What to Consider When Shopping for an RV Water Heater

Hot water is a convenience that we can hardly live without. Having hot water for cooking, washing dishes, showering, and more is an important part of our daily lives, whether at home or on the road. When deciding what kind of water heater to put in your RV, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Types of RV Water Heaters

There are plenty of options when it comes to water heaters for your RV, each with its own pros and cons. In an RV, water is heated one of three different ways: propane, electricity, or heat from the engine.

Propane is the oldest heating method for heating water. Many older RV models still use it. While it is the most reliable source of heat, it is not the most cost-effective or energy-efficient. 

An electric water heater tends to be the most convenient option since there is no pilot light to worry about.

If you’re looking for a more economical option, using the heat from your engine is a top choice. As your engine runs and gets hot it heats the water. The downside, however, is that if the engine sits off for a time, the water starts to cool off.

Different Sizes of Water Heaters

Just like an RV is smaller than your average home, RV hot water heaters are smaller than the ones you might be used to. The most common sizes for RV point-of-use water heaters are 6- or 10-gallon tanks, but there are smaller and larger options, as well. 

The larger the tank, the better it is for more people on your camping trip, as a larger tank gives you a better chance of everyone having hot water for a shower.

No matter how many people you have and what size water tank, water conservation is still something to consider. Long showers will come to a quick, chilly end, and larger tanks, especially, take a while to reheat.

Tankless RV Water Heaters 

Electric tankless water heaters, like this one by GE Appliances, are becoming more popular for RVers. These units don’t store hot water, but rather heat the water as it passes through. 

Benefits of a Tankless Water Heater

If you’ve been an RV owner for a while, then you’ve likely had your fair share of cold showers, but with a tankless water heater, that’s not a problem anymore. The biggest benefit of tankless water heaters is never running out of hot water. 

In this regard, a great way to decide whether or not a tankless system is for you is by answering one simple question: is your need for hot water often more than your supply?

Is six gallons of hot water – the average tank size – enough for what you use it for?

Tankless water heaters give you unlimited access to hot water.

Is a Tankless Water Heater Worth the Investment?

The upfront costs of tankless systems are quite a bit higher than a more traditional system, they have a lower flow rate, and they are more difficult to install. 

If you only use your RV a few times a year, then it may not be a worthwhile investment for you. 

However, if you spend weeks or months at a time in your RV or use it fairly often, then it becomes more worth the cost and the hassle – especially considering the massive energy savings you could see with a tankless water heater. 

Water in a tank has to be constantly kept hot, which means nonstop energy use. A tankless system only uses electricity or gas when a faucet is turned on. With enough use, the savings alone could pay for the system in a matter of years.

No matter what kind of water heater you decide is best for your RV and lifestyle, our team at MWSS can help you find the parts you need and give you the best advice for maintaining them. We want you to have the best camping experience possible!

Shop all water heaters here.

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