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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Kit promises to recycle grey water -- is it for you?

Boondockers are some of the most conservative folks in the world. No, we're not talking about politics here, we're speaking of resource conservation. Getting out and away from "civilization" by its very nature means you've got to go easy on stuff like power and especially water. So how can you conserve water?

Most of us think in terms of not wasting what we have. Taking the so-called "Navy shower," wherein the water is off unless you're rinsing down. Some hold to using disposable dishes. One of the most interesting ideas to come down the boondocking pike of late is an idea from an RVer named Greg Corwin.

Corwin's livelihood came from being a technical engineer, and so it was only natural that when he watched a show about water conservation that his mental juices started flowing. "Why should all that grey water that RVers produce just 'go down the drain,'" was his apparent thinking. Corwin's fertile mind came up with a design that he now markets under the name, Extend Your Stay Tank Saver Kit.

The system saves your tanks in two ways: First, grey water as a byproduct from galley sinks, and shower, is channeled as it would normally be, direct to your grey water holding tank. Ah, but from there, when you flush your RV toilet, the system pumps grey water out of the tank, through a filter, and into the toilet. In essence, you save a bit on grey water storage capacity, and a bit on fresh water.

The details of how the system works: A water line comes from the grey water tank, to a three-way valve. One setting of the valve allows you to back-flush the grey tank. The other setting leads to a carbon-wrapped filter designed, in the words of the marketer, to remove "particulates and odors without restricting flow." Next up the line is a check valve to prevent anything coming back down to the grey tank. From there, a buyer-provided water pump which directs the grey water flow to the toilet for flushing, through a three-way valve. This same valve can be opened to allow normal fresh water flow to the toilet, bypassing grey water. A check-valve prevents any grey water from migrating into the fresh water system. These valves are all electronically operated.

What Corwin sells customers is a do-it-yourself kit. To quote from his web site, "Many of the parts in this kit are not available in your standard hardware stores and need to be sourced from different manufacturers. USI-RV has done the leg work for you. Because we buy in volume, we are able to provide a complete parts kit, over 60 parts, at a price that rivals your discount hardware store (if they had the parts). The parts kit TSK190 is available in two lengths (20’ & 40’) of tubing, power feed wire, and signal control wire.   The TSK190-PA kit comes with the 3-way recycle valve pre-assembled with the micro switch, LED/Resistor, signal control wire, and switch activation pre-calibrated to save you installation time."

What are you out in terms of dollars and time? The kit that includes 20 feet of tubing runs a little less than $275. If you need the longer-tube version, the price jumps close to another $55. That's a fair piece of change, and you might wonder, just how much water will I save? For $2 Corwin's site will let you download a quick-and-dirty calculator that allows you to plug in information on black, grey, and fresh water capacities, and the output is a rough estimation of how many gallons of water you'll save. To be more precise, you'll need to shell out $11.96 and you'll receive (by mail) a program that takes into account variables such as how often, and how long you shower, the number of adults in your party, etc. Go for the kit, expect to spend roughly four hours doing the install. Don't forget to factor in the price of an additional water pump.

We were unable to find anyone who has actually bought and installed this system. A sampling of RVers who'd looked into it showed a marked degree of skepticism, particularly with reference to odor control. Is the "carbon-wrapped filter," enough to knock out the horrific odors that grey water is known for? Corwin says it is, but recommends caution is taken to see to it that grease and food particles don't make it down the sink drain. Do that by adding an efficient sink strainer and by wiping your dishes with paper towels before washing.

Here's a link to the seller's website for more information.

Have you tried the system? We'd love to hear from you. Direct an email to russ at rvtravel dot com.

Visit Russ and Tiña De Maris' production, Your RV Podcast each week.


  1. While we almost exclusively boondock, this sounds (and looks) like way more work than I want to attempt. And since our trailer's underbelly is completely sealed, getting into the area needed to 'tap' the grey water, install a filter AND a pump, and run hoses etc., just isn't on my to-do list.

  2. Two bucks for a calculator? That kind of nickel-dime attitude is typical of a business that doesn't fully understand "customer satisfaction". Why in the world wouldn't the calculator be a freebie, to help encourage new purchases? Hmmmm.