What Is An RV Accumulator Tank And Is it Really Necessary?

Freshwater, gray water, and black water storage tanks might get a lot of attention, but they aren’t the only type of tank that plays an important role in an RV’s water system.

In fact, none of the plumbing in your RV would work as expected if it wasn’t for a device known as an accumulator tank.

If you are unhappy with the water pressure in your RV, you might want to consider adding or replacing your RV’s accumulator tank. The addition of the accumulator tank helps to extend the pump’s life and also save battery power by reducing on/off cycling of the pump by dampen water pressure.

This article will explain the purpose of an accumulator tank for your RV, how do they work and why it is necessary to invest in one.

What Does An RV Accumulator Tank Do?

An RV accumulator tank works in tandem with the fresh water pump. It is a small gadget designed to enhance the water pump’s performance by cycling the water, which not only reduces the water pump’s power consumption but also helps regulate the pressure in your RV’s water lines. 

If your RV didn’t have an accumulator tank, you could suffer pressure fluctuations that could damage gaskets, seals, and joints in your freshwater lines.

At the same time, the accumulator tank’s cycling prevents pulsing in the water lines when you turn on a fixture. This gives you a more consistent stream of water out of all your taps. 

You also find accumulator tanks in homes that draw their water from a well, rather than a municipal source.

It also helps prevent the “Water Hammer” effect that sometimes happens in well water lines. 

Where Is An Accumulator Tank Installed?

While it works with the RV’s water pump, the accumulator tank needs to be installed anywhere on the pressurized side of the water pump.

The inside of the accumulator tank has a small air bladder that inflates like a balloon. 

It regulates the pressure when the pump activates, which essentially compresses it.

Even once the water pump disengages the pressure in the accumulator tank’s air bladder balloon can continue to push water out of the tank to maintain pressure in your RV’s water lines.

Do All RVs Have an Accumulator Tank?

Not all RV’s have an accumulator tank, though most travel trailers and larger RVs do.

If you’ve noticed poor water pressure, or decreasing water pressure when your freshwater storage tank starts running low, then chances are you don’t have an accumulator tank in your RV, or your accumulator tank has malfunctioned.

You might also notice a strange pulsing in the consistency of your plumbing fixtures. 

What Are The Benefits Of Installing An Accumulator Tank?

What Are The Benefits Of Installing An Accumulator Tank

If your RV doesn’t have an accumulator tank, you might still want to consider installing one. It can help in a variety of ways. 

1. Water Pump Performance

An accumulator tank helps improve your RV water pump’s performance.

This helps reduce the amount of power it draws to move the same volume of water from the freshwater storage tank to the open fixture.

2. Consistent Water Pressure

Without an accumulator tank, your RV’s water pump will pulse water to the fixtures, which can be annoying for washing your hands or dishes.

It can also potentially damage your water lines, as high-pressure surges could eventually cause a gasket or seal to fail. 

3. Prevents A Water Hammer Effect

Water hammer is a violent pulsing that sometimes occurs in residential plumbing systems, where the oscillating pressure causes the pipes to vibrate.

In an RV a water hammer effect can easily cause a seal, gasket, or joint to fail. This can deposit an enormous amount of water in a short period of time. 

4. Extends Water Pump Life

An accumulator tank also helps reduce the stress on your RV’s water pump. Even if you don’t already have one, installing an accumulator tank could save you from replacing a water pump down the road.

What Pressure Should I Set My Accumulator Tank At?

If your RV has an accumulator tank or you have had an aftermarket tank installed, you will need to set the accumulator tank’s pressure switch to activate at a specific pressure level.

This is typically around 30 PSI. Then make sure to also set it in “Static” condition.

This will help optimize the performance of the water pump as well as deliver a consistent stream to all your plumbing fixtures. 

How Much Does An Accumulator Tank Cost?

Most RV accumulator tanks will cost between $35 to $60. Though they can vary by manufacturer and model.

Best RV Accumulator Tanks

Best RV Accumulator Tanks

There are a lot of RV accumulator tanks on the market. Though a few do rise to the top. They are typically pre-pressurized and designed to be easy to install.

While you might be able to use them in residential applications, such as pressurizing a well-water line, the following models are best for RV use. 

1: SHURflo 1202.1013 Pre-Pressurized Accumulator Tank

The SHURflo 182-200 comes pre-pressurized to 30 PSI with a built-in diaphragm to create a more consistent water flow while reducing the stress on your RV’s water pump.

It only weighs 16 ounces and is ‎5 x 5.5 x 11.25 inches in size. It has an internal tank capacity of 21 fluid ounces.

2: SEAFLO Pre-Pressurized Accumulator Tank

The SEAFLO ‎SFAT-075-125-01 is pre-pressurized at 10 PSI and has a cut in pressure of just 3 PSI to ensure it turns on without delay when you open the taps.

It weighs .79 of a pound and measures 7.87 x 5 x 4.94 inches. It was designed to be easy to install and is backed by an impressive 4-year warranty. 

3: Lucosobie RV Accumulator Tank

The Lutwo barbed fittings and solve the pulsing problem with freshwater system on RV.

The manufacturer designed it to be very easy to install and recommends that you install it about 2 inches from the RV’s fresh water pump to allow installation of the hoses.

It has a rubber liner to extend the life of the unit and is backed by a 1-year warranty. This RV accumulator tank weighs just over 1 pound and measures 9.45 x 6.54 x 5.12 inches

Conclusion

Even if your RV doesn’t already have an accumulator tank, you should still consider investing in one.

The cost is minimal, but it can go a long way toward improving your water pump’s performance.

Not to mention reducing the wear and tear, which can prevent the need to replace the pump as your RV ages.

It can also prevent the water hammer effect that can cause a water line failure.

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