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LAST UPDATED: December 20, 2019

Best RV Water Softeners: Remove Minerals and Other Deposits

These top RV water softeners are beneficial for both you and your vehicle

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PUBLISHED ON December 20, 2019

To avoid streaks on your shower doors, spots on the finish after washing your RV, and buildup on faucets and nozzles, install an RV water softener. A water softener eliminates the minerals from the water that cause these problems. The result is water that not only improves the operation of your vehicle but also provides softer hair and skin.

  • Best Overall
    On The Go OTG4-DBLSoft Portable RV Water Softener
    Summary
    Summary

    This high-capacity water softener produces up to 1,600 gallons of soft water, or about a 40-day supply. The unit regenerates with just two boxes of regular table salt and is compact, so it’s a great fit for your RV.

    Pros
    Pros

    Produces 40 percent more softened water than competitor units. It installs in very tight places and produces high flow rates with a low-pressure drop. There’s a large opening to add salt, and it includes a carrying handle for easy transportation.

    Cons
    Cons

    It may take one or two days to begin operating at full capacity. It is also a bit heavy to move around.

  • Best Overall
    On The Go OTG4-DBLSoft Portable RV Water Softener
  • Best Value
    Mobile-Soft Portable Water Softener
    Summary
    Summary

    This water softener has 16,000 grains of hardness removal capability. This appliance removes minerals and soluble iron super efficiently. 

    Pros
    Pros

    The kit includes lead-free NSF 61 male GHC tank connections, a distributor, and resin along with instructions for installation, setup, use, and maintenance.

    Cons
    Cons

    You need to purchase a male-to-male fitting to make it work. The nylon NPT fittings may become cross-threaded.

  • Best Value
    Mobile-Soft Portable Water Softener
  • Honorable Mention
    Watts Water Quality/Conditioner M7002 Flow-Pur RV Water Softener
    Summary
    Summary

    This product has a built-in, drain-line water flow restrictor that provides more efficient regeneration, increasing capacity by as much as 55 percent. The full-cradle base holds the tank securely. 

    Pros
    Pros

    Specially designed flow valves permit regeneration without the user needing to disconnect and then reconnect the system. Features a flow rate of up to four gallons per minute.

    Cons
    Cons

    Some of the instructions may be unclear. In addition, the Y fitting may not last.

  • Honorable Mention
    Watts Water Quality/Conditioner M7002 Flow-Pur RV Water Softener

    To avoid streaks on your shower doors, spots on the finish after washing your RV, and buildup on faucets and nozzles, install an RV water softener. A water softener eliminates the minerals from the water that cause these problems. The result is water that not only improves the operation of your vehicle but also provides softer hair and skin.

    Best RV Water Softeners Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    According to the maker, this is the largest compact RV water softener available. It produces double the number of gallons of soft water compared to a standard model. The unit is a 16,000-grain softener that makes as much as 1,600 gallons of soft water, or an approximate 40- day supply.


    This softener fits in tight areas and has a high flow rate but a low pressure drop. It has a large opening at the top that makes adding salt easy and neat. This unit is also easy to transport and uses a standard garden-hose type connection. No tools or electricity are needed for connection or operation. 


    However, some buyers report that the softener requires one or two days to operate at full capacity. Others say this RV water softener is a little heavy to move.

    Best Value

    This unit employs 16,000 grains so it removes soluble iron and minerals super efficiently. The kit comes with everything you need to soften your water, including lead-free NSF 61 male GHC tank connections, resin, and a distributor. 


    A comprehensive manual shows you how to set up, install, use and maintain the unit. Customers report it has a much lower purchase price than competitor models and is a great value. 


    Note that you may need to buy a male-to-male fitting to make this softener work properly. Also, the nylon NPT fittings can become cross-threaded.

    Honorable Mention

    The water softener features a built-in, drain-line water flow restrictor, which provides more efficient regeneration capability and which increases capacity by up to 55 percent. A full-cradle base holds the tank in place securely.


    Specially designed flow valves allow regeneration without the operator having to disconnect then reconnect the unit. This RV water softener has a flow rate of as much as four gallons per minute. 


    Some users report that the instructions are a little difficult to read. Others say that the Y fitting could last longer.

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    Benefits of RV Water Softeners

    • Less mineral buildup in pipes. One of the main advantages of having a water softener is that it reduces the amount of mineral buildup in pipes. Less buildup means water flows more efficiently in your RV’s plumbing and through fixtures like faucets. This is because when fewer minerals are present, the opening through which water flows is large. Therefore you substantially reduce plumbing maintenance, especially pipe replacements. 
    • Better appliance and fixture operation. With hard water, you get mineral buildup in faucets and shower heads. Mineral buildup inhibits efficient operation and can also occur in washing machines, dishwashers, and water heaters. Using an RV water softener changes hard water to soft water. 
    • Fewer spots. When you have a water softener, the water you use to wash your RV or, for example, the water left on your shower doors, leaves fewer spots. This is because there are fewer minerals like magnesium and calcium in the water. Spots on a freshly washed painted surface or shower door not only look ugly, but can also be difficult to remove. 
    • Softer hair and skin. Ask anyone who can give you a “before and after” report about water softeners. Before installing a water softener, skin was often dry and flaky. Hair was dry and brittle. After installing a water softener, the exact opposite: smooth, radiant skin and soft luxurious hair. Soap and shampoo also lathers up quickly and abundantly. 

    Types of RV Water Softeners

    Salt-Free

    Consumers prefer this type of water softener system because it uses a filter rather than chemicals to remove minerals. This means no chemicals affect the minerals in the softened water and there is no hassle adding chemicals. Experts do not recommend this type of water softener for areas with extremely hard water.  

    Ion Exchange

    This type of water softener exchanges salt or potassium with ions in the water. Ions are what cause water to be hard. This process removes those ions so the water becomes “soft.” Ion exchange types of water softeners are especially good for making dishwashers and washing machines last longer. The high amounts of sodium makes the softened water not the best for drinking. 

    Magnetic

    Magnetic water softeners employ magnets around or inside water pipes for water softening. The magnets change the minerals in the water from hard to soft. A potential downside: The water that magnetic water softeners soften becomes hard again about 48 hours after the magnetic field processes it. 

    Reverse Osmosis

    This type uses pressure to remove impurities from the water by passing the water through a semipermeable membrane. This is a highly effective method that removes approximately 98 percent of water impurities. 

    Top Brands

    On the Go

    Water expert Bruce Everson founded this company in 2004. As a camper himself, Mr. Everson learned that the states the majority of RV owners travel to, like California, Florida, New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona, have very hard water. The challenge was to invent a water softener for use in RVs that was light, portable, and easy to handle and maintain. The result was the On the Go water softener. The company’s office and plant is located in Bloomington, Indiana. Check out OTG4-StdSoft 8,000 Grain RV Water Softener and the Park Model Portable RV Water Softener & Conditioner

    Mobile-Soft-Water

    Dr. Ceferino L. Follosco founded this company in the Philippines in 2008. It designs, engineers, markets, and distributes a wide range of water treatment and conditioning systems worldwide. The Mobile-Soft-Water, a division of HydroTech Systems, has its U.S. offices in Tiskilwa, Illinois. Products include the Portable 3.2 Kgr Shorty and the Portable 32,000 Grain Capacity softener. 

    Watts

    Joseph Watts wanted to prevent water boilers from exploding in textile mills. So he invented a pressure relief valve and started the company in 1874 in a tiny New England machine shop. The company now has operations around the world including the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania (Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand). Watts makes the Pro 16,000 Water Softener and the POE12DSA1KDF Dual Exterior Water Filter Kit, among others. 

    RV Water Softener Pricing

    • $130-$184. Softeners in this price range are the portable type that you usually have to manually regenerate. Capacity for these ion-exchange softeners is around 6,400 grains. These fit in tight places and work great for day trips. 
    • $185-$279. This is the most popular price range for ion-exchange softeners. They also include portable softeners with capacities of 8,000 to 16,000 grains. 
    • $280-$375. In this price range, you will find softeners with capacities up to 28,000 grains. Some of these portable RV water softeners are salt-free, which means they work by either magnetic or reverse osmosis.  

    Key Features

    Portability

    RV water softeners do the same job of whole house water softeners but they are portable. This means you can take a water softener with you wherever your next trip leads you, and still have soft water to protect the plumbing and appliances in your RV home, and for healthy skin and hair.

    Ease of Operation

    Most RV water softeners feature easy hookups to water supplies so water can quickly begin flowing shortly after you stop. Another good thing is simple recharging. Many softeners use regular table salt that you just pour into the top of the unit to recharge it. You don’t need any tools to hook up and recharge most RV water softeners. 

    Lightweight

    The popular brand water softeners are lightweight, usually less than 35 pounds, so you can easily load and unload the unit to your recreational vehicle. Lightweight also means you can move the softener into storage with ease and move it around the water source without worrying about potential back strain.

    Other Considerations

    • Price. The average price for an RV water softener is about $250. But do your research and find out which unit is best for your situation, whether it be a mobile home, RV, or double-wide. Check out the reviews, ratings, product descriptions, and FAQs. 
    • Testing. You need to test the water hardness before you use your RV water softener. Units come with test strips, so simply follow the instructions provided to determine the hardness and, after you use the RV water softener, the eventual softness of the water.
    • Storage and Transportation. Some people permanently install the RV water softener in their RV, mobile home, or double-wide. Other people use it as an outside-the-vehicle appliance. Consider how and where you plan to use your RV water softener before you buy.

    Best RV Water Softeners Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    According to the maker, this is the largest compact RV water softener available. It produces double the number of gallons of soft water compared to a standard model. The unit is a 16,000-grain softener that makes as much as 1,600 gallons of soft water, or an approximate 40- day supply.


    This softener fits in tight areas and has a high flow rate but a low pressure drop. It has a large opening at the top that makes adding salt easy and neat. This unit is also easy to transport and uses a standard garden-hose type connection. No tools or electricity are needed for connection or operation. 


    However, some buyers report that the softener requires one or two days to operate at full capacity. Others say this RV water softener is a little heavy to move.

    Best Value

    This unit employs 16,000 grains so it removes soluble iron and minerals super efficiently. The kit comes with everything you need to soften your water, including lead-free NSF 61 male GHC tank connections, resin, and a distributor. 


    A comprehensive manual shows you how to set up, install, use and maintain the unit. Customers report it has a much lower purchase price than competitor models and is a great value. 


    Note that you may need to buy a male-to-male fitting to make this softener work properly. Also, the nylon NPT fittings can become cross-threaded.

    Honorable Mention

    The water softener features a built-in, drain-line water flow restrictor, which provides more efficient regeneration capability and which increases capacity by up to 55 percent. A full-cradle base holds the tank in place securely.


    Specially designed flow valves allow regeneration without the operator having to disconnect then reconnect the unit. This RV water softener has a flow rate of as much as four gallons per minute. 


    Some users report that the instructions are a little difficult to read. Others say that the Y fitting could last longer.

    Tips

    • These units use regular table salt to soften water, not water softener salt. Be sure to use the correct type when adding salt to the device.
    • It is possible to use potassium as a recharging agent. But since potassium comes in large pellets, you will have to grind the pellets into a table salt-type grind before you use it.
    • If you plan to leave the water softener in the vehicle when it gets cold, you must find a way to keep it from freezing. Put it inside an insulated box or heat the storage area with a light bulb or heater.

    FAQs

    Q: What are the benefits of installing a water softener in my RV?

    A: With fewer minerals in the water, you’ll notice less spotting on dishes, glassware, shower doors, and on the surface of your vehicle after you wash it. You will also notice less mineral buildup on the kitchen, shower, and bathroom faucets and on the inside pipes.   

    Q: How does a water softener work?

    A: When water flows through a water softener, a process known as “ion exchange” takes place. The hard minerals (primarily magnesium and calcium) in the water entering the water softener have a negative charge. The water then flows through a layer of resin beads, which have a positive charge. When the hard water circulates through the layer of beads, the positively-charged beads attract the negatively-charged minerals and take them out of the water. This de-mineralized water then flows out of the softener and into your RV.

    Q: Are there other benefits to installing a water softener?

    A: Yes. You will find that your skin and hair are softer after showering in soft water, and soap and shampoo easily lather up. Dish soaps and automatic dishwasher soaps will work better, too.  

    Final Thoughts

    The large capacity and compact fit of the On The Go OTG4-DBLSoft Portable RV Water Softener make it our pick for the best water softener overall. The super-efficient Mobile-Soft Portable Water Softener is our pick for the best value.