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Off-Grid Shower: 4 Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Experts

Boon-docking, dispersed camping, and dry camping are all different ways of describing off-grid camping.

Essentially, camping off-the-grid means you’ll be far from the amenities and services typically found at developed campgrounds or RV parks.

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While off-grid camping is a great way to enjoy peace and quiet, it also means that you’ll be operating without hookups such as electricity, water, or sewage.

However, the absence of water spigots or bathrooms is no excuse not to maintain proper hygiene.

While you can’t quite bring your blissfully wonderful home shower with you, a portable shower will guarantee your entire camping party stays clean while giving you the freedom and convenience to shower wherever you want, whenever you want.

If you find the idea of enjoying the luxury of a hot shower while out in the wild appealing, then here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about portable off-grid showers.

1 - What Should I Consider When Getting an Off-Grid Shower?

 packing up the HOTTAP Nomad Kit
HOTTAP V2 NOMAD Portable Hot Water Kit

When you’re thinking of getting an off-grid shower, you need to consider:

  • Its size and weight.
  • Where you’ll be using it.
  • How long you’ll be using it.
  • The number of people who’ll be using it.

These and other specifics will help narrow down your choices when choosing the most appropriate off-grid shower.

If you’re camping in an area without sufficient sunlight for solar-heated water, for example, a propane-powered off-grid shower may be a better bet than a solar-powered one.

It’d be prudent to find out how long a typical 20-pound propane bottle lasts when powering your portable hot shower. In the case of the Joolca HOTTAP, this propane bottle lasts 15 hours at full power and 45 hours when you’re heating water at the lowest temperature.

The HOTTAP is also easy to set up with standard garden hose fittings that snap right on.

Since you never know when you may come across a beautiful spot with a river, lake, or some other water body, it’s good to have a pump at the ready. A reliable Off-Grid Plumbing Kit will push water a considerable distance, even up a slope.

Get one that comes with a water filter so that it doesn’t clog up your shower’s plumbing. It’s an added advantage if your pump can run dry without damage. While that is unlikely to happen when you’re pumping water from a creek or a lake, it might happen if you’re sourcing your water from a bucket or reservoir.

2 - How Hot Can My Off-Grid Shower Possibly Get?

woman enjoys shower hooked up to tree
Ensuite Plumbing

Most off-grid propane-powered shower systems have a maximum temperature of around 122℉. They work by raising the unit’s temperature by around 90℉, NOT the inflowing water’s temperature up to the unit’s maximum temperature.

So, if you were pumping water that was 20℉ through the unit, it’d supply water that was 110℉ hot, even though you may have set the unit’s maximum temperature to 122℉.

This means that to get a hot shower at 122℉, the water supplied to the unit would need to be at least 32℉.

To illustrate further, while the Joolca HOTTAP v2 unit can heat water to a maximum of 122℉, it’s rated for a maximum temperature rise of 95℉.

Factors such as the set water flow rate and the unit’s British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating can determine the degree to which an off-grid shower will quickly and efficiently increase water temperature.

Heaters with higher BTU ratings are usually more powerful and support a more robust and pressured flow rate. The table below demonstrates how the Joolca HOTTAP v2 Hot Water Unit performs:

Performance Rating for HOTTAP v2
Max. Temperature 122℉
Max. Temperature Rise 95℉
Temperature Rise @ 0.6 Gal/Min 95℉
Temperature Rise @ 1.6 Gal/Min 68℉
Total NGC 37,500 BTU

To make sure no one gets first or second-degree burns, the HOTTAP comes with an internal microprocessor that prevents the water temperature from going above 122 ℉.

3 - How Do I Setup My Off-Grid Shower?

HOTTAP with Quick Release Mounting Bracket on car
HOTTAP V2 OUTING Portable Hot Water Kit

For a propane-powered portable hot shower, you’ll need to:

  1. Find a good spot to position your water heating unit.
  2. Ensure the gas is securely connected to your hot water unit’s gas intake.
  3. Firmly attach your shower rose and hose to the hot water outlet on your unit.
  4. Confirm your water heating unit’s batteries are installed (and still have juice).
  5. Connect your water supply to your heating unit’s water inlet.

You may need to connect your water supply to a pump if it doesn’t have sufficient pressure, which you’ll then connect to your heating unit’s water input hose.

Do this before you hook up your pump to your power source— which can include your car battery or the cigarette lighter port.

Once everything has been properly connected, ensure your gas is turned on. You’ll be surprised how many people are disappointed with their off-grid shower’s inability to warm water before they realize they actually forgot to turn the gas supply on!

If you’re using the HOTTAP Essentials Kit or the Nomad Kit, you’ll find the water intake nozzle is clad in blue while the output nozzle is red. These colors make setting up easy and intuitive.

Now, all you need do is flick the switch on your showerhead and you’ve got yourself your steaming hot shower! Adjust your water flow rate and temperature as you like.

simply flick the switch

One other consideration to keep in mind when setting up your off-grid shower is your water supply.

It might not matter as much if you’ll be drawing your water from a bucket, container, or some other reservoir.

But if you’re sourcing your water from a large water body, you’ll have to consider how far out you’ll be able to pump water to your shower.

4 - Are Portable Off-Grid Showers Worth It?

Yes, because they’re:

  • Convenient
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to setup 
  • Safe and hygienic

Here’s how Kristin raved when she purchased the HOTTAP Nomad Kit:

"Easy setup and easy use

Great concept! Love the compactness and easy setup. Finally, my daughters will hit the dirt camping knowing they’ll fall asleep clean."
Kristin

Nothing underscores the convenience that off-grid showers bring than the ability to just take a shower wherever you are. You don’t have to count the days ‘til you get back home or find a passable motel along the highway to get a proper clean.

Since you can also adjust their water temperature and flow rate to your liking, you’ll be able to cater to different people’s tastes and preferences.

woman showers with HOTTAP on a beach
HOTTAP V2 OUTING Portable Hot Water Kit

Consider the portability and ease of setting up an off-grid shower and how certain off-grid showers are designed for the safe use of kids, the elderly, or even those living with disabilities.

For instance, the Joolca HOTTAP portable shower includes a modular showerhead that can be used handheld or as a ceiling-mounted shower with a convenient wall switch.

Additionally, a magnetic eyelet bracket makes it possible to stick your shower to a metal surface such as your car, or simply hang it from a hook or permanently fix it into a wall. 

The included Ensuite Plumbing makes all this possible due to its modular parts. These make it easy to customize this shower for adults and kids. 

So yes, it’s definitely worth it to get yourself a portable shower you can use off-grid. To start you off, choose any of these three HOTTAP Kits offered by Joolca that best suits your needs:

  • HOTTAP Essentials Kit
  • HOTTAP Outing Kit
  • HOTTAP Nomad Kit

testimonial from Glen A.

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See how people everywhere are using their Joolca HOTTAP, or share your setup on Instagram.

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