Sometimes the difference between a good day and a bad day is as simple as a hot shower. Living in tiny spaces has traditionally made this luxury a challenge, but tankless hot water heaters are changing the game.
After more than 40 hours of research, here are our top choices for the best tankless water heater for tiny house and RVs. Read on for details on each, our methodology, and more.
Our Six Finalists: The Best Tankless Water Heaters for Tiny Houses and RVs
|Tengchang L10 Tankless Water Heater
|EZ 101 Propane LPG Tankless Water Heater
|Camplux 10L 2.64GPM Tankless Water Heater
|Girard 2GWHAM Tankless Water Heater
|RecPro RV RP-1057 Tankless Water Heater
|EcoSmart ECO 11 240V Electric Tankless Water
Tankless, or ‘on-demand’ water heaters have been around for a while now, yet many people are still unfamiliar with them. Recent improvements have made them better than ever and more affordable. Tankless hot water is one of the best improvements to the simplicity of living tiny.
The Best Tankless Hot Water Heaters for Tiny House and RVs
Conventional vs. Tankless: What’s the Difference?
Conventional water heaters employ the use of a large tank to store a high volume of heated water. This has a few downsides for those living in a tiny house or RV. Conventional water heaters take up a lot of space, use copious amounts of energy, weigh a considerable amount, and run out of hot water if used at high volumes. None of this is ideal for the denizen of a Tiny House or RV.
Tankless hot water heaters, on the other hand, use an internal heating element strong enough to heat flowing water in order to supply hot water as it’s needed, for as long as it’s needed. The days of running out of hot water are over!
Here we’ve assembled a list of tankless hot water heaters to inspire your curiosity. Some are RV/Tiny House specific, and others are highly portable and easy to use anywhere. There are a wide range of models, at vastly differing price points, so everyone should be able to find one that’ll fit the bill.
RV-SPECIFIC TANKLESS WATER HEATERS
These water heaters are designed to be permanently installed, and vented, in RVs and Tiny Houses.
Average Retail: $540
Yet again, the Girard tankless heater tops our list for “most practical.” Not only is the Girard easy to install, it is easy to maintain. At 42K BTU’s, you’ll have plenty of heat, with the tradeoff of a slightly lower flow rate. All of this balance leaves the price point solidly in the realm of good value. With a few small tradeoffs you can save hundreds of dollars with this system and have great hot water.
- Inlet Water Flow
- Inlet & Outlet Water Temperature
- Regulates the burner to maintain the set HOT Water Temperature
- All the HOT Water you want when you want it!
- 42,000 BTUs
- No special LP gas lines or special plumbing required
- Provides the optimum performance for an RV’s plumbing
- 12V power that operates at less than 3 AMPs
- Freeze Protection – Designed for Winter Use
- Designed Specifically for Recreational Vehicles
- Compact Design – Fits in any tank water heater cut-out opening
Average Retail: $549
The RecPro RV RP-1057 is one of the best tankless systems out there for RVs, Trailers, Tiny Houses, Cabins, and more. Its forced exhaust, low water pressure startup, and flame-out protection ensure a steady stream of hot water. It’s heated with propane and controlled by a microcomputer to maintain an exact temperature range of 95°F – 123°F. The 12V DC system runs on 20 Watts with approximately 1.6A and provides 42000 BTUs.
- Forced Exhaust
- Heated with propane
- Low water pressure startup
- Flame-out protection
- Steady stream of water
- Wind resistance
- Frost protection
- Controlled by a microcomputer
Average Retail: $250
The EcoSmart ECO 11 is a great value, but can often use a lot of water to get hot if it is installed from the usage point, or on a very high-pressure system. While the manufacturer touts 2.6 gallons per minute, for example, if using at that rate you will find 11KW (even at 240 volts) struggles to give you a scalding shower. But, having lived in a full-sized house with one of these for several years, if you’re okay with “warm” showers, this is a great buy and very easy to install and maintain. (It’s worth mentioning we lived in the Caribbean, where incoming water temp is warm, and hot showers simply aren’t that refreshing 😉 )
- 2.8 GPM flow rate
- Specifically engineered for incoming water temperatures above 68 degrees
- 11 Kilowatts of heating power on 240 volts
- 2 heating elements
- 2 60amp poles for connection
- Easy installation
OUTDOOR-ONLY TANKLESS WATER HEATERS
These water heaters are highly portable, and meant to be used outdoors only. These tend to be less practical for long-term RV living and Tiny House life, but great for shorter trips.
Average retail: $129
The Tengchang L10 is a great tankless heater for your RV, tiny house, or family camping trip. It’s worth mentioning this system is also great for washing an RV or tiny house or anything with hot water outdoors.
- Compact & easy to store
- Great for camping & family outings
- Outdoor use only
- Ignition System – Automatic
- 20 Minute automatic safety shutoff timer
- Advanced energy-saving
- 3.0 gallons per minute (GPM) flow capacity
- Water Pressure: 0.025MPa
- Rated heat input: 20kw
- Rated gas pressure: 2800Pa
- Gas type: Liquid propane
We like this one for how easy it is to set up, and the included shower head makes it an incredibly economical solution for the occasional camper. With a decent flow rate and low price, many people prefer this model for traveling outdoors. At $180, this is the most economical model in our Top 6 list.
- 42,000 BTU’s
- 2 GPM
- easy to use dials
- ½ inch. water and gas connection
- Electronic Ignition
- Gas type: Liquid propane
The Camplux 10-liter is suitable for both campsites and cabins, because it can actually be mounted indoors with proper ventilation. With D-cell battery ignition be sure to pack a few extras (don’t get left out in the cold water), but don’t worry about hot water with low incoming pressure, since this heater is designed for some of the lowest incoming pressures out there. At 68,000 BTU/hr this portable model competes with some of the best permanent models.
- Lowest water pressure start up on the market! Just need 2.5 PSI of water pressure. Works great with Camplux 12V water pump.
- The maximum temperature raise is 114.8℉(46℃) and the minimum temperature raise is 46.4℉（8℃）for 1.32GPM.
- It’s compact size with portable handle allowing for a convenient set-up outdoors.
- Over heat protection,flame failure device, anti-freezing protection and oxygen depletion safety shut off protection.
- 32 gallons per minute of hot water output.
Things to Consider When Choosing Tankless Water Heater
It is not hard to choose the best RV tankless water heater as long as you know what matters.
Size matters– This is important because of where you’ll install the heater in your RV or Tiny House.
Maintenance – Remember, many small tankless models are designed to be installed at each faucet or shower. Choosing an economically priced model can increase your maintenance costs quickly: 3 models will need 3x the maintenance. This gets even more complicated if you are mixing and matching models across different faucets.
Energy – Aside from the obvious cost savings, remember that higher energy use can increase your safety risk–whether it’s more gas or more electricity, the result is more heat. Making sure your system is in proper working order is critical.
Weight – With installation models, can your wall hold it, and does it affect your mileage if you’re towing? With the portable models for camping or traveling, can you conveniently carry it?
Electric or Propane – Fuel type is essential. Are you living with electrical hookups or do you tend to prefer more self-contained living usually with propane as a primary fuel. Be sure to get a model that aligns with your current set up and stile. Also remember installation is very different for each (and propane tends to be cheaper).
Price & Warranty – Price isn’t everything, but it matters! it’s also important to decide whether a warranty matters. Similar to the fifth wheel hitch, many tankless hot water heaters for RV’s have a lifetime warranty.
Final Tips for Using a Tankless Water Heater
Despite warranties and simple use, tankless heaters can break. This makes maintenance and proper use important for long-lasting reliable hot water. A few tips:
- ALWAYS disconnect your unit from power if you are working on it. High voltages required for heating water can be very dangerous.
- Don’t forget to shut off the water valves that are attached to your heater when repairing. You’ll discover why if you make this mistake!
- When removing valve caps, remove them slowly and away from the ports.
- Never use the chemicals to clean your tankless water heater– they can damage your machine and taint your water for a very long time.
- Flush and drain, and always follow the manufacturers recommendations for timing and process
- Read the manual. Tankless hot water heaters are all different, and they are well-engineered. Paying attention to the specifics will go a long way.
- When turning on the hot water tap, remember to turn it on slowly so that the air can pass easily.
Tiny houses and RVs are becoming increasingly popular, requiring the need for high-quality tankless water heaters that can fit in small spaces. Here we have presented 6 models of the best tankless water heater for tiny house and RVs that are available in the market. Depending on your requirements, you can choose the one that best meets your needs.
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