Get Instant Hot Water In Your Camper With An RV Tankless Water Heater
What’s the worst thing that could happen when you’re taking a shower in your RV, tiny house, or mobile home? Well, I guess a meteor could fall from the sky, but let’s think about what can happen that only affects you while you’re in the shower. You run out of hot water.
Most RV hot water heaters that come pre-installed in campers can hold 6 gallons of hot water. When mixing that with cold water to get a somewhat comfortable shower, it might last for about ten minutes if you’re lucky.
In this review, we’re going to talk about how to fix that issue with a tankless water heater for RVs that runs on propane.
So is endless hot water the only reason to get a tankless water heater? No, there’s more to it than that.
They’re also more efficient. Since they only turn on and heat the water on demand, you won’t be wasting propane to heat water that won’t be used.
When an RV tankless water heater senses water flow, the propane gas ignites and starts heating the water going through instantly.
The water goes in cold and comes out hot within seconds. The only way to run out of hot water is if you run out of propane, 12V power, or water in your fresh water tank if you’re boondocking.
In the frequently asked question-section, I’ll answer questions I often see regarding RV on demand tankless hot water heaters. If you have any questions that haven’t been answered, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to help you.
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Best Portable Tankless Water Heaters Reviews & Info
Most portable tankless water heaters for camping are made to be mounted outdoors. This style is popular with custom RVs and vans since they can be installed on the outside to save space. They are great for outdoor showers and are the most versatile hot water option since they can be moved around and are easy to use with different water sources.
Even though they are made for outdoor use I suggest making some sort of cover for it when it’s not in use, especially if you have it mounted to the back of your camper. They are made to be left out in the rain but protection from the sun and dust will help it stay clean and work better longer.
The main thing you need to make sure of with outdoor portable tankless water heaters is that they have plenty of ventilation when running.
I’ve seen some set ups where the unit was mounted to the inside of a van door and only run when the door was open. This solution protects it from the elements when not in use or during travel and allows for proper ventilation while being used.
No matter where you end up mounting or using your camper tankless water heater make sure it has proper ventilation and all the gas connections are secure and leak free.
If you want a direct replacement for a traditional RV water heater check out the indoor RV tankless water heaters at the end of this review.
Camplux is a company that makes not only tankless or on demand water heaters but electric water heaters, portable stoves, and grills.
This is one of many portable water heaters that they make, and the 6 liter model is a great option for campers and RVs, but there is a larger 10 liter model available if you have the space for it.
The Camplux Pro 6L Tankless Propane Water Heater can deliver up to 1.58 gallons per minute of hot water. It’s made for low pressure water systems that can range from 3 to 110 PSI. For reference, a standard 12V RV water pump outputs around 3.5 psi of water pressure and will work perfectly with the Camplux.
It comes with a showerhead so you can mount it outside and take a shower with very little initial installation. Or you can connect it directly to your camper’s water system as a direct replacement for a traditional camper water heater. Just make sure you add ventilation or mount it outside.
It also comes with a gas regulator to connect to your propane gas tank of any size. It burns up to 41,000 BTU per hour.
When it comes to water temperature, the maximum temperature rise is 167℉ (75℃), and the minimum is 46.4℉ (8℃).
How hot the water coming out of a tankless water heater is depends on a couple of factors like altitude, GPM, water flow, and pressure.
If the water is going through faster, you won’t reach the same water temperature as if the water is going through the water heater slower.
Features of the Camplux Pro include combustion protection, flame failure device, anti-freezing protection, and oxygen depletion sensors (ODS) shutoff protection.
There is a big handle on top that makes the on demand water heater more portable. You can have it tucked away in storage when camping and bring it out when you are ready to shower.
The 6 liter unit weighs around 16 pounds and measures 17.3 inches tall, 11.6 inches wide, and 4.3 inches deep. The 10 liter version is heavier and larger but it can output hot water at a faster rate.
In addition to propane gas, two “D” cell batteries are required for the unit to light. You will also need a pump to create water flow through the RV tankless water heater. As stated before, this model is compatible with regular 12V water pumps.
Included in the box with the Camplux Pro Portable Tankless Water Heater is a 3 setting shower head with an on/off switch, a shower hose, a CSA approved gas hose and regulator, two garden hoses, a gas inlet connector, and water tape.
- Showerhead & Hose Included
- Regulated Gas Hose Included
- Good Rain Resistance
- Not Rated For Drinking Water (Can’t Drink Water From It)
- Not Good In Wind
- Low Quality Accessories
This portable water heater for camping is made by a company called Hike Crew. It’s an easy to transport, compact, and modern-looking option.
It’s made for regular campers, van dwellers, or RVers who want an additional water heater for an outdoor shower. It has a built-in water pump and showerhead which means all you have to do is hook up to gas, water, and some electricity (DC or AC).
When first using submerge the filter of the pump in fresh clean water to get water flowing.
The propane option on this camping tankless water heater is a little different. It’s made to connect to a small 1 lb propane tank like this (click to view on Amazon). It makes the entire unit incredibly portable and perfect for those who have limited space options.
You can also connect it to larger propane tanks but you will need to get this adapter (click to view on Amazon) to do it.
To connect to electricity you have a few choices. It comes with an AC adapter for regular outlets, and a cigarette plug to connect to any 12V outlet.
The included shower head has three spray settings and the temperature is controlled and turned on with buttons and a small LCD display on the front of the Hike Crew water heater.
The showerhead connects to a small water tap that folds out from the back of the portable on demand water heater. This tap can also be used for getting hot water for dishes or washing hands.
The max temperature rise of the camper water heater is 125 degrees F, which is lower than the alternatives but still pretty good. You can adjust the temperature via a dial on the top of the unit.
In addition to the AC/DC adapters, the showerhead, hose, and power adapter, a gas regulator is included to safely connect to any propane gas tank.
A carrying case is also included for easy storage and transport while protecting the unit which weighs around 13 lbs. It measures around 12 inches tall and wide, and 9.6 inches deep.
So is the Hike Crew Portable Propane Water Heater the best option for you? If you have access to a 12V battery to connect the cigarette plug to while you’re camping and want to be able to easily take a shower with any water even if you don’t have good pressure, then yes this is one of the neatest most portable options.
It is mainly made to be used outdoors and due to the shape and style, it can’t easily be mounted to the side of an RV or van.
- Built In Water Pump
- Showerhead & Hose Included
- Propane Regulator Included
- Can Connect To Small 1 lb Propane Tanks
- AC & DC Power Options
- Extremely Portable
- Cannot Be Wall Mounted
- Can’t Connect To Main Camper Water Lines
- Need Adapter For Larger Propane Tanks
- Can’t Reach High Water Temperatures
The Happybuy outdoor propane tankless water heater is another excellent option for those with a camper or vehicle they can mount it too.
The body of the heater is made of durable and anti-rust stainless steel with strong copper inner parts. It’s made to be mounted outside but for travel, I suggest building a shelter around it or making a cover for it to protect it from dust and the sun.
There are a few size options that range from 6 liters to 18. I suggest the 6 liters for RV and camping use but if you use a high quality 12V water pump that can output up to 5 gallons per minute you could potentially use any of the sizes if you have the storage space and water for it.
For most campers who just want a hot shower and water for dishes, the 6 liter version should output plenty of hot water so that’s the one I’m going to review.
It weighs only 11 lbs and measures 21.7 inches tall, 11.8 inches wide, and 6 inches deep.
It’s an outdoor tankless water heater but unlike the portable versions reviewed above it doesn’t have a handle to carry it around which means it’s best for situations where you can mount it to a wall or the outside of a camper.
Installation is easy with the included install kit and showerhead. The electrical components like the LED display, ignition, and adjustment knobs are powered using 2 D batteries which makes it perfect for boondockers and off grid homes.
Just connect it to a propane tank and water and you can start getting hot water instantly.
On the front of the small tankless water heater, there are two dials you use to control the gas burner and the water output. The max output is 1.6 GPM or 6 liters per minute and the max temperature raise is 140°F.
There is also an LED screen that will display the water temperature and a knob to choose summer or winter mode. These modes are an eco option. In summer mode the unit will burn less gas and in winter mode it will burn hotter to heat faster.
The safety feature are an overheat protection that shuts off at 167°F, a low water flow monitor, anti-freeze protection, over water pressure protection, no flame shut off, and a 20 minute timer.
The is a fantastic choice for full time campers who want to safe space and still have endless hot water. The body is made with durable materials and there are lots of adjustments you can make to get the on demand water heater working exactly how you want it to.
- Showerhead & Hose Included
- Winter & Summer Mode
- Adjustable Gas & Water Flow
- Recommended To Built Protection For It
- Not Super Weather Resistant
The Foruee outdoor tankless water heater is a lot like the ones reviewed above. It’s made to be mounted outside an RV or home and there are a few water output options (5L, 7L, and 10L). For camping use, I think the 7 liter is the most usable size so that’s the one I’m going to review.
The 7L Foree can be used with low pressure 12V water pumps and can output up to 7 liters of water per minute or 1.85 GPM.
The burner outputs max 44,000 BTU and can raise water temperature up to 118°F. The gas flow and water flow can both be adjusted via dials on the front of the small tankless water heater. There is also an LED screen that will display the current water temperature.
There are lots of important safety features that include an oxygen depletion auto shut off, over-heat protection, anti-freeze protection, flame monitoring, thermal protection, and a wind guard.
The wind protection makes this outdoor tankless water heater one of the better options for outdoor use since it’s made to be mounted outdoors. If you don’t want to have to make a shelter for your RV water heater this is going to be one of the best choices.
Included with the unit is a regulated propane hose and a shower head with a hose.
The electrical ignition is powered with 2 D batteries which means it doesn’t need to be connected to electricity to work.
The unit weighs 15.7 lbs and measures 19.7 inches tall, 11.9 inches wide, and 7 inches deep.
The is another fantastic option for getting instant and endless hot water while camping or in an off grid home.
It’s easy to install, has lots of safety features, and is compatible with 12V water pumps. The improved wind resistance is also a nice touch since windy days aren’t uncommon when camping.
- Showerhead & Hose Included
- Wind Protection
- Lots Of Safety Features
- Adjustable Gas & Water Flow
- Not Super Rain Resistant
- Doesn’t Get Water As Hot As Others In Review
Best Indoor RV Tankless Water Heaters Reviews & Info
This style of RV on demand water heater is a direct replacement for the standard hot water heater already in your camper.
The pros to this kind are they can connect directly to an RV’s main water system, they go inside which means they get protection from the elements, and the installation is fairly easy.
The cons is they are a little more complicated than smaller portable tankless water heaters and are the more “premium option”.
This tankless water heater for RV’s is a more permanent option that goes into the area where there already is a water heater installed. Some modifications might be required depending on the RV as this unit can be slightly larger than the standard 6-gallon water heater that came with your camper but it’s one of the best direct replacements in this review.
The Girard 2GWHAM on-demand tankless water heater is a very popular, reliable tankless option for RVers who want endless showers and instant hot water coming out of the faucets in their camper.
The Girard is rated at 42,000 BTUs. It easily installs in the place of your old RV water heater and only requires 12V power, gas, cold water in, and hot water out plumbing.
The cables and plumbing needed are already put in place and connected to your old water heater, which makes the installation seamless and easy even for the less experienced RVer.
There is no official GPM rating, but it can deliver at least 2 GPM which will give you a comfortable hot shower with a good shower head. The ECO max temperature of the Girard is 140 degrees F.
You can pre-set the water temperature which means you can fine tune this RV tankless water heater to output the kind of water you want which makes it more efficient.
It weighs about 22 pounds and measures 15.5 x 22.5 x 12.5 inches so you want to make sure it fits or figure out if there is a way to make it fit before purchasing.
If the water heater hatch on the outside of your RV isn’t big enough, it can often be expanded by cutting the aluminum siding and the previous wooden frame that was put in.
If you’re not 100% sure what you’re doing when it comes to expanding the hole, visit a nearby RV shop and ask for their recommendations or help.
Note that the water heater doesn’t come with a door but it can be purchased separately from Girard (click to view on Amazon)
The Girard On Demand RV Water Heater can be put in the same spot you keep your current RV water heater and will deliver hot water and endless showers. It’s a great product if you’re looking for an RV tankless water heater to replace a traditional RV hot water heater.
- Can Connect To Camper Water Lines
- Direct Replacement For Most Standard RV Water Heaters
- 42,000 BTU
- Uses 12V RV Power
- Auto Burner & Water Temperature Regulation
- Must Be Used With An RV
- Cannot Be Used Outdoors
Last up is the best tankless water heaters for RVs available on the market right now, the PrecisionTemp RV-550.
It’s a very powerful and reliable RV on demand water heater that will output plenty of hot water for any need.
Not only can it deliver lots of hot water quickly, but it also has very high propane efficiency, saving you money on gas compared to alternatives.
It’s also electrically efficient, only using 1.5 amps during normal operation, and about 3 amps when the built-in cold weather protection mode is enabled.
Depending on the water flow and incoming temperature of the water, the RV-550 will automatically modulate the gas it uses to turn your cold water into hot.
Why this is a great feature is because it makes sure that the water temperature stays consistent, and doesn’t go up and down which can quickly make you lose your mind in the shower.
It weighs about 32 pounds, making it the heaviest option in this review but compared to the water heaters installed in RVs today it’s lightweight and will free up some weight capacity of your RV.
The PrecisionTemp RV-550 measures 13.5 x 13.5 x 14.2 inches and will slide into your current RV water heater area.
If needed, you can easily expand the area by cutting some siding and part of the previous wooden frame put in place. I recommend asking a local RV shop for help with this if you’re not 100% certain how to go about it.
Built-in freeze protection will let you use it in any weather and climate, as it will turn itself on and keep the pipes hot to prevent pipes from freezing and plumbing bursting. All needed for it to work is a 12V connection and propane gas.
Rated at 55,000 BTUs, it’s the most powerful RV tankless water heaters in this review and regardless of water flow, it will deliver constant hot water.
Is the PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Water Heater the best water heater for you?
If you live in your camper full-time or spend at least a month in it during the year, this is definitely the one. With 55,000 BTU/hr, anti-freeze protection, easy install, high propane efficiency, and a reliable VariFlame technology controlling it, it’s the best tankless water heater for RVs, cabins, and tiny houses on the market today.
- 55,000 BTU
- Anti-Freeze Protection
- High Propane Efficiency
- Wall Vented
- Easy Install (Direct Replacement For Standard RV Water Heater)
- Hard To Adjust Water Temperature On
How To Install An RV Tankless Water Heater
Down below is a great video showing you how to install the PrecisionTemp RV-550 in an RV if you also have to expand the water heater area.
Conclusion & Recommendations For Best RV Tankless Water Heater
What’s better than endless hot showers? For me, it’s one of the best features of tankless or “on demand” water heaters.
As long as you have access to 12V (for some units others use batteries), a water pump, propane gas, and water, you can take a shower and the water will stay consistently hot throughout.
RV tankless water heaters have been around for years now, but they’re improving, and their capabilities are getting better and better.
You can get endless showers in your RV today, which on its own is very impressive.
Here are my recommendations based on RV tankless water heaters from this review:
Best Outdoor Tankless Water Heater – Camplux Pro 6L Portable Tankless Water Heater
Camplux gives you several portable tankless water heaters to choose from depending on what you need.
They’re very portable and versatile products that come with a shower head and gas regulator to get you started.
The 6L version is a fantastic product that has proven itself worthy of being brought on a camping trip. You can either install it on the outside of your camper or van or just bring it along in the back of a truck or the trunk of a car.
All you need to get hot water is a propane tank, a 12V water pump (many can be powered with a car battery), and water.
Most Portable Tankless Water Heater – Hike Crew Portable Propane Water Heater
The Hike Crew portable propane tankless water heater is one of a kind with everything you need built into one easy to transport unit.
You get the pump and heater all in one and you can even use it with a 1 lb propane tank which makes it even smaller and easy to transport.
On top of the portability, you get some great accessories that include a showerhead and hose as well as a tap you can use to get hot water for washing hands or dishes.
Other companies have tried to make this same all-in-one concept work but so far Hike Crew has the portable tankless water heater and water pump combo with the highest water temperature raise and burner.
Best Tankless Hot Water Heater For RV Use – PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Water Heater
The PrecisionTemp RV-550 is the best option for replacing a standard camper water heater with an on demand one. It’s also very high quality and will keep everybody happy, especially those who don’t want to have to wait to get hot water for a shower.
Endless hot (really hot) water, propane saving features, anti-freeze for cold winter camping use, 55,000 BTU, and easily installed in the RV.
There are not a lot of features missing on this beast and I feel confident recommending it to RVers, cabin-owners, and tiny house owners.
Frequently Asked Questions About RV Tankless Water Heaters
What is the downside of an RV tankless water heater?
The main downside is that they do require you to run some water through them before it will start to output actual hot water. This isn’t a big deal for RVers who camp connected to water but for boondockers and dry campers who need to save as much water as possible it can be an issue.
I recommend tankless RV hot water heaters to those who visit campgrounds and RV parks often where they can get unlimited water or refill the freshwater tank often.
What are the biggest reasons to get an RV tankless water heater?
If you live in a mobile home or even a regular home, I would say that space is the biggest reason. Tankless water heaters are much smaller than regular water heaters. They weigh less and take up much less space.
For RVers, I would say that the biggest reason to get one is unlimited hot water. If you’re connecting to city water, you can have showers just like at a regular house in your RV. It’s luxurious and can be well worth the investment.
By using a propane tankless water heater, often called on-demand, you’ll save money on gas since you’ll be using less. They only burn propane while in use, while a regular RV water heater burns propane regularly to keep the water hot in the tank, wasting propane gas when you’re not using any hot water.
Are RV tankless water heaters maintenance free?
Depending on use, a tankless water heater will need either an annual or a biennial flush. If you have soft water, however, you might never have to flush it. If you use hard water (many RV parks do), it’s recommended to flush the unit regularly.
You can get a propane tankless water heater flush kit (click to view on Amazon) for easy yearly maintenance.
I recommend flushing out the heater at least once a year or before putting your camper away for winter storage.
Do RV tankless water heaters require water pumps to work?
If a pump isn’t built-in to the unit you’re going to need a water pump for most tankless water heaters to work correctly. Of course, a regular garden hose with good pressure would also work and not require a pump.
To know whether you’ll need a pump or not, you need to know the low-pressure activation of the water heater. Beware that there are is also a maximum pressure allowed by the heater and you might have to regulate the water pressure.
Most 12V RV water pumps are low pressure and many RV tankless water heaters like the ones in this review are made to work with these kinds of pumps.
Will I have instant hot water from the faucet if I get an RV tankless water heater?
While the water is instantly hot from the tankless water heater itself, it will take a couple of seconds to deliver that water to your faucet. The water in your pipes won’t stay warm unless you use a circulation pump.
Not all tankless heaters support circulation pumps though and it might void your warranty, so if this is important to you, talk to the water heater manufacturer about this.
Is it safe to drink water coming out of a camper’s tankless water heater?
It depends on the heater and the best thing to do is contact the manufacturer and ask about the specific model.
Can an RV tankless water heater freeze?
Most outdoor tankless water heaters have extra protection against cold temperatures. Most indoor tankless water heaters are fine in temperatures as low as -22 Fahrenheit and – 4 Fahrenheit for outdoor tankless water heaters.
Wind chill can be a factor for outdoor tankless water heaters so make sure it’s protected from the wind.
Check the manual for your specific on demand water heater so you know exactly what temperatures it’s rated for.
A lot of companies suggest draining the tankless water heater if it’s going to get super cold just to be safe.
Can an RV tankless water heater be installed outside?
Some can only be installed outside. Make sure you pay attention to what kind of tankless water heater you are buying. The first four reviewed in this article are outdoor tankless water heaters. If you want to install them inside your camper or van you will have to install a vent pipe for the exhaust.
The last two tankless water heaters for RVs in this review are made specifically to go inside campers and are a close replacement for traditional 6 gallon water heaters.
Some are good for both indoors and outdoors. Just make sure you know where you want to put it and buy the right kind.
Will a propane tankless water heater work without power?
A propane water heater does need a little power in order to work. There’s a lot of things to regulate such as temperature, water flow, and ignition. In fact, many rely on an electric igniter and don’t use a pilot light.
The thing that will need the most power is the water pump. Make sure you get a 12V one if you plan on using it while camping.
When do I clean an RV tankless water heater?
You should flush out and clean your tankless water heater at least once a year.
How do I clean a propane tankless water heater?
Cleaning a tankless water heater involves a lot of steps that include shutting off the main water valves that go to the unit and opening the purge port valve to release the water in the tankless water heater.
You should never use chemicals to clean your water heater as it is used for household water. Vinegar is safe to use and effective as well.
Every tankless water heater is a little different and you should always check out the instructions for the specific unit you bought. If you can’t find it here’s a more detailed post about cleaning out a tankless water heater.
How does an RV tankless water heater work?
Tankless water heaters have a pipe that snakes through the unit. Cold water is pushed through the pipe where there is a gas or electrical heating element.
The amount of cold water that is being heated is small and can get hot really quickly. Gas on demand water heaters are faster at heating than electric ones but both kinds still have their limitations.
Average tankless water heaters can push out 2-5 gallons of hot water per minute, which is plenty for one or two showers to receive hot water at a time.
The best part about them is they never run out of hot water and they save a lot of energy and money by only heating the water that is going to be used.
For more information check out this post.
Have any questions or comments about RV tankless water heaters? Leave a comment below.