RV Tankless Water Heaters: All you need to know with the pros & cons

RV tankless water heaters are the next vital update for your camper if you don’t already have one. Long hot showers with an unlimited hot water supply at your preferred temperature are especially attractive for large families camping out or traveling.

Tankless water heaters are easy to install; they are retrofit, which means they will fit into the space of your existing water heater model, given you choose the same size model as the existing one. These water heaters do not require a storage unit for the water. Using a heat exchanger, they instantly heat water when turned on, providing unlimited hot water without delay and storing water’s inefficiency. 

We will explore the why’s and how’s of RV tankless water heaters. We will give you the information required for a better off-grid experience in the 21st century. 

7 Best Tankless Water Heaters for Your Camper Reviews

  1. RV Tankless Water Heater, Fogatti 2.9 GPM, 55000 BTU Hot Water Heater 
  2. RecPro RV Tankless Water Heater
  3. GIRARD 2GWHAM Tankless Water Heater
  4. Mr. Heater BaseCamp BOSS-XB13 Battery Operated Shower System w/Extra 12Ft Hose
  5. Camplux 10L 2.64 GPM High Capacity Color Screen Propane Tankless Water Heater
  6. Marey Gas 10L Tankless Water Heater
  7. Suburban SW6DE RV Water Heater

 

Types of RV Tankless Water Heaters

RV tankless water heaters can be of a few different types, and all these types have their own merits and demerits, of course. One can pick from a variety based on the features and pros and cons that are important to you. 

Electric heaters

RV owners opt for electric tankless water heaters for several reasons. They appreciate that they are environmentally friendly and do not have greenhouse emissions. Not to mention it is very cost-effective. RV tankless electric water heaters are an attractive option also because their installation process is relatively easy. They can be used with solar panels or generators. The efficiency of a tankless electric water heater is around 99 percent. 

Gas heaters

An RV tankless gas water heater is less expensive than the electric variant, but the efficiency is around 85%. These heaters use propane or kerosene to heat water. As a result, the combustion releases greenhouse gases, making them less attractive options for more environment-conscious campers. Also, when operational, these heaters use power vents for blowing out the gases. 

Non-Condensing heaters

Non-condensing heaters use a single heat exchanger to warm the water when turned on. The heat exchanger uses stainless steel venting, which doesn’t come cheap, and also, the single unit heat exchanger makes it relatively less energy efficient. 

Condensing heaters

Condensing water heaters employ two heat exchangers, heating the water using gas or electricity, and the second, which heats the water using the heat from the exhaust. Hence, condensing water heaters are about 94% energy efficient, which works well when using hot water for an extended time.

Cheaper than the Non-condensing heaters because PVC can replace the stainless steel power vents, both types are not energy efficient when used in short bursts. 

Things to Consider Before Buying an RV Tankless Water Heater

Before deciding whether to upgrade to a tankless water heater for your RV, some key considerations should be made. These are regarding the unique demands of individuals. 

Water Capacity

Water consumption varies from one individual and family to another due to the different consumption patterns—a simple estimate of your consumption habits. Typically a shower consumes 1.5 to 3 gallons per minute, and washing dishes takes around the same amount.

The toilet and a bathtub use 3- 4.5 gallons of water per minute. A considerable accurate estimate helps determine the size and model of potential tankless water heaters.

Water Flow Rate (WFR)

The Water Flow Rate (WFR) measures the quantity of hot water that passes through a heater; basically, the amount of hot water it releases per minute, usually in gallons (GPM). People typically prefer to use the heater when they have to shower, and the best RV tankless water heater should be able to facilitate a typical family. It can supply between 2 to 2.5 gallons of hot water per minute. 

Heating Capacity (BTU)

The heat capacity that a tankless heater provides is called the British Thermal Unit (British Thermal Unit). Heating cold groundwater can prove quite challenging, as groundwater temperatures fluctuate and vary depending on the location. Many units have somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 BTU being smaller than what you would get at your home.

The higher the rating, the higher the efficiency unit. You can take this to mean that the unit can heat the water quicker. Overall, try to opt for a heater with a higher BTU to gain more for your money. 

Power Source

The power source of tankless heaters is natural gas, electricity, and propane. You need to check which power source is available in your RV before purchasing a tankless heater. If you only have a single source in your RV, you should opt for a heater powered by that power source. However, if you have more than one power supply, such as gas and propane, or gas and electricity, you should be wary that the gas heater will need more maintenance. Moreover, electric ones are relatively more expensive to run. 

Space

Space is usually scarce in a trailer, RV, or camper, and one would prefer objects that take up less space. Hence, opting for a tankless water heater with less space is a plus. It is prudent to know the heater’s actual size before buying it to make sure it can fit properly in your RV. It will also help if the heater is lightweight so that you can maneuver it without difficulty. 

Failsafe and protection features 

A tankless water heater for RVs and trailers should be equipped with some protection and safety features to ensure that it works properly without any issues. Safety features can be numerous, such as a design that prevents voltage shortages or fluctuations.

It should also prevent electronic ignition from triggering excess heat. Ideally, it should have a feature that protects it from rough weather and rough terrain; after all, one never knows what one may encounter when traveling. 

Pros and Cons of RV Tankless Water Heaters

Now onto the important part, why should you get an RV tankless water heater in the first place? One must assess the advantages and disadvantages of tankless water heaters over conventional water heaters.

Unlimited hot water:

The most significant advantage of a tankless water heater is that it supplies unlimited hot water for any RV’s needs. The flow of hot water is not dependent on a storage tank other than the main tank’s actual water supply. Hence, hot showers can be as long as one wants, and it will not hurt the chances of anyone else taking a hot shower later on.

Water running out can be quite problematic. Hence, the constant supply of hot water can be utilized for washing purposes, showering, and any other camping needs without disrupting or running out of water. 

No recovery time:

With a conventional water heater, water is heated in a tank and then used, and when it runs out, more water has to be heated. Such a long, inefficient, and energy wasteful process can be frustrating—no need for recovery time when using a tankless water heater. 

Durable:

Tankless water heaters are durable, and you won’t need to replace them frequently. They last between 10 to 15 years on average. In comparison, traditional heaters last around 6 to 10 years. Some tankless water heaters can last even 20 years if adequately maintained. 

Energy-efficient:

Unlike conventional water heaters, an RV tankless water heater is more energy-efficient. Significant energy is usually lost when hot water is left stored in a tank. 

Temperature control:

Another added benefit of such tankless water heaters is that they allow you to set the water temperature. Such a feature is useful for some campers who like to set their water temperature as per water use. 

Distribute water more efficiently:

RV tankless water heaters allow you to do multiple water-based consumption activities all at once because of their superior water flow rate (WFR). More than one person can shower simultaneously, even when hot water is used to do the dishes or wash clothes. 

Conservation and cost-effective:

RV tankless water heaters conserve more water compared to storage tank water heaters. You no longer have to run the shower for a couple of minutes before the water gets hot. These models of heaters give you hot water within 3-4 seconds of turning on the tap. This also makes these more cost-effective than the traditional water heaters, and having less of a gas bill to pay is an advantage no camper would like not to have. You are also saving water, hence being more environmentally friendly. 

Less weight:

RV tankless water heaters weigh less than factory-fitted heaters, and when you’re traveling from one location to another, it is always better to have less weight to haul around. 

All objects have their pros as well as cons. Similarly, there are certain disadvantages with RV tankless water heaters. 

Delay in getting hot water:

Delay in hot water is quite annoying, and this is a problem one faces when using tankless water heaters. Hot water takes around 3-5 seconds to arrive, resulting in wasted water as you wait for the water to heat up. Though not a big delay, it can be quite significant, and this does not allow for energy conservation if the use is infrequent or in short bursts.

This can be incredibly uncomfortable for someone, especially if they are in the middle of a shower or washing dishes. To understand this better, imagine that you have turned on the water for a few seconds to rinse, and then you turn it off to soap up. You then repeat the process. During this period, you either wastewater or have almost no hot water. These are things you don’t want to do, of course. 

Going tankless is not the right option if one is looking to conserve water.

More propane used: 

Switching from electric heaters to propane tankless water heaters can be unfeasible because you will be using more fuel. You will also use more hot water because it will become unlimited. The pros are more than the cons, but this is still something worth considering. 

Water temperatures need to be pre-set: 

The ability to set your temperature beforehand can be a good thing or a bad thing. Keep in mind that the control panel is not next to the shower, so you would need to set the temperature ahead of time. You would not be able to change the temperature if you like to adjust it frequently during your shower. 

Efficiency decreases in certain conditions: 

In low temperatures or high evaluations, propane heaters do not work as well as electric heaters. This could be an issue when traveling in high altitudes or cold seasons. 

Expensive: 

Tankless water heaters have a more expensive initial cost than RV water heaters. They cost more than traditional water heaters because of the high-end components like the power vents. This might put off some potential buyers, but in the long run, the costs are distributed.

Conclusion

All in all, frequent campers and RV owners have testified that tankless water heaters are cost-effective, efficient, easy to use, more reliable, and ultimately better than the factory-fitted models. Individuals’ pros and cons should be evaluated based on their unique demands and needs, but from an objective assessment, one can see that tankless water heaters are worth the while. 

Reliable and efficient water heaters are a need for RV owners and campers. We hope that this article has provided relevant information for your camping and traveling needs.

 

1. RV Tankless Water Heater, Fogatti 2.9 GPM, 55000 BTU Hot Water Heater with 15 x 15 Inches White Door

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2. RecPro RV Tankless Water Heater

The RecPro Tankless water heater delivers when it states that there will be no more waiting for a water tank to warm up or running out of hot water as long as you have a steady supply of propane and water.

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3. GIRARD 2GWHAM Tankless Water Heater

The Girard 2GWHAM tankless water heater allows temperatures to be set from 95 – 124 degrees Fahrenheit and can be changed to Celsius if needed. Presets allow you to set the temperature you want/need without the worry of being severely burnt. The hinged door (must be purchased separately) and sliding latch allow fast, easy access. UPC features visual diagnostics for easy troubleshooting should the need arise. The unit has a silicone exhaust ring that moves easily for attaching to the exhaust tube.

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4. Mr. Heater BaseCamp BOSS-XB13 Battery Operated Shower System w/Extra 12Ft, Hose

Mr. Heater BaseCamp brings the comfort of a nice hot shower to you. Whether you are at the beach or your campsite, Mr. Heater Delivers. The hot water system runs on D cell batteries charged via an AC adaptor.

The water system works by placing the generator into a water bucket and selecting the preferred water temperature. With a press of the button, you can enjoy a luxurious shower.

Another plus of Mr. Heater includes a 12-foot propane hose and regulator assembly for longer showers. The tankless heater is designed for use with disposable cylinders to a 5 to 20 lb tank of propane.

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5. Camplux 10L 2.64 GPM High Capacity Color Screen Propane Tankless Water Heater

Camplux 10L High Capacity Color Screen Propane Tankless Water HeaterThe Camplux 2.64 GPM tankless water heater supplies instant hot water on demand, ideal for apartments, small homes, and cabins. You can get a comfortable shower by adjusting the water temperature through the summer/winter switch. Easy read LED temperature display shows output water temperature. Note: IF you want to use the Tankless Water Heater with LP Gas, you will need to purchase the Camplux Low-Pressure Propane LPG Tanks Gas Regulator Kit

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6. MAREY Gas 10L Tankless Water Heater

Marey Power Propane Gas Digital Panel Tankless Water HeaterMarey 10L Gas Tankless Water Heater model saves space and allows easy installation just about anywhere. It heats unlimited water volume and permits you to regulate the water flow and gas flow for desirable water temperature. The Marey 10L water heater provides up to 3.1 Gallons Per Minute to provide hot water for your entire family at multiple points of use!

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7. Suburban SW6DE RV Water Heater

Suburban SW6DE RV Water HeaterSuburban is one of the best water heaters on the market today. This model features a remote switch that electronically controls the water heater. The water heater comes porcelain-lined and features an anode rod to absorb the electrolytic action, ensuring your water system will last for many years.

If the Suburban tank is properly maintained, tank life can double its 3-year limited warranty. Suburban is a name you can trust in the RV heater systems. Suburban gives you peace of mind; the quality control is second to none. The tank is pressure tested twice during manufacturing to ensure its integrity.

Fast recovery means more hot water and less cold water. This gas water heater features 12,000 BTU per hour input and a recovery rate of 10.2 gallons per hour.

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