RV Utilities (Fresh Water, Electricity, Cable TV & Sewer Connection)
RV'ers have to learn to deal with three basic types of utilities --- fresh water supply, electricity and sewage disposal. When we arrive at our campsite we will most likely be connecting our RV to these systems. In this discussion I am going to try and deal with some of the questions that arise in regard to these systems.
Keep in mind that RVs not only can connect to a fresh water source at a campground they also have a source of fresh water in their onboard fresh water tank.
Filters for fresh water:
Many people think it is wise to filter all fresh water entering your RV. Other people never give filtering a thought. This is something you will have to research and decide for yourself.
We do filter our incoming fresh water, but that is our choice, our decision.
The reason we decided to install a SEDIMENT FILTER on our incoming fresh water supply was partly because we saw other RV'ers doing it. That is the old "follow the crowd" gene at work. However, even though I was predisposed to having that sediment filter I did do some research on the subject. One thing that struck me when doing this research was that RV'ers move from place to place. Sometimes we are staying in campgrounds where water is supplied by municipal water systems that for the most part are relatively safe. Other times we are in campgrounds that are obtaining water from reservoirs, ponds, wells and other sources, in other words unregulated and probably untested sources of water. It was this unknown as in unknown source of fresh water that caused concern.
Be aware that the sediment filters you see on so many RV's do not assure that your water is safe to drink. Far from it, all that a sediment filter will do is prevent mud, rust and other sediments from entering your fresh water system. For instance a layer of mud & sediment will not settle in the bottom of your fresh water tank if you filter your incoming supply. Mud and sediments will not collect in your water heater tank if you filter your incoming supply. The screens in your faucets will not clog with sediments and particles of rust if you have a sediment filter.
Phred Tensith has researched water filters and has published his information at: http://www.phrannie.org/phredex.html
I suggest reading what Phred has to say about water filters then make your decision.
I am not advocating being paranoid......far from it. However, regulation of water supply around the country varies WIDELY.
If you think about it not many of the Campgrounds you are likely to stay in are even supplied by "city" water systems. Many campgrounds are getting water from wells on the property or local systems without any regulation or oversight.
In my opinion I think it prudent to have a sediment filter to filter ALL water entering your RV. But keep in mind---a sediment filter will not do anything but filter out sediments ................ that can settle in your water heater tank or your fresh water tank. I just do not want to have a layer of mud sloshing around in the bottom of my fresh water tank or water heater tank.
With sediments addressed I thought long and hard about those microscopic bugs that thrive in unregulated fresh water supplies. Since I knew we would be utilizing these unregulated fresh water supplies as we traveled around the country I decided to address that possible problem also.
Upon digesting the information that Phred Tensith provided concerning water filters I decided that in addition to a sediment filter I wanted a SOLID CARBON BLOCK filter for water that Joyce and I would consume. I decided to install a "solid carbon block" filter under our kitchen sink. In our motorhome the water from our solid carbon block filter is supplied to a gooseneck faucet at the kitchen sink and a gooseneck faucet at the bathroom sink. Solid Carbon Block Filters remove all the "nasties" from water.....the little "nasties" that make you sick.. The downside to a solid carbon block is the reduced flow. There is no way one could take a shower with that flow. However, we have SAFE water to drink and cook with in addition to a supply at the bathroom sink to brush and rinse our teeth with.
Whether to filter your fresh water supply is your decision and your decision alone.
Pressure Regulators for fresh water supply lines:
Can you go camping without one? Sure you can. But eventually;
Keep in mind normal water pressure is around 40psi. However, if you are traveling around the country you will encounter fresh water supply systems with water pressure in the 80-100psi (Pounds Per-Square Inch) range. If you connect your fresh water system to this without a pressure regulator you are probably going to have some major problems.
You can only imagine what kind of damage and repair bill can result from a broken water line in your RV especially if the leak occurs while you are away.
Here is what you should do: make sure you use a water pressure regulator at the campground faucet to protect your hose as well as any exterior filter. Again connect your water pressure regulator to the campground faucet, if you don't the pressure will destroy your fresh water hose.
Don't be one of those that do not learn from others mistakes preferring to experience the problem themselves. For those of you inclined to LEARN from others; always connect a pressure regulator to the campgrounds hose bib-----so it will protect your hose as well as components in your water supply system like filters and lines. Inline water pressure regulators are available in hardware stores and places that sell RV supplies like WalMart. Make sure that the regulator you purchase has fittings to connect to a hose bib. You do not want one that has pipe threads.
And finally, you will need several lengths of fresh water supply hose. I actually have three 20' hoses and one 10' hose. There are times that we have needed all of them. Bottom line: Be prepared with not only a water pressure regulator but several water hoses that can reach water supply sources 50' or more away from your RV.
Because you will be traveling around the country and staying in a multitude of campgrounds you will need to be ready to connect to whatever power source is available.
In our case we have a motorhome with a 50-amp supply line. However, many campgrounds do not have 50-amps available. In those campgrounds I put a "dog-bone" on the end of my 50-amp line that converts my 50-amp plug to a 30-amp plug. Point being: If you have a 50-amp RV be prepared and able to connect your 50-amp line to a 30-amp service. Many campgrounds do not have and may never have 50-amp service. If you do any traveling at all you will need a dog-bone that enables you to connect your 50-amp connector to a 30-amp supply.
NOTE: I sold that motorhome with the 50-amp supply and now have a motorhome with a 30-amp supply line. I had to purchase a "dog-bone" that enabled me to use power poles that only have a 50-amp supply. We have actually run into that situation several times.
Additionally, there are times you will need to be able to connect to a regular 15-amp supply source. Hopefully, it will not be often but it will happen. Trust me it WILL happen and it will happen more often than you can imagine. In the winter of 2004 we were in south Florida with the snowbirds. Virtually every campsite in the state was full---- at least those campsites under $50 per-night were full. It was February and it was cold up north. We got LUCKY and found a campground that had what they called "overflow" parking in an orange grove. In this "overflow" spot we were supplied with 15-amps and water with access to a central dump. That was all we needed. The 15-amps kept our batteries charged, allowed us to cook with the microwave, watch TV, operate notebook computers and operate the hair dryer. We spent several weeks in this "overflow" site for only $15 per-night. If you ever visit relatives or friends in your RV you will need to connect to one of their 15-amp outlets to keep things running in your RV. Out west, particularly around Yellowstone NP and the Tetons even commercial campgrounds only have 15-amp connections available. On occasion we have overnighted at a diesel repair shop where we had access to a 15-amp plug and were thankful that we were able to connect.
Point being: Be able to connect your RV to a 15amp electrical source. You can get an adapter to convert from 30-amps to 15-amps at most RV supply places and even in the camping supply inventory at places like WalMart.
And lastly, be prepared with 30-amp extension cords for those of you with a 30-amp supply. I have a 25' length of 30-amp supply line that I end up using 3 or 4 times a year. Campground designers are a weird bunch. There is no telling where they will put a power outlet.
Point being: be prepared to be able to connect to an electricity source that is not within the normal 25' of electricity cable provided with most RV's. I also carry 50' heavy duty extension cord. I have resorted to using that extension cord on several occasions to connect to 15-amp sources.
Be prepared and understand your systems. That is the best advice I can give you.
The standard system for dumping your tanks consists of a 3" slinky hose with fittings to connect to your RV and the RV's receptacle.
Every campground is DIFFERENT. Understand that and be prepared to adapt to whatever the campground has. You will need to be able to connect to sewage dumps that are 25' or more from your outlet. Why campgrounds put their sewage drains where they do is beyond me. Suffice it to say you need to be prepared with lengths of 3" slinky hose to reach campground drain receptacles at least 25' or more away. You can get fittings that connect one length of slinky hose to another. You should have these fittings.
Every state and possibly every municipality has their own set of regulations about connections to a sewage line. Some require the connection to be made with an airtight rubber doughnut, while others demand a threaded connection. Look around in an RV-supply store. You need to have one of those elbows that has three different sets of threads on the end intended to connect to the campgrounds sewage receptacle. In addition you need to have a rubber doughnut.
While some commercial campgrounds will actually require you to have and use a rubber doughnut we have not used one in years. With that said we do not stay in many commerical campgrounds. We tend to stay in National Parks, State Parks, COE parks and various other municipally operated campgrounds that generally do not have sewer connections at each site. These places tend to have central dump stations. The places that generally require the rubber doughnuts are commercial campgrounds that get inspected regularly. We all know how that works, don't we! A government inspector, generally county or city, comes by regularly looking for a sewer connection without the rubber doughnut and threatening to shut down the RV-Park if they find one. That is life in some places and as RV'ers we have to be ready to accept it and deal with it.
I have actually experienced campground personnel accompany us to our site and inspect our connections to assure that they met the code. Obviously, some places have been in trouble with code enforcement authorities and are serious about compliance. You know the RV-Park is under serious government harrassment when that happens.
Another thing that new RV'ers need to learn and understand is the sequence in which to dump their tanks. Yes, it is important to do them in sequence. Always, dump your BLACK tank first. Then close the black tank valve and open your gray tank valve. That way you will rinse your slinky hose with the gray water. Think about it. All that soapy water in the gray tank will rush through the slinky washing away the uky stuff deposited when dumping your black tank.
That is about it except to briefly discuss storage of your slinky hose otherwise referred to as the "stinky slinky". Everyone does this in a different manner. We utilize a rectangular plastic dish tub placed in a basement compartment. I take the two ends of my slinky hose and put BOTH into the tub. That way any residual water in the hose will drip into the tub and not in the basement. The remainder of the slinky hose is piled on top of the bucket. I have seen folks use a plastic bucket in the same way. I just find that the rectangular plastic tub is an easier fit and larger. It is your choice.