Off-Grid Outdoor Shower with Propane Water Heater

After two years of living in our yurt, two years of cold showers and lengthy considerations for a hot water off-grid shower solution, we finally decided to pull the trigger and build an outdoor shower, off-grid and powered by a propane on-demand water heater.

TLDR: We use the Camplux 1.32 GPM propane water heater, with water coming from our spring-fed hose. Our review? We love it.

Interior of our new outdoor shower, with Camplux propane water heater, and all Annie’s products.

We considered solar-heated shower designs—either one of those five-gallon camping showers or a more DIY, sun-on-tubing design. These would likely work fine in the summer, but that’s when we just hop in the creek or bathe in the spring water. It’s summer, after all.

When we really want a hot shower is in the depth of Vermont winter, when there are feet of snow on the ground and icicles growing from the yurt roof. And as much as we would like to rely only on solar power, the reality is that we get very little sun exposure in the winter months and the outside temperature would prevent water from getting very high above freezing. In other words, a solar powered shower in Vermont winter would be less a shower and more a hypothermia closet.

We also considered a fire-powered, heat exchanger design. Our friends built one using an old residential water heater. But, a bit shamelessly, we wanted to find a design for an outdoor shower that was a bit simpler, more convenient.

So, propane power it is, and we couldn’t be happier. There are numerous options out there, for what is, essentially, an on-demand water heater (which every home, on- or off-grid, should have, by the way, but I digress). You can read the reviews, determine your water pressure capabilities, and make your selection based on your individual needs. We chose the Camplux 1.32 GPM heater because we’re relying solely on the natural water pressure of our spring to power it—1.32 gallons per minute is remarkably low, and we love that the heater is able to work with such low pressure needs. Note, though, that when it’s freezing outside you need to completely drain the tank so water doesn’t freeze inside it. That’s the one downside to this approach.

Outdoor shower tucked away in the woods.

If you don’t have a running water source, you could also build an elevated reservoir to create pressure. We got a 3/4″ adapter to attach a standard garden hose to our spring hose—the Camplux is designed to fit a standard garden hose thread. (You can see the white garden hose in the photo below.)

The shower stall viewed from the front.

The shower stall we built for it is 4’x4′ with a pressure-treated frame and cedar boards for the floor and walls.

Outdoor shower with a view.

An outdoor shower with hot water, tucked away in our little neck of the woods. It’s magical. We couldn’t ask for more. Be sure to get in touch if you have questions!