How to Choose the Best RV Water Filtration System
Owning an RV means you get to enjoy one of the best lifestyle options available in our world today. You can manage a travel schedule, enjoy time in nature, or explore at your leisure wherever your wanderlust calls.
Although an RV provides comfortable living quarters and facilities, you must have access to clean water to enjoy the experience. That means an RV water filter is necessary.
The amount of water you must filter typically depends on your current location. Installing a carbon-based filtration system removes the smell and taste of disinfectants used for treatment from municipal sources. You must also sanitize and clean your freshwater tanks periodically to eliminate the risk of stagnation.
If you travel full-time, the second issue may not be as necessary since you empty and fill the tanks repetitively.
In-line RV water filters that work from your kitchen fixture can also provide benefits if you travel part-time with your vehicle. You can also use reverse osmosis, ceramic filters, or ultraviolet light with your filtration system.
Knowing how to choose the best RV water filtration system ensures that you are purchasing products that work with your equipment. This guide takes you through the essential information, comparative processes, and overall options to ensure you can enjoy the RV life.
Do I Even Need to Have an RV Water Filtration System?
Some RV’ers wonder if it is necessary to purchase a water filtration system for their vehicle. If you only travel occasionally and rarely use water, it might seem like a needless expense.
Imagine that you are on an extended camping trip. You come across a lake that is useful as a water source. How can you tell if it is safe to use it for drinking?
If you have no way of testing the water for contaminants, the only purification method available is boiling. That process can eliminate the things that could make you sick in the water, but it wouldn’t improve the flavor.
You would also have all of the sediment remaining in the water to manage that you wouldn’t want to ingest.
It is not uncommon for drinking water supplies to have microbes, pesticides, and other contaminants. Some of it may include potential carcinogens.
Drinking untreated water from your RV is not a safe choice. Even if you load the vehicle with treated water, stagnation issues can still trigger health concerns because of algae and bacteria development.
If you boil water with fluoride, it may increase its concentration levels to create other adverse issues to manage. That’s why your best solution is an RV water filtration system that handles every potential contaminant.
What RV Water Filtration System Do I Need?
Most RVs use a canister system for water filtration. It is a widely-used approach because it is a versatile design. Understanding what unit works for your vehicle depends on your specific needs.
That means it is necessary to know the terminology found on this equipment. Here are the terms you’ll want to know when comparing RV water filtration units.
- Flow Rate. A filtration system impedes the flow of water to clean it. This information indicates how much your preferred filter handles.
- NSF Class. These ratings come from the National Sanitation Foundation, which means they are not available on all products. Class I filter ratings from the NSF are the best at removing chlorine.
- Microns. This measurement is an indication of the size of particle contaminants the filter can remove.
- Materials. Carbon-based filters are quite common. You can also find some manufacturers using a variety of items to create the clean water needed for your RV.
Water filters for RVs are finite products. That means you must consider its per-use and overall lifespan ratings to ensure that you’re getting an excellent deal.
The RV Water Filter Store has a best-selling system that manages sediment at just 0.5 microns, screening out cryptosporidium and giardia while keeping contaminants out of your plumbing system. You connect it with a garden hose or mount it to your vehicle with its included bracket. It offers a flow rate of up to four gallons per minute at 60 PSI, requiring replacement about twice per year.
You can find the refill kit here if you already use this RV water filter for your vehicle.
When you choose a water filter cartridge with an NSF rating, you need to know that nothing comes with a complete 100% guarantee of absolute chlorine removal.
If a product receives a Class I designation, it has the capacity to remove between 75% to 100% of the chlorine found in the water. Class II products eliminate 50% to 75% of what it contains, while Class III items get rid of less than 50%.
What Types of RV Filters Are Available Today?
You can find several RV water filter options for your vehicle. Each of them has specific advantages worth considering.
All of them process the water that goes into your RV.
In-line filters tend to be the most popular option for part-time travel. It is an entry-level product that attaches to a hose by screwing it on.
Standard canisters are another popular choice because the filters are customizable to your specific water issues. If you travel full-time, a jumbo model is a better choice since it requires fewer cartridge changes.
Each system comes with one, two, or three canisters.
If you chose a one-canister RV water filtration system, the product can improve taste, remove odor, and catch some of the sediment in your plumbing systems.
A two-canister RV water filter does a better job of removing sediment without compromising the odor or taste of the fluid. This design does an excellent job of reducing cysts, pesticides, lead, and some heavy metals that might be present. It also works well as a pre-filter for UV or reverse osmosis systems.
When you frequently travel to hard-water locations, a three-filter system for your RV may be worth considering. Although it is overkill for anything but full-time travel, it can protect your plumbing systems from costly maintenance.
My RV Came with a Filtration Unit – Why Do I Need a New One?
Many RVs come with a built-in unit that works to remove sediment and improve quality through carbon filtration. These products are compact and practical, but they do not last forever. If you spend a couple of weeks traveling and use your water a lot, the standard product may require a replacement.
You will notice a significant decrease in the quality of the water available while in your RV once the built-in unit wears out.
Comparing these units to ones from the RV Water Filter Store shows the differences you can experience immediately. Entry-level and built-in products often use carbon powder paper to filter the water instead of using a dedicated filtration design. This option makes the product easy to service and inexpensive to use, but the results are also less than favorable after the first few uses.
If you pour a glass of water that looks cloudy or smells bad, you have an RV water filter problem to solve. Most issues get resolved by swapping out a used model for a new one.
What Water Purification System Do I Need?
Drinking clean water may not be satisfactory for some that follow the RV lifestyle. Having access to pure water is a priority for some individuals and families.
It may not be a personal preference. Several health issues require access to water free from impurities, chemical traces, and specific minerals that might be in the fluid.
Small contaminants under 0.5 or 0.2 microns, depending on the filter specifications, can also get through the filtration process.
You still have options at this point to protect your health and purify your water. Two systems get installed on RVs each year to meet this need: ultraviolet light and reverse osmosis.
Ultraviolet Light RV Water Treatment
An ultraviolet light RV water treatment system targets water-borne diseases that could make you sick while traveling. Exposing water to this light renders the organic contaminants sterile, preventing them from replicating if they enter your body. It often kills them because of the exposure.
You would use a UV water filtration system for RVs after the initial canister carbon filtration as a way to sterilize the water. These systems are affordable and simple to use without impacting the flow rate you receive.
Most systems place the water in a tube with a UV light. Longer exposures provide a better sterilization process. Most products in this category have a rating that allows for a full year of continuous use – up to 9,000 service hours.
Reverse Osmosis RV Water Treatment
Reverse osmosis filtration takes almost all contaminants from your water supply. It also removes the minerals and salts to create the closest thing to purity possible using RV-based technology.
It incorporates a semi-permeable membrane that transfers the water from one side of it to the other. The good news is that it takes no energy to work because the process is natural.
The bad news is that it can create a significant amount of water waste to manage. About 30% of what goes through the system is usable.
Highly-rated systems in this category can remove 98% of the contaminants in the water. When you include a pre-filtration step for your RV, that figure can get boosted significantly. If you have issues with sediment, this system can help you to remove it.
You get delicious drinking water, and ice cubes that are clear as crystal. Since it follows natural processes, it is affordable to operate. All you need to manage is the initial expense of the product and its installation.
Reverse osmosis systems typically require 40 PSI to operate at a minimum. Higher pressure levels can help you to purify more water faster, and it helps the membrane last longer at higher speeds. The brine you have as a leftover can typically go down the drain, water plants, or similar activities.
Cost of a High-Quality Water Filter
It doesn’t take much effort to see how much an RV water filter system costs. A simple online search produces several sponsored options to consider. You can see a range of pricing from $275 to almost $2,000.
When you choose the ESSENTIAL Whole RV Water Filter System, you pay $149.95 instead.
The size of your water tank on your RV can help you to determine if the value proposition is worthwhile. Most Class C RVs hold between 35 to 60 gallons, while Class Bs hold about 20 to 40 gallons.
If you have a Class A RV, it might hold up to 100 gallons. Fifth-wheel options typically have 80 gallons or less of capacity.
When the RV filtration unit operates at 4 GPM, you could fill an 80-gallon tank in just 20 minutes.
How Often Do You Clean Your RV Water Tank?
A 2013 study looking at the possibility of RV water tanks spreading Legionella infections found some disturbing information about owners. 20% of the tested water samples came back as positive for several different subgroups.
No specific RV models were connected to the likelihood of a culture coming back with a positive result. It was the behavior of the owners while maintaining their equipment that was the most significant precursor of an issue.
You should winterize your RV each year by draining your water tank. Researchers found in ownership surveys that only 45% of those following this lifestyle went through with this chore – with only one person in the entire project saying that they used chlorine to disinfect it.
Just 60% of RVs have their water tank cleaned within the last year. Most owners flush or drain them to complete this service instead.
If you put filtered water into an unclean tank, your RV will not provide you with a healthy resource to use. It is up to you to sanitize it so that when you use a product like the ESSENTIAL Whole RV Water Filter System, the end result meets or exceeds your expectations.
Natural Ways to Sanitize Your RV Water Tank
The most advanced water filtration systems can improve the flavor and odor of what you receive, but they cannot solve stagnation issues. If you don’t use your RV often, it may be necessary to sanitize your water tank before traveling.
One of the most popular ways to sanitize the water tank is to use white vinegar. What some owners don’t realize is that you must heat the vinegar so that it can kill the bacteria trying to form there. Applying this treatment method at room temperature will not produce results.
If you use baking soda, it will not create a safer water supply. Even ten minutes of exposure at any temperature does not provide an effective sanitizing effect.
Some people do not like to use white distilled vinegar because of the odor that lingers. Using water after treatment can produce a slight flavor issue that can also be bothersome. Consider using a 3% hydrogen peroxide mixture to create the desired effect instead. It only requires one minute of exposure when heated to kill listeria monocytogenes, e.coli, and salmonella. It can also kill the latter two with ten minutes of exposure at room temperature.
The fastest way to sanitize your RV water tank is to use chlorine bleach.
A full overview of this process and its requirements is available through the research extension of Colorado State University.
How to Boost the Freshwater Tank Capacity of Your RV
Does it seem like your freshwater tank capacity is too small to meet your traveling needs? If conservation tips aren’t doing enough to keep your RV from running dry, one easy way to get more fresh water into your tank is to modify your system to fill the tank from collapsible jugs or a portable container.
Remember to keep a hose that is only for your freshwater systems. You don’t want to switch using your septic one or what you use to wash your RV as this action increases the risk of contamination.
Then attach the fresh water hose to the appropriate intake valve. Some RV models have it labeled as City Water. The other end goes to the water spigot. Then you may have a lever that you can pull to fill the tank or bypass it if you have a full-service connection.
Here is where the ESSENTIAL Whole RV Water Filter System becomes useful. When you connect the hose from the source to it, you can also connect a second one from the filter to the tank. This process ensures that you have clean water to use while traveling.
It is essential to remember that tank indicators can be inaccurate. Instead of overfilling your reserves, do a visual check to see how much water is available when possible.
You may not want to do a complete fill of your tank. A gallon of water weighs over eight pounds, which means 100 gallons of storage contribute 800 pounds that you must haul while traveling. Your rig can consume a lot of fuel, managing that much weight!
Planning ahead can let you have enough fresh water available for cooking, drinking, and using the bathroom.
Carbon Block vs. Granular Carbon RV Water Filters
Water purification efforts involving carbon granules have taken place for centuries. This process is one of the first ways that we began to create fresh water to consume, use for bathing, and other everyday needs.
As the fluid trickles over the granules, the contaminants in the water get “caught” without disrupting the overall flow. Once filtration technologies developed, we used this process to create safer water supplies for RVs, homes, and more.
A new approach to RV water filtration is changing how we can access freshwater supplies when traveling. Instead of using granules, a solid-block filter using a modified carbon product built from fibers works to purify the liquid.
The water creates flow channels within the activated carbon to remove microbes and cysts. It also handles VOCs, pesticides, and chlorine effectively.
Although this option is more expensive than granular designs, most RV enthusiasts who use this system believe it is worth the investment.
The Hidden Danger of Brass in RV Water Filters
Did you know that several sources of lead that could be lurking in your RV? Anything that contains brass and was manufactured before 2014 could have up to 8% lead content.
Because lead and brass create a softer alloy that makes it more machinable, even high-quality products would often contain at least 2% content. It is only in the past few years where the highest content permitted is 0.25%, or 32 times less than what was considered acceptable in the past.
When you shop for an essential RV water filter system, look for products that contain lead-free brass. Even a small exposure incident can create health issues. The best units can reduce lead instead while providing all of the other filtration benefits you’d expect from a top product.
When to Change the Filters in Your RV System
If you haven’t changed the filter in your RV in some time, you might wonder if it is necessary to go through the replacement process today.
You might also wonder how long you can go between filter changes.
Once you purchase an RV filtration system, the ongoing freshwater benefits stay available when you buy replacement filters after the original units wear out.
If your water tastes fresh, that does not mean it actually is safe to drink. Several contaminants that you can find in your RV’s water supply are odorless and tasteless.
As a general rule, most products require a replacement after six months – no matter how often you used the filter. Larger families may experience a window that falls in a 3- to 6-month time frame. Frequent users may want to swap them out even sooner.
If it has been more than a year since the last filter change for your RV, you likely need to change it out with a new one. When it has been even longer than 12 months since the last replacement, it is not filter watered you are drinking – it is something else entirely.
Benefits of Choosing the Essential Whole RV Water Filter System
When choosing the ESSENTIAL Whole RV Water Filter System from the RV Water Filter Store, you receive a product that removes sediment, chlorine, and odor issues as its primary function. It can also reduce the amount of lead through 2,000 gallons, provide a 99.95% reduction of giardia and cryptosporidium cysts, and eliminate chlorine flavors and odors.
The entire cartridge goes through an FDA-compliant manufacturing process, making it an exceptional product for a wide range of RVs.
When the dual system with fittings gets installed, it only contributes ten pounds to the RV. That means you don’t need to worry about long-term fuel expenses because you want to drink clean water. If you use the product while filling up the RV, you can avoid this issue without compromising on the fresh water received.
This recipe leads to an outcome where you get to drink clean, healthy water that doesn’t have a weak aftertaste. If your RV’s water is cloudy, smells terrible, or has particles floating in it, now is the perfect time to consider a filtration system.
You can choose to mount one, use it as a portable system, or install one at the faucet based on your usage patterns. That way, you’ll always have confidence in the quality of the water you drink.