Instant Hot Water With A Tankless Water Heater
What’s the worst thing that could happen when you’re taking a shower in the 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 water heaters that come pre-installed on RV’s 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. Today we’re going to talk about how to fix that issue with a tankless water heater that runs on propane, just like your regular water heater.
So is endless showers the only reason to get a tankless water heater? No, there are 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 a 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.
In the frequently asked question-section, I’ll answer questions I often see regarding on-demand water heaters. If you have any questions that haven’t been answered, please leave a comment and I will do my best to help you.
All Tankless Water Heaters On The Table
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A Closer Look At Each Water Heater
Camplux is a company that makes not only tankless water heaters but electric water heaters, portable stoves, and grills. The BD158 is one of many tankless water heaters that they make, and this model is a great option for campers.
The Camplux BD158 can deliver up to 1.58 gallons per minute of hot water. It comes with a shower head so you can take a shower outdoors if you would like. 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 114.8℉ (46℃), 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 get the same water temperature as if the water is going through the water heater slower.
Features of the BD158 include combustion protection, flame failure device, anti-freezing protection, and oxygen depletion sensors (ODS) shutoff protection.
A big handle on top makes it easy to store and transport the Camplux water, which makes it portable enough to take out for a shower when needed and then packed away. The unit weighs almost 16 pounds.
In addition to propane gas that is required to ignite the flame to heat the water, two “D” Cell batteries are required for the unit to run.
Included in the box with the Camplux BD158 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.
- Runs on propane gas and batteries
- Shower head, hose included
- Gas regulator, hose included
- Not rated for drinking water
Eccotemp L10 is a bigger option than the Camplux BD158, not only in size but in BTU’s and GPM as well. It’s capable of 2.6 gallons per minute of hot water output and can achieve temperatures in the range of 50 – 140 degrees F.
The Eccotemp L10 runs on propane gas and two “D” cell batteries making it a great option for tent campers and adventurers. It’s one of the heavier models on today’s list at 27 pounds, but it’s a very capable unit that won’t disappoint.
It’s easy to set up and even though it doesn’t include a showerhead, one is easily screwed onto the heater so you can take a shower outdoors.
A 20 minute automatic safety shutoff timer will stop the unit if it has been going for 20 minutes, for safety reasons. It will also shut off is the unit is tilted more than 45 degrees to protect the heater.
Manual temperature controls on the front of the Eccotemp L10 will let you set the right temperature for you, yet another reason why it would work great as a shower at the camp. A weather-proof rain cap on top will even let you take showers in bad weather without damaging the heater.
A gas regulator is included for a quick connection to any propane gas tank.
The Eccotemp L10 is a very powerful portable tankless water heater that can deliver hot water quickly while being very portable, easy to use, and versatile. All you will need to take showers in the wild with this is a water pump.
- Runs on propane gas and batteries
- Gas regulator, hose included
- 74,000 BTU/hr
- Not rated for drinking water
- No shower head included
This portable water heater by a company called Hike Crew is a very portable and modern-looking option. It’s made for camping as it has a built-in shower pump. Submerge the filter of the pump in fresh clean water to get water flowing.
To turn cold water into hot you’ll need a propane gas tank, and access to AC or DC. It comes with an AC adapter for regular outlets, and a cigarette plug for 12V batteries.
An 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 max temperature of the unit is 125 degrees F, which is lower than the alternatives, but it’s a very portable and versatile product so you will have to decide what’s more important to you. It only weighs 13.2 pounds which makes it one of the lightest options on today’s list.
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.
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.
- Shower pump built-in
- Showerhead, hose included
- Gas regulator included
- Requires AC/DC access
A great option for RVers, cabin owners, and campers is the Excel tankless gas water heater. It’s a less portable, but very powerful water heater that won’t require lots of water pressure to activate, as 2 PSI is enough to get it going. It’s called a vent-free product, but as it does create some heat I recommend turning on a fan or having space for the heat to escape while the unit is running. The vent-free technology used is called ODS (Oxygen Depletion Sensors).
It can produce hot water with only 2 PSI of water pressure and handle up to 120 PSI. So even if you don’t have a water pump, it will start with just a little bit of pressure.
It can burn up to 38,000 BTU an hour, and runs on propane gas and 2 “D” cell batteries. The batteries are required to ignite the gas.
Weighing 20 lbs, it’s a relatively lightweight option but I recommend installing it permanently in your RV or cabin. It won’t fit in the regular water heater space, but could definitely be put in a storage compartment of an RV. That way it’s easily accessible and serviceable as well.
When it comes to the water pressure you will get out of this unit, it’s rated at 1.6 GPM. 1.6 gallons per minute means that you can at best take one shower at a time and I recommend buying a shower head with great water pressure from low water flow to get the most enjoyable shower out of this unit.
The Excel Tankless Gas Water Heater can deliver up to 96 gallons of hot water an hour with a 45 degree rise in temperature. Which means that if the water heading into the unit is 65 degrees F, it will come out 110 degrees F.
- ODS Technology
- Stars up with only 2 PSI of water pressure
- Great permanent option for RVs, cabins
- Low GPM
The last two tankless water heaters on today’s list are going to be more permanent options that go into the area where there already is a water heater installed on the RV. Some modifications might be required depending on the RV as these units can be slightly larger than the standard 6-gallon water heater that came with your RV.
Starting out with the Girard 2GWHAM on-demand tankless water heater. It’s a very popular, reliable tankless option for RVers that want endless showers and instant hot water coming out of the faucets in the 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. These are cables and plumbing already put in place and connected to your old water heater, which makes the install seamless and easy even for the less experienced installers.
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.
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 there is a way to make it fit before purchasing. If the water heater hole in your RV isn’t big enough, it can often easily 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, which is purchased separately from Girard.
The Girard 2GWHAM On-Demand Tankless 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 a permanent water heater in your RV that already has a water pump installed.
- Easy install in RVs, campers
- 42,000 BTU
- 12V power, uses less than 3 AMPs
- Automatically regulates burner to maintain hot water temp
- Not portable
Last up is the best tankless water heaters for RVs available on the market right now, the PrecisionTemp RV-550. A very powerful and reliable water heater that will give everybody using the RV a smile on their face when they realize how much hot water and endless showers this unit can deliver on-demand.
Not only can it deliver lots of hot water quickly, but it also has very high propane efficiency, saving you money on propane gas in the long run compared to alternatives. It’s also very energy 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 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 a heavier option on the list today 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 one of the most powerful water heaters on the list today 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 RV fulltime 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.
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.
- 55,000 BTU
- Anti-freeze protection
- High propane efficiency
- Light compared to standard tank water heaters
- Wall vented
- Easy install
- Might require expanding water heater area on RVs
What’s better than endless showers? For me, it’s one of the best features of tankless water heaters. As long as you have access to 12V (or AC on some units), propane gas, and water, you can take a shower and the water will stay consistently hot throughout. 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 today’s recommendations:
Good: Camplux BD158 Portable Tankless Water Heater – Camplux gives you several 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. Great product that has proven itself worthy of being brought on a camping trip.
Better: Excel Tankless Gas Water Heater – Excel has made a great product for people in RVs, tiny houses, or cabins that want access to hot water without having to store a huge water tank in an already limited space. 38,000 BTU, 20 lbs, runs on propane gas and batteries, and easily installed in a small space.
Best: PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Water Heater – PrecisionTemp has made the best option on the list, and this product will keep everybody happy, especially the shower-lover. Endless hot (really hot) showers, 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
What are the biggest reasons to get a 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 tankless water heater, often called on-demand, you’ll save money on propane gas since you’ll be using less propane gas. A tankless water heater only burns propane while in use, while a regular 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 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 have hard water, it’s recommended to flush the unit on regular basis.
Do 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.
Will I have instant hot water from the faucet?
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 tankless water heater?
It depends on the heater and the best thing to do is contact the manufacturer and ask about the specific model.