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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Water system for lake cabin
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Grizzlyman
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# Posted: 30 Dec 2022 15:15
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Hi All.

Thinking about plans for this spring. I’d like to set up a system for water. Right now im carrying 5 gallon jugs. Cabin usage is one weekend every other Week and we average about 5 gallons/day drinking /dishes.

How do I accomplish this? I’m open to any suggestions.

Water will be for drinking only. Maybe a shower at some point.

No electricity. Cabin Electricity is 12v solar- but i do have a generator on site.

Cabin is about 50ft above the lake and back about 150 ft. Grade up is fairly steep and no soil so everything is on top of rock.

I know little to nothing about water systems. This is my uneducated plan:

Pump water up using generator. Pump to a pressure tank? Use pressure tank to push water through a filter to faucet.

Guessing I’ll Probably have to pump every few weeks or so only…

I’m sure this is not the best way- just my guess with limited understanding of water systems.

Is there a Better plan to get water to cabin?

I also have many questions like is it even possible to pump water that high with a “reasonable” pump; where should the pump be(submersible or up top), how long would a tank last; how long can water stay in the tank safely, where to put a tank, how big, etc, etc…

Thanks in advance.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 30 Dec 2022 16:57 - Edited by: gcrank1
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5 gal. a day for 2? Wow!
For potable we have a 2ish gal SS jug at cabin we keep filled with fresh water from a 2.5 gal. Coleman water jug each trip or two (we have a free artesian well enroute); we use about 1.5 gal. a day.
The biggest water use is utility, for that we have a rain barrel that fills off one section only of the metal roof, through a diy filter into a 40ish gal barrel. 1st of each month in season it gets 1.5 oz of bleach stirred in. It has no insect larvae or algae and I can pop the top and see clearly to the bottom.
The water to wash dishes or people gets boiled each morning and that supply is good for all day.
We also keep a large birdbath filled from it which birds and deer use regularly. We have never come close to using up even 1/2 that barrel through the course of a month going fairly often in the dry season. I get it set up early in the spring because it takes a few good rains to fill it since it doesnt collect and flow from the whole roof on that side.
Long ago I stayed at a Rainy Lake island cabin that pumped water from at least as far and high as you say with a Honda gas powered pump up to a small water tower. My guess it it was about the size of the IBC type 'tote' so commonly used now. It didnt have to get filled very often and the gravity feed water pressure was adequate even for a simple shower.
That has always stuck in my mind but would have been overkill for us. Our 'system' has worked well in two different cabins since about 1984; same 2 water jugs and rain barrel too.

Grizzlyman
Member
# Posted: 30 Dec 2022 17:03
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gcrank1
Not for 2 for 5.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 30 Dec 2022 17:29
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Ohhhhh
Might want to get 2 'totes'
Yeah, those 5gal. water jugs are a pain. I did two of those last spring to prep us up the week I set up the rain barrel for the season. That was enough of that!

ICC
Member
# Posted: 30 Dec 2022 18:14 - Edited by: ICC
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You will not be able to use suction to lift the water the 50 vertical feet. You will need to push the water to that height. The maximum suction llift is about 22 vertical feet and that is reduced with the height above sea level. For every 1000 feet above sea level subtract 1 foot of lift distance. So your location would need a submersible pump of some type.

I would think in two stages. The first stage uses a 120/240 VAC pump or a gasoline/propane engine-powered pump, to move the water from the lake to a storage tank. Then from the storage tank to the cabin. If the storage tank is at or near the same elevation as the cabin a 12 VDC RV water pressure pump can be used. No pressure tank is needed with most RV pumps. Maybe 7 amps when running.

The storage tanks would need to be non-transparent or in a dark place to inhibit growing algae or whatever. I use an underground tank but with rock as you describe one of the green water tanks that are sold will work for above-ground storage in nonfreezing weather.

Then the question is the placement of the pump/water intake point. I've never worked with lake or stream water intakes so am not sure what is best or easy to do.

Filters are relatively easy if all you need is to filter particulate matter. If there are odors or possible bacterial contaminants that is another matter.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 30 Dec 2022 18:24
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For your uses I would use something like a cheap $100 jet pump ran by a generator near the water source to fill a 55gal barrel or IBC tote at your cabin. Then use a 12v pump ran by your solar to wash/shower/drink. Depending on the water storage container you use I think you can do this whole setup for $250-350.


We have a spring and a hill above our site. We use a jet pump to pump water 60ft (vertical) to the 275gal IBC tote 30ft above our site. Then it just gravety feeds down. With 1in black poly and a cheap $100 jet pump I can fill a 275gal tote in about 35min. This lasts us about a whole summer. We shower, some times do dishes but dont drink it yet. I dont really like to hear a generator so this system works well for us.

Grizzlyman
Member
# Posted: 30 Dec 2022 19:09 - Edited by: Grizzlyman
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We will need to filter before drinking- giardia is not fun 😂. I was thinking I needed the pressure tank to get enough pressure to push through a filter. How much does the rv pump output? Am I correct in assuming then that every time you turn on the faucet the rv pump kicks in?

I do like the idea of a water tank up higher since I’m pumping uphill anyway- what’s another few feet. But that complicates things again. Unfortunately there’s not too much more rise behind our place so I can’t really take advantage of the terrain.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 30 Dec 2022 19:27
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Quoting: Grizzlyman
How much does the rv pump output?

Shurflo 4008 is about 55 psi, IIRC.

DartNorth
Member
# Posted: 30 Dec 2022 20:47
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First off, disclaimer: I am not a health professional, and this shouldn’t be taken as public health guidance.

Here is what we do. We have a cabin on the lake. Mostly weekend use. We use a 264 gallon IBC tote for water storage. We fill it with a large pump from the lake (takes about 12 minutes), then use a 12vf on demand rv pump for water use in the cabin (sink, toilet, shower). This seems to work well, and triggers the hot water on demand no problem.
For water treatment, we do a few things. The main concerns are parasites, bacteria, and algae buildup in the tank.

For parasites (Cryptosporidium, Giardia) we have water filters in in water line on the pressure side of the rv pump. We have a 1 micron absolute (it must be ‘absolute’) to filter out the parasites, and a 25 micron for ‘dirt’ to basically help keep the more expensive 1 micron clean. We change out the 1 micron (~$25) yearly, and the 25 micron (~$5) 2-3 times a year. You want to check the flow rate of any filters you buy, higher flow rate is better obviously.

For bacteria (mainly E. coli), we add chorine to the water tank while we fill it. By adding it while we fill, it makes sure it’s mixed well. There is calculations online for how much you need, but very little is needed for 264 gallons. I add more than is required to make sure. You also have to wait a bit for it to kick in (~15 mins). I will sometimes add a bit extra half way through using it as well, especially if it’s warm or we are going to be gone for a while. The chlorine will evaporate out of the water over time.

We use pool chlorine as it’s a bit higher concentration, and is not scented like bleach. You need to buy a new bottle every year, even though you probably only have used a small amount because it does go off (the chlorine evaporates), even if the seal is unbroken.

A friend of mine who works with water treatment figures that my setup makes safer water than most of the municipalities in our area.

UV treatment is an option. But it can use quite a bit of power (relative to small solar generation) over time. And if it’s off, then harmful parasites and bacteria can get past the system. The is mainly why we didn’t go that way.

This setup gives us tonnes of water, so we don’t really conserve at all. Long hot showers at camp really are magical! When we did some landscaping, we buried the water line from the lake to the tank. So the process now is start the generator, then the pump, 15 minutes later we can shut them off, and wait 15 minutes to use. We usually do it well before it’s needed, while we are outside doing other chores, so we hardly have to do anything.

Grizzlyman
Member
# Posted: 30 Dec 2022 23:15 - Edited by: Grizzlyman
Reply 


DartNorth

Awesome. This is exactly what I’m looking for. What in line filter do you use?

Also- how does the rvpump work? Do you have to push a button to turn it on or does it somehow sense when it needs to pump? I’m guessing an open faucet drops the pressure and kicks the pump on?

ICC
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 00:05
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Quoting: Grizzlyman
I’m guessing an open faucet drops the pressure and kicks the pump



FishHog
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 08:07
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we are similar to many of the above, pump from lake to tote. Rough filter that water while filling, add bleach to the tote. RV pump for cottage water system. They hold pressure in the system, when a valve is open they kick on.
We do not drink that water, but will rinse toothbrushes with it, shower and dishes. Tote gets refilled once through the season, but we do conserve.

I still bring in 5gal jugs for drinking water, or in a pinch have a bucket gravity filter system. Just a batch process takes a couple hours to fill a 5gal jug.

For the amount of water that is used for drinking, I don't see the need to treat all the water used. Unscented bleach is fine, retreated weekly. Since we don't drink it, I'm liberal with the bleach incase a guest forgets and uses it for brushing teeth or something.

Works for us, but everyone is different in needs and wants. I like simple, as winterizng takes a minimal amount of time.

Irrigation Guy
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 08:23
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Not sure how hard it is to get power line to the lake or if you would bring the generator to the lake but you might consider a gas powered trash pump to fill your tank.

razmichael
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 09:13
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Again, very similar to above with some adaptations. Honda water pump to pump up from the lake into a rain barrel (too much rise for the self prime so pour water down the pipe each time). Add chlorine to the rain barrel (use unscented bleach and/or or mix up solution with Pool Hydrochloric powder). RV pump used to distribute including through on demand heater for hot and cold sink and shower.

For drinking I have a dual bucket system with 4 Berky black filters (log 4 for viruses and log 6 for bacteria). When needed I open a valve and fill the top bucket with the rv pump. The bottom bucket fills and a[img=null]null[/img] marine foot pump puts this out a separate faucet in the sink for drinking, teeth etc. The filters also remove any residual chlorine (smell).

I don't use any type of pressure tank with the pump (really the pipes provide a pressure cutoff) however, as unlikely as it might be, I was worried about leaks that might cause the pump to run dry or leak in the cabin (although currently I have not hooked up the indoor sink) so I use marine faucets with microswitches along with a relay at the pump. This allows me to run thin wire to the sink(s) and shower to operate the relay to power the pump when a faucet is open. I could have bypassed the pressure sensor in the pump but this just provides a backup should the relay stick closed and not shut off the pump. bottom line - maybe overkill but could give you some ideas.

Overall the system is relatively simply to use but, as per many things at the cabin, does need some more work than at home - just part of the fun. Originally I was lugging up jerry cans from the lake to fill the rain barrel so the addition of the pump and some pipe to the lake was a big time saver!

Grizzlyman
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 09:39
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love the responses so far.

If were going to filter anyways- is it necessary to treat water in the tank w bleach or chlorine? Assuming we don't have a massive holding tank but something that's not transparent maybe 55 gallons or so and refilled every few weeks?

razmichael why 4 filters? Wouldn't one 1 micron filter along with a larger sediment filter do the trick?

We have very clean N Minnesota water that could **probably** be drank as is...but we do have lots of beavers around so giardia is concern.


The RV pump sounds so me to be a very good option.

I do also like the idea of pumping to a smaller tank/bucket higher that gravity feeds the faucet and not being as reliant on the pump.... But that sounds like more construction 😆

Grizzlyman
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 09:42
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Also worried about shoulder season and freezing. Not the tank/pipes necessarily as I dint think we'd see that hard of a freeze but the filter and RV pump.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 09:49
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Dulton makes housings for filters that can filter pond water into drinking water. They can be used with a urn style setup or a pressure setup. If you just want to filter your drinking water I would use a urn style filter. If you want to filter everything I would look into a UV style system that's 12v.

razmichael
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 10:08 - Edited by: razmichael
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Quoting: Grizzlyman
razmichael why 4 filters? Wouldn't one 1 micron filter along with a larger sediment filter do the trick?

Only flow rate. The more filters the faster it drips into the bottom barrel (and yes - more expensive).

Quoting: Grizzlyman
We have very clean N Minnesota water that could **probably** be drank as is...but we do have lots of beavers around so giardia is concern.

Really our main concern as well given the number of beavers we have in the lake (the population drops a bit every time I'm up there) but easy to protect against other things just in case so I chlorinate then filter for the drinking water as another line of defense since it is easy to do. Also need to account for the periods of time when it is not used unlike a home well system and water sits in barrels and pipes.

Lots of ways to skin this cat and mine is just the way it has evolved - I might well do it differently if starting again. Just really important to figure out what you are trying to filter (protect from) and select the appropriate method or filter type. There are lots of cheap filters that offer very little protection.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 10:35
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I forgot to mention (probably because we havent used it yet) we have a family size PUR Water Pitcher for the contingency plan if the fresh water runs out and we need to use the rain barrel water for potable. I figure if we have that water coarse filtered, boiled and PUR'ed we should be ok?

razmichael
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 10:58
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That filter does little or anything other than impurities so make sure you follow guidelines for boiling especially when dealing with giardia.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 12:28
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Thanx for verifying that.
My my thinking was that I could pay a LOT more for a filter device or use the less expensive PUR after boiling and be fine. As far as I can tell, at the cabin there is NO downside to boiling and filtering and we'd have hot water for utility purposes too.

razmichael
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 14:11
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Boiling water properly (unless high altitude 1 minute good rolling boil!) will kill giardia and other spores but does mean then letting it cool before using as drinking water so a bit less convenient than having it almost always available through an appropriate type filter. My main point (which you get anyway) was that the Pur, like a Breta, is not designed for bacteria, virus or spores - not for purification.

Grizzlyman
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 16:27 - Edited by: Grizzlyman
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Boiling is not something we’re going to do.

My revised plan…. How does this sound?

Put a 110v pump(jet?) 5 ft or so above the water on a ledge in a small little pump house (there is no real large flat area)- wire it to a control switch/ outlet on a post somewhere closer to the trails where we have access to the post. Generator could be plugged in at the post. Then pump up the hill to fill a 55 gallon dark potable water drum.

The intake would be just offshore by a cliff in about 30 ft of water and down about 5-10ft underwater . Would use a float to keep it up and away from shore. Screened on the end.

The holding tank drum would be connected to main pump at the top of the drum. Then an RV pump connected at the bottom of the drum and wired to the 12v system. The RV pump would then connect to a series of filters in-line mounted either on the exterior of the cabin or below cabin. 2 filters: sediment/particulate and small filter for giardia and other nasties in line on the way to the faucet.

I would then connect the filtered water line to a 1/2 threaded pipe running straight up through the floor to the faucet. I would plumb the exterior piping with either cpvc or simply just a garden hose or washer hose. The line length would not be more than 10 ft as I would position the barrel close to the faucet.

How does this sound? Any advice for a certain type of pump or is a jet pump the way to go? I don’t know what I don’t know!!!

I’m fairly knowledgeable about filters as we do a lot of backcountry canoe camping and have filtered water for years.

FishHog
Member
# Posted: 31 Dec 2022 16:58
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personally I'd go with a larger tote than a 55gal drum, just so you don't have to worry about refilling so frequently.
Jet pumps can be difficult to get primed, so use a foot valve in the water so you don't lose prime everytime you need it.
shurflo and flowjet are decent RV pumps. Lots of sizes to choose from, but 2.9gpm unit is more than enough for us, including showers with an ondemand hot water heater.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 1 Jan 2023 07:49
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Jet pumps can be hard to prime and a foot valve does help. On my system I had such a hard time once I now put the pump right at water level. In fact its below it because I'm pumping from a 55gal spring box.

As for what 12v pump we use a 2.9gpm from time to time and that GPM is the rating with no head pressure. I wouldnt get any pump smaller if your useing it to shower. But in all reality something like a 5-6gpm pump isnt that much more money. You loose alot of GPM when you have to pump it up over your head...your going to loose even more when your pumping it through a filter.

Tim_Ohio
Member
# Posted: 1 Jan 2023 08:44
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Have you ever thought about using a gas powered trash pump? I have one we used to pull water out of a pond to irrigate a garden. The Champion brand I bought worked well even after sizing it down to a garden hose. They are very powerful and move a lot of water quickly. They usually come with a suction hose with a strainer. Food for thought, I suppose since I’ve never used it to push water as high as you described.

Tim_Ohio

Aklogcabin
Member
# Posted: 1 Jan 2023 09:58
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We purchased a MSR water purifying pump. Around 350$. We get water from the pond in front of the cabin and filter it into water jugs with a spigot. 5 gallons take about 20 minutes to filter. We have been using this little pump for 3-4 years now and really like it. We have fly in only during the non frozen months so really handy.
Also have a sand point well i got started a few years ago and just need to bring out an electric jack hammer. Finish pounding it in. I suspect that the underground water table would be within reach of the surface in your area.. There are several styles of pumps that can lift 25'. May be worth asking about. The state may have more information on how to install one and the ground condition. Local well drillers are great information. And who I bought my pump from. Easier to get good advice. I knew the folks anyways. Cost was 500$ for a good sand point and whatever the 2" pipe was for 30'. The pipe uses special couplers that allow the pipes to touch each other. So the threads in the coupler don't have to take the hits. The local cooperative extension service will probably have good information on installing a sand pump. Good luck n Happy New Year

DartNorth
Member
# Posted: 2 Jan 2023 03:16
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Quoting: Grizzlyman
DartNorth

Awesome. This is exactly what I’m looking for. What in line filter do you use?

Also- how does the rvpump work? Do you have to push a button to turn it on or does it somehow sense when it needs to pump? I’m guessing an open faucet drops the pressure and kicks the pump on?


I just bought a couple of 10" filter housings on Amazon. I think they were about $15 each. For the first stage filter, I just buy the cheapest I can find. For the 1 micron, my last order was from thewaterguy here in Canada, and got "Excelpure 9 7/8" 1 Micron Absolute Pleated Filter".
You need to make sure that the 1 micron filter (or smaller) specifically says "absolute". Get pleated for greater flow. The ones I got are 7 gallons per minute.

The RV water pump is triggered by opening the tap. Close the tap, it shuts off. Basically a pressure switch. It draws about 7 amps @ 12v, but for the most part, it's not running that long in the run of a day.

spencerin
Member
# Posted: 12 Jan 2023 22:17
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I agree - use larger holding tank so you don't have to refill it as often. Especially if you have to prime a jet or transfer pump to fill it. That can be a pain sometimes, so the less you have to do it, the better.

With as close as the tank will be to the cabin, an RV pump will work just fine. As many have already stated, most have a pressure switch and check valve built in, so they're simple to use. Most also come with an internal bypass to prevent rapid cycling, so coupling it with a pressure or accumulator tank may not be necessary. I still use an accumulator tank, and it's really nice. Quieter and smoother flow than any household.

My understanding is pushing water through filters drops PSIs, but the filter manufacturer should be able to tell you how much PSI you will lose, and it's usually not much anyway. Most RV pumps have an adjustable PSI, so you should be able to offset it this way. You have so many pump options at affordable prices it's ridiculous.

Finally, don't use CPVC for your external plumbing as it'll degrade in sunlight. 1/2" pipe for your main will be just fine, too.

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