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When you make the decision to purchase an RV, you are making a serious financial commitment. Depending on the RV you decide to purchase, you could be making a purchase that reaches six figures in price. However, you are not done making purchases after you buy your RV. There are a few other things you will need to purchase to ensure that you have everything running well when you head out on your trip. One of those things is an RV water heater tank.
An RV water heater tank is an essential purchase for anyone that plans on using their RV for a significant amount of time. Without one all your water will be cold, so you will be limited in what you can do. You will not be able to take a hot shower, and you will not be able to properly wash your dishes.
So, you will need to take the time to find the best RV water heater tank for you. There are several options available to you, but not all will be a great fit. If you have a smaller RV, you might not need a large water heater tank. Alternatively, you may want to purchase a big water heater tank if you have a larger RV and plan on bringing more people on your next trip. The more people coming with you on your trip, the more hot water you will need.
All About RV Water Heater Tanks
When it comes to RV water heater tanks they are split up into sizes and ways to heat the water. The are two major sizes for water heater tanks, 6 and 10 gallons. There are also two main ways to heat the water in the tank, propane, and electric. Each as their pros and cons. So, you will need to consider which is the best option for you.
Electric and Propane
Electric water heater tanks are some of the most popular because they are also some of the easiest to maintain. Once they are up and running there is not really anything you need to do. You do not need to worry about the pilot light going out. All you need to do is switch the heat on and it should sustain itself.
Electric water heater tanks are usually cheaper than other options and are very efficient. Unfortunately, they do take longer to heat things up, and they tend to have higher operating costs. So, these are things you will need to balance when making your purchase.
One of the biggest benefits of using a propane water heater tank is that it will generally pay for itself over time. You do not need to pay nearly as much for fuel with the propane tank. You will need to replenish your propane every once in a while, but that should be relatively infrequent. They are also able to heat more hot water per hour than an electric heater.
Propane heaters will also work if you don’t have electricity or there are generator restrictions at your campground. Unfortunately, the base price of a propane water heater is higher than an electric one. So, if you can’t afford to pay a little extra upfront you will need to go with an electric option. You also need to maintain your propane heater to find any gas leaks.
The two most common sizes for RV water heater tanks are 6 and 10 gallons. You can find smaller and larger options, but 6 and 10 gallons is usually a good size for most people. The more people you plan on having in your RV, the larger the water heater tank you will need. It is better to get a slightly bigger tank than you expect you will need, because otherwise there is a risk that you deplete your supply.
Which RV Water Heater Is Best for Me?
When you are trying to figure out which RV water heater is best for you, you need to ask yourself a few questions. How many people will be staying in your RV? How much are you willing to spend on your water heater? Are you ok with spending extra time performing maintenance on your water heater? All these questions and a few more will play a big roll in deciding which water heater to purchase.
If you have a larger group you will want to go with the 10 gallon option, or you might even consider a 16 gallon water heater. That is completely up to your discretion. You then need to decide if you want an electric or propane heater. Both are solid options, but propane heaters are more versatile.
Most importantly, propane water heaters will work even if you have no electricity available. This can happen a lot when you are out in the woods or if your campground has generator time limits, which most do. So it is best to be prepared. Although they are more expensive initially, they will save you money in the long term. So, unless you cannot afford to pay a larger lump sum upfront, you should consider purchasing a propane water heater.
Best RV Water Heaters with 6 and 10 Gallon Tanks
Here we will look at some of the best RV water heaters with tanks. This should give you a few good options for starting your search.
Best 6 Gallon Water Heaters for RVs
Here we will look at 6 gallon RV water heaters exclusively. So, if you need a larger tank you can skip this section. These types of RV water heaters typically cost are $350.
1. Suburban Manufacturing RV Water Heater
This RV water heater from Suburban Manufacturing is an excellent option if you are looking for a 6 gallon water heater. It weighs only 32.9 pounds, so you can pick it up and move it without straining yourself too much. Additionally, it as a BTU rating of 12,000, giving it the ability to keep heat up your water quickly.
Susan and I have a 6 gallon water heater and we have never run out of hot water while showering. However, we conserve water even when we have full hookups so we turn the water off while washing and then turn it back on to rinse ourselves.
2. Atwood Mobile Products Pilot Ignition RV Water Heater
This 6 gallon water heater runs on liquid propane gas. It has a BTU rating of 8800. So it is a little slower, but it will keep things hot once it reaches the desired temperature. The water heater has a recovery rate of 7.4 gallons per hour. It also has a very light shipping weight of just 25 pounds. So, you can install it on your own if need be. Many people do not have the luxury of a friend to help them with installation, so having a water heater that you can install yourself is a huge plus.
Best 10 Gallon Water Heaters for RVs
Here we will be looking at a few of the best 10 gallon RV water heaters on the market right now. These water heaters are better than the previous group if you are bringing a larger group with you in your RV. You will need more hot water, so you will a larger RV water heater tank. These water heaters are a little more expensive because they are larger and usually are around $450.
1. Suburban 10-Gallon Direct Spark RV Water Heater
This 10 gallon water heater from Suburban Manufacturing is electric. It has a BTU rating of 12,000, so it can heat the water up relatively quickly. It uses a direct spark ignition to start it up. Additionally, it is heavier than the 6 gallon options as it weighs 46 pounds. However, this is expected because it is obviously larger.
2. Atwood 10 Gallon RV Water Heater
This Atwood water heater has a capacity of 10 gallons and it uses a direct spark electric ignition to start. It is a dual electric and gas water heater. So, you can use different types of energy to keep it running at different times. This can be extremely beneficial depending on your situation. If you run out of propane you can use electricity, or if there is a power outage you can use propane.
The water heater has a 10,000 BTU recovery rate of 14.7 gallons per hour. It has an empty weight of 24 pounds. Finally, its dimensions are 16 inches wide, 16 inches high, and 21 inches deep.
How do Tankless RV Water Heaters Work?
Most RV water heaters is a tank to heat its water. The water goes into the tank and then heat is applied to the tank to heat the water up. This is the way water has been heated up for years in the RV industry. However, there have been changes in recent years, and now there are tankless RV water heaters.
A tankless water heater functions by heating the water directly without using a storage tank. The water will heat up while its in the pipes after a tap or faucet is turned on. As a result, it takes a few seconds for water to heat up when you do not have a tank. The hot water is not readily accessible, but it still heats up very quickly.
A huge benefit of using a tankless water heater is that you do not need to wait for hours for your water tank to fill up. Additionally, with a water tank you are limited in how much hot water you have. A tankless water heater will provide you with limitless hot water.
Best Tankless Water Heaters for RVs
Here we will look at a few of the best tankless RV water heaters on the market right now. You might see an option that is a perfect fit, or you might not like any of the options. Regardless, seeing a few options should give you an idea of what to look for in the future. Tankless water heaters can have a pretty big range in price. Smaller options can be as cheap as $300. However, larger tanks can cost upwards of $600 or $700.
1. Girard Tankless Water Heater
This tankless RV water heater will provide you with an endless supply of hot water. It operates with ease, adding cold water when needed to reach the desired temperature. It uses an on-board micro-processor to monitor the incoming cold water as well as the outgoing hot water to keep the temperature constant.
The water heater provides you with 42,000 BTUs of optimum performance for your RV plumbing. You do not need a special propane gas line or special plumbing to get it to work. It has a quiet motor, so you will not feel like you need to cover your ears every time it is running. It operates with 12 volts of power and at less than 3 amps. Finally, the product has a limited two year warranty, so if something goes wrong you can get a replacement.
2. Excel Vent Free Tankless Water Heater
The Excel Vent Free tankless RV water heater will save energy while providing you with an infinite supply of hot water as soon as you open the tap. Most tankless gas water heaters rely on outdated rubber diaphragm technology to get the unit running, and they need pressures higher than 20 PSI. This water heater uses a magnetic flow sensor that allows it to start running at just 2 PSI. However, it also works at up to 120 PSI. This is an ideal water heater for an RV.
This water heater can be installed indoors without cumbersome, costly flue, and ductwork because it is equipped with a state-of-the-art Oxygen Depletion Safety shutoff device. The water heater does not require a pilot light and it saves up to 25% in gas consumption compared to what was needed with older technology.
3. Eccotemp Propane Tankless Water Heater
This water heater from Eccotemp is a liquid propane fired, tankless water heater. It is designed for small to medium hot water production in places where you need more than one hot water application running at the same time. It is a perfect option for an RV.
The water heater offers a 45 degree Fahrenheit temperature rise when it is operating at maximum capacity. Alternatively, it offers a 77-degree temperature rise at 2.3 GPM. Included with the water heater is a horizontal stainless steel vent kit that is ready for you to install. Additionally, the water heater only pulls 2 watts when idle and 10 watts when operating.
This RV water heater has a flow capacity of 4 GPM. It uses power ventilation for safety, efficiency, and venting options. It has independent gas and water controls, as well as precise temperature and water flow adjustment. To function, the water heater requires a standard 120-volt electric outlet. It has an energy factor of 79% and a hot water capacity range of 0.93 to 4.8 GPM. Finally, the water heater has minimum and maximum gas rates of 25,000 to 74,500 BTUs.
Get Your Next Trip Started with the Best RV Water Heater for You
After reading, we hope you have all the information you need to purchase your first RV water heater. We know there is a lot of information to absorb, but it should all be helpful in your search for the perfect water heater for your RV. Your water heater is a very important part of your RV. Without a good water heater, the quality of your trips will be reduced significantly. As a result, you need to take the time to do your research and ensure that you water heater you pick is the perfect fit.
When you are looking for an RV water heater, the first thing you need to do is figure out if you want to get one with or without a tank. Tankless options are more efficient and provide you with an endless supply of hot water. However, they are more expensive. So, you need to decide if the extra money is worth.
If you decide to go with an option with an option with a tank you need to figure out how big a tank you need and what energy source you are going to use. Remember, the more people you bring with you, the larger the tank you will need.
Although it might seem like a lot of work to find the best RV water heater for you, it makes sense to take your time making this decision. Finding the perfect water heater will improve your quality of life while in your RV significantly.
Are you a new or experienced RV owner? Do you think you will purchase an RV water heater with or without a tank? What heating method do you prefer for your water heater? Let us know in the comments!