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Old 11-15-2020, 07:10 PM   #1
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Name: Roger
Trailer: 1986 Bigfoot B17 dlx
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Tankless water heater

1986 17ft BF My water heater is finnished, considering a Camplux tankless, it should fit nicely to right of sink above the fridge, It will have to be vented,
Any comments or advice appreciated
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Old 11-16-2020, 12:15 AM   #2
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What is your goal, and what do you think the advantages are of a tankless water heater?

If you have shore tie water and are living aboard, they can be good. But for boondocking, not so much. They cause the use of more water, are more expensive and require more maintenance.
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Old 11-16-2020, 11:01 AM   #3
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The quality of the tankless water heater is a BIG DEAL in residential units. Lot's of cheap low price leaders available.

Can't believe it is any different in a lightweight RV model. Don't let price be a determining factor when making your purchase decision.

Typically ou will use a LOT MO WATER with a tankless unit. Just the nature of the beast.
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Old 11-16-2020, 11:48 AM   #4
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They require a lot of gas in a short time, larger gas lines, and big exhaust vent.
Go with the standard tank style heater.
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Old 11-16-2020, 12:02 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by rogerfb View Post
1986 17ft BF My water heater is finnished, considering a Camplux tankless, it should fit nicely to right of sink above the fridge, It will have to be vented,
Any comments or advice appreciated
We have a tankless in our house but would not do it in our RV. I think there are to many alterations on propane, venting, etc to make it worthwhile.
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Old 11-16-2020, 12:05 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by vintageracer View Post
The quality of the tankless water heater is a BIG DEAL in residential units. Lot's of cheap low price leaders available.

Can't believe it is any different in a lightweight RV model. Don't let price be a determining factor when making your purchase decision.

Typically ou will use a LOT MO WATER with a tankless unit. Just the nature of the beast.
Why would a tankless unit make you use more water? We have one in our house and we don't seem to use more. Price can very a lot but then so does the quality. But in an RV I'd stick with a regular tank just so you can control how often the burner comes on. Once hot we shut our tank off and don't turn it on again until we need a lot of hot water. It stays hot all day pretty much.
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Old 11-16-2020, 02:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jann Todd View Post
Why would a tankless unit make you use more water? We have one in our house and we don't seem to use more. Price can very a lot but then so does the quality. But in an RV I'd stick with a regular tank just so you can control how often the burner comes on. Once hot we shut our tank off and don't turn it on again until we need a lot of hot water. It stays hot all day pretty much.
The answers to why a tankless causes more water use are simple, and could go unnoticed in a house.

First, when you turn on the hot faucet, you have to turn it all the way on to reliably make the tankless heater sense water flow, and startup.

Second, it has to go through a start up procedure and begin to heat cold water. This takes a bit of time, while the water is running at full force, down the drain. The conventional tank type water heater is already hot, and you can set the faucet at a trickle if you want.

Third, there is no limit on the length of your shower with a tankless, as long as you can feed it water and gas. You could stand in there for hours if hooked up to shore water, have a sewer connection and have a full propane tank. While boondocking, this will run you out of water in one shower. The conventional water heater is only 6 gallons. A shower will not last for more than about 5 gallons of hot water use.

And finally, you cannot use the lowest of low flow shower heads, because the flow is too low for the heater to recognize, and it shuts off. A blasting, engulfing shower is nice in a house, but extremely wasteful of water in a trailer.

Aside from the higher water use, the reliability is questionable. And the restrictive nature of the design means it needs maintenance to continue to work. They are also much more susceptible to freezing, so some have a system to periodically start up to prevent that. That means they can self destruct easier and that they will use gas and battery power to save themselves.

The only advantage is longer showers, and that advantage is only when hooked up to to shore connections. You cannot accurately compare tankless water use in a house with the use in a trailer while boondocking. Not nearly the same thing.
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Old 11-16-2020, 04:59 PM   #8
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I have a Camplux 1.86 GPM water heater. We only use it for taking showers and I keep it stored in a cubby. I hang it on the back of the trailer and hook up the water inlet and outlet to my outside shower hose bibs, and connect the gas, when we need it. My flexible propane line is about 20 feet long and provides plenty of gas. It is a short distance from the heater to the shower. I have it set to the nearly lowest settings and it provides plenty of hot water (I marked the positions with a marker). I have it set so we use only the hot water faucet which makes it easy to set up, no fussing with the hot and cold settings. Contrary to Raspy's posts, which seems to be directed at house water heaters, it does not use an excessive amount of water or gas. We wet down turn off the water wash then rinse. It takes 3-4 gallons. I can also take a shower outside if desired. The heater works down to about 3-5 psi and low flow (The unit I have installed at my camp is gravity fed). If I were to do it again I would have purchased the 1.32 GPM model. I also fabricated a little roof from some flashing so we can use it in the rain. One thing you have to be aware of is to make sure it is drained of all water so it will not freeze. There is a plug you need to remove to drain one of the sensors. I have had it for 3 years now and really like it. To drain I disconnect the lines, remove the plug, shake the unit in all different directions then install the plug. The way I use the heater may sound like a PITA, but we don't take showers every day and it is one of my outside shores that takes less than 5 minutes to set up.
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Old 11-16-2020, 06:03 PM   #9
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Florida
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I have never had any water heater but a tankless in my Scamp and I find that it is really no different than the tank heaters I have had in other campers.
The tankless I have turns on with low flow and gives almost instant hot water. The length of the line is the determining factor, be it a tankless or a tank heater.
The main drawback of the cheap small heaters in my opinion is that they are well cheap. The biggest problem I have experienced is that the D cell bottom contacts get corroded with being out in the weather and road spray and occasionally have to be cleaned.
Can ypu use more water? well if you use more water because you can, I guess so, but that is a problem made by the user and not the heater.
I use a regular LP tank regulator of the same size as any other.
The LP last a very lone time. I might refill every couple of years,
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Old 11-16-2020, 06:29 PM   #10
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The main reason tankless water heaters use more water is that a person can stay in the shower much longer than with a 6 gallon water heater. A big reason people like them is so that they can do just that. Which makes them unsuitable for boondocking, unless one is disciplined and takes a navy shower, as Carl described. Not everyone is willing to be that careful. And most tankless water heaters are installed in a conventional fashion, in place of a tank style heater. This leads to the potential freeze problems, and running water down the drain waiting, that I've mentioned.

As seems to always be the case, there are exceptions to every rule. But, I don't see the advantage of having to go through all the setup and teardown that Carl does, just to shower. And to only being able to shower outside. It may be that in the Snoozy, there is no good way to have an installed water heater and shower. My favorite way to shower outside is with a solar shower that simply is a gravity system and solar heated bag with a cute little sprayer on a hose. They are very cheap, use minimal water, get plenty hot enough, use no gas at all, have no freeze problem, and they roll up into a very small piece that can be stowed anywhere. I'm not that much of a purist these days and prefer a more conventional indoor shower that can be used wherever we happen to be, and at any time. We almost never have hookups. I'm cautious with water use, and prefer to keep things simple and convenient.
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Old 11-16-2020, 06:36 PM   #11
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JD, The fact that you "might" refill your LP tank "every couple of years" is amazing. Making hot water and cooking, and maybe running a heater occasionally, and maybe running a fridge occasionally, for at least two years on a tank, demonstrates absolute minimal usage. Unless you only go camping once a year.
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Old 11-16-2020, 06:49 PM   #12
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The only LP consumer I have is the water heater so there is that. At one time when I was doing everything to reduce the tongue weight I used 1 lb. bottles with no tank at all.
My water heater is mounted on the tongue next to the heat pump and the hot water line is maybe three feet to the shower and 6 ft to the sink.
The lines are small and if I had it to do over I would make them smaller to have less volume and even quicker heating.

What you do when you set up is open the LP valve and flip the on switch.
If there is a drawback it is that you can get hotter water than you might want and you have to add some cold. A lot like any water heater.
You can't blame the water for lack of discipline in using hot water just becuse you have it.
I have a valve to drain the heater in freezing weather right at the bottom of the heater and if you open it you have hot water in less than a second.
Click click click whoosh, hot water.

By the way we have spent 4 months at a time in the camper. Yellowstone, etc up north and 3 months traveling through the Southwest last year.
We almost always take Navy showers even when hooked up, mostly because it works well and the limited gray tank storage.
Also these are much quieter than the tank type and we hear those close by roaring from time to time.
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Old 11-16-2020, 06:57 PM   #13
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We have one of the small tank-less water heaters installed in the bath house down at our “camp”. As several ‘transient’ people use it I have it fed out of a 5 gallon bucket. They can use all the water they wish as long as they want to keep bringing it in from the 225 gallon tank outside and dumping it in the bucket. Some few have found they need more than the five gallons to take a shower. I know because they complained a little bit to me about the accommodations. Of course it was the same folks that originally praised me for building the bath house in the first place.
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Old 11-16-2020, 06:58 PM   #14
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JD,
I forgot you had that unique setup on your trailer. I'm more curious about the heat pump, than the water heater, in case you'd like to expand on how that has worked out.
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Old 11-16-2020, 07:17 PM   #15
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JD,
I forgot you had that unique setup on your trailer. I'm more curious about the heat pump, than the water heater, in case you'd like to expand on how that has worked out.
The heat pump has worked quite well and is quiet and uses little power.
The overall weight is about the same as a roof top unit, but of course lower to the ground for better handling.
I planned on installing this unit as I extended the frame during my rebuild / repair of the front of the frame.
The way this is done I did not have to worry about the strength of the roof in the old Scamp.
The unit is an inverter compressor and air handler so there is no starting surge and my small inverter generator runs it easily. By the way I added a second LP tank for the heater and for the dual fuel generator since I dod not want to be carrying gasoline for it.
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Old 11-16-2020, 08:09 PM   #16
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Raspy, just to clarify, I do have an wet bath in the trailer, which is where we typically shower. Outside showering is an option. I have considered mounting the water heater inside, on the wall of the shower. If I did that I wouldn't even vent it because it would be next to the exhaust fan, which we run when we shower. I decided it is not worth taking up the space for occasional use.
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Old 11-17-2020, 08:54 AM   #17
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I considered mounting the water heater inside and that is the reason I bought the Fastar as it had a flue on the top.
I just could not work out a good mounting location for it and my bride of 40+ years did not want LP gas or lines anywhere inside the trailer indicating an outside mounting anyway.
This is the main reason that there is no stove or LP heater in or on the trailer.
We do sometimes carry the dual fuel generator and the extra LP tank on the tongue, but rarely use it as we typically stay in RV parks while traveling.
We have stayed in State Parks etc where we have " boondocked" briefly with the 300 watts of solar on the roof.
Our camper is a travel trailer and a hurricane escape pod as well. Dual duty seems to be a smart idea these days with the hurricane seasons getting busier and stronger. Luckily the global warming is a myth and has nothing to do with the worsening hurricane seasons.
All of the Hot Air must be causing it this year.
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Old 11-17-2020, 11:11 AM   #18
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The answers to why a tankless causes more water use are simple, and could go unnoticed in a house.

First, when you turn on the hot faucet, you have to turn it all the way on to reliably make the tankless heater sense water flow, and startup.

Second, it has to go through a start up procedure and begin to heat cold water. This takes a bit of time, while the water is running at full force, down the drain. The conventional tank type water heater is already hot, and you can set the faucet at a trickle if you want.

Third, there is no limit on the length of your shower with a tankless, as long as you can feed it water and gas. You could stand in there for hours if hooked up to shore water, have a sewer connection and have a full propane tank. While boondocking, this will run you out of water in one shower. The conventional water heater is only 6 gallons. A shower will not last for more than about 5 gallons of hot water use.

And finally, you cannot use the lowest of low flow shower heads, because the flow is too low for the heater to recognize, and it shuts off. A blasting, engulfing shower is nice in a house, but extremely wasteful of water in a trailer.

Aside from the higher water use, the reliability is questionable. And the restrictive nature of the design means it needs maintenance to continue to work. They are also much more susceptible to freezing, so some have a system to periodically start up to prevent that. That means they can self destruct easier and that they will use gas and battery power to save themselves.

The only advantage is longer showers, and that advantage is only when hooked up to to shore connections. You cannot accurately compare tankless water use in a house with the use in a trailer while boondocking. Not nearly the same thing.
I agree with the use of one in an RV but in our house we just catch the water in a bucket if we want to and use it in a toilet or on a plant. We have a very nice and high quality tankless in our house. It heats up and doesn't take any more water to get hot water than the tank did. As soon as we turn on the hot water faucet we can hear the burner kick on. But it still takes almost 2 gallons of water to get to the bathrooms or kitchen because of the distance from the heater. We would not have one in an RV for the reasons you stated.
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Old 11-17-2020, 03:20 PM   #19
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I have experience with the small tankless heater in my Scamp and and my experience does not match your opinions on the tankless in an RV at least in my setup.
The point where the flow turns on the heater is adjustable as is the total flow rate and the temperature setpoint of the water.
The biggest problem or negative is when you turn off the water for a Navy shower the water in the heating radiator gets warmer that you might want very briefly.
If you really wanted to save water you would run some hot water into a pot and use that to sponge off with.
Also you have 6 gallons that you can't get out of the tank type water heater. so you have the water, but it is inaccessible unless you open the drain plug.
6 gallons of water is about 48 lbs. plus the weight of the heater. The tankless weighs less than the tank style water heater even when "full" of water.
Also for the cheaper of us the tankless is less than $100.00. and starts automatically.
If you don't like the tankless then the answer, of course, is don't get one, but they have their place.
Using more hot water because you have it is not a reason to not consider one.
Water limited boondocking means that you have to conserve water no matter the water heater.
That pot full of hot water might be the best idea instead of a shower.
My wife and I can go about two days on our 10 gallons of water with navy showers and washing dishes. We carry another 5 gallons in a jug to add to the tank and always drink bottled water while traveling.
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Old 11-17-2020, 09:24 PM   #20
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JD, The fact that you "might" refill your LP tank "every couple of years" is amazing. Making hot water and cooking, and maybe running a heater occasionally, and maybe running a fridge occasionally, for at least two years on a tank, demonstrates absolute minimal usage. Unless you only go camping once a year.
Whether it was our Scamp , Casita or Escape we have never gone through even 1- 20 lb tank of propane in a camping season ( Exception ; when we use the trailer for hunting in late November )
We are not conservative with propane , we are just not wasteful!
IE ; You don’t need hot water 24/7 — You don’t need to run the furnace and maintain 60 deg F in the trailer and you don’t need to go in the refrigerator every 5 minutes.

PS ; Tankless water heaters have their place , camping without hook ups is not one of them !!
Noisy & wasteful !!
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