Best RV Tankless Water Heaters: Quickly Access Hot Water On Demand
These top tankless water heaters ensure your RV provides enough hot showers for the whole family
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PUBLISHED ON August 3, 2019
If you enjoy RVing, you'll eventually want to invest in a tankless water heater. They instantly heat water with a heat exchanger and don’t require a storage tank. The best RV tankless water heaters provide between two to five gallons of hot water per minute. Check out our tankless RV water heater reviews and buying guide to find the best one for your camper.
- Best OverallGirard On-Demand Tankless Water HeaterSummarySummaryThis heater has 42,000 BTUs, the brushless motor is quiet, and no special LP gas lines or special plumbing is required. The 12-volt power operates at less than 3 amps.ProsProsIt's easy to operate, and it monitors the incoming cold water temperature, flow rate, and outgoing hot water temperature. You can pre-set the temperature so it doesn't get too hot.ConsConsIt may take a bit to balance the water flow with the temperature you desire, and it may take time to warm up water in areas that are farther away from the unit.
- Best ValueExcel Tankless LPG Gas Water HeaterSummarySummaryThis heater features vent-free technology without the need for a flue. It runs on LPG propane gas, has 38,000 BTUs, and starts with only 2 PSI of water pressure.ProsProsIt's efficient, uses very little propane to heat water, and installation is easy. Also, it only takes a few seconds for the water to heat up.ConsConsThe hot water may exceed your tolerance without warning, you have to lower the water flow to get the right temperature, and fittings may cost as much as $100 extra.
- Honorable MentionEccotemp Portable Tankless Water HeaterSummarySummaryThis 73,000-BTU hot water heater runs on propane, the water pressure is 20-80 PSI, the flow capacity is 3 gallons per minute, and the rated heat input is 20kw.ProsProsIt heats quickly and efficiently, it's very easy to connect and mount, and the unit provides more than enough flow rate for all your hot water needs.ConsConsIt may be difficult to adjust the temperature both on the unit and indoors. The water is almost too hot even when the temp is set low, and the battery box is cheaply made.
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Benefits of RV Tankless Water Heaters
- They grant hot showers on demand. The best tankless water heater can provide hot water whenever you need it for showers, washing dishes, etc. You can also access a constant supply of H2O without a storage tank.
- They’re energy-efficient. Compared to a traditional storage tank heater, a tankless hot water heater for RV use has more energy efficiency. That's because it is less likely to lose heat from standing water.
- They distribute water more efficiently. If your family wants to take multiple showers while you're doing the dishes or washing clothes in your camper, it's not a problem. These units allow you to perform multiple functions at once and continue to produce hot water on demand.
- They're very durable. Tankless water heaters last on average between 10 to 15 years, while traditional ones may only have a lifespan of six to 10 years. It's possible for some tankless brands to last up to 20 years if they are properly maintained.
- They conserve water. You no longer have to waste water by letting it go down the drain in the shower while you're waiting for the hot water to come out. A tankless unit heats the water quickly compared to traditional tank heaters, which may take two to three minutes or more to expel hot water.
- They're cost-effective: A tankless water heater for RV showers and appliances heats water more efficiently than traditional ones, thus consuming less energy. As a result, it will save you several dollars each month.
Types of RV Tankless Water Heaters
What RV owners like about electric tankless water heaters is they are environmentally-friendly and very cost-effective. An RV tankless electric water heater is quite easy to install, and you can use it with a generator or solar panel. It is 99 percent efficient and does not contribute to greenhouse emissions.
An RV tankless gas water heater runs on propane or kerosene. It typically comes with power vents to release exhaust gases, and venting is essential for proper operation. One problem is a propane tankless water heater can release greenhouse gases. It is 85 percent efficient and is less expensive than electric tankless water heaters.
This type of tankless water heater uses a heat exchanger to heat water on demand. It is very reliable; however, stainless steel venting is required for the hot exhaust, which can be pricey. It's not particularly energy-efficient, especially if you use a lot of hot water in short bursts.
This type of unit uses a second heat exchanger that reuses the heat from the exhaust to further heat the water. As a result, condensing tankless water heaters are 92 to 94 percent efficient. While the PVC vents are inexpensive, the units are not very energy efficient when water is used in short bursts.
Excel is based in Miami, Florida, and has been in business since 2004. The company distributes the gasFlex flexible gas piping system as well as a line of Excel tankless gas water heaters. One of its most popular products is the Excel Tankless LPG Gas Water Heater.
The Girard Group
Girard Products, based in Clemente, California, introduced its first RV tankless water heaters in 2009 and is one of the top-selling tankless water heater companies in the RV Industry. One recommended product is the Girard On-Demand Tankless Water Heater.
Suburban Manufacturing was established in 1947 in Dayton, Tennessee, and is the leading manufacturer and supplier of RV heating, water heating, and cooking appliances. It is currently part of the AIRXCEL, INC. family. One popular product is the Suburban Electric Ignition/Lp And Gas RV Water Heater.
Atwood Mobile Products was founded in 1909. When travel trailers became popular, Atwood entered the RV market in 1936. Atwood is now sold under the Dometic brand, and products include air conditioners for RVs as well as water heaters, furnaces, and cooktops. One top product is the Atwood Mobile 6 Gallon Pilot Water Heater.
Rinnai was founded in Japan in 1920 after launching its first tankless water heater. Rinnai America is one of the few tankless water heater providers with its own Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Certified Testing Laboratory. One recommended product is the Rinnai Ultra Series Natural Gas Tankless Water Heater.
The Takagi brand has been making tankless water heaters worldwide since 1952. It maintains regional offices in California, Tennessee, New Jersey and a global office in Canada. One recommended product is the Takagi Indoor Tankless Water Heater.
RV Tankless Water Heater Pricing
- Under $200: A small RV water heater typically costs several hundred dollars, but you can find some models for less than $200. They may be smaller in capacity and have fewer features compared to more expensive models.
- $200-$500: Some of the most popular RV tankless water heaters are included in this price range. They are efficient enough to get the job done but aren’t super expensive.
- Over $500: It's not uncommon to pay a lot for a premium tankless water unit. Some cost up to $1,000 or more. They are also frequently used in small cabins and by people who live off the grid.
You should estimate your water consumption before purchasing an RV tankless water heater. That way, you will be able to determine what size you require. The shower area consumes between 1.5 to 3 gallons per minute, while the bathtub and toilet consume 2 to 4.5 gallons per minute, respectively. The kitchen sink can use around 1.5 gallons of water per minute.
Water Flow Rate
A tankless water heater's water flow rate is the amount of hot water it releases per minute. Most people use the heater when they shower, so the best RV tankless water heater will accommodate a typical family and can supply 2 to 2.5 gallons of hot water per minute.
Heating Capacity (BTU)
The BTU (British Thermal Unit) is the heat capacity a tankless heater provides. Groundwater temperatures vary depending on the location, and it can be more challenging to heat cold groundwater. Many units have between 30,000 and 50,000 BTU, which is slightly smaller than what you get at your house. A higher rating means a higher efficiency unit. It also means that the unit can heat the water faster.
Tankless heaters are powered by natural gas, propane, and electricity, so check to see what source is available in your RV. If it's a single source, then you should select a heater using that power supply. If you have more than one power source such as electric and gas, be aware that gas heaters require more maintenance and electric ones are more expensive to run.
- Space: Space is premium real estate in your camper, trailer, or RV. As a result, you need to make sure the water heater doesn't take up too much space. Make sure you know the actual size of the heater to see if it will fit properly. In addition, you may want one that's lightweight so you can easily maneuver it.
- Failsafe: A tankless water heater for travel trailers and RVs should have some protections to keep it in good working order. This includes a design that prevents voltage shortages and spikes as well as accidental electronic ignition triggering due to excessive heat. It should also have features that protect it during bad weather and in rough terrain.
Best RV Tankless Water Heater Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Girard On-Demand Tankless Water Heater
This heater has 42,000 BTUs, which provides the optimum performance for an RV's plumbing. The brushless motor is quiet, and no special liquid propane (LP) gas lines or special plumbing are required. The 12-volt power operates at less than 3 amps, and it has freeze protection for winter conditions.
The heater is easy to operate, and the onboard microprocessor monitors the incoming cold water temperature, the flow rate, and the outgoing hot water temperature. The digital controller allows for the temperature setting from 95 to 124 degrees Fahrenheit. You can pre-set the hot water temperature to a lower temperature so it doesn't get too hot. It also has visual diagnostics that allow for trouble-shooting. A hinged door and sliding latch allows for easy access.
One downside is it is sensitive to the amount of water pressure, so it may take a bit to balance the water flow with the temperature you desire. Also, it may take quite a bit of time to warm up the water in areas that are farther away from the unit. In addition, it can use a lot of water so it may not work well in a remote camping spot where there is no water supply.
Best Value: Excel Tankless LPG Gas Water Heater
This 1.6 GPM heater features vent-free technology without the need for a flue. It runs on LPG propane gas, has 38,000 BTUs, and starts with only two PSI of water pressure. Its pure copper heat exchanger has a lifetime warranty, and it comes with an LPG flare brass adapter for the gas regulator.
It is very efficient and uses very little propane to heat water. Set up is easy: Simply hook up the gas line and two water lines and put the batteries in. It only takes a few seconds when you are camping off the grid for the water to heat up. The pilot light works consistently, even in direct rain, and overall is half the cost of a gas/electric RV hot water heater.
One downside is the hot water can exceed your tolerance without warning, which can be dangerous. It uses two batteries for ignition power instead of a 12-volt connection, and you have to really lower the water flow to get the shower water to the right temperature. In addition, you may have to pay as much as an additional $100 for fittings necessary for installation.
Honorable Mention: Eccotemp Portable Tankless Water Heater
This 73,000 BTU hot water heater runs on propane and batteries. It features manual water temperature control and a 20-minute automatic safety shutoff timer. The water pressure is 20-80 PSI, the flow capacity is 3 gallons per minute, and the rated heat input is 20kw.
The Eccotemp heats quickly and efficiently, it's very easy to connect and mount, and the unit provides more than enough flow rate for all your hot water needs. The water pressure is very good even at very hot temperatures, and you can easily take a warm shower and do the dishes at the same time. Overall, it features good quality construction, good quality materials, and fittings, and it comes with a useful owner's manual.
One problem is it can be difficult to adjust the temperature both on the unit and indoors. As a result, it may require continual adjustment of flow at the shower controls. In addition, the water is almost too hot even with the temperature set too low, and the battery box is cheaply made.
- If you have a tankless water heater that operates on propane, you may need to purchase stainless steel tubing for venting purposes, which can be a little expensive. These types of recreational vehicle heaters also need to be serviced annually.
- Since RV water heaters are much smaller than home water heaters, you shouldn't spend too much time in the shower. You can turn the water off temporarily while you're shampooing your hair or soaping up your body to conserve water.
- Drain the water tank before you store your RV for an extended period of time. To prevent the pipes from freezing or cracking, make sure to winterize them.
- When you take your RV out of storage, turn off the bypass valve. You should fill the tank before you hit the road because if it heats up without any water in it, you may damage it.
- An anode rod will prevent corrosion in your tank. The water will corrode the rod instead of the tank. It's quite inexpensive and can greatly extend the tank's lifespan.
Q: Is it hard to convert a traditional RV water heater to a tankless one?
A: It's not too difficult if you plan in advance. Choose one that is the correct size and has the power source you desire before you make the conversion. Mount the unit; connect the gas, water, and electricity, lines; and install the flue vent. Consult a professional if you want to ensure that it's properly installed.
Q: What does it mean if only lukewarm water is coming out of the shower or faucet?
A: Check that the hot and cold faucets to the outside shower or water line are turned off. If they're on, the hot and cold water can mix together.
Q: Can I install a tankless water heater under the RV’s sink?
A: Sometimes. However, be sure to check the manufacturer's manual to be sure you know exactly where you can install a tankless water system.
Q: Do I need to clean a tankless water heater?
A: Yes, particularly if you haven't used the unit in a while. Cleaning it regularly will ward off bacteria. Read the manufacturer's manual for instructions.
Q: Do all tankless water heaters need electricity?
A: While some use gas as the main source of power, some brands require electricity for the automatic ignition to work. Other brands have a battery ignition, so electricity isn’t required.
Our pick for the best RV tankless water heater is the Girard On-Demand Tankless Water Heater.
It has freeze protection for winter weather, it is easy to operate, and you can pre-set the hot water temperature so it doesn't get too hot.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Excel Tankless LPG Gas Water Heater.