Written By Car Bibles Staff
Published Feb. 11, 2019

When you’re taking an RV trip in chilly weather, there are times when all you want in the world is a nice hot shower. You could use a hot water tank, heating small batches of water at a time, but for a decently long shower, or multiple RV occupants, this isn’t always enough.

One simple solution is the RV tankless water heater. Rather than storing hot water, these heaters effectively produce it on demand, preventing you from running out when you need it most. This type of heater also has the advantage of a conveniently compact design, reduced water waste, and improved economy. With all these benefits, it should come as no surprise than many different companies have contributed their own design to the RV marketplace. To help you choose the best water heater for your needs, we’ve scoured the market to compile this list of the top rated options available. We’ve also taken the time to answer some common questions about these RV water heaters, letting you know exactly how they work, and how you can get the most out of them.

The Best RV Tankless Water Heater

Starting off out list is RV equipment giant, Takagi, with their affordable and reliable tankless heater. Its compact and solid design can offer a flow rate of up to 6.6 GPM (gallons per minute), more than enough to supply two bathrooms at once in warmer climates.

 The heater is gas fired, and features venting with category III stainless steel. It includes both a remote control and power cord as standard, helping you stay in control with ease. The heater is also packed with handy safety features: it’s protected against both freezing and overheating, and equipped with its own surge protector. The device can also provide diagnostic codes for easy troubleshooting. With a five year parts warranty, you can rest assured this solid heater is built to last, too.

Key Features
  • Gas fired tankless water heater for RVs
  • Provides a flow rate of up to 6.6 GPM
  • Can supply two bathrooms at once in warmer climates
  • Remote control and power cord included
  • Protected against power surges, freezing, and overheating
  • Provides diagnostic codes for easy troubleshooting in the event of a problem
  • Five year warranty included
Specification
  • Brand Takagi
  • Model T-KJr2-IN-NG
  • Weight 38 pounds

This portable gas water heater is designed for RVs, boats, and camping. It has several safety features, including a flame failure device and anti-freezing and overheating protection. The unit automatically shuts off the gas supply during unexpected flameouts. It is lightweight and compact and features a mounting bracket for hanging. Installation takes just minutes.

The unit doesn’t require preheating and has a maximum power output of 41,000BTU/Hr. It requires just 2.5 PSI of water pressure to start and provides 1.58 gallons of hot water per minute. You can adjust both the heat and the water flow. The heater also features energy saving technology and advanced combustion technology to minimize gas consumption and noise.

Key Features
  • Gas water heater for RVs, boats, and camping
  • Delivers 1.58 gallons per minute
  • Heat and water flow is adjustable
  • Energy-saving technology
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to install
  • Several safety features
Specification
  • Brand GASLAND
  • Model BE158
  • Weight 15.62 pounds

This electric tankless water heater from EcoSmart can heat up to two gallons of water per minute or the equivalent of one sink and one shower head. It features a digital temperature control that allows you to change the temperature in one-degree increments. If used in cold climates, it’s a bit limited in the number of fixtures it can heat simultaneously.

The unit features patented self-modulating technology and is 99.8-percent energy efficient. It has an activation flow of 0.3 GPM and is 11Kw at 220 volts, which is equal to 13kw at 240 volts. The manufacturer also provides a lifetime warranty, which provides some peace of mind should something go wrong with the tank.

Key Features
  • Electric powered, portable tankless water heater
  • Digital temperature control
  • Heats up to two gallons of water per minute
  • Self-modulating technology
  • Energy efficient
  • Produces a flow rate of 0.3 GPM
  • 13kw at 240 volts
  • Lifetime warranty
Specification
  • Brand EcoSmart
  • Model ECO 11
  • Weight 6.5 pounds

This gas portable hot water heater is designed for RV use. It is quick and easy to set up and doesn’t require an electrical hookup. It features a flow rate of 2 GPM and automatically shuts down the gas if exposed to unexpected flameout. It also features a flame failure device, anti-freezing protection, and overheating protection for safety.

The unit has a simple design, so it’s easy to use and isn’t an eyesore. The heater exchanger and main burner incorporate energy-saving and combustion technology to minimize gas consumption and burning noise. It starts under low water pressure and provides a stable water flow under high pressure.

Key Features
  • On demand water heater for RVs
  • Simple, unobtrusive design
  • Gas powered
  • Several safety features
  • Produces a flow rate of 2 GPM
  • Energy-saving and combustion technology included
Specification
  • Brand Blackhorse-Racing
  • Model ER48001
  • Weight 10.98 pounds

This suburban RV water heater is the next option to make our list. It runs on standard liquid propane gas, and can provide users with 12,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) of heat over an hour. The steel tank is equipped with an anode rod to absorb the corrosive effects of electrolysis, ensuring it lasts even with frequent use.

The heater is contained within one-peice, die-formed housing, which effectively protects its connections while simultaneously offering easy access for repairs. Because it’s quite simple, functionally speaking, there’s very little to go wrong – especially since it doesn’t require any electricity to operate.

Key Features
  • Propane gas powered water heater for RVs
  • Provides up to 12,000 BTU per hour
  • Steel tank equipped with an anode rod to prevent corrosion
  • Contained within one-piece, die-formed hoursing
  • Easy to access interior for repairs
  • Simple installation
  • Functionally simple
Specification
  • Brand Suburban
  • Model SW6P
  • Weight 32.1 pounds

Marey’s tankless water heater is another option to catch our eye. Its impressive compact and lightweight design is easy to install on your RV, and won’t weigh you down. As well as providing hot water on demand, the heater allows you to regulate water and gas flow to achieve your optimum temperature.

It can supply up to 3.1 GPM, and run on either propane or natural gas. For ease of use, it’s activated by water pressure alone, and requires no electricity to function. Marey’s heater also boasts an impressive 87% efficiency rating, making it ideal for the eco-conscious traveller. Every heater comes with a five year warranty as standard, too, so you can rest assured it’s built to last. RV owners who have tried the heater agree; it’s well designed, and easy to install.

Key Features
  • Tankless water heater for RV
  • Runs on either propane or natural gas
  • Allows you to regulate both water and gas flow
  • Supplies up to 3.1 GPM
  • Activated by water pressure alone
  • No electricity required to function
  • 87% efficient
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand Marey
  • Model GA10LP
  • Weight 21 pounds

The next propane tankless water heater to make our list is this offering by Girard. The powerful heater can be used comfortably throughout the year, providing up to 42,000 BTUs of heating power. It features a quiet, brushless motor, designed to run smoothly in the background. It is also protected against freezing, so you can use it even in chilly weather worry free.

The heater also has its own microprocessor, which monitors the incoming cold water temperature, allowing the device to put out consistently warm water – so you won’t experience any nasty surprises! RV enthusiasts love the long, hot showers the heater can power, and were impressed with its ease of installation and longevity. 

Key Features
  • Propane powered tankless water heater
  • Provides 42,000 BTU
  • Runs quietly, thanks to a brushless motor
  • Protected against freezing
  • Includes a microprocessor, which monitors the cold water temperature for consistently warm water output
  • Durable, long-lasting design
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand Girard
  • Model 22 pounds
  • Weight 2GWHAM

If you’re looking for something a little more powerful for static homes, Rinnai have you covered. Their outdoor tankless water heater runs on natural gas, and utilises condensing technology for greater efficiency – hence greater savings!

In fact, the heater can achieve up to 97% thermal efficiency, saving you a considerable amount of gas. Rinnai’s device also meets California and Texas NOx emission standards, so you can shower safe in the knowledge that your activities are having as little impact on the environment as possible. Users also report saving up to $50 in fuel every month, meaning the device pays for itself in no time!

Key Features
  • Natural gas powered outdoor tankless heater
  • Condensing technology allows the heater to run more efficiently
  • Up to 97% thermal efficiency
  • Meets NOx emission standards for Texas and California
  • Easy to install
  • Powerful heater produced consistently warm water
Specification
  • Brand Rinnai
  • Model RU80EN
  • Weight 70.5 pounds

Last but not least, is Camplux’s propane hot water heater. This lightweight and versatile option is perfect for providing you with hot water wherever you go. The compact design is super efficient too, saving 11.5% more energy than a conventional tank heater. Its maximum power output is 68,000 BTU per hour (or 2.64 GPM), giving you more than enough hot water for showers, dishes, and even baths.

The heater also possesses a plethora of safety features: a flame failure device, anti-freezing protection, and protection against overheating. Everything you need to set up your new heater is included, too – including a CSA approved gas regulator and the necessary adapters. Once installed, it’s easy to use, too. Simple dials allow you to conveniently take control of the temperature and pressure. Finally, the device has been tested at elevations of up to 2,000 feet, so you can use it in a huge variety of places

Key Features
  • Gas powered, portable tankless water heater
  • Lightweight
  • Saves 11.5% energy compared to a hot water tank heater
  • Maximum output of 2.64 GPM
  • Includes a flame failure device, anti-freezing technology, and protection against overheating
  • Includes everything you need for installation
  • Temperature and pressure are easy to control with simple dials
  • Suitable for use at up to 2,000 feet
Specification
  • Brand Camplux
  • Model BW264
  • Weight 18.08 pounds

Best RV Tankless Water Heater Buying Guide

And there you have it – these 10 heaters represent the best the market has to offer right now. With such variety on offer, we’re confident you’ll be able to find a heater that matches your unique needs.

To help you choose, and to get the most out of whichever model you choose, we’ve put together this buying guide. Below we discuss some benefits of tankless water heaters, what to look out for when you’re purchasing one, and how they should be installed and maintained.

Things to Look for When Buying an RV Tankless Water Heater

When selecting the best tankless water heater for your RV, there are a few key factors which should influence your decision:

  • Electric or Gas

The first question you’ll need to answer when choosing a tankless water heater is whether you want it to be powered by electricity, gas, or both. For more remote, off the grid, locations, choosing a gas powered unit is best, although you should bear in mind that propane burns less efficiently at especially high elevations.

  • Portable or Entire Home System

Another factor to bear in mind when choosing a water heater is whether you need a portable or home system design. We’ll talk about the differences in more detail later, but it essentially boils down to your usage  – portable water heaters offer a lower output of hot water.

  • Your Water Usage

When deciding which heater to buy, it’s a good idea to consider exactly how much hot water you’ll need. The average shower requires a flow rate of 2.1 GPM, a dishwasher uses 1.5, and a hot water faucet requires about 4. Be sure to check the flow rate is high enough to meet your needs before you make a purchase – especially for RVs with multiple occupants, as you will likely need to run more than one hot water application at once.

Why You Should Use a Tankless Water Heater in Your RV

Tankless water heaters have a number of advantages over their conventional counterparts:

  • They feature a more compact design because there’s no need to make room for a tank
  • Tankless water heaters use up to 50% less energy than versions with a tank
  • Using a tankless water heater results in less wasted water
  • Tankless water heaters usually last longer than heaters with tanks, which are prone to leaks
  • Tankless water heaters provide an unlimited supply of hot water, since the amount they can produce is not limited by the size of a tank

Types Of RV Tankless Water Heaters

When choosing a tankless water heater for your RV, you have a few different options to consider:

  • Portable Heaters

Portable tankless water heaters, such as number three on our list, re a great option if you just need to power a shower. They can be used for general camping trips, too, and tend to be considerably cheaper than their permanent counterparts. If you’re handy, you can also install a portable tankless water heater pretty much anywhere you need in your RV.

  • Home Systems

Alternatively, you might choose to purchase an entire home system for your RV. These water heaters are usually larger and more expensive than their portable counterparts, but can provide more hot water at once. If you think you’ll need to supply hot water to more than one area of your RV at once on a regular basis, the initial installation cost is worth it for the convenience. A good example of this kind of water heater is the first option on our list.

How to Install a Tankless Water Heater in RV

Having a tankless water heater installed in your RV will likely set you back $300 – $600, depending on how much conversion work needs to be done, and the complexity of the heater you have chosen.

 However, if you have some basic plumbing and electrical experience, you should be able to perform the installation yourself with a little hard work and patience. The bones of the process are as follows:

  • Make sure the water supply to your RV is disconnected.
  • Remove the old water heater. Bear in mind you’ll probably have some water left in the line, so be sure to place down a bucket and some towels to deal with spills.
  • Choose a location for the heater – you’ll likely install it in the same spot as the old one. If you’re upgrading from a hot water tank, you may need to perform some sort of conversion. Be sure to check with the manufacturer if this is the case.
  • Hook up the water supply line.
  • Connect the gas and/or electricity.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation is provided.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to switch on the heater and enjoy your hot water.

Best RV Tankless Water Heater FAQ:

Q: What is a tankless water heater and does it work?

As their name suggests, tankless water heaters heat up water without the need for a tank. Inside the heater, cold water is passed through a heat exchanger, which itself is warmed by a burner beneath. When water exits, it is hot. To control the temperature, cold water can be added back into the stream once it has exited the device.

Q: Can I install a tankless water heater under an RV sink?

In certain cases, yes. You can actually purchase a tankless water heater designed specifically for this purpose. These heaters are ideal for kitchen use, powering devices such as washing machines and hot faucets. Installing a tankless water heater beneath the sink ensures that its flow rate is barely influenced by the weather outside, making this an appealing option for certain RV enthusiasts.

Q: How to convert RV water heater to tankless?

The exact process of switching from a hot water tank to a tankless water heater will depend very much on your  RV’s setup and your current heater. The process is likely to involve installing a larger gas line, as well as a higher rated electrical cable and breaker. For gas powered models in particular, you will also need to have adequate ventilation installed.

Q: How do I clean RV water heater?

To ensure your water heater lasts for many years to come, and works as efficiently as possible, it’s important to clean it out every now and then – ideally once or twice a year. The cleaning process involves flushing out the device, to remove any dirt or mineral deposits:

  • Disconnect the gas and electricity supply to the heater
  • Connect a six foot garden hose to a pond or sump pump on one end, and the cold water isolation valve on the other
  • Connect a second garden hose to the hot water isolation valve
  • Place both the pump and the open end of the second hose in a large bucket, and fill the bucket with five gallons of clean white vinegar
  • Open the hot and cold isolation valves
  • Turn on the pump to circulate vinegar through the system for 45 minutes
  • Turn off the pump and dump the vinegar from the bucket
  • Keep the open ended hose in the bucket, and turn on the cold water supply valve, letting water flow through and into the bucket for five minutes
  • Close the valve again, and disconnect both garden hoses from the inlet valves
  • Turn off the hot-water isolation valve
  • Remove the inlet filter screen, rinse it to remove sediments, and reinstall it
  • Turn both the hot and cold water supply valves back on, and open one or two hot water faucets to bleed air from the lines, closing when only water is pumped through
  • Check your water heater over visually for any faults

Our Top Pick

For us, the best RV tankless water heater has to be Takagi’s compact but powerful model. With its impressive max flow rate of 6.6 GPM, you’ll be able to supply all the hot water needs in your RV at once.

Takagi allow RV enthusiasts to shower with confidence, too – their heater’s inlet and outlet thermistors ensure that your water is kept at a consistent temperature, for no nasty shocks. It’s also protected against freezing and overheating, allowing you to use it worry-free all year round. The gas fired heater includes a remote control and  power cable as standard, so you can take control right away.

Sources:

  1. How to Choose a Tankless Water Heater – wikiHow
  2. How to Install a Tankless Hot Water Heater – wikiHow

MORE TO READ

Load more...