Part 2, Building a system
(Check out Part 1 if you haven’t already.)
As we delve into certifications and microns and sediment and flavor and odor, we start to get into a confusing space. I started asking this same question, which led to all the research that formed the basis of this post. It is crazy complicated and there are a lot of options, but you can get pretty safe water for most circumstances with a three-level system.
One of the more confusing elements to the micron level a filter operates at is the notion of nominal and absolute. Absolute is the best possible filtration level you could ever expect, under perfect circumstances, under the first full moon after the first…well…you get the idea. Nominalis the filtration level you can expect on average. One of our filters had an absolute rating of 10 microns, but a nominal of 20. That’s a significant difference and you’ll want to be aware of what your filter choices are rated. Manufactures love to tout the smallest micron value possible, so you may have to read or research to assure your level of desired coverage is actually what you’re getting.
Our current system has all three of the filters I’m about to describe. I do feel that the order I have them in (due to where the purification filter was pre-installed) is not optimal. I’ll explain why in a moment.
NOTE: I’m not representing these companies or their products in any fashion, these are just what I chose at the time to
Our system has a sediment and carbon filter in a two-canister system right at the water source. This means that all water from outside goes through those filters and that also includes when filling our fresh water tank for long term storage or boondocking needs. So, let’s go through our filters and I’ll give you some stats.
Filters for sediment are the most easily found, even at a Home Depot or a Lowe’s. The ones we use are NSF/ANSI 42 filters that also act as our first line sediment filter. It is also rated to 10 microns, nominal.
Our final, filter is rated at both NSF/ANSI 42 and NSF/ANSI 53. We gain the additional health effect coverage, but this filter is only installed in our system at the drinking water spigot. So, naturally, all our drinking water comes from that spigot. This filter is where we get pathogen filtration, as this filter is a 0.5-micron filter.
Now, the order of the filter in the water path is important. We have the sediment filter first, because, we don’t want sediment gumming up the more expensive carbon filter. And, we want the 0.5-micron filter last so that the greatest number of particulates is already filtered before it gets to the last leg.
Other systems of filtration and purification
To be sure, there are some other systems out there, some quite popular in the nomad community. Also, there are additions to your filtration system that can affect other contaminants.
Berkey – this seems to be VERY popular with a lot of RV’ers. It is a countertop system that uses a proprietary filter set that is certified to NSF/ANSI 53. Everyone I’ve watched talk about their Berkey is a firm believer in the product.
Whole house UV systems – these all run in the same vein as the Acuva Eco UV system. They add that additional level of security in knowing that anything living that made it past your last filter is killed before it gets to you.
Reverse osmosis systems – equally as good as the UV systems, they do a fabulous job of filtration and purification.
- Water softener filters – remove those pesky minerals from your water.
- Additional sediment filters – I’ve seen systems that have 2 sediment filters prior to the carbon filter.
- Specialty filters – plenty of specialty filters out there to handle very specific circumstances.
Rating our system
Our system has a shortfall with the location in the chain of the 0.5-micron filter. That means, if we are hooking up to a questionable source of water, we must be sure to only use the most filtered water for anything that might enter our bodies (brushing our teeth, rinsing our eyes, showering, etc.). As part of my research on this topic, it really is pushing me to design a more expansive system.
In general, though, we have pretty good filtration for our standard nomad approach: RV parks.
Wrapping it up
Getting more filtration/purification means bigger canisters, more of them and the third type of filter added being of a different material: ceramic. A great example of a ceramic filter is a system called the “South of the Border” system put out by the RV Water Filter Store. This system is 0.5 microns absolute system and designed to be used in really bad water quality areas like south of the border. It is in my purchase queue.
The road to clean water is a big one and it can be quite confusing at first glance, so digging in and learning just a bit more can save you hundreds of dollars in equipment (or, conversely, make you spend a lot more) and make sure you are healthy in your particular RV scenario.
I hope this helps those who are curious or new.