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Old 02-11-2018, 10:44 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hot water?

Ok, newbie here, still at the dreamer stage. Looking at a '99 Blue Bird 84 passenger bus. My goal here is a bus that the significant other and I can live on for 8-9 months a year, as off grid as possible. I'm looking at installing a solar system for electric, and a propane tank for heating and cooling. Probably a composting toilet.
In all the searching I've done for a floor plan I could live with, very few show any water heater. I'm wondering what everybody is using? I plan on being anywhere but Arizona during the summer, and cold showers aren't gonna work for me.
So, propane or electric?
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Old 02-11-2018, 11:05 PM   #2
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Preface: I do not live in the busses I convert. I do, however, all of my own building. And I do go camping.

My opinion is electric. I'm a fan of those mini water heaters (about the size of a microwave, usually white with a blue oval on the front) and think they provide adequate hot water for a wash-up. I have one above the slop sink in my garage and have been quite impressed with the heat and volume of water vs electric usage.

Would you be using propane for anything else onboard? That would influence my decision, I suppose. (3-way fridge, gas oven/cooktop, propane or dual fuel generator?)

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Old 02-11-2018, 11:18 PM   #3
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I looked into the tankless water heaters of the type you describe, and it seemed they are very heavy on the electrical load, with a flow rate adequate for a sink, but I suspect not enough for a shower. Kinda pricey, besides.
I am planning on propane for an oven and cooktop, and possibly a heater. Electric for lighting and fridge, and possibly AC.
Just can't decide between electric and propane for hot water.
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Old 02-11-2018, 11:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Dave in Tucson View Post
I looked into the tankless water heaters of the type you describe, and it seemed they are very heavy on the electrical load, with a flow rate adequate for a sink, but I suspect not enough for a shower. Kinda pricey, besides.
I am planning on propane for an oven and cooktop, and possibly a heater. Electric for lighting and fridge, and possibly AC.
Just can't decide between electric and propane for hot water.
It's not tankless. It is like 2.5 gallons, I think? It's literally a miniature water heater. Not tankless, not 240v, (relatively) low power draw...
And not pricey at all, under $200

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Old 02-11-2018, 11:32 PM   #5
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Ok, I haven't seen that one yet. The type I was looking at had a 100+ amp draw, and a .5 gpm flow rate.
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Old 02-11-2018, 11:43 PM   #6
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Ok, I haven't seen that one yet. The type I was looking at had a 100+ amp draw, and a .5 gpm flow rate.
Not sure if this link will work, but I'm talking about these:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0148O658Y..._4SrGAbDTKYKMH

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Old 02-11-2018, 11:51 PM   #7
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Ok, that looks good. The link took me to Amazon, and they have other sizes available, a 7 gallon unit is only $11 more. I think the 2.5 gallon one would be a little iffy for a shower, but the 7 gallon should work with no problem.
Thank you very much for the info!
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Old 02-12-2018, 12:01 AM   #8
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Ok, that looks good. The link took me to Amazon, and they have other sizes available, a 7 gallon unit is only $11 more. I think the 2.5 gallon one would be a little iffy for a shower, but the 7 gallon should work with no problem.
Yeah, that really is an interesting option. I wonder how they like to be bounced-around on the road.

Found this, says ppl put them in RV.

Bonus: torture the women-folk with cold showers.
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Old 02-12-2018, 12:07 AM   #9
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Yeah, that really is an interesting option. I wonder how they like to be bounced-around on the road.

Found this, says ppl put them in RV.

Bonus: torture the women-folk with cold showers.
Cool with torture, just not on me!
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Old 02-12-2018, 12:09 AM   #10
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Yeah, that really is an interesting option. I wonder how they like to be bounced-around on the road.

Found this, says ppl put them in RV.

Bonus: torture the women-folk with cold showers.
That article you linked to says that they wouldn't be good for showers, I'd have to disagree... I have a mixing valve mounted to the top of mine and the "thermostat" at about 3/4 and it runs hot water for a good 10 minutes. For showering, one of those fine mist low GPM heads would make this heater last for an adequate wash.

As far as mounting in a RV(bus)... As long as it's mounted solid I'd imagine road vibration wouldn't hurt it.

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Old 02-12-2018, 12:17 AM   #11
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Just found the one I have. It's an Ariston. Literally the same thing as the Bosch

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Old 02-12-2018, 12:24 AM   #12
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Just looked that up on Amazon, the Ariston is made by Bosch, but is available only in the 4 gallon size., And is about $20 more. Looked up electric water heaters and starting prices in 20 gallon or 40 gallon sizes scared me off. Maybe the answer is 2 of the Bosch 7 gallon units, one in bathroom, and one in kitchen?
Is anybody using propane units?
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Old 02-12-2018, 12:28 AM   #13
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Just looked that up on Amazon, the Ariston is made by Bosch, but is available only in the 4 gallon size., And is about $20 more. Looked up electric water heaters and starting prices in 20 gallon or 40 gallon sizes scared me off. Maybe the answer is 2 of the Bosch 7 gallon units, one in bathroom, and one in kitchen?
Why not? I'd just connect them to a light switch or similar simple method of shutoff so you can choose when they run so you don't overload your inverter (not sure how much power you plan on having on tap)

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Old 02-12-2018, 12:53 AM   #14
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The smaller ones are perfectly fine for hot showers.

The flow rates are for water at 140F, way too hot for a shower. So by the time you have either turned down the max temp or added cold via a mixer, the flow rate is fine.

Besides, RV showers aren't used like domestic showers. You get wet and turn it off. Shampoo or body wash then rinse it all off. You can do that in under 2 gallons where your 7 minute home shower probably runs a gallon a minute.
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Old 02-12-2018, 02:11 AM   #15
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You mention having a solar system. If you're going to have PV panels, why not also have a water heating panel or two? I have just over 2kW of PV, and I've set aside space for two 20 sq.ft. water heating panels that will be tiltable just like the PV. In the summer they should be enough for all my hot water needs, and whatever they do in the winter is that much less propane needed to get the water up to temperature. I'll use a small (10-gallon or so) electric water heater as a storage tank for the water heated by the panels, and plumb it into the Suburban propane/electric 6-gallon heater. My biggest design challenge may be to prevent water boiling inside the panels in summer and flashing into steam, so some sort of thermostatically-controlled drainback system may be needed. With 220 gallons of water on board I should be able to take a nice shower every day for a month or more!

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Old 02-12-2018, 08:15 AM   #16
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In my opinion, you have many options and most of these can be combined.

Solar electric (photovoltaic)
Solar water
Engine heated water
Auxiliary heater (diesel or gasoline) - like a Eberspaecher/Webasto
Propane
Shore power (120VAC)
Generator (120VAC)

I currently have this heater which is 120VAC and also has a heat exchanger so the domestic water can be heated from the engine coolant or auxiliary heater. I don't have it connected to the engine coolant yet but my last motorhome worked that way and it was wonderful.

Even with nearly 2Kw of solar (photovoltaic) on the roof, I still have lots of room for more but am still debating whether I want to go with a solar water heater (like this) or just use the electric generated from the photovoltaic panels. I am inclined to go with solar electric so I don't have to pump water/coolant or worry about water leaks.

Since you will have propane, that is an excellent and simple option using one of the multi-mode (propane, 120VAC) heaters already mentioned.

As far as size goes, most motorhomes have 6 or 10/11 gallon heaters. While not a lot it is usually sufficient for all but the 45 minute hot shower types.
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Old 02-12-2018, 08:58 AM   #17
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If you're using solar for power your most reasonable option for hot water seems to be propane. I have this one but haven't installed it yet: http://amzn.to/2Cg8A4F

My friend has the same unit for his box truck. It worked very well for him until we hit some below freezing temps and he hadn't opened the relief valve. An internal part froze and cracked. He bought another brand that looked identical rather than a replacement valve and is not very happy with the new unit he got.

Using engine coolant and a heat exchanger is an interesting option if you run your engine a lot, but I know my bus never reaches operating temperature if I'm not actually driving.

If you have shore power or a Big Ass Alternator it's not a big deal to run something like the electric unit being suggested. If you're like me and have 400W of solar to power everything, it's a non-starter.
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Old 02-16-2018, 01:12 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave in Tucson View Post
Ok, newbie here, still at the dreamer stage. Looking at a '99 Blue Bird 84 passenger bus. My goal here is a bus that the significant other and I can live on for 8-9 months a year, as off grid as possible. I'm looking at installing a solar system for electric, and a propane tank for heating and cooling. Probably a composting toilet.
In all the searching I've done for a floor plan I could live with, very few show any water heater. I'm wondering what everybody is using? I plan on being anywhere but Arizona during the summer, and cold showers aren't gonna work for me.
So, propane or electric?
There are portable propane powered water heaters

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Old 02-16-2018, 01:49 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by BennysTire View Post
Not sure if this link will work, but I'm talking about these:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0148O658Y..._4SrGAbDTKYKMH

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exactly the one ive been eyeing out for months! except the 7 gallon one. oddly enough whether you go with the 2.5, 4, or 7 gallon it can only max out at 1440 watts. not too bad. they all have the same specs except for water capacity. and under $200.
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Old 02-16-2018, 06:08 PM   #20
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exactly the one ive been eyeing out for months! except the 7 gallon one. oddly enough whether you go with the 2.5, 4, or 7 gallon it can only max out at 1440 watts. not too bad. they all have the same specs except for water capacity. and under $200.
As I said, I think they're the perfect pick for a homemade RV, if choosing electric. They (at least mine) have a replaceable anode too, just like a "real" water heater

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