Tankless Hot Water Heater Help - Fiberglass RV

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Old 02-03-2015, 01:39 PM   #1
Rusty99's Avatar
Name: Russ
Trailer: 1972 & 1978 Bolers 13ft
Posts: 32
Tankless Hot Water Heater Help

Hi All,
I need some input and help with designing a Tankless hot water system for my 13ft Boler.

I would love to see some system designs and suggested brand names of what people have done. What works well, what doesn't.

At present my Boler doesn't have a Battery or Convertor but that will also be added along with the hot water heat. I'm not sure if the tankless water heater will run off propane or electric??

I'm sitting here flipping through an RV Part Catelogue getting more confused by the minute of where to start.


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Old 02-03-2015, 03:11 PM   #2
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Name: Jack L
Trailer: Bigfoot B-17 CB
Posts: 1,279
The water Is heated by propane and a unit like this would require a pressurized system so if you are not on an external "city" water system, you will need a 12 volt pump as well as a fresh and grey water tank.

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Old 02-03-2015, 03:14 PM   #3
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Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
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Except for a $600 unit, about the only "Legal" tankless water heater you can use is an electric one and those require 15-20 amps to run and, of course, you must be hooked up to power. All of the neat smaller units you see that work on Lp are not designed for using inside due to venting requirement's and, basically, could kill you. There were a few on the site that were talking about mounting one outside the trailer but I haven't seen any reports as of late.As an alternative there are some Camp style LP power shower kits, I have a Zodi and it works real well.

I have installed standard 4 gallon RV water heaters in three 13'ers with excellent results. Why not go with that?

On the electric side be sure to look at the Progressive Dynamics PD-4045 power chassis. It will give you everything you need for your AC, DC & Battery Charging needs.
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Old 02-03-2015, 03:23 PM   #4
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Name: Jack L
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I have used them on boats and they were mounted on an external bulkhead. If there is a reason one could not be mounted on the outside of the trailer on the rear, I would like to know what it is. I can't think of a reason myself. I have also seen them used on the inside of the boats cabin but this is not legal or safe.
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Old 02-03-2015, 04:36 PM   #5
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A couple of reasons might be:
It would have to be above the centerline and running an LP line and two waterlines could be difficult and/or exposed.

The exhaust heat could discolor or damage the existing gelcoat or paint finish

It is exposed to outside environmental conditions as well as prying hands

It's been said hereabouts that they waste a lot of water trying to control the water temp unless it can run continuously

There are better options that may not be available to boat peeps.

As I mentioned, I have installed std Suburban 4 gallon RV heaters in three 13'ers and it took care of everything including outside shower panels on all three and hot water at the sink. All just by turning a switch on in the morning, don't even have to go outside.
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Old 02-03-2015, 05:36 PM   #6
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Name: Ian
Trailer: 1974 Boler 1300 - 2014 Escape 19'
Posts: 1,358
The solution I use is an under sink instant hot water system, these only run on 110V (if I am boondocking I use a pot on the stove to heat water). The system works great but realize these are a zero pressure tank system, read the way I have plumbed mine in, the section is near the bottom of the page in plumbing
Proud Canadian Boler Custom Build

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Old 02-03-2015, 06:02 PM   #7
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Name: Jack L
Trailer: Bigfoot B-17 CB
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I have used the Paloma tankless heaters on boats with no problem with gelcoat discoloration, in fact I saw an installation inside the cabin, mounted on a bulkhead that was carpeted and the headliner, about 18 inches above the heater was also carpeted. I would not do this myself but the owner was very happy with the set up. Tankless heaters basically have a "set it and forget it' temp control. They are built to be out in the elements and the only thing you have to remember is to drain them in freezing weather. If you are looking for a shower, they only need a supply line and a line to the shower. No need for a mixing faucet or cold line to control temp. The hot water is almost instant and temp. is very consistant. My Bigfoot has a conventional propane heated tank system and that works well but the tankless is a viable optiom too. Tankless would be wonderful if all you wanted was hot water for showers.
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:50 PM   #8
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We've used an ecotemp L5 for years as an outside shower at our camping property. It takes literally a minute to set up, so no reason to worry about permanent mounts. It does require pressurized water to feed the water stream (garden hose, water hookup at campsite, etc.), but it runs on a D cell battery to fire the propane burner. It is NOT AN INDOOR water heater, as it cannot be vented. It is, however, an awesome addition to a group campsite, as an outdoor shower, with a constant stream of hot water.
It could easily be set up on a homemade outside pedastal to feed a shower inside a trailer, i think.
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:16 PM   #9
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NW Wisconsin
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Forgive me but I do not understand what is gained by using a tankless water heater .You can purchase a new Atwood 6 gallon electric/ propane DSI water heater for $ 400 The Atwood heater works well in millions of RV s. . There are places that small electric tankless water heaters work well such as at a small hand sink but they will only provide a very poor shower . The standby losses in a standard RV water heater are not large enough to be a real concern . To each their own but I still do not understand what we are trying to accomplish or is this discussion totally academic
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:40 PM   #10
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Name: Carol
Trailer: 22' Airstream Formerly 16' Scamp
British Columbia
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If you use the search function on this site - use the bottom Google box on the drop down menu you will find a number of threads on this topic with some folks having had real experience with a few different brands.

A popular small somewhat portable tankless system is the Camp Chef and it currently sells for only $188. I know a few people with Bolers who hang these on the front of their trailers when camping.

A more permanent mounted type is the Girard Tankless sells for $499.

Atwood makes a tankless hot water tank now as well - a bit pricy at $1000. As Steve points out at that that price you really have to question the reason for going tankless rather than with a standard Atwood RV water heater.
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:57 PM   #11
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You hit it on the head Steve, but this idea just keeps coming back. I think that the primary attractions are lower cost and less space needed for something (that won't work as hoped for anyway).

And yep, when I wake up in the morning I reach over and flip my LP water heater switch on and let it heat for one cycle. Then I turn it off until evening shower time. No heating water all day long for this scout.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:40 PM   #12
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Name: Ken
Trailer: Trillium
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Rusty, Also being here in Alberta I am going to pick up 'BaseCamp' unit at Cabelas for $400. Works on either electric or propane. It will work for me.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:58 PM   #13
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I have an EccoTemp Portable Tankless Water Heater at my fishing camp in Canada for showers. Works great for this. It should be mounted outside so you carbon monoxide does not kill you. Operates on propane and 2 D cell batteries and it does require a pressurized water source for the heater to fire up. We use a 12 RV water pump.
Camping World has the EccoTemp Portable Tankless Water Heater for around a $140. You may be able find it on the internet for less.
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Old 02-04-2015, 08:24 AM   #14
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Trailer: 2017 Escape 21
Oswego, NY
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Two things to consider with an instant hot water system. I've seen complaints about wasting water during the time it takes for the hot water to get to the faucet, and problems with the unit shutting off at low flow rates, i.e. it is difficult to "trickle" hot water. While these problems may not happen with all brands, it is something to consider, particularly if you do much dry camping.

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