As mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Redneck Faucet is a product of Jamie’s ingenuity and should not be attempted without chatting with your own trusty certified electrician. I’m constantly in awe of what she can imagine and create in our home, but she’s also smart enough to ask for help from trained professionals before attempting anything dangerous.
Top 5 Reasons the Gravity Fed System had to go
#5 – Hefting 56 pounds of water up onto the high shelf several times per week was a huge pain
#4 – The homemade nature of the gravity fed pipe system meant that there was only one jug that both fit on the high shelf and connected properly to the PVC pipes – forcing Jamie to fill that one specific jug anytime the water ran out rather than just trading it for a full jug
#3 – The pipes down from the gravity fed system effectively blocked one side of the sink (creating a sort of virtual wall between the sink and counter). When you have incredibly limited counter space to begin with, every bit counts.
#2 – With continued use, the system started to leak a tiny bit, a piece broke off of the storage jug, and we just generally started to see the system was on its last legs
#1 – Jamie admits she wanted to come up with a system that would be easier for me to navigate – while I understood the gravity fed system in principle, I just couldn’t heft 56 pounds over my head without a fancy pulley system or some such nonsense.
I’ve decided the easiest way to tell you about this amazingness is using an interview format since I haven’t the foggiest notion how Jamie created the system. My comments are included in brackets where appropriate.
Becky: I know you wanted to come up with a system so the water jugs could stay on the floor, and ideally we could use a faucet mounted directly on the sink. How did you come up with the RV water pump idea?
Jamie: I knew the system I wanted to design was most similar to a system you’d find in an RV. An RV system basically pumps water from a storage tank to a faucet. When you take an RV to a campground with a water hookup, you are essentially keeping the storage tank full of water so the pump can continue to bring water up to the faucets. My original plan was to put a 25-30 gallon storage tank under the sink so it would only need to be filled once per week but those tanks were incredibly costly and too hard to fill since we’re not close enough to a hose.
Becky: I know we had to buy a couple of different pumps to find one that would work effectively. Can you tell me more about that?
Jamie: Simple answer? I’m frugal [her words were “I’m a cheap bastard” but I think my way works better]. The first pump I bought for $2 because it had been damaged in Hurricane Irene but it wasn’t powerful enough to create pressure at the faucet. Then I sucked it up and bought a $130 pump that would create enough pressure to pull the water up to the faucet. The first pump I got was rated to pump 1/2 gallon of water per minute and the new one has a flow rate of 2 gallons per minute.
Becky: Explain how the tractor battery fits in.
Jamie: Okay – electricity 101. Car / RV / Tractor batteries all use 12 volt DC current. Houses typically use 110 AC volt current. Of course, it’s not really that simple, but that’s the general gist of why we couldn’t just connect the water pump to an outlet in our house. Because this style water pump is most commonly used in an RV, it needs 12 volt DC current. It’s easy to get a converter to go from 12V to 110, but it turns out it’s quite expensive to find a converter to go the other way. Since there wasn’t an easy, inexpensive way to plug the pump into the wall, I decided to try a tractor battery [naturally, easy to come by in rural Vermont]. I later learned that it would have been smarter to buy an RV battery because while they’re more expensive, tractor and car batteries are designed to be continually charged by an alternator while an RV battery is designed to run down to nothing then recharged. If money weren’t a concern and I were doing it again, I would buy an RV battery.
Becky: How about explaining how it all hooks together, in a “redneck faucet for dummies” kind of way?
Jamie: Okay. Under the sink we have two, 7 gallon jugs of water. One jug is covered until we need it, the other has one end of a 1/2 inch plastic water hose. This hose is about four feet long so it can be moved from one jug to another without moving either the pump or the jugs. The other end of this water hose connects to the “in” valve on the water pump. There’s a second water hose, about three feet long, that goes from the “out” valve of the pump to the underside of the faucet, connected directly to the cold side of the faucet. The water pump is hardwired to the positive and negative terminals of the battery. The pump is designed to create water pressure in the hose between the pump and the faucet, so when you turn the faucet on it decreases that pressure prompting the pump to turn on and maintain the pressure. This means that the pump doesn’t run unless the faucet is on.
So, there you have it, folks! Jamie’s ingenuity not only opened up our counter and sink space more effectively, she bought us a large chunk of space on the high shelf over the sink (in a tiny house, ever bit of storage space matters) and made life a lot easier in the water-lugging department. Not that I can actually complain about that – for some reason, she still lets me consider filling and lugging of water jugs to be included in the “gross” category so it’s not part of my weekly “to do” list. 🙂