Your Guide to Caravan Hot Water Systems

Gas, electric, diesel or solar: what’s the best caravan hot water system for your adventures?

There’s nothing like heading off on a long road trip knowing you will still be able to get hot water, wherever you end up. Whether you want to indulge in the luxury of a steamy shower at the end of a long day exploring, or you want to clean your dishes in hot soapy water, a caravan hot water system is a vital part of your set-up. 

These days, there is a huge variety of caravan hot water systems on offer, so you can easily add a new system or upgrade your existing system without a fuss. Gas, electric, diesel, instant heaters, portable, slimline and more – the hardest part is deciding which one to choose!

In this guide, we help you weigh up the pros and cons to work out the best caravan hot water system for your adventures. 

Types of caravan hot water systems

Caravan hot water systems can run on electricity, gas or both. This gives you the ultimate flexibility of connecting to mains power when available or using gas when free camping.

Advantages of these systems is that they are will heat the water quickly. For example, the Truma UltraRapid Gas water heater can heat water in under 30 minutes. Best of all, it will continuously reheat the water while you’re showering, so your co-traveller can have a hot shower immediately afterwards. 

The system is also extremely quiet, so the whole campsite won’t wake up when you have a shower!

The drawback is that these caravan hot water systems require a steady flow of clean water, and we all know that’s not always possible on the road. 

Another downside is that when you’re running a caravan hot water system on gas, it tends to cause condensation and therefore needs to be externally vented.

PRO TRAVELLERS TIP: Gas and electrical hot water systems MUST be installed and serviced by qualified and certified professionals.

Caravan Hot Water Systems
Truma UltraRapid gas/electric hot water system

What about portable Caravan Hot Water Systems?

Absolutely! Even caravan hot water systems have a portable option these days. So, how do they work? 

A portable gas/electric hot water system comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can be charged on the move. This makes it great for washing, cooking, cleaning and showering.

There’s just one condition – you must be outside the caravan. So, if you’re happy showering in the great Australian outdoors, this is the hot water option for you.

Is it possible to get instant hot water? 

Yes – just buy an instant caravan hot water system. This will heat water as it passes through the tap. The big advantage of an instant hot water system is that it only heats what you need, when you need it. This makes it extremely energy and water efficient. For example, the Truma AquaGo provides hot water in just six seconds!

How does it work?

The Truma AquaGo instant water heater is fitted between your van’s water supply and the hot water system. When the hot water tap is turned on, the burner starts automatically. The flow of the water is greater than 1.5 litres per minute. Meanwhile, a burner control adjusts the heat output according to flow and inlet water temperature to keep a consistent outlet temperature of approximately 49°C. The burner switches off automatically when the tap is turned off, which saves gas. Also, they typically fit neatly into the sink top – perfect if you’re short on space.

As these systems are becoming more and more popular, manufacturers like Truma are adding more innovative features. Look for options like a thermal cut-off switch designed to prevent scalding hot water temperatures. 

Caravan Hot Water Systems
Truma AquaGo Instant Gas Hot Water Heater System, Black

I Run My Caravan on Diesel – Can I Get a Diesel Hot Water System?

Yes. And as with all things diesel, you’ll find these caravan hot water systems are extremely efficient. Another bonus is that you can typically draw water from the nearby creek or an on-board water tank, which makes them a handy option if you’re off-roading. There is a trade-off though – these systems can be noisy. 

Are solar hot water systems available?

It’s early days for solar hot water systems for caravans. Manufacturers are struggling to design something that doesn’t add too much weight on the caravan roof. A good system doesn’t come cheap. 

But if you’re dead-set on solar power…there’s always the option of hanging a solar shower bag outside your door!

What to consider

When choosing a caravan hot water system, consider the following factors:

  1. How much and how often will you use it?

This will determine the storage capacity of your caravan hot water system. In other words, how much hot water you have on tap while caravanning. There are lots of other factors you need to think about here, such as how many people are in your caravan, the weather conditions on your trip, and whether you enjoy long showers. Also, look at the recovery rate of the system. This determines how quickly it can heat or reheat the water stored in it. The better the recovery rate, the better your energy savings.

  1. What power source will you have?

Travelling with gas cylinders or relying on a caravan park’s mains power to run your appliances? The power sources at your disposal will determine which systems you can choose from. In our experience, a combination gas and electric caravan hot water system is a smart choice if you want some flexibility. For example, the Truma Combi Hot Water System requires 12v to ignite, then operates on gas or 240-volt power when available. The Dometic Atwood is also adaptable to gas or electric power sources, and stores energy while driving so you can use it as soon as you stop.

Truma Combi Systems are another great idea to consider when looking to provide hot water to your RV. The Combi system comes in three models and is a Heater and Hot Water System in one compact unit. The Truma Combi 2E Kit, Gas Heater / Hot Water System is the entry level model and it is powered from gas and electricity.

Truma Combi 2E Kit, Gas Heater / Hot Water System
  1. What’s your budget?

Naturally, it all comes back to how much you are willing to spend on your caravan hot water system. Whatever your budget, our tip is always to go for a trusted brand, like Truma or Dometic. That way you can be confident you are getting a robust, reliable system with a warranty. If you’re on a shoestring budget, don’t compromise on quality – simply choose a model with fewer features.

Final thoughts

Space-saving designs, faster hot water, different power sources, super efficiency – whatever you need, you can bet there’s a caravan hot water system out there for you. But don’t be lured in by fancy features and high-tech gadgets. Always do your homework to work out the best option for your needs and budget.

Still having trouble selecting the Caravan Hot Water System for your needs? Give us a call on 1300 400 122!

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2 thoughts on “Your Guide to Caravan Hot Water Systems”

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