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Trailers, Travels & Trials

To drink from the freshwater tank or not….that is the question.

As we were going through our initial RV education, everyone mentioned the ubiquitous blue RV water filter and we saw it hanging from the water spigots everywhere.   Ok, we ordered one.  But….we later started reading about people not actually drinking the water from their fresh water tanks – only using it for showers and washing dishes.  Hmmm…then we saw videos of people using secondary filters – like the home pitcher filters or the much larger gravity feed stainless steel column type pitchers (Berkey, Patriot Pure, etc.) for drinking water.  Then we saw even larger, multi-stage pre-tank filters (like Clear Source or Beech Lane).  What’s a thirsty RV’er to do???

We started doing some investigating to see what we could find out. Disclaimer – we are by no means water sanitation or purification experts. We are just passing on what we found.

It should also be noted that we both drank from watering hoses for years as kids while playing outside all day (remember when kids did this?!?) and we lived.   🙂

We started by defining our requirements and limitations.

  • We don’t want to get sick. This is complicated with Jim having a very sensitive gastrointestinal tract, sorry TMI!
  • We don’t want to trust the hygienic habits of other campers. After seeing videos of how some folks handle their sewer hoses we got scared!
  • We want something easy.
  • We don’t want to lug around lots of bottled water.
  • We don’t have a lot of space.

 

The “not wanting to get sick” requirement took us down a rabbit hole of bacteria and virus and NSF/ANSI certifications – and it got very confusing.  What we ended up finding out was we needed a filter that not only removed sub-micron “stuff” but also helped to improve the taste of the water.  Given the tiny size of parasites, cysts, germs, bacteria  (like  cryptosporidium, giardia, e-coli), this was important to us.

Here are the options we saw frequently used.

  1.  Use a single ubiquitous blue RV water filter  (this one is made in US) – these may be great for protecting your pump and improving water taste given their active charcoal component, but not so good at getting rid of the bugs.
  2.  Use a secondary gravity feed filter (like a pitcher or column filter) – these are very good solutions and get good reviews, however, when we looked into the specifics of these types of filters, they are great on taste and removal of chemicals, but not so good when it comes to the bugs. Also, the column type filters take up some counter and storage space – both of which are precious to us!
  3.  Other gravity feed filters (like Life Straw) – depending on the model, seems like you can either have great tasting water with potential for bugs or bug-free water without the activated carbon to removed some of the chemicals and foul-tasting components. However, you could use two of these types of filters in series to obtain some great water – but it is not an easy process (emptying the output from one to the input bag of the second) and it would take some time.
  4.  Use multi-cartridge pre-filters – these are good but you have to read all the fine print with the actual cartridge specs to see what they do/do not do.
  5.  Use reverse-osmosis filters or UV sanitizers – these are fantastic methods of making really great water. Their downside is their power and space requirements.
  6.  Splash in some chemicals like bleach.  Bleach kills everything, right?  Yep – even people!  There is alternative chemical, call Purogene, gets really good reviews.

So what did we end up using?

We want to be able to drink directly from our fresh water tank.  Our system is as follows.

Why?

  • The small blue filter is inexpensive and helps to extend the life of our larger filter.
  • The U.S. Water Systems filter has four cartridges and filters made in the U.S.A. which address all the angles – taste, chemicals, and bugs.  Also cost of replacement filters is very reasonable. (Some of the replacement filters for other options get pricey.).
  • Ease of use – it fits in a small milk crate and using quick disconnects, quickly plugs into to our trailer’s fresh water port.
  • When we compared it to alternatives, like RV Water Systems, who also make a nice multi-cartridge system and Clear Source with their “Virusguard” protection and without it, our primary motivator was cost and filters being made in the U.S.A.  We could not determine the source country of filters for the other manufacturers.
  • While other multi-cartridge filter systems had smaller filter pore size (like 0.5 micron), US Water filters had much larger absolute micron filters.  However, they deploy a different type of filtering process that achieves sub-micron filtration using something called a “Charged Zeta” filtration which seems to use electrostatic processes versus physical filter pore size.  Having this “charged” filtration with larger pore helps with flow rate.
  • We have talked with U.S. Water Systems customer and technical support and they were very responsive and helpful.

Additionally, we will be using Purogene for periodic tank sanitation along with water treatment (1 oz per 30 gallons for treatment, higher concentration for tank cleaning).  We chose this vs. regular bleach for a multiple number of reasons, not the least of which is that chlorine dioxide (the active ingredient) is not corrosive as compared to bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

 

Finally, an ancillary part of our water “system” is a quart spray bottle filled with a 10% bleach mixture.  We use this to spray the spigot before we connect to it.  This is an easy step and sure makes us feel like we done all we can do!  (Long gone are the days of drinking directly from the spigot!)

Just to round out this topic, we also use a couple of other odds and ends for our complete water package.

 

As we use this system over time, we will give you an update on how things go.   If we have some information wrong, please let me know so it can be corrected.  What do  you use for your water system?

This all made me very thirsty!

 


Our Water Supplies – From Spigot to Trailer

  1.  Y-Valve for connection to a spigot (if we are at a site)
  2.  Pressure Regulator
  3.  Primary Filter – a.k.a. Ubiquitous Blue Filter
  4.  Dedicated Water Hose – We love the Zero-G hoses   p.s. – despite some posts to the contrary, these don’t readily mold on the inside.
  5.  U.S. Water Systems PurEdge Ultimate RV Filter
  6.  Small dedicated hose from filter to trailer tank
  7.  Purogene added for final sanitation

 

Additional bits and pieces include:

  1.  Hose End Connectors to protect hoses and filters while not hooked up.
  2.  A couple of emergency water cans – in case something happens (like too long a shower, leaks, or contamination)
  3.  Quick Connect fittings  while you can get cheaper ones, we find the stainless versions with six vs. four locking ball-bearings leak much less and last a long time (Jim uses them at the shop at work)
  4.  Water Bandit for use with non-threaded or stripped spigots
  5.  Straps to organize and hang hoses
  6.  Spare hose gaskets
  7.  Spray bottle and chemical resistant sprayers for bleach water mixture

 

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Jim and Frances

our new journey

We are a Christian couple that have worked hard for a lot of years.  Realizing that we not spent enough together, we decided to dip our toes into the waters of recreational vehicles  to  grow in and share our faith, our love, and to see God’s beautiful creation with our own eyes.  
Prior to 2021, we have never camped or RV’d together.  Join us in our journey as we learn and laugh together.

Jim and Frances

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