For many people, hot water is just as important on the road as it is at home. Hot running water is essential for showering, cooking, washing dishes, and cleaning. For years, campers and RV owners dreamed of the day they could take hot running water on their trips and adventures. In the past, this would require the installation of a large, bulky propane water tank — but times have changed! Nowadays, with the rise of compact tankless water heaters, it is easier than ever to hook your RV up with hot running water.
Tankless water heaters are compact, are typically mounted on the wall, and take up very little space. Rather than constantly heating a full tank of water, tankless water heaters heat up water on demand, as it is needed. They are often powered by electricity and are extremely efficient and fairly quiet. These water heaters are a great addition for an RV and, believe it or not, they are actually pretty affordable. Let’s take a look at the five best tankless water heaters for an RV.
The 5 Best RV Tankless Water Heaters
5. Ecotouch ECO55 RV Tankless Water Heater
The Ecotouch ECO55 Water Heater is an efficient tankless water heater that is both compact and safe to use anywhere. In addition to working flawlessly in your RV, this water heater can also work great in your home or business. The slim 2.35 inch design will fit flush against a wall as well as in many tight spaces throughout the property.
The ECO55 comes with a convenient remote control, which allows you to control the temperature from anywhere you choose. This tankless heater will work on both low pressure and high pressure water systems, which means you can run the ECO55 off a low altitude gravity tank or plug it into the mains water supply.
This heater uses a low level of electricity, 5.5 Kw, but you will still either need a powerful inverter generator for your RV, or you will have to plug into a campsite power grid. To ensure your safety, the ECO55 comes with a range of safety switches, from leak sensors to thermal cut-offs. In addition, the water temperature is also limited to 116 o F, which will prevent you from burning yourself with the initial spray of hot water.
- Flow Rate: 1.5 GPM.
- Type: Electric.
- Power: 5.5kW.
- Max. Water Temp.: 116 o F.
- Working Pressure: 0.2 – 6.0 bar.
- Weight: 5.07 pounds (2.3 kg).
- Size: 11” H 7.5” W × 2.35” D.
- Accessories: Remote control, 10 AWG power cord.
Pros and Cons
4. Marey GA10LP Tankless RV Water Heater
The Marley GA10LP Tankless RV Water Heater is a fantastic tankless water heater that is powered by propane fuel. It is best suited for those that have a high pressure water system installed in their RV. The unit will work on pressures as low as 0.25 bar and still work on 10 bar from a water pump.
However, the Marey Tankless Water Heater is not a lightweight system. In fact, it actually takes up more space than a typical electric heater. However, if you are looking for a high volume of hot water at a moment’s notice, then this is an excellent choice. With high power and with a flow rate of 1 GPM, you can expect to get an increase of 100 o F over the temperature from the cold inlet.
Propane is safe if a professional installs it, and these types of heater need plenty of ventilation and a chimney to vent the exhaust gas to the outside. If you are already using propane for cooking inside of your RV, then this is a fantastic option for water heating.
- Flow Rate: 3.1 GPM.
- Type: Propane.
- Power: 23.2kW.
- Max. Water Temp.: 145 o F.
- Working Pressure: 0.25 – 10.0 bar.
- Weight: 21 pounds (9.53 kg).
- Size: 23.6” H 13.6” W × 6.9” D.
- Accessories: Hose fittings, mounting screws.
Pros and Cons
3. EcoSmart ECO 11 Tankless Water Heater
The EcoSmart ECO11 is one of our favorite compact electric tankless water heaters, and it is a fantastic choice for RV owners. It is better suited for larger RV’s with powerful generators, boondocking batteries, or backup power systems. This 11 kilowatt water heater consumes around the same power as a small air conditioning unit, so depending on your setup, a power source may be necessary.
However, despite the power usage, the EcoSmart ECO 11 is a fantastic option when it comes to portable tankless water heaters, and is one of the better options available for use in an RV. Even without a tank, the ECO 11 is still powerful enough to heat enough water for the faucet and shower at the same time.
And from the point of installing the Eco11 in an RV, it takes up little space, 3.75 inches wide. So you can have this unit on the wall of a small RV shower cubical, and you will still have space to move around.
- Flow Rate: 2 GPM.
- Type: Electric.
- Power: 11kW.
- Max. Water Temp.: 140 o F.
- Working Pressure: 0.3 – 10.3 bar.
- Weight: 6.5 pounds (2.95 kg).
- Size: 12” H × 9.75” W × 3.75” D.
- Accessories: None
Pros and Cons
2. Camptemp CP158 Portable RV Water Heater
The Camptemp CP158 Portable RV Water Heater is a cost effective and easy way to add a hot shower to your RV. Relying on propane means that this heater needs to be in a place where it can have plenty of ventilation and somewhere to put the chimney through.
The CP158 is perfect if you want to supply hot water across several areas such as the shower, and the kitchen. And the same propane tank can support the heater and the cooker hob, saving on storage space. Also in the kit is the regulator and connection pipe for the heater to the propane tank.
The unit comes complete with a showerhead and mounting bracket. You can stop and start the water with a switch on the showerhead. There is an LCD on the front panel that displays the temperature of the water, making adjustments easier.
- Flow Rate: 1.58 GPM.
- Type: Propane.
- Power: 12kW.
- Max. Water Temp.: 167 o F.
- Working Pressure: 0.17 – 7.6 bar.
- Weight: 14.55 pounds (6.6 kg).
- Size: 17.3” H × 11.8” W × 6.1” D.
- Accessories: CSA regulator, showerhead and wall mount, 5 foot hose, manual.
Pros and Cons
1. Stiebel Eltron Tempra 12 Water Heater
We are huge fans of the Tempra 12 Plus Water Heater from Stiebel Eltron. It is a fantastic choice for an RV, home, or even an office building. The Tempra 12 is a safe and reliable electric tankless water heater designed in Germany. It uses an automatic flow control to ensure that the temperature stays consistent, even when the water pressure does not.
You can also preset temperatures on the unit — so you do not need to waste any water, getting it to your preference. There is a childproofing limiter to prevent burning accidents. There is a range of sensors to protect you from shorts and leaks.
And being electric, you do not need to worry about ventilation or exhaust gases. The front panel has an LCD, which displays temperature and how much the electricity use is costing you. This is a high-energy system — and to get the most from it, you will either need mains-power or a high-end generator.
- Flow Rate: 3.7 GPM.
- Type: Electric.
- Power: 12kW.
- Max. Water Temp.: 140 o F.
- Working Pressure: 0.37 — 10 bar.
- Weight: 13.5 pounds (6.12 kg).
- Size: 16.6” H × 14.5” W x 4.6” D.
- Accessories: None.
Pros and Cons
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for in an RV Tankless Water Heater
A powerful and dependable tankless water heater can increase the quality of life during long trips in your RV. However, in order to choose the best tankless water heater for your RV, there are a few factors and features that are important to consider.
Method of Heating
In a hot water heater, the water is usually heated by one of three methods: electric, propane, or hybrid. It is important to consider which method of heating is the best option for your RV.
Electric water heaters need a lot of power to operate, and such a system may prove too much for an RV that depends on batteries charged by solar or your engine. Most electric water heaters will need a dedicated inverter generator to power the heating element.
Propane heaters are cheap to run, and propane bottles are available almost everywhere. Additionally, the process of installing propane is relatively simple. Alternatively, if you are parked, you can hang a propane water heater from the side of your RV, or even on a nearby fence or structure.
Finally, hybrid heaters give you the best of both worlds. However, having two systems in one requires more parts, and also increases the chances of something going wrong.
Another important factor to consider is the flow rate. It’s important to note that you are not going to get the same amount of water pressure during a shower from a tankless water heater, as you would from a shower in your home. A common home showerhead will release 1.5 – 2 gallons of water per minute and around 2.5 GPM if you have a pump.
An RV will not have this level of stored water to waste, so you need to shower fast or have the heater connected to a hose or a tap. You can also improve poor flow rates by using jet showerheads that use less water but still have the power to rinse the soap out of your eyes.
You should also consider your water temperature needs. The industry standard is for the heaters to be capable of heating water up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if necessary, you can definitely find water heaters that will go as high as 140 oF. To put that into perspective, 120 oF is hot enough to give you third degree burns after just 4 minutes of exposure.
The temperature of the human body is around 100 oF, so any heater that can raise the temperature a couple of degrees above this is going to be perfectly fine for most people. Additionally, the less the water needs to be headed, the less energy the water heater will consume.
5 Benefits of a Tankless Water Heater
1. Lower energy costs.
One of the best advantages of a tankless water heater is the energy savings. Compared to traditional heaters with a large tank, tankless models are extremely energy efficient. Over a long period of time, you will save a considerable amount of money on energy costs.
Traditional water heaters have to consistently use power to maintain the hot temperature of a large tank of water. They work nearly 24 hours a day to ensure that the tank is full of hot water that’s ready to be used. On the other hand, tankless water heaters heat water on demand, as it’s needed, saving a lot of energy and a lot of money over time.
2. The compact size saves space.
Another fantastic feature of tankless water heaters is the compact size. They barely take up any room, especially compared to large traditional water tanks. Tankless models can often be squeezed into tight places or mounted flush against a wall, off the floor and out of the way.
3. An endless supply of hot water.
With a traditional water heater, the supply of available hot water is limited by the size of the tank. Once all of the water inside the tank is used, you have to turn off the hot water and a way a long time for the tank to be refilled and heated.
This is not an issue with a tankless heater. Because the water is quickly heated on demand, you will never run out. Essentially, you have an endless supply of hot water.
4. Longer life expectancy.
Believe it or not, tankless water heaters actually have a much longer life expectancy than traditional water heaters. In fact, many are expected to last for over 20 years, without much of a decrease in performance. In comparison, heaters with a tank only last for an average of about 10 years.
5. Lower risk of water damage.
Without a full fifty gallon tank of water sitting around 24/7, you are greatly reducing the chances of water damage. As those large tanks get older, they can malfunction, break, leak, or even explode, sending water everywhere. Fifty gallons of water is a lot, and it can cause a lot of water damage to your property. A tankless water heater greatly reduces the risk of water damage or injury from a broken tank.
RV Tankless Water Heaters FAQs
Are tankless water heaters better than ones with a tank?
A hot water tank can use less power because it does not need to heat large quantities of water in an instant. Even solar water heaters can make water in a tank reach scalding temperatures, but it may take all day.
If you have a limited water supply, due to weight and storage restrictions, then a tankless water heater is the way to go. Also, there is greater flexibility when you have the choice of running the water heater from a mains water supply.
Are propane water heaters safer than electric?
Both forms of heating come with a level of risk, and owners should treat both with a level of respect. Electric tankless water heaters need a sensitive residual circuit breaker or a GFCI, which shuts the power off if there is a short.
Propane heaters need room to breathe, the bottles are strong and can manage a fair bit of abuse. But, these types of heater burn through a lot of oxygen, so it is better to have a window open if used inside an RV. Propane heaters also have flues, so this means an extra hole in the ceiling or through the wall of your RV.
Which type of water heater is cheaper to run, propane or electric?
Propane is much cheaper to run, and it is an efficient way of heating water. The same propane bottle will also work for your propane cooker hob, and some generators.
Electric water heaters are power demanding, so you will be either powering it by running a generator, or for a brief time from your battery backups. If you intend to plug it into a campsites power socket, then it is efficient and a lot less hassle than having to lift heavy propane tanks about.
When you’re out on an adventure in your RV, a tankless water heater is one of the best ways to make things a bit more comfortable in your RV. There is almost nothing more relaxing than a hot shower, so bring the hot shower with you! While there are plenty of great RV water heaters available, you can confidently count on any of these models to get the job done — and to do it cost effectively.
Overall, the best RV tankless water heater, and our personal favorite, is the Steibel Eltron Tempra 12 Plus Water Heater. It is fantastic, and we highly recommend it, especially if you take long trips that span over multiple days. The Tempra 12 is cost effective, energy efficient, and does an amazing job of instantly heating up the water. Its design is compact, slim and modern, with the ability to easily fit in many tight areas. In terms of safety, the Tempra is loaded with safety sensors and precautions to prevent any accidents or injuries.
For RV owners with limited interior space, we also recommend considering the Ecotouch ECO 55. This model is very compact without sacrificing too much in the way of power or efficiency. It is perfect for solo campers or couples. Additionally, it features an awesome touch screen panel that is easy to navigate, while also giving the water heater a modern feel.
Does your RV have a tankless water heater that you love? We would love to try it! Let us know your thoughts, questions, and comments below.