RV Tankless Water Heaters: All you need to know with the pros & cons
RV tankless water heaters are the next vital update to consider for your camper if you don’t already have one. Long hot showers with an unlimited supply of hot water 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.
This article will explore the why’s, how’s, and oh-geez’s of RV tankless water heaters, along with all the pros and cons. We will give you the information required for a better off-grid experience in the 21st century.
10 Best Tankless Water Heaters for Your Camper Reviews
- PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Water Heater – Wall Vented
- Atwood GC10A-4E-10 10 Gallon RV Water Heater Gas/Electric.
- Eccotemp L10 2.6 GPM Portable Tankless Water Heater
- RecPro RV Tankless Water Heater
- GIRARD 2GWHAM Tankless Water Heater
- Mr. Heater BaseCamp BOSS-XB13 Battery Operated Shower System w/Extra 12Ft Hose
- EZ 101 Tankless Water Heater
- Camplux 10L 2.64 GPM High Capacity Color Screen Propane Tankless Water Heater
- Marey Gas 10L Tankless Water Heater
- 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 combination of features and pros and cons that are important to you.
RV owners opt for electric tankless water heaters for several reasons. They appreciate the fact that they are environment friendly and does not have greenhouse emissions. Not to mention it 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.
An RV tankless gas water heater is less expensive than the electric variant, but the efficiency comes down to around 85%. These heaters use propane or kerosene to heat water. As a result, the combustion releases greenhouse gases, making them less attractive an option for the more environment-conscious campers. Also, when operational, these heaters use power vents for blowing out the gases.
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 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 consumption varies from one individual and family to another due to the different consumption patterns. A simple estimate should be made of your consumption habits. Typically a shower consumes within 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. Having a considerable accurate estimate helps in determining 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. This is usually in gallons per minute (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 they also vary depending on the location. A lot of units have somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 BTU. This is just a bit 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.
The power source of tankless heaters is natural gas, electricity, and propane. You would 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 is usually scarce in a trailer, RV, or camper, and one would ideally prefer objects that take up less space. Hence opting for a tankless water heater that takes up less space is the sensible way to go. 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 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 of numerous types, such as a design that prevents voltage shortages or fluctuations.
It should also prevent electronic ignition triggering from excess heat. Ideally, it should have a feature which 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 actual advantages and disadvantages of tankless water heaters over conventional water heaters.
Unlimited hot water:
The most significant advantage of a tankless water heater 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 quiet problematic. Hence the constant supply of hot water can be utilized for washing purposes and showering, and any other camping needs without disrupting or running out of water for someone else.
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 before it can be used. Such a long, inefficient, and energy wasteful process can be quite frustrating, and understandably so. With a tankless water heater, recovery time is taken out of the whole process.
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 they are adequately maintained.
As opposed to conventional water heaters, an RV tankless water heater is much more energy-efficient. Significant energy is usually lost when hot water is left stored in a tank waiting to be used.
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. This would be ideal for people who prefer different temperatures for washing, cooking, and showering.
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 being 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.
RV tankless water heaters weigh less than the 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 heater.
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; this can also result in a lot of water being wasted 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 the middle of 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 end up wasting water, or you have almost no hot water. These are things you don’t want to do, of course.
If one is looking to conserve water, going tankless is not the right option.
More propane used:
Switching from electric heaters to propane tankless water heater can be unfeasible because you will be using more fuel. You will also end up using 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 the control panel is not next to the shower, which means 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 you are traveling in high altitudes or during cold seasons.
Tankless water heaters have a more expensive initial cost than standard RV water heaters. They cost more compared to 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.
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.
The one advantage that the RV-550 offers is that the Tankless water heater has no pilot light to worry about and efficiently offers very high propane. The water heater will only operate when a hot water tap is in the open position. The RV-550 self-adjust the gas usage based on the water usage and incoming water temperature without overheating the water in the warm months and not heating it enough in the colder months.
The RV-550 is the only tankless water heater with built-in freeze protection for a 4 season use. This water heater boasts an incredible hot water output at 55,000 BTU’s, The highest in the industry. That is 50 % more power than most RV tankless water heaters on the market. With this much power, you can have the ease of knowing that your water temperature will remain constant, regardless of the flow rate or incoming water temperature (at a minimum of 0.5 GPM) and optimal operation of 1.0 GPM.Buy on Amazon
The Atwood GC10A-4E-10 is compact at just 16” wide, 16” high, and just 21” deep, saving you precious space in the RV. Only 24 pounds when empty, can help save on the weight you are also hauling. 10-gallon capacity is enough to get your hot water needs taken care of.
- 10 Gallon Capacity Direct Spark Electric Ignition
- 10,000 BTU Recovery Rate of 14.7 Gallons Per Hour
- 24 Lbs Empty Weight
- 16″ Wide x 16″ High x 21″ Deep
Whether your boondocking or camping with friends or spending a day at the lake. The Eccotemp L10 2.6 GPM Portable Tankless Water Heater makes it easy. Attach a garden hose to the tankless water heater and a 20lb propane tank and enjoy a long hot shower.
The water heater is proficient in reaching temperatures of 50 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It also includes an electronic ignition powered by 2 D cell batteries and activating the on and off switch on the unit’s bottom.
- The bracket included offers a mount option for the top of the heater or back.
- Connect the propane cylinder with the supplied gas hose and regulator included.
- Connect the water hose to the hot water outlet
- Connect water inlet to the heater
- Insert 2 D cell batteries and activate the on/off switch on the bottom of the unit
- Enjoy instant hot water!
- Great for camping, outdoor showers, washing your dog, and much more!
- Frustration-Free Packaging
- Upgraded Chrome Shower Head and Stainless Steel Hose
- Adjustable water pressure range of 20-80psi
- The heater includes a 20-min Safety Shut-off Timer
- 45-degree Safety Tilt-Switch
- Includes: gas regulator and hose, showerhead, garden hose adapter, & output water quick connect
- Easy to use temperature controls for your convenience
- Compact, lightweight, and easy to store and carry
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.Buy on Amazon
The Girard 2GWHAM tankless water heater allows for 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 for 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.Buy on Amazon
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 that are charged via 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.
- There is also a faucet attachment for washing your hands.
- The hoses come fitted with solid brass fittings for years of reliable performance.
The EZ Tankless water heaters are one of the best Economical and sturdily built water heaters you can buy. Being that the water heater is portable makes the Tankless water heater versatile. Whether you are tent camping, our camping in your RV, hot water is as quick as flipping a switch. The EZ Tankless is easy to use and easy to install, also easy on the wallet. The heater delivers up to 1.6 gallons per minute of continuous hot water, making it a perfect choice. The reviews alone speak how well this water heater works.
Water Heater Features
Fully automatic operation, units ignites with the flow of water and extinguishes when the flow stops.
Showerhead with hose included with the unit.
Independent control of water flow and gas flow, making it easy to regulate the water temperature.
Low water pressure ignition
The 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
- The 120-volt power cord powers the internal exhaust fan and the color screen.
The operating propane gas pressure is 0.4 PSI with a maximum power output of 68,000btu/hour.
- Applicable water pressure from 3.6～110.0 PSI, the CM264 offers a 77-degree Fahrenheit temperature rise at 2.64 GPM.
- Camplux water heater is with innovative combustion technology and advanced multiple protection systems to ensure your safety.
- The Camplux 2.64 GPM tankless water heater offers Airflow pressure switch protection, flameout cut-off protection, over-heating safety protection, and anti-freezing protection.
- The Camplux Low-Pressure Propane LPG Tanks Gas Regulator Kit with a 20-100 lb propane tank(tank and hoses not included), Camplux low-pressure propane gas regulator is available.
- The gas water heater is not recommended for drinking water.
- Any flammable items around the appliance must keep a distance to prevent fire accidents.
- The camplux tankless propane water heater line is not recommended for elevation above 2000 ft.
Marey 10L Gas Tankless Water Heater model saves space and allows easy installation just about anywhere. It heats unlimited water volume as needed 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!
- The user manual with installation orientations is included.
- Easy to install for the Do-It-Yourselfer
- Provide endless hot water on demand and only as needed
- Easily Save up to 60% on water heating
- A Solid design saves space and is easy to install almost anywhere
- No electrical connection is required, so it’s a perfect alternative for those homes experiencing frequent
- power outages
- Unlimited hot water whenever is needed
Suburban 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 or triple 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 the manufacturing process 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.
- 6-gallon water tank
- 12,000 BTU rating
- Weight: 32.9 lbs
- D- 12 Volt DC Direct Spark Ignition Gas Heating System