Top Rated RV Water Softeners in the Market (Updated 2021)

What Is “Hard Water” and Why You Should Care

Hardness is a property of water that is not a health concern, but it can be a nuisance, especially in campers and RVs. Hard water causes mineral buildups in plumbing, pumps, water heaters, and even faucets.

Water hardness is caused by dissolved minerals, especially carbonates such as calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate.

Hard water is prevalent across much of the east-central and western United States. As hard water circulates through the various parts of your camper’s pluming system, these carbonates can settle out of solution and eventually damage pumps, pipes, faucets, and hot water heaters.

Source: USGS (An example of extreme buildup of mineral deposits inside a section of pipe.)

Checking/Testing Water Hardness

One quick test is to fill a clear glass bottle about one-third full water, add several drops of a pure liquid soap, close the bottle, and shake it vigorously for several seconds. If the water has a high mineral content (is hard) there will be few or no suds or bubbles in the container.

Better yet, there are many test kits available to help determine water hardness. Search for “water hardness test kits” online or look for test kits in camping, plumbing, hardware, and major department stores. Test kits cost $5 to $10.

These test kits show hardness in “grains per gallon” or milligrams per liter (mg/L). Water is considered “hard” if test results are 7 or more grains per gallon or 120 mg/L.

Water softeners will help extend the life of water system components and make water taste better.

Water Softeners

A water softener eliminates minerals, prolonging the life of the camper’s water system components.

A water softener can be a practical investment not only for your personal water quality, but for the longevity of your camper’s water system.

Types of Water Softeners

There are three common types of water softeners—magnetic-based water softeners, salt-based water softeners, and salt-free water softeners—each with its own set of advantages.

Magnetic-Based Water Softeners

Magnetic-based water softeners use a magnetic field to eliminate most calcium, magnesium, and other ions from the water as it enters your camper’s system.

While not all minerals are eliminated, magnetic-based softeners are smaller and less expensive that other types of softeners.

Salt-Based Water Softeners

Salt-based units are the most effective water softener. They capture and replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions, preventing damage to your camper’s plumbing.

These systems tend to be larger and heavier, hence more of a challenge to move around and to hook up. They also must be regenerated periodically, to eliminate the collected calcium and magnesium ions.

Salt-Free Water Softeners

Salt-free softeners work very much like salt-based softeners but use potassium-chloride salt—a substitute salt that functions in the same way, capturing and replacing the undesirable calcium and magnesium ions. In the process the calcium and magnesium ions are changed to a crystalline form that will not affect plumbing.

The result is conditioned and softened water that is safe for camper, but you will remain exposed to them. These are not harmful in any way, and do not flavor the water, so are essentially harmless. Still, some users do not like the fact they are still exposed to these minerals.

Used Units

It is often possible to buy a preowned unit, either from the previous owner or a dealer (even online). The nature of water softener units is that they are sturdy long-lived devices if the connections are not overly worn or damaged. A preowned unit in good condition can be expected to function as well as a new unit provided it has been, or can be, regenerated.

Best RV Water Softener Reviews

The following are descriptions and reviews of several highly rated RV water softeners. These units are rank against each other, and the fact that they are included in the list indicates we feel any one of the water softeners should provide satisfactory service, providing quality water for personal use and protecting the plumbing in your camper.

Note, no electrical connections or special tools are needed to install and operate any of the salt-based water softeners.

Buying Recommendations

On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT-Portable 16,000 Grain RV Water Softener
Mobile-Soft-Water Portable 16,000 Grain (tm) Unit with Tank, Tank Head, Lead Free NSF 61 Male GHC Tank Connections, Distributor, Resin and Instructions. Used in Rv & Car Wash Applications.
Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 10000 Grains Portable Water Softener
Manufacturer
On The Go
HydroTec Systems Company, Inc
Watts Water Technologies
Manufacturer Part No.
OTG4-DBLSOFT
MSW0918-M-16S-C
M7002
Grain Capacity
16,000
16,000
10,000
Type
Salt
Salt
Salt
Regeneration Time
30 minutes
30-45 minutes
30-45 minutes
Volume Softened
1600 gal
1600 gal
1000 gal
Weight
32 lb.
33 lb.
9 lb.
Customer Reviews
4.7/5
4.6/5
4.6/5
Price From
$260 – $280 New; $192 Used.
$208 New
$197 New
Best On the Go
On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT-Portable 16,000 Grain RV Water Softener
Manufacturer
On The Go
Manufacturer Part No.
OTG4-DBLSOFT
Grain Capacity
16,000
Type
Salt
Regeneration Time
30 minutes
Volume Softened
1600 gal
Weight
32 lb.
Customer Reviews
4.7/5
Price From
$260 – $280 New; $192 Used.
Best Mobile
Mobile-Soft-Water Portable 16,000 Grain (tm) Unit with Tank, Tank Head, Lead Free NSF 61 Male GHC Tank Connections, Distributor, Resin and Instructions. Used in Rv & Car Wash Applications.
Manufacturer
HydroTec Systems Company, Inc
Manufacturer Part No.
MSW0918-M-16S-C
Grain Capacity
16,000
Type
Salt
Regeneration Time
30-45 minutes
Volume Softened
1600 gal
Weight
33 lb.
Customer Reviews
4.6/5
Price From
$208 New
Best Price
Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 10000 Grains Portable Water Softener
Manufacturer
Watts Water Technologies
Manufacturer Part No.
M7002
Grain Capacity
10,000
Type
Salt
Regeneration Time
30-45 minutes
Volume Softened
1000 gal
Weight
9 lb.
Customer Reviews
4.6/5
Price From
$197 New

Best RV Water Pumps

1. On the Go OTG4-DBLSOFT-Portable 16,000 Grain RV Water Softener – Editor’s Pick

On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT-Portable 16,000 Grain RV Water Softener
On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT-Portable 16,000 Grain RV Water Softener
Specs
Manufacturer: On The Go
Manufacturer Part No.: OTG4-DBLSOFT
Grain Capacity: 16,000
Type: Salt
Regeneration Time: 30 minutes
Volume Softened: 1600 gal
Weight: 32 lb.
Customer Reviews: 4.7/5
Price From: $260 – $280 New; $192 Used.
The Double Soft delivers twice the volume of softened water compared to similar models. Designed for marine and RV applications, this unit uses two boxes of common table salt for regeneration and the regeneration time is about 30 minutes.
The unit will deliver up to 1600 gallons of soft water.
Unique features include easy to carry handle on top, large opening for easy salt addition, and quick and simple regeneration. It uses standard hose connection between water supply faucet and the RV.
The 22-in high x 9.50 in. diameter unit will fit in most storage lockers.
The softened water has an improved taste while preventing scale build-up in pumps, water heaters, faucets, and supply lines. There is little pressure drop between the inlet and outlet.
The unit includes a four-ft. long white connector hose, a back-flush adapter, hardness test strips, and a solid base.

In summary, it is a top-ranked unit that typically out-performs most other systems available on the market.

On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT-Portable 16,000 Grain RV Water Softener
  • The Double Standard Softener & Conditioner produces twice the gallons compared to the standard model and is the largest compact RV softener on the market.
  • Built for the owner of any RV/Marine model, this 16,000 grain unit is a perfect fit and supplies approx. 40% more soft water than any other unit on the market. It simply regenerates with 2 boxes of common table salt in less than 30 minutes and provides the owner with soft water up to 1600 gallons or up to 40 days.
  • Its compact, space-saver design allows it to be installed in the tightest places. It will allow high flow rates with very low pressure drop.

2. Mobile Soft Water Portable 16,000 Grain Unit

Mobile-Soft-Water Portable 16,000 Grain (tm) Unit with Tank, Tank Head, Lead Free NSF 61 Male GHC Tank Connections, Distributor, Resin and Instructions. Used in Rv & Car Wash Applications.
Mobile-Soft-Water Portable 16,000 Grain (tm) Unit with Tank, Tank Head, Lead Free NSF 61 Male GHC Tank Connections, Distributor, Resin and Instructions. Used in Rv & Car Wash Applications.
Specs
Manufacturer: HydroTec Systems Company, Inc
Manufacturer Part No.: MSW0918-M-16S-C
Grain Capacity: 16,000
Type: Salt
Regeneration Time: 30-45 minutes
Volume Softened: 1600 gal
Weight: 33 lb.
Customer Reviews: 4.6/5
Price From: $208 New
The Mobile Soft Water is another portable water softener that offers the capacity to treat up to 1600 gallons of water before regeneration.
It removes calcium, magnesium, iron, lead, radium, and other heavy metals found in well water. It can be regenerated without electricity, is easy to use, and is easy to regenerate.
This 16,000-gallon unit is 9 inches in diameter by 18-inches and has 3/4-in. garden hose connectors. Connectors are (lead-free) Nylon male hose connections
This unit can treat up to 5 gallons per minute of softened water per minute.
The unit is shipped with a User Installation and Operations Manual. According to the manufacturer, “Our manual Mobile-Soft-Water units are regenerated by pouring table salt into the tank through a port in the tank head. We provide complete instructions on how to install the unit, regenerate the unit, prepare and store the softener for winter and when applicable change media.”

In our group of water softeners, this one ranks high in value and utility.

3. Watts Water RV-Pro 10,000 Grain Water Softener

Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 10000 Grains Portable Water Softener
Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 10000 Grains Portable Water Softener
Specs
Manufacturer: Watts Water Technologies
Manufacturer Part No.: M7002
Grain Capacity: 10,000
Type: Salt
Regeneration Time: 30-45 minutes
Volume Softened: 1000 gal
Weight: 9 lb.
Customer Reviews: 4.6/5
Price From: $197 New
The Watts Water RV-Pro 10,000 Grain Water Softener is lighter, is smaller, and therefore has slightly less capacity than the previous two softener units. It does provide perfectly satisfactory service.
The smaller size and lighter weight also mean that handling and installation is significantly easier than heavier models. The smaller size does mean more frequent regeneration, although several user reviews suggest that two people camping full-time find that it provides satisfactory service for up to 30 days.
This would be an ideal unit for smaller campers, boats, or even cabin.
One unusual feature allows the unit to be regenerated without having to be disconnected, further adding to the convenience and utility of the RV-Pro 1000.
Regeneration requires only two pounds of ordinary table salt.
This softener is supported on a solid based and is packaged with complete installation and regeneration instructions.
Based on its size, weight, ease of use, and ease of regeneration, this would make an economic water softener for campers in the under-18 feet long range.

Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 10000 Grains Portable Water Softener
  • Built-in drain line flow restrictor provides a more effective regeneration increasing the capacity by up to 55%
  • Custom designed flow valves allow regeneration without having to connect/disconnect the system
  • Full cradle base keeps tank more secure than cometing open base tanks. Hardness strips included

4. SoftPro Water Systems 16,000 Portable RV Water Softener

Portable RV Water Softener (16,000 Grains)
Portable RV Water Softener (16,000 Grains)
Specs
Manufacturer: SoftPro Water Systems
Manufacturer Part No.: 16,000 Portable Water Softener
Grain Capacity: 10,000
Type: Salt
Regeneration Time: 2 hours
Volume Softened: 2000 gal
Weight: 40 lb.
Customer Reviews: 4.4/5
Price From: $218 New
The Watts Water RV-Pro 10,000 Grain Water Softener is lighter, is smaller, and therefore has slightly less capacity than the previous two softener units. It does provide perfectly satisfactory service.
The smaller size and lighter weight also mean that handling and installation is significantly easier than heavier models. The smaller size does mean more frequent regeneration, although several user reviews suggest that two people camping full-time find that it provides satisfactory service for up to 30 days.
This would be an ideal unit for smaller campers, boats, or even cabin.
One unusual feature allows the unit to be regenerated without having to be disconnected, further adding to the convenience and utility of the RV-Pro 1000.
Regeneration requires only two pounds of ordinary table salt.
This softener is supported on a solid based and is packaged with complete installation and regeneration instructions.
Based on its size, weight, ease of use, and ease of regeneration, this would make an economic water softener for campers in the under-18 feet long range.

Portable RV Water Softener (16,000 Grains)
  • PROTECT The Plumbing AND Fixtures Throughout Your RV!
  • SOFT WATER WHEREVER YOU GO! - Hook It Up Wherever you stop!
  • EASY INSTALLATION! - We Know That Getting Your RV Set Up Can Take Some Time So We've Made Sure That This Portable Water Softener For RVs Is Quick And Easy To Set Up!

5. On The Go OTG3NTP1DS Double STD Water Softener

On The Go OTG3NTP1DS Double STD Water Softener
On The Go OTG3NTP1DS Double STD Water Softener
Specs
Manufacturer: On The Go
Manufacturer Part No.: OTG3NTP1DS
Grain Capacity: 8,000/16,000
Type: Salt
Regeneration Time: 2 hours
Volume Softened: 2000 gal
Weight: 32 lb.
Customer Reviews: 4.4/5
Price From: $270 New

Our second On The Go product, the OTG3NTP1DS Double Std Water Softener is a durable, compact, easy-to-use and store unit that delivers peak performance.

Described as a “Portable Double STD Water Softener,” this unit is compact and, of course, provides all the benefits of softer water including improved taste and odor-free water. Advantages include an inlet flow control, carry handle, large mouth opening (for ease of regeneration), and a cap and plug for storage.

It is easy to install and backed by excellent customer service from On The Go.

On The Go OTG3NTP1DS Double STD Water Softener
  • Country of origin : United States
  • Package Dimensions : 24" L x 10" W x 10" H
  • Package weight : 32 pounds

6. On The Go Park Model Portable RV Water Softener & Conditioner

On The Go Park Model Portable RV Water Softener & Conditioner
On The Go Park Model Portable RV Water Softener & Conditioner
Specs
Manufacturer: On The Go
Manufacturer Part No.: OTG4-PSOFT
Grain Capacity: 32,800
Type: Salt
Regeneration Time: 2 hours
Volume Softened: 3200 gal
Weight: 50 lb
Customer Reviews: 4.6/5
Price From: $375 New

Our final On The Go product, this unit is not for everyone, but if you have a mobile home, or a camper set up for semi-permanent/long-term use, this is an excellent option for solving hard water problems.
Operating on the same principle as other On The Go products, the increased capacity of this unit is especially suited for long-term use.

Its 32,000-grain capacity out-performs other models in this list, delivering up to 3200 gallons of soft water before regeneration is required.
This unit will support the demands of full-time living, including laundry services.
The On The Go park model includes a handle, inlet and outlet hose adapters, a back-flush adapter, and a high pressure 4-ft. white drinking water hose. It is supported by a full cradle base. And, like its smaller sister models, it uses table salt for regeneration.

This is a practical water softener where greater demand is required or practical.

On The Go Park Model Portable RV Water Softener & Conditioner
  • 28,800 Grain
  • Regenerates with 4 boxes of common table salt and provides 1280-3200 gallons of soft water
  • Requires NO tools or electricity.

7. PRO+Aqua Premium Grade 16,000 Grain Portable RV Water Softener

ABCwaters Built Portable Water Softener with Handle 16,000 Grain Capacity, Perfect for Your Mobile Home, Park Model, Tiny Home, Pressure Washing, Car Washing, RV, Boat or Yacht
ABCwaters Built Portable Water Softener with Handle 16,000 Grain Capacity, Perfect for Your Mobile Home, Park Model, Tiny Home, Pressure Washing, Car Washing, RV, Boat or Yacht
Specs
Manufacturer: Pro+Aqua
Manufacturer Part No.: FBA-WS-P-16
Grain Capacity: 16,000
Type: Salt
Regeneration Time: 30 minutes
Volume Softened: 2000 gal
Weight: 35 lb.
Customer Reviews: 4.6/5
Price From: $246 New

Pro Aqua claims that this unit will deliver 40 days of treated soft water based on average use. Combined with a 30-minute regeneration time using two boxes of table salt, this promises to be a particularly practical unit. Set up time for initial use is on the order of five minutes.
This unit is supposed to not only reduce calcium and magnesium, but also iron, lead, radium, and other heavy metals.

Based on data provided, this unit compares very favorably with other 16,000 grain capacity models. It has a broad 10-in. base and stands less than 20 inches tall.
Designed for a long useful life the inner shell is made of high-grade Polyethylene, reinforced with a durable fiberglass wrap. Connections are 3/4″ high flow standard garden hose ports. It come fully assembled and ready to install and use.

ABCwaters Built Portable Water Softener with Handle 16,000 Grain Capacity, Perfect for Your Mobile Home, Park Model, Tiny Home, Pressure Washing, Car Washing, RV, Boat or Yacht
  • [PERFECT FOR RVs] We have created the ideal RV water softener unit. Eliminates your hard water while on the road. Also great for car washing & boats too.
  • [REGENERATES IN MINUTES] Very easy to regenerate and can be done in minutes. Just use table salt or rock salt. We provide easy to read instructions written by ABCwaters.
  • [2000 GALLONS] Enjoy up to 2000 gallons of softened water between regenerations. Customers agree this has to be one of the most efficient units on the market today.

8. Magnetic Water Treatment, Double Power Duplex

Magnetic Water Softener Double Power Duplex - No Salt Water Softener - Magnet Water Treatment
Magnetic Water Softener Double Power Duplex - No Salt Water Softener - Magnet Water Treatment
Specs
Manufacturer: Magnetic Water Technology
Manufacturer Part No.: D-10888
Grain Capacity: Not applicable
Type: Magnetic
Regeneration Time: Not Applicable
Volume Softened: No Limit
Weight: 12 Oz.
Customer Reviews: 3.8/5
Price From: $40 New

Reportedly, this is the best-selling model magnetic water softener line in the world. The Duplex version of the Standard model is “incredibly strong.” This unit uses extra heavy ultra-powerful Neodymium magnets—the latest in water conditioning and softening technology.
The unit is environmentally friendly, non-electrical, and non-chemical. This is a heavy dual magnet quality water softener.

The rating of the magnetic force is critical and there are none close to this for this price. Installation is simple: place the unit around the pipe, use the included nylon/Velcro® strap included to fasten it. It will fit any size water inlet pipe made of copper, iron, or pvc/abs.
The unit never needs replacing, servicing, or maintenance. Approximately 3-1/2″ in long, the conditioner is simply strapped to your main water inlet without tools.

The Double Power Duplex is solid steel (no plastic) with superior potency magnets. They create a magnetic field within the inlet pipe that performs the conditioning function. This system uses basic physics to change the molecular structure status of mineral ions. The mineral deposits remain suspended in the water while it flows, causing them not to stick to dishes, skin, fixtures, pipe walls. Those go completely through the plumbing system and out the drain instead of being deposited in or on your fixtures, pipes, dishes, and your skin.
Benefits include: (1) the latest magnetic no-salt technology for water treatment; (2) installs without tools; (3) reduces minerals, calcium, lime scale in water causing hard water spots, (4) relatively inexpensive.
May be desirable for those who want to totally avoid salt or to deal with regeneration.

Magnetic Water Softener Double Power Duplex - No Salt Water Softener - Magnet Water Treatment
  • The very latest magnetic no salt technology for water treatment.
  • Extra heavy Ultra-Powerful Neodymium Magnets more power for $41 than any competitor.
  • Installs Without Tools-Anyone can install. No plumber needed. No plumbing modifications.

RV Water Softener FAQs

  1. Does an RV water softener go through a lot of salt?

If you chose a salt-based RV water softener, the answer is yes. For example, the On The Go RV water softener regeneration example above says you must use two full 26 oz. boxes of iodized salt.

Salt use may vary from product to product, but this amount should provide you with an estimate of what you can expect to use. Based on our estimate of typical water use for two people, most salt-based softeners will need to be regenerated between every two weeks to once a month.

  1. Is it possible to use potassium instead of salt?

Yes, potassium-chloride salt is often used as a salt substitute, and it is entirely safe for use in your RV water softener. It is seen as a fantastic alternative for people who have a salt-free diet or issues with high blood pressure.

But there are a couple of drawbacks. First, it is more expensive than regular salt, which might be an issue for some people on a budget.

Secondly, potassium-chloride tends to melt when wet, which can create a bridge inside the salt tank. This bridge formation can cause some issues, and it is why most experts recommend only filling the brine tank at halfway when using this salt alternative.

  1. Do water softeners require maintenance?

Most require some simple maintenance, especially when they are going to be stored for an extended period or when they are fist taken from storage and put back into service.

Each manufacturer provides care and maintenance procedures for their softeners. Keep these instructions with your camper information or other file that will be readily available when needed.

Conclusion

With all this information, you should be well on your way to buying the best RV water softener available for you. Once you do find this perfect product, you will never have to worry about hard water causing any issues.

Last update on 2021-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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