RV Water Pressure Regulator


 

As you probably know, many parks have water-pressure that is too high for the plumbing in your rig, and if the plumbing fails, it's often inside a wall or under the floor — sometimes in a place that's almost impossible to get to. If you're gone when it happens, your entire rig can be flooded. A friend of mine opened the door of his rig one day to find standing water about 4 inches deep gushing out the door.

On a tour of the Fleetwood factory, they told us that they pressure test every rig at 80 psi. Unfortunately, I've been in parks with pressure over 165 psi. Going without a pressure regulator is not really an option, unless you always stay at the same park and their pressure is low enough.

If you've used one of the cheap barrel regulators like this one, you know that it works fine. The pressure in the rig is around 45 psi. The catch is that the regulator severely restricts the flow rate of the water. None of your faucets put out much flow, and taking a shower is pretty unpleasant.

The solution is to get a high-quality pressure regulator. The gold standard in pressure regulators is the Watts, but they're very expensive and the model I use is no longer available. It's been replaced by the 263A-LF, listed here. With shipping, it's over $100. Like mine, it has a flow rate of 6-9 gallons-per-minute (about three times the flow rate of the cheap one), and comes with a gauge that shows the pressure inside the rig (which is adjustable — I have mine set to 55 psi). Another nice feature of the Watts units is that you can buy a rebuild kit for them if they every develop trouble.

I have not used the Valterra pictured above, but the price is much more reasonable and the flow rate is very similar to the more-expensive Watts unit. I think the design is also better for most RV applications than that of the new Watts regulator, though I doubt if it can be rebuilt.

Depending on how your utility bay is designed, you may need a right-angle adapter for the regulator so it won't stick out too far. If so, take the regulator you buy to a hardware store and tell them you want a brass, lead-free, right-angle adapter with male hose threads to attach to your water inlet, and on the other end, whatever will connect to the *outlet* side of the regulator (usually female hose threads). I have one on my rig that I got at Ace Hardware, so I know they exist.

My rig has a carbon block water filter mounted near the water pump. The cartridges are expensive and because it's a 1 micron filter, it tends to clog up over time. I added two sediment filters in the utility bay ahead of the pressure regulator. The first is a 5-micron filter and the second is a 1-micron filter. The cartridges are inexpensive and easy to replace, and with them in place, my carbon block filter usually lasts for six months to a year. Because they're inside the utility bay and not out in the sun, I used clear filter canisters so I can see when they're loading up. Sometimes, they'll go for weeks or even months. Sometimes a park with a lot of crap in the water will load them up in a day or two. I can usually rinse them off once or twice to get more life out of them. I got everything I need from the RV Water Filter Store, and someday I'll put up pictures of the mounting system here at Bob's Guides.

 

 

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  —  Bob Ray