The Best RV Water Softener For Any Budget in 2022

Best Compact Water Softeners For RV – Improve Your Water’s Taste

Hard water can be painful to live with and a nuisance. While many households tolerate living with hard water and find themselves willing to pay for the wear and tear of clothing, appliances, and a shorter lifespan of all things that come into contact with hard water. Hardness minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, cause a mineral buildup through the pipes, water heaters, and the entire plumbing system, eventually wearing them down.

Dissolved carbonates cause the hardness and, in turn, limescale buildup. Since hard water is prevalent across most of the country, it also circulates around the various parts of a camper’s plumbing system. If you are an RV owner, you are likely to feel the impact of hard water sooner than later and need an RV water softener. The mineral-rich water sources in and around your campgrounds can cause havoc on the RV’s plumbing system.

Therefore, it is in your best interests to get the best RV water softener if you want to continue to enjoy using your RV.  Moreover, it is best to realize that you may not always find service and maintenance wherever you go. It makes it all the more critical that you give some thought to the type of RV water softener you invest in.

You may think that it is easy to buy an RV water softener since many products are specially geared towards RVs. The market is saturated with water softening systems, and finding the right one for your needs may prove daunting. 

So, we thought we would provide a guide to RV owners into all aspects of RV water softeners and give you a list of the best water softeners and their pros and cons to help you make the best choice. 

First, you need to know if your RV needs a water softener. You can start by testing the water quality. Fill about one-third of a clear glass bottle with water. Add a few drops of pure liquid soap. Close the bottle tightly and shake it for a few seconds. If there is a high mineral content, the water in the bottle will have very few bubbles. There are other test kits in the market that you can use.

But, the water bottle trick at home should suffice to let you know if you have hard water in the RV. Regardless of the hardness level in the water, using a water softener can be a good idea. 

Why should you use a water softener in RVs?

rv water softener

Water softeners reduce water hardness levels by removing as many hard minerals as possible. Just as water softening systems help with the hard water in homes and commercial buildings, they can help with recreational vehicles. It has turned out to be beneficial for people with a desire to travel and who enjoy camping.

When you don’t have to worry about bad taste in the water or damage to your RV’s appliances and accessories, you are bound to enjoy the trip much more. Buying a water softener for your RV is a good investment that will return high returns on the water quality and longevity of your appliances and plumbing system.

There are three types of RV water softeners – magnetic-based water softeners, salt-based, and salt-free water softeners. Water softeners that are not salt-based may not give you softened water, so they are better known as water conditioners. However, each has its advantages.

Magnetic water softeners

Magnetic-based units are the least expensive and use a magnetic field to remove the most hardness-causing minerals. They are also smaller in size and will work well as an RV water softener.

Salt-based water softeners

Salt-based systems are considered the most effective water softening solutions. They use an ion-exchange process and swap sodium ions for mineral ions.

These units are larger and have a resin bed filled with resin beads. The water flows over the resin beads leaving behind the hard minerals in exchange for sodium ions.

They also need frequent regeneration to remove the trapped calcium and magnesium ions.

Salt-free water softeners

A salt-free water softening system works like salt-based ones, except they use potassium chloride salt as a salt substitute. It also traps magnesium and calcium ions. It is suitable for those on a salt-free diet.

Then, the potassium chloride salt alters the minerals into crystals ensuring that they do not affect the plumbing systems in the RV. The hard minerals are not removed, only changed in form. But the system does condition the water, making it better for consumption during camping.

Which is the best water softener for rv?

The best RV water softener is the On The Go OTG4. It is a clear winner among the water softeners we have reviewed. Itcombines water softening with water conditioning and offers more gallons of clean and soft water than other competitive models in the market. The best portable water softener comes in a convenient cylindrical shape and can easily handle 16000 grains.

The shape makes the OTG4 easy to store within the recreational vehicle without occupying too much space. It can regenerate with two boxes of salt in less than thirty minutes, ensuring a clean water supply of 1600 gallons that can last you for a minimum of forty days.

On The Go, OTG4 is good for both size and performance. This water softener ensures easy installation in cramped spaces while providing high water flow rates and no reduction in water pressure.

Convenience is heightened with premium caps and plugs to ensure no leakage during travel. The OTG4 includes attachments to set it up without needing tools or electricity. The OTG4 will preserve the lifespan of your RV appliances and ensure that you get hygienic and clean drinking water wherever your travels may take you.

How we selected the model?

We reviewed several products in the market that offered high-quality softened water in RVs. By evaluating most RV water softeners and ranking them against each other, and studying the pros and cons of each system, reading the RV water softener reviews, we were able to make a shortlist of the best RV water softening systems.

Knowing that size is an important factor because it’s for a recreational vehicle, we went through the selection process to ensure that the size and shape of the water softener would be ideal for an RV.

Our aim is simple. We do the research and offer you a shortlist of products available. You get to choose the best one for your needs.

List Of 7 Best Portable Water Softeners For RV [Don’t Over Spend]

Recreational vehicles (RVs) are either on the road or on camping grounds. You need to look at a portable water softener system that will fit into your RV. After much research and deliberation, we have created a list of the seven best portable water softeners for your guidance. 

On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT – The winner!

On the Go Main

On The Go’s OTG4-DBLSOFT is the best RV water softener system and combines water softening with water conditioning to offer more gallons of clean water than competitive models. It comes in a convenient cylindrical shape that can handle 16000 grains. This makes the OTG4 easy to store within your RV. It can regenerate with two boxes of salt in less than thirty minutes, ensuring a clean water supply of 1600 gallons that can last you up to forty days.

On The Go covers both size and performance in this product. It ensures easy installation in cramped spaces but still provides high flow rates and no reduction in water pressure.

Convenience is further heightened with premium caps and plugs that ensure no leakage during travel. The OTG4 includes attachments to set it up without needing tools or electricity. The OTG4 will preserve the lifespan of your RV appliances and ensure that you get hygienic and clean drinking water wherever your travels may take you.

Pros

  1. On The Go’s OTG4 is convenient and space-saving
  2. The GO OTG4 dblsoft portable RV water softener can provide up to 40% more clean water.
  3. It is easy to set up and install.
  4. On The Go’s OTG4 has a fast regeneration cycle.
  5. The OTG4 doesn’t require any tools or electricity.
  6. It is portable yet powerful.
  7. The OTG4 can soften up to 16,000 gallons of water.
  8. It has a large mouth opening for adding salt easily.
  9. The GO OTG4 dblsoft portable includes water conditioning capability.

Cons

  1. The handle may feel a bit small.

Pro+Aqua Portable Softener is the runner-up.

Water Softener For Home

Pro+Aqua’s portable water softener is designed for people on the move. It comes in a cylindrical form with a broad base for maximum stability on uneven surfaces.

Designed in California, this product is the 2nd best RV water softener and uses high-grade NFS materials to guarantee longevity and clean water delivery for several years. This product has a 16000-grain capacity and can regenerate in less than thirty minutes. It makes it easy to provide soft water for up to 2000 gallons to last you around forty days.

Pro + Aqua also offers an additional pre-filter and regeneration kit that makes regeneration even easier, ensuring soft water is available whenever you hit the open road. The product comes with all the parts required and is ready to use from the minute you receive it. It does not need tools or electricity to operate. This product is ideal for being on the move without sacrificing the need for safe and clean water.

Pros

  1. The Pro+Aqua’s portable water softener is efficient.
  2. It has a great build quality with premium materials.
  3. It offers fast regeneration.
  4. It is easy to assemble and offers smooth operation.
  5. The Pro+Aqua’s portable unit doesn’t need tools or electricity.

Cons

  1. The included brass connectors are prone to leakage if not properly installed.

Hydrotec Shorty Water Softener

mobile soft water softener

Hydrotec’s Shorty water softener is a point of entry mobile water conditioner in a compact cylindrical form. It has a grain capacity of 3200 with a quick regeneration cycle that can output up to five gallons per minute. The Shorty uses high-grade NSF material that will ensure long-lasting performance. It comes with all of the components included and is ready to use out of the box.

You don’t need tools or electricity to set up and operate this product. It makes it perfect for RVs, where clean water is available no matter where the road may take you. It will remove metal contaminants and ensure that the water supply won’t damage your RV appliances.

This product is an efficient solution for mobile water treatment at a cheaper price point.

Pros

  1. Hydrotec’s Shorty is compact in size and easily portable.
  2. There is no need for tools or electricity
  3. It has fast regeneration.
  4. It is easy to install and use.
  5. It is affordable being budget-friendly.

Cons

  1. Hydrotec’s Shorty has limited grain capacity.
  2. The water is conditioned rather than softened.

Hydrotec Mobile Water Softener

Mobile Water Softener

Hydrotec’s Mobile water softener is a cylindrical portable unit that is ideal for use in mobile homes and RVs. It has a 16000-grain capacity and a quick regeneration cycle that can provide five gallons of water per minute. 

The high-quality NSF materials in this product ensure long-lasting water softening performance. Hydrotec includes everything you need out of the box, and setting up this system in your RV is easy and convenient. You do not need tools or electricity to install or operate this product. Water flow and pressure are not a problem with this device. You can quickly set this device up in your RV and use it to have safe and clean water throughout your travels.

Pros

  1. Hydrotec’s Mobile unit is compact and portable.
  2. It is easy to install and use.
  3. It does not need tools or electricity.
  4. It offers quick regeneration.

Cons

  1. The nylon connectors included with Hydrotec’s Mobile unit are not as good as brass connectors.
  2. This unit is not as effective outdoors as it is indoors.

Watts RV Pro-1000

Watts RV Water Softener Front

Watts’ RV Pro-1000 is a portable unit that comes in a cylindrical shape and 10000-grain capacity. It features a unique drain line flow restrictor that makes regeneration up to 55% more efficient. It also uses custom-designed flow valves that allow regeneration without connecting or disconnecting the system.

Water flow and pressure will not be a problem due to the RV Pro-1000’s fast regeneration and capability to output four gallons per minute. It allows you to use this device’s cleaning capabilities no matter where you may go. This device can make a remarkable difference in water quality without taking up too much space in your RV.

Pros

  1. The Watts’ RV Pro-1000 is compact and portable.
  2. It has decent grain capacity and a good flow rate.
  3. Its unique connectors and features increase efficiency.
  4. The Watts’ RV Pro-1000 does not need tools or electricity.

Cons

  1. User reviews mention that the device is prone to leaks if not installed properly, which is harder to do correctly due to a confusing user manual.
  2. This device does not use NSF materials.

Essential RV Water Softener

essential RV water softener

Essential’s RV water softener is designed for people on the move. It comes in a cylindrical form with a 16000-grain capacity. It can provide 2000 gallons of clean water in one regeneration cycle that can last you two months. 

This device uses premium NSF material that guarantees long-lasting performance and safety. Essential further provides functionality with the ability to connect this device to their water filtration system.

It is helpful as the extra filtration can be life-changing if you take your RV to extremely remote and inhospitable places with unsanitary drinking water. 

Essential installs all the components in their RV water softener, so it is good to go straight out of the box. Installation and operation are highly convenient and don’t require tools or electricity.

This device is perfect for providing consistently clean water while being on the move.

Pros

  1. The Essential’s RV water softener is compact and portable.
  2. It has high-grade NSF material.
  3. It offers an optional filtration capability.
  4. Essential’s RV water softener has quick regeneration.
  5. It is easy to install and use.

Cons

  1. The included connectors in Essential’s RV water softener are not high quality.
  2. It is prone to leakage if not installed correctly.

Camco TastePURE Water Softener

camco water softener

Camco’s TastePURE water softener is a ready-to-use portable solution for water treatment that comes in a cylindrical form with a 10000-grain capacity. It can provide up to four gallons per minute with quick regeneration.

It is easy to carry, install and operate, making it ideal for use in RVs that are constantly on the move. You do not need tools or electricity to operate this device.

Camco includes everything you need to immediately produce clean water, wherever your travels may take you.

Pros

  1. Camco’s TastePURE water softener is compact and portable.
  2. It is ready to use.
  3. It has quick regeneration.
  4. The Camco’s TastePURE water softener offers a good flow rate.

Cons

  1. The test strips that come with the product may be expired and provide inaccurate results.
  2. It is hard to get replacement parts, and customer service can be difficult.

What features you must look for if you are buying an RV water softener?

mobile water softener features

Water treatment needs can change based on your location. It is easier to install more elaborate systems that can provide clean water for generations in a typical household.

However, in an RV, the fact that you are constantly on the move makes a difference while assessing potential water softeners. There is no reason why you should not benefit from softened water because your home doesn’t stay in one location.

Technology has come a long way, making it possible to take advantage of water treatment even while travelling. RV water treatment systems are designed differently from household systems. If you are looking to get an RV water softener, these are the features you should look out for.

Portability

It goes without saying that portability should be a key criterion when getting a water softener for your RV. It should be able to fit into your vehicle without taking up too much space and perform well enough to provide enough clean water for your regular use.

It is good to assess your water needs and ensure you purchase a unit that will not be in your way but also provide for your needs.

It’s a delicate balance between size and performance, and you should find a portable water softener that caters to your needs in both areas.

Ease of use

Living in an RV takes a lot of commitment. With so many areas to focus on, you cannot expect to spend precious time figuring out how to operate your water softener.

The intention is to have clean water on demand. As such, it is important to find a water softener that is easy to use. Most portable systems are ready-to-use and do not need tools or electricity for installation.

Make sure that your water softener is also good to go straight out of the box. This way, you can focus on living your best life while the water softener does all the work to provide clean water.

Maintenance

Unlike households, you cannot get professional service as easily for your RV water softener.

As such, you need to learn how to maintain your water softener. It mainly involves re-filling salt in the brine tank, but you can take it a step further by researching connectors and pipes.

Ensure you have good-quality pipes and connectors and clean them regularly so that your unit can continue to operate for several years.

Materials

It is also worth considering the materials your water softener is. The highest standard is NSF materials that are certified by the National Sanitation Foundation. This ensures food-grade material that is approved by the FDA and safe for humans. High-quality materials also lead to better build quality that ensures your water softener will perform at peak efficiency for several years.

Our Expert Guide On How to set up a new RV water softener 

Setting up a new RV water softener will depend on your product. All manufacturers include an instruction manual to tell you how to install or set up the water softening unit. But, here are a few tips on how to do it yourself.

 Step 1: Before setting up the unit in your RV, turn off the water supply at the point of application.

Step 2: Connect the water source to the RV to the inlet hose of the water softener.

Step 3: The water softener must be standing upright.

Step 4: You can turn the water on and flush the system into the drain for around six minutes. It helps to flush the resin dust out.

Step 5: Finally, you can connect the outlet of the water softener to the point of application.

That’s all it takes. Now, your RV water softener is ready to work.

You will find little to no variation in the steps regardless of the system you buy. If you hit any difficulty, you can contact a customer service representative. Almost all the good-quality brands will offer experienced customer support. And if all else fails, you can call in a professional or verify that you have done it right by watching YouTube videos online that demonstrate the ins and outs of the installation process.

How to regenerate an RV water softener?

Just as setting up an RV water softener, regeneration of the unit depends on the product you buy. The regeneration process is usually common among all water softeners that are installed in an RV. Here are the steps you can follow:

You must turn off the water supply.

Next, you disconnect the outlet hose from the outlet side of the water softener.

Now, you must drain the water by physically tilting the system. You can even turn it upside down since RV water softeners are pretty small in size. But, make sure that the head/ cap is turned in the ON position.

Next, you can remove the top cap and add the required amount of salt into your unit. Typically, that would take two full 26 oz. boxes of iodized/ non-iodized salt. There are a few ways to add salt to the water softener. 

  • You can pour the salt pellets directly into the softener.
  • Another way to do it is to mix the salt with warm water and pour the salt solution into the softener.
  • You can also pour salt into the softener and pour the water slowly over the salt with a cup.

Finally, replace the cap and turn the water on. The rinsing must be very slow as per the user manual’s instructions. Make sure that the stream of the water just clears the side of the tank. You must ensure that the rinsing is for at least 25 minutes.

After the initial rinse, you can increase the water flow to a full stream and rinse again for 6-8 minutes.

You will have received a few testing strips with the unit. You will need to verify that the regeneration process is complete by using the hardness test strips. The test results should show that the water at the OUTPUT of the softener is soft, at 0-3 GPG. You will also notice that the water does not have a salty taste anymore. 

These are the steps of a regeneration cycle. The water softening process may vary slightly between different units. A manual regeneration model is not complicated at all.

However, several models automatically control the process and are even less complicated and affordable.

The Verdict

Our verdict for the best water softener in an RV is On The Go’s OTG4. This unit combines water softening with water conditioning. It is compact, cylindrical in shape occupying minimum space. The unit has premium caps and plugs that ensure no leakage occurs during travel. Additionally, the OTG4 includes attachments to set it up without needing tools or electricity.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long do RV water softeners last?

Water softeners can last up to 20 years if they are well-maintained. The same is true of the water softeners used in RVs.

What Do Grains Mean?

The rated capacity of a water softener is the maximum number of grains of water hardness that the system can remove before regeneration. The hardness levels of water are measured in grains per gallon (GPG). The capacity of a water softener tells you the amount of hardness it can remove before regeneration. One “grain” of hardness is 1/7000th of one pound of dissolved hard minerals. The more accurate way to talk about water softener capacity is by the cubic feet of resin and how much salt it takes per regeneration, which is why the efficiency is described in grains/ pounds of salt.

How to protect your rv water softener from freezing?

When you are going around in your RV, it is not always possible to predict weather conditions. You may not be able to avoid freezing temperatures somewhere during the journey.

Therefore, the best way to protect your RV water softener from freezing is to maintain a temperature of at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid any part of the system freezing. It is also possible to use a space heater to heat the area around the unit and keep an eye on its temperature during the coldest times. For the water softener to function efficiently at all times, you must inspect the water softener when the temperature drops and the winter season begins.

How often do you regenerate RV water softener?

The regeneration process typically takes around 30-45 minutes using 2 pounds of table salt. After regeneration, your portable water softener gets ready to be used again. The water softener user manual will give specifics on how much time it needs for the regeneration cycle to complete.

What are the must-have RV Accessories? 

Several RV accessories are essential to a smooth operation. They include a water pressure regulator, water filter, fresh water hose, water hose elbow, surge protector, swerve hose, power adapter, fuse kit, tire chocks, etc. However, it is not enough to acquire these accessories without using them effectively.

Conclusion

It is good that those who like to travel around in an RV don’t need to tolerate hard water on their trips. While there may not be any proven health hazards to hard water, it does impact the appliances, pipes, and general plumbing in the RV. It can add scale and mineral buildup and reduce the lifespan of the appliances. It can also leave you feeling sticky after a wash, or cause dry skin and dull hair. Scale build-up in the pipes can also affect the water flow.

Moreover, hard water is a little hard on our clothes, too. Therefore, looking for a water softener suited to an RV is natural. This guide has relevant information for RV owners on water softeners in the market. You can use this information and the RV water softener FAQs to select the best system for your travels.

About The Author

Our Web Producer

Judith— a passionate water treatment specialist — is a waste water management enthusiast, clean drinking water advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about various water equipments. Her work was mentioned in countless notable water associations. Previously she was an editor at Water Alliance.