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Old 03-26-2012, 01:44 AM   #1
DrivinMyHome's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Peoria, AZ
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Best Water Filtration System for Hard Water

I am in Arizona, where we have very hard water. My wife and I, and our four kids, live fulltime in our travel trailer. We use a LOT of water.

We currently have one of those cheap inline filters from Walmart that I hope is keeping the plumbing safe(but know that it probably isn't). There is obviously iron in the water where we are parked, since I have noticed our showerhead turning reddish-brown. The water smells and tastes bad so, for drinking water, we use a 3 gallon jug and a 2 gallon jug to refill at the corner water station. This is a minor hassle. Not to mention that occasionally we have forgotten to fill up the jug and gone without drinking water some nights(not good, since we don't drink much else).

I have been looking for a filter system that will not only save my plumbing, but will also allow me to stop spending $3-5/week on drinking water. I would love to be able to just turn on the tap when I'm thirsty at 9:30 at night, instead of: get up, find the small jug empty, check the larger jug to find that it's empty, get dressed, grab the jugs, drive to the water station, realize I forgot to bring change(yes, this has happened), go home to get change, go back to the water station, fill jugs, drive home, get undressed, pour a glass and sip...AHHHH, finally got my glass of water!! (15 minutes later than planned)

So, it's time to fix the situation, with your help.

My criteria for a water filtration solution is as follows (subject to change):

1. Filter the entire RV at a significant rate. As in: I must be able to take a shower while the wife runs water at the sink, without additional restriction. I assume that a minimum of 3-5gpm would suffice?

2. Remove or minimize the hard water deposits in the system.

3. Take the 'stink' and discoloration out of the water.

4. Make the water taste like... WATER.

5. Be 11.5" tall or less (personal storage limit for the planned install location).

1. Be effective enough that I could pour stream or well water into it via the gravity fill, and have it meet the above criteria.

2. Not waste water (would like to avoid Reverse Osmosis but if RO, it should send the flush water back to the fresh tank).

3. Not require additional electricity to assist with the filtration.

4. Not add anything to the water (don't like the idea of adding salt for a water softener).

5. Not take minerals from the water (another mark against the RO system).

6. Not cost an arm and a leg (need to use those for gas money this summer).

I bought a RO system (I know, I said I didn't like them) from Costco a few weeks ago that I thought would work, but found that it fell short. It didn't flow enough to cover the entire trailer and it was too large for the planned install area. But, it gave me an idea that I hadn't thought of until then: I could (and would like to) use two different install locations. I can install a 'whole house' unit in the originally planned location, and a second (purely for drinking/cooking/ice) under the kitchen sink. That particular RO tank was too big for this location though, and I'm not too keen on an RO system anyways, so that went back to the store.

The best setup I have found, so far:

I ran across this water softener that seems perfect (maybe too good to be true?!?) for my criteria of removing deposits: It is small, doesn't use any additional water or electricity, doesn't add salt or potassium to the water, and requires very little maintenance. Problem is, I can't find any independant reviews on it. I'm not sure I want to be the guinea pig when it will cost me $250 to try it. It's comparable in price to other softening systems out there, but not 'tried and true'. Has anyone seen this before? Used it or know someone who has? Willing to try it out (on YOUR dime) for me?

Also from this thread, I found this filter, which says it can remove parasites and chemicals, and bad tastes and odors. The reviews I have found have all been positive. The biggest drawbacks are that, at $500+, it is quite expensive and it only flows 1gpm, so it would only work for the drinking water. I like that the filter is small enough for the location under the sink. But, it leaves me with the need to add a second, whole house filtration unit.

If I go that route, I will probably get a 2 or 3 canister system from these guys. I think the 2 canister system with the 1 micron sediment filter and carbon filter near the bottom of that page for $80 would round out the filtration nicely.

All of this comes out to ~$850. Of course, I could just skip the water softener and drinking water filter, and get a 3 canister system with the 5 micron sediment, then the 1 micron sediment, and the charcoal filter for ~$120. Could this be effective enough to make the water potable and save the plumbing?!?

I am not opposed to spending a few extra dollars, but just want to be sure I get the best bang for my buck. Also, I know there are other things I should add, like a pressure regulator and pressure guage. Is there anything else that I am missing?

Or, I could just jump into a whole RV reverse osmosis system for ~$780, but it won't fit in my original install location. Time to start tearing down walls?




Dad|Mom|The Twins|The Little One|The Boy|The Blog
1999 Chevy Suburban C1500 --Seating for 9 when we're moving
2006 Gulfstream Innsbruck Lite 25RSL --Sleeping for 9 when we're not
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Old 03-26-2012, 06:16 AM   #2
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The only possible way to have soft water is to install some kind of water softener. Typical whole house or under counter filters do not remove calcium and magnesium-the minerals that make the water hard. Filters will remove particulates and some odors.

There are water softeners made specifically for rv's. http://tweetys.com/rv-water-softners.aspx
Good luck in your search.

Jim with Judy
2017 Newmar Ventana 4369, 2005 Jeep Wrangler (Rock Crawler), 2016 Jeep Wrangler (Mall Crawler)
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Old 03-26-2012, 07:16 AM   #3
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Forget about installing any RO system in your RV as they will waste more water than you can imagine, costly to buy and install, and take up way too much valuable storage space

To soften water, do not buy the gimmick devices, they don't work. The only thing they do efficiently is to drain money from your pockets. Due to the size of your family, my recommendation is to purchase a TravelSoft water softener that uses softener salt. They come in different sizes. I use the RV1200 but you may want to buy a larger one. I use Iron Out when back-washing the softener periodically but you may need to use Iron Out more frequently. Look here.


To pre-filter your water, I would have a 2-3 stage filter system using whole house size filters located outside directly after your Watts water pressure regulator and before your water softener. Buy filters that have the proper micron value and will remove the various material that it will capture.

Then add one of these filters underneath your kitchen sink for all of your drinking water. I don't use one as I buy filtered water or bottled water as we travel around the country. I just prefer it that way but maybe someday I will install one of these when I run out of upgrade projects.

Seagull IV X-1F (CA) Drinking Water Filter: Amazon.com: Home & Kitchen

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Old 03-26-2012, 07:44 AM   #4
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Minerals in the water is what makes it 'hard'. There are several catalytic devices that claim to soften water, don't go there. They don't work.
Some types of iron can be filtered out and other types can be removed by a true water softener.
You can only guess what would be the best treatment for your water. Three different water treatment companies could test your water and give you three different answers for water treatment.
A water softener behind a filter for iron removal would be the the place to start. Low upkeep, just changing filters and regenerating. A standard filter housing, for 2.5" by 9.75" filters, will accept many different types of filters designed for different purposed.
The link is for standard filters. housings can be found on the same site.
A softener can also be regenerated with potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride.
Water filtration does not cost $500. Small RO systems will dissapoint. You can not filter out hard water.
Water chemist in a previous life.
Most RV batteries live a long and useful life, some are murdered.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:02 AM   #5
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We use a Watts whole house regulator, followed by a canister filter. I use a sediment filter only on the in-coming line as I want chlorine in the water tank/lines. Under the galley sink we have a charcoal filter for drinking and ice maker water. We drink the water wherever we go. Only once in the past 8 years of using this system all over the US did we have water with an odor ...never had taste problems. The sediment filter (1 micron) gets changed every three months in full time use ...a few times it has been changed more often when we had rusty or muddy water (never saw that inside, but when dumping the filter when disconnecting to move on).
Paul (KE5LXU) ...was fulltimin', now parttimin'
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:01 AM   #6
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Have you looked into renting a household unit that sits outside of your RV? Several people in Yuma (Cocopah RV) had these in use when I was there in Feb. Water was soft and met needs as it is large capacity. Don't know the cost but most likely same as buying at the corner.
2008 Jeep Sahara '4Dr"
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:25 AM   #7
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You can not accomplish what you want without a softener. There is no "filter" that will do the trick. I spend 6 or 7 months in Yuma, have tried everything. I have a water softener, not one of those nickel dime RV units, that supplies the whole house. Following that is a small RO unit for drinking water. There is some water wasted with the RO system but not much. To save that wasted water is complicated without big changes to your RV water delivery/operating system.

Jim E
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:12 PM   #8
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Filters can remove some visible iron from water but the clear iron can be a real problem.
See HERE for some info. The green sand cartridges do work well. From that site "Some iron filters, such as the greensand iron filter, remove iron, manganese and sulfur odors. "

The resin exchange water softeners work well. You need as large a grain number as you can get. I have an 8000 grain unit and with my wife and I using water it has to be recharged about every 12 days. The water here in AZ where we spend most of the winter is very hard - over 50 grains per gallon.

In CO where spend some time in the summer the water is 20 GPG and we recharge about once a month.

This is the water softener I have MARK 8000 There is an 10000 grain unit HERE . They also sell the Mark 8000.

To see how long you can go between recharges divide the softener grains by the grains per gallon of your water. For example 8000 grains/ 50 grains per gallon = 160 gallons of water before recharging.
We use about 13 gallons of water per day, so 160/13 = 12 days before recharge. It takes one box of common table salt to recharge mine.

Clay WA5NMR - Ex Snowbird - 1 year, Ex Full timer for 11 years - 2004 Winnebago Sightseer 35N Workhorse chassis. Honda Accord toad.
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