RV Hookups for Beginners Guide

Here’s an RV hookups for beginners guide to better prepare you for your first RV trip

Dania and I have been doing this for a long time. So, sometimes I take for granted some of the beginner’s tasks that are now second nature to me—RV hookups being one of those things.

I decided to take a step back and cover some basics that RV beginners need to know. And what better way to start than how to connect full hookups on your first stay at a campground or RV park?

As a first time RVer, you’re probably wondering what steps you need to take and in what order to do them. So, I’m going to share the general rules and my best tips that new RVers need to know.

Electric (with Electric Management System), water (with pressure regulator), and sewer set up © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to set up your RV

For this article, I will focus only on RV hookups for beginners. These steps and tips are the same whether you drive a motorhome, travel trailer, fifth wheel, or camper. Hookups are essentially the same wherever you camp whether it’s an RV park, state park, national park, or any other place that offers hookups.

STEP 1: Set your parking break

The most important thing to do before you even start hooking up is to set your parking brake! Experienced RVers can share plenty of stories where either they or someone else forgot to do this with disastrous (and sometimes humorous) results.

The last thing you want is for your RV to settle and shift back or forth putting tension on your cables. Or, worse, roll-off and pull out the cables and do costly damage to the campground’s panels and connection points.

So, don’t repeat the dumbest RV camping mistakes and set your parking brake!

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

STEP 2: Electric Hookup

I recommend that the first thing you connect is your electric hookup. The main reason is so you can start running your air conditioner, heater, fridge, etc. on the power source from your RV campsite instead of from your RV’s power supply.

There are usually three different plugs on a campsite’s electric pedestal: 20 amp, 30 amp, and 50 amp. Big rigs usually use 50 amps and smaller RVs use 30 amps. You need to know which amp service your RV runs on. But, if you don’t, since the plugs have differently shaped prongs you’ll only be able to plug into the correct one. Before you plug in make certain the breaker is turned OFF.

Once you’re plugged in, flip the breaker switch corresponding to the amp service you need. For instance, you flip the 30 amp breaker after you plug in your 30 amp plug. Then you plug in the other end of your RV twisting it and rotating the collar until it’s snug. You will forego this step if the power cord is wired directly into your RV as our Class A motorhome is.

BUT BEFORE YOU PLUG IN, here is one of the best RV tips I can give you…

PRO TIP: Always use an Electric Management System

Always use an electric management system when connecting your RV to power! Many have learned the hard way that campground electrical panels are not always well-maintained or wired properly. You can also experience a power surge that can severely damage your electrical system.

You can use one of the Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard portable or hardwired units.

Plug this portable surge protector into the campground’s electric power supply and then plug your power cable into the surge protector.

Power adapters

Every RVer needs to carry a few power adapters often referred to as dogbones to make sure that they can connect to whatever power is available to them. These power adapters will have a smaller, lower amperage plug (male blades) on one end and a larger/higher-amperage receptacle (female terminals) at the other end. Look for UL-listed versions of these adapters preferably with rigid grab handles. They do not change the power output.

Recommended electric adapters include:

  • 50-amp RV plugged into the 30-amp source
  • 50-amp RV plugged into the 15-amp source
  • 30-amp RV plugged into the 15-amp source
Water hookup with pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

STEP 3: Water hookup

The next hookup to connect is your water hose to the campground’s water source. Just like I recommend an Electric Management System with electrical hookups, I recommend you always use a pressure regulator and water filter connected to your fresh water tank.

STEP 4: Cable hookups

If your campground offers cable TV, you can now connect it to your RV. There’s nothing special to know here. Simply plug in the cable cord to your RV. If you don’t know where your cable port is, consult your owner’s manual.

Sewer hookup © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

STEP 4: Sewer hookups

Lastly, it’s time to do your sewer connection. Since not all campsites have sewer connections this might be something you don’t do until you dump your black and grey tanks at an RV dump station. Whether you’re connecting at a campsite or the dump station, the process is the same. The only difference is how long you leave it connected.

Now, let me warn you, that dealing with your black water tank is one of the biggest downsides of camping. It’s just gross. But it needs to be done and is well worth the stinky effort in the end.

That said, I suggest you put on disposable vinyl gloves before you connect your sewer line or what the RV world likes to call the stinky slinky

Disposable gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I’ve sometimes wondered why anyone would take on this bacteriological nightmare without protection. From those who don’t use gloves, we sometimes hear the excuse, “It’s just too much bother and I can’t see much advantage to it.”

Another reasoning runs, “The stuff stays in the hose, so what’s the big deal?” In a perfect world, it’s a good line of reasoning. But since we’re not living in a perfect world, the stuff doesn’t always cooperate and stay in the hose. Pinhole leaks can occur and a misaligned bayonet fitting can pop off, unloading an unholy amount of stuff. File that under “Been there, done that.”

“So you get a little doo-doo on your hands, just wash it off,” is the next comment. Good idea: a thorough washing with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Meantime, make sure none of it gets off elsewhere and ends up in your mouth eyes, or nose. And hope in the meantime that you don’t have any minor breaks in your skin. If so, the damage may already be done, no matter how much you wash afterward.

What can happen with a bit of misplaced sewage bacteria? Here’s the short list:

  • Gastroenteritis, characterized by cramping stomach pains, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Hepatitis, characterized by inflammation of the liver, and jaundice
  • Infection of skin or eyes

I don’t think any RVer would like to have a bout of any of those manifestations. Washing up even when using gloves is still a good idea and an outside shower unit that many RVs are equipped with is great for this task.

For those that glove up before going into the ring with the sewer hose I can only say, I gotta hand it to you! Good disposable gloves are best. Gloves you reuse over and over can easily get contaminated.

It’s always a good idea to check and make sure your gray tank and black tank are closed before grabbing your sewer hose.

Sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Connect the end of the hose with the twist-on connector to your RV drain spout. Then run the hose to the sewer drain. It’s usually easiest to run your sewer hose support as you go. This support helps direct the hose (and its contents) toward the drain and it is required by law in some jurisdictions.

Now, attach the end of the hose with the elbow connection to the sewer drain. Screw it into position if the sewer drain also has threads (not all do.)

PRO TIP: Do NOT leave your black tank valve open when hooked up

This is a mistake that many new RVers make. They understandably think that if they’re connected, they might as well leave their blank tank valve open so it can continuously drain. Less poo stored in your RV, the better, right? Wrong!

If you leave your black tank valve open while you’re hooked up, it will cause gross and sometimes expensive problems. The most common of which has its inelegant RV terminology: the poop pyramid.

This happens when liquid waste easily drains out when your valve is left open but solid waste builds up in your tank. Like I said, it’s gross—and stinky! And can be expensive to clean out.

Now enjoy the rest of the day! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So, don’t leave your black tank valve open!

By the way, I have a post on this dilemma and several others on avoiding sewer woes:

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin

What Is the Difference Between a Garden Hose and an RV Drinking Water Hose?

Read this before buying an RV water hose

A hose is a hose … or is it? Before you’re tempted to save a buck by connecting a garden hose to your RV freshwater tank, stop and read this article. There are good reasons why RV supply stores want to sell you a real RV freshwater hose instead.

On the surface you might think that all water hoses are the same. And RV drinking water hoses cost at least twice as much as a garden hose. If you’ve ever wondered if putting an RV water hose label onto a hose is just a marketing ploy, you’re not alone. The truth is, RV drinking water hoses are not just a gimmick.

The important differences between a garden hose and an RV water hose can mean the difference between putting poison into your body and staying healthy.

An RV water hose may seem like a pretty simple thing: it’s just the tube connecting you to the city water hookup and ensuring fresh water comes flowing out of your taps, shower head, and toilet.

And in many ways, an RV water hose is pretty simple. But there are also a few things to know about these important pieces of equipment before you set out on a camping trip.

For example, an RV water hose is different from a standard garden hose and you will also need a water pressure regulator to ensure the city water pressure isn’t too strong for your RV’s sensitive systems.

In this post, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about RV water hoses—so let’s get started.

Water hose and pressure regulator attached to city water connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is the best RV water hose?

You will find an RV water hose on every RV accessory and camping checklist. After all, since we all need water to survive it’s a pretty important piece of equipment. If you have visited a local RV supply store you know there are different types of water hoses for your RV. The two main types of RV freshwater hoses are:

  • RV drinking (or potable) water hoses
  • RV heated water hoses

The best water hose will vary for each RVer depending on their needs (or even just their current destination and season).

But there’s one rule of thumb I want to ensure you have locked down before you even think about buying an RV water hose and that’s this: No, your normal green garden hose will not cut it!

Garden hoses are not rated for potable water in the same way RV drinking water hoses are and they can leech chemicals into your water supply that taste and smell bad and can even be toxic.

So when you’re in the market for a water hose for your RV make sure that first and foremost you find one that’s specifically made for drinking, or potable, water.

Different types of RV water hoses

Let’s take a more detailed look at the types of RV drinking water hoses.

RV potable water hose

I’ve already mentioned potable and drinking water hoses as the terms are interchangeable. Often, these hoses are bright white or blue to distinguish them from typical green garden hoses.

Heated RV water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heated RV water hose

If you’ll be traveling somewhere where the temperatures dip below freezing a heated water hose is essential to ensure your water source doesn’t freeze up. If you keep using a regular hose at sub-freezing temperatures the hose is apt to split when the water inside it freezes leading to a mess that’s no fun to clean up in chilly temperatures—not to mention a lack of water coming out of your taps.

Heated RV water hoses are well-insulated and come with electric elements to physically heat the hose itself and keep the water inside from freezing. They are also rated for drinking water and thus are safe to use for RVers. The heated hose usually has a heat strip along the side of the hose. That strip is plugged into a standard 110 volt electrical connection to heat it up. Since the hose stays above freezing the water in the hose will not freeze and continues to flow freely into your RV. They are sometimes also called no-freeze water hoses.

Heated water hose attached to city water connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Benefits and features of RV water hoses

Of these various types of RV hoses many also advertise additional perks such as no-kink, no-twist, or no-tangle.

RV water hoses come in various lengths but the most common are 6-, 12-, 25- and 50-foot lengths. If you have camped much at all you know the distance from the campground water source to your RV can vary greatly. Having different hoses with different lengths can come in handy. Ideally, you want just enough length to get you connected without putting a strain on the hose. You also do not want a curled up hose as they tend to kink and restrict water flow (even when they’re advertised as no-kink hoses. If you have more hose than you need its best to stretch it out to create a smooth water flow inside.

That said, it makes sense to carry multiple drinking water hoses in your RV. The best RV water hose is the one that’s long enough to cover all your bases without being unwieldy. That is why I recommend two 25-foot hoses rather than one 50-foot hose.

RV water hose and reel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV water hose pricing

RV water hose pricing does depend on the brand and type you get and heated RV water hoses are, not surprisingly, considerably pricier than those that don’t come with insulation and heating elements. A heated RV water hose might set you back about $100 whereas an uninsulated (but potable-water-safe) RV drinking hose will cost about $10-$30.

What to look for when buying an RV water hose

When shopping for an RV water hose, be sure to look for one that specifically states its drinking water safe. After that, you’ll want to buy your hose based on whether or not you need a heated hose for winter camping and then you can think about extra additions like kink-free or tangle-free hoses. Some RVs come with built-in storage devices like a hose reel; hose bags are also available to keep your coiled-up hose stored neatly and securely.

Another accessory you need for your RV water setup is a water pressure regulator which helps ensure the city water pressure isn’t too strong for your RV’s sensitive system. Water pressure regulators are relatively inexpensive with prices starting at about $10-$15 and it’s certainly a whole lot less expensive than dealing with a plumbing system fiasco.

Psst: Your RV water hose and its various accompaniments are only one of the many RV parts and accessories that can make or break your camping trip! Click here to read my post on must-have RV accessories which will get you up to speed on everything from sewer hoses to electoral adapters.

This is why you need to attach a pressure regulator to your city water connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Garden hose

  • Often made from unregulated e-waste materials
  • Usually contain unregulated amounts of lead, BPA, and phthalates
  • Another toxic plasticizer used to make garden hoses includes polyvinyl chloride, a substance connected to various cancers and health problems
  • Other harmful substances include organotin and antimony
  • Water tastes terrible when taken from a garden hose

RV drinking water hose

  • Must meet a set of federal standards
  • Drinking water hoses must comply with the 2014 Federal Safe Drinking Water Act
  • Materials can withstand UV breakdown and chemical leakage into water
  • RV drinking water hose materials don’t have BPA or phthalate toxins
  • A DWS Drinking Water Safe hose is NSF certified and FDA approved
  • Water tastes better

Connecting a garden hose for RV drinking water purposes puts you at great risk of health issues now and in the future. Is your life worth saving a few pennies? What about your loved ones?

Buy an RV water hose and use it to prevent health problems. Add a high quality RV water filter system for a higher level of protection.

Water filter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV water hose: FAQs

I’ll finish out this article about RV water hoses by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about them.

Can I use a garden hose for my RV?

Remember my first rule of thumb above: NO! Your general green garden hose is not safe to drink from. They release heavy metals and other toxic substances into the water that can make us humans sick.

Can I use a drinking hose as a garden hose?

Now, in the other direction, exchanging your garden hose for a drinking hose would work just fine but a drinking hose is more expensive than a garden hose so it would be a waste of money.

What are RV water hoses made of?

Potable water hoses are made of various food-safe ingredients such as UV-stabilized polyether-based polyurethane.

Happy camping—and stay hydrated out there!

Now that you know all about the RV water hose and pressure regulator accessories you need you’re almost ready to hit the open road. Plan your route with one of the many online tools available today and don’t forget to take photos of your experiences. Happy travels!

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

Creating Drinking Water from Air

Watergen Mobile Box generates fresh portable water anytime, anywhere

An Israeli company has developed a machine capable of turning air into water. Watergen, established in 2009, is a global leader in the atmospheric drinking water devices market, machines that create drinking water from the air.

Along Ajo Scenic Loop, Ajo, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The production of drinking water from humidity in the air is one of the most important and innovative water extraction solutions available today, used to tackle the growing problem of depleting levels of drinking water in the world. Within a decade from now, it is estimated that 50 percent of the world’s population will live in areas without access to clean, fresh, and safe drinking water.

On the road to Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In basic terms, the machine works in a similar way to a dehumidifier—extracting water particles from the air, but in this case, the water is also purified to ensure its drinkable. The company says the optimal temperature for production is between 59 and 113 degrees F (15°C and 45°C), and 20 to 99 percent humidity.

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Watergen’s water generators come in a range of sizes to suit a variety of applications including cities, villages, commercial centers, schools, hospitals, offices, residential buildings, private homes, and mobile vehicles.

Big Bend National Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Watergen’s Mobile Box system has generated considerable interest in recent months. The Mobile Box is the world’s first vehicle on-board drinking system capable of extracting clean water from ambient air. It can be mounted externally on various types of vehicles including trucks, trailers, buses, recreational vehicles, and all modes of luxury land and sea transport. And at only 66 pounds (30 kg), the impact on fuel consumption is minimal.

Anza-Borrego State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Watergen’s Mobile Box was selected by Ford Motors to provide built-in water generators in its line of adventure recreational vehicles.

Other popular articles:

The product was recently shown on the Ford Ranger pick-up at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas. It was also displayed at the Smart Mobility Summit in Tel Aviv.

Monahans Sandhills State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Mobile Box will be preinstalled on Ford vehicles and can generate up to 6.6 gallons (25 liters) per day of fresh drinking water using only a 12V power supply and access to fresh air to produce the water. It will be installed on the flatbed of the pickup where it will occupy minimal space due to its compact dimensions—2 feet x 1.6 feet x 1.5 feet (63 cm x 53 cm x 46 cm). The Mobile Box unit is fitted with sturdy wheels for ease of transport on the flatbed of the Ranger.

Coachella Valley, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The ability to produce clean drinking water without relying on an external water source is a game-changer for those who seek off-grid adventures.

A Ford Ranger fitted with Watergen’s Mobile Box will embark on a 12-month tour of the United States in collaboration with the Outside magazine where journalists and members of the public will be able to see the system first-hand. Details were not available at the time of writing.

El Moro National Monument, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Watergen’s patented technology enables cost-effective, low-energy generation of clean drinking water from the air, using a series of filters. After the air is sucked in and chilled to extract its humidity, the water that forms is treated and transformed into clean drinking water. The technology uses a plastic heat exchanger rather than an aluminum one which helps reduce costs; it also includes proprietary software that operates the devices.

Davis Mountains, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The company, headed by Russian-Israeli billionaire Mikhail Mirilashvili, has a number of products already on the market including large- and medium-scale generators that the company says can produce between 58 and 1,585 gallons (220 and 6,000 liters) of water per day depending on the generator as well as an at-home device that can produce 6.6-8 gallons (25-30 liters) of water per day.

Near Hemet, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Watergen has offices in Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the US, Russia, China, and India and works in 80 countries around the world based on the idea that “everyone should have access to clean, safe drinking water.”

Coronado National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Watergen also developed generators for the automotive market including the Watergen On Board which can generate up to 13 gallons (50 liters) of water per day and can be installed in trucks and buses.

Monahan Sandhills State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The company will introduce the world’s first aftermarket water generator for RVs in 2022. The Watergen ON Board water-from-air generator is scheduled to be available through certain Camping World locations across the U.S. in the spring of next year. The pricing and other markets are yet to be announced.

Coachella Valley Preserve, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Watergen ON Board harnesses humidity in the air to supply more than 10 gallons a day of pure, clean drinking water. Similar to above mentioned Watergen products this is done totally independent of any external water source or water hookup. The unit simply plugs into any power source that has a 12V power source.

This product will have special appeal for campers and RVs that want the on-the-go water generation and off-grid lifestyle.

Valley of the Gods, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“We see water capture as one of the biggest opportunities for disruption in the outdoor market and Watergen is the industry leader. We are excited about our partnership with Watergen and the future of bringing Watergen GENius technology and systems to Camping World retail and install centers across America,” said Camping World SVP of Corporate Development Ryan Biren.

Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Watergen is the global leader in Atmospheric Water Generation and this partnership with Camping World builds upon our vision of providing fresh, clean drinking water no matter where you are or where you are going,” said Watergen Americas President Dan Clifford.

Highway 12 Scenic Byway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The company launched its Watergen ON Board at Camping World’s very first Electric World location in Draper, Utah last month. This is in conjunction with Camping World’s annual investor conference.

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Watergen is also working with a number of car manufacturers and other high-profile clients.

White Sands National Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Earlier this year, Watergen embarked on a project in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to provide generators that could produce up to 1,585 gallons (6,000 liters) a day to Palestinians in the enclave who face a chronic water shortage.

Joshua Tree National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gaza’s overused aquifer has been degraded by saltwater intrusion and contaminated by pollutants making most available water salty and dangerous to drink and forcing the import of bottled water, global news agency AFP reported in January. Only three percent of Gaza’s own water meets international standards, according to the United Nations which had in 2012 predicted that ecological pressures would have made Gaza “unlivable” by now.

Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since Israel and Egypt tightly control imports to Gaza to prevent the Hamas terror group that controls the strip from importing weaponry, getting the machines approved took considerable time.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mirilashvili bought Watergen after moving to Israel in 2009. The company CEO and president has a colorful personal history including time spent in a Russian prison following a kidnapping conviction in a trial the European Court of Justice later found was flawed.

Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A religious Jew with a picture of a prominent Orthodox rabbi on his office wall, Mirilashvili told AFP that when he learned about Gaza’s water crisis, he immediately wanted to help.

Watergen inked a deal last year with Emirati firm Al Dahra to export the Israeli solutions to the UAE and other regional countries.

Madera Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This summer, Watergen installed a generator for a Navajo Nation Native American community in Arizona to help them deal with a crippling water shortage. Nearly 10,000 families across Navajo Nation lack access to running water according to recent estimates. Local groundwaters have been contaminated over the years by mining and the situation has been exacerbated by the devastating drought affecting the western United States.

Jerome, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Last year, the company’s system was donated to authorities in Brazil, Vietnam, and India. It also assisted rescue and recovery efforts during the 2018 California wildfires as well as providing clean water to the residents of Texas and Florida in the aftermath of the devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

McDowell Mountains Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Watergen also developed a small-scale version for home and office use named GENNY which has the ability to produce up to 8 gallons (30 liters) of potable water every day—significantly reducing plastic usage and disposal by eliminating the waste caused by drinking bottled water.

On the road to Oatman, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

GENNY also has the potential to serve as an air purifier, circulating clean air throughout homes through a small tweak in the water generation process, using the already existing technology to create a multipurpose product.

Worth Pondering…

Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother, and medium. There is no life without water.

—Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893–1986), Hungarian biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937