Portable RV Macerator Pump: 3 Top Reasons Why You Might Need One
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
By Kelly Beasley
Last Updated: September 19, 2022
So you've probably heard of an RV septic pump.
But you may not know what a macerator pump is, what it does, and when you would need one. An RV grinder pump grinds up and sucks sewage waste out of your black tank or grey tank.
As full-time Rvers, we probably dumped at least 300 times, but we never needed a portable RV macerator pump.
So when do you need one? Here are 3 situations when a macerator is necessary.
What are those three situations?
First, let's figure out if you need one if it would benefit your situation, and which one is the best in our book.
If you only want to know the 3 situations, you can jump to the answer below.
What Does An RV Macerator Pump Do And What Is It?
A portable macerator pump is a grinding device made to chew up your waste solids and pump it out of your RV holding tanks when you dump them.
It works much like a garbage disposal.
Except the disposal isn't under the sink. It connects to your sewer drain valve.
It chews up the toilet paper and poo (I'm gonna vomit now), turning it into a slurry.
Then, it empties using a much smaller hose than the traditional 3-inch RV sewer hose.
It also pumps it out instead of relying on gravity to get it out.
So, do YOU need a macerator? Let's look at the RV macerator pump pros and cons.
Advantages Of An RV Macerator Pump
Why might you benefit from using an RV macerator pump?
There are a few reasons:
1. Can Dump Waste Uphill
A traditional RV waste hose relies on gravity to get the waste out of your tanks.
This means if there's a ledge or if it's uphill into the RV sewer, you're in for a super annoying and challenging (or even impossible) endeavor.
We encountered one of those scenarios at a dump station in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
There was a little wall around the sewage hole, and the darn thing was almost a foot high.
This prevented the liquids from exiting the tank after it was about half empty.
The pressure in the tank wasn't high enough for gravity to push the remaining liquids over the lip.
Therefore, we had to repeatedly lift the hose and 'walk' the liquids out and down the drain. It's hard to explain.
The 'walking' had to be done over and over and over again. It was tedious, back-breaking, and took forever.
With a macerator pump, we wouldn't have had to do that. The RV sewer pump would have pushed the slurry through the hose for us.
If you live where your dump hole is higher than your waste tanks, you need a macerator system.
2. Uses A Smaller Hose
Instead of using a standard RV sewer hose to dump the contents of your tanks, you can use any regular garden-sized hose. You just need a garden hose discharge port, which you can get at any RV supply store.
This hose won't take up as much room as a stinky slinky.
Also, if something happens to your hose, it's much easier to find a new garden hose than it is to find an RV sewer hose.
And really, it COULD be a multi-use hose. You can use it on the road for two weeks, then use it in the garden for the rest of the year.
This one is up to you.
3. Good For Dumping Longer Distances
Most RV sewer hoses aren't very long.
A garden hose comes in many (and much longer) lengths, so it's easier to find a long hose.
It's also the way to go if you're dumping into a home's toilet.
4. An RV Macerator Pump Hose Doesn't Need Cleaning
The traditional 3-inch exit hose that most RVers use must be rinsed after use.
There also might be grooves that 'bits' can get stuck in and need to be rinsed out. Not so with a garden-type hose.
A macerator grinds everything up. So particle size of the sewage is smaller.
Also, since you can connect a rinse hose to the macerator and rinse out the entire hose, there's no extra step of rinsing your hose after disconnecting it.
5. Less Odor
Using a macerator makes dumping as odorless as anything out there.
Because the sewer connection allows for water to rinse out the hose, it gets cleaned while attached.
After disconnecting, one must almost always rinse out the inside of a traditional hose.
And the plastic of the garden hose is pretty thick, so you're not smelling the black water tank contents through the hose.
6. Helps Prevent Clogs
One of an RVers worst nightmares is dealing with a black tank clog. Using a macerator for RV helps prevent this situation. It has a stainless steel cutter that grinds up the 'goods' so there are no big chunks to clog any hose. You can still have a clog if there is a solid buildup blocking the exit route.
What Are The Disadvantages Of A Macerator Pump?
No, macerators aren't perfect.
There are plenty of things about them that might turn you off.
Notice that our cons list is a lot longer than our pros list.
Macerators are not free. While they aren't SUPER expensive, they might cost more than you want to spend.
Most Macerators cost between $100 to $300.
The good ones will run you $200 to $300.
You also need to buy the garden hose (or two), which will put you back a minimum of about $15 each, and up to $50+, depending on the length and quality you select.
2. Increased Dumping Time
Because you are dumping through a much smaller diameter hose (using a garden hose) than the 3-inch hose typically used, naturally, it takes longer for it all to escape your tanks.
Depending on your tank sizes, the additional time could be nominal.
This is especially inconvenient when in line with people behind you.
Public dump stations are not the time or place to use a macerator.
It also takes time to connect and disconnect your portable waste pump to a power source.
But you may have a very simple and quick connection, making that "extra" time irrelevant.
3. It Can Break
Macerators aren't perfect.
Even with thermal protection, sometimes they overheat.
This makes emptying your recreational vehicle longer if it happens (because you must wait for it to cool to use it again).
Make sure you keep fuses handy in the event your macerator fuse blows.
Anyway, know that if you get one, it's one more thing that might break or need attending.
4. Cannot Leave It Connected
You can't travel with your macerator pump for RV connected to your exterior waste port.
Meaning you have to connect and disconnect it with every dump. (Unless you're fixed in one spot, of course.)
5. Can't Let It Run Dry
If you let your RV waste pump run dry at all or for too long, it will become damaged.
6. There's A Maximum Lift Height
Let's say where you want to empty slopes up 15 feet higher than your rig.
Well, most macerator pumps have a 6-10 foot lift limit. Just make sure you get a macerator that can handle the lift.
It also depends on how far away the dump hole is.
The farther it is, the harder a time the RV black water pump has pushing out the contents.
7. How Far Can An RV Macerator Pump? It's Not Limitless
Be SURE to check the distance limit that the RV holding tank pump you buy can pump (also check the lift or height gain it is capable of).
Every pump has a limit, and it's not always easy to find on the manufacturer's page or on Amazon.
But you need to know this number if you are pumping long distances beyond 20 feet.
Some macerators have loud motors.
You'll find people who claim they wouldn't use their RV sewer grinder at a campground because it's so loud.
Not every RV black tank macerator is bad, though.
9. RV Waste Pump Kit Power Problems
Usually, an RV tank pump comes with a 12-volt car outlet cigarette lighter power cord.
If you don't have one close enough to your septic outlet, you'll probably have to re-wire it so it can reach your power supply. Boo.
That, or you can get a portable battery and a power cord with clamps at the end.
You'll have to get the battery out each time you use it.
Wowza. As you can see, macerator pumps have a lot left to be desired.
So, do you need one?
The 3 Reasons You'd NEED An RV Waste Pump Macerator
There are only three ways a macerator pump is NEEDED.
It's only necessary if:
- You need to pump uphill
- The dump is far from where you are parked
- You want to dump into a toilet
If you're an RVer that travels and stays in campgrounds and unloads at local dump stations, no, you don't need a macerator pump.
But if you live full-time in your recreational vehicle somewhere where the dump empties uphill or a good distance from your RV, OR you want to run it into a toilet inside a home, you need an RV sewage pump.
Otherwise, having an RV macerator system is a personal preference.
How Far Will An RV Septic Tank Pump Work?
RV macerators have limited distances that they can pump.
Read the box or user manual to determine how long it can go.
On average, you'll find anywhere from 50 to 150 feet.
It might also vary depending on the diameter of the hose. The bigger the hose, the less restrictive the flow of wastewater and, therefore, the farther it can pump.
How Much Does An RV Black Tank Pump Cost?
A good RV black water macerator pump costs anywhere from $100 to $300.
That said, you can find them as cheap as $50, though you should expect problems to arise from such an inexpensive unit.
Don't be surprised if it dies if you go that cheap.
Can I Install An RV Macerator Pump Myself?
A portable RV sewer macerator is easy to install.
"Install" isn't even the right word for it. There's no installation. One end connects to and disconnects from your RV sewer outlet the same as your 3-inch hose does.
It uses the existing RV sewer outlet and bayonet system.
It twists on and off.
Then, connect it to your power supply and connect the hose and the water supply hose, and you're good to go.
What's The Cost, And Where Do I Get One?
You can find macerators for RVs in places like Amazon, camping supply stores, and Walmart.
They run between around $100 to $300.
We share the one we recommend directly below with a link to buy.
Can An RV Macerator Pump Uphill?
Yes, that's one thing it's designed for. Make sure you aren't parked further from the dump inlet than the manufacturer suggests.
What Is The Best RV Macerator Pump?
We believe the best RV macerator pump is the Flojet 18555.
We haven't found many good and dependable portable macerators on the market.
Here's what you need to know about this portable RV waste pump.
Flojet 18555 Sewer Pump For RV
This portable macerator reduces your particle size (eew) to 1/8 inch.
Weighing just one pound, it's a very popular and reliable waste pump for RV.
- 30 seconds of run-dry protection
- Run time: 15 minutes (do not go over)
- It has a remote handheld on/off switch with a 6 foot wire harness
- Easy cleanup and storage AND comes with a portable storage case
- Stainless steel blades so no breakage
- It has a one-year limited warranty
- Claims to empty a 40-gallon tank in 5 minutes.
- Maximum hose length: 5/8 inch hose diameter = 25 feet
- Maximum hose length 3/4 inch hose diameter = 50 feet
We can find no other brand or unit that competes with this portable unit. There are some off-brands out there for cheaper, yes.
But purchase the cheap alternatives at your own risk.
A sewage pump for RV, better known as a macerator pump, is not always necessary.
It's best for three things: dumping far away, uphill, into a toilet, or (gasp!) all three.
Otherwise, you don't need one.
Using a traditional 3-inch sewer hose almost always works just fine.
But some people like using a macerator as it's a little cleaner and less stinky than using a traditional hose.
But if you want to get one, now you know the pros and cons you'll get with it. Good luck!
Author: Kelly Beasley
Hello! I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, we both converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking. I learned a lot about the RV life and lifestyle during those years. Now we share what we know with you here at Camp Addict.
After that many years of wonderful full-time travel, it was time for something new. These days, I'm often found working from my new Az home, and sometimes plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!).