The 3 Best Portable Water Heaters for RV, Camping, and Van Life

Portable water heaters are essential for outdoor adventures, offering hot water on demand for bathing, cooking, and more. Gas, electric, and solar options cater to different needs, ensuring comfort and convenience during RV, camping, and van life.

A van with an open door. A young man is standing inside installing a small shower room. Work in progress converting a van into a camper van.

Imagine this: You’re out in the wilderness, living the van life, or camping in your RV. After a long day of adventures, all you want is a nice hot shower.

But how do you get that when you’re miles away from the nearest bathroom? Enter portable water heaters!

Whether you’re a full-time RVer, an avid camper, or just love the freedom of van life, having hot water on demand is no longer a luxury but a necessity.

Portable water heaters, as the name suggests, are compact, lightweight, and easy-to-carry devices designed to heat water for various uses such as bathing, washing dishes, or even cooking, while on the go.

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They come in different types, including gas-powered, electric, and solar-heated versions, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Having a portable water heater during your outdoor adventures can greatly enhance your comfort and convenience.

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Understanding Different Types of Water Heaters

In your quest for the perfect portable water heater, you’ll come across various types.

Here, we will explore three of the most common ones: gas water heaters, electric RV hot water heaters, and solar shower bags.

Gas Water Heaters

Gas water heaters are popular for their high efficiency and fast heating time. They run on propane and typically feature an electronic ignition system, making them easy to operate.

However, they require proper ventilation and may not be suitable for enclosed spaces due to the risk of carbon monoxide buildup.

Electric RV Hot Water Heaters

Electric RV hot water heaters are known for their convenience and safety.

They don’t produce harmful gases and can be safely used inside your RV or camper van. Moreover, they are often compact and easy to install.

However, they usually require a power source to operate, which may not always be available during outdoor adventures.

Solar Shower Bags

Solar shower bags are the ultimate eco-friendly option. They use solar energy to heat the water, making them perfect for sunny weather camping.

Most solar showers rely on gravity for water flow, but some advanced models feature an electric pump for improved functionality.

However, their heating capacity is highly dependent on sunlight intensity and duration.

The 3 Best Portable Water Heaters

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s showcase three top picks that are worth considering for your next outdoor adventure.

Eccotemp Portable Water Heater

Eccotemp L5 1.5 GPM Portable Outdoor Tankless Water Heater

The Eccotemp Portable Water Heater is a top-notch choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

Lightweight, compact, and efficient, it runs on propane and features an electronic ignition powered by two D-cell batteries.

This outdoor tankless heater offers a quick and consistent hot water supply, making it ideal for camper vans, RVs, and outdoor activities.

Hike Crew Propane Water Heater

Hike Crew Portable Propane Water Heater & Shower Pump – Compact Outdoor Cleaning & Showering System w/LCD & Auto Safety Shutoff for Instant Hot Water While Camping, Hiking – Carry Case Included

If you’re looking for a multifunctional solution, the Hike Crew Propane Water Heater is a worthy consideration.

This 2-in-1 device heats and dispenses water, offering an adjustable shower head with three spray intensities for optimal comfort.

Despite being a tad heavy, it includes a carrying case, pump hose, and plug for enhanced portability. Plus, its built-in battery allows up to 50 minutes of continuous use.

Dr. Prepare Solar Shower

For those who prefer an eco-friendly option, the Dr. Prepare Solar Shower comes highly recommended.

This 4-gallon bag uses solar energy to heat water, providing a cost-effective and sustainable solution for hot water needs.

Unlike traditional solar showers that rely on gravity, this model features an electric pump for improved water flow.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Portable Water Heater

Choosing the right portable water heater involves considering several factors. Here are a few key aspects to keep in mind:

Water Pressure Startup

Consider a heater that can work efficiently under low water pressure, especially if you plan on using it in an RV plumbing system.

For instance, some heaters light up at a pressure as low as 3.0 PSI, ensuring reliable performance.

Gallons per Minute Output

Assess the heater’s output capacity. While some heaters can put out over a gallon per minute, others may have a lower output.

Choose according to your hot water requirements.

Weight and Portability

Given the nature of outdoor adventures, opt for a heater that’s lightweight and compact for easy transportation.

Some heaters also come with carrying cases for added convenience.

Safety Tips When Using a Portable Water Heater

While portable water heaters bring convenience, it’s crucial to follow certain safety guidelines. Always ensure proper ventilation when using gas heaters to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.

For electric heaters, avoid using them near water sources to prevent electrocution.

Lastly, for solar showers, never leave them unattended in extreme sunlight to prevent overheating and potential damage.

FAQs about Portable Water Heaters

Finally, let’s address some frequently asked questions about portable water heaters.

Are There Electric Instant Hot Water Heaters?

Yes, there are electric instant hot water heaters that provide hot water on demand. They are an excellent choice for those who want a quick and efficient hot water supply.

Can I Leave My Electric Water Heater on in My Camper?

It’s generally safe to leave your electric water heater on in your camper provided it’s installed correctly and you’re connected to a reliable power source.

However, to save energy and prolong the life of the heater, it’s advisable to turn it off when not in use.

How Do You Heat Water for Shower Camping?

There are multiple ways to heat water for showering while camping.

You can use a portable gas or electric water heater, a solar shower bag, or even heat water over a campfire or stove.

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