Whether you have a pool or just want an excuse to spend more time outdoors, an outdoor shower can be a fun and useful addition to your backyard. Outdoor showers can be completely utilitarian – providing a place to rinse off after swimming, to clean off muddy kids, or to provide a simple bathing area for a small cabin in the woods.
They can also be an area of luxury, where you are free to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air as you get clean. Use the following tips to help you design your dream shower:
You need more than just privacy when selecting a shower location. You want a location that is easy to hook into the water, is accessible, and where the draining water won't cause an issue. Also, watch for exposure to the elements. Showers that are completely shaded may be too cool to use for a large portion of the year, so it's best to place them in an area where the sun will help warm them. This is especially important if your shower has solar-powered elements.
These showers are usually supplied water by one of two methods – they are put onto the main house water supply via dedicated plumbing, or they are attached to an outdoor spigot via a hose. Either option works, it just depends on your budget and preferences.
Drainage is another concern. As a general rule, outdoor showers don't have drains. Instead, the water I allowed to drain through the slatted floorboards and into the ground beneath. Place the shower over a 6- to 10-inch gravel bed, so the water can percolate into the soil slowly instead of creating a muddy mess.
The final concern is keeping the water warm. Even on a hot summer day, you can quickly become chilled if the water is cool. Dedicated electric solar water heaters are the answer to this issue. A small unit is sufficient and takes up almost no space. You will need to install the heater unit in a small cabinet near the shower, and then run the house plumbing through it and to the shower. The panel can be mounted nearby, which will power the heater.
The simple solar heater is another option that works if you are using the garden hose method for plumbing. These are mounted on the wall of the shower. These consist of a large dark colored water tank, which absorbs heat from the sun to warm the water. You only have a limited water supply with this option, so it may not be a good choice if your shower is used by more than one person.