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: April 26, 2022
After a combined 14 years of RVing experience, Marshall and I have probably dumped our RV tanks at least over 300 times (eew).
That said, one thing we never needed (except in one instance) was a portable RV Macerator pump.
Nevertheless, there are 3 situations when a macerator is necessary.
What are those three situations?
We'll get into that shortly.
So 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 reasons, you can jump to that answer below.
What Is An RV Macerator Pump?
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.
It works much like a garbage disposal.
Except the disposal isn't under the sink. It goes right where you connect your sewer hose when you dump.
It chews up the toilet paper and poo (I'm gonna vomit now) turning it into a sludge.
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? The benefits (and disadvantages) of using an RV septic pump are as follows.
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 dump hose relies on gravity to get the waste out of your tanks.
This means if you have to dump over a ledge or even dump 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 dump 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 up 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 it through the hose for us.
If you live where you need to dump into a port that's 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.
It 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 your two weeks, then use it in the garden 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 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 you disconnect it from your RV and the dump.
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 dump hose, it gets cleaned while attached.
One must almost always rinse out the inside of a traditional hose after disconnecting.
And the plastic of the garden hose is pretty thick, so you're not smelling the black water tank contents through the hose.
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-$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 normally 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 a dump line with people behind you.
Public dump stations are not really the time or place to be using a macerator.
There's also the time it takes 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 adds to the dump time 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 dump 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 is.
The farther it is, the harder a time the RV black water pump has pushing out the contents.
7. There's A Maximum Length RV Waste Macerators Can Pump
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 Amazon.
But you need to know this number if you are pumping anywhere beyond about 20 feet.
Some macerators have loud motors.
You'll find people who claim they wouldn't use theirs at a campground because it's so loud.
Not all are that bad, though.
9.RV Waste Pump Kit Power Problems
Usually, macerators come 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, there is a lot left to be desired about macerator pumps.
So, do you need one?
The 3 Reasons You'd NEED A Macerator Pump
There are only three ways a macerator pump is NEEDED.
It's only necessary if:
- You need to dump 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 dumps at local dump stations, no, you don't need a macerator pump.
But if you were to 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 A Macerator Pump Work?
RV macerators have limited distances that they can pump.
Read the box or user manual to find out how one 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 waste water and therefore the farther it can pump.
How Much Does An RV Macerator Pump Cost?
A good RV black water macerator pump will cost anywhere from $100 to $300, depending on quality.
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 something breaks if you go that cheap.
Can I Install An RV Macerator Pump Myself?
A portable RV sewer macerator is very easy to install and use.
"Install" isn't even the right word for it. There's no installation. The one end connects to and disconnects from your RV sewer outlet (rotates onto) the same as your 3-inch hose does.
It uses the existing RV sewer outlet and bayonet system.
It twists on and off.
Then, it's as simple as connecting it to your power supply and connecting the dump hose and the water supply hose.
What's The Cost, And Where Do I Get One?
You can find a portable RV macerator pump in places like Amazon, in camping supply stores, and at Walmart.
They run between around $100 to $300.
We share the one we recommend directly below with a link to buy.
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.
This portable macerator reduces your particle size (eew) to 1/8".
Weighing just one pound, it's a very popular and reliable macerator.
- 30 seconds of run-dry protection
- Run time: 15 minutes (do not go over)
- Has a remote handheld on/off switch with a 6' wire harness
- Easy cleanup and storage AND comes with 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" hose diameter = 25 feet
- Maximum hose length 3/4" hose diameter = 50 feet
There's no other brand or unit we can find that competes with this portable unit. There are some off-brands out there for cheaper, yes.
But buy the cheap alternatives at your own risk.
An RV wastewater pump, better known as a macerator pump, is not for every RVing situation.
It's best for three things: dumping far away, uphill, into a toilet, or (gasp!) all three.
Otherwise, there aren't many legit reasons to get one.
Dumping with the 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 to dump.
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!).