Hands-On: Water Counter
November 2, 2010
Filed under Gear Reviews
RVers who want to take full advantage of their onboard systems need to monitor freshwater levels on a regular basis. Typical monitors provide relative levels, but drilling down into gallons used is not the kind of information that’s displayed or expected. The WaterCounter Water Management System takes freshwater monitoring to a new level.
Using a highly accurate (1.5 percent) flow meter/sender designed and built in Germany as the heart of the system, the WaterCounter is installed in the pressure side of the water line, which is between the demand pump and the plumbing to the faucets, water heater and toilet.
Adapters, provided with the kit, are attached to each side of the meter, leaving male ¾-inch NPT on the ends. From here the installer will have to determine if the meter will be cut into soft or PEX water lines and will need to acquire the necessary fittings to do so. The meter is then wired to a self-powered digital readout that can be placed just about anywhere inside the motorhome.
In theory, the installation is not difficult and should be possible to complete by most do-it-yourselfers who are not hesitant about cutting into water lines. Finding an adequate location for the 12-inch-long (with fittings) sender may require some scouting. If there’s room, the sender can be cut into the soft, reinforced hose used to connect the outlet of the pump and PEX water lines. If that’s the case, ¾-inch NPT female to ½-inch water-line nipples will need to be attached to the adapters on the meter. These are deep threads, so it’s best to use red Teflon tape or pipe dope as a sealer. If you use the white Teflon, you’ll have to pile it on so it fills the voids in the threads, otherwise it will leak.
If cutting into the PEX lines will work, I suggest using Seal Tech fittings, which will adapt to ½-inch tubing and are simple to use. Once the meter is in place the last step is to route 20-22-gauge, shielded, two-wire cable to the digital readout. Distance between the meter and readout is not an issue, but it’s best to keep the shielded wire away from AC wires or motors.
The kit does not include the parts to install the device, which could be problematic, depending on geographic location. We did our fair share of parts-chasing during this project, which the manufacturer has rectified by offering the shielded wire (which can be difficult to find) as an option and providing a resource list for the other necessary components. Also, the instructions are not very detailed, but the company is accessible for additional guidance when necessary.
The best way to use the system is to top off the freshwater tank, zero the readout and deplete the water. Then you simply note the number of gallons used for future reference, reset the readout and watch the meter as you run the water.
Two kits are available: The WC2 is the one we installed and it sells for $225; the WC1 ($325) has a more sophisticated readout and will also count down water used.
Those who hook up may not be moved by such a product revelation, but boondockers will love it. In either case, it’s a fun gauge that promotes conservation while eliminating guesswork — and surprises.
For more information, call 912-898-8344 or visit www.watercounter.com.