DIY 12 Volt On-Demand Water Pump System





Introduction: DIY 12 Volt On-Demand Water Pump System

About: - I am 'that' Karl

I camp a lot, and I tend to camp in remote areas that do not have facilities such as water, electric, or bathrooms available. When I am not actually camping, I like to spend time building 'toys' for camping.

When I am camping, water is very important. Many times I bring water with me in a storage tank, jugs, or buckets. Sometimes water is available from a spring or stream.

Although I can do all my cooking, cleaning, and bathing with water from a bucket or tank, it is much more handy to have a source of pressurized water, it's also fun to build a system to provide that water...

I could of just taken a 12 Volt On-Demand Water Pump and attached an inlet hose and an outlet hose, but where is the fun in that...

This instructable will show you what I built. It is certainly not the best or only way to do it, but it is what I did & I find it quite handy at the campsite. Hopefully this will give you a couple of ideas for your own water pump system.

Step 1: Bucket Lid

For my system, I wanted to be able to pump water either from a bucket or an outside source such as a tank or stream.

I decided that I would mount a pump onto a lid of a bucket.

I made a plywood lid for a bucket by cutting out two circles, one slightly smaller than the inside of the bucket, and one slightly larger than the outside of the bucket. I then glued and stapled the two circles together and I had a nice solid surface to mount my pump and plumbing to.

Step 2: Mount the Pump

After making the lid, I was ready to mount the pump.

At first glance, the lid seemed like it provided so much room for the pump, however, like all real estate, it shrinks pretty fast when you start putting things on it...

Carefully decide where you want to mount your pump, trying to take into consideration plumbing, connections, electrical, etc...

Step 3: Start Plumbing the System

I use PEX for almost all of my plumbing. I used to use copper, but I like PEX better because it can handle freezing, and it is cheaper than copper...

For my water system I wanted to be able to pull water either from a bucket or from an outside source such as a holding tank or stream. To accomplish this, I will install a hose connection on the bucket for the outside source, and a siphon pipe for pumping from the bucket. In the last picture you can see the line under the bucket lid. If the valve is open (as in the picture) and the valve on top of the bucket is closed, then the pump will draw from the bucket. If the valve is closed and the valve on top open, then it will draw from another outside source... Note to self, do not leave both open or water will be everywhere.

I could of used a bypass valve which would of only allowed water to come from direction, However I needed this pump the day I built it, so i did not have time to order one. If you want to use a bypass valve check out a plumbing or RV store... They are commonly used for bypassing hot water heaters when winterizing them.

Step 4: The Outside Water Source Valve

Here you can see the valve that is used to allow water to be pumped from an outside source such as a holding tank or stream.

It is a standard valve with a hose thread. In the picture I have an adapter attached since the hose coming into my pump from my supply tank is a male end...

Step 5: The Pressurized Side of the Pump

On the pressurized side of the pump I installed a pressure gauge, mostly just for my own amusement, and the outgoing hookup.

I used a quick-connect cam-lock fitting so that I could have my pump hook up to a variety of hoses quickly and easily.

Step 6: The Electrical System

I could of just hooked the wires up to a battery, but that would of been entirely too simple!!!

I ran the power through an electric box with a receptacle and a switch.

The receptacle has a plug in it in the first pic. This plug has a jumper wire from one side to the other. I call that the key. with it removed the pump will not work. The purpose is to allow me to control the power remotely from the pump, if I take the key out, and turn the switch to on, i can have a remote switch away from the pump. You can see my remote switch in the last picture.

Step 7: One More Addition to the System....

Because I may pump water from a spring or stream, I would prefer not to get sediment into my system, so I added a water filter to the system.

This filter is simply a house water filter and I added a male and female hose fitting to each side of it...

Step 8: The Final Project

So what did I end up with....

One overly complicated bucket with a pump on top of it!!!

There are many ways to use an on-demand pump. This was the way I did it.

I ended up with a pump that can pump from a bucket or any other exterior source simply by switching a couple valves. It will pump out to a variety of sources. It produces 45 psi of water pressure, and now I have running water when camping for all my dish-washing and showering needs..

Thanks for taking the time to look at this instructable, and please check out my other instructables.

Have a great day and check back to see what I post next ;)



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30 Discussions

We just throw a line over a tree limb and haul up a simple block and tackle hooked to a pail with a vented snap lid and a drain hose hanging down. Plenty of pressure and easy to refill. If you're not that mechanical just drill a big hole in the lid and siphon down to a valve, an old garden hose works too.

Can you add more the video that shows how it work. thanks

Love the whole house filter idea but where do you put it? Before or after the pump? Did it put added stress on the pump? Thanks.

Hey bub i have the same exact pump and i was just tryn to add a on off switch to mine but i seen ur wiring idea but i dont understant it lol. Im just moving mash from one tank to the other so pretty simple could u help me out with this ?

1 reply

if all you want to do is have a switch for your pump, you can use any switch you like and install it inline.

if that is the case, then take a switch and wire it as follows: the black wire on the pump is the negative. that wire will be hooked directly to your battery or power supply negative connection. The red wire is the positive. that wire will be hooked to one side of the switch. you then need to run a new wire from the other side of the switch to your battery or power supply positive connection. remember you should have a fuse inline on the positive side between the battery and the pump.


Hey Karl... this is a great idea for heating up water and saving energy. My ?? how much dos it heat the water by? Lets say your pulling water in at 50F what will be the temp going out?.. I am looking at building something like this for my Hot Tub...using a solar panel with a 12V battery back up...I would like to heat the water up to around 90F for comfort. if you have any ideas let me know...

Where is the part list i want a microcontroller involved

Shur-Flo on-demand 12v pump... but any on-demand pump will work. I have built several of these with a variety of pumps.

plumbing supplies vary by how you design it. I use PEX almost exclusively these days.

I'm curious if the pump you chose is still working without any problems, or if it gets a lot of use? Shopping around and reading reviews of Shur-Flo pumps there's seems to be a number of their pumps that have quality control problems..

Man after my own heart, I cannot make any thing either without over building. Nice build, good idea to add the filter also.


The "key" is a good idea but in this case is implemented inappropriately dangerously. What if someone plugged the "key" or the remote switch into a live outlet. There would be a direct short circuit across the AC mains. I understand that the outlet is a convenient and cheap connector to use, but a different (non-standard) type of connector should have been selected for safety. It becomes more of an issue when you present the idea to others over whom you have no control. I hope this comment is received as helpful which is my intent.

I agree. using a 110v plug on a 12v system is very risky. when I build these for others I use standard 12v plugs...

that said, when I built this I was under pressure since I was leaving to go camping the next day and I used what I had on hand, it works OK since nobody ever gets to touch my camping toys ;)

2 replies

I have a similar rule, can't touch my camping toys or the contents of my cooler ;-) Great instructable, if your looking for an additional project you can attach a some metal pipe or a coil to some hose adapters and toss it in a fire or other heat source then pump the water through the heat source and back into the bucket to create a hot water tap.

thanks ;) I am planning on building something better similar to that soon ;)

Very, very nice. Thanks for sharing.

Did the pump suck the hose flat when you tried to draw water into the bucket?

1 reply

Interesting project. What was the source of the pump? Is the result of this project such that you would use the water for drinking?

One of my friends discovered a hazard of using standard household plugs and receptacles for 12V when his son plugged a 12V motor into the wall at home. Keep your "remote switch" under your control.