How to Convert your RV Water Heater to a Tankless?

tankless water heater

An rv water heater is very important. It provide rvers with hot water. Without hot water, it would be uncomfortable for most rvers to take a shower, use the sink or the toilet. Unfortunately, not all rvers have access to shore power and most of them dry camp at some point during their camping trip. Converting a traditional storage tank type rv water heater is fairly simple as long as you have a bit of skill with household electrical wiring and tools.

A tankless water heater will make life much easier for rvers who dry camp or have issues when they boondock for an extended time. Water heaters in RV use a propane gas flame to heat water running through a pipe coil inside the heater. When you move from hot water to cold water, the combustion ceases and only the flame is used to heat cold water. This way there is no cold spots where people wait for their turn at the bathroom sink or shower. There are several types of tankless heaters available but I prefer units that have a copper tube coil in them because they provide more hot water capacity, hotter water and better recovery times between uses just like traditional home tank type models provide.

How to Convert an RV Water Heater to Tankless?

  1. Remove the Old Device from the Water Inlet Pipe and Drain all the Water.
  2. Clean the Surface where You will Mount the New Device with Sandpaper so that Adhesive Can Attach Stronger.
  3. Firmly Attach the Water Heater onto a Flat Area on a Wall Using Screws and Adhesive Putty Making sure it is Securely Mounted Before Converting the Unit into a Tankless One.
  4. Connect All Wire Harnesses into Place by Plugging them Into Their Respective Outlets After Installing Them into Holes Provided in the Water Heater's Shell.
  5. Turn on the Water Supply Valve Slowly so that You Do Not Create a Lot of Pressure Inside of the New Device by Letting in Air Bubbles.
  6. Turn on the Power Switch to Test the Unit and Make Sure It is Working Correctly Before Closing All Openings Off Using Caulking Tubes Provided to Seal Out Moisture Deterrents That Could Cause Damage to Your RV Over Time Caused by Rust or Corrosion.

What are the benefits of having a tankless water heater?

You might still have the conventional water heater in your rv and might be wondering what are some of the benefits of having a tankless water heater.

Here are the benefits you are going to enjoy when using this type of heating system in your camper or rv:

  • Improved energy efficiency because it only heats the water as it is needed instead of continuously heating water all day long which wastes unnecessary energy.
  • No more frequent emptying of tanks since no more hot water is lost due to temperature fluctuations caused by heating water continuously throughout the whole day.
  • The unit will automatically switch itself during low flow situations which results in low wait times for hot water.
  • Tankless water heaters are usually way smaller than other water heaters which means that you will free up lots of space especially if you're living in a small camper or rv.
  • You get a constant flow of water compared to a drip unit or water tank.
  • Higher energy efficiency rating because electric heating elements are used instead of gas heating elements that older traditional RV water heater models tend to use.
  • No power is required for the unit itself since it gets external power from your RV.
  • They are very easy to install, usually only requiring one hole. No need for additional valves because there's only one inlet and outlet.
  • These types of water heaters usually last longer since they don't need to work as hard, but instead heat water on demand.
  • Tankless water heaters are especially very convenient when there are only few inhabitants living in a certain area because of the fact that they can use more or less unlimited amounts of hot water without worrying about wasting it.
  • It is easy to install and doesn't usually require any professional's assistance which means that everyone is capable of doing it by themselves.
  • You will have no storage tank so the water won't be heated since you left your house or when nobody was using hot water for a certain period of time saving you money.
  • Let's face facts, no one wants to spend money on something useless if not even harmful for the environment, so this type of heater might prove itself to be really useful for your household since you'll get free heating for water at zero cost.


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What are the disadvantages of owning one of these?

The main issue owners have with these types of water heaters is the fact that sometimes all the water that is flowing throught the system does not get heated. Sometimes the water will be hot, and then for a second it will be cold. This can be very frustrating for people who needs a constant supply of hot water.

Maintaining your tankless water heater

Whenever you purchase or upgrade to a tankless water heater, you will need to ensure that the proper maintainance schedule is followed. Be low will be a list of maintainance procedures to follow in order to keep your water heater running at its best.

  • Replace the filter per your installer's recommendations or once every six months.
  • Grease and sediment collect on gas burners and tankless water heater components over time. If left unchecked, this build up will block the gas and oil nozzles required to operate properly, resulting in reduced output and ultimately system failure.
  • Grease removal is a simple process that should be done annually or after each use of the tankless water heater with a grease remover product that is specifically designed for use on hot surface equipment such as furnaces and tankless water heaters (recommended).

What kind of tools do I need?

Tools needed for this job are simple. It requires:

  • A phillips screwdriver
  • Wrench or socket set with ratchet
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Drill for securing the unit onto the wall

Is a plumber needed for the conversion?

Depending on your diy skillset, doing this job by yourself can save you at least $100 in labor costs.

What is the correct size for the Heater?

Tankless water heaters come in different sizes so be sure to get one that will fit inside of your RV with some room left over. For most RVs, the 6 gallon per min unit should suffice but be sure to check before buying it.

Electric tankless water heater vs. Propane tankless water heater

You will have the option of choosing an electric or propane tankless water heater. For you to decide which option will suit your RV the best, you should take into consideration how big your RV is and where you are planning on traveling with it.

Electric units cost less initially but could prove more expensive in the long run because of high electricity bills; whereas propane units are often pricier but may be more practical for larger RVs that need to pump out hot water fast while staying in places where electrical hookups are not accessible (and thus making it difficult to use an electric heater).

Propane heaters also tend to heat up faster than their electric counterparts; however, if there is enough sunlight coming through, then solar panels on the roof may be all you need to heat up your water. When choosing a heater, you're going to want to make sure it's both convenient and cost-effective.

Electric Tankless Water Heater for RVs

When thinking of alternative ways to stay warm during those cold winter months, an electric tankless water heater can be a great option for you RV. This unit works by heating the water as needed instead of keeping a large supply heated at once. With this model, which provides instant hot water on demand , there is no storage tank that needs refilling at specific intervals – it heats up whenever you need it most – whether that's during or after use. By eliminating the traditional storage tank system, this design frees up space you probably didn't know you had.


To conclude this article, it is important to note that the advantages of converting from a tank water heater to a tankless unit are essentially saving you space and adding operational safety. These types of water heaters are great at what they do and can give the average RV owner a lot of flexibility.

Be sure to ask your dealer or manufacturer for any possible warranty concerns that may arise from doing this conversion. Have fun as you watch your water heating bills plummet as well as your space increase in your motorhome.

About Author:

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Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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