5 Best Tankless Water Heaters for RVs
There’re mixed reactions regarding tankless water heaters, but from experience, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid given the option between a tank-style and tankless water heater for my RV.
The improved quality of life, energy efficiency, and constant hot water supply are my key selling points. Of course, tankless water heaters for RVs have several cons, mainly the higher upfront install cost. But other than that, the tankless water heaters for RVs seem to have more pros.
So how do you pick the right tankless water heater for your RV? Stick around. I’ll share some fantastic options to consider. I’ve also compiled a handy and comprehensive buying guide to help with the selection.
Top 5 Tankless Water Heaters for RVs
Girard RV Tankless Hot Water Heater
We use the Girard on-demand tankless water heater on our RV and can’t get enough of it. It’s one of the best comfort upgrades on our RV.
The heater runs on a 12-v battery and has 42,000 BTU capacity for a powerful performance. It maintains the water as hot as you need it to. While it takes a couple of extra seconds to heat up initially, it’s an absolute lifesaver when you need a reliable hot water supply at regulated temperatures.
It saves you from the heartache of living with a 3-minute shower associated with the 2.5 GPM water heater. Instead, you now enjoy indefinite showers; I’ve at least run mine for 35-40 minutes, but it may be longer depending on the size of your gray tank. If you’re on a full hookup site, you can take as long a shower as you want, as you don’t have to worry about your grey tank getting full.
And the best part about the entire operation is the Girard tankless heater is quiet. The brushless motor operates at less than 3-amps for a silent operation, and you can sleep or study while your partner gets a shower.
Furthermore, the heater doesn’t seem to use much propane, which is great if you’re concerned about energy efficiency. Based on experience, our Girard has cut our propane usage in half, which is a plus in my books.
Handling and operating this on-demand water heater is also a breeze. It has a digital control panel that allows for simple adjustment of the water temperatures. It also displays error codes for easier troubleshooting. We also found that it has a timer, a helpful reminder in case you leave it on accidentally.
Installing this tankless water heater isn’t challenging. There’s a handy installation manual, but it shouldn’t be difficult if you’ve basic knowledge of plumbing and power systems. It’s a plug-and-play; you don’t have to modify the original water or propane connections. The worst part for me was getting the original water heater out.
My only concern with the Girard purchase is you must buy a door to cover the plate. You must ensure there’re vent holes in it for fresh air and a hole for the exhaust. Above that, everything else is fantastic on this tankless water heater.
- A continuous stream of hot water
- Easy to install
- Cover plate sold separately
Gasland Tankless Water Heater
Gasland Tankless Water Heater is a game changer, and the ability to use it with a regular propane tank is terrific. It is a fantastic option for most off-grid situations, including RVing, camping, hunting, tiny home living, or cabin house.
Versatility aside, this on-demand water heater is a true performer on all fronts. It has a power output of 41 000 BTU/hr. This model’s consistent hot water delivery is jaw-dropping.
Furthermore, it provides the exact amount of hot water you need. It turns on automatically once the water starts flowing, so it’s easy to set it to the desired temperature and not worry about it shutting off. I found the best results with the summer mode dial, with water at the lowest setting.
The fittings on this tankless water heater are also easy to attach. All the necessary adapters and components were in the box, including 2 wrenches. It’s a good thing because you never have to worry about over-tightening.
Meanwhile, the regulator never fails, and the starting sequence is easy. It’s not to mention the tankless heater comes with several advanced safety protection systems to prevent overheating, low water low, and dry combustion.
The temperature adjustment is stable, and the operation doesn’t consume much propane while running. Plus, once the heater is set, it doesn’t require additional adjustments.
Overall, I’m impressed with the price and highly recommend this heater for RV use.
- Easy to use
- Several safeties feature
- LED display
- The shower hose is a bit fragile
EcoSmart ECO 11 Electric Tankless Water Heater
I would recommend the EcoSmart Electric Tankless Water Heater for anyone who has to replace their tank-style heater. It’s a powerhouse but small enough not to upgrade your RV electrical panel.
But the best part is that it provides an opportunity for endless on-demand hot water. Say goodbye to the 3-minute lukewarm to cold showers. Instead, the EcoSmart is perfect for RVers that need hot water flowing. Your showers will get hotter, and the water volume will be enough to be comfortable.
The controlled water flow is also a nice feature and helps to save on your water consumption. It’s adequate for RVers using low-flow shower heads and other water-saving fixtures.
EcoSmart’s saving efficiency goes beyond water savings; it’s also 99% thermal energy efficient. Remember, it’s an on-demand water heater and will only heat water when called, unlike the conventional tank-style heaters that maintain water temperatures even when not used.
I’m also pleased with the space-saving capabilities of this tankless heater. The compact size is nice, and I like that it frees up my RV space. The slim and small profile is also nice that I could install it under my RV cabinets, and it won’t take up much room.
Installing EcoSmart also feels like a dream. It’s so easy, and I’m happy with it. You can install it even if you have basic plumbing and wiring skills.
Overall, the EcoSmart is a nice and worthy choice for RVers looking for an on-demand water heating option. I would recommend it.
- Easy installation
- High-accurate temperature gauge
- The inlet/outlet hose requires an extra seal
Eccotemp L5 1.5 GPM Portable Outdoor Tankless Water Heater
Eccotemp L5 is yet another ultra-light and compact on-demand RV water heater. It’s easy to pack and carry and runs on a 20-pound propane tank which is nice if you’re looking for a tankless heater for different applications. When I’m not using mine on my RV, I can use it for camping, off-grid use, washing my pets, or outdoor showers.
The heater’s performance is also fantastic. It works well and will supply you with a steady hot water supply. The only caveat you need to consider is you must have enough water pressure, or the unit won’t function properly.
The good thing is the heater has a low-pressure activation of 20 PSI and has a decent water output. Even when running it on the lowest flow and lowest heat to conserve water and propane, the water still comes out warm and fast. And if you want to dial up the temperatures, do it with the help of the dial.
Installing the Eccotemp L5 is also easy. It’s easy to set up and easy to cover and maintain. Furthermore, it comes with accessories and fittings to give you many options for plumbing the unit. It’s also a real bargain, even if you must replace it yearly because of a freeze.
- Value purchase
- Great performance
- Easy to install
- Requires enough water pressure to work
Furrion 2.4GPM Tankless RV Gas Water Heater
If you’re a full-time RVer and tired of the 5-minute hot water limits, consider the Furrion Tankless Gas Water Heater. It makes your water hot, and it’s not sensitive to flow.
The tankless heater has a BTU Rating of 60K and works like a champ. It has a high heating power, and delivers hot water, almost instantly, even when the ambient temperatures are low.
Furthermore, you don’t need to worry about getting scalded by the hot water or anything. It utilizes Furrion’s Vortex technology to consistently mix water to your desired temperatures. Therefore, if you’re concerned about your safety, you’ll be pleased to learn about the sensors that automatically shut off the power if the temperatures exceed the limits.
The heater is also quite energy efficient, and from experience, the propane use is significantly lower.
Installing the Furrion heater is also straightforward, and this magical piece of equipment will fit perfectly in the existing cutout of your Suburban 4/6-gallon water heater. Everything is exactly as it should be.
Finally, I’m pleased with Furrion’s Vibration Smart Technology. The main role of this technology is to protect the water heater against intense RV vibrations on the rough road. It bolsters and extends the durability of your tankless water heater.
Overall, Furrion is a fantastic choice for those on the road and will supply them with a steady hot water supply while ensuring you remain safe.
- Energy efficient
What’s a Tankless Water Heater? How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work?
A tankless water heater for RV uses a powerful but smaller burner to heat the water only when there’s demand for it. The way it works is water passes through a coiled pipe over a burner, and the time spent in the coiled pipe is sufficient for the element to heat the water to the right temperature.
Therefore, unlike a tank heater, the tankless heater turns the heater only for flow, and you can’t run out of water. When you open the tankless water heater faucet, the heater kicks on.
However, don’t assume that a tankless water system delivers instant hot water, far from it. You must wait for the manifold and pipes to heat up before you get hot water out of the tap.
There’s usually a “delay” of hot water coming out of the tankless water faucet, but I usually don’t see that as much of an issue because there’s also some sort of delay with the tank-based systems while the pipes get flushed off their standing cold water. Plus, the tankless water heater delay lasts only 30-50 seconds.
The greatest benefit of the tankless water heater is that it only uses energy when it’s called for.
On the other hand, a water tank uses a heating element and thermostat to heat the water slowly and then keep it hot.
The benefit of this is that the water is already hot, so there’s not much delay, and you get hot water quickly. On the downside, the burner on the hot water tank constantly cycles on and off to keep the tank hot, translating to more energy consumption.
However, a huge caveat with tankless water heater burners is that they require an enormous energy draw to provide “instant” hot water and might not be as efficient to repeatedly turn it on and off.
I believe the tankless heaters for RV can be efficient, BUT it depends on the usage.
A tankless water heater makes more economic sense if you live in an RV full-time and run it constantly for some time. For example, tankless heaters are good for several people bathing or showering one after another because it never runs out of hot water, as a tank does.
But if the RV tankless heater doesn’t get constant use, it’s not compelling economically.
Therefore, it’s all about tradeoffs for different needs. For example, a tank heater will warm up a mass of water and keep it hot until needed. The advantage includes using off-peak power, which can cut energy costs significantly. On the other hand, a tankless has the benefit that you’re not keeping the water hot for long periods.
The key to remember when picking a tankless water heater is that it must meet your peak usage needs. Sometimes, tankless water heaters are finicky on flow rates, so you need a large heater to handle all your water heating needs.
Types of Tankless Water Heaters for RVs
Tankless water heaters for RV are broadly categorized into two: Gas & Electric.
Gas Tankless Water Heaters
The gas-powered tankless water heaters for RV run on propane. They require a propane source and pipe to move the gas to the tankless heater.
Electric Tankless Heaters
Aptly named the electric tankless heaters, these heaters rely on electricity to run. The electric tankless heaters can be connected to solar panels, batter, or other power generators. Their greatest positive is they’re environmentally friendly and easy to install.
The biggest difference between the electric and gas tankless heaters for RVs is their efficiency. Electric tankless water heaters are more efficient than gas tankless heaters. However, gas tankless heaters are cheaper to run and tend to last for a longer time.
Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters for RVs
If you’re still on the fence about whether to go for a tankless water heater for RVs, here’s a list of benefits you gain by making the switch:
The biggest benefit of tankless water heaters is their energy-saving capabilities. Remember, these tanks operate on an on-demand basis and will only heat the water when you switch them on or need to use them.
They’re unlike the tank-style, usually on an endless heating cycle.
Tankless water heaters take up small space and are much smaller than conventional water heaters. Most are quite compact; it feels like installing a large briefcase on the wall.
Endless Supply of Hot Water
Tankless water heaters provide on-demand hot water, so, for the most part, you enjoy an infinite hot water supply while you shower or do laundry.
Tankless water heaters can last twice as long as conventional tank-style water heaters. Generally, a typical; tankless water heater lasts an average of 20 years with proper and careful maintenance.
Flushing and a simple yearly descale of your tankless water heater are sufficient to keep the heater in top condition.
Tankless water heaters also have their share of drawbacks.
The main one is the upfront cost. Tankless water heaters are generally more expensive to buy and install than tank-style water heaters for RVs.
Installing a tankless water heater in your RV is also challenging and requires ingenuity. It’s not a plug-and-play and may require some modifications.
Finally, tankless water heaters need almost 100% flow to kick on the heater. It’s mainly to avoid overheating.
Overall, tankless water heaters are an attractive option for RVers looking to save on their energy consumption and space. However, you must get the right size for your heating needs.
How to Pick a Tankless Water Heater For RV
Now that you know what tankless water heaters for RVs are, how they work, and their pros & cons, let’s look at how to pick the right one for your water heating needs.
What Type of RVer are you?
The first step in picking a tankless water heater is considering the type of RVer you’re. If you only RV occasionally, you’ll hardly profit from a tankless water heater.
However, if you’re a full-timer and travel with your family, you’re more likely to benefit from a tankless water heater because of your high appetite for on-demand hot water.
Consider the Size of your Tank-Stye Water Heater
Next, consider the size and style of your tank-style water heater on your RV, especially if you want to reduce the installation cost.
Remember, the tankless water heaters are designed to replace your existing water heater and should fit the space seamlessly.
Consider your Hot Water Demand
This point ties up with the first one we mentioned about the type of RVer you’re. Ideally, the right tankless water heater for your application determines your hot water demand and matches it with a correctly-sized unit.
A good way to determine this is by contacting your local plumber for a free estimation. They’ll also provide you with the peak volume for your consumption.
Size the Heater
You must also size the heater, especially considering the tankless gas heater. Generally, these require larger wires/pipes than tank-style water heaters and a larger exhaust duct.
Another important thing to consider when switching from a tank-style water heater to a tankless water heater is the sizing of the vents. The vent pipe from a tanked heater and tankless are different. You’ll unlikely use the existing vent for your new tankless heater.
Do tankless water heaters last longer?
Tankless water heaters can last long, but longevity will depend on the maintenance schedule and water supply quality.
If you live in a “hard” water locality, and your water is full of dissolved minerals, these heaters will likely suffer from a build-up of minerals on the heat elements. It either causes erosion of the metal or simply burying the elements under the thick coat of rock-like minerals.
In such cases, using a water softener is a good idea. Regular cleaning and maintenance of tankless water heaters may also help to extend their longevity and durability.
Wrap-Up: Best Tankless Water Heaters for RVs
That’s a wrap and everything about tankless water heaters for RVs. They’re a great replacement for conventional RV water heaters as they provide a demand water supply. More importantly, they’re more energy efficient.
However, you must pick a unit that meets your RV water heating needs. The actors outlined in the buyer’s section should be your guiding principles in your next on-demand water heater purchase.