A Guide to 12V Camping Pump Systems: Everything You Need to Know

No caravan or RV owner wants to wait until they’ve started their holiday to discover that there’s a problem with their fresh water pump. If the pump won’t run, the cause could be as simple as loose ground. If the pump won’t stop running, however, it could be the sign of something much less forgiving.

The fact is, no matter if you’re in the middle of your holiday, or just starting to prep your rig for winter storage, a problematic water pump isn’t something that you can afford to ignore. It’s your freshwater gatekeeper, and if it’s not functioning properly, you could be looking at a wet and costly dilemma.

If you’ve done a thorough job troubleshooting your plumbing system and are certain that your pump is genuinely the culprit, you need to replace it as soon as possible. It’s a small investment compared to the amount of damage that could occur.

Upgrading Your Fresh Water Pump? Time to Think High Volume  

12 volt water pump for camping
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Let’s be honest: while the thought of replacing a water pump isn’t likely to excite most caravan or RV owners, it’s a decision that few ever regret making. That’s because installing a modern, high volume 12 volt water pump for camping or RVing is going to provide a quieter, smoother flowing pump action than almost any pre-installed pump is capable of, especially in older rigs. And not only will it give you the reliability and peace of mind you want right now from your plumbing system, but it’ll also give you the capacity to make future upgrades to your system if you need to.

Regardless of whether your freshwater system is designed to use a submersible or inline unit, it’s important to remember that your pump’s only purpose is to keep your RV’s plumbing system under continuous pressure. It’s not a complex task, but it’s a crucial one; and if you’re considering updating RV appliances like sinks and washers, or expect to have more people using water, a modern 12 volt pump ensures that your freshwater system has:

·   Adequate pressure to keep the full system pressurized;

·   Optimal flow rate to satisfy every individual fixture without surging (hammering); and,

·   Sufficient power to keep cycle times to an absolute minimum.

The fact is, if you’re already facing the prospect of replacing a malfunctioning pump, and your RV’s plumbing system is sturdy enough to handle the pressure of a higher volume unit, there’s no reason not to install one. A new 12 volt RV pump can even help extend the lifespan of your appliances.

Make Sure You Know Your Pump 11Types

12 volt water pump for camping
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There are a variety of factors that have to be considered when replacing or upgrading your pump. And while the amount of space that’s needed and acceptable noise come immediately to mind, the ideal 12 volt water for your freshwater system is going to be the one that provides the highest flow that your plumbing can handling.

There are 3 main types of 12 volt replacement pumps on the market that are designed especially for portable applications like caravans, RVs, and boats:

·   Constant speed pumps. These pumps are designed to move water at the same speed at all times, regardless of the demand or the number of appliances being run simultaneously.

·   Variable speed pumps. These pumps are able to increase or decrease their speed and flow volume according to the demands, without running at full power every time.

·    High-volume pumps. These special 12 volt RV pumps come in both constant and variable speed varieties, and are designed to move large volumes of water, typically in excess of 15LPM (litres per minute).

Within each type of pump, there are also groups of technical features that you need to consider as well, such as:

·   Check valve integration (to ensure constant pressurization at all times without the risk of back flow);

·   Thermal protection (to prevent the pump from burning out if the system runs out of fresh water); and,

·   Surge protection (to prevent destructive hammering or pulsing that could damage the entire system).

That’s why carefully assessing the state of your entire freshwater system, together with all your fixtures and appliances, is so crucial when you’re shopping for a new pump. And ideally, you want to compare your factory pump’s specifications with those of any new 12 volt fresh water pump that you’re looking at. It’s a simple precaution that can save you a lot of guesswork when you go to buy.

Your Pump Specs Are the Key to 12 Volt Performance

12 volt water pump for camping
Source: Pexels

Let’s be honest: you can buy the most compact, energy-efficient 12 volt water pump on the market, but if it’s not rated for the length or demands of your freshwater system, you won’t be any happier with it than you’d be if the pump didn’t work at all. Inversely, you don’t want to buy a water pump that’s too powerful or consumes too much energy either.

That’s why regardless of whether you’re just looking to add a modest galley pump to a sink in a small campervan, or upgrading to an automatic self-priming 12 volt inline pump for a state-of-the-art water heater, there are a handful of critical pump specs that you need to know before starting your install.

·   Gallons per minute, or GPM rating. This is a measure of your pump’s flow rate. Most 12 volt pumps for sale are rated at 3 – 4GPM, while high-volume pumps are capable of exceeding 5GPM.

·   Pounds per square inch, or PSI rating. This is a measure of the amount of pressure the pump is using to supply fresh water. 55PSI is generally regarded as ample pressure water for most applications, even on longer RVs.

·   Amperage rating. This is how much power the pump is drawing. Modern 12 volt RV, as well as 12 volt marine water pump installations typically only draw between 6.0A – 10A.

It’s also important to take into account whether you’re thinking about installing any other upgrades to help maximize your system’s flow. Accumulators, booster pumps, and macerators will all have an effect on how your system functions, and ensuring that these surge-free accessories are compatible with your new pump are the best way to be to get years of trouble-free use out of them all.

The Final Word

At the end of the day, freshwater system problems may not be unavoidable, but they’re not difficult to rectify. What’s important, however, is to address them as soon as you discover them; and to make sure the solution is bigger than the problem.

By installing a modern, high volume 12 volt water pump for camping or RVing, you can be confident that you’re taking the right step to eliminate your freshwater systems problems for the foreseeable future. It’s a small investment, but it boasts a big return in reliability and capacity.