We’ve looked at many tankless water heaters of all sizes trying to find the best ones for RV use, and here’s our selection!
If you’re in a hurry check out our top pick: Camp Chef Triton Water Heater
Whether camping in the wilderness or driving around the country in your own RV, hot water shouldn’t have to be a luxury. Of course, tank water heaters can be cumbersome, take up a lot of room, and take forever to heat in a recreational vehicle, making them hardly worth the effort.
Luckily, tankless water heaters provide an economical, practical, and environmentally-friendly alternative.
Using lightning-quick heat exchangers powered by propane or electricity, tankless water heaters can provide a constant stream of hot water while taking up a minimal amount of space. In the following article, I’ve taken a detailed look at some of the top-selling RV tankless water heaters to see if I can identify the best RV tankless water heater on the market.
In this article, we’re going to review the following RV Tankless Water Heaters:
- Camp Chef Triton water heater
- Suburban SW6DE RV Water Heater
- Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater
- Camplux 10L Portable Tankless Water Heater
- PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Water Heater
If you have a passion for the outdoors, a recreational vehicle can be your ticket to paradise, be that out on the open road, in a campground, or out in a national park. However, just because you’re living the RV life doesn’t mean that simple pleasures have to go out the door, – and I think we can all agree that a nice hot shower after a day of hiking, hunting, etc. is about as simple as pleasures get.
Before we get into the products, however, I want to go into a little more detail about what tankless water heaters are, how they work, and what needs to be considered before purchasing one.
How Tankless Water Heaters Work
Tankless water heaters usually consist of a small box that houses a heating element and heat exchanger. In almost all cases, there will be one heavy duty hose leading into the box and one leading out. When water is requested from a shower, faucet, or other appliance, the water is drawn from the main tank in the RV, run through the heat exchanger and automatically heated to the right temperature before reaching the faucet.
All in all, this process takes a few seconds – much like it would in a home with a 24-hour water heater set to maintain a consistent temperature. However, because the process is instant, it uses much less energy, as there is no need for any pre-heating, and the heating unit can shut down immediately after the water valve (faucet, shower) is closed.
Benefits of “Going Tankless”
Less risk of spilling, rusting, or leakage – As all the water is being stored in the main RV tank (which is generally plastic), there is little chance that the water heater will leak from pressure, time, or corrosion.
A constant stream of hot water
Most RV tanks usually only hold 6-10 gallons of water. While this may seem like a lot, it can go quickly when the whole family needs a shower after a long day at the lake. With a tankless heater, as long as you have water and propane, you can have all the hot water you want without waiting more than a few seconds.
Mostly cost effective
As with any tool, there is always a few “Cadillac” versions out there. However, in general, most RV tankless water heaters are quite budget-friendly. And – as they will need less maintenance and use less energy – you must also factor in saved money over time.
Less energy / propane usage
Tankless water heaters use much less propane than tank models, as they do not need to maintain a specific temperature “just in case” hot water is requested.
Things to Consider With Tankless Water Heaters:
Your water usage/flow rate
One of the first things you need to evaluate is precisely how much water you’ll need to heat at any time. Most tankless water heaters are rated by the maximum temperature rise possible at a given flow rate. You’ll need to calculate that rate first to make sure your new water heater can handle it.
Learn more about measuring flow rate here.
How many appliances you’ll be running
Flow rate is significant, yes, but if you’re running everything at once, even the best measurements can be thrown out of whack. It might be hard to do unless the heater you choose is on the budget side, but knowing how many appliances can be run at once will keep you from pushing the machine too far.
Location (inside or outside)
Depending on how spacious your RV is, you may want to mount your tankless water heater outside or inside. If it’s the former, you’ll want to consider an anti-freeze kit, even if you don’t live in a cold region. After all, we don’t call them RVs because they stand still.
Gas or Electric
Gas or propane powered units are quite easy to install, while electric units (while less common) are more budget-friendly. You’ll want to decide which is best for you before starting your shopping.
Check with the Government
Depending on your state or city, there may be restrictions or regulations that you need to take note of when installing your tankless water heater. But don’t worry, it isn’t all bad – some states also offer tax rebates for your new “energy efficient” appliance.
TOP 5 Best Tankless Water - Reviews
Camp Chef HWD5 Triton Water Heater
The Camp Chef HWD5 Tankless Water Heater is one of the most popular wall mounted, propane driven RV water heaters on the market. With an ultra-compact design and built-in anti-freezing protection, it is easily one of the most versatile options available and is easy to set up and run inside or out.
The Camp Chef Triton water heater stands out not just because of its size, but because of its capabilities as well. Boasting what the manufacturer claims is the “lowest water pressure startup on the market,” it takes just 2.8 PSI of pressure to activate the heating element, which requires no pilot light to conserve valuable propane.
All in all, it’s a cost-effective and reliable option for an RV, and while it will need to be turned off for a cold shower, it can deliver heat up to 150 degrees.
- Comes with a nice 4 settings shower head and a 72-inch shower hose
- Small, compact, and easy to use.
- 1.5 gallon per minute of hot water output in a device weighing less than 15 lbs.
- The unit can shut off while in use so you need to check while using
- Total Output: 34,000 BTU/hr
- Maximum Water Flow: 5L per minute (1.5 gallons) – water temp. up to 38º F.
- Minimum Water Flow: 2L per minute (.5 gallons) – water temp up to 102º F.
- Min Required Pressure: 25-30 PSI from the input hose to have proper heat function.
- Max Pressure: 80 PSI
- Dimensions: 23 x 13.4 x 8 inches
- Weight: 14.6 pounds
- Includes: Adjustable shower head, 72-inch shower hose, hose and regulator for 20-pound bulk propane tank, hanging brackets.
Suburban Manufacturing Suburban Co 5239A Water Heater Sw6De
The Suburban SW6DE RV water heater is a rather unique entry on this list because it is a tankless water heater that actually has a tank – though not in the conventional sense. Rather, the Suburban has a 6-gallon heating reservoir that it uses to provide a more direct supply of water (usually hotter than most competitors).
This design makes the Suburban a bit more cumbersome than most others. It weighs 33 lbs. It has dimensions of roughly 13” x 13” by 19”. Still, the combination electric / propane unit is extremely energy efficient, even operating entirely on electricity when needed. Its small reservoir allows for fast recovery – the fastest in the industry according to the manufacturer – and it is one of the most cost-effective models of its type.
However, while owners of large RVs will probably have no problem with the Suburban’s added bulk, those who are really concerned about space will likely want something a bit smaller, regardless of the added performance.
- Electric / Propane combo can function on full electric mode as well.
- Six-gallon reservoir to provide hot water faster.
- Easy and quick to install in almost any RV.
- For a tankless water heater, the “tank” is a bit large
- Quite heavy at 35 lbs, and quite large at 25 x 19 x 18”.
- Electric functionality does not allow for extremely high temperatures.
- Tank Volume: 6 gallon water tank
- 12,000 btu rating
- Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.7 x 12.7 inches
- Weight 32.9 pounds.
Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater
The Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water heater is one of the most portable, versatile, and easy-to-use water heaters on the market, requiring no permanent mounting and running off a standard electrical plug. It features a small, 2.5-gallon reservoir to provide near instant hot water, with a thermal efficiency of 98%.
The 22 lb tank can be easily mounted on a wall or shelf, or just hung from a hook to provide instant how water to up to two different sinks or showers. Despite being a high performer, the unit is also quite budget-friendly, makes virtually no sound and costs almost nothing to run. That being said, the unit cannot supply continuous how water like other tankless heaters, and while the re-heat time is fast, this may irk some users. There have also been reported issues of bad connectors and leaky seals.
Considering all the factors, this is a great budget water heater for a small RV or camper, but it will probably not blow the socks off of customers who have larger RVs or a long line of family members in need of a shower.
- Runs off a standard electric plug and outlet.
- Versatile, easy-to-carry, and portable.
- Whisper quiet operation.
- Does not provide a constant flow of hot water. Will run out.
- There have been reports of seals leaking.
- Tank Volume: 2.5 gallons
- Water Pressure Range: 150 psi
- Temperature Range: 65-145°F
- Dimensions: 13.75 W x 13.75 H x 10.75 D
- Weight 15.5 pounds
Camplux 10L Portable Propane Gas Tankless Water Heater
The Camplux 10L Portable Tankless Water Heater is a lightweight, easy-to-carry, reliable propane-driven RV water heater. Despite its relatively large size of 21.65 x 12.91 x 8.31 inches, the unit weights under 20 lbs and can be installed virtually anywhere it has access to a propane tank and a standard garden hose.
Perhaps the most notable things about the Camplux 10L is its included safety features, such as dry combustion protection, flame failure device, anti-freezing protection.
Considering its relatively low price, the Camplux 10L is a great choice for any RV owner who needs a versatile and portable product above all else.
- On-demand showers almost anywhere the propane tank can go.
- Lightweight and compact
- Safety shut-off in case of tilting or running for too long.
- Can connect to a standard garden hose.
- Warranty and customer service issues have been reported.
- Not outside friendly – must be drained completely between uses in winter.
- Unit does get very hot.
- Tank Volume: 10L
- Water Pressure Range: 3.6-110.0 PSI
- Hot water output: 2.64 gallons per minute
- Max. power output: 68,000btu/hour
- Dimensions: 12.8 x 6.1 x 21.65 in
- Weight 18.8 pounds
- Includes: Shower head and hose, CSA regulator, installation hardware packs
PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Water Heater
In the world of RV tankless water heaters, the PrecisionTemp RV-550 is the crème de la crème. Designed specifically for RVs, trailers, cabins, and “tiny homes,” this unit has some of the best propane efficiency on the market, and runs off a reliable VariFlame control system designed to minimize waste and maximize results.
At 32 lbs and roughly 14” all around, the PrecisionTemp is not necessarily a small unit, and some users have complained about having to make modifications to their RV. However, the high ratings and many songs of praise about this unit, the company, and the overall results seem to indicate it is a great investment for RV “full-timers” who need lots of hot water.
While the price tag is likely to cause some “sticker shock,” the PrecisionTemp is an investment-level purchase, not just another tool. If you use lots of hot water in your RV, this could be a money and time saver down the road.
- Operates with no pilot light for very high propane efficiency
- Designed, assembled and tested in the USA
- A great investment for “full-timers” who need lots of hot water
- Company is reliable and offers plenty of support.
- Nearly 4X the price of the competition.
- Will likely need to make some modifications to your RV.
- Complaints of regulator problems (cold water cutting off hot water flow)
- Tank Volume: 10 Gallons
Hot water output: 940 gallons
- Dimensions: 13.5 x 13.5 x 14.2 inches
- Weight 32 pounds
Analyzing the different units on this list, their PROS and CONS, and their specifications, it becomes clear that the best RV tankless water heater out of our group is the Camp Chef Triton Water Heater.
While the PrecisionTemp has some amazing stats, it is too cost-prohibitive for the average RV owner. Moreover, the Camp Chef has many of the same features while taking up less space and being much more portable. The Suburban, on the other hand, was generally disappointing in that it wasn’t truly “tankless,” and might not fit the bill for most users.
Furthermore, while the Eccotemp and the Bosch were competitive with the Camp Chef due to their portability, the Camp Chef simply had more features and a more reliable track record to stand on.
So, as far as this list is concerned, if you’re looking for the best RV tankless water heater, our money is on the Camp Chef Triton Water Heater. However, if you feel there’s a better contender out there, feel free to drop us a line and let us know.