One of the greatest benefits of camping in an RV over a tent is the running overhead shower – with hot water. The only compromise comes when you travel as a family or a large group, then you will have to skimp on water because standard RV water heaters normally hold 6 gallons of water at a time.
That was until the tankless water heater was introduced.
I must admit though, when I first heard that there was such a thing as a tankless water heater, I was very skeptical. To me, it was just another snake oil salesman selling a ridiculous offer to gullible and desperate RVers. Boy, was I wrong.
Tankless Water Heaters – How They Work
Tankless water heaters come in 2 varieties – electric and gas (propane). Both operate on the same basic principle. Tankless water heaters heat water directly with in the pipe network, eliminating the need for a storage tank. When a hot water faucet is turned on, cold water goes through the pipe into the heating unit. Depending on your heat source, a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. And like magic, hot water comes out of your hot water tap.
Benefits of a Tankless Water Heater Over a Standard Hot Water Heater
- A Constant Flow of Hot Water
This is definitely the biggest advantage tankless water heaters have over their traditional counterparts. An electric tankless water heater can produce a water flow of up to 5 gallons a minute. There’s no running out of hot water with this unit installed in your RV. A standard hot water heater, on the other hand, can take up to an hour to heat water to a usable temperature. This can be quite inconveniencing if your entire group needs to take a shower in the same period of time.
- More Economic than Standard Water Heaters
Because a tankless water heater produces hot water “on-demand”, it only heats up the water that is needed, thus saving energy. Another energy saving factor is that there is no energy dissipation in the tank, leading to more heating of the water in order to keep the water at a constant hot temperature. These energy savings easily translate into tangible cash savings. If you’re environmentally conscious, ditch your standard water heater and install a tankless water heater.
- No Storage Tank – It’s Tankless
This is a great advantage as it means you won’t have to deal with the issues of a water storage tank – such as winterizing it. It also means less weight (minimal but those small savings can quickly add up) and space needed to store your hot water.
- Reduces Water Waste
Have you ever stood beside a shower waiting for the water to heat up? That’s water wastage. A tankless water heater eliminates this water loss as the heating element is placed near the output, making hot water come out instantly.
Things to Consider Before Installing a Tankless Water Heater in Your RV
I know your excitement has already been heated up by the idea of installing a tankless water heater in your RV, but before you do, consider these few points.
- Electric Tankless Water Heater or Propane?
This all boils down to preference at the end of the day, but for an RV, electric is advisable for 2 main reasons.
- You can easily hook it up to your electricity supply. Being very energy efficient, an electric unit won’t put a strain on your electricity.
- Electric units are quieter. I know this may sound like a flimsy reason but sound doesn’t have to travel far in an RV, meaning even the slightest sound can become an irritating noise.
- Check Your Space
Although tankless water heaters don’t take up much space, the heating elements still need a bit of space to be fitted. Take your measurements carefully and make sure you get a unit that fits in your space. Like everything else in life, tankless water heaters come in different sizes and you have to be careful when purchasing one for your RV.
- Cost Compared to a Standard Hot Water Heater
For some, the answer to their hot water woes is to simply install a larger capacity hot water storage tank. This simply does not make economic sense. Consider the fact that a 10-gallon water tank costs $800 while installing a tankless water heater will set you back approximately $1000.00. It may seem as if the 10-gallon tank will save you $200 but that is not true. Take into consideration that when the 10 gallons run out, there will be a downtime of an hour as you wait for more water to be heated and the fact that a lot of energy is lost in storing that water. In the long run, the tankless water heater will recover that extra $200 and save you much more.
The Boiling Point
At the end of the day, there is only one point to consider – getting a tankless water heater. It just makes sense.