RV Water- Is It Safe?
Is your RV water safe to drink? We’re discuss the ugly Truth about RV water filtration!
First were going to discuss why water filtration is so important. Then we’re going to share about what we learned about how to treat RV water and the pros and cons of each water treatment option. Finally, we’re going to share a few companies that we partnered with, the pros and cons of their products, and offer discounts to RV Odd Squad members.
If we haven’t already met: We’re John & Mercedes, the RV Odd Couple. We sold our house & most all possessions to hit the road and live free, independent, and adventurous lives because life is too darn short! There are affiliate links in this post. This means if you purchase and use our links, it will not cost you a penny more, but we will earn a small commission. Thank you in advance as these help us offset the costs of the blog and creating the video.
When we had an RV Odd Squad member share that she got a water born illness from Brushing Her Teeth with RV park water, we got concerned about the quality of water in our RV. Along the same time we noticed an unusual residue in our tea kettle and on the shower. And then our dog started rejecting the water, which had us concerned because he’s not exactly a picky eater. We knew we had to look into water quality!
What’s in RV Drinking Water?
Not to gross anyone out but whether you’re in a sticks and bricks, or a full-time RVer, you need to treat your water! Water can cary water born illness, cyst, bacteria parasites & other organisms. Water can also have pesticides, prescriptions, and heavy metals.
Many people buy water for these reasons but the plastic waste created by water bottles and water jugs is horrible for the environment. Aside from the plastic waste, often times you’re just paying for municipal water! And when you’re RVing Full Time, the weight and space that bottled water consume is a pain!
Solutions to treating RV Water
We learned that there are 4 ways to treat water. We’ve listed each way and offered some pros and cons to each, specifically to RVers.
The first solution is to treat RV water with a filter. There are many types of filters ranging in cost and effectiveness. Some filters are off board, some are onboard. If it’s an onboard system, you don’t need to move it on travel day but it requires additional installation. If you get an off board system, the installation is easier, but it’s an additional thing to put away on travel day and you should secure it with a cable lock.
Regardless of whether you have an onboard or off board system, pay special attention to the “micron size”. That measures what it will let through. The bigger the micron size, the bigger the particles that are getting through.
2. RO Systems
Reverse osmosis systems are very effective at filtering water, but the amount of waste water produced is not ideal for most RVers. For every gallon of clean water produced, there is as much as 2 to 3 gallons of waste water created. If you don’t have a sewer hookup, or if you’re boon docking, this isn’t an effective option. That being said, if you have constant hook-ups or are in a sticks and bricks, RO systems are great!
3. UV Systems
UV systems are also very effective ways to treat water. The UV rays kill all the bad things in the water. The downside to UV water systems for RVers is that they do require electricity, (which could present an issue if you are boon docking), and the bulb is fragile, (which is tricky for RV travel).
4. Water Softeners
The final option is to soften the water. We weren’t able to find a lightweight water softening system. The systems themselves are as light as 50 lbs and that doesn’t include the salt.
What’s the Best RV Water Filter System?
What we ultimately found is that the best way to treat RV water is to combine these different technologies based on your circumstances.
The first thing you need is an exterior system. This can be onboard or off board. But bottom line is that you have to protect your RV by filtering the worst of water contaminates.
You need to protect your RV from dirty water for multiple reasons. First, water used for showering, brushing teeth, and cleaning dishes should be filtered because it is still entering the body. And secondly, the RV plumbing system can be damaged by contaminates. Things like the RV plumbing fixtures and the RV water heater element will accumulate build up and be damaged by dirty RV water.
Next, we want to share about some of the companies that offer solutions to dirty RV drinking water, their pros and cons, and how to save money on their RV water filters.
Onboard vs. External Systems
Onboard filtration systems require installation, but once they are installed, you only need to replace the filters. The Offboard system adds an extra step for the RV Set up & Tear down process. Also, with off-bard systems, you have to secure them with a locking cable.
The first type of filter is the Camco filter that we were using. We no longer recommend the Camco filters because they only remove contaminants larger than 20 microns in size. And if you want to see what’s inside a Camco Water Filter, checkout the video above where John saws ours in half! 🙂
The next company we worked with was ClearSource. Their systems vary in price and effectiveness but the system they sent us had three canisters and removed contaminants larger than 0.2 microns in size. One of the things we really liked ClearSource is that all of their systems come fully assembled!
What we didn’t like about the system was that the unit doesn’t specify which end is input and output. (We recommend they add arrow stickers to make it easier.)
RV Water Filter Store
Another company that we worked with is the RV Water Filter Store. They have excellent prices and they are family owned by actual RVers! The RV Water Filter Store offers many types of systems so you can customize the system that will work best for you! And they have been solving the RV drinking water problem for many years!
One of the things that we noticed is that their systems are not fully assembled. It’s a little more assembly work but you save a lot of money. We know they are working on a more simple housing solution, and we will update the blog when that happens. The system that they sent us is an onboard system that filters down to .5 microns. Although it requires assembly, check them out here.
They also sent us a Reverse Osmosis system. Unfortunately we are in parks that don’t all have sewer connection but we are waiting for full hookups to test their R/O system. We’ll be sure to let you know how it goes! 🙂
We were very impressed with the Berkey. The flavor of the water was delicious. The first few days, we found ourselves drinking so much water the first few days. It was so good! And we recommend the Berkey even if you are not RVing full time. One of the major advantages to the Berkey Water Filter System is that it doesn’t waste any water. Also, the filters last for 6,000 gallons!
But there are downsides to everything. The Berkey is big and occupies a decent portion of our limited counter space. So we recommend getting the stand to open up space beneath the Berkey.
The other downside is that it needs to be moved and properly stored while we move the RV. RV drinking water solutions have to be mobile!. Watch out for over filling the Berkey. The upper canister needs to be fully filled to prolong the filter life, (filtering half canisters can dry out the filters), so you need to make sure the bottom canister is empty before refilling.
This is a picture of our Big Berkey Filtration system. Another thing we noticed is the Berkey has many accessories. Check out their website here, and make sure that you use our code to save money on your water filtration!
US Water Systems
US Water Systems has been filtering water for 40 years. Another family owned company, US Water systems builds all of their filters and system components in the US. US Water Systems offers custom RV Water filtration systems and on board filters. They have a blog called Ask the Water Doctor that illustrates how serious they are about water safety. We can’t tell you pros and cons because we have yet to test their systems. But they did offer us a discount code for RV Odd Squad members.
Why are we sharing our RV Water Filtration Solutions?
When we decided to take this huge leap of faith and RV full-time with our family, so many people offered us help. We are sharing about this and other RVing essentials to help others considering the full-time rving lifestyle.
We’d like to pay it forward. We’ve created a download of our “Top 10 RV Must Haves.” This download has links to ease purchase. You’ll Join the “RV Odd Squad” and be the first to know about our new adventures, products, and RV living hacks!
Thanks for Joining the RV Odd Squad,
John, Mercedes, Sage & Skippy