Have you ever been anxious about running out of water? Have you ever left a perfect boondocking location to go out of your way because your fresh water holding tank was low? Have you ever chosen to remain in a busy campsite or RV park only because it had access to clean water? I did, and I was determined to find a permanent solution to this frustrating issue.
I reasoned that if EarthRoamer could do it, I could too—and I did.
I developed a five-stage water filtration system that can extract water from any natural water source and generate drinking-quality water using just solar energy.
Continue reading to see what I did to hopefully prevent making some of the same pitfalls while creating your own DIY system.
I discovered that water is the main constraint on how long I can stay off the grid when boondocking in a truck camper.
The big, 40 gallon fresh water tank in my Northstar Igloo was one of its characteristics that convinced me to buy it.
The cassette toilet tank’s independence from the fresh water holding tank was another feature I appreciated.
Although I have always been a neat freak, I like camping.
I like taking showers.
Even if you take a Navy shower, though, it will still use a lot of water.
I’m a water hog, I’ll admit that.
“Water, water, everywhere, and every board shrank;
There is water everywhere, yet there isn’t a drop to drink.The Ancient Mariner’s Rhyme, 1834
I drove around for a long time seeking for drinkable water.
I attended fire stations, campers, and even haggled with homeowners for iron-filled well water in exchange for sweets.
I have a water bandit with me, as well as a municipal T-wrench for spigots without handles.
I was surrounded by streams, reservoirs, and rivers the whole time.
To get to this water, there has to be a solution.
In any case, I used a tiny shower and a water filter to purify water from natural sources while bikepacking.
Oregon’s Deschutes River
Colorado River, Western Grand Canyon
I began to picture a fresh water storage tank for my camper that could be filled with water from any river, lake, or stream using a water filtering system.
Since I had a background in biology, I was aware of what needed to be eliminated.
Although I am familiar with plumbing and electrical systems, I was unaware of the pumps and water filters that were on the market.
I also understood that I had to choose between an AC pump and a DC pump.
Additionally, I knew about UV filters, but I wasn’t sure whether they were a wise decision.
On the RV Water Filter Store website, there is really a video and a materials list, but the website didn’t “filter out” their items to the extent I desired.
The company’s website was useful, but I still needed additional assistance.
David Brannam responded to my email from the RV Water Filter Store very away and enthusiastically.
David enjoyed the experimental part of my project, which has turned into a collaboration between him and I, rather than criticizing it.
He said that nobody had ever tried to do precisely what I was attempting to achieve.
David is very informed, helpful, and he enjoys difficulties.
I’ll provide an overview of what we ultimately decided and then, for those who are interested, go into the project’s potential difficulties.
This article’s component numbers are all equivalent to RV Water Filter Store item numbers.
My Water Filtering Device
The project’s triple canisters (#B2301), which are more compact than “large blue” home filters, serve as the filtration component.
I need a 1 micron washable sediment filter (#A1105), a Virus Hero 0.2 micron filter (#A1405), and a KDF/GAC granulated carbon filter (#A1206) in that sequence from the pump end to the outlet.
The sediment filter extends the life of my more costly bacteria/virus and carbon filters by removing dirt, silt, and bigger particles from the water.
It may be cleaned and used again.
The Virus Hero filter eliminates viruses as well as germs like Giardia.
A substance called Purogene, which is often used in the aircraft and boating industries, may be utilized to replace this filter.
A higher flow rate would result from this.
I did purchase some, but I preferred to avoid chemicals.
Finally, unlike carbon block filters, granulated carbon filters are resistant to clogging and eliminate hazardous compounds while also enhancing flavor.
An RV hose and a shorter pickup hose with a screen prefilter on one end are also necessary.
Anywhere will sell these hoses.
Which of the three filters should be placed closest to the water source? You may use a washable prefilter first, followed by granulated carbon and finally the virus, or vice versa.
I do it this way so that the virus filter is not blocked if any carbon leaks out.
The parts of my homemade water filtering system.
The high pressure RV pump from Aquajet (#D1002), a custom harness made from an extension cord’s female end with polarity marked, an on/off switch, a few fuses, fused battery clamps (similar to jumper cables), an extension cord’s male end (with polarity marked), and a good extension cord provide the system’s power and pumping.
By using longer hoses and extension cables, I can change the reach to the water in this fashion, although I often strive to keep the length around 50 feet.
The short, 6-foot pickup hose that connects the filters to the water supply is submerged in it.
On one end of the filter housing is a screen, and the pump also contains a Shurflo prescreen.
Between the filter housing and the pickup hose is where the pump is located.
The filter housing’s output is connected to an RV hose, which enters my camper’s water fill point.
I often tie the pickup hose to a long pole or connect a float to keep it off the bottom so I can regulate where it goes.
I use the sun to effectively pump clean water into my tank at a rate of roughly one gallon per minute since I have solar power.
The whole device disassembles and tucks beneath the driver’s seat in a plastic tote.
If you’re interested in learning more about the issues I ran into and the reasons behind some of the choices I took, continue reading.
Using my water filtering system.
Despite David’s assurances that the chemical Purogene is harmless, I was fairly determined about never utilizing chemicals in my body.
I decided to test a ceramic filter as a result.
David advised care due to the relatively low flow rate of these filters.
less than 5 gallons per minute.
Additionally, he advised me against using UV filters because of their vulnerability in an off-road setting.
For optimal operation, UV filters also need electricity and the right flow rate.
DC UV filters cost a lot of money.
First, for redundancy, I decided to use the same pump that I had in my camper.
I could just switch pumps and be ready to go if my camper’s water pump failed, right? Nope! The pump’s low pressure and the ceramic filter’s resistance rendered the system useless.
David suggested the American-made Aquajet pump, which has a much greater operating pressure, to address this issue.
The ceramic filter then started to fracture, and while I was checking it, it started to fall apart.
Naturally, I wouldn’t advise using a costly ceramic filter either.
I’m glad there is now a remedy since Virus Hero technology was not available then.
In comparison to ceramic filters, the Virus Hero filter has a higher flow rate, is lighter, and is noticeably less prone to breakage.
It is a 0.2 micron filter.
A Giardia cyst, in contrast, is roughly 1 micron in diameter.
Last but not least, I vacillated over the system’s power component.
I could have utilized an AC pump with an extension cable and my generator, but I was unable to locate a portable AC pump that was approved for use with drinking water.
Additionally, I considered situations in which I wouldn’t want to annoy people with generator noise.
It’s also amazing that I can power my system with the sun and the 12-volt batteries in my camper.
I’m aware that some people may criticize me for using an AC extension cord in my harness and even for using one to give DC power, but the cable is fused at every connection.
It works and nothing has become heated.
I suppose wire is wire.
It was a lot of fun to construct this homemade water filtering system.
I like the ability to stay dry when camping near a river, lake, or stream.
I’m not constrained by the amount of water in my tank and the water coming from my system is clean and safe to consume.
Yes, there were some setbacks along the way, and the whole project cost around $525, but I learned a lot, used my problem-solving abilities to find a solution, and came up with a really helpful system for my camper as a result.
I can’t express how grateful I am to David Brannam and the RV Water Filter Store for their cooperation on this project and for their excitement in supporting it.
My system is comparable to some extremely costly ones on the market, but I’m glad that I built it myself and worked out the issues for a lot less money.
Camping is fun!