Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Watergen – RV drinking water from the air? Or pie-in-the-sky?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” RVers who favor the boondocking lifestyle may have to agree with Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s lament. You may not camp by a salty seashore, but the air is most often filled with water moisture – but unavailable for quenching our thirst. Watergen, an Israel-based manufacturing firm, swears they have a way to wring water out of the air. Come next year, they say you’ll be able to buy a device from Camping World that will give you fresh drinking water in the wilds – without having to come back to civilization. Is this real – or just pie-in-the-sky?

Practical science at work

There is a science behind the claims. It’s called atmospheric water generation. Watergen has already demonstrated their ability to produce large amounts of drinking water from moisture in the air. For about $30,000, the company can sell you a unit that will wring up to 450 gallons of water out of the air, per day. Of course, the unit scales in at about a half-ton, so isn’t practical for Joe RVer.

But Watergen claims their new baby is a much-scaled-down version of the kind they sell to militaries around the world. RVers, they tell us, should see a two-piece unit that can produce “over 10 gallons per day of fresh, clean drinking water.” One part would mount on your RV rooftop, and come in as a lightweight, 18 pounds, and about the size of a rooftop air conditioner. The other piece that would be mounted inside the RV is the filtration and storage unit weighing 38 pounds.

Devil in the details

Did we say air conditioner? Interestingly, the principle behind Watergen’s water harvesting system is somewhat like air conditioning. The device uses a fan to pull outside air through the collector, brings it down to the dewpoint temperature, and harvests the moisture. The finer details include the fact that the air will need to have a humidity ranging from a soaking 99% down to 20%. At the same time, ambient air temperatures would need to range from 59 to 113 Fahrenheit.

While Watergen has clearly demonstrated the ability of their equipment to do what they say, for RVers, the devil could be in the details. First, let’s talk about price. While no “official” suggested retail price for the RV water-harvester has been released, Watergen’s public relations representative, Colleen Robar, tells us it “should be between $3,000 and $4,000.” If price isn’t an issue, let’s move on. The next question is, how do you power a big air-sucking, moisture dripping machine? A company press release blithely says, “The unit simply plugs into any 12V power source, either from batteries or solar panels.”

Lots of water – for lots of watts

Don’t imagine you’ll poke a fitting into your motorhome’s cigarette lighter socket. The device’s power consumption is a whopping 480 watts – upwards of 40 amps. And under ideal circumstances, you could harvest some 10 gallons or more of water per day. But in practice, how much water do you get – and how long do you have to burn 40 amps to do so? Tony Galardi, Watergen’s North American sales coordinator, responded, “The potential run time for this unit that would yield any given amount of water would depend on the relative humidity and temperature of the surrounding climate.”

That makes sense. But before you plunk down three or four thousand bucks, and figure out where you’ll come up with 40 amps of power, you probably should know things in a bit more detail. Says Galardi, “A performance chart for this unit is currently unavailable. However, as we head into the production phase of the ON Board device, this material will become available.”

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll have the money, and the ability, to use Watergen’s thirst-quenching machinery. But one other question remains. The idea is to extend your boondocking time in the wild by producing your own water in the field – no having to come back for water. But what about on the “other end of the equation”? Unless you’re ready to dump your dirties on Mother Nature, you’ll still be needing to come back to dump your holding tanks. But perhaps that’s another one for Watergen’s tech team: a device that turns waste water into drinking water.


Can’t hold your water? Bladder tanks tote it to your RV


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Bob P (@guest_151094)
2 years ago

I can refill my gallon size jugs at Walmart many times at 27-29 cents per gallon instead of buying this.

Richard Davidson (@guest_151086)
2 years ago

They do this (But perhaps that’s another one for Watergen’s tech team: a device that turns waste water into drinking water) every day on the space station. Don’t think it cost only $4k though and probably weighs in at over a ton.(not a problem in space)

Lawrence Neely (@guest_150962)
2 years ago

currently in New Mexico, humidity is running 12 to 18%

Megan Edwards (@guest_150955)
2 years ago

They claim that the water being released from sewage plants if run properly it is drinkable. I would not drink it.

Jerry Roane (@guest_150938)
2 years ago

The Mississippi River outflows 511 million acre feet if water every year. Water is not scarce.

Jim Prideaux (@guest_151065)
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Roane

Agreed! Also why not just turn on the faucet!

KellyR (@guest_150932)
2 years ago

Battery powered cars are in their infancy. They will become common one day. This dehumidification technology will also come along. The dehumidifier in my shop takes out 2 gallons of water each NIGHT. I use on my garden. With UV light I could probably drink it. The technology will come along. Battery powered tools were at first for homeowner fun, but now the battery and motor technology makes them common and preferred on every worksite. With that Ford truck with the engine generator the tools can be charged just driving to and from work, never having to leave the truck to be charged. The “pie in the sky”? but it will shortly come down to earth and into your RV. I may not see it, but our grands or great grands will. I never thot the tractor would replace the horse. Heck, the newest tractors have all but replaced the driver. The ONLY THING that does not change is CHANGE – ask the dinosaurs – we are burning them in our motors right now . However, I was still born 100 years too late.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_150892)
2 years ago

Yup, “pie in the sky”.

JEB (@guest_150891)
2 years ago

It’s simply a dehumidifier! If you’re in a hot dry climate there’s not enough moisture in the air for water production.

Tony (@guest_150879)
2 years ago

This scam keeps surfacing under different names and companies. It has been covered on YouTube by someone who goes by the name “thunderf00t”

Gregory Illes (@guest_150798)
2 years ago

Fascinating range of ideas… but the power consumption is a true deal-breaker. In our travels, we use about 5+ gallons of water a day — all turning to gray water because we also have a composting toilet. So with a 75-gallon fresh-water tank, we can last from 10-15 days before getting water. Not bad. But we have to haul that water around (600 pounds) while we use it up. Essentially, we’d have to spend $4K and 480W to get rid of (perhaps) 500 net pounds from our 20,000 pound RV-and-toad. Not a huge incentive.

Now what would be pretty interesting would be a gray-water recycler. That could reduce weight and extend endurance, with little power drain.

Donald N Wright (@guest_150747)
2 years ago

Waste to drinking water sounds like a still suit from DUNE. I hope Tony will be able to test the “Watergen” and not just write about it.

TexasScout (@guest_150725)
2 years ago

Why can’t you just filter and store the condensate from your AC unit?

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