Camping on a recreation vehicle is fun, and it has thrilling enjoyment.
But if you run out of hot water supply, especially in the cold seasons, the fun will fall into a nightmare.
So installing the best RV water heater is one of the primary tasks for every single RV owner.
Unfortunately, there are numerous barriers to the water heater installation inside RV. All the water heaters are not suitable for your vehicle, and the requirement of water supply varies from person to person.
For a large number of family members, you may have an additional requirement of hot water. Only the best RV tankless water heater can supply that amount.
If you require hot water with excessively high temperatures, a tankless water heater can’t fulfill your criteria. In that case, you should go for an RV water heater with a tank. But how much tank volume should you go for?
Don’t panic if all this stuff seems confusing to you. In this article, I will discuss everything about the RV water heater.
Thus, you will find out which category will be the best preference for you and your family, whether they are tankless or with the tank. Also, how large should be the tank size if you choose a “with tank” variant?
8 Best RV Water Heater Reviews
Best for Medium RV Campervan – Suburban SW6DEL
The Suburban SW6DEL is arguably the best and permanent water heating solution for your mid-size RV or campervan. The interesting fact is, this RV water heater can be driven by both LPG and 120V electricity.
6-Gallon well-insulated water tank will preserve hot water for your on-demand supply. Most importantly, running out of power or Gas won’t be able to resist you anymore from getting non-stop hot water flow!
A porcelain layered stainless steel tank ensures ultra extended durability, and a dedicated anode rod absorbs the corrosion from any electrolytic action.
No waiting for pilot light!!! Suburban SW6DEL has an integrated 12V DC direct spark ignition mechanism for a hassle-free startup. Just turn ON the switch and enjoy hot water.
The unit produces hot water by a gas combustion chamber and a 1440 Watt electric heating coil. Along with LPG and 120V electricity, SW6DEL generates 16,910.4 BTU/Hr. (12000 BTU from Gas & 4910 BTU from Electricity)
Note: The electric coil consumes around 15 amp current during operation.
Suburban SW6DEL has achieved the industry-leading heat recovery rate of 10.1 GPH on Gas. To boost the recovery rate up to 16.2 GPH, you need to use both Gas & electricity at a time.
This model comes with a “12V relay circuit board” to control the gas ignition and electric heating elements from the indoor panel; you will just require an ON/OFF switch to connect with it.
I should not say the installation is effortless. You would have to have some technical skills to install it for the first time. If there weren’t any previous water heater installation at your RV, you would require to cut out the frame with 12.75″h x 12.75″w x 19.19″d Dimension.
Please Keep in Mind
- This unit doesn’t come with a flush mount door; you have to get that additionally.
- Must check the anode rod at least twice a year to ensure there is no corrosion.
- You will require an indoor ON/OFF switch which is not included with the packaging.
- For self-installation, read the manual to follow every single step; otherways the warranty will be void.
- You must need a 12V DC connection to use the Gas Heating Section.
Best for Large Campervan or Travel Trailer – Suburban SW10DE
Suburban SW10DE is the 10 Gallon variant of Suburban SW6DE (Previously Reviewed), and you can pick this if you do require a big tank capacity for your RV.
Most importantly, there is no difference between heating capacity, electric wattage, body kits, and anything else between SW6DE & SW10DE except the gigantic tank size.
Suburban SW10DE runs by both LPG & 120V Electricity for hot water supply, similar to the previous model SW6DE. The absence of power/gas won’t create a hot water crisis for this functionality.
The 10-Gallon tank is also porcelain layered to avoid any chemical attack from boiling water. As boiling water reacts with any shorts of metal except porcelain.
During electrical heating, an additional anode rod absorbs the entire electrolytic corrosion. This anode rod is easily accessible & hassle freely replaceable whenever required.
The same 120V, 1440 Watt electric coil generates 4,910 BTU heat to produce hot water, and another massive 12,000 BTU heat is being produced by the gas combustion unit, entirely similar to the 6-gallon SW6DE variant.
You will get a 10.1 GPH recovery rate from the gas-only mode, which can be boosted to 16.2 GPH by using electricity & gas at a time.
Installation for this gigantic unit could be easy if you are replacing your old unit with this new one. It will be like plug-and-play. But if it’s your first-time installation, you would require some technical skills. In that case, you have to cut out the RV frame in 16.38″h x 16.38″w x 20.5″d dimension.
Please Keep in Mind
- The SW10DE model doesn’t come with a “DC 12v relay circuit” for indoor gas ignition control.
- You will require to collect Wall Switch to ON/OFF this unit additionally.
- The packaging doesn’t include a flush mount door.
- Checking the anode rod twice a year would be routine work.
- The 6 Gallon & 10 Gallon variant doesn’t have any electrical & gas configuration difference except the tank size, so this larger one heats up slowly.
Best RV Tankless Water Heater – GIRARD 2GWHAM
If you do love having a long shower (as I do), then going for an RV tankless water heater is an attractive choice. So, Girard 2GWHAM should be the first tankless preference due to its top-notch quality & performance.
It’s the expensive but highly great performer to knock off all its competitors out of consideration. As a permanent water heating solution for your beloved RV, GIRARD is going to be an exclusive choice.
The gas-powered combustion chamber produces a massive 42,000 BTU/hr heating energy to supply you hot water with almost zero latency.
A 12V DC power supply is required to activate the spark ignitor and controller circuit. The circuit manages anti-freezing functionalities, water temperature, and water inlet flows by built-in software. All these consume only 3A current to being operated.
The unit is entirely operational using the UCP (user control panel) that you can locate anywhere inside the RV.
You are allowed to prefer a temperature setting from 95°F to 124°F according to your preference; moms will be happy to remain safe from sudden hot water touch during washing dishes.
The UCP has a LED panel to visualize water temperature, pump status, the water flow state, and any error codes. You can prefer water temperature to show Celcius or Fahrenheit unit according to your preference.
Some facts to know
- The hot water takes a while to reach the faucet after startup.
- Turning ON/OFF too instantly will show error codes.
- If you continuously run the unit for 20 minutes, it will get turned off due to safety. You can restart it after 30 seconds.
- The unit doesn’t come with the Hinged Door.
- As it takes 12V DC for the spark ignitor, opening the door, you will find a Greenlight that indicates the voltage is okay; Red lights indicate the voltage is below 10V & the Amber light indicates the unit is on operation.
Best On-demand RV water heater – Precision TEMP RV – 550
Tankless water heaters have some limitations of the amount of hot water supply, and the matrix is measured by GPM (Gallon per minute). If you need a high volume of instant hot water flows, then the Precision TEMP RV – 550 is an excellent solution.
With its massive 55,000 BTU/hr heat production capacity, the unit can supply more than 2 gallons per minute to ensure sufficient hot water flow to the kitchen & bathroom simultaneously.
Most importantly, using this tankless water heater is the most efficient choice for RV owners, as it doesn’t waste any energy raising water temperature that remains stored in the tank. The unit uses 50% less propane, comparing a similar water heater with a tank.
Such an efficiency level!!! Using a 20 Ibs propane tank, this unit can produce around 940 Gallons of hot water. As a result, you can run a couple of months using a single propane tank.
The unit doesn’t come with a flush mount door; you need to collect that additionally.
Precision TEMP RV-550 has a 12V DC automatic ignition system and an anti-freezing mechanism. All these electrical components consume 1.5-3 amp current during the operation. In case you need to preserve the unit for a long time, the winterization procedure is hassle-free & easily accessible.
The craziest feature is, Precision has a real electronically-controlled gas modulation technology that smartly controls the gas quantity according to the amount of water flow to hold the hot water temperature at a constant point.
In case you replace an old 6 gallon suburban SW6DE with this new tankless unit, you will require a 14.375″ H x 13.5″ W x 13.5″ D size cutout on your RV Frame.
The entire unit is designed, manufactured, and tested in the United States, so you would not have to worry about post-purchase warranty & services.
Best Budget Rv Tankless Water Heater – Furrion 2.4 GPH
Furrion 2.4 GPM is nothing but a hidden treasure for you while searching for RV tankless water heater. This gem shocked our hearts with a price point (almost half than other similar) that we could hardly believe.
We were almost in an illusion & confused until we brought the unit and tested ourselves.
Firstly, the unit comes with every component, including the hinged door that is required for installation. Stay confirmed; no other brands will send you a door with the unit.
Only you will need some wirings and water inlet extensions which isn’t a big deal at all. Then the installation is just plugging and play!!!
This unit is relatively small but generates a massive 60,000 BTU/hr heating energy to supply non-stop hot water. Ignitions & gas supply is entirely automated and electronically controlled to produce hot water efficiently just when you need it.
The unit works pretty well in the city water outlet, but of the city, you may require a 3-5 GPM water pump to support it.
The round-shaped UCP (User Control Panel) is one of the best attractive control panels I have ever seen. The temperature is nicely visualized on display, and you can prefer Celsius or Fahrenheit as you want. The entire panel is touch-controlled.
Although it’s common, this unit can hardly reach a temperature up to 102-degree Fahrenheit, which is okay for taking a shower. By reducing the water flow, you may get a higher temperature.
The automatic spark ignitor requires 12V DC input. This power also drives the anti-freezing system & overheat protection functionalities. Also, the winterization procedure is very handy.
Additionally, the Furrion is built focusing on several on-road conditions. As a result, road jarking and engine vibration won’t be able to damage this unit.
If you think about all the features & the price point, no other tankless water heater can beat Furrion 2.4. So undoubtedly, it could be an excellent choice for your trailer.
Best RV propane tankless water heater – Camplux pro Tankless
If you dislike digging a hole on your Campervan’s frame or want a portable hot water solution for versatile uses during RV camping, then nothing can beat the Camplux Pro tankless gas water heater.
Whatever you need is plugin an LPG tank & joining the 1/2″ waterline, and you are ready to enjoy a non-stop hot water flow. It’s available in two variants of 1.58 and 2.64 gallons per minute.
Don’t worry about the ignition!!! Two “D” cell batteries supply the power for automatic ignition spark and the LED display to show the temperature on the “celsius” scale. Unfortunately, there is no way to convert it into Fahrenheit.
By twisting the red-marked knob, you can regulate the gas burner, and the blue knob controls the water flow. To activate the gas ignitor, Camplux Pro requires a minimum of 3 PSI water pressure, easily achievable with any 12V DC water pump.
Stainless steel built gas burner ensures decades of rust-free operation, and tinning copper heat exchanger guarantees corrosion-free lifespan with a higher efficiency rate. It’s such an efficient that a 20 Ibs propane tank will last for more than a month if your whole family members take a shower regularly.
CSA standard safety features ensure for this unit “flame failure protection,” “anti-freezing water discharge plug,” and “overheat protection instant shut off” to cut the gas line instantly if the temperature rises over 167 degrees F.
All kits you require for installations come with the packaging, including gas valves & showerheads (not the batteries). The showerhead’s disappointing fact is made of fragile plastic, which you might require to replace very soon.
Otherwise, complex pro is a fantastic gas tankless water heater for your RV for multipurpose uses or inner bathroom installation.
Best Mini Portable RV Water Heater – Ecotemp L5 Tankless
If you are searching for the best budget water heating solution for your RV camper, then Ecotemp L5 is the best option to go. At the same time, it’s lightweight & portable to co-operate with your multipurpose scenarios.
The unit will take only 5 minutes to set up and supply non-stop hot water with a maximum 1.5 gallon per minute flow rate. A minimum 2 PSI minimum water pressure is sufficient to activate the ignitor.
No matter wherever you want, camping, hunting, fishing, or climbing with your RV, Ecotemp will serve you on the go.
Due to its lightweight and handy design, you can install it inside the bathroom or outside the RV to enjoy an on-demand hot water shower. Everything you require comes with the packaging for installation.
A very compact carrying handle has enhanced the portability to the next level.
But the showerhead isn’t that sturdy. You must require to replace it with a durable solid one. Again, the water heating chamber is thin-layered and can be squeezed by icy water flow.
Despite being tiny, the unit produces massive high-temperature hot water, although there is no indicator display to identify the temperature. Additionally, flame failure, anti-freezing, overheat protection, ODS every safety feature are included with this variant.
Things to Keep in Mind
- The unit has auto spark ignition. So, 2 “D” cell batteries are required for ignition.
- Must hang the unit in a well-ventilated place, ensuring fresh air can enter inside the combustion chamber.
- Drain all water before you conserve the unit for a long time.
Things you should know before buying an RV water heater.
Choosing a water heater by matching it with your RV model could be tricky.
Things are more challenging if there wasn’t any previous installation.
But if you had a water heater installation previously and want to replace it with a new one or want to upgrade to a tankless variant, then the task is pretty easy.
Considering both of these scenarios, I will discuss all the fundamental facts you should know before buying your RV water heating unit. So that you able to remain out of any confusion.
Gas-powered or Electric, which should I choose?
RV water heaters are available in both gas & electric variants, although all RV tankless water heaters are powered by gas.
If you have access to both gas and electricity, then gas will be the efficient choice comparing electricity. Cause to run the electric water heater, either you need to install an additional power generator or connect it with the RV engine-powered dynamo.
Both of them are burning gasoline to produce electricity, and the electricity is producing hot water for you. So a massive energy loss is occurring.
Alternatively, while using a gas water heater, you can simply put a 20 Ibs propane tank to operate the heater where hot water is producing by directly burning LPG. Isn’t it more efficient?
But here is the tricky part. Say you are on a long trip with your entire family member, and you are out of gas!!! You don’t have easy access to LPG. How to handle these scenarios?
Well, now the latest water heaters can be run by both gas and electricity. For example, the Suburban SW6DE & SW10DE both run from gas & electricity accordingly. So if you run out of gas/electricity, the backup portion will supply you hot water without any trouble!!! But these models are available only with tank variants.
Again, only the gas can produce a massive BTU heating power that isn’t possible by the RV electric source.
Ultimately, a gas water heater should be your priority preference if it’s tankless, & if you choose with the tank variant, then go for Suburban so that you can utilize both gas & electricity.
What is a Motorized water heater?
This is the default water heating system of modern motorhomes. This system utilizes engine power to raise the water temperature remaining in the tank. More specifically, hot liquids from the engine cooling system circulate through a capillary tube inside the water tank to increase its temperature, just in the similar way a heat pump works.
Unfortunately, this water heating system can’t be installed externally, or a lot of customization required to do this. Again, this system can’t be used as the primary water heating solution because it only can be functional while the RV is running.
Tankless or With a Tank, which model should I prefer?
Both of them have some limitations. The RV tankless water tank can supply an unlimited amount of hot water, where the with-tank variant can only provide around 6-16 gallons of hot water depending on capacity.
On the other hand, a water heater with a tank can raise the water temperature up to a boiling point, but the tankless water heater hardly can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit with a standard water flow.
So the solution is, if you need a massive amount of water for stuff like a long shower, spa, washing stuff, then go for tankless.
On the other hand, if you require hot water with very high temperatures for several tasks like laundry, cleaning, or mobile washing services, you should choose a water heater with a tank.
When should I choose a Portable Gas Water heater for RV?
To be very frank, if you don’t require a permanent RV water heater set up, then straightly go for portable ones. They are 4X-5X cheaper than traditional RV water heaters and work fantastically.
Only the problem is, you will require moving this unit from kitchen to bathroom randomly. Or you can get separate units for separate tasks.
What tank size do I need for the with-Tank variant?
It depends on your RV size & family members, and most importantly, on your water demand.
Almost all RVs are suitable for 4-6 gallon installation, but 10-16 gallon water heater requires a large placement area. So if your RV is that large enough, then think about the next criteria.
If your family has two members, then a 6-gallon water heater can be sufficient. But if you or your partner likes a long shower, you will require a larger tank.
But my suggestion is, if your RV has a large placement, then go for a 10 Gallon variant. Both 6 & 10-gallon water heater consumes the same amount of energy, and both are cost-efficient.
How much GPM do I need for a Tankless Water heater?
Generally, RV requires a hot water supply on the showerhead and kitchen sink. A standard kitchen sink consumes 1.5 GPM, and a standard showerhead consumes 2.0 GPM.
So around 1.5-2.0 GPM hot water supply is sufficient to fulfill your criteria.
What is the recovery rate for a water heater?
The recovery rate represents the amount of hot water the heater can produce per hour. One water heater has 10.1-gallon recovery rate means, each hour; the heater can supply 10.1 gallons of hot water.
How much heating output is required for me?
Heating output is measured in the BTU unit, which is a British thermal unit. Generally, RV water heaters can produce 45K-55K BTU/hr with tankless variant and 12K-15K/Hr with tank variant.
Please keep in mind, BTU represents how fast it can raise the water temperature. So for tankless water heaters, the more BTU, the better.
But for the water heaters with a tank, BTU doesn’t impact that much.
Installation hassles of RV water heater?
If you want to install the water heater for the first time, that’s a tricky task. You need to cut out the RV frame according to the heater’s size and prepare waterlines, gas lines & electric connections, which is a professional task.
But if you require to replace your old water heater with a new one, even with a tankless one, the installation could be as easy as plug and play.
I do recommend you to do this installation by any experts. Otherways the warranty can be void.
RV Water Heater FAQ
Definitely the Direct Spark Ignition. This one offers hassle-free automatic operation. On the other hand, the pilot light requires to turn on manually each time.
Anytime, whenever you need it, you can upgrade. Everything you will require is cutting the frame on the new heater’s dimension (if that’s different) and connect the wires and water hose.
RV tankless water heaters are generally cost $1100 to $1200 depending on brands and capacity. But I believe it is overpriced. Additionally, you will require to buy doors and wirings, which is disappointing. You may have a look at the Furrion 2.4 GPM tankless water heater, which is available with an almost HALF price range and offering a door with the packaging.
Yes, you can if you have a higher water demand. But first, you should consider installing a tankless one. But tankless units are costly. So, in that case, you may prefer to install a bigger water heater cutting your RV frame if there is enough place to locate it.