RV Hot Water Heaters
Review, Buying Tips,
Troubleshooting and more
(updated 2017)

RV hot water heater review and how to choose the right type and model when traveling. Best models, top-selling brands, troubleshooting, maintenance and more. Check out what do the top manufacturers Atwood and Suburban have to offer for water heating.

A small device such as the water heater is one of the features that is must to have when RV-ing and camping. And the reason is simple; hot water for the quick shower and dishes is what gives you the comfort and convenience similar to what you have at home.

Popular RV hot water heaters that are often found in recreational vehicles are the ones that utilize propane gas (LP) and electric as the fuel source. With the most common sizes of 6 and 10 gallons, these small and compact heating units can be installed in almost any recreational vehicle and motor-home.

Best selling RV water heaters

Best models

When looking to buy an RV water heater, the best models are those that will meet all your needs, have a decent tank life, high performance and are reliable. You don't want to go outdoors, for camping in the mountains and discover that your unit is not working.


Atwood RV water heaterAtwood

Atwood RV water heater is one of the best models, that is mainly using propane gas or LP for heating. It can also operate from an electric source, off an electrical hook-up or generator, with the RV's engine-cooling system and combining two fuel sources. The main advantage is its tank constructed of a high strength aluminum core that eliminates the need for an anode rod and costs related to its maintenance.

Some RV water heaters are equipped with the pilot light, but modern ones come with the direct spark ignition (DSI), which is a more advanced model.


Suburban RV water heaterSuburban

Suburban RV water heaters, another popular brand in North America can be found in three types and sizes; from 4 to 16 gallons. All models are easy to install and can fit in almost any recreational vehicle. The main advantage of Suburban models is the use of a porcelain liner on the steel tank and the anode rod for corrosion protection. With the proper maintenance, the unit can last and operate for many years.


Eemax tankless water heater for RVEemax

Eemax RV water heaters from Eemax Inc. are on-demand electric tank-less appliances that are heating water on demand and provide it in endless supply, have a modern and compact design, are easy to install and troubleshoot making them ideal for RV and camping.

The best models have more BTUs, have higher recovery and delivery rate and produce more hot water.

Buying tips

Small and lightweight

RV water heaters are built small and lightweight that are mostly installed outside, below the floor or behind the baggage door, leaving you more indoor space for storage, yet still accessible to service when needed.


Size of the tank is very important, and selecting the right size (capacity) depends on the user demand for hot water. You can buy models with a capacity from 3 gallons up to 16 gallons, bigger capacity longer shower...


A few types of water heaters are available, and depending on the fuel type that is used, there are propane, electric, motor-aid or combination, also tankless and water storage tank type.

What is important to know if choosing the propane (LP) model is to go either with the pilot light (economy models), or direct spark ignition (DSI) found on more expensive models.

Electric models utilize electricity from the electrical grid system or generators and require about 12 amps to run.

RV hot water heaters are also designed to utilize waste heat from the engine cooling system, and these are known as the motor-aid type.

The combined fuel usage is especially beneficial as, for example, electricity can be used where applicable while saving propane for use when camping on sites without electricity. They have separate thermostats for the heating modes that are independent of each other. Most of the models have thermostats that are designed to heat water up to 140 F.


Moreover, if the poor weather and driving through the rough terrain away from civilization concerns you, don't worry, RV hot water heaters, such as Atwood are protected against voltage spikes and shorts in the electrical system and feature protection for electronic ignition caused by excessive heat conditions.

Note: If you are not using RV during the winter time, try to protect the heating/plumbing system, by either draining the system or adding the antifreeze. You should be careful there, remove the anode rod first as it might get affected by the corrosive action.


RV hot water heater and its components like the reset button, limit switch, drain plug, anode rod, pilot lights, and ignition system are very accessible and hidden behind the removable outer door. With a flush mount or standard protective doors, they don't interfere with the mobile home design while providing a neat appearance and corrosion-free resistance.

As said before, RV water heaters are very user-friendly when properly installed, you can turn the power ON either from outside or inside; they are easy to maintain, troubleshoot and repair.

RV hot water heater with the electronic ignition can be activated from inside your mobile home, and the heating process will start even when driving, without leaving the RV. For pilot light models, re-ignition is possible from inside as well.

Note: While driving, it is not recommended using an RV water heater that is powered by propane gas, as the pilot light or flame can be affected by the incoming air.


With the best RV water heaters, you can be assured that running hot water for a comfortable shower, cooking and dishes is always there for you. No more using dirty bathrooms at the campsite or waiting to get home to clean. By choosing one of the popular models from Atwood, Suburban or Eemax you can be confident that devices will operate for years to come and if something happens, the spare parts and service network are there.

Keep in mind, before you start shopping to check the size of the water heater opening where the unit was and going to be installed.

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