There’s nothing like coming back to the rig for a nice refreshing shower after a long day. The convenience of hot water in the RV is one that we sometimes take for granted, whether it be for bathing or washing dishes, or cooking. If you’re in the market for a new RV water heater or just want to better understand the options available, check out everything you need to know in our latest blog.
RV water heater tanks most commonly range in size from just 4-gallons to 16-gallons, with the most popular sizes being 6-gallon and 10-gallon tanks. For comparison, a small home water heater tank is generally in the 40 to 50-gallon range. The average shower uses 2.1 gallons of water per minute so be prepared to keep it quick or invest in a larger tank.
One of the most common methods of powering RV water heaters is gas. Ideal for boondockers, the water heater runs on liquid propane and is quick to heat. Some gas RV water heaters come equipped with an automatic ignition switch while others will require you to manually light the pilot light. Most gas water heaters still need a 12-volt power to operate and, depending on how much hot water you use, can burn through your propane supply quickly.
If you have a reliable source of shore power or a generator, an electric RV water heater is likely your ideal choice. Quick and easy, you will never have to worry about the pilot light going out or running out of gas. Just switch on the water heater and wait for the electric element to do its job! Keep in mind that electric RV water heaters use a substantial amount of power so you should always avoid using other high-power appliances, such as your air conditioner or furnace, at the same time.
Just like the name implies, an on-demand RV water heater uses a heat exchanger and only heats water when you need it. This saves on gas or electricity but also saves on space. Since on-demand heaters are tankless, you gain valuable space and have as much hot water as you need, when you need it. However, heater sizes do vary so be sure to carefully measure the space for your device before you buy.
While you may be inclined to replace your current RV water heater with a bigger tank size, you may not easily be able to. We all know that space is at a premium in any rig so you will want to be sure that you can accommodate a larger capacity tank before you start shopping. Measure the height, width and depth of your space to be absolutely sure.
If your RV water heater is properly maintained, it can have a lifespan of up to 10 years. Proper winterization and the use of anode rods will only help to extend the replacement period.
If you will be storing your rig for an extended period of time, especially during the colder months, you will need to winterize both your pipes and your RV water heater. Be sure to drain ALL water from the water heater tank to avoid freezing. If your water heater has a bypass valve installed, be sure to use it.
An RV water heater bypass valve will save you time, effort, and antifreeze when winterizing your tank, as it allows you to bypass the hot water tank. Once your tank is completely emptied for the season, turn on your bypass valve. When it comes time to start up the water heater again, ensure that your bypass valve is turned off. If the unit heats up without any water in it, it can cause irreversible damage.
Hard water can play havoc on your RV water heater tank, causing it to corrode and potentially leading to a very expensive replacement. To combat corrosion from hard water, be sure to install an anode rod. The corrosion will eat away at the anode rod instead of the tank. Anode rods are usually quite affordable and easily replaced. Be sure to check the anode rod frequently and replace it as needed to extend the lifespan of your tank.
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