What Is an RV Tankless Water Heater?

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By Kyle & Olivia Brady | Founders of Drivin' & Vibin' | We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

What Is an RV Tankless Water Heater?

After a long day of driving or being outside exploring with your RV there is nothing better than taking a hot shower.

Getting clean makes you feel like a new person! In these moments, you’ll be really thankful for your RVs water heater.

But most RV water heaters have their faults… like only holding 6-10 gallons of hot water at a time! What do you do when you want to take a longer shower? Campground bathrooms aren’t always available.

Here’s how to remedy the limited hot water situation: you get a tankless water heater! Let’s learn more about these awesome RV devices here.

What Exactly is an RV Tankless Water Heater?

A tankless RV water heater is exactly what it sounds like.

Normal RV water heaters work by storing water in a reservoir and then heating it. The reservoirs typically come in 6 or 10 gallon sizes.

But with a tankless water heater (aka on-demand water heaters), the water is passed through the device and heated as it goes. No need to store and heat the water! This means you won’t run out of hot water – it’s unlimited!

Another benefit of tankless RV water heaters is the fact that they heat water on-demand. With a regular water heater, you have to light it and wait for the water to heat up.

Instant and unlimited hot water… in an RV? Sign us up! Our previous RV water heater only held 3 gallons. Can you imagine?!

How do Tankless RV Water Heaters Work? 

When a hot water tap is turned on in your sink or shower, cold water flows through a pipe into the water heater. The water is then heated – either by propane or an electric heating element.

This heating process happens instantly, and the water is then sent to the open tap.

Benefits of RV Tankless Water Heaters

With tankless water heaters, you will never run out of hot water.

You can take long showers and wash dishes without needing to be conservative, unless your tanks demand it of course.

These types of water heaters also use less propane, because they only heat the amount of water that is needed.

Lastly, they’re more lightweight. Regular water heaters store 6 to 10 gallons of water at a time. With a tankless water heater there is no tank… which really does save a bit of weight.

Disadvantages of On-Demand RV Water Heaters

There are a few disadvantages to on-demand or tankless water heaters.

The biggest disadvantage is that you’ll probably use more water… because you can! If you’re boondocking, using more water isn’t exactly something you want to do.

Another disadvantage is that although they are on-demand, it will take 5-10 seconds before the water runs hot. That means you have to run (and potentially waste) 5-10 seconds worth of fresh water before getting the hot water.

How Much Do Tankless Water Heaters Cost Compared to Regular RV Water Heaters?

When it comes to the cost of an RV tankless water heater versus one with a tank, the tankless versions can be more expensive.

It depends on which model you get for either but the tankless heaters run about $200 more on average. But if you factor in how much you might save on propane it could even out.

Is Switching to an RV Tankless Water Heater Worth It? 

It really depends on what your needs are and how you use your RV. If you stay at campgrounds with hook-ups and like to take long hot showers in your RV, this is perfect for you.

Or if you have a bigger family where you need more hot water just to support the amount of people, this is an option to consider.

But if you frequently boondock and need every precious resource in order to stay out longer this might not be the best option. 

The Best RV Tankless Water Heater

You’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to tankless water heaters. We have two recommendations for you.

First, if you’re looking for a tankless water heater to replace your traditional RV water heater, the RecPro unit should be an easy drop-in option for most uints.

Here’s the current price for the RecPro Tankless Water Heater.

Secondly, if you’re building a DIY RV or van conversion you have more flexibility.

We think the EcoSmart Tankless Water heater is the right choice. You’ll have many options for where to install it, and it costs less than most other units.

Here’s the price for the EcoSmart Tankless Water Heater.

Nothing Compares To a Long, Hot Shower

At the end of the day there is nothing better than taking a hot shower. The most important thing is to make sure your needs are met and being comfortable.

Traveling around in your RV is meant to be relaxing and leisure, so if that to you is having lots of hot water it’s definitely something to consider.

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