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Old 07-24-2016, 03:21 PM   #1
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Kent, WA (Seattle)
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Year: 1987
Engine: 6.9L Diesel
Water Heater discussions: Tank, Tankless, LP/Electric, and DIY

Hi All,

So I have spent some time yesterday obsessing over various water heaters, and my conclusion was that it's hard to find a good water heater, especially at a good price.

I will summarize my findings below.

LP RV Tank Water Heaters: These come in 6 gallon or 10 gallon and are vented towards the outside. New they cost $600+ and used they go for about 200-300.
PROS:
-They are reliable and replacement parts are standard so they are relatively easy to repair.
-They are designed to operate in RV's
CONS:
-They will limit the quality/duration of shower one takes and will make back to back showers difficult without compromising ones (your wife's) shower times.
-They are limited by their tank size, they use more propane than a tankless LP water heater because they keep the water in their tank at a steady temperature.

LP RV tankless "on demand" water heaters: These cost $1000+ new, I don't see these used. Different water heaters will have different Gallons Per Minute ratings.
PROS:
-They are efficient with propane use and will not be using propane when idling.
-Their output are only limited to your water source size.
CONS:
-Their parts are specialized and exclusive to the manufacturer, making supply limited and repairs costly.
-Some claim that the quality of water is compromised by their mysterious heating process
-Pricey

Residential tankless "on demand" water heaters: These cost $100+ new. They are available as electric or LP gas, the electric water heaters use 10,000 watts+
PROS:
-They are cheap
CONS:
-The cheap ones have a lot of reports of breaking easily.
-many complain the vent costs more than the water heater themselves.
-all of the RV tankless cons included

Residential Tank Water heaters:
I have read about these being used in skoolies (such as Turfs bookmobile) but I know very little about these being used in skoolies, so I will not PRO/CON these.

After reading all of these I recall someone talking about their off grid shower on reddit, link here using an electric water bed heater as a heating element in combination with an Insulated RV holding tank. Which I found to be very intriguing.
PROS:
-Low cost, relatively low energy usage(they reported using about 700watts a day via 120v for the shower).
-Solar compatible
-Does not use propane
CONS:
-Plastic Tanks maybe not designed to heat up to 100 degrees
-Takes up space.



Things to note:
- "In an average home, showers are typically the third largest water use after toilets and clothes washers. The average American shower uses 17.2 gallons (65.1 liters) and lasts for 8.2 minutes at average flow rate of 2.1 gallons per minute (gpm) (7.9 lpm)." Source

-Low flow showers use 1.5 GPM

What I am hoping is for
1. Your input and opinions
2. Your experiences with good water heaters and bad water heaters and how long you've used it for, model numbers and brands would be appreciated as well.
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Old 07-24-2016, 03:27 PM   #2
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I got an ecotemp off of Amazon for a few hundred dollars. It works great on demand lp.
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Old 07-24-2016, 05:45 PM   #3
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Your living in a RV now, you don't take a average shower you take navy shower, wet, soap rinse, out.
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Old 07-24-2016, 06:58 PM   #4
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Na man,

I'm fine taking navy showers, but my wife needs a full shower. It's not a conversation I want to have with her.
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Old 07-24-2016, 08:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevofor View Post
I got an ecotemp off of Amazon for a few hundred dollars. It works great on demand lp.
I've been using my Eccotemp L5 in my outdoor shower stall for a year on August 15th... Bought from Amazon for $118 total shipped!

If I do not incorporate into my bus, I will be going to the Eccotemp L10, because it has built in flue ductwork.

Eccotemp is proven and tested by me, and I will not consider anything else.
In almost a year... I'm 1/2 way through my 3rd. 20lb bottle of propane (bbq grill size)
They claim 20 hours of hot water from a 20lb bottle.
I can throttle my inlet water hose and hit 190
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Old 07-24-2016, 08:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmania View Post
I've been using my Eccotemp L5 in my outdoor shower stall for a year on August 15th... Bought from Amazon for $118 total shipped!

If I do not incorporate into my bus, I will be going to the Eccotemp L10, because it has built in flue ductwork.

Eccotemp is proven and tested by me, and I will not consider anything else.
In almost a year... I'm 1/2 way through my 3rd. 20lb bottle of propane (bbq grill size)
They claim 20 hours of hot water from a 20lb bottle.
I can throttle my inlet water hose and hit 190
they are the greatest! 2 years now no problems
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Old 07-24-2016, 10:16 PM   #7
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We have been using a cheap Chinese on demand water heater (Marey brand I think) for eight years now.
I don't have it vented to the outside (neither is the gas range).
Other than being a little bit fussy about water flow it has been trouble free.
I would definitely recommend this kind of water heater.
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Old 07-24-2016, 10:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan N View Post
We have been using a cheap Chinese on demand water heater (Marey brand I think) for eight years now.
I don't have it vented to the outside (neither is the gas range).
Other than being a little bit fussy about water flow it has been trouble free.
I would definitely recommend this kind of water heater.
Water pressure is so high here.... I can scoot a gallon jug of water 30' across the concrete pad, and scoot heavy log chain across concrete about 20'

That pressure will be another thing I'll miss when I move
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Old 07-26-2016, 08:12 PM   #9
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Thank you all for your input, I will now put the eccotemp L10 back on my radar, it says outdoor use but if I have the flu exit outside this will be fine to use indoors?
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Old 07-26-2016, 10:47 PM   #10
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Join Date: May 2015
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Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAOLIK View Post
Thank you all for your input, I will now put the eccotemp L10 back on my radar, it says outdoor use but if I have the flu exit outside this will be fine to use indoors?
I built a cover and flue for my L5 and vented it toward the outside the storage building... Then I put a carbon monoxide detector in the same enclosed area... Ran hot water for almost an hour and detector never went off.

I know it's a liability issue for Eccotemp, but if you think about it, the only time it kicks on is when you command it to. Example: running shower or hot water in sink. I won't use any flame or fire without a functional carbon monoxide detector.

I have full access to a HVAC vocational classroom, so I had all the supplies and tools I needed to feel confident about my ductwork.
Then I bought a METAL SCREENED dryer vent at Home Depot for around $14, it has a large outer flange that will seal & screw very well.

I did notice the heater's exhaust did not have enough force/flow to open the vent's flapper, so I just used a binder clip to hold it open. And the screen keeps the creepy crawlies out... Heat or cold, not so much... But it's not much trouble to pull the binder clip, and just clip it back on the shroud.

I kept my flue short and through the wall with a 90 elbow.

This setup works well for me... Your mileage may vary
There's a lot of YouTube videos with a lot sketchier setups than mine!

Compare the tops of the L5 & L10 and you'll see the L5 is harder to vent out.
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