By Tony Barthel
A few years ago I was camping in Quartzsite and the water was so horrible we bought a three-stage water filtration system for our RV. Our travel trailer has a “whole house” water filter, but the filters themselves are difficult to find and expensive so we have stopped replacing them. Like so many RVers, we basically had been using the typical blue in-line filter that we attach to the spigot. Clear2O (pronounced “clear two oh”) offered to send me one of their two-stage water filters to compare to what I bought in Quartzsite, so I decided to give it a try.
The Clear2O filter is an interesting design comprised of two parts
The first part of the Clear2O looks like the blue filters so many RVers are using and is designed to be used in-line. Unlike the typical filter, however, this one is constructed of solid carbon, whereas the typical blue or white ones are granulated carbon. What’s the difference?
According to Keith Bernard, President and founder of the company, a solid charcoal filter provides more effective filtration by virtue of being a solid piece with smaller pores. Bernard stated that his filtration system takes out things down to a single micron, whereas the typical blue filter can only filter out things as small as 20 microns to 100 microns.
What’s a micron?
A micron is one-millionth of a meter. A typical human hair is 30-70 microns in width, so a single micron is pretty darned small.
As such, the company claims that their filter reduces contaminants and bad taste and odor in water. Company documents claim that their filter reduces lead, chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as Benzene and more.
To this, the company offers a secondary water filtration system that essentially spins on the standard in-line RV water filter. This filter is a 20-micron polypropylene filter that gets rid of sand, silt, sediment, rust and other larger contaminants and allows the main filter to last longer and do a better job… according to the company. You could almost describe this as a hat or mushroom over the standard in-line filter.
My experience with water and water filtration
My wife is a groundwater geologist and is really picky about water, so I used her in my testing. For me, most of my water either tastes like coffee or beer – for good reason. I know beer was what saved humans in the Middle Ages – and plain water was just awful.
To test the filter, we went to a campground where I knew the water was pretty terrible. In one glass I put water out of the tap. In a second glass, I put water from our three-stage filter. The third glass contained the water that came out of the combination sediment filter and Clear2O in-line filter. In the fourth glass was water from a filtered water pitcher.
Peggy, my wife, got to wear a blindfold and taste the various water samples. The straight, unfiltered water was immediately pronounced disgusting. Good, we have a baseline.
Surprisingly, the water from the three-stage filter and from the Clear2O filter were pronounced indiscernibly equal. The pitcher didn’t do as well, even though we had just replaced the filter in it. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. Peggy has a strong sense of taste and so I am going with this. My own sense of smell and taste is pretty compromised from previous bad behavior.
My original goal was to actually test the water in a lab but, in the interest of expediency and my poverty, this didn’t happen.
Conclusions on the Clear 2O water filtration system
The bottom line on this is that it seems that the two-stage Clear2O water filtration system does a comparable job to the three-stage filter in our own semi-scientific test. So that means we’re probably ditching the three-stage filter and just bringing the Clear2O filter from now on.
The Clear2O filter is just so much more compact and easy to carry, yet, in our own tests, performed as well as the bulky three-stage filter.
I also like that the sediment filter is removable and can be washed out. Since this is designed to remove sediment it will get pretty dirty with use – as is intended. According to the company, it can be rinsed out three times before it needs to be replaced.
The sediment filter also came with a backwash attachment. This essentially lets you attach the hose to run the water through it backward, thereby flushing it out.
In the box
I got two boxes in this shipment from Clear2O. The first was the carbon filter itself, which comes in one small box. Many RVers will be very familiar with this.
The second is the sediment filter that fits over the carbon filter almost like a cap or giant mushroom. That box comes with the case, the filter itself, a wrench to separate the lid from the base, a hose extension and some instructions.
You can find the filter on Amazon, or you can learn more on their official website.
Safe drinking water on the road
Real question with filtered water is how many harmful chemicals (nitrites, nitrates, etc.) does the system remove. Reverse osmosis or distillation is the best for this. Making water clearer is only one consideration that should be evaluated.
Good review Tony! I’ve been using the Clear2O for about a year, and agree that it does a great job. My equally picky wife gives it her thumbs up. BUT: I’ve found that that 1-micron carbon block also clogs up much faster than the standard blue flow-thru that we were also using before. So now I save the Clear2O for places with nasty water, and use the blue boy for the rest…
Has anyone experienced hard well water that smelled of Sulphur? When we stay at our friends house in North Florida, the in-line water filter and water softener will keep the smell down in the RV for about 3-4 days, then it gets really smelly in the shower. It would be nice to use a better filter to keep that stink down.
That’s the way the water has been everywhere we’ve stayed in Fl until now. We are in Leesburg at Holiday RV Village and the water tastes and smells good. The problem in this park is the minute particles of rust, it’ll plug up a filter in 4-5 months. We bought a home here and I got creative when installing a filter, I installed a RV type filter as a pre filter for my house filter. So far it’s working, it must be catching a lot of the rust before it reaches the main filter as the main filter is still relatively clean. Lol
We took my 1 year old grandson to Disney World last year and the first stop out of the airport was at a Denny’s. As soon as the glass got within 3 inches of my nose I told the waiter “AHHH good old sulfur water.” I spent many vacations at a relative’s house in FL as a kid.
The premise is a bit flawed, talking about cost and ‘hard to find’. Our rig came with a whole-house filter that holds the typical WATTS 10″ style cylinder filters. Very easy to find a variety of them online, and ordering in bulk, is cheaper than the Clear20. I use the MAXVOC RV one, that filters down to 0.5 microns, better than Clear20, and with a decent flow rate. I buy the cheaper ‘blue’ cylinders in bulk, to use as sediment filters at the spigot. So these are easy to find online, not expensive, and filter better….
Thank you for the video. Taste is important and I agree CLEAR2O has the best water, but what makes this filter the best in the market is the premium carbon block filtering at one micron. Many contaminants do not have taste like Lead. This filter reduces many of those bad contaminants. I have been using the CLEAR2O Inline Filter since last year and started using the Dirt Guard this year. I have been very satisfied with the results and have recommended it to many of my friends.
I found when using both pieces of the system it decreased the water pressure at the faucets.
sediment filter also came with a backwash attachment. This essentially lets you attach the hose to run the water through it backward, thereby flushing it out. How is back flushing any good doesn’t this just load the discharge side with sediment?
Backwashing is the way most large scale filters are cleaned, the reversed flow goes to waste.
I’ve been using this filter inline after the blue Camco filter. So far I’ve been very pleased with it. Most important is using a softener also. I always test for hardness and put the softener inline after the filters if needed.
Our solution to water preparation is an inline replaceable sediment filter, followed by a newly added portable water softener, and finally, a Brita sitting on the counter.
When we’re headed off for our fave boondocking sites, we fill our fresh tank with this system (minus the Brita) and bring a couple extra 6-gallon fresh water containers also filled with the above system. It all seems to work very well.
Why did you not also include a glass of water from the “typical blue in-line filter” that you say you had used on the MH? The micron capability of the Clear2O system is stated, what are the others you “tested”?
They said in the video the blue filter did not render the water pleasant to drink, so it was out of the running. The big 3 stage filter was nice but bulky.
A couple of months ago we purchased a Berkey water system. We boondocks when we can and often water can be iffy at fill stations. Took a little getting used to the tank near the sink, but the water is outstanding. Berkey says you can use almost any water source and it will filter to drinkable clean water.