Looking for a portable water softener for your RV or boat?
We recommend the Watts RV pro-1000 Portable Water Softener, which is a salt-based system designed specifically for RVs (and boats).
It uses a space-saving single tank design that makes it easy to set up in tight areas.
This Watts RV pro-1000 Portable Water Softener makes getting soft water on the go easy,convenient, and affordable.
If you are looking for a home water softener instead, see our in-depth water softeners buying guide for the best recommendations.
Water Softening Performance
Don’t underestimate the Watts RV pro-1000 Portable Water Softener because of its size. When used as intended (for RVs and boats rather than an entire home) it’s just as good as a full-size whole house water softener.
As expected, it has a much lower capacity than a larger system – just 10,000 grains compared to the 30,000 plus grain capacity of home water softeners.
But this is perfect for RVs because they use way less water.
In fact, most customers say that the water softener can go for several weeks before the resin reaches its capacity and has to be recharged.
The RV Pro can handle water of different hardness levels, from low to high. However, if you use very hard water, you’ll have to regenerate the system more regularly.
You have to manually regenerate the resin when it reaches its capacity. By ‘manual regeneration’ I don’t mean you press a button and wait for it to do its thing like in home water softeners.
You have to connect a garden hose and rinse it with externally sourced water.
That’s because it doesn’t have a brine tank like normal water softeners.
Before you connect the hose, you need to first drain any remaining water from the tank by tilting it gently.
This was frustrating for many customers because the tank drains painfully slowly. But once you drain about two cups of water, it’s ready to regenerate.
Open the tank head and add 2lbs of common table salt. Then connect your hose via the Y-valve and leave it to rinse out the resin. It takes about 20 minutes.
As several customers have pointed out, connecting a hose to the connectors is a bit of a pain. They are non-swivel, making it especially difficult to connect a long hose.
What most users did is get their own quick disconnect 360-degree swivel fittings. They make using the softener so much easier.
Installation & Maintenance
The Watts RV Pro doesn’t require any installation. It’s designed for on the go use.
When you get to an RV park – most of which supply hard water – or whichever other water source you use, you simply plug in a standard garden hose into the inlet.
I highly recommend you get a couple of quick disconnect fittings.
The garden hose connectors on the RV Pro are non-swivel, making it a pain to connect a long hose. A swivel fitting will make things much easier.
With the water inlet set up, get another hose, connect it to the outlet port of the Y valve and run it to the water storage in your RV or boat. Make sure the drain valve is closed.
As long as the water goes through the softener, it comes out soft and nice on the other end.
The water softener is designed to provide a relatively high water flow rate of 4 GPM.Water comes out with decent pressure from the outlet line meaning you don’t have to wait forever for your water storage to fill up.
Extending the Life of the Resin
To make sure the resin lasts as long as possible, avoid exposing it to too much sediment or chlorine.
If you use chlorinated city water, consider buying a portable activated carbon filter as well to remove the chlorine.
If you use well water, buy a sediment filter to remove most of the sand and silt.
Make sure you also follow the maintenance instructions in the manual, especially if you plan to store the softener for a long period.
During normal use, the manufacturer recommends back flushing the system twice a year. This involves feeding water into the outlet port and letting it get out of the inlet; basically,a reverse regeneration,
For long term storage, back flush and sanitize the system using bleach and Watts Sani-System Solution. Re-sanitize it again before use.
When to do a Manual Regeneration
Since the softener requires a manual regeneration, when do you know it’s time?
You should regenerate when you notice that the water coming out of the outlet is hard. Simply feeling the hardness of the water with your hands is not very accurate so the package includes 50 test strips.
Use the strips to test the water from the outlet. If the hardness is higher than 3 grains per gallon, it’s time to recharge the resin.
What We Like The Most About The RV PRO-10000
We love how perfect it is for RVers and boat owners.
From the compact size to the full cradle base that keeps the tank steady on the go, the Watts RV PRO-10000 Portable Water Softener meets most of the soft water needs in an RV or boat.
Salt-free water softeners are usually the more compact systems. But they are not as effective as their salt-based alternatives.
So it’s nice to see a highly effective salt-based water softener of this size. You don’t have to worry about finding space to stow it.
We also love how easy it is to set up and use. There is no tedious installation required.
What We Don't Like About This Watts Water Softener
There are a few sacrifices you have to make to enjoy the space-saving design.
Most notable is the lack of a brine tank. Manual regeneration is the only way to keep the water softener working properly.
It does take some time, especially the part where you have to empty the mineral tank, but it’s not that bad.
And anyway, you don’t have to do it every day.If you live permanently in your RV, you’ll probably need to regenerate it once a week.
If you go out in your RV or boat only on weekends, you can go for weeks before you need to go through the half hour flushing process.
So the whole manual regeneration thing is acceptable.
What we really don’t like are the terrible hose connectors the tank uses. They make connecting a hose a headache since they don’t swivel.
The best option is to buy your own quick disconnect swivel fittings. That’s extra money you have to spend.
The Watts RV PRO-10000 Water Softener Is Perfect For You If...
Avoid Buying This One If You...
Our Bottom Line
Even if you do manage to get safe potable water for your RV, it might still be frustrating to use because it’s hard.
In fact, most RV parks supply hard water.
It leaves scale deposits in your plumbing, makes showers unpleasant (dry squeaky skin and all) and makes cleaning almost impossible because the water doesn’t lather.The Watts RV PRO-10000 provides an easy way to enjoy soft water in your RV or boat without having to install a huge expensive water softener.