RVWaterFilterStore 16000 Grain Portable Water Softener

If you RV full-time and usually travel in areas with hard water, then a water softener is no doubt a necessity. High levels of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron tend to harden the water and cause several issues, including ravaging your whole plumbing system by clogging all the plumbing channels (pipes and taps) over time.

Key Features:
  • Relatively quick to set up with pre-assembled unit
  • Large capacity of 16,000 grains for small families
  • Easy to operate and requires minimum maintenance

RVWaterFilterStore 16000 Grain Portable Water Softener Review

If you RV full-time and usually travel in areas with hard water, then a water softener is no doubt a necessity. High levels of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron tend to harden the water and cause several issues, including ravaging your whole plumbing system by clogging all the plumbing channels (pipes and taps) over time.

Soap and detergents don’t equally lather up very well with hard water, making them difficult to rinse off from clothes, plus white clothes can end up looking much duller after washing them in the hard water. Bathing with hard water also causes skin irritation as well as hair dryness.

In general, if you are usually on the road using your RV, then you’ll instantly know how annoying these issues are, especially in locations with very hard water. Consuming hard water isn’t good, too, as it can lead to certain diseases to some degree, and the water itself is often red and has an odd taste and a foul smell.

Fortunately, with an RV water softener, you get to reduce the hardness mineral ions in your water and protect your skin, hair, and also your RV plumbing system and appliances. These RV softeners are portable enough to fit inside of your vehicle, allowing you to have a regular supply of softened water wherever you go.

The Essential RV water softener is just one of the many options available on the market today, and it’s what we are going to focus on in this review. It’s manufactured by RVWaterFilterStore, which is a reputable brand that has been producing RV filtration systems and water softeners for the past 30 years. This particular unit is one of their best-selling water softeners and has been specifically designed for RV use.

It’s a portable salt-based water softener that utilizes a powerful ion exchange resin that’s able to deal with low to high water hardness levels effectively. Apart from that, it offers a large softening capacity and a moderate water flow rate.

The regeneration process is quick and easy too. Moreover, the unit is simple to install, doesn’t need much maintenance, and is quite compact, ideal for RVers that are short on space. Here is our in-depth review to give you more insight.

Softening Capability

The Essential RV water softener is a one-tank system. The ion-exchange resin and the salt/brine are contained in one tank. The resin proves to be quite effective at getting rid of water hardness.

It’s a 16 000 grain resin and efficiently removes all the magnesium and calcium ions from each gallon of water that goes through the tank. The water that comes out is completely soft and deprived of these hardness minerals. Due to the relatively large capacity (16 000 grains), the system can treat moderately hard to very hard water.

Besides removing calcium and magnesium (which are the main hardness minerals), the Essential RV water softener eliminates the hard iron from the water. The system equally removes lead, radium, and several heavy metals as the water passes through the resin.

Users generally reported that it made a huge difference in their water quality. They mentioned that the water was better instantly when they started using the softener. They couldn’t register any water hardness on the provided test strips, even after recording very high water hardness levels before installing the unit.

Many mentioned that there were no stains and scale formation on their utensils and appliances, while others reported that the performance of their RV water pumps, washing machines, and dishwashers was dramatically improved. The foul smell and odd taste that the water had before installing the unit was no more too.

Overall, the Essential RV water softener seems to do its work very well, and this is attested by the positive feedback it got from different users. The only downside is that the softened water it produces has a slightly high amount of sodium, which might not be good for those with health conditions that require no or low-sodium diet, such as some cardio-vascular and kidney conditions.

However, you can set a filtration system after the softener to clear out the sodium and make the water much safer and better for drinking right out of the tap and for other tasks while at the same time protecting your plumbing system and appliances.

Capacity and Flow Rate

This RVWaterFilterStore softener offers a 16,000-grain capacity, which is amongst the largest softening capacities for RV water softeners. With such a capacity, the Essential RV water softener is able to eliminate many grains of hardness minerals per each regeneration cycle.

It can provide more than 2,000 gallons of soft water after each regeneration cycle. That’s almost 50% more than most regular RV softeners, making the Essential RV water softener a really efficient unit.

The large capacity also means fewer recharges compared to lower capacity softeners. The system can go up to 60 days or two months between recharges if you have a small family (2 to 3 people), your daily water usage is moderate, and your water source hardness level is low to medium.

Recharges may only be required about once a month for very hard water (7 GPG and above) and at moderate daily water consumption. That’s still quite decent as most low-capacity softeners may require frequent regeneration (almost weekly) to keep on effectively producing soft water.

The Essential RV water softener also offers a fairly fast water flow rate, and this is attributed to its large capacity and its ¾-inch high-flow ports. It can process around 3 to 4 gallons of water in a minute, which is pretty decent and should cater to the needs of most small families.

Installation

Setting up this unit is super easy. It’s designed to be installed before the water enters your RV’s freshwater tank. The unit comes pre-assembled, fitted with hose connections to allow for easy hookup. It comes with a 4 ft. custom no kink water hose, which can connect to nearly any water hose connection usually found in campgrounds and parks.

The whole setup process doesn’t take more than 5 minutes, and no electricity is required. The package includes the softener (with ¾-inch hose fittings), the 4 ft. water hose (capable of withstanding 200 PSI pressure), standard hose adapter, and a hard water test kit.

There were several complaints that the unit leaks around the connection points. Some users reported that the O ring fails to seal on the cap hence leading to leaks. This wasn’t really a widespread issue, but it’s still worth noting.

The in and out fittings also tend to leak, but this can be easily fixed by adding sealant tape or ensuring the hose is connected properly and tight. Furthermore, the hose features a hex nut that you can put a wrench on and tighten in case it leaks.

Apart from the leaks, there’s no other serious issue to worry about. After the setup, you have to run water through the unit for about 20 minutes to rinse it thoroughly and flush out the resin dust. Otherwise, the water might have an unpleasant aftertaste and probably have some particles.

You can as well connect this water softener with the RVWaterFilterStore filtration system (after the filter and before the RV storage tank) to ensure optimal results and clean, softer water.

The filter will help reduce sediments from entering the resin and remove other common contaminants in the water like chlorine and organic chemicals, thereby further eliminating foul taste and odors.

Maintenance

Like many RV water softeners, maintaining this unit isn’t difficult. The only maintenance required is backwashing and recharging the resin. The backwashing process is straightforward since it’s a matter of running the water backward through the system.

The sediments come in through the input, so you need to get them out through the same input as you don’t want them to go all the way through the resin and get mixed in. Therefore, you connect the hose to the output port, then hook it up to your water source and turn it full blast.

This way, you’ll be putting the water in the output port, run it through the system and let it come out through the input end. You should let it run for about 15 minutes so that all the sediment and other stuff collected in the tank can come out until the water runs clear.

Once you are done, disconnect the hose and set up the unit correctly as before. The manufacturer has included adapters for easy backwash as well as convenient shutoff.

Backwashing the softener is important, especially if there’s no sediment filter before it – the sediment tends to settle right in the bottom of the tank, which can reduce the system’s performance.

It’s less of a problem if you filter the water first, but if you don’t, you’ll need to backflush more often, maybe once a year or more, if your source water has a lot of sediment. If you have a good filtration system already installed before the softener, then you may only have to backflush it once after a couple of years.

Recharging the water softener is the only other maintenance you’ll need to do, and it’s equally not challenging. After about a month or two of use, the ion exchange resin is about used up, and you’re going to want to recharge it.

The process is pretty simple. You just disconnect all the hoses and pull the head off. Once you have the tank open, there will be some extra water on top that you’ll have to spill out carefully.

From there, you just recharge the softener by pouring two boxes of salt into the tank and then put the head back on, attach the hoses, and finally, turn on the water and rinse the system out for about 30 minutes to let everything flush out. It’s a quick and easy process, and the softener is recharged using just plain/normal table salt – there are no additional chemicals needed.

As we mentioned earlier, each regeneration cycle would give you around 2,000 gallons of water, which is about one to two months of use, depending on your water usage and the hardness level of your source water. The resin media is very durable – it can last around 5 to 7 years.

Build Quality

The Essential RV water softener is a robust system that’s built to withstand outdoor conditions. The tank is a rugged NSF Polyethylene that’s covered with fiberglass. It’s strong and durable, plus features a 10 3/8-inch base for stability.

The ports are made of lead brass, which is much more solid and durable compared to plastic connections. Even the hose is of good quality as it’s made of a strong no-kink PVC material, capable of withstanding pressures of up to 200 PSI.

The whole unit has a nice compact design. It measures around 19 ½ inches tall and 10 3/8 inches wide, so it’s fairly small and can be installed in tiny spaces, like the RV storage bay.

It’s a bit heavy (weighs around 36 pounds), but the compact design makes it slightly easy to carry around and portable. You can carry it for use on the go at campgrounds or parks. You can even remove the head/cap, but you have to cover the opening, possibly using duct tape or shrink-wrap to ensure the resin doesn’t spill out.

Final Remarks

An RV water softener is certainly a valuable device that you would want to install in your RV to soften the water, especially when you are in areas that have very hard water. This Essential RV water softener is one of the best options out there as it’s able to treat low to high water hardness levels effectively.

We would recommend it if you are looking for a portable and compact RV water softener capable of performing just as well as a normal water softener. The best part is that it has a large resin capacity, which means you get to produce a lot of soft water between regeneration cycles compared to low-capacity softeners.

The whole unit is equally well-built and durable, plus it’s easy to install and maintain. It’s also compatible with the RVWaterFilterStore filtration systems. The only serious issue we found are cases of leaks, which doesn’t really seem to be a widespread problem. However, in case of any other issues, you can get in contact with the company’s customer support team via email or phone. They are quite responsive and helpful.

Things we like

  • Relatively quick to set up with pre-assembled unit
  • Large capacity of 16,000 grains for small families
  • Easy to operate and requires minimum maintenance
  • Fits into your space due to its compact and portable design
  • Impressive filtration to remove unpleasant odors and tastes in water
  • Features quick and easy regeneration process
  • Compatible with the RVWaterFilterStore filtration systems

Things we don't like

  • Its weight is a bit heavy
  • Leakage problems

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Historical Price Chart

This is one-year-history price chart of the RVWaterFilterStore 16000 Grain Portable Water Softener.

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RVWaterFilterStore 16000 Grain Portable Detailed Images

RVWaterFilterStore 16000 Grain Portable Water Softener
RVWaterFilterStore 16000 Grain Portable Water Softener
RVWaterFilterStore 16000 Grain Portable Water Softener
RVWaterFilterStore 16000 Grain Portable Water Softener
RVWaterFilterStore 16000 Grain Portable Water Softener

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