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5 Minute Guide to RV Water Heaters

5 Minute Guide To RV Water Heaters

Without a doubt, one of the huge advantages of RV life is the ability to take the modern comforts of your home onto the road with you.

Well-equipped RVs provides you with that “home away from home” feeling.

One of those modern comforts is some hot water; after all, what is more relaxing than a nice steamy shower?

Your RV’s water heater is the key to providing this modern amenity, and it’s useful to have some understanding of how yours works before heading out on the open road.

Heat Sources

RV water heaters use three main sources for heat. Some are propane-based. For those water heaters, the more propane used, the hotter the water. The propane for these water heaters can become expensive, especially if you’re a heavy hot water user.

Other RV water heaters are electric. Simply turn the hot water heater on, wait for it to heat your tank up, and then enjoy hot water. The downside to these types of heaters is the time you need to wait for the water to warm up.

The third type of RV water heater uses heat from your engine to warm the tank. This is an incredibly efficient source of energy if you’re going to be running your engine a lot.

Otherwise, your water will only stay warm for so long.

Types Of Water Heaters

The traditional RV water heater is a six to ten gallon tank. The tank sits either in the sidewall of your RV or near the engine compartment if it’s heated by the engine.

These types of water heaters tend to be fairly economical. The biggest drawback is their size. These water heaters are quite small, so there is a limited supply of hot water available.

This can make showers a challenge unless you’ve mastered the art of the quick lather and rinse.

Another type of RV water heater is a tankless, on-demand system. These are also located in the RV sidewall and are usually powered by electricity.

Tankless water heaters are a great option if you have heavy hot water needs because you will never run out. The tank simply keeps generating as much hot water as you use.

The only disadvantage of using a tankless heater is its price, as these tend to be much more expensive than their traditional counterparts.

Purchasing Tips

If you are debating on purchasing a new water heater for your RV, there are a couple of questions you should consider to help you decide.

First, what are your hot water needs?

Do you find yourself running out of hot water frequently with your current set up?

If so, you may want to think about going tankless. If not, simply upgrading to a more efficient traditional model may be your best bet.

Maintenance Tips

Your RV’s water heater needs regular maintenance, just like your water heater at home. It should be cleaned once a year, at a minimum.

Be certain to follow the schedule suggested by the manufacturer in order to help prolong the life of the unit.

Your water heater should be examined by a professional at least once a year, as well.

Storage Tips

Drain your RV’s hot water tank prior to storing it for the winter. If your tank comes with a bypass valve, this should be used during winter storage.

Keeping water in the tank could lead to extra corrosion and rust. Prior to heading out for the season, be sure to fill the water tank and turn off the bypass valve.

Odds are, you enjoy having hot water when on an RV trip. Keeping your RV’s water heater in good working condition will help make your next adventure full of modern comforts.

Finding high quality RV water heaters can sometimes be difficult. Fortunately, I’ve done some research for you and combed through the internet to find a few solid options.

Girard 2GWHAM On-Demand Tankless RV Water Heater

>> Check price on Amazon

Girard 2GWHAM On-Demand Tankless Water Heater


  • Regulates the burner to maintain the set hot water temperature
  • 42,000 BTUs which provides the optimum performance for an RV’s plumbing
  • No special LP gas lines or special plumbing required
  • Quiet brush-less motor
  • 12 V power that operates at less than 3 A; Freeze protection – designed for winter use

Item Weight: 21.2 pounds

Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 17.8 x 14.6 inches

Customer Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars


SUBURBAN MFG 5243ASW10DE 10-G RV Water Heater

>> Check price on Amazon

SUBURBAN MFG 5243ASW10DE 10-G Direct Spark


  • 10 gallon water tank
  • 12,000 btu rating
  • Ignition Type – Direct Spark Ignition
  • Porcelain-lined
  • 12,000 BTUH input and a recovery rate of 10.2 gallons per hour

Item Weight: 46

Product Dimensions: 9.99 x 9.99 x 9.99 inches

Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars


Atwood Mobile 96121 Electronic RV Water Heater

>> Check price on Amazon

Atwood Mobile Products 96121 Electronic Direct Spark Ignition Water Heater


  • Capacity is 6 gallon liquid propane gas
  • Input is 8,800 British thermal units
  • Recovery rate is 7.4 gallons per hour
  • Shipping Weight is 25 pound mass

Item Weight: 20 pounds

Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 17 x 14.6 inches

Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars


Atwood G6A-8E RV Water Heater

>> Check price on Amazon

Atwood G6A-8E RV Water Heater


  • 6 Gallon Capacity
  • Direct Spark Ignition
  • Input 8,800 BTU
  • aluminum clad tank
  • 95% of the parts can be replaced or serviced through the outside door

Item Weight: 21 pounds

Product Dimensions: 25 x 23.25 x 21.25 inches

Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars


Atwood Mobile 96110 Pilot Ignition RV Water Heater

>> Check price on Amazon

Atwood Mobile Products 96110 Pilot Ignition Water Heater


  • Capacity is 6 gallon liquid propane gas
  • Input is 8,800 British thermal units
  • Recovery rate is 7.4 gallons per hour

Item Weight: 14.3 pounds

Product Dimensions: 20 x 17 x 14.3 inches

Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


You just received a five minute overview on RV Water Heaters, which are essential to providing that modern amenity of hot water while out on the open road during your adventures.

No matter which option you choose for your RV, be certain that you follow the maintenance guidelines to increase the life of the unit.

Have fun and be safe!

Barry Sizemore

RVing brings with it all the joys of travel, exploration and adventure. It's both exciting and educational to go from camping area to camping area while travelling the country in total comfort. I started this website to help others create great memories with their loved ones by RVing that will last a life time. I'm looking forward to sharing more information with you about RVing. Ecstasy is an overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement!

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