As RVers, we never know about the safety of campground water sources we tap into. The affordable RV water filters in my rig always do a good job. But last week while camped along a river, I noticed cloudy water coming out of my tap. It was obviously time to change my RV water filter system.
I started the search for a top rated RV water filter system to replace our inline RV water filter by Camco. We also have an under-sink model. But that filter is no longer being made, so we need to replace that too. In a few hours I learned more than I ever wanted to know about how to pick the best RV water filter for our fifth wheel.
How to Find a High Quality, Affordable Water Filter for RVs
We travel fulltime, so the water qualities can go from one extreme to the other.
For that reason, We use the Camco 20 micron sacrificial filter, then a carbon 5 micron, followed by a carbon .5 micron.then thru a water softener.@saddlesore, iRV2 Forums Member×
We all want the best RV water filter system, but if you’re like me, cost is a top concern. Of course you also want to get your money’s worth. You can have the best of both worlds, by knowing what to look for in an RV water filter, such as:
Is the RV water filter NSF Certified?
An RV water filter with NSF certification means that the National Safety Foundation, an independent lab, thoroughly tested the product. NSF certification of 41 and 53 guarantees the RV water filter is worth the money. For example:
- NSF certified RV water filters with a 41 Rating will improve taste and odor only.
- The NSF certified RV water filters with a 53 rating will reduce “cyst” bacteria like giardia.
- If an RV water filter has a 53 NSF rating, it will ensure water safety, taste, and quality through reverse osmosis.
How hard is it to install and replace the RV water filter?
External RV water filters that attach to your hose are super easy to use and replace. But internal under-sink models can be tricky to install and replace. If you have a small RV kitchen like I do, installing an under-sink water filter is a tedious chore. You must worked in a cramped space, and hope your water lines don’t leak when the filter is set into place. Ask me how I know.
Replacing the under-sink RV water filter is an issue, too. If the internal filter is not replaceable, the new RV water filter system must match your existing plumbing fittings. If it doesn’t, you’re in for an all-new installation job. I know about that pain, too.
Is the filter replaceable? Or does the whole unit get trashed?
Some RV water filter systems require you to trash the whole unit in order to install a new one. Others are more eco-friendly, and allow you to just replace the RV water filter inside the original housing. That’s the one I prefer.
No matter what filtration system you choose, something is better than nothing. A $100 budget won’t get you the best RV water filter system, but it’s a good place to start. Here’s what affordable systems look like from cheapest to the most high quality RV water filters.
Top 5 Affordable RV Water Filters Under $100
RV water filter systems can costs hundreds of dollars, but you can still find affordable RV water filters under $100. The cheapest are external water filters. These long cylinder-shaped devices either attach to the RV water hose or under your sink. External filters are great as a “pre-filter” for RV water filters installed under your sink inside the rig.
External RV Water Filters Pros and Cons
Pros: External filters like the Camco TastePure RV/Marine Water Filter (pictured above) are the most affordable RV water filter system. They’re easy to use, and most have a “KDF Fluid Treatment” that prevents mold and bacteria growth when the filter is not being used.
Cons: These filters only last about 3 months. But the biggest drawback of these is the filter’s pore size. This is important, because according to the CDC’s “Choosing Home Water Filters & Other Water Treatment Systems,” the smaller the pores, the smaller the contaminants they keep out. The bigger the pore size, the less effectively it keeps bugs out of your water.
When it comes to the cheapest RV water filters, I could not locate an external water filter with anything smaller than a 20 micron pore size. A giardia bug is 8 to 14 microns. That’s cutting it pretty close in my mind. But these affordable RV water filters are still better than nothing.
Better than Nothing: Camco TastePure RV/Marine Water Filter
With nearly 35,000 five star reviews and counting, the Camco Taste Pure is one of the best and most popular and affordable RV water filters in the industry.
- Reduces bad taste, odor, chlorine and sediment
- 20 micron sediment filter.
- GAC (Granular Activated Carbon) filtration and KDF Fluid Treatment prevents undesirable bacteria growth when the filter is not is use.
- Durable in line, exterior mount filter has a wide body for increased flow.
- Includes a flexible hose protector to reduce strain on the connections while minimizing kinking that could impede water flow.
I would use the Camco blue inline filter in the freshwater hose to remove the big stuff, then install a high-quality solid carbon block filter under the sink with a separate faucet to use only for water you will consume. The under-sink filter should remove all the common stuff, and also lead & mercury, down to 1/2 micron.@MSHappyCampers, iRV2 Forums Member
External Premium RV Water Filter System Pros and Cons
Got a little more cash to spend? A standalone external RV water filter like the Camco EVO Premium RV & Marine Water Filter is a good upgrade from the cheapest external filters. These premium RV water filters are not hard to use. Like the version above, they just connect to your external RV water hose. Keep it standing up outside your rig to filter contaminants.
Pros: For less than $100, you can get a better RV water filter system with a 5-micron pore size. Some are single-stage filters, some are two-stage. These models do a better job reducing bad taste, odors, sediments, bacteria, chlorine and more. I also like that you can replace the filter when it goes bad, instead of trashing the entire unit.
Cons: Unfortunately I could only find one version made by Camco. What keeps me from buying it is that this model is not NSF certified. This means it has not been independently tested to guarantee it does what it claims.
A Step Up: Camco EVO Premium RV & Marine Water Filter
- 5-micron barrier and granulated active carbon reduces bad taste, odors, sediments, bacteria, chlorine and much more; the result is fresh, clean, great-tasting water every time
- Includes filter housing, one extension hose and one replaceable premium spun polypropylene filter cartridge
- Attaches to any standard water or garden hose connection
- Lasts one camping season
- Replaceable filter can be replaced when no longer effective
I’d rather not over-filter the toilet water, or any water that goes directly into a waste tank. I have a drinking water tap at the kitchen sink; that one needs .5 micron water. The rest, I’m more concerned about adequate flow than optimal purity. So the rest of the coach gets a Camco 40043 TastePure RV/Marine Water Filter@TonyMac, iRV2 Forums member
The Best RV Water Filter is an Under Sink Model
A few under sink RV water filters can be found in the top end of affordable RV water filter systems for less than $100. They filter out far more contaminants than cheaper drinking hose RV water filters, last longer, and cost more money.
Pros: Under sink RV water filters last longer, and filter more contaminants than cheaper RV water hose mounted filters. Once installed, you don’t have to worry about storage when they’re not in use.
Cons: Some models are tricky to install. You may need to buy plumbing adapters to make them work with your RV hose connections. And many models only filter from your cold water connection, not your hot water one too.
You’ll find plenty affordable under sink RV water filters under $100 or close to it. Most are made for traditional homes, and only a few models are light and easy enough to install in a small RV kitchen cabinet space. The model we selected two years ago is no longer being made, so these are my top contenders today:
The Top Rated RV Water Filter Upgrade: Frizzlife MP99 Under Sink Water Filter
- 2-Stage advanced water purifier with 0.5 Micron filter. Removes over 99.99% of contaminants (lead, heavy metals, chlorine, chromium 6, mercury, rust, volatile organic compounds, carcinogens, and other contaminants, such as turbidity, odors and bad taste.
- Dedicated stainless steel faucet can be installed in most sinks providing cleaner filtered water for cooking or drinking. NO plumbing required. Comes with a 3/8″ compatible brass feed water adapter, brackets, and STEP-TO-STEP Installation manual.
- Quick change, tool-free twist-in installation takes less than 3 minutes
- Tested Full Flow Rate above 1.2GPM @40 psi.
- Only replace the core filter. Each cartridge can be used for 2 years, but for better filtration, replace after 6-8 months.
The Ultimate in Water Safety: iFilters 2-Stage Whole House Water Filter
- 5-micron rated filtration.
- Flow Rate: 3 gpm/11.4 lpm.
- 3/4″ Female NPT Ports.
- Convenient built in Pressure Relief buttons.
- High quality Polypropylene Sediment filter and premium Coconut Shell granular activated carbon.
- Average cartridge life: 6 months (incoming water quality may affect cartridge life).
- Disposable filter cartridges simplify system maintenance.
Going South of the Border? Try the Waterdrop 17UA-UF 0.01 μm Ultra Filtration Under Sink Water Filter
- Filters most bacteria larger than 0.01 microns
- Activated carbon made from natural coconut shells
- Reduces chlorine, taste and odor. Effectively reduces heavy metals, chemical iṁpurities, sediment and other large particles.
- With innovative push-to-connect fittings, the entire installation process takes less than 3 minutes.
- Maximum chlorine reduction service life of 36 months or 24,000 gallons
- Full flow rate is 0.75 gpm at 60 psi
Some kind of RV water filter system is better than nothing
If you worry about getting fresh, clean, safe water at the RV dump station or campsite hookup, you’re not alone. Camping water safety is always on my mind, too. And after last week’s cloudy water coming through our lines, I’m more determined than ever to keep bugs, viruses, and sediment out of my RV water lines with a high quality, affordable RV water filter for my rig.