There is nothing like having a nice warm shower when boondock camping. Usually I am able to use solar
water heating bags to produce the hot water. However, I use a portable Zodi water heater to heat the water when the days are cold, cloudy, or I wasn't able to set out the bags early enough to get the water hot if I drove for a long period of time that day.
One significant drawback to a portable hot water heater is that when you shower, first getting wet and then turning off the water at the head while soaping up, you will get hit with very hot water when you open up the shower head again to rinse off. That is because, while stopped, the water was held in the hot coils and gets very hot as it has nowhere else to go. If that water is held on the coils for even a minute or so, you will feel like you are getting cooked for a while when you open the shower head again to rinse off. You can reduce the problem by remembering to direct the head away from you until the water is cooler again.
Stopping the water may be fine when getting hot water to wash dishes or if the water is constantly running while washing something, but not good if it will be hitting you after being allowed to heat in the coils for a while. Also, if you leave the shower run while soaping up to avoid that problem, you will use up more of your water supply and also fill your gray water tank sooner.
I solved the problem by making a system that heats the water in the solar
bag, and then I use the water from the bag to shower, not using it directly from the heater.
Photos of the setup show the solar
bag hanging from a bracket, the side access door, the 12v water pump mounted on the side of the water tank, and the Zodi heater hanging from the camper. The white water line at the bottom of the bag goes to the 12v water pump, a black line leads from the other side of the pump to the heater, then another black line leads from the heater to the top of the solar bag to return the heated water.
There is a little red switch to turn on the pump to get water to the heater before it is lit. That is very important otherwise, if the coils are heated before water is flowing through them, they will produce flash steam when water does reach the hot coils and you could seriously get burned.
Once the water is circulating the Zodi is lit and the pump left for the water to continue heating and circulating until it reaches the desired temperature. Then the heater is disconnected, the bag is sloshed side to side a couple of times to evenly distribute the temperature of the water in the bag and it is then ready to shower with. The water is at a consistent temperature throughout the shower, no hot or cold interludes to be surprised by.
To hang the Zodi from the camper, I removed the handle and used the same type of bracket used to hold the top of the rock shield on the front window. I put spacers on the top and bottom to hold it out from the camper.
The second-to-the-last photo shows the heater and propane
tank stored in the space. The propane
tank has to be removed when stored, otherwise it can vibrate loose and loose all the gas in it.
I used a small pump from ebay that has the orange label on it. It’s about $26.00. There are other cheaper ones, but they are really noisy, having found out from previous experience.
The last photo I included because I figured that someone would ask what the three plastic hangers on the side of the camper are for. It is for a wire rack table to place the Coleman stove on for cooking outside. It is about 2.5 feet square. The telescoping leg is from a monopod shooting holder that allows for the Y to be removed and be used for a camera monopod. I used some clamps with the rubber inserts so that the leg can fold flat when stored. The leg has the type of clamps used on camera tripods that release by just opening them. The table has been real handy and takes very little room or added weight