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Author Topic: Fresh hot and cold water circuits in a bus  (Read 4474 times)
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« on: July 29, 2010, 12:19:49 AM »

Has anyone ever tackled writing up a primer on various ways of building the water distribution both hot and cold in our buses? Anything in BCM?

I find myself again searching for any of the things I've run across over the years. Yes, I know Craig laid his out quite well and I've seen a couple others here and there but I was wondering if anyone has ever actually made a tech article on it? It would be cool to see tips, tricks and basics all laid out. 
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2010, 01:24:05 AM »

I'd be interested to see this too. I think there is no such thing as the 'best' way of doing it though, as the system you choose depends upon how you are heating the water, how it will be pumped or pressurised, and so on. Your hot & cold fresh water circuits may also relate to the heating circuits and engine water circuit as well.

If various illustrations showing the different circuits people have used in their buses could be assembled in one place then it would certainly be a wonderful asset to new converters

Jeremy
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2010, 05:11:09 AM »

I'm not going to write an article on bus plumbing, but I think the choices are fairly clear - home runs to usage points, or daisy chain.  the traditional way is daisy-chain - run one supply line along the bus and tap off from it to supply faucets, etc.  That's how mine is done - cold runs along, head, shower, bathroom sink, kitchen are tapped off and the cold run terminates at the hot water heater.  Hot water just runs back along, terminates at the shower.  City water is tapped into the middle, as handy and appropriate.  My bus layout puts all points of water usage in a roughly 12' lineup along one side of the bus, to facilitate plumbing issues and make a daisy-chain layout work best.  With only two people on board, it is trivial to only have one point using water at a given time, making distribution efficiency rather moot.

Probably the better way is to home-run lines to each usage point from manifolds located at the water source.  More even distribution of flow and pressure, easy to manage, easy to  isolate and fix.  Central location of hot water near the cold source makes it even easier, and if you use pressure accumulators they can be more effective located at the manifold.  You do use more tubing, but PEX lends itself to this - easy to bundle and route, easy to terminate.  Many high end houses are going this route, since it really is better, and the manifolds are available off the shelf now where a few years ago you had to  build one yourself.

Put shut-off valves on the whole system and at each usage point.  That's about all I have...  It's worked fine in my bus, anyway.

Brian
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2010, 05:39:46 AM »

I second the home run all water lines from a manifold or valve block made from available fittings. If you have a leak or have to fix a fixture then shut off valves are worth the money. PEX tubing is the way to  go. And it goes in color  Grin so blue for cold and red for hot.

Don't forget when you are designing your system to include pressure regulator for incoming water, valve path to dump air from supply hose, drain for system and tank and finally a suction side line for pump where you can tank on disinfectant to clean system or antifreeze.

Draw out your system and check for ease of use. That is probably the critical step. Yes, I have a shutoff valve but its a stinker to operate! Think and try first before building.

Bill
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2010, 05:46:31 AM »

I forgot something really important in bus plumbing - making sure you have a way to drain it!  Drain it all for winterization means having a low point valve and gravity feed or blowing air to clear the lines.  Don't forget having to winterize the hot water system.  On my bus I have cleverly designed in a loop that cannot be drained, I have to disassemble to get the water out and condensation still accumulates.  So this winter's pre-winter task is to rebuilt that section with a drain!

Brian
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2010, 09:31:47 AM »

I like the daisy chain method for hot water.  Reason?  From each outlet or spigot  you can put a little valve that routes the hot water back to the fresh water storage tank.  When you need hot, open the valve for a few seconds and it gets the lines heated up without wasting a drop!!  MUCH better than running the tap into your drain, wasting precious fresh water into your preciously small grey tank, just to get things hot...
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2010, 10:32:07 AM »

I like the daisy chain method for hot water.  Reason?  From each outlet or spigot  you can put a little valve that routes the hot water back to the fresh water storage tank.  When you need hot, open the valve for a few seconds and it gets the lines heated up without wasting a drop!!  MUCH better than running the tap into your drain, wasting precious fresh water into your preciously small grey tank, just to get things hot...

Why would that not work equally well in a system where each outlet had it's own supply?

As it happens I've been thinking about using a return-line arrangement like this just recently; I think leading the return line from each outlet together to a single valve would work equally well as each outlet having it's own valve, and it seemed to me that this would make for a neater installation - although possibly less convenient if your outlets are a long way apart.

Jeremy
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2010, 10:44:51 AM »

I like your idea about the return line Boogie and have contemplated that for if/when I get concerned about precious water. Right now it's not a big deal. And I think that would be the best of both worlds Jeremy.

This is a good topic as I have an issue with everytime the pump kicks on, while I'm in the shower, it changes the water temperature in a BIG way!!  Shocked Shocked Shocked  Not good. (there is a lot of "dancing" going on in there  Cheesy) I was thinking putting the H2o heater closer to the tank would probably help. Actually, a little "re-plumbing" would probably help. It's all Pex and easy to get to. Anybody have a take on which way to go?? I'll do what it takes to make the shower stay a constant temp.  Grin Grin Grin

If someone did had the time to do the different plumbing diagrams, I think it would be cool. But, I think most people can glean enough from Brian's description for the basic idea's. I just want to be SURE the shower gets priority with the hot water!  Grin Grin Brrrrrrrrrrrrr.........  The rest....... ehhhhh.
  Thanx,
    Chaz
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2010, 10:53:06 AM »

Probably the better way is to home-run lines to each usage point from manifolds located at the water source.  More even distribution of flow and pressure, easy to manage, easy to  isolate and fix. 

How do you figure that?

Your water flow and pressure are dependent on the SOURCE.  If you are running park mode, you are limited by the inlet hose diameter.  If running a pump, the limit is the pump throughput.

Either way, you're not going to see any difference between daisy-chaining and running from a manifold.

The watchword for water OR electrical is "short and fat."  Short isn't an issue -- the long run of a daisy chain in a coach is going to be about 15 feet.  So that leaves fat.  Use 3/4" tubing and you are exceeding the diameter of your inlet hose or your pump outlet, so you can't do any better than that.
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2010, 12:06:17 PM »

My factory built Airstream trailer has 3/8" poly tubing daisy chained (And, from the looks of it, they were paid by the fitting used!  Sad ). All the fixtures are low flow, so the fixture has more restriction than the supply to it.
Wouldn't a temperature compensating or pressure balanced shower mixing valve compensate for changes in water pressure?

If you're concerned over volume used, you will be best served by using smaller lines & the ultra low flow fixtures. The smaller the line, the less water is used when waiting for hot & the less hot water is left in the line to cool off.
It is a shame that finding good fixtures (that make efficient use of limited water) seems to be luck of the draw.

My current desire is to have home runs for each circut that gravity drain for winterizing.
I'll plumb the manifold hot & cold supply so that they are as equal flow as possible & then run the hot & cold together so there won't be a need for the special shower valve.
I'll probably include a hot bypass to the fresh tank to save water at each station - it too will be properly sloped to allow for easier winterizing.

Since I'm using pex, I was considering running plastic conduit to run the pex inside - then if I need to replace it, it will be easy.
If it burst (because I forgot to winterize  Roll Eyes ), the wet mess will be better contained.
It will be better protected from stuff rubbing against it (maintaining a drain slope will likely place it in some potentially abusive locations).

The advantage of a manifold system is you can select which circuts are used - may be usefull if you want to isolate one fixture. I'm thinking it may clean up the plumbing under the sink too. (But, if you need to shut off the supply to a fixture, you're going to have to do it at the manifold, not the fixture.)

YMMV
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2010, 12:09:56 PM »

I too prefer the daisy chain style. I also designed mine to have all plumbing downstairs to be in one bay only so that heat in freezing weather is easier to handle. I put a mainline shutaff valve in the closet where I can get at it if I want to cut water supply without going into the bays. I also have a self regulating pump that varies speed so that there are no pulsed in the water flow to change the water temp. Jerry
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2010, 04:45:26 PM »

Well, I signed up to write the article on fresh water systems for BCM, but unfortunately, I haven't made much progress on it yet. However, keep the suggestions coming on this thread, because you can bet I will be including some of this information when I get to it this fall.

craig

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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2010, 08:06:23 PM »

I don't believe that PEX will burst if frozen. I've used polybutlyelene, and the the only freeze problem I had is that the fittings loosen, but not break, on a hard freeze. Don't think that'll happen on crimped PEX.
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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2010, 08:10:27 PM »

Pretty sure George Myers who was a main contributor for a long time to the mag has a plumbing book. Look under Epic Conversions or you can find it on the Busnut board. Just re did our coach in pex.
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« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2010, 08:39:14 PM »

We used the Manabloc system:  http://www.houseneeds.com/shop/plumbing/pexplumbing/vanguard/pexmanifoldsmain.asp .  We used the model MXBD14-2 which has 6 hot and 8 cold.  I use one of the valves to flood the washer drain to keep the "P" trap wet.

I really like the concept of multiple lines, as I can shut one off if there is a problem and the rest still work.  I had thought about building my own valves, but I could not begin to buy the parts for what I paid for the valve ($99 at the time - now $131).

Jim
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« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2010, 09:25:27 PM »

Jim,

I have seen that one before and like the set up.

BG6,

Wouldn't you have better pressure if your lines in your coach are smaller than the feed to the manifold?

That has been what I have always seen anyway. A larger feed to the manifold and then reduced from the manifold for more pressure.

Bryan
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« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2010, 05:34:21 AM »

The reduced line size adds to the pressure drop. Line sizes are reduced after a manifold to help even out the flow to each circut.

If all lines are the same size, the shortest run would 'steal' all the water whenever it was used (assuming there wasn't much restriction in the fixture).

In an 'ideal' system, each branch would have more flow capacity than the fixture & the total capacity of all the fixtures combined will be less than the capacity of the supply to the system.
Adding a pressure regulator to the inlet will also help reduce flow deviations. As flow from the supply increases, the supply pressure drops. If the pressure regulator is set at or below what ever this pressure is at full flow, then the pressure seen by the individual fixture won't change no matter what other fixture is used. This also assumes the regulator is big enough that it doesn't restrict flow.  Cool
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« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2010, 06:57:54 AM »

Concerning water "regulators".  The cheap ones you get from an RV store are not regulators.  I bought a true regulator (Watts 263A).  After I first installed it, I ran into a park that had very high water pressure and the Watts seemed to do its job.  I tried it later at another park and the pressure was again high, but the regulator did not regulate the pressure.  I did a quick read about these units and they seem to be sensitive to water quality and are easily compromised.  They can be rebuilt, but I did not take the effort.

Instead, I always use my on-board water pump and only use the park water supply to fill the tank. 

I am paranoid about over pressure.  I used Qest fittings with pex tubing and they work well, but I don't want to push my luck.  A blown line while we are away from the bus would be a problem.

Jim
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« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2010, 07:56:28 AM »

In industry, using multiple regulators is common - especially when you are taking big reductions in pressure. They step the pressure down to limit the max pressure the last regulator sees.

Using an on-board water pump all the time definitely has advantages.  Cool
I've often thought having the pump controlled by an off-delay relay (with a momentary on switch at each fixture) would ensure it is off when not needed & reduce the impact of a leak in the supply line.  Grin
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« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2010, 08:06:29 AM »

Kyle, I have toyed with some sort of pump switch as well.  In an early camper, we came close to having a fire, because the water pump froze up and the motor overheated.  Like you, I worry about a line breaking and the pump flooding the area.

We have our pump on a single breaker/switch that is very convenient to turn off, but we forget.  I had thought about (and bought but didn't install) a standard 120V rotary timer switch.  When you wanted water you would simply turn the knob to the amount of time you wanted and then it would shut off automatically.

I have this picture in my mind that it would shut off when Pat was in the shower Shocked Shocked  Sort of funny for the first few seconds Roll Eyes

Jim



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« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2010, 08:20:45 AM »

In my bus, I used Qest plastic lines and fittings.  While it has been 100% reliable, I also had copper/brass ball valve manifolds made for both the cold and hot, with one ball valve per water usage.  Now on my truck, like Jim, I'm going to use the Pex manifold system-far cheaper and readily available.  I am going to stay with two water pumps-while both also have been 100% reliable-when someone is showering and the other is doing dishes, running both water pumps makes for seamless water pressure where the one showering doesn't feel the difference in pressure.  It just involves having two water pickups out of the water tank, but then you're having the tanks custom made in most instances.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2010, 08:30:33 AM »

Kyle  Square D makes a low pressure cut off switch that trips below a set (adjustable) pressure and must be manually reset after repair.
Normal cut out & cut in pressures also adjustable. Catalog # FSG2J20M4CP     06 Bill
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« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2010, 08:31:07 AM »

. . . I have this picture in my mind that it would shut off when Pat was in the shower Shocked Shocked  Sort of funny for the first few seconds Roll Eyes

That would definitely encourage less time in the shower!  Shocked

& possibly more time in the dog house  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2010, 08:43:29 AM »

Kyle  Square D makes a low pressure cut off switch that trips below a set (adjustable) pressure and must be manually reset after repair.
Normal cut out & cut in pressures also adjustable. Catalog # FSG2J20M4CP     06 Bill
Thanks, but the thing I think I want is almost no pressure in the supply lines when we aren't using water. Maintaining a pressure head takes energy & if it isn't needed, why spend it?
We are practicing this now with the TT (tin turd Airstream) which has only 30 gallon waste tanks (a 30 black, & a 30 gal grey).
Another concern I have is 'wasting' water as I want to be able to boondock as long as possible for a given tank size.

But, I'm still a ways off from building my system, so the plan will continue to evolve in the mean time.  Wink
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« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2010, 08:49:45 AM »

We just shut the pump off while we are away from the coach. Pressure usually bleeds back through pump to zero anyway. 06 Bill
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« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2010, 09:30:34 AM »

My factory built Airstream trailer has 3/8" poly tubing daisy chained (And, from the looks
The advantage of a manifold system is you can select which circuts are used - may be usefull if you want to isolate one fixture. I'm thinking it may clean up the plumbing under the sink too. (But, if you need to shut off the supply to a fixture, you're going to have to do it at the manifold, not the fixture.)

The only time you are going to need to isolate one fixture is if it breaks on the road.  If you avoid the plastic Wally World junk, and properly support your PEX lines (clamps on the wall) this won't happen.

Every added fitting or valve induces turbulence -- which reduces flow and pressure.  It makes no sense to me to spend the money on manifolds and valves, when all they do is make low park pressure worse.

My system is simple.  Water comes in from the hose fitting and goes to the filter, with a tap for the toilet.  The filter has a valve, so I can cut off all other water and still be able to flush the toilet.  From the filter, the cold line goes to the kitchen faucet, with a tap to the water heater inlet and the tub and shower valves.  Ts on the water heater fittings serve the washing machine, and the hot line feeds the tub and shower on the way to the kitchen sink. 
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« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2010, 10:35:24 AM »

Tom,
 I have a spare water pump that I was wanting to add to the system to try to solve my shower temp. issue. What do you think is the best way? Parallel? Series? Seperate line? I'm hoping I can make it a quick easy fix for now. When I do my new cabinets, I'm going to move the H20 heater a LOT closer to the tank and will re-work some of the plumbing.
  Thanx,
    Chaz

p.s. Been wanting to ask you if you have a recent pix of the "truck"? Expiring minds are nosey.  Grin Grin Grin
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« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2010, 11:02:21 AM »

I'm glad yours works for you.  Grin
But, sometimes I want to use my RV in cold weather - minimizing the water in the system that has to be drained before bed time has some advantages.
 
Some floor plans have everything close together, so a branch system is easy.
Some like to have a recirculating loop to keep the hot water at the tap hot - that would be easier to do with a branch system.
My floor plan has a full bath near the rear & a kitchen at the front along with the original washroom (that I'm keeping), so a home run system works better for me.

Also, with the manifold system, there are no fittings anywhere except at the manifold & fixture.  Cool
You will have fewer tube ends with a manifold than with tee fittings (each tee has 3 tube ends), & we all know every fitting is a potential leak.  Shocked .
If the manifold is sized properly, there won't be any noticeable flow or pressure loss.
I will have stop valves for every fixture, so that combined with fewer fittings goes a long way towards the cost of the manifold.  Wink


FWIW, Based on my planned fixture location for 1 1/2 baths + kitchen, the manifold with integral stop valves has 32 fewer tube ends. So each method has advantages, it all goes back to what works best for the whole system design.  Grin

As always, YMMV

 
My factory built Airstream trailer has 3/8" poly tubing daisy chained (And, from the looks
The advantage of a manifold system is you can select which circuts are used - may be usefull if you want to isolate one fixture. I'm thinking it may clean up the plumbing under the sink too. (But, if you need to shut off the supply to a fixture, you're going to have to do it at the manifold, not the fixture.)

The only time you are going to need to isolate one fixture is if it breaks on the road.  If you avoid the plastic Wally World junk, and properly support your PEX lines (clamps on the wall) this won't happen.

Every added fitting or valve induces turbulence -- which reduces flow and pressure.  It makes no sense to me to spend the money on manifolds and valves, when all they do is make low park pressure worse.

My system is simple.  Water comes in from the hose fitting and goes to the filter, with a tap for the toilet.  The filter has a valve, so I can cut off all other water and still be able to flush the toilet.  From the filter, the cold line goes to the kitchen faucet, with a tap to the water heater inlet and the tub and shower valves.  Ts on the water heater fittings serve the washing machine, and the hot line feeds the tub and shower on the way to the kitchen sink. 
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« Reply #28 on: July 30, 2010, 12:47:45 PM »

Chaz-I have the two water pumps Y'd into a single 3/4" supply line to the cold manifold-which also has the feed for the water heaters.  Using the pumps in parrallel you increase the flow, but not the pressure.  If you have one feeding into the next (in series) you'll increase the pressure but not the flow.  Since the pumps put out around 40psi, if you ran in series, you'd have at least double the pressure at 80psi-a bit to high.

I will post picts of the truck next week-just had the interior spray insulated.  Thanks, TomC
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« Reply #29 on: July 30, 2010, 01:11:01 PM »

If you really want to conserve water, use a manual pump in the shower. Cheesy
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« Reply #30 on: July 30, 2010, 01:29:04 PM »


Thanx Tom. Will do.

Len,
  You mean like a spray bottle?? Roll Eyes
  Chaz
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« Reply #31 on: July 30, 2010, 01:36:54 PM »

If you really want to conserve water, use a manual pump in the shower. Cheesy

My shower is so small . . . . .

There ain't enough room to pump anything in there.   Shocked  Embarrassed 
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Ed Hackenbruch
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« Reply #32 on: July 30, 2010, 02:58:37 PM »

Like Jim, i just fill my tank and run off of the pump even though i am also set up to run off of city water. I too don't want to come home and find thousands of gallons of water flowing out of my bays. Smiley I  have a switch in the bathroom that i can shut the pump off with and another in the bay next to the pump that i can also shut it off with. Makes it handy when i want to change the filter.... shut it off, crack the line to release the pressure and change the filter all within just a few minutes. Grin
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« Reply #33 on: July 30, 2010, 05:23:39 PM »

I'm not smart enough to always remember to turn the pump off when I leave.
I also had a problem with a leaking valve that overfilled the grey tank. Only thing worse than waking up to grey water backing up into the shower is seeing the clean clothes (that I had stored in the shower) floating.  Shocked YUCK
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« Reply #34 on: July 30, 2010, 07:17:24 PM »

You wouldn't believe how many boats flood and sink at the dock because of a broken fresh water line in the boat fed from a unlimited supply from shore. The numbers are astounding.
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Sometimes the more I think about something the less I think about something.    As soon as I save a little money my bus finds out.                                      Why grab a plane when you can take the bus ?                         If I'm wrong 10% of the time how can the "Queen" be right 100%
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« Reply #35 on: August 09, 2010, 10:38:28 AM »

Tom C.,
  I put the 2 pumps in as you suggeted. Only difference is I have all 1/2" lines. But it worked greaaaaat!! Grin The shower stayed at a nice constant, both in heat and pressure. This will hold me over till I get the hot water heater situation figured out and re-plumb the whole thing.

 Just for a little more trivial info........
I bought one of the "Oxygenating shower heads" that are supposed to be so good and save lots of water, but I'm afraid they must work better with city pressure. It worked just fine but, I did not think it was "all that and a bag of chips". (definitely not worth the 40.00) I also have one of those little chome jobies, that look like a little megaphone, and it seems to work pretty good too. It shoots out water more like a mist. I have not compared the amount of water used by both of them yet, but my guess is the little chrome one uses less, possibly a lot less. The "oxygenating head" is supposed to save you water but that might be compared to a hose.  Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin lol  Just kidding, but I'm pretty sure the little chrome one saves more. The only drawback was rinsing your hair. For some of you, that may not be a big deal (no disrespect, just sayin Roll Eyes) but your wives might not like it. It took me a little longer as I have hair (from my head!) to about 3" above my belt. Stuck in the 70's, I guess.  Roll Eyes Grin Grin

Just thought I'd give ya an up date. Thanx again,
  Chaz
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« Reply #36 on: August 09, 2010, 01:16:48 PM »

Interesting drift:  shower heads. 

We chose a hand held shower head (with hose).  The photo of the Camco unit is similar to what we have.  You can put the water right where you want it.  I am convinced that it saves a lot of water.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #37 on: August 09, 2010, 02:07:13 PM »

Both of mine are hand held as well. The chrome one I made hand held with a 5" piece of PEX and fittings. I have never used it that way but it can reach the toilet for a squirt down if needed.  Grin

Chaz
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« Reply #38 on: August 10, 2010, 08:10:03 AM »

I have a Camping World (say cheapy) hand held with a turn off valve built into it.  While a water saver shower head is nice, my theory is to cut off the water while washing, but then have full flow when running to shorten the rinse time.  I haven't ever measured the flow, but I'm guessing in the 1 gallon per minute range.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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