How To Install An RV Water Purification System + Our Ruggable Winner

TheRVgeeks Great RV Products, Updates & Upgrades, Water & Sewer 36 Comments

While we’ve always sanitized, and drank directly from, our RV’s fresh water tank, we know a lot of people aren’t comfortable that their RV’s water supply is safe to drink. They might be concerned about the water sitting in the tank, or the wide variety of unknown sources that they hook up to. They might lack confidence in their sanitizing methods, or maybe they’re just extra-sensitive to bleach.

Whatever the reason, we hear from people all the time that they haul bottled water around because they’re uncomfortable with the thought of drinking from their RV’s faucets, whether from the tank or from a campground connection.

While we’ve been drinking directly from our RV’s water system for over 14 years, and we’ve never suffered any ill effect from it, we certainly understand some people’s hesitance to do the same. Even though we thoroughly sanitize our system a couple of times a year, we know that the potential exists to pick up a bug from one of the many water systems we connect to as we travel. That’s especially true for those of us who spend a lot of time, and fill our tank, at remote or isolated campgrounds, since the water sources there may contain no protective chlorine at all.

But the prospect of buying, storing and lugging bottled water around has always been a deal-breaker for us. We’re just not willing to go through the expense and trouble, not to mention the environmental nightmare involved in the transporting and selling of bottled water. And of course there’s the impact of creating, then disposing of, all those plastic bottles. We love dramatic natural beauty, and try to do our part to avoid being cavalier about practices that ignore the harm that wasteful practices do to our planet.

So we’ve been on the lookout for a solution for all those people who don’t drink the water on their RV. We discovered that a company called Acuva has patented a way to use the same type of purification method that major cities use to make water safe to drink: ultraviolet light. The UV lamps that cities like Paris, Vancouver and New York use to purify their drinking water are too large, and draw too much power, to be workable in a mobile environment.

But the advent of UV LEDs enabled Acuva to design purification systems that are small enough and energy efficient enough to work great for the marine industry. Now they’ve taken that same technology and designed a system that’s even more compact, with the RV industry specifically in mind.

Watch the video for more details about the Acuva Eco water purifier, and see the step-by-step overview of how we installed one in our RV. We’ve been using it in a variety of locations, both hooked up in remote campgrounds, and boondocking… drinking right out of our fresh tank.

We’re really impressed with the quality of the Eco, so we’re happy to announce that Acuva has just become the newest company to be added to our Discounts page.

Acuva is offering a special deal to our viewers. Visit www.acuvatech.com and use the Promo Code RVGEEKS at checkout, and get $100.00 OFF any Acuva water purification system. Or you can go directly to the page about the Eco here.

If you saw our last post and video, you know we were giving away a $250 gift certificate for Ruggable 2-piece washable area rugs. A hearty congratulations goes out to Judy J. whose entry #1523 was drawn as our lucky random winner. We hope that Judy enjoys choosing, and using Ruggable rugs in her 1995 Newmar Kountry Aire (yes, she’s a fellow Newmar owner!) and in her sticks & bricks house, too.

By the way, there were a total of 1,536 entires. So Judy’s last-minute entry number 1,523 is a great reminder that it’s never too late to enter our giveaways… until they end of course. If you hadn’t heard about the giveaway until it was already over, and you haven’t already done so, subscribe now! There will be more giveaways, and more great RVing content coming, and we hope you’ll want to hear about it.

If you didn’t win this time, but would like to have some of these great area rugs for your RV (or your home), Ruggable offers a 15% discount to our viewers! Visit Ruggable.com and select your favorite style and size rugs and pads. When you check out, use the Discount Code RVGEEKS15 and get a 15% discount on your entire order!


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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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Comments 36

  1. We are going to install an Acura in our 2015 Tiffin Open Road. We have a residential fridge with ice maker. Should we hook up the Acura to the ice maker also? It seems wrong to clean the water but not the ice.
    Love your videos. We are full time for almost 2 yrs now and love it!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Kathy! Thanks for the nice note and great question. You can’t actually hook the Eco model Acuva system up to filter the ice maker water. That’s because it’s activated by turning on the water dispenser, which sends an electronic signal to the unit itself, turning on the UVLED. The icemaker would not trigger the UVLED to come on. For applications that require either a larger flow or flow-triggered activation (vs switch triggered), the next model up, the Arrow, would be required. An additional advantage to the Arrow is that it has the higher flow rate. The downside of course is that it is more expensive.

      Since we continue to sanitize our freshwater tank, basically out of habit, and to keep all water cleaner, not just the water we drink, we’re not that worried about our icemaker. One other thing we do is keep a couple of gallons of water that we have run through the Eco in the refrigerator. That way we have cold drinking water available all the time without using ice. Hope this helps a little bit. And congratulations on your upcoming two year full-time anniversary!

  2. Thank you so much for this highly informative video. Thank you also for making the significant discount available. We took advantage of it and have an Acuva Eco on the way.

    I wanted to pass along that Acuva now sells an optional Advanced Prefilter. They claim it removes lead, heavy metals, chlorine, chromium 6, mercury, volatile organic compounds, and carcinogens.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks, Mickey… we were happy to bring this great new product to people’s attention! And we’re glad to hear about the availability of an even more advanced prefilter, to ensure that your drinking water is safe from all kinds of contaminants! Hope you like your Eco as much as we like ours!

  3. Gentleman,
    I first want to thank you for introducing me and my family to the Acuva products. For anyone on the fence about purchasing from them due to the cost, it’s worth it. This company truly stands behind their products, beyond what I’d have considered reasonable.

    I will explain more below.
    Let me preface this by saying this is not a slight against Acuva, the Eco, or any of their products. My problems are most likely something to do with my RVs 12v electrical system that the Eco has not done well with.

    We purchased an Acuva Eco last October after seeing the video posted here. We were skeptical at the price because there’s no parts that can be fixed. My wife convinced me to go for it and we did. We had our first Eco about 2 weeks and the blue light turned red with a constant alert tone. I called the Acuva and ran through troubleshooting with them. We determined that during installation I most likely got water into the electical componts somehow and they replaced it at no charge.

    This one we had for a month before it died again, again Acuva helped me troubleshoot the issue and replaced it for me. My issues with the system have been problematic for the last 8 months, and each time Acuva has stood by their product. I have even been teleconferenced into two different engineering meetings to help determine the root cause of the issues the Eco has had with my RV. These meetings have driven redesigns of the Eco and with my latest issue will again. I can’t say for certain because I didn’t keep track but I will say I’ve had at least 6 issues in the past 8 months and not once did Acuva ever tell me “too bad”. Mr. Jean-Michel Dentinger has worked with me every time and has actively tried to make sure I was a satisfied customer and I am.

    I have proudly shown people the Acuva products and told them how well the company has treated me. If you buy from Acuva you will not be disappointed. I can’t say enough good things about Mr. Dentinger or Acuva. I honestly wish I could do more or say more good things about Acuva and their products.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Scott! First, we’re so sorry to hear that you’ve been having such difficulty with getting your Eco to work. But thank you so much for sharing your experience AND Acuva’s response. We always say that any company can be “good” when everything is going right… but that a true test of their commitment to their customers is when things go wrong. And it makes us very happy to hear that they’ve been standing behind their product and have been so supportive, trying to help figure out how to get you working. We’ve met with Jean-Michel several times at Acuva’s facilities here in BC and couldn’t agree more with all you have to say about him… and the company.

      We hope, after all you’ve been through, you’ve reached a point where everything is now stable and working for you! Again, thanks for sharing!

      1. Hey, thanks for the wonderful comments guys!
        I’m just happy that we got Scott up and running. Scott was a fantastic client for Acuva and we learned so much from his RV.
        Glad to report that the Eco’s electrical interface has been redesigned to handle scenarios that we had not been able to predict without Scott’s feedback.

        Thanks again Scott, enjoy your freshly purified water!

  4. Hi guys. Started looking into this – and since i do not want to drill a hole in my counter (too chicken) and want the ice maker to get the water anyway, I found (as you said in a previous chat) that you need to get the arrow 2 which can work off of a water flow sensor and not the faucet (if you so choose). I am looking into this though $1,200 is pretty steep.

    Question though, what do you do about brushing your teeth? Since this only helps in the kitchen, would you worry about germs in water that you rinse with? I know this seems like a real anal question, it just came to mind when I thought about spending the money, but then thought how bummed I would be if I got sick from a bug while rinsing after brushing.

    Thoughts?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Rich! Since you’re not planning to install a water dispenser in the counter, how are you planning to use the Acuva for drinking water access? Even the Arrow requires a dispenser to be installed, and we’re assuming that you aren’t planning to use it strictly for ice, right? Maybe you can clarify for us, but if you thought that you could get drinking water from the Arrow without drilling that hole in the counter, we don’t think that’s the way it works. We’ve been on board a boat with an Arrow, and the only differences are higher flow rate, and flow-activation. The need for installing a dispenser is the same. Sorry if we’re missing something on this one. Please do fill us in if we are.

      As far as brushing teeth, we’ve never actually thought about it, but maybe we should? We know that not actually drinking the water isn’t enough to protect you from bacteria, and when we’re in Mexico (spent two weeks there just last year), we use bottled water for brushing teeth. We haven’t had the Acuva long enough to be out of the habit of being really anal about fresh water tank sanitizing, so we probably need to start thinking about this if we’re going to relax our tank-bleaching regimen. We’d suggest that the same procedure we follow in Mexico for brushing teeth would be wise… fill a glass from a safe source (bottled in Mexico…. the Acuva on the RV), and use only that water for brushing teeth.

      Hope this helps a bit, but please let us know what your plans are for drinking water access at the kitchen sink.

      1. I had the same thoughts about the need for the faucet so I emailed the company and they came back and said:

        “The Eco system is activated by a switch in its faucet handle, while our Arrow systems are activated by a built-in flow sensor that detects the flow of water as it enters the purifier.
        Besides the flow rate and price, the way the purifier is turned on and off is an important difference to consider when its faucet is excluded.”

        So it seems it is possible. Now I just need to see if want to lay out the money for an effective, if rather expensive, water purification system.

        And thanks again for all of your great videos!

  5. We are considering the purchase of an Eco system, although we’d like to have a second faucet in the bathroom also. Would you mind giving an update on your Acuva system so far? Would like to hear your opinions after several months use. Do you think the 1L per minute that the Eco provides is adequate?

    Thanks, and keep up the great videos!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Kyle,

      Definitely so far, so good with our Eco! We love our unit and are addicted to the blue light! LOL! It’s one of those odd things where it’s not demonstrable… you can’t SEE bacteria in good or bad water. So, while we have a lot of confidence in how the unit works (they don’t issue patents for nothing), we’re hoping to follow up at some point with some sort of test, such as finding a known-questionable water source, filtering the water through the Eco, and doing “before and after” bacteriological tests. We haven’t figured out exactly how to do that yet, LOL! But even without that, we’re happy campers so far.

      As far as flow and multiple faucets, you’d really need to step up to an Arrow 2 (2L/min) or larger unit, for two reasons:

      1. For size and cost reasons, the Eco functions differently than the Arrow units do. On the Eco, the faucet control is what triggers the unit to turn on/off. And it does that electrically. The larger units have a flow sensor built into the main box… and turn on when they detect that the water has started flowing. For that reason, the Eco can only supply a single, custom-designed faucet. But with the Arrow, you can actually tee off of the output from the unit… and whenever any faucet downstream of the unit is opened, the Arrow will activate. So the Arrows can not only supply multiple faucets/outputs… but they can be any style and/or function (like the ice maker for the fridge, etc).
      2. The 1L/min flow of the Eco is sufficient for supplying a single, drinking water faucet like the one at our kitchen sink. It’s plenty of flow for filling a glass or 1L drinking water bottle… but if two faucets were being supplied at the same time, the flow would be noticeably slow. We’d want to have at least 2L/min to be able to handle both faucets running at the same time.

      Hope this helps!

      1. As always, you guys came through with more information than I was expecting!

        I really like the light function of the Eco unit, and the instant signal that its working, so I’ll have to decide if I want to purchase 2 Eco units and install them separately or go with a larger Arrow and plumb for the extra sink. I’ll have to do some more investigating with Acuva and see what they supply with the Arrow.

        Thanks again!

        By the way… it was great watching your passage through the Panama Canal. We are sailors, as well, and have found both the RV lifestyle and the sailing lifestyle bring 2 different forms of freedom, yet, are so similar. Probably why we love both!

        1. Post
          Author

          Glad to help, Kyle! And ALL of the Acuva dispensing faucets have the cool blue light… so even if you opt for the Arrow, you’ll have it. If you want a second faucet, you’ll likely have to custom-order that. But then you could have the blue light at both sinks! 😃

          We had such a blast on the Canal transit… partly because of how cool the canal is… and partly because of how cool Nikki & Jason are! SOOO many parallels between RVing and boating, although boating seems to be more work! LOL!

        2. Post
          Author

          Of course… the price of an Arrow 2L/min and an additional faucet MIGHT just be the same price as 2 Ecos… so you’ll have to decide what works best for you. Having a single unit feeding two faucets might be simpler… but it’s also a single point of failure, too. Either way will work… so it’s great having options, right? 😉

  6. Hi John & Peter, I just ordered the Acuva water filter after reading your article. We already have a good water filter installed in the rv but the addition of the Acuva will definitely improve our water filtration system. My husband can now feel safe about our drinking water and stop buying bottled water.
    So thank you for all your advice, great articles and videos. We trust and respect what you share with your readers.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Sonia! Thanks you so much for the nice comment. We hope you’ll enjoy the comfort of properly purified water, too. The installation is actually a fun and rewarding DIY project, too. :)

  7. Hi guys!

    Just wanted to thank you for all of your great advice through the years, and for sharing a part of your personal lives with your loyal fans!
    I have done several upgrades you recommended to my 2001 39′ RV, and have never regretted any of them! My only regret is having missed meeting up with you on two different occasions..😖
    I just ordered the Acuva water purifier, after reading your article: I have been wanting this item for a long time.. and the discount helps!

    Thanks again!
    Happy Trails to you!
    🤠

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Steve! Thank you so much for your nice note and very kind words. We hope you have a great experience, both installing and using the Acuva. Maybe we’ll get to meet in person the next time we’re in the same area. Third time’s a charm, right? ;-)

  8. I guess the idea about not having to wait for the bleach to work is incorrect…certainly the CDC knows best. Hopefully they did their homework correctly.

    It used to be 130 F was the “safe” temperature for water, but it changed to 133 F. Of course, the common saying is to “boil the water.”

    So, if you have a faucet in the kitchen sink with a 10″ long pipe between the shut off valve and the nozzle (or whatever the part of the faucet is called), when you shut off the hot and then turn on the cold, it takes maybe 1/4 cup (or more) until he hot water is flushed out and you have the cold water.

    I was thinking that after filling the tank with bleach water, then, instead of driving over a bumpy road, invite the neighbors over to have a disco party and also do not put the jacks down so the RV shakes, rattles and rolls. Or maybe you could just run from end to end and side to side a few dozen times.

    At a Thetford seminar, they suggested making the bleach calculations, and then pouring the bleach into the water hose (entry end) with the other end connected to the RV water tank inlet. Then connect the end of the hose to the fresh water faucet and let the water fill the hose and tank. This cleans the hose and tank. Sound good to you?

    1. Post
      Author

      LOL! The disco party idea definitely sounds like more fun, Gene! ;) And the suggestion from Thetford for putting the bleach into the end of the fresh water hose is a good one since, yes, it will also then sanitize the hose, too. We can’t do that easily on our RV, since our fresh water hose is connected to our hose reel and always has water in it… so there’s no easy way to get the bleach solution into the hose. But if you have a standard, separate fresh water hose that connects to your RV, then yes… sanitizing it this way is a good idea.

  9. I like the concept… But the price, even with the RVgeeks discount is a real issue for those of us on fixed incomes. The cost, with discount, is equal to about 125 cases of bottled water at Costco or Sam’s; and we only have to spend about $4 at a time. I’m afraid for us the Acuva Eco fails down near the bottom of our priority list.

    Currently, we use an inline carbon filter at the source, and an Everpur System at the kitchen sink. The Everpur System was installed by the original owner of our fifth wheel. Even with two filtration devices, my wife still prefers to only drink from bottled water; but uses the Everpur water for cooking.

    When we’re on city water, I believe that we completely by pass our water tank. We don’t boondock very often, normally just an overnight; so our water tank gets very little actual use. We do sanitize the tank once a year, and I make an effort to use the tank and keep it topped off with fresh water.

    As always, a well produced, informative video. Thanks!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Rich! We totally get it that a more expensive system like this isn’t for everyone. But it sounds like you’re dong a great job of keeping your water system sanitized. It’s great that there are so many options for doing all things us RVers need to do out here. :)

  10. This looks like another fantastic RVgeeks find.

    Travellers who get to drink Vancouver water from a tap know that it is probably the best tasting large-city water available anywhere. So it is a bit ironic that Acuva is based there but I’m glad it’s close for you and liked the video of the assembly line.

    When watching the video I was wondering about flow – and I see on acuvatech.com that it is 1 litre per minute. Do you notice if this is the same or a bit less than before the install?

    Also, under my sink I have a very good filter dedicated for my drinking water faucet and fridge. There is a line that is tapped into this faucet line that goes to the fridge ice maker.

    If I were to install the Acuva system I would also like to tap into the filtered water line for the ice maker. I noticed that the mini plus from the faucet to the filter has four contacts. This could mean two for power and two for a switch so the question I have is: if I were to tap into the line after the filter for an icemaker will the filter work? In other words does the filter turn on by water flow or by the action of faucet lever?

    Take care,

    John

    1. Post
      Author

      Hey John. We’ve reached out to Acuva for confirmation on a couple of aspects of the Eco’s operation, and will reply more fully when we hear back.

      As far as flow, our old countertop dispenser had about a 1.2 litre/minute flow, so the 1 litre/minute flow from the Eco isn’t enough of a change to be an issue for us.

    2. Post
      Author

      Hi again, John. Exactly as we expected, Acuva has confirmed what we though to be the case with the following reply about teeing off to the ice maker:

      “While our other units are triggered internally, the Eco unit is triggered by the faucet as we have designed it to be integrated into the full system. So yes, for applications where the water needs to branch off to other water sources such as a refrigerator, we would recommend the 2L/min Arrow.”

      You did indeed observe correctly that the Eco is triggered to activate by the signal it receives from the dispenser, not by water flow. That would make the next model up more appropriate for teeing off to the ice maker, since it’s activated by flow.

      1. Thanks John, appreciate the follow-up. I’m glad I noticed that mini-plug and thought about the flow trigger before I had the wrong unit installed. Hope this exchange prevents one of your readers from that possible frustration.

        I’m less than a five minute drive to their head office so I’ll go over there next week and have a look at the larger flow units.

          1. Post
            Author
      2. Hello, can you tell me what the “2L/min Arrow” is? I’m looking for an extra filter for the fridge water/ice and was also looking at the Acuva.

        1. Post
          Author

          Hi Dianna! The Arrow 2 is the next model up from the Eco, which is the 1L/min water purifier that we installed. They are both manufactured by the same company: Acuva. You can get more information about the different models on their website: Acuvatech.com

  11. Hey Guys,
    I have a couple of questions: Do you know what the service life for the carbon filter is? I alway worry about push connectors. Have you tried to pull apart and reconnect the connectors to the filter? Are the tube ends malformed or damaged when pulled from the filter or unit? Is there a reason why the unit should be level since it is a pressure system and not gravity fed?

    Thanks again for your great videos.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Dennis,

      Thanks so much for the nice comments… and great questions!

      The carbon filter lists a 2,000 gallon lifespan, so the frequency of replacement would be dependent upon your usage. We plan to replace ours about once every 2 years… because the $20 replacement cost isn’t too bad, and we’d rather be safe than sorry.

      This is our first real experience with push-fit connectors… and we have to say we’re really impressed. We did pull apart, and reconnect, several of the connections during our planning (and, of course, the videoing). By pushing in on the gray collar that surrounds the tubing, while pulling out on the tubing, they release very cleanly and we saw no signs that it was damaging/mangling the tubing. The connections are just as firm, and drip free, as the first time we inserted them.

      And the horizontal orientation is needed because DIN rail, while a beautifully simple design that allows easy installation & removal, does permit sliding along its length. While the spring-loaded grip of the brackets is plenty to keep the unit from sliding around in the horizontal position, if it were mounted vertically, the vibration and movement of the RV while driving would allow it to slide down off the rail.

      Hope this helps!

  12. bleach water, as you describe, will kill any bad critters within seconds, so it is not necessary to wait. a hot water system that heats over about 133 F also kills everything, so it is not necessary to sanitize the tank or pipes leading out.

    1. Post
      Author

      We’ve always used bleach to sanitize, but there are recommendations from the CDC about concentrations and time for proper disinfection. The water heater thermostat is factory set to 130, so not enough to make the water safe. So we never drink from the hot water side for that reason, and also because there is a magnesium anode rod inside the water heater, and we don’t want to be exposed to that.

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