There are many hurdles you will face while traveling the United States as an RVer, and one of the basics is being sure you have clean drinking water for you and your pets. In order to provide safe drinking water no matter where you go, we recommend using a water filter.
We have two water filters at TechnoRV: Berkey and Clearsource. They are the 2 top water filters for RVs, and both are carbon filter systems which is the most common water filtration method. Carbon systems filter water by having it go through a carbon filter with small micro-pores that trap impurities and other harmful substances. These micro-pores are so small that pathogenic bacteria are simply not able to pass through them.
Both the Berkey and Clearsource can remove 99%+ of all viruses, bacteria, pharmaceuticals, and more from your water using carbon filters, but they do it in different ways. The Berkey does it using gravity to pull the water through the filter, and the Clearsource uses water pressure to push it through the filter.
Micron filter ratings let you know the size of the openings in the filter. The larger the number, the more it allows through. As a point of reference, bacteria range from 0.2 to 2 microns in width/diameter and 1 to 10 microns in length. Viruses range from 0.004 to 0.1 microns. Insecticides can be 0.5 to 10 microns, and mold ranges from 10 to 30 microns.
A micron filter with a rating of 30 will not be able to filter any of these from the water; most will pass right through. Most filters that attach to a hose have micron ratings of 20+, so they are not reducing the bacteria and viruses in your water; they are simply removing larger particulates.
Berkey Water Filters
The Berkey® Water Filters are constructed of highly polished AISI 304 stainless steel and have a storage capacity starting at 1.5 gallons. They range in size all the way up to 6 gallons found in the Crown Berkey, but the 2 most popular for RVers are the Travel Berkey (1.5 gallons) and the Big Berkey (2.25 gallons).
The larger your Berkey is, the more filters it can handle. The Travel Berkey can handle a maximum of 2 Black Berkey® Purification Filters in the upper chamber, while the Big Berkey can handle up to 4 filters. The Black Berkey® Purification Filter formulation has been tested by State and EPA accredited laboratories to exceed NSF/ANSI Standard 53.
All Berkey Water Filter Systems include upper and lower stainless steel chambers, 2 Black Berkey® Purification Elements, 2 wingnuts, 2 washers, 1 priming button, stainless steel lid, spigot, and a rubber gasket to protect the base.
Travel Berkey $345
- Height: 18” when you remove the 1” handle on the top
- Diameter: 7.5"
- Weight: 6.13 lbs empty
- Flow Rate: 2.75 gallons per hour
- Maximum number of Filters: 2 Black Berkey Purification Elements
- Optional Filters: 2 Fluoride and Arsenic Filters
Big Berkey $545
- Height: 19.25” when you remove the 1” handle on the top
- Diameter: 8.5"
- Weight: 7 lbs empty
- Flow Rate with 2 Filters: 3.5 gallons per hour
- Flow Rate with 4 Filters: 7 gallons per hour
- Maximum Number of Filters: 4 Black Berkey Purification Elements
- Optional Filters: 2-4 Fluoride and Arsenic Filters
What does the Berkey Water Filter remove?
In addition to providing delicious water wherever you travel, the Berkey Water Filters also eliminate bacteria, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, viruses, and more from your water.
The Berkey Water Filter removes 99.9% to 99.9999 % of the following contaminants:
- Pathogenic Bacteria such as E. Coli, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and more
- Heavy Metals
- Pharmaceuticals such as Acetaminophen, Caffeine, Ibuprofen, Naproxen Sodium, Progesterone, and more
- Petroleum Contaminants such as Gasoline, Diesel, Crude Oil, and Kerosene
- Fluoride (with the use of additional fluoride filters)
This is just a small portion of what the Berkey removes from water; we can’t even pronounce most contaminants on the list! Now, if you are like us, we never even considered what was in our water before we began using a Berkey filter. Unless it smelled or tasted bad, we were fine with the quality.
We never considered fluoride as a problem; it’s in toothpaste, right? How bad could it be? (Now we understand why there is a fluoride warning on toothpaste.) The mere fact researchers report the ability to filter these contaminants tells us they could be present in our water to begin with – how scary is that? For this reason, Berkey does offer Fluoride and Arsenic Reduction Filters that fit in any Berkey Water Filter.
How long do Berkey Filters last?
One pair of the Black Berkey charcoal filters can filter over 6,000 gallons of water without needing to be replaced. That is almost 8 years of filtering if you drink 2 gallons per day! Each Berkey comes with a pair of Black Berkey filters, and once your original filters are expired, a pair of replacement filters are available for $179.
The Fluoride and Arsenic Reduction Filters are optional, and they need to be replaced every 6 months.
Clearsource Water Filter System
The Clearsource Water Filter is a whole-RV water filter and hooks up in-line between the campsite water hose and your RV's water inlet. The system filters all of the water coming into your RV giving you and your family safe, clean water in every part of your RV.
Using a 90-degree Hose Grip with the Clearsource not only helps with connecting it, but it also eliminates the strain placed on a hose when using the Clearsource.
There are 2 models of Clearsource Water Filter Systems to choose from and they offer different levels of filtration.
This two-stage filter system offers a 0.2-micron protection against contaminants. Simply put, tighter filter pores trap more contaminants. Paired with the first stage coconut shell carbon block filter, the Clearsource Premier™ also improves taste and smell, and removes or reduces sediment, chlorine, chloramines, volatile organic compounds, and other contaminants.
Clearsource builds these systems with a rugged, industry-exclusive powder-coated metal chassis for easy setup between your water source and the freshwater connection on your rig. Clearsource uses only stainless steel fittings for durable, sanitary plumbing.
Clearsource Premier Specifications
- Width: 15 Inches
- Height: 15.25 Inches
- Depth: 7.5 Inches
- Weight: 24 Pounds
- Flow Rate: 6 - 6.5 Gallons per Minute
The Clearsource Ultra ™ system with Clearsource-exclusive VirusGuard ™ filters uses NASA-developed technology to remove or reduce bacteria, cysts, and viruses.
When your water leaves the Clearsource Ultra™ water filter system, it has been filtered three separate times. The 5-micron first-stage filter removes or reduces rust and sediment. The 0.5-micron second-stage coconut shell carbon block filter improves taste and smell and removes or reduces chlorine, volatile organic compounds, and other contaminants. Finally, the third stage VirusGuard™ filter provides even better protection than advanced survival filters, with the certified capability to remove or reduce bacteria like e. coli, cysts like Giardia, and viruses.
ClearSource Ultra Specifications
- Width: 18.75 Inches
- Height: 15.25 Inches
- Depth: 7.5 Inches
- Weight: 28 Pounds
- Flow Rate: 4.5 Gallons per Minute
How long do Clearsource Filters last?
The Clearsource filter cartridges are rated to process 2,000 gallons of water. For the occasional camper, annual replacement is fine. For the frequent weekender, we recommend replacing the cartridges twice each year. For the full timer, every two to three months. A set of Clearsource Filter Cartridges range in price from $59.99-$69.99 depending on the system you have.
Which Water Filter System is Best?
This is a hard question to answer because both the Berkey Water Filter and the Clearsource Water Filters do an incredible job removing dangerous chemicals, viruses and more from your water. Ask yourself the following question when determining which is best for you:
Do you want to filter all of the water coming into your RV?
If you want all of the water coming into your RV filtered, then the Clearsource Water Filter System is the right choice for you. The Berkey only filters the water you place in it.
Do you want to be able to use your filter when you aren’t connected to water or while boondocking?
If you want to be able to use your water filter when boondocking, the Berkey Water Filter is the best choice for you since the Clearsource must be connected to a water source in order for it to filter the water. You can always take your RV to a water source, use the Clearsource to refill your tank, but with the Berkey, you do not have to take your RV to have filtered water for drinking. You simply bring the water to you and run it through the Berkey.
You can use a Berkey outside and put any water, either from a water bladder or jug into the Berkey, and you will have filtered water available. It can even filter pond or river water, although we don't recommend doing this unless it is an emergency. The Red Cross uses these systems in area without safe drinking water, and Berkey even designs much larger units for entire villages to use in remote areas.
When we spent the summer in Colorado in a cargo trailer, we brought large 5-gallon jugs of water with us, and everything was filtered through the Berkey which sat outside the trailer. Having clean water while we were “roughing it” made the trip much easier and more enjoyable.
Do you want to be able to use your water filter when you are in your home?
If you want to use your water filter outside of your RV, the Berkey Water Filter is the best choice for you. You can take your Berkey anywhere since it is gravity fed and doesn’t need to be connected to anything to work.
Do you want to save money and still have clean water to drink?
The Berkey is the most economical choice since it not only has a lower cost for the system, but it also doesn’t require you to change filters several times a year like the Clearsource does.
Which system do we use?
We use the countertop Travel Berkey when we are RVing, in a vacation home, boondocking, and even in our home. We use the filtered water for all cooking, drinking, and pet water.
We figured if we spent only $10 per week in bottled water, we would pay for the Berkey in less than 6 months. Since the filters last for 6,000 gallons, we didn’t have to replace ours until we had been using it nonstop for 7 years!
When we compared this to the Clearsource Water Filter, we would have spent an additional $2,500 replacing filters during the 7 years we had the Berkey. The Clearsource is the best option if you want all of the water coming into your RV filtered, but if you are only looking to filter the water you drink, the Berkey is best option.
Berkey water is the cleanest, best tasting water we’ve ever had, and we don’t drink anything else. We each have a reusable water bottle, and we keep a container of cold Berkey water in the refrigerator.
We like the portability of our Berkey and knowing it is inside the RV instead of out by the water connection.
In addition to its portability, we like that it can be used when you don’t have water connected to the RV. We have been in situations where we are not connected to water and use whatever free water source we can find (think random spigots) for the Berkey while saving the water in the tank for showers, etc.
The Berkey is by far one of our favorite things in the RV, and one we would not live without. We know of an RVer that downsized from a Class A to a van, and even when their space was at a premium, their Berkey made the cut. Once you’ve owned one, no other water will do.
Whether you choose the Berkey or the Clearsource Water Filter, you will have consistent, safe, and delicious water wherever you go, which is one less thing to worry about when choosing where you plan to camp.