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Old 05-02-2016, 11:34 AM   #1
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Fresh Water Supply Considerations

Howdy All --- I just wanted to share some thoughts and open a discussion on this topic.

I've owned or leased any number of RV's over the years, most of which came with the fresh water system already on board. For my '46 Shorty, I am building it from scratch and hope to apply what I've learned and whatever you folks might want to contribute. My biggest peeves with all the built in systems was that the typical polyethylene (white translucent plastic) tanks...A.) make the water taste funky and "plasitcy"...and B.)...are prone to mold & algae growth...and C.) rarely if ever have any baffling.

This time, I plan on using interior mounted ABS (a black plastic) tanks as they impart no unwanted flavor to the water, are baffled and are algae & mold resistant. The only ones that seem to be on the market unless you spend big bucks to have one custom made are from Valterra and are limited to certain dimensions. They are all 8" x 16" x whatever length which can make for limited applications. In my case, I will be using three 12 gallon tanks conjoined to yield a 36 gallon system. Plenty for my solo use.

ABS Water Tanks Archives - Valterra.com | Valterra.com

The ABS is also much easier to work with in that you can use ABS cement to install hose connections and such where the polyethylene can only be "spin welded" and the joints are commonly prone to leaking if not professionally installed.

I have my "City Water" and "Gravity Fill" inlets which will both have inline filters and will back them up with another pre-pump filter. There are a host of other fancier filters, but I believe I can get by with these since the majority of my drinking water will very likely be bottled and hope to only occasionally rely on local city water for that purpose since it varies so greatly around the country in terms of quality.

Mind you, this will be a very simple system consisting of a single kitchen sink, a hand-held shower and one outdoor connection (very handy for cleaning off muddy boots or whatever else you don't want to drag inside). The internal & any external plumbing will all be PEX lines which also does not impart taste and has a good measure of freeze resistance. I am still shopping water heaters but leaning towards a tankless unit since they conserve a great deal of propane. I am even thinking about having a second, electric water heater for the occasions when I might have the necessary 110v hook up such as you find at RV parks and some campgrounds. That would free up extra propane for cooking (I still prefer fire for that..it's a primal thing).

I welcome any ideas, thoughts or plans you all might have regarding this very basic need.
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Old 05-02-2016, 11:47 AM   #2
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You are going with just a 36 gallon tank? I too will be on board most of the time alone and do not see me being away from civilization more than 2 or 3 days at a time. From everything I have read I was feeling like I had to have a 100 gallon tank?!? Cost of shipping is at least as much as the cost of the tank!!
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Old 05-02-2016, 12:48 PM   #3
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As I understood it, the trouble with algae growth in white polyethylene tanks arises only because they're translucent and light can pass through which supports photosynthesis inside the tank. The algae don't feed on the plastic itself. If one were to install a poly tank in such a way that it's shielded from all light, perhaps by insulating the tank with something opaque, I believe I've read it would be equal to the ABS in terms of algae avoidance.

I don't know about the taste effects of poly tanks. Remember that PEX is polyethylene too (albeit cross-linked) and many bottled drinks are packed in HDPE or LDPE bottles, too. Maybe the taste problem arises from inadequate sterilization of the water system? Even if it's filled with chlorinated city water, the chlorine will off-gas fairly soon so un-tasty things might be better able to grow in the tank and plumbing?

The point about DIY solvent welding ABS vs spin-welding (heat fusion) of the poly is a good one.

I'm thinking of having only a pressurized city water inlet (no gravity fill). It would go through a filter and then to the facilities. A valve bypass around the water pump would allow city water to fill the tank. The tank needs a vent anyway for pumping the water out, but probably the vent will have to be enlarged a little to avoid pressurizing it while filling. I'll know the tank is full when water starts flowing out the vent.
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Old 05-02-2016, 12:52 PM   #4
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My plan is use the water tank for cleaning & showering but purchuse 2gal water bottles for drinking.
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Old 05-02-2016, 02:04 PM   #5
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While I much prefer a City Water (pressurized hose) connection where available, I cannot count the number of places I have stayed where the hose end was so battered it would not attach and/or leaked a substantial sized pond next to my rig in very short order. The gravity fill at least provides a back-up plan for getting fresh water into the system.
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Old 05-02-2016, 02:44 PM   #6
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Right you are! I forgot to mention I'm hoping the Camco "Water Bandit" product will be as good as advertised for that sort of situation. I have one already, but haven't had to test it yet.
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Old 05-02-2016, 03:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Howdy All --- I just wanted to share some thoughts and open a discussion on this topic.

I've owned or leased any number of RV's over the years, most of which came with the fresh water system already on board. For my '46 Shorty, I am building it from scratch and hope to apply what I've learned and whatever you folks might want to contribute. My biggest peeves with all the built in systems was that the typical polyethylene (white translucent plastic) tanks...A.) make the water taste funky and "plasitcy"...and B.)...are prone to mold & algae growth...and C.) rarely if ever have any baffling.

This time, I plan on using interior mounted ABS (a black plastic) tanks as they impart no unwanted flavor to the water, are baffled and are algae & mold resistant. The only ones that seem to be on the market unless you spend big bucks to have one custom made are from Valterra and are limited to certain dimensions. They are all 8" x 16" x whatever length which can make for limited applications. In my case, I will be using three 12 gallon tanks conjoined to yield a 36 gallon system. Plenty for my solo use.

ABS Water Tanks Archives - Valterra.com | Valterra.com

The ABS is also much easier to work with in that you can use ABS cement to install hose connections and such where the polyethylene can only be "spin welded" and the joints are commonly prone to leaking if not professionally installed.

I have my "City Water" and "Gravity Fill" inlets which will both have inline filters and will back them up with another pre-pump filter. There are a host of other fancier filters, but I believe I can get by with these since the majority of my drinking water will very likely be bottled and hope to only occasionally rely on local city water for that purpose since it varies so greatly around the country in terms of quality.

Mind you, this will be a very simple system consisting of a single kitchen sink, a hand-held shower and one outdoor connection (very handy for cleaning off muddy boots or whatever else you don't want to drag inside). The internal & any external plumbing will all be PEX lines which also does not impart taste and has a good measure of freeze resistance. I am still shopping water heaters but leaning towards a tankless unit since they conserve a great deal of propane. I am even thinking about having a second, electric water heater for the occasions when I might have the necessary 110v hook up such as you find at RV parks and some campgrounds. That would free up extra propane for cooking (I still prefer fire for that..it's a primal thing).

I welcome any ideas, thoughts or plans you all might have regarding this very basic need.
Another item to consider installing on the incoming fresh water line is a pressure regulating valve. From what I have read on various rv sites you should have one on the incoming line to prevent overpressure of your system in case the city supply (or well water) is at a very high pressure.
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Old 05-02-2016, 03:30 PM   #8
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Roger that. A pressure regulator is a must have.
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Old 05-02-2016, 04:22 PM   #9
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I will let you guys know what algae growth in my tanks is like, I didn't drain them completely before parking the bus last August. I will be seeing my bus in a week, and I have LDPE tanks that are translucent and let light through. Plan is to drop the tanks and clean them cause I'm sure they are nasty haha.

Those tanks were $85 each for 42 gallon units and I bought 4, free shipping. I got them off ebay. They aren't very rigid but they have threaded bungs on them and get the job done. 36 gallons won't last as long as youd think, but if that works for you then you do you.
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Old 05-02-2016, 04:23 PM   #10
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Also, if you get a pump that's good enough, water pressure is great. I got a pump off Amazon, like $50 or so, and it makes 55 psi easy, and as long as youre not running the shower and sink at the same time the pressure is great, FWIW.
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