RV Water Heater Buyers Guide

Water Heaters 

When choosing an RV water heater take into consideration what size or capacity you need to install. RV water heaters are rated in gallons. This rating is the number of gallons the water heater can heat and store. It is important to also important to look at the water heaters recovery time (how quickly it can heat a new tank full of water).

After you have chosen the size that is going to fit your space it is important to choose power options for your heater. You can either choose between electric, gas or both. An electric water heater will run off of your 110V power supply. A gas water heater will draw its power from your LP system. You can also choose a water heater that will give you a combination of both giving you the choice of what power to operate off of.

If you are going to be using a gas water heater, you will need to choose what type of ignition you want. You will have the choice between a pilot water heater or a direct spark (electric) water heater.

Water Heater Pilot Ignition


The Pilot Light is a small gas flame which is kept lit in order to serve as an ignition source for a more powerful gas burner. The basic idea behind a pilot light is simple. Its purpose is to provide the flame needed to light the gas coming out of the main burner. When the water heater "turns on" a valve releases gas into the burner and the pilot light ignites that gas.



Direct Spark or Electric Ignition is a type of electronic pilot ignition. It ignites the gas directly at the burner from a spark. An easy way to remember it is Direct Spark is a system used to ignite the burner on a propane appliance with the touch of a button. Most Direct Spark water heater give you the option of mounting or installing the ignition switch on the inside of the coach not only making it more convenient to operate but also saving you from making trips out into nasty weather.

Direct Spark Ignition Control Switch


There are two major manufactures of RV Water heaters; Suburban and Atwood. Suburban and Atwood both have there own unique ways of increasing the life of there products and limited the number of repairs or replacement they require in their lifetime.

Atwood Suburban

The Atwood tank is constructed of a high strength aluminum core with a bonded corrosion fighting cladding material on the interior surface to assure a long life. This eliminates the need for an anode rod and its annual replacement.

Heated water attacks metals, but not porcelain. That's why Suburban uses a porcelain-lined, steel water heater tank with an anode rod to ''absorb'' the electrolytic action - just like your water heater at home. In fact, when a Suburban porcelain-lined tank is properly maintained, tank life may double or triple its three-year limited warranty, saving owners the cost of premature replacement.

There is one last option that you need to be aware of when choosing the right water heater. Some water heaters have a motor aid or heat exchange option as a secondary heating method. This feature if you choose to utilize engine heat pumped through an integrated Heat Exchanger that will preheat your water as your driving down the road. Simply put the motor aid option supplies engine heat to water heater so that you have instant hot water upon arrival.

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