How to Install Tankless Water Heater for Van Life?

Van life has transformed from a niche lifestyle to a widespread movement, resonating with those seeking freedom, adventure, and a break from conventional living. Picture this: You’re parked by a serene lake with your campervan or RV, the surroundings are tranquil, and all you crave is a warm shower. Enter the tankless water heater, an unsung hero of the nomad lifestyle.

The beauty of traveling in a campervan or RV is the blend of mobility with home comforts. And among these comforts, having hot water readily available ranks high. While the open road offers many surprises, there’s no need for cold showers to be one of them. Right tankless water heaters have a compact design and they are quite efficient to operate, for this reason these devices have emerged as the go-to solution for many embracing the nomad lifestyle. In this guide we will discuss how to install a tankless water heater in your campervan or RV for a convenient van life adventure.

Understanding Tankless Water Heaters

Diving into the world of nomad lifestyles, you might have heard whispers about the wonders of tankless water heaters. Let me unravel the magic behind them and why they’re a game-changer for campervan and RV enthusiasts..

1. What is a tankless water heater?

At its core, a tankless water heater is pretty straightforward. Instead of storing water in a tank and constantly heating it, these devices heat water directly as it passes through, providing hot water precisely when you need it.

Traditional vs. Tankless: A Quick Comparison

Picture the old-school water heaters: big, bulky tanks storing water and consistently heating it. They’re always on the job, even when you’re not using hot water. Now, think of the tankless variants. They’re the efficient workers, jumping into action only when you turn on the tap. While they might ask for a heftier initial investment, they often outlive traditional models and can trim down those pesky energy bills.

2. Benefits of using a tankless water heater in a campervan or RV

Embracing tankless water heaters in campervans and RVs is like giving a high-five to modern technology. And trust me, the benefits are tangible.


Every nook and cranny counts in a campervan or RV. The compact design of tankless heaters means you’re not dedicating a large chunk of your space to a water tank. More room for souvenirs, right?

Energy efficiency

The best part? They’re not always running. They’re the epitome of efficiency, waiting patiently until you need them. And for those of us watching our carbon footprint or just our monthly bills, this is a welcome feature.

On-demand Hot water

There’s something truly luxurious about instant hot water, especially when you’re in the middle of nature. No waiting, no fuss, just warmth on demand.

Types of Tankless Water Heaters Suitable for Campervans and Rvs: Electric Vs. Propane

The decision between electric and propane tankless water heaters often boils down to personal preferences and the kind of setup you have.

Electric Tankless Water Heaters

Compact and straightforward, they’re a favorite for those with regular access to electricity or those who’ve gone all out with their off-grid power systems.

Propane Tankless Water Heaters

Packing more heat and delivering it faster, they’re perfect for larger groups or chillier climates. Just keep an eye on ventilation and be ready to refill those propane tanks now and then.

The beauty of tankless water heaters goes beyond their efficiency. It’s about the enhanced comfort they bring to the nomadic lifestyle. Whether you’re team electric or team propane, it’s essential to find the perfect fit for your mobile dwelling. After all, while the journey is filled with adventure, it’s the little comforts like these that truly make it feel like home. So, as you chase horizons, why not ensure the warmth of instant hot water accompanies you?

How to Choose the Right Tankless Water Heater for Your Campervan or RV?

Navigating the vast world of tankless water heaters for your mobile abode can be akin to finding the right pair of shoes for a long journey. It’s all about fit, function, and how it complements your lifestyle.

Factors to Consider While Buying a Tankless Water Heater for Van Life

When it comes to ensuring comfort in your campervan or RV, picking the right tankless water heater becomes pivotal. But with so many options out there, how do you zero in on the one that’s just right for you? Let’s delve into some crucial considerations.

Size and Space Available in the Van

Space is a premium in any campervan or RV. While tankless water heaters are generally compact, it’s essential to measure the allocated space and ensure the unit fits snugly without cramping your style.

Power Source Availability (Electricity or Propane)

Some of us are hooked to the grid, while others bask in the glory of off-grid living. Depending on your power source – be it consistent electricity or propane reserves – your choice of heater will vary.

Water Flow Rate Required

Are you a quick-shower person, or do you like to indulge in longer, more relaxing ones? Understanding your water flow rate needs ensures you’re never left in the cold midway through a shower.

Climate and Average Temperature in the Area of Travel

If snow-capped mountains are your jam, you’ll need a heater that can brave the cold. On the other hand, if sunny beaches and deserts call out to you, a standard unit will do the trick.

Choosing the perfect tankless water heater for your campervan or RV is about understanding your unique needs and matching them with the right model. It’s an investment in comfort, ensuring that no matter where you park for the night, the luxury of hot water is just a tap away. As you continue to chart unfamiliar terrains and explore hidden gems, let the reassurance of a warm shower be your constant companion. Because in the vast world of adventures, it’s the little comforts that often leave the most profound impact.

Installation Guide for Tankless Water Heater in Campervan or RV

Jumping into the world of van life or RV traveling is thrilling, and there’s nothing quite like the freedom of the open road. Now, imagine bringing the luxury of instant hot water on your journey. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Installing a tankless water heater might seem like a challenge, but with the right steps, it’s a breeze. Let’s break it down together.

Preparing for the Installation

Think of this step as laying down the foundation of a house. A solid start ensures everything that follows falls right into place.

Tools and Materials Needed

Every craftsman knows the essence of having the right tools. And when it comes to installing a tankless water heater, the adage holds. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Pipe Wrenches: Your go-to tool for those tight connections.
  • Teflon Tape: This thin tape works wonders in preventing those pesky water leaks.
  • Electrical or Propane Connectors: Your heater’s lifeline, ensuring it gets the power it needs.
  • Wall Mounting Hardware: Because you wouldn’t want your heater wobbling about.
  • Tankless Water Heater Unit: Your ticket to instant hot showers wherever you park.

It’s all about having the right pieces at your disposal. With them in hand, the process becomes straightforward and less daunting.

Safety Precautions and Considerations

Let’s get one thing clear: safety is paramount. You’re setting up a device that combines water and electricity or gas – respect the process.

  • Power Down: It sounds simple, but make sure to turn off your van or RV’s main power. Safety first, always.
  • Flame Alert: If you’re diving into a propane unit installation, ensure your workspace is flame-free.
  • Gear Up: Protective gloves and safety goggles might not be the height of fashion, but they’ll be your best pals during the installation.

These might seem like tiny steps, but trust me, they make a world of difference. Safety not only ensures a smooth installation but also gives you peace of mind for all those miles ahead.

So, as you lay out your tools and prep your space, picture the endgame: a cozy, warm shower after a day of hiking or just before bedding down under the stars. It’s these comforts that transform a vehicle into a home on wheels. And remember, every great journey, be it on the road or during an installation, is all about the steps along the way. Enjoy each one, and you’ll relish the destination even more.

Step-by-step Installation Process for Tankless Water Heater in Campervan or RV

So, you’ve got all your tools ready and safety measures in place. The anticipation of those instant hot showers is building, right? Let’s get to the action and start the installation process. It’s not just about following steps; it’s like weaving comfort into your mobile space.

Choosing the Installation Location

Here’s where you lay the groundwork. Find that sweet spot in your van or RV that’s not just easily accessible but also strategic. It should have good clearance on all sides and should be in the vicinity of both water and power sources. And hey, a little foresight goes a long way. You’d want to get to this spot easily for any future maintenance or checks. So, think of the long game when picking the location.

Mounting the Heater Unit

Now that you’ve picked the perfect spot, it’s time to secure your heater. Using the wall mounting hardware, attach the unit to the wall. And a pro tip here: ensure it’s level. It might seem like a tiny detail, but a lopsided installation could spell trouble in the long run.

Connecting the Water Source

It’s all about connections, isn’t it? With your trusty pipe wrench in hand, link the cold water supply to the inlet. Do the same for the hot water line, connecting it to the outlet. And remember that Teflon tape you prepped earlier? Time to put it to good use. Wrap it around all connections. This simple step is your best defense against potential leaks.

Setting up the Power Source (Electrical Wiring or Propane Connections)

Powering up is next on the agenda. If you’re working with an electric unit, align it with your campervan or RV’s electrical system. Stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines; they’re there for a reason. If propane is your chosen route, get that gas line connected. Ensure it’s snug and secure; you wouldn’t want any gas mishaps on your adventures.

Installing Venting (for Propane Heaters)

Ah, the beauty of propane units! They do come with an added step, though. Ventilation is crucial. Carve out a venting system that leads outside your vehicle. And a word of caution: steer clear of any obstructions. You want the fumes to exit smoothly, keeping the air inside your vehicle fresh and safe.

Testing the Unit and Checking for Leaks

Moment of truth! Power up and let the water flow. Allow your unit to run for a bit. As it does its magic, keep an eye out for any leaks. Spotting and fixing a minor leak now could save you from a major headache later.

Installing a tankless water heater is a blend of technical steps and intuitive decisions. But as you work through each phase, always keep in mind the comfort and convenience it brings to your journeys. Because, at the end of the day, it’s the small luxuries, like a warm shower, that transform a trip into an experience and a vehicle into a cozy, moving home. Safe travels and warmer showers to you!

Troubleshooting Common Issues of Tankless Water Heater

Life on the road, as exhilarating as it is, sometimes throws curveballs our way. Even after meticulous installation of your tankless water heater, you might encounter a hiccup or two. But hey, every seasoned traveler knows it’s not the bumps but how you navigate them that counts. Let’s dive into some common issues and their fixes.

Inadequate Water Flow

Oh, the disappointment of expecting a steady stream of water only to get a trickle! If you’re facing this issue, there could be a couple of culprits.

Clogged Filter

Over time, debris and impurities can accumulate in your water heater’s filter. It’s like your device’s way of catching a cold. The remedy? Regular check-ups. Every once in a while, give your filter a good cleaning or replacement if necessary. It can breathe new life into your water flow.

Malfunctioning Flow Sensor

The flow sensor is the unsung hero of your tankless water heater, ensuring the unit heats water at the right time. If it’s not functioning correctly, it could be the reason behind the reduced water flow. Periodic checks and timely replacements can keep this issue at bay.

Fluctuating Temperatures

Picture this: You’re in the middle of a shower, and suddenly the water goes from warm to icy cold. Not the most pleasant experience, right? Fluctuating temperatures can be a buzzkill.

Overloaded System, your tankless water heater is a champ, but even champs have their limits. If multiple appliances are drawing from it simultaneously, it might struggle to maintain a consistent temperature. A simple solution is to stagger your hot water usage. If the fluctuations persist, it might be time to have a chat with the manufacturer.

Ignition Problems (for Propane Heaters)

If you’ve ever had a propane heater, you know they have personalities of their own. They’re incredibly efficient and offer a warmth that’s hard to match. But like any piece of equipment, they can occasionally be a tad temperamental, especially when it comes to ignition.

Empty Propane Tank

It’s akin to trying to start a car with no fuel. An empty propane tank is often the most straightforward reason your heater won’t ignite. We’ve all had those ‘facepalm’ moments, and this might just be one of them. Before diving into more complex troubleshooting, give your propane tank a check. If it’s gasping for breath, a refill is all you need. Once replenished, your heater should roar back to life, ready to envelope you in its warmth.

Igniter Issues

The heart of any propane heater’s ignition system is the igniter. It’s that tiny component responsible for creating the initial spark that brings your heater to life. Think of it as the heartbeat before a symphony. If it’s compromised or worn out, your heater will remain silent, no matter how many times you try. If you’re pressing the ignition and there’s no familiar ‘click’ or spark, the igniter is likely the culprit.

Over time, due to constant exposure to heat and wear, the igniter can lose its efficiency. Dust, debris, or even minor corrosion can also affect its performance. Start by giving it a gentle clean; sometimes, that’s all it needs. If cleaning doesn’t do the trick, it might be time for a replacement. Thankfully, igniters are relatively inexpensive and can be replaced with basic tools. Once replaced, you should hear that satisfying ‘click’, signaling that your heater is ready to warm up your space once more.

In the world of mobile living, every piece of equipment plays a crucial role in ensuring comfort and convenience. Propane heaters, with their quirks, are no different. Understanding their nuances and being equipped to troubleshoot minor issues can make a world of difference. It ensures that no matter where you park your campervan or RV, the warmth and comfort of a functional heater are always within reach. So, the next time your propane heater decides to play hard to get, remember these tips, and you’ll be back to basking in its warmth in no time.

Maintenance and Safety Tips for Tankless Water Heaters for Campervan or RV for Van Life

Ah, the open road! There’s nothing quite like the thrill of van life, with its promise of freedom, adventure, and the allure of the unknown. And after a day of exploration, what could be better than a warm shower in your campervan or RV? That’s where your trusty tankless water heater comes in. But, like any good travel companion, it needs a bit of TLC to keep it in tip-top shape. Let’s dive into how you can ensure it stays reliable, safe, and efficient.

Regular Maintenance Tasks for Your Tankless Heater

Annual Sanitization: The water you use on the road can be a mixed bag. Sometimes it’s pristine; other times, it’s packed with minerals that can gunk up your heater. A yearly deep clean will keep things running smoothly. If you’re always on the go, tapping into various water sources, consider giving it a little extra love with more frequent cleanings.

Exterior Checks: Life on the road can be a bit bumpy. Every now and then, give your unit a once-over. Wipe it down, check for any parts that might have come loose, and ensure everything is secure.

System Flushing: Hard water, a sneaky foe. If you’re parked in places known for it, remember to flush your system. It’ll thank you by running better and lasting longer.

Filter Care: Think of filters as the gatekeepers of your water heater. They catch all the nasties. So, show them some gratitude by cleaning or replacing them when needed.

Safety Precautions for Propane-Powered Units

Ventilation is Key: Propane’s great, but it needs space to breathe. Always make sure your campervan or RV is well-ventilated when the heater’s on. It’s a simple step that keeps the air fresh and safe.

Regularly Check for Leaks: Got a whiff of something that reminds you of rotten eggs? It might be a propane leak. Check it out pronto.

Keep Flammable Items Away: It’s basic campervan logic: keep stuff that can catch fire away from stuff that makes fire. Simple, right?

Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector: It’s the silent guardian of your mobile home. If you’ve got propane appliances, you need one of these. No exceptions.

Maximizing the Efficiency of Your Tankless Water Heater

Optimal Temperature Setting: Find that sweet spot where the water’s just right. Not too hot, not too cold. It’s kinder on your energy bills and your heater.

Insulate Your Pipes: It might seem like overkill in a cozy campervan, but trust me, it makes a difference. Especially when the temperature drops.

Use Water-Efficient Fixtures: Modern fixtures can give you the same feel with less water. It’s a win-win for you and your heater.

Regularly Descale: It’s like a spa day for your heater. A bit of descaling every so often keeps it happy and efficient.

To wrap things up, life on the road is full of surprises. But with a bit of care and attention, a cold shower won’t be one of them. Your tankless water heater is more than just an appliance; it’s a ticket to comfort in the wild. So, treat it well, and it’ll return the favor. Here’s to warm showers and endless adventures! Safe travels.


Life on the road comes with its set of challenges, but it’s the comforts we bring along that make the journey truly memorable. Among these, the choice of installing a tankless water heater in your van or RV stands out. Not only does it promise instant hot showers after a tiring day of exploration, but it also embodies efficiency in a compact form. With space at a premium in our mobile homes, these heaters are a testament to how modern solutions can fit seamlessly into our nomadic lifestyles.

More than just convenience, choosing a tankless water heater is a nod to sustainable living. By consuming energy only when needed, it’s a step towards conserving resources and embracing a greener way of life, even when on the move.

So, as the horizon beckons and the road unfolds, remember that the choices we make define our journey. A tankless water heater might seem like a small decision, but it’s one that brings warmth, efficiency, and sustainability to every mile. Here’s to making choices that elevate our travels and tread lightly on the world.

Final Words!

So, you’ve got your van or RV, and you’re ready to hit the road. Awesome! But let’s talk about one of those little things that can make a massive difference: hot water. Trust me, after a long day of exploring or just driving, a warm shower feels like a hug. That’s where tankless water heaters come in. They’re compact (which is great because space is always tight), and they give you hot water when you want it – no waiting around.

And if you’re someone who’s trying to tread lightly on the planet, these heaters are a win. They’re all about using less and living more efficiently. It’s like a two-for-one deal: you get your comforts without the guilt.

So, if you’re decking out your mobile home, give tankless water heaters a thought. It’s those small choices that make van life feel a bit more like, well, home. Safe and warm travels to you!


What’s the main difference between a traditional water heater and a tankless one for RVs?

The main difference lies in the storage and provision of hot water: traditional heaters store and heat a certain amount of water, while tankless ones heat on-demand, providing hot water only when needed.

How much space can I save in my van or RV by installing a tankless water heater?

Tankless water heaters are notably compact, potentially saving a considerable amount of space compared to traditional units, which can be especially beneficial in the confined spaces of vans and RVs.

Is a tankless water heater more energy-efficient to use in a campervan compared to a regular one?

Yes, tankless water heaters tend to be more energy-efficient as they only heat water when required, avoiding the energy costs of keeping a tank of water heated constantly.

What’s the average lifespan of a tankless water heater in mobile settings like vans and RVs?

Tankless water heaters can typically last up to 20 years, even in mobile settings, provided they are maintained well.

Can I use my tankless water heater in areas with extreme cold temperatures?

Yes, but performance may be impacted in extremely cold conditions. Some models are better suited for cold climates, so choose accordingly.

How often should I conduct maintenance checks on my RV’s tankless water heater?

It’s advisable to check your tankless water heater at least once a year, although checking more frequently (every 6 months) can be beneficial for optimal performance.

Are there any specific brands or models of tankless water heaters that are best suited for vans and RVs?

Yes, brands like EcoSmart, Girard, and Suburban are often recognized for their RV-friendly tankless water heaters, offering models that cater specifically to mobile living environments.

Disclaimer: We are not professionals. Before making any installation or modifications, please consult with a certified professional to ensure safety and compliance with all relevant standards and regulations.

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