Best RV Hot Water Heaters Reviews

There’s undeniably an urgent need to address the fact that we really need water heaters wherever we go. Indeed, water heaters came to be an essential part of our life and one of the reasons, making much more tolerable. Water heaters have been an essential part of our homes for quite some time now but it doesn’t stop there.

More recently, the evolution of water heaters reached moving homes, camping sites and swimming pool areas because there’s only so much we can do without them. So, instead of going door to door or using a public restroom to clean up, now people living on the road can actually enjoy a hot shower at the comfort of their RVs.

Most RVs require a certain amount of hot water and that’s made easy with one little machine called the water heater. We are not going to delve into the tank VS tankless debate but one thing is for sure and that is water heaters are essential for any type of RV.So, here is a list of your best options as an RV owner:

Suburban RV Water Heaters Reviews

Suburban SW12DE Water Heater Review

Suburban SW12DE RV Water Heater ReviewThe SW12DE is a 4.5 stars heater with the potential of hitting 5 stars as it is the biggest RV on demand water heater. This is a brand that specialises in developing water heaters solely for RV owners and that makes it one of your best options already.

Indeed, there is nothing that a standard portable tankless water heater can’t do. However, you can’t really beat something that was designed specifically for RV owners. The SW12DE thus features a steel tank with porcelain lining and an anode rod protecting it against electrolysis, making it one of the safest designs on the market for people whom homes are moving metal boxes.

Another nice aspect of the model at hand is the fact that it has electronic ignition which delivers you from all the Huss and fuss of stone-age water heaters. Indeed, besides being a robust heater, this model is also very advanced in terms of technology and that makes it safe and simple of use.

Further, when it comes to power, it must be noted that the SW12DE is a hybrid water heater as it uses a combination of gas and electric power to heat your water at maximum speeds. At 12 gallons per hour however, you should expect water to take some time to heat up. Also, depending on your water flow ratio, the heater might not be able to keep up. So make sure you pump in water at a reasonable PSI.

Suburban SW12DE Specs:

  • Unit Weight: 47.6 pounds
  • Dimensions [inches]: 16-7/32″H x 16-7/32″W x 22-1/4″D.
  • Capacity: 12 gal.
  • Energy Source: Electric, Gas
  • Input: Gas 12,000 BTU / Electric 1400 Watt
  • Recovery Gallons Per Hour: 10.2 Gal
  • Features:
    • Porcelain-lined steel tank for long life.
    • Replaceable anode rod provides further corrosion protection.
    • Fast recovery rate which means more hot water and fewer cool water cycles.
    • Convenient exterior gas line connection.
    • One-Piece, die-formed metal control housing protects controls from the weather.
    • Copolymer insulation jacket specially fitted to the tank to retain heat.
    • Direct spark / electric element.

Suburban SW10DE Water Heater Review

Suburban SW10DE RV Water Heater reviewHere we go with another Suburban, except this time it’s the SW10DE which is the younger brother of the SW12DE and the one always challenging it. Indeed, the SW10DE is a robust water heater which is capable of pumping warm to hot water, depending on water flow rate, at an impressive speed.

This might be a smaller version of the previous model. However, the SW10DE still harbours most of the safety and accessibility features of the bigger one. In short, the only difference between the two is the fact that the 12 is slightly more powerful and can be of better use at an RV hosting over 3 people total whereas the SW10DE is not meant to cater for large families.

So, starting from the steel tank to electronic ignition, the SW10DE has all you need to enjoy an easy access to hot water whenever you wish.

Further, if installing the SW12DE model is a charm, then you can imagine how much easier it’d be to install this lighter model. True, it’s not a plug and action kind of installation but it is much simpler than your traditional water heater and would be easily accomplished without the help of a professional.

The SW10DE is almost as powerful as its older brother because it primarily consists of the same mechanics. Yes, this also is a hybrid water heater which functions on a combination of LPG and electricity, making it both extremely efficient and power saving. In brief, you can’t really beat a heater at this price, this safety and one that features a recovery rate of 16.2 gallons per hour.

Suburban SW10DE Specs

  • Unit Weight: 45.2lbs Empty / 126.5lbs Full
  • Dimensions [inches]: 16-7/32” Height x 16-7/32” Width x 20-1/2” Depth
  • Capacity: 10 gal.
  • Energy Source: Electric, Gas
  • Input: Gas 12,000 BTU / Electric 1400 Watt
  • Recovery Gallons Per Hour: 6 Gas
  • Features:
    • Copolymer insulation jackets specially fit the tank to retain heat.Copolymer insulation jackets specially fit the tank to retain heat.
    • Direct Spark / Electric Element.

Suburban 5117A Water Heater Review

Suburban 5117A RV Water Heater reviewOnce again with another suburban, the company which has taken over the niche of RV owners, except this one is a slightly different produce. This is the much cheaper more compact Suburban heater with the possibility to make that RV life a lot more enjoyable.

Although it might not compete with the previously reviewed water heaters, this little machine is a technological wonder with all the essentials you’ll need to get through your required tasks safely and efficiently.

The 5117A thus features a pilot ignition and a very simple installation practice. Indeed, installing this water heater might just be the easiest installation you’d ever have to do, delivering you from hiring a professional which would cost you a few hundred bucks. Nonetheless, you have to make sure that everything is firmly tightened in order to avoid any unplanned events.

The company is based in the US and that means it knows exactly the needs and circumstances of its customer, making each and every model they produce embody the profile of suburban RV owner.

In terms of power, this water heater runs solely on liquid propane, making it an extremely powerful heater but not stronger than the previously reviewed models, the 5117A can heat water at a much higher speed since it compact and cleverly designed to have maximal heat effect on water pipes, resulting in a continuous hot stream of water.

Suburabn 5117A Specs

  • Unit Weight: 35 lbs. empty / 83 lbs. full.
  • Dimensions [inches]: 12-11/16″ high x 12-11/16″ wide x 19-3/16″ deep
  • Capacity: 6 gal.
  • Energy Source: Propane
  • Input: Gas 12,000 BTU / Electric 1400 Watt
  • Features
    • Full Anode Protection which Provides Further Corrosion Protection
    • Bottom Hinged Door.
    • Adjustable Gas Control Valve.
    • Surface or Flush Mount Door.
    • Porcelain-Lined Steel Tank For Long Life
    • Copolymer Insulation Jacket Specially Fitted To The Tank To Retain Heat
    • “Ameri-Glass” Porcelain Tank Lining.
    • Fast Recovery Means More Hot Water And Fewer Cool Water Cycles
    • Regulated 100% Safety Thermostat.

Suburban Sw6De Water Heater Review

Suburban Sw6De RV Water Heater reviewThis is the model that will wrap up the Suburban section of this article and transfer us to the Atwood RV water heaters but not without making a solid closure. Indeed, the Sw6De might be an older design but it’s still amongst the best RV hot water heaters as a lot of RV owners still have one of these hooked to their home.

The Sw6De’s 6 gallons tank water heater has the potential of being your best option on this list if you’re single or living as a couple. This is undeniably a smaller tank heater but it’s still a better option than the total RV electric water heater.

Nonetheless, the SW6De still features a handy electric ignition design, a robust steel tank and an extremely fast recovery speed. Speaking of which, the heater at hand might be small but it still has a recovery rate of 10.2 gallons per hour which should be enough for a couple or a single person. In case you’re looking for anything more than that then you should also be looking at one of the previous models.

In terms of power, this model is also a hybrid, which can’t be compared to an RV hot water heater, meaning it works on both electricity and liquid propane, making it efficient and power saving. This might not be the biggest tank water heater in the game but it’s definitely the fastest and most efficient of them all.

Suburban Sw6De Specs:

  • Unit Weight: 33 lbs
  • Dimensions [inches]: 12-11/16″ high x 12-11/16″ wide x 19-3/16 deep
  • Capacity: 6 gal.
  • Energy Source: Lp gas/electric
  • Input: Gas 12,000 BTU / Electric 1400 Watt
  • Features :
    • Copolymer insulation jackets specially fit the tank to retain heat.
    • Direct Spark / Electric Element.

Atwood RV Water Heaters Reviews

Atwood Mobile 94180 Water Heater Review

Atwood Mobile Products 94180 10 gallon RV water heater reviewAtwood is the biggest rival Suburban has right now and at this point it’s really hard to tell which is leading the race. Actually, it’s almost impossible to determine that since both companies are one of the biggest manufacturers of RV water heaters in general.

Hence, the 94180 has quite some responsibility on its shoulders to represent the company and you can bet your top dollar that they’re not taking it slightly. Indeed, the 94180 might just be the best Atwood RV water heater on the market and you can see that in most of its features. Speaking of which, the heater at hand uses 10 000 British thermal units as an input and has an overall capacity of 10 gallons which is immense which is great.

On the downside, unlike the standard RV water heater, the recovery rate is not the best on this machine as it stands firmly at 8.5 gallons an hour. That might not be the best but it’s definitely nowhere near the worst. In fact, at 8.5 gallons an hour, this is a pretty decent heater and at that price range, you couldn’t really get a better deal.

In terms of fuel, this Atwood runs solely on liquid propane which is the cheaper and most effective option. Of course electricity sounds better but when it comes to performance and expenses, gas will take the lead for a long time.

PS: there is a 6 gallon version of this exact heater which is perfect for families of 2 or solo riders.

Atwood Mobile 94180 Specs:

  • Unit Weight: 32lbs
  • Dimensions [inches]: 16″ W x 15.5″ H x 20.8″ D
  • Capacity: 10 gal.
  • Energy Source: liquid propane gas
  • Input: Gas 10,000 BTU / Electric 1400 Watt
  • Recovery Gallons Per Hour: 8.5 Gal

Atwood Mobile Products 94191 Review

Atwood Mobile Products 94191 Water heater reviewOnto the next Atwood and this time, it’s the 94191. There’s a lot to say about this RV hot water heater but let’s say that the most complex thing about it is that code name. Otherwise, the Atwood at hand is considered to be one of the easiest installations in the industry, delivering you from hiring a professional for basic installation.

The 94191 might not be the most expensive rv tank water heater on the market but it definitely embodies the main criteria of a luxury heater. For starters, the tank on this machine can handle 10 gallons at a time which is far more than sufficient for most day to day tasks and even a nice steamy shower. This might not be perfect for large families but for groups under 3, it should be more than enough.

The 94191 also features direct spark ignition which is awesome and 10 000 British thermal units as an input ratio. As far as the recovery rate is concerned, the heater can work up to 8.5 gallons per hour ready for use and that’s pretty standard for heaters at this price range.

In terms of power, the heater at hand is not be the most technologically advanced on the market; instead it keeps to the efficient and economical gas option which not only gets the job done but in a shorter period of time and for much less.

Atwood Mobile 94191 Specs:

  • Unit Weight: 32lbs
  • Dimensions [inches]: 16″ W x 15.5″ H x 20.8″ D
  • Capacity: 10 gal.
  • Energy Source: liquid propane gas
  • Input: Gas 10,000 BTU / Electric 1400 Watt
  • Recovery Gallons Per Hour: 8.5 Gal

Atwood GC6AA-10E Water Heater Review

Atwood GC6AA-10E RV WATER HEATER reviewLast but definitely not least is the new 6 gallon RV hot water heater GC6AA-10E which is one of Atwood’s latest and greatest addition to a long line of successful and reputable water heaters.

Primarily, this is a tank water heater with an impressive capacity of 6 gallons within this price range. The company’s name aside, this heater can actually speak for itself as it features a direct spark ignition which has never failed us and an input rate of 8800 BTU or 1400 Watt.

Accordingly, you must make sure that you harbour a powerful enough battery that is capable of running this heater because as mentioned earlier this is a hybrid. Indeed, the GC6AA-10E is one of the few Atwood heaters which actually runs on a combination of gas and electricity, making it much more economical and adequate for RV owners.

Eventually, having hot water has never been an easier task because beyond being a next generation heater, the aluminium clad tanks will do a great job maintaining heat inside and preventing it from getting cooler due to exterior factors. Finally, installation is definitely not a big concern here as it is very simple to hook up this machine in case you’re replacing an older model. Otherwise, it is advised to get the help of a professional.

Atwood GC6AA-10E Specs:

  • Unit Weight: 19lbs. Empty/ 68.5lbs Full
  • Dimensions [inches]: 16 W x 12.5 H x 18 D
  • Capacity: 6 gal.
  • Energy Source: LP Gas / 110 Electric
  • Input: Gas 8,800 BTU / Electric 1400 Watt
  • Recovery Gallons Per Hour: 11.6 Gas / 6.2 Electric

7 things you should know about RV water heaters

We firmly believe that the essentiality of water heaters wherever we live has been fairly emphasised. This little machine does not only make life a lot easier for us but also far more enjoyable. Indeed, we can’t really think of anything that would replace a good hot shower on a cold night and that’s only one way in which these little hell machines benefit us.

As far as RV owners are concerned, there shouldn’t be a huge gap to cover up in order to reach the same conclusion. Water heaters are pretty much mandatory for our well being. However, there are a few things that we ought to know before we move ahead with our decision to make water heaters a permanent part of our RV life.

1 – Size matters

Jokes aside, the tank size on a water heater can truly make a huge difference depending on various criteria. Most importantly, the number of people depending on the heater is central to this equation. Hence, RV tank water heaters come in a variety of 4, 6, 8 and up to 12 gallons in total capacity and it is essential to do a little calculation and mark down your exact consumption of hot water before you make the purchase so that you don’t go beyond your need and more importantly so that you don’t go under.

2- The different ways to heat water in a hot water tank for an RV

In term of fuel, it’s quite common knowledge that water heaters often run on liquid propane / gas. Nonetheless, electricity is still a viable option for a lot of people.

Seemingly, however, there is one little argument which often ends up favouring gas powered water heaters and that is the fact that they are more efficient in both cost and actually heating water. However, the bigger surprise is the fact that the best way to go about it is to use your engine’s heat to heat up your water because at the end of the day, your engine will be running anyway and you might as well use that heat to your favour.

3- Or you can go tankless

Although it might sound like a riskier option, going with a RV tankless water heater isn’t really a bad idea. Sure, tankless water heaters are slightly more expensive but on the bright side, you’ll never run out of hot water as long as you still have…water.

4- Upgrading your water heater

One of the most important tasks of an RV owner when it comes to replacing the water heater is the fact that you need to keep in mind that not all systems are the same size. Maybe the unit itself would be the same size as the previous old heater you own but the installation process might be slightly to highly different. So, make sure you’re fully aware of the details surrounding your prospect water heater before you make the purchase.

5- Always empty your heater’s tank before leaving the RV for some time

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in case you purchase a tank water heater for your RV is to leave it full when you know you won’t be using your RV for some time. Hence, make sure to winterize your pipes so that they don’t freeze and crack, leaving you with a mess when you run it back on.

6- Turn off your bypass valve when you hit the road once again

It’s very important that you allow your tank to fill back up as you roll, especially if you’re using engine heat to warm it up.

7- The anode rod is your friend

Corrosion is the number one enemy for water heaters in general and specifically RV tank water heaters. Hence, it’s important that you get an anode rod since they’re super easy to install and they save you quite a lot of money. However, make sure you check on it from time to time to make sure it’s still holding together and once it starts to look corroded, simply remove it and install another one.

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