Prior to getting our Reconn R2 hybrid camper, I’d read of others using flow meters for camping, and thought it was a pretty good idea. Lucky for us, our Reconn came with two Topargee water tank gauges installed and I’ve been able to see how they really perform over the last two years.
What are they?
In essence, the Topargee Water Tank Gauge is a flow meter, and measures the flow of water from your water tank (s). This is extremely useful as it shows to the litre how much you’ve got left in the tank, and allows you to accurately determine your consumption each day.
For example, if we reset our rear water tank , it will show 90 litres remaining. If I fill our 2L kettle up out of one tank, it will go down to 88L, and you know exactly what is left.
Why are they better than a traditional water tank gauge?
Traditional water tank gauges are notoriously unreliable. This is particularly amplified when you are parked on a slope, the tank isn’t perfectly level or you have more than one tank hooked up together. Those who’ve used them before will regularly comment on them staying ‘full’ for a long time, and then dropping like a stone. Not good if you think you have lots of water left, and then you have almost none!
Even if water tank gauges worked reliably, most only have 4 – 8 bars, which means you are dropping 10 – 30L each time, and you don’t have anywhere near the refinement that is useful. If the fuel gauge in your vehicle dropped by a quarter each time, you’d find it annoying and water tanks are no different.
By measuring flow, you know exactly how much water you have left, at the press of a button. If you use 3 litres, with a normal water tank gauge you’d see no movement at all, but you can see it live on the Topargee flow metre, in real time. It literally comes on when water is flowing, and you can see the water going out of your tank, one litre at a time.
Installing a Topargee water tank gauge
These water tank gauges are extremely simple to install. The display is attached to the flow metre via a cable, and then they take 12V power from the nearest source. The display is screwed onto the wall, and it will power up every time you press a button, or you turn the water on. These take normal fittings, and can be plumbed into any camper trailer, caravan, motorhome or even house very easily.
They work on 12V water pump systems, or gravity fed arrangements. Initially, you need to set the tank size on the metre, and then it will do its thing. Simply reset the water left each time you fill the tank, and you’ll know to the litre how much water you have left!
What happens if you only top up?
I have had a number of people ask about what happens when you add a jerry can of water in. The simple answer is nothing; you can’t change the figure, and resetting it unless its full would give you an inaccurate reading.
You either need to remember that you’ve added extra water, or fill it up completely. For us, we carry 320L of water, and I’ve never had to partially top them up, even when staying off grid for 9 days.
There’s no reason why you couldn’t run one of these in tandem with the traditional water metres that many setups come with.
How much are the Topargee Gauges?
These are $95, $129 or $139 depending on what model you get (surface mount, flush or bluetooth). Not bad value, for what you get.
Are they accurate?
Honestly, I can’t answer this with any real meaning. We’ve never run our tanks out, and even if we did, its very hard to get the tanks completely full, so I wouldn’t be able to tell. I will say that a friend of ours used 20L on the gauge, and couldn’t fit a full jerry can back into his van, but it could be related to how it was parked, or air in the tanks.
In our experience, they are accurate, but their website does state +/- 5%. They are certainly far more accurate than traditional water tank gauges!
Sarah and I often have a competition to see who can use the least amount of water in a shower, which is always entertaining. For our family of 4, we can get away with using 14 litres of water, which is pretty good!
Are they worth it?
Water is imperative when camping, especially if you do a lot of off grid camping. I won’t get another setup without these; they are a game changer when it comes to knowing exactly how much water you have left, and ultimately whether you can have another shower, or stay 3 more days in one spot.
We’ve found we can survive on about 25L of water a day for our family of 4, including showers if we are conservative. If we have heaps of water and don’t care, its easy to go through 50L a day. The topargee gauge allows us the luxury of deciding easily, and accurately without taking a punt, and running out of the precious commodity; water!