Having a high-quality RV water heater is an essential piece of the RVing experience. I mean, if you plan on traveling a lot or living in your RV, getting the best RV tankless water heater becomes just as necessary as having the best tires.
After all, this device will control your access to hot water, which means it directly impacts your showering, laundry, and dish doing capabilities. Given this information, it seems like a logical conclusion that every RV owner should have a top-level water heater.
But some of the water heaters on the market today aren’t good products. In fact, some are downright awful, which makes an article like this one a necessity to help guide you towards the high-quality ones that are available.
In doing so, we’ll discuss all the things about these products such as types, features, and any relevant questions about these products that a customer might have when trying to buy one. All of this will end up making your RV water heater search a much easier and less complicated process.
With this in mind, please read on and let me help make this stress filled experience a little easier for you.
Best RV Tankless Water Heater Reviews
In the product review section, we’ll discuss all the ins and outs of the best RV water heaters on the market. By doing so, we hope it’ll give you a better idea of what you should be looking for during your research.
It’ll also help you understand the more detailed information we discuss later on in the sections following these reviews. And once your research is over, we hope you end up coming back to one of the water heaters mentioned in this section.
1. Excel Tankless Gas Water Heater
Our first product, the Excel Tankless Gas Water Heater, is a tankless water heater that has proven to be one of the most efficient units in the entire market. As a tankless unit, it assures you that the water will be hot the second you turn the faucet or showerhead on, which is all that any RV owner wants out their water heater.
But what really stands out about this unit is that it has a lot of different applications you can use with such as RVs, cabins, small apartments, boats, campers, and motorhomes. It also has one of the lowest water pressure startups of any available tankless water heater. In fact, it can even start with a rather low 2 psi water pressure and an incredibly high 150 psi.
Plus, it has the added benefit that you don’t need a pressurized pump to start it like most of the other units on the market. A feature like this speaks to how serious Excel takes their customer happiness and the overall productivity of their products.
Likewise, the design of this model is another thing that this unit has working for it. It’s a very slim and attractive unit that won’t be an eyesore in any room you set it up in: some of the models out there can really be a downer and be downright unsightly.
2. Eccotemp FVI12-LP Liquid Propane Gas Tankless Water Heater
The Eccotemp FVI12-LP Liquid Propane Gas Tankless Water Heater is another product any RV owner would be happy to have on their RV trips. It’s easily one of the more user-friendly models on this entire list.
As an example, this unit has LED display, which is easy to read as it’ll present you with error messages and the water temperature. It also helps that the design is compact, which means it won’t take up much space.
This unit also has efficient, safe power ventilation that makes it a perfect fit for any RV owner in need of an indoor water heater. Plus, it has a low-noise operation, which means it won’t disturb the happenings inside your RV.
The ability to adjust the water temperature with a simple nob turning isn’t a bad feature to have either. See, it has two regulator knobs, one for controlling the flow of the water and the other for controlling the gas flow.
As a result, you get full control over the unit’s performance. In other words, you can set up the water to the perfect temperature for whatever hot-water activity you need it for; there will never be a shower that’s not hot enough ever again.
3. Camplux 5L Portable Propane Tankless Water Heater
Our next product is the Camplux 5L Portable Propane Tankless Water Heater, which is one of the most portability units on this entire list. It’s compact, and the inclusion of the folding handle makes this unit unbelievably easy to carry around in various places.
It also has the added benefit of operating without using an excessive amount of energy: always a plus for us energy conscious folks. This feature makes it an ideal model for RV owners as we’re continually looking for ways to lower our energy costs.
The feature makes this device perfect for another group of RVers as well — the ones who often travel outdoors as it doesn’t use a lot of energy and you can easily carry around. And since it runs off propane, you don’t need electricity to get your hot water — another reason why this particular model is fantastic for off-grid areas.
It’s incredibly user-friendly as well with its two regulator knobs that let you dictate both the water and gas flow. You can easily set both to your preferences and ensure you get the exact right water temperature.
Not to mention it even has freeze protection, oxygen depletion safety shut-off, and is classified as a flame failure device. All of which ensure that you and your family are safe when using this device.
4. Girard 2GWHAM On-Demand Tankless Water Heater
This particular product from Girard, the Girard 2GWHAM On-Demand Tankless Water Heater, provides the owner with an easily operated, efficient model that does its job without hassle. And it has some pretty cool features as well that should put this near the top of your list.
One of these features is its built with an onboard microprocessor, which can track incoming cold weather. In fact, it doesn’t just monitor it; it also makes adjustments to the heat requirements needed for the winter season.
Likewise, it has freeze protection, which makes it uniquely prepared to survive the winter months. If you’re a full-time or winter RVer, there aren’t a lot of better options out there than this Girard tankless RV water heater given features likes these two.
It also has a few user-friendly features that elevate this unit to even higher heights such as a low-noise operation. You’ll never have to worry about this water heater disturbing your sleeping sessions as there wasn’t one noise complaint about it in the customer reviews.
Several customer reviews even commented that it made such little noise that they forgot it was there. Nothing better than a product like this working efficiently without you even noticing its presence: that’s the dream for any customer.
5. Suburban SW6DE RV Water Heater
Our first tank-based RV water heater is the Suburban SW6DE RV Water Heater, and it’s a fantastic one to start with given all its positive qualities. For instance, it has a lightweight design unlike a lot of its other fellow tank-based models.
With this lightweight design, it makes the installation process much easier as it only requires one person to the job. The install is so simple that you’ll only need 20-25 minutes tops to do the entire process.
If you do have a little bit of trouble with the install, Suburban was kind enough to give you the option of an expert installation add-on with purchase. This add-on is pricey, but it’s nice to know the choice is there in case you do have some issues.
But once you get it running, you’ll notice it’s dual-heated (propane and electric) and has some serious power behind it as a 1,440 watt, 12,000 BTU unit. It also has one of the highest recovery rate of any RV water heater on the market at 10.2 gallons per hour.
As a result, it has enough power and efficiency to power a whole cabin, which means it shouldn’t have any problem with your RV. If you get this water heater, you should have no problems getting access to a steady stream of hot water for whatever you need.
6. Atwood GC6AA-10E RV Water Heater
The second tank-based model on our list, the Atwood GC6AA-10E RV Water Heater, provides the user with one of the best water pressures you’ll receive from any water heater. In result, it gives you one of the best showering experiences you might find on an RV.
It’s also made from highly durable material that has proven to resist the awful effects of rusting and corrosion. In fact, this product comes with an aluminum rod that acts similar to an anode rod and protects your water heater for at least 10-15 years.
In those 10 to 15 years, this tank-based model will get the job done as well. See, it has dual power sources, which ensures you’ll also have a way to get hot water. And it has a direct spark ignition that makes the using process much more hassle-free than other tank-based systems with pilot light activation.
The fact it operators at a tolerable noise level is another huge plus this particular water heater has going for it. Trust me; you can sleep comfortably and without issues with this water heater running in the background.
Since you can tend to 95% of the parts through the outside door, it becomes clear that Atwood did an excellent job cultivating a product that was both user-friendly and excelled in longevity. And the recovery rate isn’t too shabby either.
7. Precision Temp RV 550 Tankless Water Heater
One of the more versatile products on this list, the Precision Temp RV 550 Tankless Water Heater, has been proven to work effectively in many different situations. It has shown it can offer peak performance in RVs, small homes, trailers, cabins and even with mobile washing services.
It thrives in all these situations for a rather simple reason: its design. See, PrecisionTemp created this device to ensure it was as lightweight and compact as possible, which makes it easily manageable/movable.
It also helps that this particular water heater is among the easiest to install on the market. In fact, the installation process was routinely praised in the customer reviews, which is a rare thing with products like an RV water heater.
And once you get installed, it’ll heat your water unbelievably quick with its power of 55,000 BTU. The 1.5 GPM (gallons per minute) flow rating isn’t a bad touch either and should be capable of providing you a high-quality shower anytime you need one.
This unit also offers high-energy efficiency and works smartly as it can self adjust according to incoming weather conditions. And the final feature to put into the pro column is its low-noise operation level.
8. Eccotemp L10 Portable Tankless Water Heater
Our second product from Eccotemp’s the Eccotemp L10 Portable Tankless Water Heater is another unit that proves this manufacturer understand how to make high-quality water heaters. The first thing that shows this conclusion is the rugged design of this product.
With this design, you can tell this product is made for outdoor use and is ready to tackle all the harsh conditions that might happen during your camping trip. Likewise, the design is also lightweight, easy to carry, and compact, which make it an optimal fit for camping or off the grid use.
This product’s 2.5 GPM rating is ready to service all your outdoor hot water needs as well; it could easily offer an incredibly high-quality outdoor shower when its call upon. And when it’s used, you don’t have to worry about it overheating because of its 2 D cell battery.
This battery will ensure the water heater only starts up when the water is running. It also has a 20-minute shut off function, which will stop it from overrunning and causing a fire. This model also comes with an installation kit that has all the necessary accessories for the install. From what I can tell, the process isn’t too complicated either, which is always a plus.
9. EZ Tankless EZ 202 Tankless Water Heater
The EZ 202 Tankless Water Heater is another unit that’d be a perfect fit for people who intend to go on a camping trip. For instance, its design’s compact and lightweight, which makes it an easy accessory to carry around a campsite.
This design also makes it an easy install unit, which is crucial for someone who’s constantly on the move. And its small overall size will make sure it never gets in your way or takes up an unnecessary amount of space.
Plus, the design doesn’t have a pilot light, which makes it a safe and convenient model to have around outdoors. Instead, it has automatic ignition that’ll help save you energy that a pilot light model wouldn’t be able to offer you.
Its 3.2 GPM rating isn’t a bad feature to have around either as it will provide more than enough water pressure for whatever reason you need hot water. It could easily be capable of providing you with a high-quality outdoor shower with this kind of GPM.
We should also note that this unit doesn’t require a plug-in, which is another reason it will thrive in off the grid areas and outside in general. See, it gets its power two high-quality two “D” cell batteries.
10. Marey Power 10L Propane Gas Tankless Water Heater
If you’re in the market for a tankless water heater that performs efficiently and is dependable, The Marey Power Propane Gas Tankless Water Heater could be a solid option for you. See, this easy to install model will provide you high-quality performance regardless of the circumstances.
Its rustproof, compact, and lightweight design makes it uniquely qualified to offer you both peak convenience and durability. The convenience side comes from the easy installation process and the ability to function without taking up a lot of space.
The durability comes from the rustproof material, which will stop any corrosion from becoming a serious issue. And if you do have some problems in the durability area, this manufacturer gives you a 5-year warranty on this purchase.
But thriving in these two areas doesn’t mean this unit slacked in other areas. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as it has numerous other features that are beneficial as well. For example, this model can provide endless hot water and only as you need it, which will end up saving about 60% more in electricity costs than other models.
In my book, anything that saves me money is a win, and this feature certainly fits that definition. It also helps that this model doesn’t need an electrical connection to run, which could come in handy in those off-grid areas or in times of crisis.
11. Camplux 10L Tankless Water Heater
Our second Camplux product is the Camplux 10L Tankless Water Heater, which would provide the person lucky enough to buy it with a highly reliable product that gets the job done. The 2.64 GPM rating alone should be enough to consider this product.
But this feature isn’t only one this high-quality water heater’s packing. It also has 20-minute automatic safety shut-off that prevents the device from getting damaged. Likewise, it has freeze protection, which means it can handle even the worst winter conditions.
This unit has the additional benefit of coming with a multi-functional shower head, which will make showering on those camping trips a much easier process. You can even adjust this shower through a multitude of settings to find your preference.
And it happens to comes complete with all the necessary adapters along with a gas regulator; therefore, you won’t have to buy anything separately, which can always be such a hassle with products like RV water heaters.
It lightweight, compact design was made with energy-efficient technology that’ll save 11.5% in energy compared to competitive models as well. Plus, it does all this and still can provide you with hot showers.
12. EcoSmart ECO 11 RV Electric Tankless Water Heater
As our next tankless water heater, the EcoSmart ECO 11 RV Electric Tankless Water Heater seems to have been created with a single goal in mind: being the most efficient RV water heater ever made. And with its multitude of features, it has a real case for winning that title.
I mean, with this model, you can save up to 60% in water heating costs with its technologically advanced construction. This feature could be a godsend for a lot of RV owners who are tired of paying an excessive amount of money for their right to get a quality shower.
But this construction doesn’t just save you money; it can also save space as this model can be mounted on your wall, which means it doesn’t take up valuable floor space. A feature like this is always a plus for a limited space area like an RV.
Likewise, this unit is 99.8% energy efficient as well thanks to only running when you need it. And when you do need hot water, this model gives you a high-level of control over the temperature of it. Its digital temp control will provide you with the ability to change the water temperature according to your preferences.
It also helps that this model is easily the lightest on this entire list, which makes this product’s installation process a relative breeze. As a result, I think it’s quite clear why you should at least consider purchasing this unit.
13. Eccotemp i12-LP Water Heater
The last product from one of my favorite RV water heater manufacturers is the Eccotemp i12-LP Water Heater. This particular tankless water heater takes the word user-friendly to a new level with a wide range of features that would impress any prospective buyer.
An excellent example of this user-friendliness would be the tempered glass black front panel that includes easy to use LED controls. These controls make the entire process rudimentary simple and rid you of the anxiety that would be caused by some other units.
This stress continues to be non-factor when you add in the fully automatic temperature controls this model has as well as child lock technology. It even has an energy saving to ensure you keep your water heating costs down.
Plus, the unit will only activate when you require to do so; therefore, further saving you money on water heating costs. Its 3 GPM rate isn’t an unfortunate feature to have either as it would be more than qualified to provide you a shower that has good pressure and water flow.
It also helps that the installation process is rather simple, but if you have trouble with it, you can always purchase the expert installation add-on. And since the unit’s initial price isn’t too steep, the additional cost of the professional install isn’t an unfathomable price.
14. Camp Chef HWD5 Triton Water Heater
Our last tankless water heater is the Camp Chef HWD5 Triton Water Heater, which is a high-quality product with some aspects about it that make it must consider. For instance, it can provide hot water on demand as well as offering full adjustability of both water and heat flow.
With features likes these, you’ll have control over the whole RV water heater experience. The water coming from this water heater will completely be set around your preferences. This feeling becomes even better when you realize this product comes with its own adjustable shower head.
Therefore, offering you even more control over this experience with the shower head’s four settings that you can choose from: mist, jet, shower, and off. And the fun doesn’t stop there as this model also give you the option to determine whether or not you want a hanging or a self-standing unit.
See, this tankless water heater has the capability of providing both to the person that ends up buying this model. You’ll also be happy about this product’s durable steel construction, which will keep it in good shape for years to come.
The fact it’s easy to store and install is just the icing on the cake at this point. Honestly, it seems this particular water heater would be able to check all the boxes on most RV owners’ list about what they need in a tankless unit.
15. Suburban 5117A Water Heater
Being one the premier providers of tank-based RV water heaters, Suburban has gained a reputation for providing their customers with high-quality products. The Suburban 5117A Water Heater is no exception.
This particular model comes with a tank that’s porcelain steel, which will keep it in top-notch condition. It also has an anode rod that’ll help with this process by reducing the damage done by hot water over time.
In other words, this unit is what we call durable. If you end buying this model, it’s safe to say it’ll be in your lives for a long time. And you won’t end up resenting it being there either because this model offers peak performance to whoever ends up buying.
See, this unit’s power by 12,000 BTU, which will offer you enough heated water that you’ll be capable of taking back to back hot showers: an almost unheard of experience onboard RVs with tank-based water heaters.
The process to install this model isn’t too difficult either, which is always a nice touch. It shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes tops, and the instruction manual that comes with it has been routinely praised in the customer reviews to prove it.
16. Atwood Mobile Products 96110 Pilot Ignition Water Heater
One of our more reasonable priced tank-based models is the Atwood Mobile Products 96110 Pilot Ignition Water Heater. But this unit’s cost isn’t the only thing that makes it worthy of being included on this list.
This product also is equipped with the capabilities of 8,800 BTUs, which is a respectable number and should be plenty fine to meet your hot water requirements. The recovery rate this unit has is pretty fantastic recovery rate at 7.2 gallons per hour as well.
Now, it might not be the rate we saw with other models we reviewed previously, but given its price range, it’s an incredibly healthy rate. The lightweight design is another aspect that this model has, which makes it stand out from the rest of its competitors.
Given its lightweight design, the installation process becomes a one person job and considering the customer reviews it seems to be a one too. And if you’re looking for a little extra capacity past the six-gallon tank, this product gives the choice of upgrading to a 10-gallon.
If you’re traveling with your family and think six-gallons might be a little too small, Atwood was kind enough to offer you a more substantial alternative. Plus, the increase in price from the six to 10 gallon isn’t unreasonable. Some might call it a bargain.
17. Suburban SW10DE Direct Spark 10 Gallon Water Heater
The last product on this list is the Suburban SW10DE Direct Spark 10 Gallon Water Heater, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Honestly, it has everything you could be looking for in a tank-based model.
One of these things is this unit’s porcelain steel construction, which will ensure this water heater stays in top-notch shape for years to come, maybe even decades. It also has a replaceable anode rod that will help increase its lifespan by fighting against corrosion and rust.
Even if it does start to rust or corrode, Suburban offers a 3-year warranty with purchase, which will give you insurance against an accident or a malfunction happening. It’s always a nice feeling when you have a policy or warranty that backs you up in case of something being wrong with the unit.
But the best part about this model is its recovery rate. It’s easily the highest we’ve seen so far at 16.2 gallons per hour, which is almost unheard on the RV water heater market. It also has the capabilities of using both gas and electric power sources at the same time for peak performance.
And since it has two power sources, there will never be a time where you won’t have access to hot water for your daily shower or doing the dishes. The 12,000 BTUs and the 10-gallon tank are nice touches as well and should offer you enough hot water for even a family living together on an RV.
Best RV Water Heater Buyer’s Guide
The following information will help you determine which RV water heater is the best for your particular situation. In doing so, we’ll go over all the general knowledge questions that might be rolling around inside your head.
Things to know before buying an RV water heater
Just like with any product, finding a high quality RV water heater means taking a lot of things into consideration. In fact, the whole process can get downright overwhelming as there’s a considerable number of moving parts.
And this section will discuss those moving parts to help ensure your water heater search doesn’t become a burdensome one.
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is about your RV water heater’s power source. As mentioned previously, you typically have three options here, electric only, liquid propane only, and a combination of both.
In my opinion, you should go with the models that give you both options. It gives you insurance that you’ll always have a way to access your hot water. But these models will cost a little bit more than an electric or propane only units.
Therefore, if you’re on a strict budget, I could see how a model with only one of the two would be an acceptable option. And in this case, I think I’d opt for propane over electric as they cost lost; but it’s essential you note that they typically require more maintenance.
In the end, it’s all about choosing the power source that fits your needs the best. Once you figure out which is the best one for you, the rest of your search become significantly less stressful.
Tank or Tankless
The biggest question that looms over this whole process is which side do you fall on, tank or tankless. As mentioned multiple times before, there are benefits and reasons to end up on either side of this argument.
For instance, tank-based models will get the job done and cost significantly less money than a tankless model up front. However, these models are also bigger and take up more space without offering the technological advancements a tankless unit would.
And if you do go the tankless route, you don’t have to deal with the tank obviously, but it also gives you a continuous stream of hot water. These models instantly heat up your water and only do so when you require it.
In comparison, tank-based models allow the water inside the tank to experience heat loss, which means they’re always working to reheat the water. It’s also essential we note that tankless units will end up costing less in energy costs for this reason: they only heat the water when you need it.
Given this information, it’s easy to see why RV owners are moving toward tankless models. But the initial price difference is significantly more expensive, and the installations are a little more complicated than your standard tank-based water heater.
Overall, both tank and tankless models will get the job done, but understanding which one meshes with your needs better will make your decision much more manageable. So please, take the time and look at all the benefits of each and decide which side you’re leaning towards.
Understanding the size you want can help make picking the right water heater a much simpler process. If you don’t, you might find yourself become one of the hundreds of people that go online and complain about buying a water heater that doesn’t fit into space where their old heater was located.
With this in mind, it’s a must you figure out the dimensions of your old heater before you buy your new one. In doing so, you’re ensuring you never end up buying a product that doesn’t fit into your RV’s set up; therefore, it’s best to be mindful and know the measurements you’re looking for in your new heater.
And if you get the best tankless water heater for RV, you’ll also need to understand that some models can handle several appliances and others can only handle one faucet at a time. Due to this, you must figure out how much hot water you’ll need and whether or not you need a larger unit or a smaller one.
Your water heater’s heat output is measured in BTU, which stands for British Thermal Units. The higher the BTU number, the more efficient the water heater will be in providing you with hot water.
In other words, taking the approach of finding the water heater with the highest BTU number that’s in your budget isn’t the worst tactic to have in your search. But if you do use this tactic, ensure this high BTU model fits all your other needs as well.
Are there a lot of people onboard your RV? Will you be running multiple showers a day? If so, you’re going to want a water heater that has the capability of providing enough hot water. With this in mind, it’s essential you pay attention to the water capacity of the models you’re considering.
In most cases, you’ll come across 6-gallon capacity water heaters, but for families traveling together, these standard units aren’t going to cut it. If you’re traveling around with your family, look for a 10-gallon or even a 16-gallon capacity water heater.
If you can’t find a big enough unit for your family’s hot water needs, you can always regulate your hot water consumption: taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet after washing each dish, and other water saving techniques.
The durable RV water heaters are the ones that last, which means durability is a huge factor when it comes to picking your new unit. It’s best to ensure the water heater you buy is made from high-quality materials that’ll resist rust and corrosion.
After all, any water heater you end up buying will cost you a significant amount of money. It’s just the nature of this marketplace, which is why you’ll need a product that lasts a while. You don’t want to be looking through Amazon again and having to spend another boatload of money on a different model in a year.
As a result, check the customer reviews and make sure you don’t see any reported issues about the product malfunctioning, rusting, or breaking. It’ll help reduce the risk of you beginning another RV water heater search a year from now.
Ease of Installation
The installation process with these products will have a significant hand in determining whether or not you have a good experience with the product you purchase. I mean, if you can’t get the thing running, what’s the point of buying it in the first place.
To avoid getting a water heater that you can’t install yourself, read the customer reviews. These reviews will provide you with the inside scoop about how difficult the install was and whether or not the product is worth buying.
You should also be aware that most manufacturers will offer an expert installation add-on, which will allow a professional to do the install for you. However, this add-on is incredibly expensive, which is why it’s best for owners that are on a budget to find a model you can easily install yourself.
And the customer reviews will point you towards a conclusion of whether or not the install is something you can handle.
Tank-Based Water Heaters
With most tank using models, they’re going to be run by propane and will use a tank that’s anywhere from six to 10 gallons depending on the size of the unit. Of course, there are some outliers where you’ll see a 4 gallon or 16-gallon tanks for special circumstances.
Now, some of these water heaters will only work with propane, but others give you the option of using either propane or an electricity hook-up to power the heater. As a result, you should always research the unit you’re considering to see what’s its power source.
From there, these devices will either use a pilot light or have a direct spark ignition to get it started. If you have a pilot light model, you’ll need to light it, but only after you safely park and level your RV.
On the other hand, if you have an RV water heater with direct spark ignition, things are a lot more simple. You simply turn on a switch inside your RV after you’ve parked. Due to this, these models required a lot less manual labor out the RV owner (pilot lights can be tricky and annoying after all).
And when these tank based models are running, they rely on built-in safety systems to ensure nothing goes wrong: regulating the water from getting too hot and stop pressure from building up.
Consider this process; you can see that it’s not overly complicated and shouldn’t require much work on your part.
Tankless Water Heaters
As you might expect from their name, tankless water heaters for RV work a little bit differently than your old fashion tank-based units. In other words, these models are the more technologically advanced of these two categories.
See, these water heaters will heat your water the second it starts flowing out your faucet or showerhead. Therefore, when you turn the hot water knob, the water heater switches on and the water flows through pipes along a heat transfer, which will heat the water instantaneously.
As a result, tankless water heaters provide their owners with a continuous source of hot water for whenever they might need it. Regarding its power source, these units typically use LP gas as it provides the quickest water heating results.
It’s also essential we note that these units will save you money as it only heats the water when you need. In comparison, tank-based water heaters allow the water stored inside to experience heat loss, which means the device itself is always reheating the water.
Given this information, it’s easy to see why these tankless models have become more popular as time has gone on, but this increase in popularity has one severe side effect: a more expensive price.
What are the different types of RV water heaters?
As you now have gathered, there are two different primary types an RV water heater can fit into, tank-based or tankless. And since we’ve covered this extensively already above, we’ll take the time in this section discuss something that both have in common: their power sources.
See, a water heater’s power source is another classification type you might stumble upon in your research. Thankfully, both tank-based and tankless units typically use one or sometimes two of the following three as their fuel: electric only, liquid propane only, and electric and liquid propane.
As a result, we thought it’d be easier to classify the RV water heater types based around these three fuel source. Plus, I think it’d be more beneficial than discussing tankless versus tank-based again.
Electric RV Water Heaters
An Electric RV water heater typically will use up about 120 volts of electricity. And from those 120 volts, you can heat your RV’s water rather easily. All you have to do is plug it into the socket and flip a switch.
It also helps that you a couple of options regarding where you want the electricity to come from: you’ll be able to either run your water heater on generator power or directly through the power provided by your campground.
With this in mind, you can see why these units would be a convenient option for an RV owner. Plus, these devices have proven to be more energy efficient than your propane power units; however, they cost a little bit more.
Liquid Propane RV Water Heaters
The most basic of the three types is the liquid propane RV water heater. If you anything other than a luxury class A RV or motorhome, there’s a high probability that the water heater you have is a liquid propane one.
These products are the “old reliable” of the water heaters in this marketplace. This particular type can be started up in one of two ways either direct spark ignition or manual pilot light. A model with a direct spark ignition is the more technologically advanced unit and will be much easier to use.
See, the direct spark ignition can be operated through a control board that’ll detect when it needs to light the igniter automatically. But if the pilot light goes out, you’ll have to light a match and get it running again.
Therefore, I’d always opt for getting one with direct spark ignition. I’m one those people who’ve always been a little paranoid about lighting pilot light and such. But if you do go the direct spark ignition route, it’ll cost you a little bit more than the basic pilot light liquid propane RV water heaters.
Electric and Liquid Propane RV Water Heaters
Most RV water heaters will give you the option to pick your preferred power source: either liquid propane or electricity. Hence, the name electric and liquid propane RV water heaters. As an RV owner myself, this is the type of water heater I feel most comfortable having on my trips.
I mean, you get to pick your preference and always have an alternative option in the case of emergency. After all, you never know what’ll end up happening during your RVing experience, but at least with this type of water heater, you’ll have insurance that a hot shower will always be available.
Now, these three aren’t the only power sources out there. You might see water heaters powered by natural gas or motoraid. But the three mentioned above are the most common and the ones you’ll most likely across in your RV water heater search.
How to install an RV water heater?
The installation process will depend on the model you end up getting. But if you buy from any of the manufacturers in our product review section, you’ll be given an incredible instruction manual that outlines the steps.
For instance, if you end getting a tankless unit, the steps will look something similar to the Eccotemp L10 2.6 GPM Portable Tankless Water Heater’s installation instructions provided below:
Step 1: Hang L10 using the mounting bracket on the top/back of the unit
Step 2: Connect the gas cylinder with the supplied gas hose and regulator
Step 3: Connect water hose to the hot water outlet
Step 4: Connect water hose to the water inlet
Step 5: Insert 2 “D” cell batteries and activate the on/off switch on the bottom of the unit
Step 6: Enjoy instant hot water!
And for you tank-based model owners, don’t worry this instruction manual thing isn’t just for tankless units. But if you want a visual aid, here’s an incredible video depicting how to install a tank-based water heater into your RV.
As you can see, installing your RV water heater might not be the complicated process you might think. There are many different resources available to you that should provide with all the necessary information you’ll need during the installation.
But if none of these resources help out, you can always call a professional to come and do it for you. I mean, there’s a reason these experts exist, and it’s the route I’d go with when I end up buying an RV water again.
How to use an RV water heater?
The using process of an RV water heater will ultimately depend on the model you end up buying. But generally, it’ll look something like the five steps I outline below:
Step 1: Connect Your RV to a Nearby Water Supply.
Once you’re connected to the water, confirm that the water heater is off. It’s also essential that you make sure the water heater is full. After you confirmed both, turn on a hot water faucet and let it run until the sputtering stops.
Step 2: Turn on the Propane Tanks
It’s also a must that you ensure that the water heater is connected to the LP system. Without this connection, your water heater won’t have access to its power source and won’t work.Step 3: Plug the RV into a Shore Power
It can either be into a house outlet or a campground hookup. In other words, wherever you get your RV’s shore power from this would be the time to plug your RV into it.Step 4: Turn on Your RV Water Heater
The method of turning on your RV’s water heater can vary from model to model. The newer units tend to have electric starters, which are turned on by a switch that you can access in your RV’s primary control panel. In comparison, the older units usually have a pilot light or starter that’s activated manually.
If you have an RV water heater that has a manual startup, open up the access panel and turn it on, which is typically done with a push-button starter. And top-notch RVs might have a might have a tankless water heater, which is turned on by a switch in the RV’s primary control panel.
Step 5: Wait for the Water Heater to Heat up the Water Before Using
The water will heat up quickly. So please wait until the water heater heats the water up to the proper temperature before using it.
And once you got the water at its proper temperature, feel free to use the hot water for whatever activity you need it for showering, doing dishes, washing clothes, etc. But again, I must remind this process will differ from model to model; therefore, read the instruction manual beforehand.
RV Water Heater FAQs
What is an RV water heater?
An RV water heater is a device that allows RV owners to have hot water access at all times. And since these products are designed to be weatherproof, these water heaters even operate effectively in the coldest climates.
I mean, imagine taking a cold shower in the middle of the winter: not pleasant a pleasant experience to even imagine, which is why RV water heaters become such an essential part of your RVing life.
Without these devices, we’d have to go through the entire winter being incredibly cold and stinky as taking a shower would be almost physically impossible. Naturally, this outcome is something we’d like to avoid.
As a result, a high-quality RV water heater becomes a must-have purchase for any person looking to use their RVs regularly. After all, you never know when you might have to take your RV out in the winter.
And when you do take it during the winter, you’ll want to avoid getting stuck on a snowy road or rain storm and have no way to take a hot shower. Which is where a high-quality RV water heater will come into play and provide you with exactly what you’re looking for at that moment.
How does it work?
An RV water heater will heat water to ensure you’ll always have hot water for the activities you need it for such as showering, washing your hands or doing the dishes. And since no two RV water heaters are the same, the process of doing so can vary from model to model.
Therefore, I’d thought I’d divide the how it works section into two parts: tank-based water heaters and tankless water heats. In doing so, it’ll give you an understanding of how each experience differs from the other.
What are the most trusted RV water heater brands?
The good RV water brands are the ones that are mentioned in our product review section. But even within those brands, there are a few that stand out from the pack. And in my mind, these manufacturers are Suburban, Atwood, and Eccotemp.
And since I always like familiarizing myself with the top-rated brands of any marketplace I’m researching; I’m going to offer you some background information on each of these three manufacturers, which will give you an idea of why they outshine their competitors.
As the leading manufacturer in supplying RV owners with heating, water heating, and cooking equipment, Suburban has established themselves as a juggernaut in the RV part marketplace; it’s not surprising that customers keep buying from this brand given the quality.
In fact, Suburban has prided themselves on being available to produce products that “are known for reliable performance and longevity.” And as RV owners that’s all we are looking for: a product that can do their jobs efficiently and stay in our lives for a long time.
Since Atwood“ entered the RV market with a trailer coupler in 1936,” they’ve been supplying their customers with high-quality RV parts and have become a staple in this industry. And now that this brand is being sold under the Dometic name, they’ve have become an even bigger RV owner favorite.
With being “recognized as the #1 seller of portable tankless water heaters in the world”, Eccotemp has become a brand that’s known for meeting all the expectations customers want from an RV part manufacturer.
I mean, this company takes pride in their customer service and customer satisfaction. And they do so because they “believe that everything we do should positively impact the lives of [their] customers.”
If you find a water heater from one of these brands that fits your particular needs, you shouldn’t even think twice about it. Put the unit inside your Amazon cart, and you’ll never have to worry about your hot water access ever again.
How to convert an RV water heater to tankless?
Making the switch from an RV water heater with a tank to tankless requires a little bit of planning before getting into the process. You’ll need to ensure you’re choosing the right tankless heater, and have the tools required.
You should also understand that it’ll cost a significant amount of money for both initial purchase and install. Therefore, figuring out all these things before putting a tankless model into your Amazon cart is the smart move.
I mean, these models tend to cost a boatload of money, and the install can get quite complicated, which is why most of them come with expert installation add-ons. With this in mind, it’s best to have an actionable plan for this process instead of winging it.
I’ve managed to make this whole thing sound like a massive waste of time, but there are some significant benefits to getting a tankless RV water heater. For one, it’ll end up saving you money in the long run by lowering your heating costs.
It’ll also take up less space, and these tankless devices tend to last longer than their tank based counterparts. In the end, converting over to a tankless system is about the preparation beforehand.
And once you ultimately decide on whether or not to go with the tankless lifestyle, you can responsibly begin converting or not converting over to your new water heater. And if you do end up switching over, there’s no shame in spending a little extra for that professional install.
Honestly, a water heater installation isn’t something you want to mess up given how essential it’s toward making life on an RV tolerable. So take the time to really understand what you’ll need for the process.
How to remove an RV water heater?
Most RV water heaters will need to be removed after a few years. It’s often caused by an extended stay in wintertime conditions, which caused the tank to burst, or desert-like conditions that also can cause severe damage to your water heater unit.
But nonetheless, it’ll need to be removed and replaced at some time. And in most instances, the process will look something like the steps described below:
Step 1: Locate Your Water Heater Access Points From Outside Your RV.
In most cases, the water heater’s access point from outside the trailer will be near the back usually behind a hinged hatch. Now, the location can vary and so can the instructions, but the basics remain the same.
Step 2: Make Sure Nothing is Flowing into the Water Heater and Shut Everything off.
Turn off the water connection, and shut off your propane tank at the tank source. It’s also important to avoid having an open flame near you.
Step 3: Locate the Water Heater’s Rear Access From Inside Your RV.
The rear access is usually under your kitchen skin.
Step 4: Unscrew the Screws Holding Down the Cover to the Water Heater’s Rear Access.
I’d recommend doing this task with a screwdriver rather than a drill as it can be quite snug under an RV’s sink. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Step 5: Remove the propane intake from the tank.
Go back outside to exterior rear access and remove the propane intake from the tank. It’ll be the little copper tubing that’s entering the unit. It’s essential you be careful as this tubing tends to bend very easily.
Step 6: Remove Your Water Heater’s Door Cover and the Screws Holding it in Place.
Once you remove the screws, it’s time to let the unit rest for a minute. The lack of door cover will make working on the water connections inside easier as it allows more light to come through.
Step 7: Remove the Water Intake and Outtake Hoses
You can do this by accessing them by the rear port. Once you locate them, these hoses could either be turned by hand or might require pillars. You should use a towel or any other fabric to navigate between the connections. If you don’t, it could end up with damaging the plastic parts, which are highly susceptible as they’re soft. After you’re done, water will empty out the unit.
Step 8: Remove the Water Heater from Outside Your RV
Now, that both the water and propane connects are disconnected, it’s time to pull the water heater out from the access point on the outside of your RV. At this point, all you have to do is pull it out.
Honestly, the whole process isn’t too confusing and could be done by most mechanically inclined RV owners. But again, if you feel uncomfortable with this process, you could always call a professional to do it.
How to light an RV water heater pilot?
Lighting an RV water heater’s pilot light isn’t a tough task, but that doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. If your working with propane or natural gas, you need to be especially careful as certain dangerous situations can arise from this experience being mishandled.
And since this situation can be dangerous, it’s best you check your instruction manual about the directions regarding the lighting of the pilot light. It’s tough to talk about this particular task in general terms because the instructions can differ so much from model to model.
How to maintain an RV water heater?
In general, RV water heaters are incredibly easy to maintain, especially the tankless models, which will have detail instructions in the manual about the cleaning process. But if you have a tank-based system, there are some things outside the manual’s instructions you should keep in mind.
For instance, the anode rod inside your device should be something you’re always mindful about; this anode rod’s only function inside a water heater is to protect the tank from rust and corrosion by sacrificing itself.
If this particular part gets overly damaged, your water heater’s tank will have nothing protecting it from rusting. Most experts agree that having them inspected every 12 months (a year) to ensure they’re in good condition will do wonders.
Some people will swear to you that they need changing after every 12 months as well. However, if they’re in good condition, there is no need. Instead, replace the anode rod as needed. It’ll save you money and time.
Aside from the anode rod, there’s the matter of flushing the tank with these models. The first thing you’ll need to understand is that if you’re not using your RV, the tank should be drained. Seems like common sense, but you’d be shocked by how many people forget to empty their water heater tanks.
Besides these couple of things, you don’t need to worry about much regarding maintenance with these particular products. But to recap, read the instructions manual as well as, for a tank-based system, be mindful of the anode rod and regularly flush the tank.
From all this information, I’m willing to bet you’re well-prepared to find the best RV tankless water heater for your RV. And now that you know what you should be looking for this search will be a smooth, hassle-free experience that won’t make you pull your hair out.
It’ll result in you finding a durable, long-lasting unit that’ll serve your hot water needs for years to come. After you find this model, you’ll never worry about not having access to hot water for your daily shower or cleaning the dishes.
Instead, you can sit back and relax knowing that your high-quality RV water heater will take care of everything for you. So please, get out there and find the best one that’s available for your circumstances.
Once you do, I promise your RVing adventures will get that much better. And you never know, it might even be one the water heaters from our product section. I hope this guide helped and I wish you good luck in your search for your new water heater!