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Old 05-16-2021, 04:50 PM   #1
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Smile Potable water filtration systems vs Reverse Osmosis Systems

As part of our plans to extend our boondocking and off grid stays, I plan to install some type of system that would enable us to take water from any clear water source (lake, river, stream, creek), run it through a water filtration or RO system to either use directly or to fill the fresh water tank. For the purpose of this thread, make the assumption that I have a sufficient solar panel / inverter / battery storage system to operate the entire RV on electric power for extended periods of time (which I plan to have, but that is another thread.) Any and all ideas appreciated.
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Old 05-16-2021, 05:28 PM   #2
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Reverse osmosis systems require quite a bit of water pressure to force the contaminated water through the pre filters, and especially the membranes, so it seems to me like you'd be using up a lot of electricity to create fresh water when boondocking, and it creates fresh water very very slowly. You'd also end up with two gallons of wastewater for every one gallon of freshwater that you create with reverse osmosis. What would you do with all that waste water, which is very high in contaminants? You'd either have to let it just dump out onto the ground, or it would fill up your gray tank far before you would fill up your fresh tank. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but I just can't see it as a viable option for boondocking in a motorhome.

On the other hand if you were staying in a park with water, electric and sewer, it would be a nice option to make very pure clean drinking water in small amounts with a specific faucet for it on the sink, and have a pressurized 2 gallon storage tank under the sink to store the fresh water it makes, like a home system.

By the way I just noticed that's your first post, welcome to the forum, and maybe someone else will have some more encouraging opinions? :0)
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Old 05-16-2021, 07:19 PM   #3
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I would use a multi filter manifold versus RO. I would make sure I had a Berkey for drinking water.
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Old 05-16-2021, 10:48 PM   #4
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Reverse osmosis systems require quite a bit of water pressure to force the contaminated water through the pre filters, and especially the membranes, so it seems to me like you'd be using up a lot of electricity to create fresh water when boondocking, and it creates fresh water very very slowly. You'd also end up with two gallons of wastewater for every one gallon of freshwater that you create with reverse osmosis. What would you do with all that waste water, which is very high in contaminants? You'd either have to let it just dump out onto the ground, or it would fill up your gray tank far before you would fill up your fresh tank. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but I just can't see it as a viable option for boondocking in a motorhome.

On the other hand if you were staying in a park with water, electric and sewer, it would be a nice option to make very pure clean drinking water in small amounts with a specific faucet for it on the sink, and have a pressurized 2 gallon storage tank under the sink to store the fresh water it makes, like a home system.

By the way I just noticed that's your first post, welcome to the forum, and maybe someone else will have some more encouraging opinions? :0)
Thank you for your response and the welcome to the forum. Wow, I had no idea that the RO process was so power intensive or that the ratio of waste water to fresh was so high. So much for RO:-( That leaves me with the filtration option. Hopefully there are “whole house” filtration systems that could be adapted to a “Whole RV” system, and I could still accomplish my goal.
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Old 05-16-2021, 11:06 PM   #5
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I would use a multi filter manifold versus RO. I would make sure I had a Berkey for drinking water.
Not sure what a “Berkey” is yet, but will definitely check it out. Thank you. I also Googled “multi filter manifold water filtration systems” and my head is spinning:-) Plenty of reading material ahead for me! Thank you for pointing me in the right direction. At least now, I am cautiously optimistic that there is a good solution out there to accomplish what I envision for our off grid camping!
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Old 05-17-2021, 05:57 AM   #6
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Not sure what a “Berkey” is yet, but will definitely check it out. Thank you.
I wasn't sure either, but I've been researching potable water as well. So I looked it up! Here you go:

https://berkeyhome.com/
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Old 05-17-2021, 06:52 AM   #7
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As I was in water treatment a lot of my life I got to comment.


1 If you are getting you water out of a lake who cares about the amount of brine that go back to the lake from a RO system.


2 Even though a RO system might remove most bacteria they certainly are not NSF rated for that.



3 It looks like the Berkey system is "maybe" 5 micron filter followed by a carbon filter. They certainly don't want to share how the system works so buyer beware.


4 Be careful as you don't want some of the things in lake to end up in your body.
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Old 05-17-2021, 07:18 AM   #8
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Thank you for your response and the welcome to the forum. Wow, I had no idea that the RO process was so power intensive or that the ratio of waste water to fresh was so high. So much for RO:-( That leaves me with the filtration option. Hopefully there are “whole house” filtration systems that could be adapted to a “Whole RV” system, and I could still accomplish my goal.
The thing about typical consumer RO systems and whole house filtration is they're generally designed to filter municipal water to a better quality, not to take raw water out of a lake or stream and make it safe and portable.

In my area we have a water filtration plant that takes sewage water and make it pure, then they add some minerals back to it so it will not corrode pipes. What happens is the product water is so pure with no minerals that it will leach minerals from the transportation pipes and destroy them. It's also not really safe to drink water that pure, it will leach minerals from your body. But that's a much more robust and complicated process than what you would get if you bought a reverse osmosis system at Costco.

We're also soon going to have an ocean water desalination plant here, but again that has much more robust membranes, pre filters and post-treatment additives, and it's not the kind of thing you can just purchase off a shelf in a mini version for your home or RV.
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Old 05-17-2021, 08:50 AM   #9
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Another Berkey fan here. They are way more effective than a 5 micron filter and don't have a carbon filter as mentioned above though an additional fluoride filter is an option.
We use a Camco filter on the hose and the stock under counter galley sink filter and then the Berkey for our drinking water.
We also sanitize the FW tank twice a year.
Regards, Mike
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Old 05-17-2021, 10:50 PM   #10
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I wasn't sure either, but I've been researching potable water as well. So I looked it up! Here you go:

https://berkeyhome.com/
Thank you. That is quite the system. I need to check with them to see why most of their systems are not available in California:-(
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Old 05-17-2021, 11:52 PM   #11
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Another Berkey fan here. They are way more effective than a 5 micron filter and don't have a carbon filter as mentioned above though an additional fluoride filter is an option.
We use a Camco filter on the hose and the stock under counter galley sink filter and then the Berkey for our drinking water.
We also sanitize the FW tank twice a year.
Regards, Mike
Thanks for sharing. From my first impressions after reading through the Berkey website, one of the smaller units might be a good backup unit to have available if my solar/inverter/battery system is down. Interesting to note, however, is that most of their systems are not available in California:-( Typical California bureaucracy I presume, and please do not get me started on that one!

However, under normal circumstances, I still envision having an electric pump to take water through a hose from any clear water source (lake, river, stream, creek), run it through a multi-manifold water filtration system and fill up our fresh water tank. If city water pressure is available through a campground hookup, then I would use that source to fill our tank.

Since I plan to install a recirculating, filtration and UV purification shower system in the bathroom(another thread for another day), I would only need to utilize about 1 1/2 gallons of fresh water to "charge the system." You can then take unlimited hot water showers (with an electric hot water on demand system) without using up your fresh water or filling up your grey water tank.

Back to the fresh water tank, that would be our storage vessel and would always have completely filtered, excellent tasting fresh water for all our other uses.
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Old 05-18-2021, 11:54 AM   #12
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I should have mentioned that for over 25 years we had R.O. systems at our summer lake cottage in the past. We pump lake water for the cottage through a typical 5 micron house filter. In the kitchen we have had the under counter ~2 gal. R.O. systems with the seperate faucet. We ended up replacing these systems several times over the years due to errors in "closing the cabin" by relatives who didn't properly drain the R.O. manifold which then froze and cracked.
We would typically go through 2-3 of the R.O. pre-filters (also 5 microns I believe) in a summer season to keep the system working well.
For the last couple of summers we've been using a Big Berkey there as well the Travel Berkey in our RV. It can produce more water daily than a R.O. and seems to be "relative proof" so far.
I think your concern about keeping up the water pressure to charge a R.O. system is valid. Obviously easier done with a pressure tank/switch as in our cabin.
I applaud your interest in "extended off grid" designs/solutions.
Regards again, Mike
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Old 05-21-2021, 05:20 AM   #13
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I should have mentioned that for over 25 years we had R.O. systems at our summer lake cottage in the past. We pump lake water for the cottage through a typical 5 micron house filter. In the kitchen we have had the under counter ~2 gal. R.O. systems with the seperate faucet. We ended up replacing these systems several times over the years due to errors in "closing the cabin" by relatives who didn't properly drain the R.O. manifold which then froze and cracked.
We would typically go through 2-3 of the R.O. pre-filters (also 5 microns I believe) in a summer season to keep the system working well.
For the last couple of summers we've been using a Big Berkey there as well the Travel Berkey in our RV. It can produce more water daily than a R.O. and seems to be "relative proof" so far.
I think your concern about keeping up the water pressure to charge a R.O. system is valid. Obviously easier done with a pressure tank/switch as in our cabin.
I applaud your interest in "extended off grid" designs/solutions.
Regards again, Mike
Thank you Mike, I appreciate all the info on RO and Berkey Systems that you and all the others have supplied. As I digest it all, and especially since most Berkey Systems are not available in California, I am leaning toward the multiple manifold water filtration system to accomplish my ultimate goal which is to be able to run a hose from any clear water source (lake, pond, river, stream or creek) and pump it through a multiple manifold filtration system while discharging it directly into my fresh water tank while boondocking. If we happen to be camped in a site with hookups, we would use the city water pressure to pass the municipal water through the filtration system and then discharging it directly into our fresh water tank.

As I wade through all the various suppliers of these types of water filtration systems that I found after a Google search, I wondered if I was trying to reinvent the wheel! Does anyone out there have, or know of someone who has, a system that I have described? Without knowing a lot of details yet, I envision a multiple manifold water filtration system with the overall size of a large thick briefcase. This would make the form-fit factor much smaller and more compact than the large Berkey. Am I in the right ballpark or completely off base?

Thank you again and stay safe out there,

Best regards,
Patrick
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Old 05-22-2021, 08:52 AM   #14
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I have installed an Acuva on-demand LED water sterilizer in my coach. it's awesome. RVGeeks has a coupon code for discounts.
We have AlexaPure filter system at home. Their filters are slightly better than Berkey.
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