Have you ever been travelling and been left feeling unimpressed by the quality of the water supply where you are staying? This is where a portable water softener comes in and can truly make a difference to your camping trip or where you park up your RV.
We’ve put together a list of the top 6 that we have reviewed, along with some helpful information about what these products are, how they work and why you may want to get one.
Our Top Picks
Best Portable Water Softeners of 2021:
Portable Water Softeners that are worth mentioning:
There are some fantastic portable rv water softeners on the market right now and we have reviewed the best ones out there, to help you make an informed decision. We’ve included the top features, pros and cons for each water softener for rvs.
1. On The Go Portable 16,000 Grain RV Water Softener
We start our review of the top 10 portable water softeners with this model from On The Go, a fantastic product that does its job well and is one of the best for its price range.
Once installed, this unit has a 16,000-grain capacity, which is enough for approximately 40 days of soft water. That is more than enough for most trips and even multiple trips, so you don’t need to worry about running out halfway through a journey.
This unit is very easy to install and you won’t need any special tools as it relies on a standard garden hose union. Once set up, you will be able to enjoy soft water in moments.
They have even thrown in some water testing strips, to help you check the water supply before/after, to make sure it is working as expected.
2. Watts Water Quality Flow-Pur RV-Pro Water Softener
Next on our list is this portable water softener from Watts and whilst it is slightly smaller than the first entry, it still does a superb job. Throw in the fact it uses common table salt as well!
With a capacity of 10,000 grain and only weighing 9lbs, it truly is a portable water softener.
One of the most impressive features of this unit is that it uses regular table salt, making it very easy and affordable to regenerate when required. Common table salt is cheaper than specialist alternatives. Another nice feature is that thanks to its design, you don’t need to disconnect the unit to regenerate it, saving a lot of hassle and frustration.
An easy to install water softener that offers great performance at a budget price. However, do take note that customers have reported some leakage if you have higher water pressures, above 4 GPM.
3. Mobile-Soft-Water Portable 16,000 Grain Water Softener
Another impressive portable system makes it onto our list, particularly because of its capacity and flow rate performance.
With a 16,000-grain capacity and working with a water flow rate of up to 5 GPM, this performance compares favourably with some of the smaller models that will struggle with a higher flow rate and be prone to leaking.
Whilst it does need some extra parts to install properly, it is a relatively easy process and once set up, you will be ready to go.
You can enjoy clean, soft water for showering, keeping your hair and skin soft, as well as drinking water or washing dishes and at up to 5 gallons of soft water per minute, it will certainly be enough for almost all users.
From our research, we would expect you to regenerate this portable rv water softener every 10 days or a few times a month, depending on the hardness of the original water and how much you use. This is more than reasonable for people on holiday for a week or two.
4. On The Go OTG3NTP3M Portable Water Softener
This manufacturer is one of the leading brands for water filtration and softening systems and we can see why with this rv water softener.
With an 8000-grain capacity, impressive 18lbs weight and effective softening system, you can’t go wrong with this model.
You will get approximately a week’s worth of soft, clean water from a single box or ordinary iodized salt, based on using 2000 gallons of water. This obviously depends on the hardness of the water and how heavy your usage is.
What we also liked about this model is first, that they provide test strips to check your water supply and secondly, once you’ve added the salt and started the regeneration process, you will only have to wait up to 30 minutes before it’s ready to use again.
Perhaps the only word of caution here is that it is designed for shorter journeys or single users, so if you’re going away as a couple or family, then you may need a bigger size or multiple units.
5. On The Go OTG3NTP3M Portable Water Softener
We’ve put this one of our list of the best RV water softener because it offers the performance of the previous On The Go model but has double the capacity. This makes it perfect for those longer trips or families who are travelling together.
With a grain capacity of 16,000, it will last two adults on average, around 40 days, more than enough for most journeys. The manufacturer has used high-grade resin and quality materials, making it a reliable and hardwearing system that regenerates quickly.
Thankfully, you will only need to use ordinary table salt, so replacement salt is relatively inexpensive and easily available.
One note of caution is that if you want to store it outside in colder temperatures, make sure you get additional insulation to protect it.
6. PuRite 15 Stage Shower Filter Water Softener
We finish our list of the best portable water softeners with a different type of system from PuRite. It is a shower filter that fits to the faucet, as opposed to providing some kind of water softener tank.
Whilst it isn’t exactly designed for use in an RV, it is perfectly adapted for it. You won’t need any special tools or connectors and as it weighs under 2 pounds, you won’t notice much of a difference when showering.
This system doesn’t require regeneration as it uses an innovative 15 stage filtration system that purifies the water and also adds in healthy minerals such as vitamin C.
Each filter lasts around 6 months, making it a fantastic investment.
7. Mobile Soft Water Portable 3,200 Grain RV Water Softener
This portable water softening system from Mobile Soft Water is one of the most portable, compact ones to make it onto our best portable water softener list.
It is lightweight, compact and made from fiberglass, as well as lead-free nylon. The reason for this is that both types of material are resistant to rust and frequently win praise in customer water softener reviews.
This water softener is able to treat up to 5 gallons per minute (GPM), however, it will only be able to perform at this level for 320 gallons of soft water before needing to regenerate. This is the one main drawback to its size.
Customers will love the regeneration process on this product, as it doesn’t require electricity to do so. This means it is perfect for those remote locations and you won’t be without clean fresh water, even in those more difficult moments.
8. ABCwaters 16k Water Softener System
A combination of performance, technology and capacity make this ABCwaters water softener system one of the best choices for any RV.
To start with, it has a 16,000 grain capacity, which is more than enough for most RVs, as well as some small apartments and properties. This versatility makes it a great choice for those who travel a lot.
One of the few softeners on our best portable water softener list that is an automated system, regenerating automatically once the internal digital clock triggers the process. Keep in mind that minimal effort in terms of maintenance means you can enjoy clean, safe water whilst enjoying the rest of your journey.
When it comes to installing the softener system from ABCwaters, you get everything you need in the box including a full installation kit, user-friendly guidance, silicone lube, test strips and more. The manufacturer has even added a 5-year warranty for this product which is a fantastic extra.
9. ABCwaters Built Portable 12,800 Grain Capacity Water Softener
Another portable water softener from ABCwaters makes it onto our list and whilst it doesn’t offer automation, it does have some great features and great performance.
You will get a 12, 800 grain capacity with this model which should be more than enough for most RVs, camping trips, boats and even smaller apartments. When compared against other options on our best portable water softeners list, it performs well.
The manufacturer has added a built-in handle to help carry this portable unit between locations or to put into storage. Keep in mind that many others don’t do this! Furthermore, it comes with hose fittings that allow you to wash your RV, boat, car or any other vehicle with soft water. You always want to avoid washing a vehicle with hard water.
This portable softener will regenerate in minutes, so there is no waiting around for ages waiting for it to be ready again, causing a lot of hassle and frustration. Relatively cheap to buy and to run, you can’t go too far wrong.
10. Poly Salt Free Triple Action Water Softener
We love salt-free solutions and we’re pleased to be able to add this to our best portable water softeners list for you. This portable water softener stands out from the crowds for many reasons and will be high on the list for many customers reading our reviews.
As the name suggests, the first thing to notice is that it doesn’t use salt which helps to protect the RVs plumbing, as well as being healthier for everyone drinking the water supply.
It will be highly effective at stopping corrosion and stains from questionable water sources, particularly when travelling in your RV around remote places. Furthermore, it will protect your RV plumbing from build-ups of certain minerals such as calcium and iron.
It is important to think about the environmental impact we have and this salt-free water softener is eco-friendly. You can trust it to look after you and the environment around you, wherever you are travelling.
The installation process for this water softener is pretty straightforward, coming with helpful instructions and guidance. Even the most novice of customers should be fine without the need for professional assistance.
We hope you’ve found our article on the top 6 best portable water softeners on the market right now. You don’t need to suffer from hard water whilst travelling any more and there are some fantastic systems out there that will really make a difference. No more dry skin, damaged hair or harmful water thanks to these incredible water softening systems.
It is very important to understand the key factors and considerations that makeup buying an effective portable water softener. Once you understand the key components, you will be far more equipped to make the best choice and reap the rewards of a long term solution to hard water whilst travelling.
Type of softener
Within this review page, you will find a section on the types of water softeners that can be purchased for your RV. Each one has its own benefits and potential drawbacks, depending on your individual preferences and requirements.
The most common and most-effect option is to go for a salt-based portable water softener, but with performance comes the added cost required to buy one and the use of salt. More and more people are aware of the risks of adding salt to your diet and so may get put off by this type.
Should you wish to avoid the added salt, to protect you and your vehicles plumbing, then there is a salt-free portable water softener and a magnetic-based water softener. Both of these perform well thanks to the latest technology and will usually be smaller and more portable than salt-based versions. However, they will normally be less effective, but still enough for most people.
You will see a select group of manufacturers make it onto our best portable water softeners list and this is because they are the tried and tested manufacturers of fantastic water systems. Whilst there are other options out there, we believe that when dealing with a clean, safe water supply and the issue of hard water, its good to be safe.
You can rely on these big manufacturers to provide the information you need, well-made parts that stand the test of time and equally importantly, easy access to spare parts and replacements.
We all want an easy to install portable water softener, taking the minimal time and effort to get set up so that you can go off and enjoy your travels. Fortunately the vast majority are now made to be relatively easy to install, without the requirement of being a DIY expert or professional plumber.
However, this is not always the case and it’s very important to check customer reviews and read the manufacturer’s instructions before purchasing. This way you can get a much better idea of the steps involved in installing a portable system into your RV. Likewise, you will want to check if there are any maintenance steps required and how easy these are to do.
Don’t necessarily be put off by the more complicated systems, as they may well be the best choice for you. Many manufacturers now provide useful video tutorials, customer service helplines and additional tools as part of the package.
One of the most important considerations for anyone buying a portable RV water softener is the size or capacity of the unit. You may not immediately understand what this relates to but it will normally be measured in grains, such as 8, 000 grain or 16, 000 grain capacity. What this refers to is the many grains of hardness can be removed before the softener must regenerate. Ultimately its performance in dealing with hard water before needing to refresh.
The capacity will vary a great deal, ranging from a few thousand up to 16,000+ and to give you an idea, we would recommend a system that will deliver at least three days of usage before regenerating. This would be around the 8, 000-grain capacity level but it does depend on how many of you are travelling.
It is all about the requirements of your family and RV, as well as the budget available. You don’t necessarily need to go for the highest possible capacity if you’re travelling in a small group or alone, or for a short period of time.
The main annoyance and frustration with owning an RV water softener is the requirement to regenerate. If you don’t manage this properly, it can happen at the most inconvenient of times and stop you from getting soft, clean water when you need it. With planning and utilising features on the softeners, you can avoid hard water problems.
Some of the systems on our best water softeners for RVs list have specific times that can be set for the regeneration process, whilst others are automatic so it will deal with it as soon as its required. The automatic controls are a fantastic solution as it will monitor the performance for you, without you having to spend all of your time worrying about it.
How does a water softener system work?
In essence, water softeners will remove as much hardness of the water as possible and this is normally done through the use of salt.
Saltwater softeners are one of the best systems for this process and what happens is the original water is passed through a mineral tank, which contains sodium ion charged resin beads, that absorb elements in the water.
The magnesium and calcium ions found in the water are replaced with these sodium ions, which are softer and as a result, you get softer water at your faucet. You must then replenish the softener, in a process called regeneration. All of this may sound complicated but they are very easy to use.
The Types of Portable Water Softeners
There are fundamentally three types of best water softener that you can buy for your RV and each one works well in specific situations depending on your individual needs.
Salt-based water softeners
The most common and most effective solution for hard water is a salt-based portable water softener. These systems replace the calcium and magnesium in the hard water with sodium ions, softening the water without using chemicals. However, it does have its downsides.
It is generally agreed that a salt-based softener will perform the best at removing hard water, with most models having two tanks that have resin and brine. However, they are often bigger and less portable than alternatives, so it depends on where and when you will be using it.
Salt-free water softeners
If you are someone who wishes to reduce their salt intake and are worried about the impact that a salt-based softener has, then choosing a salt-free version is probably the best option for you. The way these systems work is that they descale and condition the water but don’t remove the calcium and magnesium ions completely.
This means that you will protect the RV plumbing from the hard water damage but you will still have to live with that. However, where they truly excel is that they are smaller, more portable and remove the sodium content.
Magnetic water softeners
Perhaps the least known option for people wanting a portable RV water softener, a magnetic-based water softener will pass the hard water supply through a magnetic field, reducing the harm that hard water has on the plumbing in your vehicle.
Just like the salt-free alternatives, they don’t remove all of the calcium and magnesium ions, but get rid of most of it for you. These systems are normally smaller and more portable than either salt or salt-free systems and cheaper on the most part. So for those on a strict budget, then they will be worth a try.
Do I need one when I’m travelling?
It is very likely that at some point you have been travelling outdoors, either camping, hiking or staying in an RV and have had to use some old faucet or water supply.
The magnesium and calcium in the water supplies, among other contaminants, are what causes these faucets to become damaged, rust or smell bad. Whilst this is not necessarily life-threatening, it can have an impact on your health and the taste of the water.
Choosing to carry with you a portable water softener will not only protect you from some of the problems but allow you to enjoy nicer tasting water.
How hard is my water?
This is easy to find out, thanks to the cheap, easy to use testing kits that are available to buy. When you test your water supply, the hardness is traditionally measured in grains per gallon (GPG) and you can also speak to your utility provider who can sometimes help with the hardness level.
For those that are travelling, it is obviously more important to be able to test the water yourself and get an immediate response, so the home test strips are the best way to go.
To help you understand how hard your water is, this table should make things a little clearer:
- Soft water – less than 1 GPG
- Slightly hard – 1 to 3.5 GPG
- Moderately hard – 3.5 to 7 GPG
- Hard – 7 to 10 GPG
- Very hard – Over 10 GPG
There are some simple things you can do, to help maintain your portable water softener. This will both help its performance levels and also keep it in working order for longer, safeguarding your investment.
Firstly, always follow the instructions regarding installation and regeneration. This will mean that you do everything as the manufacturer advises and don’t risk doing anything in the wrong order, or using the wrong type of salt.
Secondly, perform regular tests of your water, using home test strips. This helps you understand the water hardness, how it’s affecting your portable system and whether it is working as expected.
Another tip is to consider the water pressure you’re using in your RV or remote location, as the higher the water pressure will mean reduced effectiveness of the portable water softener.
The final piece of advice we have is don’t be tempted to install these in your home, as they are not geared towards regular use over a long period of time, or at such a high rate as you would need in your home. This will both cause problems with the system and cost a lot to regenerate.
Frequently asked questions
We’ve put together some of the most common and important questions that customers ask when buying a portable water softener, to help make the entire process easier and less of a worry.
How does a portable water softener work?
- This very much depends on the type of water softener you buy for your RV but fundamental processes are similar and all lead to one goal – reducing the problems that hard water causes for your RV and for you.
If we take salt-based systems as an example, as it is by far the most common and most effective solution, they work by process of ion-exchange. It will filter the hard water containing calcium and magnesium ions through a resin type material, exchanging those ions for sodium ions. It is at this point that your water supply will now be considered softened and won’t have the calcium or magnesium in it that causes all of the problems.
Just like water filters and other water systems, they only work for so long before they need to be maintained. In the case of portable water softeners, this is the process called regeneration. It is where the sodium ions are replenished by backwashing the resin with a salt solution creating brine, removing any calcium and magnesium ions whilst replenishing the levels of sodium ions.
Some of the more advanced systems will do this automatically thanks to sensors, but for others, you will need to monitor the system and schedule the regeneration process accordingly.
What is the best softener to buy?
- Unfortunately, this isn’t a quick and easy answer for one very clear reason – everyone’s requirements are different. It is important to protect your RV, boat or yacht from the perils of hard water but there are many considerations to take into account before choosing the right water softener for you.
Take the time to review our page, the guidance and recommendations to help build up a shortlist of what exactly you need, what factors are the most important and then how this translates into a shortlist of water systems.
You may think that hard water isn’t a major issue but it can have a big effect on the plumbing of your RV, harm your clothes, hair and skin, so you want to get the best one for you.
Which brand is the best?
- There are so many brands out there right now and whilst we are sure that most of them are great, we do feel it’s safer to rely on the key manufacturers with the history and reputation to back up their claims. It can be a relatively expensive investment and you want to know you are getting the best product for the long term.
- On The Go
- Mobile Soft Water
Some of the best manufacturers we believe you should consider are:
It is important to remember that this list isn’t definitive and you will note some of our top 10 best portable water softeners come from other manufacturers. Always consider the customer reviews, manufacturer information and guidance from experts.
How much salt should you take with you on a journey?
- We are answering this on the basis you have chosen a salt-based water softener and the answer for how much to take is a difficult one. In short, you should take quite a lot with you but you need to check with the manufacturer on their official guidance.
To give you an idea, guidance from On The Go for their RV water softener suggests you must use two x 26oz boxes of iodized salt.
You will notice here that it isn’t just about taking enough salt, but you should make sure you have the right type of salt and ensure that the salt level in the softener stays at the correct level. If you don’t have enough in there then it won’t perform correctly.
How long does a RV water softener take to regenerate?
- This depends on the model of portable water softener that you have chosen to buy, but the typical range of time is around the 45 minute mark. It is vital that this regeneration process takes place so that you can remove any dissolved materials and replenish the system. Without this process happening, you won’t be able to soften the hard water.
Some systems will automatically perform this process and others will require you to schedule or instruct it to do so.
Is it easy to maintain your RV water softener?
- Luckily, yes the majority of the best RV water softener systems are easy to maintain and each one will come with guidance and clear instructions on how to do so. In general, you will only need to replace the salt or clean the tank, unless you are unlucky and something goes wrong.
Is it easy to install one?
- Again, for the majority of systems yes it is easy. With the improvements in design and technology, manufacturers have realised people don’t want to spend hours installing a system or paying for a professional to do it for them.
You will normally get clear, simple instructions to help you install the portable system, or remove it and place it elsewhere. If you have difficulty, many of them now come with additional support in the form of a customer service helpline or instructional videos.
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