Water is the essence of life on earth — and also of life on the road. Unless you’re planning on packing case after case of expensive bottled water, this means you’ll need a water pump in your RV when you set off on your next trek. Thankfully, most RVs come with their own built-in pump. If, for whatever reason, you’re looking to buy a new water pump, the most common type of pump you’ll see, no matter the brand, is the 12V RV water pump.
A quick note: before buying a new water pump, be sure that your old one is, in fact, beyond fixing. Trying troubleshooting using this helpful guide to water pump repairs.
While there are water pumps powered through sources other than electricity, including solar and fossil fuel-powered pumps, electric ones are far more common and generally easier to maintain, specifically while traveling.
12V water pump RV models are the standard operating motors for RV use. These are not to be confused with a 110V water pump or 120V RV water pump, as these models are generally made for other purposes. They don’t pump water with the same pressure as larger ones made for installation in residential homes, but so long as they’re in working order, they get the job done and then some.
Because 12V water pumps are so ubiquitous, however, you’ll need to decide between multiple brands. This guide aims to make that decision somewhat easier.
Power & Pressure
Although these pumps operate off the same voltage, they often vary significantly in power and pressure. The best way to understand a water pump’s power on a concrete level is to check its specs to see how many gallons it can pump in a minute. You can also check the PSI statistics to get an idea, but it’s easier to understand the simple physics of gallons pumped per minute. Usually, you’ll want something that pumps at least three gallons per minute for decent power. With that said, the weaker but cheaper Seaflo Diaphragm Pump manages only 1.2 gallons per minute, but enjoys glowing user reviews and a low price tag of only $21.39 on Amazon.
12v Water Pump Brands
The simplest way to separate one RV 12V water pump from the next is to look at their brands. You’ll find many local brands online or at local retailers, but the most well-known and trusted pumps come from brands like Shurflo, Flojet and Seaflo.
This article gives a comprehensive rundown of Shurflo’s current selection of water pumps. To quote one of the article’s most helpful tips:
Their current model, the 40o8 Revolution Water Pump, has an output of 55 psi with the ability to expel about three gallons per minute.
While their previous models all boasted a three-chambered configuration, the latest instead has four chambers. Essentially, this is what allows for the more powerful 55 psi output. One of its other notable features is its internal bypass function for low-cycling, which which prevents the pump from loudly turning on and off repeatedly during periods of low waterflow like when you’re running the kitchen sink or taking a low-pressure shower. The Shurflo RV water pump is also a self-priming device, meaning that the pump “will prime itself even though the water tank may be six feet below the level of the pump,” according to AdventureRV.net.
Shurflos boast a number of features worth looking for no matter what model you favor in your search for the perfect pump, including the thermal protection tech and a built-in check valve, which respectively guard against overheating and dangerously high pressures. The Revolution is also one of the quietest pumps currently on the market, which may be a large factor for certain buyers sensitive to noise. It can also run dry for some time without being damaged. The Revolution is available on Amazon for $58.99.
The Flojet Quiet Quad II RV 12V water pump boasts many of these same features as well. It currently goes for $92.99 on sale at Camping World, though you may be able to find it for less at local retail stores. The Diaphragm Water Pressure pump for lesser known brand Five Oceans offers a cheaper option with more power, pumping 3.5 gallons per minute, for $53.99.
If you’re looking for something that provides the most water pressure in case of emergency, or in case you want a nice powerful shower stream like you’d get at home, there are options available for reasonable prices. The Seaflo Diaphragm pump and Seaflo Marine Water pump both pump a considerable five gallons per minute and cost just shy of $100 on Amazon.
Ultimately, the decision on which 12V RV water pump to purchase comes down to your individual priorities. Do you want as much pressure as possible? Or do you want the quietest pump out there? Or are you simply looking for something cheap? Learn to distinguish between the specs and features offered from one pump to another, and very soon you’ll discover the best one for your specific needs, so long as you pay attention to user reviews to be sure of the purchase.