Gravity Fed Water Systems: A Simple Overview

Gravity fed water systems have been used for many hundreds of years to haul water from one place to another. This system uses the laws of gravity to move water from point A to point B and C if necessary. There are no pumps of any sort required for this system or electricity for that matter.

Gravity Fed Water Systems

It is simple but it can become difficult under certain conditions such as:

  • The distance the water has to flow to reach its destination point.
  • The slope of the incline, which determines how fast and how easy the water flows.
  • The size of the pipes you use and if they have to interchange.
  • How many side extensions will be used.
  • The type of the terrain.

The gravity fed water system is used to pull the water from springs, streams, creeks, rain barrels, and rivers upstream or uphill from the water source. You can use this system to provide water to your shower, gardens, animal barns, and even your whole house if you have it set up properly.

man getting water from barrel | Gravity Fed Water Systems: A Simple Overview

My first gravity system project consisted of an off-grid shower system for my house. This is one of the most basic and easy of all to do so I figured it would be a great place to start for beginners.

Now, the system I installed for my shower didn’t pull water from a creek or anything. What I did was used a solar pump to draw my water up from the spring-fed cistern into my water barrel upstairs. I installed a barrel above the shower in order to use gravity to allow me a running shower.

The house I lived in was designed for off-grid living so there was a platform built directly above the shower for this specific purpose. If you don’t have an above shower platform, no worries, you can build or buy one. The platform should be somewhere between 7-9 feet high in order to get a good pull. If you don’t have a functioning rain barrel they’re pretty easy to make, you can even use a heavy-duty 5-gallon bucket. A system that is even easier to design and set-up is a garden watering system because not all houses were designed to build on in an off-grid manner. Using this system will save money on your water bill, if you have one, let’s get to it.

Rain Barrels

rain barrels | Gravity Fed Water Systems: A Simple Overview

rain barrels | Gravity Fed Water Systems: A Simple Overview

Here is a link to an article I wrote on how to make your own rain barrel and rain catchment system using the roof of your home or shed. You can find all of the parts at most any hardware store and it’s easy to put together. So once you have your rain barrel ready you need to build some sort of lifted platform to allow the gravity to provide the water pressure you need to use your hose for the garden.

One thing to keep in mind is that the further the distance the water has to travel is the higher you’ll want your platform. I use a 50-gallon barrel and it weighs over 400-pounds so your platform has to be strong enough to hold a full load. You can purchase pre-made platforms or you can build it yourself. I didn’t have to build my outdoor platform for my gardens because I had an old set of concrete steps that worked just fine for it. If your water doesn’t have to travel far you’ll only need a 3-5 foot platform that is wide enough to hold your rain barrels but you can make it as high as you need, just remember it has to hold the weight.

man made water systems | Gravity Fed Water Systems: A Simple Overview

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So why do some people prefer to use gravity fed water systems instead of electric or anything else? Well, the thing is depending on the location it could actually be one of the best options available. It’s free energy. For others, it may be a case of being so far out in the woods that there is no running water. I personally choose this way because it is available and I prefer to be as self-sufficient as possible. In a survival situation if the grid goes down it will be considered a luxury to have running water!

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