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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers

 > Hot Water Heater

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Las Vegas, NV

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Joined: 11/27/2005

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Posted: 12/30/12 08:47pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The time has come to replace our hot water heater. I saw that they are making a tank less hot water heater for RV’s now (See Link Below)

Girard offers this one:

Attwood offers this one:

I was wondering if anyone has purchased one yet or is using one. I would love to know the PROs & CONs before I bought one.
We are going to have to replace the entire unit since the holding tank ruptured.

The Girard tank less hot water heater is approximately about $770.00 without instillation
The Atwood sells on the camping world site for about $1,000 without instillation.

As always seeking the advice form you folks that have done this more than us.

Thank you for all you valuable guidance

M & C


California/Arizona/South Dakota

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Joined: 02/07/2008

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Posted: 12/30/12 09:02pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

They are only water heaters...since you can't heat HOT water...just sayin....[emoticon][emoticon]....Dennis

Sorry I can't help you.. in a stix n brix house the tankless heaters work pretty well but you have to adjust for a difference in how hot you want the water. Not sure how they would work in an RV...we have a AquaHot and are now very spoiled....Dennis

Dennis and Debi Ninth Year Full Timing
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Joined: 04/15/2001

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Posted: 12/30/12 09:28pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Girard tankless water heater posts


Fulltime, CA, USA

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Joined: 08/19/2003

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Posted: 12/30/12 10:32pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator


I have come to the conclusion that heating 70F water might work pretty well, but if you happen to be camping north of say I80, the ground water temperature will be around 50F or 42F near I90, and will only heat your shower water by about 40F. With incoming water at 65, it is acceptable to heat the water about 40F, but with 45F incoming water it is a bit chilly!

And if dry camping and running from the pump, and not enough water flow, then the tank will quickly overheat, scald, then turn off, giving a 60F shower for a few seconds until the overheat safety resets, and you are good to go for another few seconds, until it is scalding hot again.

Yes there is a tank in the tankless water heater, it only holds about 2 cups of water, and is more a heat exchanger, so yes they can freeze and burst a seam too. Some home models have a switch that will turn on the burner for a few seconds in sub freezing temps, and keep the heater compartment over 40F.

Personally I would stay away from a tankless water heater for the primary heat. I am going to order a new tank for my leaking Atwood 6 gallon heater. That said, I also just ordered a new Tankless water heater. Right now I have a condition that happens each winter, where the 6 gallon hot water tank only lasts about 5 minutes, a very short shower. By using the Ecoboost L5 tankless water heater to refill my fresh water tank, I can heat the fresh water tank to about 60F - 70F, and take a much more enjoyable and longer shower.

The L5 water heater is only $120 from Amazon.com It is designed to heat water for an outdoor shower, or such things like bathing a horse, or other warm water uses outside, it is not properly vented for indoor use. I will mount it on a fence near my RV, and run the fresh water to it, then a hose to the fresh water tank fill valve. Then I will control the flow into the fresh water tank to keep the output water between 80 and 90F. This should provide a 70 to 80F fresh water tank. So my showers should be long an warm for a change this winter.

Other thoughts was to have a hot water line to the fresh water tank, so my 6 gallon tank can warm the 100 gallon fresh water tank. However it would take well over 12 gallons of 120F water to warm the 60 or so gallons typically in the fresh water tank from 45F to 75F. So it would take 2 hours or so to warm up the fresh water tank. With this tankless water heater, heat input is 37,000 Btu's so it will heat 1 GPM at about 65 F increase. I should be able to get 1 to 1.5 GPM into the RV with a 85 - 90F water temp, and fill the fresh tank in about 30 minutes - give or take a few.

So my final word is many who installed a tankless gas water heater are not satisfied. Those with Aqua Hot, and a 65,000 Btu diesel fired burner that heats a tank of coolant, and in turn a copper water heat exchanger is heated to warm the domestic water are very happy with the ability to take a endless hot water shower. Yet the Aqua Hot is about 5 times larger than a typical Atwood propane water heater.

Even the smaller tankless water heaters are sized to fit into the standard cut out for a 10 gallon water heater tank location. So if you have space to upgrade to a 10 gallon tank, it will normally solve the lack of hot water problems, without upgrading to the tankless water heater.

My Atwood water heater is 6 gallons and about 8,800 Btu's gas input, or about 7,200 heat output. By installing a replacement with a factory installed 1,400 watt heating element, another 4700 Btu's can be added by the electric element, so heat recovery is much faster. Changing to a 10 gallon unit would increase the reserve of hot water as well as increase the gas flow to about 10,000 Btu's.



Butler, PA, USA

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Posted: 12/31/12 06:47am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If it’s a aluminum tank you could have it repaired…


Love my mass produced, entry level, built by Lazy American Workers, Hornet

69 Avion

Phoenix, Arizona

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Posted: 12/31/12 04:35pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My old 1969 Bowen water heater leaked, and I just replaced it with a 6 gallon Atwood with electronic ignition. I couldn't be happier. It fit right in and it works so much easier. I wasn't going to hassle with having to modify the RV for a different heater.

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