What Are RV Electric Dump Valves?
When you dump the black and grey tanks in your RV you open them by pulling handles that are connected to gate valves.
RV waste valves are large valves that have a sliding plastic piece inside. It acts like a gate that holds or releases the waste inside the grey and black tanks.
Related Product: See how level your RV is using an App on your phone with the LevelMatePro Wireless RV Leveling System (click to view on Amazon)
The handles to these gate valves can be found outside the RV.
On smaller RVs, the handles are usually connected directly to the gate valves, and you will see both the gate valves and the handles by the sewer outlet.
Larger RVs will often have the holding tanks further away from the sewer outlet. The gate valves will be somewhere further underneath the RV.
The handles to this type of gate valve will still be outside the RV and somewhere near the sewer outlet, but they are connected to the gates via long cables.
Any kind of RV holding tank valve can be swapped out for electric dump valves, also called electric waste valves.
Electric dump valves have a gate that’s identical to the manual kind. The only difference is an electrical motor at the top of the valve where the handle usually goes.
The size for these valves is universal, 3 inches for the black tank and 1.5 inches or sometimes 3 inches for the grey tank.
See Also: Best RV Sewer Hose Kits Reviewed & Rated
Electric waste valves are operated by a switch you can install anywhere inside your RV and they are powered by the RV’s 12 volt battery system.
In this article, I’ll go over some of the pros and cons of electric dump valves.
I’ll also review a few of the most popular brands of electric waste valves and give a short installation overview.
Why Get Electric Dump Valves for Your RV?
A lot of RV owners view electric dump valves as a solution to a problem they don’t have, and for the most part that’s pretty true.
Electric waste valves are not a must have RV gadget, manual gate valves work great and most people have no problem using them.
So why get an electric dump valve?
For When Staying in RV Parks
For myself, the reason I would install an electric waste valve on my RV would be for the times when I stay in RV parks.
When you are hooked up to a sewer the black and grey tank valves need to stay closed. Otherwise, you become the vent for the entire sewer system.
Trust me, the smell is not a fun surprise to come back to if you forget to close one of the valves.
Depending on how much you use your holding tanks, you will need to go outside and dump them whenever they get filled.
In our small motorhome, the grey tank needs to be dumped almost every day whenever we stay in RV parks.
It’s not really a lot of work to walk outside and open the gate valve, but it can get annoying having to do it every day.
Waiting outside for it to empty isn’t always fun either, especially when it’s cold outside.
For me, adding an electric dump valve to at least the grey tank could make staying in an RV park a little more comfortable.
All I would have to do to dump the grey is flip a switch to open the valve, then close it after a few minutes, easy peasy.
For dumping the black I would like to be near the sewer hose so I can keep an eye on it, but for the grey tank, it could be incredibly useful.
If you Have Difficulty Reaching or Pulling the Handles
Another reason to make the switch to electric waste valves on your RV would be accessibility.
The handles to the dump valves are usually low to the ground, and you are often required to kneel down to open them.
They can also get sticky and hard to open and close over time.
For both of those reasons, installing RV dump valves that can be opened and closed with the press of a button could be a must have for some RV owners.
Electric Dump Valve Pros & Cons
- Can dump your RV from inside. Very handy when RV is hooked up to a sewer.
- Helps those with accessibility issues. No more having to kneel down to reach the handles.
- The valve part is easy to install. RV gate valve sizes are universal.
- Like many electrical RV gadgets, all brands of electric waste valves can break down or be unreliable.
- If the electric waste valve fails and it’s located under the RV it could take some time to get to the manual lever. This could cause extra stress at busy RV dump stations.
- Installing electrical takes a little bit of know how.
- Will need to run wires from outside the RV to inside the RV. May require drilling some holes.
- Risk of accidentally pressing the button and dumping the black or grey tank when not hooked up to a sewer or at an RV dump station. (I have a DIY fix idea for this later on in this article.)
Best Electric Dump Valves Reviews & Info
So maybe I’m not making the best case for installing electric waste valves onto your RV.
But if you live in an RV park or have issues kneeling down to open the gate valves one of these kinds of electric valves could make RV life a lot easier.
If you decide you want to install an electric dump valve on your black tank, grey tank, or even both of them, you have a few brands to choose from.
Last update on 2023-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Valterra is a name you will see on a lot of RV waste systems.
The company makes most of the gate valves used today and it even has its own special kind of RV sewer hose that doesn’t use the common bayonet fittings.
The Valterra E1003VP EZ Valve electric waste valve system uses a 3 inch gate valve and a standard handle that’s connected to a small electrical motor.
Included with the kit is the 3 inch electric dump valve, a 4 foot power cable, a 3 foot switch cable, a switch, two switch plates (one for grey and one for black), mounting bolts, and 3 inch O-rings.
Each kit only includes one electric waste valve. That means you will need to get two if you plan on installing one on each RV holding tank.
Almost every camper has a 3 inch pipe coming out of the black tank. So the Valterra should be a direct replacement.
The grey tank can be a little different though. Some RVs use the same 3 inch pipe for the gray tank outlet as well, while others use a 1.5 inch pipe and gate valve instead.
To make the 3″ Valterra work with a 1.5″ pipe you can use two Valterra Eccentric Tank Reducers (click to view on Amazon) and two 3 inch Valterra Slip Hub Flanges (click to view on Amazon).
Since you will be connecting pipes together you will also need some PVC Pipe Cement & Primer (click to view on Amazon).
Some of the main features of the Valterra are; a 1.3 second open and close cycle, operating temperature from 35-120°F, and vertical to horizontal mounting.
It uses 12 volt power and uses 2.5 amps or 30 watts of power.
There is a 5 amp breaker already installed, it can be reset via the switch plate.
There’s also a light on the switch that turns on when the valve is open and turns off when it’s closed.
The valve can be opened manually by turning the handle that is connected to the motor. When turned it releases from the motor and you can pull it open just like a regular RV dump valve.
To install you need to empty the holding tank completely. Then undo the 4 bolts that are holding the current valve in place.
Once those bolts are gone the valve and handle will slide out easily. Then you just slide in the new electric waste valve, change the o-rings with the new included ones, and replace the bolts.
For the electrical, you will need to decide where you want the switch to be. Many put the switch in the bathroom or by the main control center where all the sensors and other switches are.
To power the Valterra you can run cables directly to the RV battery, connect it to the junction box, or even wire it to the 12 volt side of the power center.
The Valterra E1003VP EZ Valve is an excellent choice for RVs that have cable gate valves and 3 inch black and grey tank outlet pipes.
Valterra is a trusted name and its electric waste valve seems to work just as well if not better than some of the other choices out there.
- Fast Open & Close Time
- Electrical Cables Included
- Easy to Use Manual Handle
- Grey & Black Tank Switch Plates Included
- Built In 5 Amp Breaker
- Indicator Light on Switch Shows it Open or Closed
- Switch Mounts Flush to Wall (Looks Good Inside an RV)
- No 1.5 inch Option
- No Wiring Diagram Included
Will not work for RV dump valves that use a cable. For Valterra & Bristol gate valves only.
The Barker auto drain is another excellent electric dump valve option, but it works a little differently than the Valterra.
With the Valterra you replace the whole gate valve. The Barker Auto Drain does not replace the valve, it simply attaches to the handle.
Installation is super easy, you should still drain your holding tanks, but you don’t need to fully remove the valve.
There’s a model for 3 inch pipes (linked to above) and a smaller version for 1.5 inch pipes (click to view on Amazon).
Both versions include one motor, a rocker switch, and a switch box with indicator lights so you can see if the valve is open or closed.
Like all electrical dump valves, the Barker uses 12 volt power. The 3″ model uses 2 amps, 24 watts, and the 1.5″ model uses 1.5 amp, 18 watts.
An inline fuse is also included.
The open and close cycles are 7 seconds for the 3″ model and 4 seconds for the 1.5″ once. You hold down the switch the entire time the valve is opening or closing.
To install you take out the top two bolts on the gate valve. Line up the included mounting bracket with the holes from the two bolts and replace the bolts.
Make sure the dump valve and the Barker are both in the fully closed position. Then remove the handle to the gate valve and connect the Auto Drain motor.
The switch isn’t as nice looking as the one for the Valterra.
It’s made to be installed in one of the storage compartments of the RV, but you can still install it inside a cabinet in the RV if you want to be able to control it from the inside.
The wiring harness from the valve to the switch is 3 feet. You will most likely need some extra 16 AWG wire to connect power from the switch box to the battery, junction, or power center.
If your RV has a Valterra or Bristol gate valve that has the handle connected directly to the gate the Barker Auto Drain could be the best option for you.
It’s pretty easy to install and the housing Barker has put around the motor makes it very durable, which is important for any RV gadget.
- 3 & 1.5 inch Options
- No Need To Remove Current Valve
- Indicator Lights Show Open or Closed
- No Manual Override Must Disconnect Handle
- Will Not Work For Cable Dump Valves
- Not Enough Wire Included For Most Installations
- Switch Doesn’t Mount Flush to Wall
DIY Cover for an Electric Dump Valve Switch
One thing about the electric waste valves that come with a switch that mounts flush to the wall is there’s always a chance it could be pressed by accident.
Opening either holding tank without being connected to a sewer or ready to go at a dump station is not going to end well, especially if it’s the black tank.
To reduce the risk of this happening you can mount the switch up high so no one accidentally presses it, or you could put a cover over the switch so it can’t be easily pressed.
One RVer had the genius idea to take a small box with a hinged lid like this (click to view on Amazon) to cover the switch.
All you have to do is cut out a hole in the bottom of the box that’s big enough to let the back of the switch and cables through.
Then drill holes that line up with the holes that are holding the switch cover plate in place.
Remount the switch and the cover plate with the tin box behind them.
You now have a small protective cover over the switch.
Frequently Asked Questions About Electric Dump Valves
Do electric dump valves need to be lubricated?
Yes, you should continue to maintain the drain valves in your RV like you normally would.
Letting the valves get sticky and hard to open and close will put unnecessary strain on the electric waste valve motors and cause them to wear out faster or break.
What size of cable should I use as an extension cable for an electric waste valve?
It’s recommended to use 16 AWG wire (click to view on Amazon) for most electric waste valves.
Many don’t come with enough wire to reach the switch and the 12 volt power source whether it be the battery or junction box.
It’s likely that you will need to have wire on hand. Make sure you waterproof any connections that could be exposed to the elements.
Are the bolt patterns on RV dump valves universal?
Yes, Valterra, Bristol, GrenTec, Bladex, and Anonda valves all use the same bolt pattern.
That means you can usually replace any of these valves with the Valterra EZ Valve so long as the pipe diameter matches.
Can electric dump valves be left open?
You can leave your electric dump valves open if you are winterizing your RV, but if there is an indicator light on the switch it will stay on until the valve is closed.
This could slowly drain a battery and make the light burn out faster than intended.
For that reason, it’s recommended to disconnect the power when winterizing so the light turns off.
Have any more questions about electric dump valves on RVs? Leave a comment below.