What is the Best Water Filtration System for RV Use?

Contributor

Tucker Ballister

Favorite Trip

5 Months Solo on the Road

Home Base

Hendersonville, NC

Favorite RV

2008 Fleetwood Bounder

About Contributor

Tucker Ballister is our Technical Content Writer. He’s a lover of the open road and the proud owner of a 2021 Sunlite Classic travel trailer (his 3rd RV to date). Check out more of his RV adventures, gear reviews, and outdoor advice at thebackpackguide.com.

Water quality standards can vary dramatically when you travel from campground to campground or fill your freshwater tank at various spigots along your road trip route. That’s why an RV water filtration system is so important. It keeps you safe and hydrated with quality-tasting water wherever you travel. 

If you’re new to RVing, you’re in the perfect place to learn more about the basics of RV water filtration. Let’s get started. 

Why Do You Need A Water Filtration System For Your RV?

RVer connecting water filtration system to city water inlet
Photo by Camping World

Many of us already filter water at home – even those with the luxury of living within a municipality that abides by regional water quality standards. RVers have all the more reason to filter theirs, as they rarely know the water quality from one location to the next. Sure, you could test, but you could also filter your drinking water. 

The variety of water sources you’ll rely on as an RVer makes an RV water filtration system a must-have accessory. Using a pressure regulator and filtering water before it enters your RV – via the city water inlet or freshwater fill – keeps you and yours healthy while removing potentially corrosive contaminants from your RV’s plumbing system

An Overview of RV Water Filtration Systems

There are several types of filters for RV drinking water. You can compare similar filtration systems using their micron rating, which is the distance between filter media pieces. A smaller number means a smaller distance and a higher degree of filtration. 

They can also be compared by the contaminants they remove. Some are designed to remove sediments and chlorine. Others remove heavy metals and other chemicals. While not technically filters, RV water softeners allow you to change the levels of certain chemicals in your drinking water.

Below are the different filtration options to get clean drinking water in your RV.

RV Inline Water Filters – Carbon and Sediment Filters

Example of inline RV water filter
Photo by Camping World
ProsCons
AffordableLower degree of filtration
Easy to installRequire periodic replacement
Easy to replaceRequire setup at each new water source

Inline water filters are the most affordable and most common type of water filtration system for RV use. These filters are installed “inline” with your water pressure regulator and potable water hose to filter contaminants before they reach your RV’s water system.

Most RVers install inline water filters close to the water source, just after the pressure regulator. But they can also be used at the other end of your potable water hose before water enters your RV. This is typically required with lower spigots that don’t have enough clearance for a pressure regulator and filter to fit before connecting your water hose. 

These filters typically use a carbon or sediment filter to remove bad odors and tastes while filtering out chemicals and larger sediments. The micron rating for each product depends on the manufacturer. 

Here are a few of the most popular brands for RV inline water filters:

Canister RV Water Filters

Canister style water filtration system for rv use
Photo by Camping World
ProsCons
“Whole RV” systems don’t require setup each time you want to filterMore expensive
Higher degree of filtrationCanisters require periodic replacement
Versatility to filter specific chemicals or sedimentsHarder to install

Sometimes known as whole RV water filtration systems, these filters are commonly installed inside your RV – under a sink or in an underneath storage compartment. However, they can also be used externally, similar to the installation of an inline water filter. The canisters (or cartridges) must be replaced periodically, but internal filters won’t need to be installed every time you connect to a new water source. 

Most canister-style RV water filters provide a higher degree of filtration than an inline water filter. They typically use carbon or sediment filters, but some also include UV light filters. They’re generally more expensive than inline filters, but they provide more versatility if you’re looking to filter specific types of bacteria, chemicals, or sediment particles. 

Some RVs come with canister filtration systems as a standard feature. If that’s your case, you’ll need to find replacement canisters according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Contact an RV performance center for recommendations on installing a canister-style whole RV water filtration system.

Here are a few canister filtration systems to explore: 

Reverse Osmosis RV Water Filters

Portable reverse osmosis water filter sitting on a rock in a river
Photo by Camping World
ProsCons
Most effective for filtrationMuch more expensive
Most are designed for permanent installationHarder to find for RV use
Require less frequent membrane replacementHarder to install

Many water quality experts consider reverse osmosis filtration to be the most effective method of removing contaminants from a water source. Reverse osmosis filters use a membrane to remove bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. They are also highly effective at removing heavy metals and pesticides, more common contaminants found in well water. 

The biggest downside to these filters is their cost, which is why they’re much less common for RV use. But they also require more frequent filter changes than others. And some experts argue that they actually remove too many important chemicals that should be included in healthy drinking water. 

For RV use, you’ll likely need to install an under-sink reverse osmosis system or employ a portable option like this one

RV Water Softeners

Example of RV water softener set up outside RV
Photo by Camping World

Most people use RV water softeners in addition to an RV water filter. These systems utilize salt to correct the levels of chemicals like calcium and magnesium in a water source. While they don’t filter the water from a campground’s supply, they can dramatically improve the taste and odor of your drinking water. 

Learn more about RV water softeners and why you might need one.

What is the Best Water Filtration System for RV Use?

Best water filtration system for rv use
Photo by Camping World

Choosing the best RV water filters for you depends on your use cases. Those looking for the highest degree of filtration will choose a different model than those looking for the most affordable and easily replaceable option. 

That’s why our ‘Best Of’ list includes product recommendations for various uses, allowing you to choose the best RV water filters for your lifestyle: 

How Long Do RV Water Filters Last?

Man checking expiration on RV water filtration system
Photo by Camping World

On average, inline RV water filters require replacement every 1-3 months, depending on the degree of use. Canister RV water filters typically have a 4-6 month lifespan, again depending on the frequency of use. Reverse osmosis and UV filters may last longer, but you should consult the manufacturer on when to replace any filters and membranes used in those systems.


This guide will help you with RV water filtration to guarantee safe, clean water for drinking, showering, dishwashing, and other uses. But there’s more to learn about your RV’s water system, so here are a few more helpful resources: 

What do you want to know more about pertaining to RV water filtration? Let us know in the comments below.

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