Cheap tips on how to run plumbing for your off-grid cabin

Getting your plumbing right when living off-the-grid can be challenging since you’re not getting any help from public utility services.

If you’re newbie to off-the-grid living, it can be messy sometimes. But it’s doable, thanks to composting toilets, septic tanks, cisterns, and wells.

Below are helpful tips to help you get started.


Where to get off-grid water

Now that you’re cut off from public utility services, you can use these natural sources of water for your off-the-grid home.

  • Private well
  • Rainwater (collected in cisterns)
  • Lakes and ponds
  • Rivers
  • Springs


What do you do with blackwater off the grid

To deal with blackwater off-the-grid, you’ll need these plumbing options below; 

Septic tank systems

Using septic tank to collect blackwater is the most common system for handling waste, especially in rural areas where public amenities are lacking. The good thing about the septic system is that governments approve it easily and companies are willing to help you set it up.

The septic tank is located outside your off-the-grid home and holds the blackwater till it’s broken down and leached into your land.



Though not as common as the septic tank system, the lagoon is perfect if you’re on budget. It’s like an organic basin (a wide hole in the ground) that holds blackwater and wasterwater. Unlike septic tanks, lagoons are difficult to approve because of health implications.


Composting toilets

Compost toilets are particularly designed to treat blackwater. There are different kinds available, and all will save you plenty of water.

Since they’re not designed to treat greywater, you can combine a compost toilet with a greywater system. This way you can handle both greywater and blackwater while living off-the-grid.


How do you shower off-grid without electricity?


No power off-grid doesn’t mean no shower. While you may not get the same pleasurable bath experience as the one you get at home, you can still have a decent shower. Fortunately, it doesn’t take anything to set up the off-the-grid shower. Thankfully, we have several great ideas to help you get started.


Why do you need outdoor and off-grid camping showers?

Apart from the need to keep yourself clean daily, there are several other reasons why you need an off-the-grid shower. Some of them include;

Quarantining: We’re in the middle of a pandemic and it looks like the coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon. At least that’s what health experts say. So, grabbing a shower outdoors before hopping into bed or having dinner with your family is an effective way to curb the spread of the virus.


Types of off-grid showers

Wondering what type of shower you should get or set up off-grid? We’ve got some great ideas below. Check them out!

Bucket shower a.k.a Navy shower

Suppose it’s your first time living off-the-grid, the bucket shower aka navy shower is the first shower you must learn.

And it’s pretty easy.

First, wet your body then turn off the shower. Next, lather up, turn the shower on again, and rinse off quickly. That’s all. That’s how it’s done in the military.

When done accurately, this bucket shower technique ensures you don’t waste water while cleaning your body. That said, if you want to conserve plenty of water, use the Navy shower technique.


Solar shower

If you’re camping in a region with enough sunlight, the solar shower is definitely worth having. It’s one of the quickest and simplest ways to wash dirt off your body and keep clean without electricity. Besides, the solar shower is excellent for emergencies, especially when you need a quick bath.


Portable tankless water heater

The portable tankless water heater is compact, doesn’t take up space or need a tank, and is quick to set up.

There are a variety of portable tankless water heaters to choose from for your off-the-grid living. Some run on electricity, while others are powered by natural gases like propane. So, when buying one at your local store make sure to check for these specifications or ask the store owner. That said, here are some models worth trying out;

  • Camp Chef Portable Water Heater

It’s as you’ve read. The Camp Chef water heater is portable—easy to carry around. But you can still make it a permanent fixture in your off-grid location. Any time you want a hot shower, just grab the Camp Chef, plug in your water or garden hose, and you’ll have hot water in no time.

However, keep in mind that the Camp Chef produces more hot water per unit than most alternatives you’ll find. Even more than the Coleman Portable tankless water heater.

  • Coleman Portable tankless water heater

The Coleman uses technology similar to a home’s tankless water heater. This easy-to-carry tankless machine is powered by propane gas and releases hot water in as little as 30 seconds. To use the Coleman, all you need is to connect the pump to the heater’s 5-gallon water carrier, plug in the hoses, enter the temperature you want and your water will be heated.

The Coleman can heat the water up to a maximum of 125°F. At this temperature, it’s perfect for making hot beverages, washing dishes, but particularly for taking a shower in colder outdoors.

The Coleman comes with an in-built lithium ion battery that you can charge from your car outlet. Its charger can be used to power both the electric pump and LED display.


Weed sprayer pressurized shower

The weed sprayer pressurized shower is a step up from the typical off-grid showers.

And it’s quite easy to assemble.

All you need is a weed or bug sprayer, a water hose, a shower hose, a low flow water nozzle, a valve, hose clamps, and a shower wand.


How do you deal with grey water off-grid

Sometimes people confuse greywater with blackwater. However, both are collected separately and come from different places in the house. Greywater comes from your washing machines, bathtubs, showers and sinks. It requires little treatment before it can be leached into the soil or used to water plant. On the other hand, blackwater is from your toilet and needs to be properly treated before it can be leached into the soil.

Now that you know the difference, how do you deal with greywater off-grid?

Suppose you use natural, non-toxic products in your home, you could use the greywater on your garden. However, we advise you’ve it treated first since it may contain things like skin cells, fat and food waste.

While treating greywater isn’t much of an issue, some local regions insist that greywater shouldn’t be treated separately from blackwater and that it should go through a septic tank or system. Before treating yours, ensure it’s in line with the water treatment codes where you’re camped.

If you’re going to collect the greywater separately, divert the pipes from your sinks, washing machine, bathtubs, and showers into one single pipe. From there, you can collect it and treat it, or direct it through perforated pipes under the soil in your garden.



Living off-the-grid takes a lot of planning, especially when it comes to setting up your own plumbing system. If you’re newbie to off-the-grid living, it can be challenging setting up your plumbing system. This article is a good guide to help you get started on off-the-grid plumbing. Some of the best plumbing options you can try are compost toilets and lagoons. For showers, you can try the navy shower technique—it’s easy and quick to set up. Other shower techniques worth trying are the weed sprayer pressurized shower and portable tankless water heater.