be a need for your water pump to run.
It works very similarly to when you are watering your plants with a garden hose; you turn it on and off with the water hose pipe but instead, you turn on or off the shower faucet.
With The RV Fresh Water System
When we are using the RVs own freshwater system and its water tank and pump, it is a bit different but still very easy to overlook; it is like the diagram I have made for you above.
When you open the faucet/mixer in the shower, the water pump will start pumping water to the shower, pulling it from your freshwater tank to your water heater then to your shower mixer/faucet with both warm and cold water, so you get water coming from the shower head so you can take a nice RV shower.
Your shower will include a drain for the dirty water when you’re finished bathing.
Where Does the Shower Water Go When You’re Done Using It?
Speaking of dirty water, your motorhome or RV shower drain doesn’t have a city sewer to leak into, so where exactly does it go?
The same place that all dirty water in your RV goes, and that’s in your grey water tank. I wrote about the grey water system here, so give that post a read if you are curious about what grey water is. Or check out my video above that explains the grey water system and how to empty it.
Many grey water tanks featured in modern motorhomes are quite sophisticated. They’ll include sensors that indicate when the tank is getting full. Debris that gets into the tanks can block the sensors, but that’s a lot likelier in a blackwater tank where toilet paper that doesn’t fully dissolve gets in the way.
Like blackwater tanks, you’re supposed to use designated dump stations for emptying the contents of your greywater tank.
It will take some time management on your part to plan when to dump the tank so you can still enjoy a fresh, warm shower but not overfill the tank.
Dump stations are widely available but are not at every RV park and campsite.
Even when you find a station to dump the greywater tank (and the blackwater tank, too, while you’re at it), that doesn’t always mean it’s free to do.
Some dump stations charge a small fee to use them. It’s inconvenient, but you’d have to dump the greywater tank even if you weren’t showering in your motorhome.
This is just one of those unavoidable parts of RV life, especially for us full-timers! And below, I have made another video showing how to find greywater dump sites!
Will a Motorhome Shower Cause Water Damage?
One of the biggest reasons I’ve heard from fellow RVers about why they won’t touch their motorhome’s shower is that they fear showering will somehow cause water damage.
I understand the basis of this concern, as water damage can lead to catastrophic damage to your RV.
If you try to remediate your RV, you could spend thousands upon thousands of dollars. It’s either that or junk the vehicle without recouping a cent.
While I can get where your anxiety comes from, that anxiety is mismanaged if you ask me.
By using your motorhome’s shower properly, you shouldn’t have to worry about water damage.
That’s like being afraid of using the sinks or the toilet in case they back up or leak.
I know a shower uses far more water, but it will not cause water damage in most scenarios.
You will have to take care of your RV’s plumbing system, preventing it from freezing, winterizing it if you park the vehicle for the offseason, checking for cracks and leaks, keeping it free of clogs, and checking that it is well sealed and maybe resealing it with silicone or adhesive sealant once a year.
If you do those things, then there’s no reason your motorhome shower should ever betray you.
Showering in a motorhome may never be quite as good as bathing at home since you don’t get as much hot water and you don’t have nearly as much space.
Beggars can’t be choosy, and I’ve grown to love my motorhome shower, and I prefer it over a campsite shower!
It’s reliable and convenient, and I’ve started taking faster showers, so I know I’m conserving water and doing my part for the environment.
If you already have a shower in your RV and you’re not using it, I recommend you start. For those who are shopping around for motorhomes and are wondering if a shower is worth having, it most definitely is! And I recommend a separate shower that you can close off from the rest of the bathroom so you don’t get the whole bathroom wet when you shower.