No matter how much you love RVing, a really common downside is the limited availability of hot water. Rather than wait around for your tanked water heater to ever-so-slowly heat up, why not invest in the best RV tankless water heater for unlimited hot water and long, relaxing, hot showers in your RV?
Not only will you feel more refreshed and relaxed, you could also save yourself quite a bit of cash on your fuel bills. Read on to discover our favorite models.
What is an RV Tankless Water Heater?
Most standard RV water heaters come with a tank that can hold between 6 to 10 gallons of water. Compare this to your bricks-and-mortar water heater tank of over 40 gallons and you can see why getting the whole family cleaned and showered on vacation can be a bit of a struggle.
Add in the hot water for the kitchen dishes and cleaning up, even if you’re RVing as a couple, if you’re last to shower, chances are it’s a race against the clock to get clean without getting freezing cold.
Cue the tankless water heater. These ingenious devices heat your water as you use it. So, as long as you’re hooked up to city water, you’ve basically got an unlimited supply of hot water at your disposal whenever you turn on your faucet.
Best RV Tankless Water Heater
Looking for the best RV tankless water heater? Check out our reviews below for some of the best models around.
- EcoSmart 8 KW Electric Tankless Water Heater
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
- Camplux Tankless Propane Water Heater
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
- Stiebel Eltron Tankless Heater
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
- Eemax Electric Tankless Water Heater
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
- PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Water Heater
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
- Marey Propane Gas Tankless Water Heater
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
EcoSmart 8 KW Electric Tankless Water Heater
The EcoSmart 8KW Electric Tankless Water Heater is designed for use in areas with water inlet temperatures of 67 degrees and over. In colder climates, it’s a good choice for low-flow applications, such as your sink for washing hands or dishes.
Depending on your incoming water temperature, this compact unit can provide between 0.8 and 1.9 gallons-per-minute. So, in warmer areas, it can be used to power a water-saving 1.5 GPM RV shower, although you won’t be able to run multiple faucets simultaneously. The front LCD panel allows you to set your desired water temperature between 80-140 degrees F in increments of one degree.
It has a low activation flow rate of just 0.3 GPM, making it a good choice for low-pressure installations, common with RVs. Measuring just 11.5” high by 8” wide, with a low 5.3lb weight, it’s a good size for a small trailer or motorhome. Thanks to its advanced self-modulating technology it will save you power by adjusting the amount of energy based on how much water you are using and your set temperature.
Bear in mind that installation can be a little laborious. What’s more, as this unit requires 8,000 Watts, 240V, and a 40A breaker, its energy requirements are pretty high for your average RV. It does have field replaceable parts and comes complete with a limited lifetime warranty for your peace of mind.
Camplux Tankless Propane Water Heater
Looking for a portable tankless water heater for off-grid use? The Camplus Tankless Propane Water Heater runs off standard propane bottles and 2 D-cell batteries, meaning you can enjoy a hot shower, even when you’re not hooked up to shore power.
It has a 1.58 GPM hot water output with a temperature raise of 114.8 degrees F, plenty enough to enjoy a hot shower while you’re out exploring with your camper. Just be aware that this unit is not recommended for use at elevations over 2,000 feet.
Thanks to its convenient folding handle, you can carry this unit nearby to set up your camp shower. It even comes complete with a shower head and hose, as well as a gas regulator. If you want to install it inside your RV, you will need to correctly vent the unit and to install a flue pipe, which is not included with the unit itself. Thanks to its oxygen depletion sensor protection, this unit will shut down automatically if it is not adequately vented.
It has a low 3.0 PSI minimum operating water pressure and an operating propane gas pressure of 0.4PSI. Putting out 41,000BTU/hour, you can use this six-liter portable tankless water heater with a modified water system and 12V pump.
Stiebel Eltron Tankless Heater
The Tempra 12 Plus Tankless Water Heater by Stiebel Eltron is designed to give you maximum energy efficiency with accurate temperature delivery at all times.
As this unit is primarily designed for bricks-and-mortar use, requiring a minimum recommended electric service of 100A, it’s not going to be suitable for the vast majority of RVs, unless you have specialist electrical knowledge.
For those that do and want to try to make it work, this 12kW, 240V model offers a water output temperature between 68-140 degrees F. This eco-friendly unit features a backlit display that shows you just how much you have saved on energy costs. It also has two memory presets so you can save your favorite water temperature settings.
Silent in operation, with no venting required this deluxe model features Advanced Flow Control patented technology to ensure that your water maintains a constant temperature. It also has a great 0.37 GPM low-pressure minimum activation flow and can supply a shower from 1.3GPM to 2.5GM depending on your water pressure and water inlet temperature .
To install, you’ll need a 50A double pole circuit breaker, as well as the appropriate gauge cables to upgrade your electrics, plus an electricity supply that will give you the amps that you need. For most RVs a propane or gas model is going to be a much more practical option, or an electrical tankless water heater with a much lower draw that is compatible with a standard electrical hookup.
Eemax Electric Tankless Water Heater
Able to produce enough hot water for up to one shower and two sinks in cold climates, or up to four showers simultaneously in warm climates, the Eemax Electric Tankless Water Heater EEM24018 is a serious piece of kit. It uses some of the most advanced technology to save energy without compromising on performance so you get non-stop unlimited hot water.
Designed for residential and commercial properties, if you have an upgraded RV electrical system in place and a compatible electrical supply, you could in theory fit one of these, although it does require two 40amp 220V circuit breakers. Sadly, this makes it a complete no-go for your average setup, where propane or gas models are a much better, more logical choice.
With its stylish looks and compact size, this water heater can save you space. Its high energy-efficiency rating of 99.8%, makes it a great choice for the planet as well as your wallet. Suitable for low-pressure water supplies, it has a good 0.3GPM flow activation, with a rated minimum pressure of 25PSI and a maximum of 150PSI.
The digital temperature control panel allows you to select your water temperature in one-degree increments, ranging from 80-140 degrees F. You’ll need two 8 AWG wires to install this 75-Amp 18,000 W model. It also takes ½” plumbing connections, so you won’t have to solder any pipework.
PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Water Heater
With its high 55,000BTU output, this propane RV-specific tankless water heater by PrecisionTemp makes a great choice for long, hot showers in your motorhome. It uses less than 1.5 Amps in regular operation, or up to 3 Amps when its cold weather protection system is activated.
Highly effective and energy-efficient, the RV-550 keeps your water temperature constant regardless of your inlet temperature and flow rate, with its optimal operation at 1 GPM. Weighing just 32 pounds, it is considerably lighter than a standard-sized water heater tank, saving you plenty of money on fuel costs.
Designed for four-season use with its freeze-protection system, just make sure that your 12V and gas are on, or it is also easily winterized if you only use your RV seasonally. Self-modulating, this RV tankless water heater self-adjusts its gas use based on your usage for consistent temperature control and improved energy efficiency.
Hand-assembled and tested in the USA, the RV-550 is a great choice for your motorhome. Installation is easy with the unit conveniently venting through your sidewall. If you are looking for unlimited hot water in your RV, this model is well worth the extra cost given its high performance levels and RV-specific design.
Marey Propane Gas Tankless Water Heater
Primarily designed for residential use, the Marey Tankless Water Heater can be fitted to your RV provided you vent it externally and leave enough clearance around it.
Available in a choice of two models, running off either propane or natural gas, this 10L tankless heater can provide up to 115 degrees F depending on your water inlet pressure and temperature.
Less suitable for northern states with colder climates, you’ll want to have a minimum water inlet temperature of 57 degrees F to be able to use it for your RV shower. It is not recommended for use in areas where the inlet temperature is under 47-degrees F.
With its compact, space-saving design, this unit is a popular low cost choice. Hardware is included, however, you will need to purchase ventilation pipes separately. You will also need to pick up two D-cell batteries for the ignition system, as it is not designed to run off your RV’s 12V DC power.
If you have good water pressure and a fairly warm supply, you can use this RV tankless water heater to supply two to three points of use simultaneously with its maximum output of 3.1GPM. This makes it a good choice for larger trailers and motorhomes, especially if you like to take your whole family RVing.
With a good five year warranty, if you are looking for an inexpensive propane or natural gas tankless water heater, this model makes a great budget choice.
Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best RV Tankless Water Heater
Finding the best RV tankless water heater can seem like a never-ending quest. With so many models to choose from, mostly aimed at the residential market, don’t make the mistake of purchasing an RV-incompatible model.
Read through our buyer’s guide and make sure you make the right choice of tankless water heater for your RV.
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As with any major RV upgrade, it is important to carefully plan your budget. While there are a lot of cheap residential tankless water heaters around, they aren’t always compatible with RV use. RV models are more expensive as they are designed to resist the stresses and strains of being installed in a moving vehicle.
Purchasing a residential model at a reduced price can save you money, but even if it is compatible, who’s to say it won’t break after a few trips, or that installing it on an RV will invalidate your warranty. Paying out more for an RV-specific model can lead to savings in time and money on installation.
Your average RV tankless water heater from a reputable brand will come in at around $1,000. Alternatively, cheaper residential versions start at around $250. Portable RV tankless water heaters for use as outdoor camp showers can be found for under $200.
You’ll find electric, propane, and natural gas tankless water heaters. Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Electric tankless water heaters tend to be cheaper than gas or propane models. However, they are less suitable for use off-grid. Be careful when selecting an electric tankless water heater for your RV, some residential versions are not compatible with your average RV electrical systems and hookups, requiring over 5,000 Watts to operate.
Propane is a good choice for hot water in your RV if you like to spend time off-grid. While a propane tankless water heater will cost you more than an electric model, you’ll have more freedom of where you can use it. Bear in mind that if you are installing a propane model inside your RV, it will need correctly venting.
RV-specific versions usually install and vent conveniently through your sidewall. Your installation will also need annual maintenance checks. RV specialists in tankless water heaters, such as Giraud, provide models that run off propane and your 12V DC power. Other styles may require D-cell batteries.
Fewer natural gas models are available, but they could be a better choice for you if natural gas is more readily available where you RV. Like propane, you’ll need to make sure that your RV natural gas tankless water heater is sufficiently vented and perform annual maintenance checks.
Water Heater Size
RV tankless water heaters are designed to fit neatly into the same space that your previous water heater occupied. When looking for a new model be sure to take the existing dimensions into account, or else you may end up having to cut out a larger space. Doors, to cover your tankless water heater, are often sold separately.
The flow rate is how much hot water your heater can provide per minute. For reference, a water-saving shower head typically utilizes around 1.5 GPM, with a kitchen sink half-on using around one GPM. Bear in mind that your heater’s flow rate will be impacted by your water inlet pressure and temperature.
Your water heater may be able to supply your shower and kitchen sink simultaneously in a warm climate but when used in a cold climate, you may struggle to get a decent shower.
BTU’s Per Hour
One BTU (British Thermal Unit) is the amount of energy that you need to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Basically, the higher the number of BTUs your tankless water heater has, the faster it can heat up your water. Higher BTU ratings are essential if you RV in colder areas with a much lower water inlet temperature.
Ease of Installation
Most RV tankless water heaters are fairly easy to fit provided you read through the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Most RV specialist tankless water heater manufacturers have developed their products for an easy install with your RV, by using their extensive knowledge of RV plumbing, 12V electrics, and LP gas.
To install an RV tankless water heater, you won’t need any special plumbing or gas lines.
Tank Vs Tankless Water Heater
When you replace your tank water heater with a tankless version, you no longer have such a high energy consumption keeping that water hot and ready for when it’s needed. We’ll go over the benefits of an RV tankless water heater in the next section, here are some reasons you may prefer a tank set up:
Purchase price – the cost of replacing your tank water heater with a tankless model is going to be quite a bit more than replacing it with another tank version.
Boondocking – If you frequently boondock, you may find that a tank version works better for you. When you’re out in the wilderness and every drop of water counts, you won’t want to waste precious amounts waiting for the hot water to run through, even if we are only talking about seconds.
High elevations/cold climates – propane tankless water heaters are less efficient in colder climates or when used at elevations over 2,000 feet.
Preset water temperature – if your control panel is outside and you like to shower hotter than your significant other, it can be annoying when you forget to alter it before you get undressed and under your shower.
Benefits of an RV Tankless Water Heater
Having unlimited hot water is the main advantage of an RV tankless water heater, with standard tanks only holding around 10 gallons, if you like a long shower or are RVing with your family, it’s pretty much impossible to get by without using campsite facilities. Here are the main benefits you can look forward to with your new RV tankless water heater:
No more running out of hot water – you can get the dishes clean and take a relaxing shower as your reward afterwards.
Hot showers for everyone – no more arguing over who gets a shower on your family vacation.
More energy efficient – do your bit for the planet and save energy with a tankless water heater.
Save money – you can also save money on fuel for heating water as you will only pay to heat it up as and when you need it.
Lower weight – you will also save money on your fuel costs, tankless models are lighter than factory-installed water heaters.
No more waiting around for hot water – have a hot shower when you need/want to.
If you are RVing as a family, or just love spending time under a hot shower relaxing, a tankless water heater is a must for your RV. It also makes RV life much more convenient, especially if you are living in your RV full time.
There are an increasing number of RV tankless water heaters on the market. Like any big decision, don’t rush in too quickly. Take your time to consider which model is best for your needs and RV.
If you have a small camper or trailer without a shower, we recommend taking a closer look at the budget-priced Camplux Portable Propane Water Heater. Ideal for exploring away from developed sites, it even comes complete with a showerhead so you can set up your very own private camp shower.
On a budget? Take another look at the affordable Marey Propane Gas Tankless Water Heater. Much cheaper than RV-specific models, this propane-powered version has a high maximum output of 3.1GPM, enough to simultaneously heat several faucets.
Looking for the very best tankless water heater for your RV? The RV-550 by PrecisionTemp is designed for four-season use in your RV. Easy to install, this special RV version weighs 32 pounds and runs off propane and your 12V DC system.
Thanks to its high 55,000 BTU output, your shower will stay nice and hot for as long as you want it to. What’s more, as it’s specifically designed for RVs, installation is nice and easy.