A tankless water heater is a heated water solution used in a variety of outdoor settings. These types of heaters get fitted outside a motorhome (like an RV), at a campsite, a cooking area, a bathroom area, and many other places.

Each water heater can use an attached propane fuel source (purchased separately) to help heat the water, delivered through the attachment of a water hose. Controls on the heater will let the user adjust the temperature of the water delivered once heated sufficiently.

Tankless water heaters often use a battery ignition system, which allows the unit to go off-grid, once the owner has purchased the water heater, some propane, a battery pack, and has access to a fresh water supply.

What’s Included With The Best Tankless Water Heaters

A tankless water heater will come with the main body, a gas regulator to control the amount of propane used, typically a vent shield will also be included, and various adapters. The adapters should include one to fit a garden hose that will supply the water source.

Depending on the make and model of tankless heater, a shower nozzle and hose may come with the water heater or it is possible to purchase a shower pack separately.

A temperature controller will be either a dial to adjust the temperature or a digital controller with a digital readout that is easy to view from a distance. Temperature settings for the digital controller are often adjustable in single degree increments.

What To Know Before Making a Purchase

Each water heater will have a different number of gallons of water it can heat per minute. For regular users and buyers who believe the water heater will be used by several people one after the other, then a larger capacity unit might be a better choice. Each manufacturer provides information regarding how many gallons of water it can heat per minute. The flow rate often is stated in gallons per minute (GPM) within a range of half a gallon to 7 GPM.

One or two batteries may be required to be used to power the ignition. With these types of models, a tankless water heater can make the owner self-sufficient once they have a water supply, a set of batteries, and a propane tank available.

Water heaters require a certain PSI (pressure per square inch) to enable the water to flow properly, shown in a minimum and maximum PSI range.

Some heaters use self-modulating technologies to reduce the amount of propane used to heat the water. Less propane consumed reduces operating costs of a regularly used tankless water heater.

In many cases, the one-year warranty offered with a tankless water heater will only cover the unit in its original fitted position. Therefore, moving the unit to a different location, placing it on the outside of an RV, or adding it to a temporary campsite, will invalidate the cover on the product. Check the warranty carefully.

An automatic shut-off after a set amount of time – usually 15 to 20 minutes – saves energy and water when a unit is left on by mistake. The better heaters have this feature, so look out for this.

Check what amps are needed to power the water heater. Each model is different in this regard.

Verify whether it will be necessary to book an appointment with a professional fitter to install the tankless water heater.

Other Considerations

Some models have two shower hose connection points to be able to run two showers simultaneously. For people who travel with a family or a bunch of friends, this could be a useful addition. The shower heads can be set far enough apart, with a temporary shower curtain separator, to provide sufficient privacy for each person taking a shower.

Best Brands

Eccotemp began life in 2004 with a keen focus on reducing energy consumption costs. Tankless water heaters were the first product that the company released in the US and Canadian markets to address a gap in the market at the time.

Ecosmart is a global brand marketing tankless water heaters using their patented technologies that aim to reduce total water usage for homeowners.

Takagi is a Japanese brand with seven decades of experience. It serves the US and Australian markets with its range of propane-based, tankless water heaters.

Rheem, founded in 1925, has a rich history in manufacturing. It has produced everything from metal shipping containers to its innovative water heating solutions in the modern era.

Stiebel Eltron is a family-owned business with over 90 years’ of experience with hot water heaters. Their products are now available in the USA, the UK, Australia, South Africa, Germany, and Asia.

What Consumers Say

Taking a look at consumers’ reviews, these are a few of the opinions most often voiced by buyers:

Venting: Because of the propane used and the need to vent the fumes, most tankless water heaters are not appropriate for use indoors.

Plastic shower hose: Water heaters that come with plastic shower heads and shower hoses are relatively basic in quality. Likely, they’ll need to be replaced at some point.

Dogs: An external water heater can be a good way to give the house pet a good wash to disinfect his or her fur.

Dual showers: Units that can power two shower heads may do so when both the water pressure is strong, and the water source isn’t too cold.

Heat: A few tankless water heater models deliver water that is too hot. Adjusting the temperature setting reduces costs for the propane. A lower adjustment is also useful during the summer months, where even the cold water source is already lukewarm and needs less heating up.

Jacuzzi: Larger water units are capable of filling up a jacuzzi or Roman bath successfully multiple times.

Professional Installation: Many of the tankless water heaters require professional installation to complete the setup. Typically, larger units that run using 40 Amp double poles and high amps electrical supplies are the ones that require a professional installation.