How Does A Hot Water Heater Work In A Camper?

RV Water Heater Basics

Camping in a tent is great fun, but RV camping allows you to bring the luxuries of home with you into the most remote parts of the wilderness.One such convenience is the availability of an adequate supply of hot water.RV water heaters make it feasible to do so even if you’re in the middle of nowhere and not connected to the electrical grid at the time.Since their inception, camper water heaters have performed in a remarkably consistent manner, owing to their straightforward design, which has endured the test of time.

After everything is said and done, there are a few distinct types of RV water heaters now available on the market.Knowing how they work and how to repair them can keep you traveling in luxury and style in your rental RV or your own RV for years to come.

RV Water Heater Types

Listed below are the four different types of RV water heaters you’ll encounter.

Propane (LP) Only RV Water Heater

As the name implies, this is the original form of RV water heater, and it will operate in practically any environment as long as you have propane gas in your tanks and a little amount of 12v power in your RV batteries.Unlike a gas-fired water heater in your house, the operation of these camper water heaters is similar: A spark is formed, which ignites a little flame in a heating tube, which heats the water.The flame then warms the water in a tank, which is subsequently used for cooking.The hot water tanks in most recreational vehicles are between 6 and 10 gallons in capacity.

In order to operate the switches that automatically cut off the flame once the water is hot, gas-fired RV water heaters require a little amount of 12v electricity from your RV’s batteries.This type of switch also incorporates critical safety features, such as the ability to prevent further gas flow if the system senses a failure to ignite the fuel.Because they require just a little amount of 12v electricity from your batteries, gas-only RV water heaters are an especially good alternative if you intend to boondock or camp without electrical hookups.A modest quantity of propane is required to keep your camper’s water warm when using a gas-fired RV water heater.This implies that you may park your camper in the middle of nowhere and still have access to hot water for an extended length of time.

Gas + Electric RV Water Heater

Several newer RVs are fitted with hybrid RV water heaters, which may operate on either gas or 120v electricity, or a combination of the two.While their upfront prices are greater than those of gas-only RV water heaters, these hybrid heaters might be an excellent choice if you frequently stay at campsites that have electricity.In this instance, your water heater will simply make use of the energy that has been provided to keep the water hot in your camper.It is also possible to use both the gas and electric heating components simultaneously when using these hybrid RV water heaters.

The use of both electric and gas power at the same time boils your water more quickly.Electric RV water heaters have two major drawbacks: they take far longer to heat up than gas-fired water heaters, and they consume a large amount of power while doing so.In a smaller camper, if you try to use both your electric RV water heater and your air conditioner at the same time, you can trip a breaker.

Tankless RV Water Heater

If you are looking for a water heater for a camper, tankless RV water heaters have just emerged as the new child on the block.The great majority of recreational vehicle water warmers feature tanks that are between 6 and 10 gallons in capacity.Given that most home water heaters have a capacity of more than 40 gallons, it is possible to run out of hot water when taking a long shower in an RV with a tanked water heater.Tankless water heaters eliminate the problem of running out of water by heating the water as it travels through your pipes and into your faucet.

As long as there is water flowing into your camper, this should theoretically result in an infinite supply of hot water for you to use.Compared to tank-style RV water heaters, tankless RV water heaters are more costly, more sensitive to low water pressure, and more difficult to maintain than their tank-style counterparts.

MotorAid RV Water Heater

Because it is a supplementary feature on many RVs, MotorAid is just half of an option on the list.By circulating the engine heat around the water heater tank, this device helps to recycle engine heat.As a consequence, when you get at your location, you will have hot water since your engine’s usual working temperature has heated it.Once you’ve parked your vehicle, you’ll have to rely on propane gas or power to keep your water warm.

Which type of RV water heater should you choose?

Choosing an RV water heater relies on your individual scenario.If you plan to camp in locations where electricity is included, the gas+electric hybrid RV water heater would be a great choice.If you intend to camp without electric hookups, a gas-only RV water heater is a solid and economical solution.A tankless RV water heater is ideal for those who live full-time in their camper and/or have a family who will be taking a lot of hot showers.

A tankless RV water heater will provide you and your family with a constant stream of hot water.

Tips for Operating an RV Water Heater

Here are five things to keep in mind if you own or operate an RV water heater in your vehicle.

  1. Your RV water heater will most likely be manufactured by Atwood or Suburban. These RV water heaters are quite dependable, and replacement parts for them are easily obtained from any RV parts store. Alternatively, if you choose for a tankless water heater, Girard is the primary producer of these units
  2. Make a point of draining your water heater throughout the winter months. RV water heaters with tanks are all provided with a plug that allows the tank to be drained if necessary. In order to winterize your camper, you must drain the water heater from the vehicle. This will prevent the water in the tank from freezing and causing damage
  3. moreover, an anode rod will assist your camper’s hot water heater last for a longer period of time. It is a simple and inexpensive device that will help to prevent corrosion and buildup in your water heater’s internal tank and tank. The use of an RV water filter will also aid in the removal of particulates from your water system, which is beneficial.
  4. The temperature of your RV’s water heater may be adjusted. You can adjust the temperature of your camper’s water heater in the same way that you can adjust the temperature of a domestic water heater. For further information, consult the owner’s handbook for your camper’s water heater.
  5. When you store your camper’s water heater, it’s common for insects to make nests in the unit. Because of this, every time you return to your RV after a season away, you must remember to clean the heater tube in your water heater.

Water heaters in travel trailers are among the simplest and most dependable equipment on the globe, and they are also among the most affordable. You will enjoy hot, pure water for years to come if you only perform the basic maintenance described above.

Basic RV Water Heating Trouble Shooting

  • The following items may be of assistance if you are experiencing difficulties with your RV water heater operation: The problem is that your water heater will not ignite. Make sure that you have 12v power running to the water heater before proceeding any further. It’s probable that your circuit board or ignitor is the source of the problem if you have electricity. Both of these components may be purchased at a local RV parts retailer.
  • Problem: Despite the fact that you can hear the ignitor clicking, the heater is still not igniting. It’s possible that you’re having trouble getting propane gas to your RV water heater. During this time, you should consult with a trained specialist who will examine your LP gas system
  • Troubleshooting: Your RV water heater ignites, but it appears to be burning inefficiently or not heating up rapidly. Turn off your water heater and look for blockages in the heating tube to determine the cause of the problem. Clean up any debris or grime you discover in there to help the heating system work more efficiently.

When it comes to troubleshooting, YouTube and RV forums might be your best friends.Chances are that you are not the only person to have this condition, no matter how serious it may seem.Other RVers are always willing to lend a hand in figuring out the source of your RV problems!The Great Outdoor RV has created a fantastic video that includes helpful suggestions for repairing a water heater.

Hit the Road

Rv water heaters are a pretty basic appliance that allows us to enjoy many of the conveniences of home while traveling. By learning the fundamentals of RV water heaters, as well as how to maintain and operate them, you can ensure that everyone has a pleasant experience when camping in the great outdoors.

Do You Know How The RV Water Heater Operation? – Easy Explanation

What are the benefits of using an RV water heater?When you travel, you will be able to enjoy hot water thanks to an RV water heater.They have the appearance of a household water heater, however there are several differences.If you want to use your RV water heater for a longer period of time, you must be familiar with its functioning, maintenance, and other aspects of the RV water heater.

Consider the following factors when you make your decision.

An overview of the RV water heater

A recreational vehicle’s water heater is significantly smaller than a domestic water heater.It contains a storage container with a capacity ranging from 6 to 10 gallons of liquid.Nonetheless, there are warmers that can hold up to 16 gallons of water.In reality, these devices contain a 10-gallon tank and can heat water to a greater temperature than most other types of water heaters.

The hot water is then mixed with cold water, resulting in approximately 16 liters of hot water (with temperatures reaching 1000°C).Despite the fact that the RV water heater is a very pricey item, non-tank water heaters are becoming increasingly popular on the RV market.In exchange for a small quantity of fossil fuel, you will not only have an unending supply of hot water, but you will also see a reduction in your monthly power cost.Due to the fact that it cycles on and off, a standard RV heater will burn more fossil fuel since it keeps the water in the tank hot.A non-tank heater, on the other hand, will only run when fuel is used and you are in need of hot water.

  • There is a reduction in the amount of fuel (mostly propane) used since there are fewer tank refills required when only hot water is required.

Prepare before using the RV water heater

Before turning on the RV water heater for the first time, you should check that everything is in working order, such as that the device has been filled with adequate water.In order to accomplish this, you need review the manufacturer’s instructions for filling the water tank and maintaining it for a period of time.You should keep in mind that you should empty the water heater when you are not using it, especially if you have a trip itinerary or if it is chilly outside.Alternatively, you must do this when placing your RV or trailer in storage for the season’s off-season.

How to operate the RV water heater

  • Despite the fact that RV water heaters come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and brands, the methods for installing and maintaining them are the same for all of them. In step one, you must inspect the bypass valve for the water heater.
  • To begin pumping water, you should open it and allow it to flow into the tank. To finish, you should connect the RV to a water outlet and use the onboard pump to start pumping water.
  • In step four, turn on the hot water faucet.
  • Step 5: The water in the heating container will begin to flow through the lines.
  • Step 6: When you have finished filling it to the brim, your water heater will be ready to use.

For the most part, I believe that operating an RV water heater is a piece of cake for anyone to master. Nonetheless, in order to retain your RV for a longer period of time, you need be familiar with its operation and maintenance. This will also reduce the amount of money that is wasted in your budget due to the power bill and the maintenance costs.

Recognize the main types of the RV water heater

In general, there are three basic groups of RV water heaters, each with its own set of power options.

Electric mode

With 120v power, the electric mode is compatible with shore electricity or generator power; nevertheless, it requires around 12 amps of electricity.When energy is at a premium, it is a good time to switch to LP Gas Mode to save money.You’ll also need to figure out where your RV’s shore power wiring is located, as well as which outlets are available for the RV to hook into (about 30A).As a result, you have the ability to convert your RV to LP Gas Mode or switch off the water heater in a very short amount of time.

Manual pilot light

When it comes to beginners, a manual pilot light is a fantastic alternative.This appliance, which employs a pilot light, is one of the most common versions available on the market for RV water heaters.When the pilot light is turned off, the Pilot Control is turned off as well, and no gas may be released.This procedure helps to avoid potential accidents resulting from LP gas leakage.

Because the wind blows, the pilot light should not be opened, and the light should not be turned off while traveling.Because the procedure takes around 20 minutes to produce hot water, most people will consider this to be a small annoyance to them.

Direct spark ignition

Direct spark ignition is also used in the majority of RV water heaters nowadays.This is due to the fact that there is no pilot inside.The gas mode thermostat sends a signal to the heater handle circuit board, which causes the gas valve to be opened in response.After that, the igniter is turned on, and everything begins to burn with a steady flame.

When a flow sensor detects a flame, the gas valve is closed and the system is brought to a close.When there is no flame present, this procedure takes longer than 15 seconds.In addition, an indication light will illuminate to indicate that the heater failed to ignite properly.After that, the water heater will shut down and reset itself before another process can be initiated.Despite the fact that DIS heaters may be used while the RV is in motion, many owners choose to wait until they reach their destination so that fuel waste is avoided (especially copper heat exchanger).

See also:  How To Clean Tankless Water Heater With Vinegar?

Liquid propane mode

There are a variety of versions available for use with liquid propane. The primary model differs from the others in that it does not make use of the ignition system. RVs equipped with Direct Spark Ignition, which is a more powerful system, are considered advanced. More information may be found at: Review and Buying Guide for the Top 7 Best Tankless Water Heaters for RVs

How to maintain the RV water heater

Regular maintenance of an RV water heater is recommended, just as it is for the majority of other electrical items or sections of them.Checking and cleaning the unit on a regular basis is also an excellent technique to save money when getting a new recreational vehicle (RV).Depending on the type of water heater you have, you may need to do maintenance on it more than once every year.Make certain that this activity is included in your maintenance schedule for the foreseeable future.

Check the anode rod

The anode rod in an RV water heater performs a function that is similar to that of a home water heater.It helps to keep the container free of corrosion and oxidation.Some tanks, however, can be built entirely of glass, eliminating the requirement for an anode rod in the device.A basic rule of thumb is that the anode rod should be examined on a consistent basis (at least once a year).

Some RV owners also swap out their tires on a yearly basis.This is not a mandatory task that you must do.You might just examine the gadget every 12 months and replace it when the weather becomes too chilly.

Flush the tank

You should not leave the tank in its current state even if you are not using it for a time.It is necessary to empty the water heater tank.It is recommended that you cleanse the water once a year.The majority of the low-cost tanks will allow customers to spray water into the tank to remove dregs, which is convenient.

A consistent tank, on the other hand, may lengthen the life of an RV water heater by many years.

Winterize your RV water heater

When the tank in your RV water heater is completely depleted, it is important to pay more attention to temperature swings in the surrounding environment, raising and maintaining the condition without causing harm.Antifreeze will also need to be added to the water lines to prevent them from freezing.These lines are extremely thin, and they will not function properly if they are not in use for an extended period of time.This is a negative feedback loop caused by the functioning of the RV water heater.

A bypass valve will be installed to provide support throughout the winterizing process.A bypass valve can prevent anti-freeze and water from entering the tank by preventing them from connecting to the tank.Despite the fact that the majority of RV water heaters are equipped with these valves, bypass valve kits are also available.When your tank does not contain anti-freeze, you should bring attention to the fact that you should fill the tank with water and close the loop.

Clean the burner tube

When the device is operating in the LP Gas mode, the burner tube’s primary duty is to feed gas to the burner itself.This supply line must be cleaned at least once a year.Take a can of compressed air and spray it around the burner tube until it is clean.In the spring, it is a good idea to thoroughly clean the unit.

A related article is Tankless Water Heater versus Standard Water Heater Comparison.

What should you do when you troubleshooting?

You frequently keep all of the components of your RV in good working order, but every now and then you will have to play a surprise game, such as when your gas supply tube goes out of control. Now is the time to learn some hacking techniques to use against them.

Heating components

This is a common problem that you are undoubtedly familiar with and deal with on a daily basis.In the bypass mode, it is not difficult to pull your water heater out of winterization and back into service.It is impossible for the heating components to function properly if the water heater is turned on but there is no water in the tank.You must replace the electrical heating property if it is not immersed in water or it will quickly burn out and you will have to buy a new one.

It is not costly, and it is something that everyone can do.

Bypass valve

  • It is possible that the bypass valve is difficult to open, which is also a regular problem with RV water heaters. It is possible to play a pinpoint game with some troubleshooting, fortunately! Here are some easy actions to take: Check to see if the water is hot or not by opening the pressure valve. If the water is still hot after you turn off the water heater, you will know it is operational. Check that the bypass valve is working properly by turning it on and off many times. Check the hot water valve, as well, as it is often overlooked. When the hot water valve is in the off position, no water will flow out of the tank into the sink.

Gas supply tube

One of the most common causes of an RV heater that does not operate is a clog inside the heater.If the gas supply tube becomes clogged, the gas will not be able to completely suffocate the pilot.You may also notice the fragrance of propane from time to time.This is also one of the reasons why spiders and other little insects create such a large mess in the house.

All you have to do is grab a can of compressed air and spray it all over the burner tube.This is also a good strategy to use every spring to clean and maintain your RV.

Broken tank

You make it possible to replace broken pieces using a thick chunk of PVC rather than having to purchase a new tank. You may also fix the tank on your own. If the shattered pieces are too large to be repaired, it may be necessary to replace them entirely.

Bottom line

You do not need to be a technician in order to operate an RV water heater, but you should be familiar with the unit’s operation, maintenance, and how it performs optimally in order to use it properly.The recreational vehicle (RV) is also a vital tool for ensuring a pleasant voyage.You do not want to be trapped in the middle of the road, especially if you are traveling from one state to another.Remember to take care of yourself and your RV water heater, as well!

How Does an RV Water Heater Work?

A hot shower may be a welcome relief at the end of a hard day filled with excitement. Even on the days when you don’t have much to do, you’ll almost certainly have dishes to clean up. When performing these types of duties, an RV water heater assures that you will have access to hot water at all times. Consider how your RV’s water heater functions and how it might save you money.

What Is an RV Water Heater?

An RV water heater, similar to a home water heater, is responsible for providing hot water to the water fixtures in your RV.RV water heaters are available in a variety of configurations, including gas, electric, and hybrid models.When it comes to camping methods, a combination water heater will provide you the most versatility possible.The size of the water heater varies depending on the RV.

Several water heaters, including tankless models, are available that give a limitless supply of hot water.

Propane Water Heaters

Propane is one of the most often used fuels for water heating in recreational vehicles. Let’s take a deeper look at the reasons why propane water heaters are so popular with RV owners.

How They Work

In order to heat the water in the tank, propane water heaters frequently employ either a pilot light or a direct spark ignition.They draw hot water from your hot water tank and distribute it to your fixtures and appliances.After you’ve used all your hot water supply, you’ll need to give your water heater some time to reheat.A tankless water heater is a popular choice among RVers who want to upgrade from their gas water heater.

A seemingly limitless supply of hot water is made available by this modification.Upgrades to a tankless water heater, on the other hand, may be costly, and they consume more gas than traditional propane water heaters.Despite the fact that propane is a very inexpensive heating option, the expenditures may soon mount.

When to Use Propane

Whether you’re camping off-grid or simply looking to save a few dollars on your power bill, propane is a fantastic alternative for heating your drinking water supply.Boondocking or camping off-grid means conserving every ounce of power you can get your hands on.If you are using propane, it will take 30-50 minutes to thoroughly heat your water heater tanks, depending on the size of your water tank.

Pros and Cons

RVers can enjoy their RV in distant regions thanks to the use of a propane water heater.These heaters have the ability to heat water quite rapidly and affordably.Also, if it will be a while before you want hot water, it is possible to switch off the water heater.Many recreational vehicles (RVs) are already fitted with a propane water heater.

You won’t have to bother about updating for the most part.When it comes to how frequently you use your water heater, though, you must be cautious.It might be inconvenient to have to wait 30-50 minutes for a fresh supply of water to heat.Larger families may find it difficult to get everything done in the evenings, especially between dishes and showers.One of the most major disadvantages of utilizing a propane water heater is the need to keep track of the quantity of propane in your tank.

  • When you run out of propane, you have no hot water.
  • It also implies that the furnace and stove will be without propane.

Electric Water Heaters

When it comes to heating the water in your RV, an electric water heater might be a great choice. Check out the reasons why this sort of water heater may be so beneficial.

How They Work

The heating element for the water heater tank in your RV is activated by flipping a switch in the vehicle. The water in your RV’s water heater tank will begin to heat as soon as this heating element is activated. The heating time for a six-gallon water heater tank is approximately one hour, while the heating time for a ten-gallon water heater tank is around one hour and fifteen minutes.

When to Use Electric

An electric water heater is an excellent choice, especially if you’re linked to a campground’s electrical distribution system (panel). It is possible to switch on your water heater and leave it on while camping, resulting in an abundance of hot water in your tank.

Pros and Cons

When compared to a propane water heater, an electric water heater takes an inordinate length of time to heat water.When utilizing electric water heaters, the importance of spacing out actions that demand significant volumes of hot water is even more crucial.A major advantage of employing an electric water heater is that you will not incur any additional costs for heating your water while you are linked to a shore power source.You won’t have to be concerned about running out of propane, either.

How Do You Maintain Your Water Heater?

Maintaining the water heater in your recreational vehicle is a very simple process. It is unlikely that you will need to perform any yearly maintenance on the electrical side of your water heater. Gas-powered water heaters require only a small amount of inspection and cleaning on their gas-fueled counterparts.


It is recommended that you clean your water heater on a yearly basis as part of your normal maintenance program.Instructions can be found in your RV’s owner’s manual.Many recreational vehicle water heaters are equipped with an anode rod, which helps to protect the water heater from rust and other potentially harmful minerals.Inspect your anode rod and replace it if it is in need of replacement.

In addition, dump and flush your water heater tank on a regular basis to keep it in good working order.There are attachments and wands available to assist in the removal of silt.


Examine the connections to your water heater while you perform your annual cleaning. This is an excellent opportunity to put plumber’s tape on fittings in order to avoid leaks in the future. Check to see that all wiring and connections are in good working condition and do not exhibit any indications of wear and tear as you move along.


In order to prevent your RV water heater from freezing, it’s a good idea to winterize it at the end of each camping season or if your RV will be in cold conditions for an extended period of time.Check to see that the water heater has been turned off for a long enough period of time that the water in the tank is cold.After releasing the pressure with the pressure valve, remove the drain cap from the drain pipe.Allow a few minutes for the water to drain completely.

Replace the plug in the water heater and make the necessary adjustments to your water system so that it bypasses the water heater during winterization.

Can I Leave My Water Heater on All the Time?

Even if you’re camping and you’re connected to a water supply, there is no need to switch off your water heater if you have enough water in your system.Turning off your water heater, on the other hand, can help you save money on power and propane.If your water supply is running low, it might also be beneficial.When you don’t have enough water in your water heater while it’s running, you might cause damage to the heating element.

How Long Does It Take an RV Water Heater to Heat Up?

The heating periods of propane and electric water heaters are different.In comparison to an electric water heater, a propane water heater will heat up in around half the time it takes an electric heater.A propane water heater can heat a six-gallon water heater tank in around 30 minutes, but an electric water heater can heat the same tank in approximately 60 minutes.The greater the size of the tank, the longer it will take to warm up.

Your recreational vehicle’s water heater is an essential component of the vehicle’s water system.It also contributes to your overall comfort when traveling in your RV.If you take good care of it, it will most likely endure for a long period in your home.What suggestions do you have for making the most of your RV’s water heater?

RVing 101 Guide: Water Heaters

If your RV is equipped with plumbing, there is a good probability that you have a water heater.Compared to a typical house or apartment water heater, the RV water heater will be smaller, but it will operate in essentially the same way.You can use hot water for anything from showering and washing your hands to cleaning the dishes since it warms water as it is used.All RV owners should be familiar with the fundamentals of their RV water heater since it comes in handy whether you’re cooking, cleaning, showering, or doing anything else while on the road.

RV Water Heaters 101

The first thing you should know about RV water heaters is that they are fueled by propane, not electricity.It is likely that you will be utilizing propane for your water heater and other appliances unless you have purchased a fully equipped class A motorhome, motorcoach, or luxury RV.A six-gallon tank is standard for most RVs, with some units using as much as a ten-gallon tank depending on the size of the vehicle.Some water heaters are exclusively compatible with gas, while others are compatible with both propane and electricity.

Consult your RV’s owner’s handbook to find out what type of power source your water heater is using.A pilot light is used in the majority of recreational vehicle water heaters.Some variants may be equipped with a direct-spark ignition system.Alternatively, if the latter is placed in your RV, you will utilize a switch located within the RV or trailer to activate the water heater after the vehicle is parked.If you choose for the former setup, you’ll need to turn on the water heater’s pilot light after you’ve parked and leveled your RV or trailer.

  • Safety devices, similar to those found in your home water heater, are included into the unit to guarantee that the water does not heat up too much or that pressure does not accumulate.
  • Make sure to read to the instructions that came with your recreational vehicle when it comes to the water heater in your unit to ensure that you are aware of the safety precautions that have been put in place and how to deal with any safety concerns that may arise for your specific model.
  • Advice from the experts: The hotter you like your water to be, the more propane you’ll have to use to heat it.
  • Try to choose a moderate water temperature that is a little lower than you would appreciate at home in order to save money on propane expenditures while on vacation.
See also:  What Size Of Tankless Water Heater?

Before Your RV Water Heater’s First Use

  • Before turning on your RV water heater for the first time, ensure sure it’s fully stocked with enough water to last the whole trip. For instructions on how to fill and maintain the water level in the device, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions once again. The following steps can be applied to RV and trailer water heaters in the vast majority of cases: Check the bypass valve on the water heater.
  • Allow the water to flow into the primary tank by opening the valve.
  • To begin pumping water, connect your RV to a local water outlet and use the onboard pump to start the process.
  • Start by turning on the hot water faucet.
  • Water will begin to flow through your lines and into the heating tank
  • this is a normal occurrence.
  • Fill it all the way up to the fill line, and your water heater will be ready to use

Pro tip: Before utilizing your RV or trailer for the first time, double-check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to fill the specific water heater for your vehicle.During the off-season, be sure to empty your water heater.This is especially important during the winter and while placing your RV or trailer in storage for the winter.If you fail to do so, you may wind up with mold and mildew in your home, as well as the need to repair your water heater sooner rather than later.

RV Water Heater Maintenance

  • When you examine, clean, and care for them on and off the road, they will last longer and require less maintenance than the majority of the components in your RV or trailer. It is no different with your water heater. Depending on the sort of water heater you have, you may need to clean it more frequently than once a year.
  • Keep your water heater in good operating order by include it in your normal RV maintenance routine and having it checked whenever you take your rig to the shop.
  • When winterizing your RV or trailer, it is usually a good idea to empty the water heater completely and check that all of its pipes are clear of obstructions. Follow the same procedure for all of the lines in your RV or trailer to guarantee that your water heater is ready for the winter or a lengthy period of time when it will be parked and not in use.

Pro Tip: If you’re not confident in your ability to maintain your RV water heater, consider taking it to an RV dealer or a repair shop and allowing them to take care of it on your behalf.Make a point of doing this if you detect any problems, or at least once a year before you begin traveling for the year.You should now be aware of all you need to do to maintain your RV water heater and guarantee that it continues to perform both on and off the road.Thank you for informing us about this!

RV Hot Water Heater Guide: How to Operate, Fill and More

This post includes affiliate links for your convenience.Your RV hot water heater is a vital piece of equipment that allows you to enjoy the comforts of home while camping in the great outdoors.Having access to hot water for showering, washing your hands, cleaning dishes, and a variety of other duties is invaluable.Whether you’re using a propane, electric, tankless, or small tank hot water heater, this article will walk you through every element of this wonderful RV accessory.

Every RV owner should be familiar with the operation of his or her water heater.This includes how to fill and drain the unit, how the electrical controls operate, how to replace the major components, and other topics.Even while certain specifics differ based on the individual brand and model of water heater you have, many of the fundamental fundamentals are the same for practically all RV water heaters.Whether you’ve just purchased your first RV, have upgraded to a more recent model, or are experiencing problems with your present water heater, you’ll find all you need to know in this section.

RV Hot Water Heater Basics

Most recreational vehicle water heaters will feature a 6-gallon or 10-gallon tank, however tankless heaters have grown increasingly popular in recent years.

Tankless Hot Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are also referred to as ″on demand″ systems since they provide hot water on demand.These units can be powered by propane or electricity, which powers a heat exchanger in the device, which heats the water as it flows through it.Tankless means that there is no water in the unit other than the minimal amount of water that is stored in the internal pipework; this is why it is referred to as such.There were no items found.

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On Demand Operation

Every time you turn on your hot water faucet, you are creating an artificial demand for hot water.Once the machine detects the presence of water flowing through the inner pipe, the heating elements immediately turn on and begin to warm the water in the tank.Water heats up to a temperature that is acceptable for washing and bathing in the brief amount of time it takes to travel through the sequence of internal piping.When the hot water tap is turned off at the faucet, the tankless heater detects the interruption in the flow of hot water and shuts off the heating element to minimize energy consumption.

At this moment, there is no longer a ″demand″ for hot water in the household.

Pros and Cons of Going Tankless

To be sure, tankless hot water heaters have the potential to deliver a continuous flow of hot water for showering, cleaning, and anything else you need until the power or gas supply is interrupted.This is a significant benefit over a standard tank-style water heater, which must be prepared before use and is typically limited to producing only warm water during periods of high demand.In addition to energy economy, which is important in an RV since saving gasoline and electricity is critical while traveling off the grid, there are several other significant advantages.Another advantage of tankless hot water heaters is their physical size; as compared to traditional hot water heaters, they tend to be considerably more compact machines.

The cost of this type of hot water tank is one of its most significant disadvantages.In compared to other models, there aren’t many that can be retrofitted into a 10gal tank area, and the ones that can are rather pricey.They also have a higher incidence of problems and malfunctions, despite the fact that technology is always advancing.Finally, because the water is heated as it passes through the heater, it is usual practice to utilize a low flow shower head to increase back pressure and force the water to go more slowly through the heater as it passes through.In general, the lower the GPM rating, the lower the flow rate must be to maintain the same pressure.

Hot Water Tank Heaters

Typical RV hot water tanks feature a 6-10 gallon tank or reservoir to retain water while the tank is being heated, similar to what is usually seen in residential hot water tanks.Mini-tank water heaters, on the other hand, have just lately entered the market, offering a ″point-of-use″ alternative that may be installed and connected directly to a sink or shower head.Check out the most recent offers.

Hot Water Tank Operation 

Regardless of whether or not hot water is being utilized, the control unit will maintain a certain temperature in the tank as long as electricity and fuel are available to it.The temperature of the water in the tank is detected by a sensor that comes into contact with it.When the sensor detects a dip in water temperature, it sends a signal to the control module, which then activates the heating element in the water.There are several reasons for this, including the fact that the water has been lying around and has cooled down over time, or the fact that hot water is being used, which is sucking the water out of the tank and cold water is entering the tank in its stead.

Water that comes out of the tank will be at a temperature that is suitable for routine use in the beginning.The heating element may have difficulty keeping up with the demand for hot water after prolonged use, resulting in only warm water being offered.The tank will have enough time to restore to its maximum temperature if you postpone chores that require hot water for 15 minutes during this period.

Benefits of a Hot Water Tank

Traditional hot water tanks are less expensive than tankless alternatives, and they’re also rather reliable when it comes to performance.

Electric Water Heaters

  • If your RV is equipped with an electric water heater, the heating element will cycle on and off as needed to maintain the water temperature, so you won’t have to worry about turning it off while the RV is not in use. Electric water heaters provide the advantage of preserving your gas while also more efficiently maintaining the correct temperature of your water at all times. Unless your water heater has the capability of switching back to propane when you are not connected to shore power, you will be unable to boondock without using your generator for hot water when you are not connected to shore power. Eliminate waiting time for hot water with the Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater Tronic 3000 T 4-Gallon (ES4). HEATER FOR HOT WATER THAT IS CONVENIENT: Designed to fit beneath your sink, this 4-gallon point-of-use mini-tank keeps hot water close at hand when you need it. It is easy to maintain and is made of high-quality glass-lined material, which ensures a long service life for this electric water heater. (Amps
  • INDEPENDENT INSTALLATION: A 36-37″ chord connects into a 120 volt outlet for independent installation or in-line with a big hot water supply

Propane Water Heaters 

Unless you’ve invested much in a high-end recreational vehicle, your hot water heater is almost certainly powered by propane.It requires the same procedure as all other propane appliances: the lighting of a pilot flame.Some RVs need you to manually ignite the engine with a lighter once you’ve parked and leveled the vehicle, but most contemporary RVs are equipped with direct spark ignition.To use direct spark ignition, all you have to do is switch on the water heater.

As a result, if there is a requirement for water to be heated, the thermostat will detect this and the control circuit board will open the gas valve while simultaneously utilizing the igniter to produce a spark in the front of the gas burner tube.As soon as the water has reached the desired temperature, the water heater will shut off automatically.The most significant advantage of using a propane generator is that it will not drain your RV’s house batteries.A propane water heater, with the exception of a very little amount of electricity to run the control circuit, may be used with or without shore power.This makes it an excellent choice for RVers who want to camp in more rural locations rather than in campsites or vacation parks.

Filling your Water Heater

When you turn on your water heater for the first time, or when you turn it on for the first time after winterizing, you’ll need to fill the tank with water before turning it on.The suggested water levels for your individual model will be listed in the owner’s handbook, but you may alternatively take the safe route and fill the tank entirely.If your water tank is equipped with a bypass or drain, make sure to close it before you begin filling it.Filling your hot water tank may be accomplished by utilizing water from your fresh water tank and the RV water pump, as described above.

It is also possible to do so with the water pressure provided by the city water that is linked to your water hook up.Open the hot water faucets on all of your faucets after you have tightened all of your plumbing connections to avoid leaks.This will allow the trapped air volume in the tank to escape, and water will be able to enter and replace it.When water is pouring out of all of your taps, you’ll know your hot water tank is about full.Although the water will not be warm at this point, it will alert you that it is safe to switch on your water heater without risking damage to the element.

How to Operate Your Hot Water Heater

Even though your hot water heater is powered by gas, it requires electrical electricity to operate. The electrical system of your home requires the activation of a number of different components in order for it to work properly.

Electrical Panel

If your hot water heater is electric, there should be a fuse or circuit breaker to supply power to it. This will power the electronic control board, the igniter, and the element, if your water heater is powered by electricity. It will be necessary for the water heater to function properly that the CB be in the ″on″ position or that the fuse be fitted and in functioning order.

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On/Off Switch

The on/off switch is the next level of control, and it will be positioned on a main control panel or close to the device in question. Turn on the tank by flipping the switch to the on position; an indicator light will normally glow to indicate that the tank is operational.

Propane Supply

To ensure that your propane water heater is operational, make certain that the propane supply is switched on at the main tank.A shut off valve near the hot water tank may also be present and must be changed to the open position in order to function properly.It’s likely that you’ll hear the igniter clicking and, in some cases, even the flame blazing once you flip the on/off switch on.Additionally, the indication light should be lighted.

If you’re using electric or propane to power your tank, it will typically take between 20 and 35 minutes for your tank to heat up depending on its size, the temperature of the water within the tank, and other factors.Electric tanks have a tendency to heat up a little more quickly.

Temperature Adjustment

Most RV water heaters do not come with the ability to modify the thermal limit switch; instead, you must learn to be a master of the mixing bowl in order to get the temperature you wish.Having said that, you have the option of replacing the thermal limit switch with an adjustable thermostat if you so choose to.It’s not a terrible thing to think about because you can save a lot of propane by setting the maximum temperature closer to tepid rather than lava hot with an adjustable thermostat, and replacing out the parts isn’t a difficult DIY job to complete.

Conserving Water and Energy

Because your RV’s water heater is likely to be considerably smaller than the one in your home, paying close attention to how and when you use your hot water will help you avoid running out of hot water when you need it the most.For example, if you use a lot of hot water to clean the dishes and then immediately turn around and hop in the shower, you won’t be able to enjoy that shower for as long as you would want.That one, believe me, is something I’ve learnt the hard way.

How to Drain Your RV Hot Water Heater

Just like you would do when checking the anode rod, you’ll want to switch off your water heater and then open the pressure release valve before attempting to empty it completely.This will prevent you from being shocked or burned throughout the process, which are both things I do not advocate you experience.By opening the pressure release valve at the top of the tank, you can ensure that you are not firing high-pressure water at yourself when you remove the plug.Once the tank has been equalized, you may remove the plug.

The water will flow out, and it is also a good opportunity to clean out the tank during this process.As an alternative to utilizing the flushing wand suggested above, you can turn on the city water again for a few minutes and let the water to flow in and out of the tank.Once there is no more water leaking out of the tank, replace the plug and close the pressure release valve to stop the leak.In order to keep your RV stored, winterized, or sterilized, you may want to use a hose to spray any material that may have come out of the water heater off of the exterior of it before shutting the panel door; but, your water heater should be OK otherwise.A hot water tank drain is one of the numerous stages involved in preparing your RV for storage.

  • There are several more.
  • The remainder of the measures to guarantee that your RV is ready and problem-free in the spring may be found in our guide on winterizing an RV.

Basic Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Make sure to turn off the electricity to your hot water heater before beginning any maintenance work, and then empty out any hot water that has accumulated in the tank using the procedure indicated above to remove any remaining hot water from the tank.As a general rule, propane water heaters will require a bit more maintenance than electric water heaters.This is mostly due to the fact that you’ll want to wipe out the burner tube on a yearly basis to ensure that there isn’t any debris obstructing the flow of gas.

Checking The Anode

  • Every season, you should examine the quality of your anode rod in all of your tanks, but especially at the beginning and conclusion of the season. The anode is a metal rod that is intended to corrode instead of the inner walls of your tank’s interior. Prior to performing any maintenance on the tank, cut off the electricity to the tank and allow the water within to cool for an hour or two. Water heater anode rod made of magnesium for use in RV water heaters (Suburban & Morflo water heaters, for example). • LONG-LASTING QUALITY: Constructed of high-quality magnesium that is particularly designed to be used and collected for a long period of time
  • Prolong the life of your water heater by using this anode rod. PROTECT YOUR WATER HEATER FROM CORROSION: This RV and outdoor water heater anode rod functions as a strong filter for the water that is stored in your heater.

The first step is to release the pressure that has built up in your hot water storage tank.The pressure release valve on the outside of the water heater may be opened, or a hot water faucet in your RV can be opened with the pump switched off and the outer hose unplugged from the outside connection can be opened.To remove the anode rod, you’ll most likely need a 1-1/16-inch socket and a wrench; it’ll be placed towards the bottom of the tank and accessible through the vent door on the outside of your RV.As you loosen the rod bolt, water will begin to drain from the tank slowly until rushing out after the rod has been completely removed from the tank.

Prepare to get your hands a bit wet.If your rod is showing significant indications of rust, it’s preferable to replace it with a new one instead.Once your water heater has been emptied, you can take advantage of this excellent chance to clean and flush out any sediment and debris that has accumulated in the tank by using a cleaning wand to flush out the tank.

Replacing The Heating Element

It’s probable that the heating element in your electric water tank will need to be changed at some time during your RVing experience.This procedure is analogous to that of changing the anode.After removing the electricity from the appliance, relieve the pressure in the tank and drain the tank following the procedure outlined above.Once the water has been drained from the element, unscrew the terminal screws and detach the wires from the element, making note of their locations.

Take out the old element and replace it with a new one by using a wrench.Before adding electricity and turning it on, reconnect the wires and fill the tank with fresh fuel.

Replacing The Electrode

The electrode, often known as the igniter, is responsible for producing the spark that ignites the propane.If your water heater makes use of a two-prong electrode, it may only require a thorough cleaning.In order for the spark to leap between prongs and ignite the fuel, the electrode must be free of dirt.When using a single prong electrode, the same thing might happen, however the spark leaps to a neighboring metal surface rather than to a second prong.

To remove the electrode, unhook the wiring from the device and unscrew the screw that holds it in place on the device.Check to check if the tip is discolored or filthy by inspecting it.It is possible to clean the electrode tip with steel wool or fine grit sandpaper and then reinstall it to test whether it still performs properly.If this is the case, replace the electrode with a new one by removing it in the reverse order that you removed the previous one from the circuit.

Closing Thoughts 

After all, you purchased your RV in order to bring some of the comforts of home with you on the road, and learning how to properly fill and drain your water heater as well as how to operate and maintain your water heater can help to make that experience even more enjoyable.

How does a hot water heater work in a camper?

Asked in the following category: General The most recent update was made on April 27th, 2020.Compared to a typical house or apartment water heater, the RV water heater will be smaller, but it will operate in essentially the same way.You can use hot water for anything from showering and washing your hands to cleaning the dishes since it warms water as it is used.Your recreational vehicle’s water heater is essentially a scaled-down version of a regular domestic water heater.

Leaving it on all the time is not harmful, however depending on your consumption, it may result in some tiny energy savings if you switch it off between sessions.In addition to the aforementioned, how does an RV propane hot water heater function?RV Water Heater with LP Gas Operation A flame is detected at the flame sensor, which is detected by the heater control circuit board.The gas mode thermostat then controls the flow of LP gas to the burner, where it is ignited by the pilot flame.Changing the pilot light every time extra hot water is required is no longer necessary.

  • Simply put, why isn’t my camper’s hot water heater functioning properly?
  • Examine the burner nozzle to check whether it has become blocked.
  • Spiders and other insects are attracted to the scent of propane, and if they manage to get into the gas supply tube, they will cause the burner to go out of commission completely.
  • Check to see that the exhaust region is free of obstructions as well.
  • If your RV has been in storage for an extended period of time, it may be necessary to bleed air from the system.
  • What is the best way to winterize my RV’s hot water heater?
  • Follow the instructions outlined below that are appropriate for your RV.
  1. If you have any inline water filters, make sure to remove them and bypass them before beginning.
  2. Drain and flush the fresh water holding tank
  3. drain and flush the gray and black holding tanks
  4. drain and flush the sewage holding tank.
  5. Water heater should be drained.
  6. Open all hot and cold faucets, including the toilet valve and the outside shower
  7. don’t forget to turn on the water heater.

How To Start Hot Water Heater in RV (Simple Guide)

Taken in moderation, cold showers may be considered healthy and cognitively stimulating, but they are the last thing you want to experience when traveling in an RV.For a deeper understanding of your RV’s water heater, as well as how to start it and troubleshoot it before you hit the road, continue reading this article or give Kirkland RV a call with any concerns about traveling with a recreational vehicle.

How to Start a Hot Water Heater in an RV

You must first find the hot water heater in your RV before proceeding with the rest of the process.In most cases, the hot water heater is hidden behind a panel on the outside of your RV.RV hot water heaters are available in three varieties: electric, propane, and combination.Electric heaters are the most common type.

If you have a copy of the hot water heater handbook for your RV, consult it before turning on the heater.Otherwise, simply follow these two simple procedures to get a standard RV hot water heater up and running:

  1. Check to see that you are not depleting the water in your hot water heater. Before turning on your RV’s hot water heater, be sure that there is enough water in the tank to run it. To replenish your hot water tank if it is empty, refer to the directions in your hot water heater’s handbook. To use your hot water tank when it is full, simply turn on your hot water heater and you’re done. You should be able to get hot water in around 20 minutes.

As a reminder, make sure that your RV’s hot water heater is turned off while it is not in use and parked somewhere. This will save you money by preventing your gasoline tank from becoming depleted too soon after filling it.

Troubleshooting an RV Hot Water Heater

When it comes to troubleshooting problems with your RV’s hot water heater, there are various things you may try.

  1. Take a look around and check if there is anything wrong with your hot water heater that can be seen with the naked eye. The likelihood that you will be able to remedy your RV’s water heater problem without calling a mechanic is high if the problem is identified early on (and you have prior expertise troubleshooting RV water heaters).
  2. Try flipping the reset valve (not every RV hot water heater has one, but if yours has, it may be able to address the problem)
  3. if you’re still not sure what the problem is, call a plumber.
  4. Consult with an experienced mechanic if you’re unsure what the problem is
  5. otherwise, call the police.

Electric RV Hot Water Heater vs. Propane RV Water Heater

  • When it comes to RV hot water heaters, what are the primary distinctions between the various models? Is it preferable to have an electric or a propane water heater for your RV? A brief explanation of each is provided to assist you in determining which kind of hot water heater will be the most suitable replacement for your RV. Water heaters that run on electricity. If you want to save money on gas, an electric water heater may be the best option for your RV water heater. However, if you intend on boondocking or camping outside of a campground, it’s important to remember that electric heaters will not operate unless they are connected to a power source.
  • Water heaters that run on propane. Propane water heaters are perhaps the most popular since they allow RVers to preserve power while also providing the option of off-site camping
  • combination water heaters are also popular. It is possible to use both propane and electricity with this sort of water heater, depending on which is more convenient for the RVer at the moment.

Give Us a Call!

Give Kirkland RV a call now to learn more about the vast selection of high-end recreational vehicles we have available for purchase. We provide reasonably priced, high-quality used RVs from some of the most well-known firms in the recreational vehicle industry. We encourage you to contact us right away if you are seeking for the ideal RV for your forthcoming trip.

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