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Old 10-18-2014, 10:23 PM   #1
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Need help with the pro's and cons of hot water setups

Flat plate, propane, on demand, with tank, etc, etc.

Putting together my build and need the collective forum wisdom to help me figure out how to handle water heating needs. The Mrs and I both love to have some decent hot water for showers, washing, etc, and with a baby, it is even more important.

Advice? Love what you have? Hate what you have? Would you do it again or what would you do differently next time?

Thanks
Joe
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Old 10-18-2014, 11:43 PM   #2
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Re: Need help with the pro's and cons of hot water setups

We have propane for cooking and heat in addition to hot water.
However, we hardly ever use the water heater. We mostly dry camp in the desert.
It wastes too much water when you turn it on waiting for it to get hot. We could catch and reuse that water, but that's a hassle. We just heat a pan of water on the stove for coffee or washing.
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Old 10-18-2014, 11:56 PM   #3
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Re: Need help with the pro's and cons of hot water setups

I wasn't going to post because I want a shower, and have Dual Top diesel furnace / water heater. But I have never hooked it up. But I will someday. So, on one or two night stays we have been heating water like Viejo for wash cloth washing. But we don't use propane, so I have been heating water in Pyrex 8-cup measuring cup with cover and spout in the microwave. And I lovingly pour the warm water over my wife's hair over a wash pan for the wash and rinse. We think of it as "couple's" time.

But I think she would prefer a shower...
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Old 10-19-2014, 12:00 AM   #4
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Re: Need help with the pro's and cons of hot water setups

Same I just heat the water on the stove and add it to the portable helio shower to use that. It's just another system to break , not work or use all you water.
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Old 10-19-2014, 12:21 AM   #5
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Re: Need help with the pro's and cons of hot water setups

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gooseberry
Same I just heat the water on the stove and add it to the portable helio shower to use that. It's just another system to break , not work or use all you water.
Interesting, I hadn't really considered that. How do you get water for that? Is there an easy way to fill it from the van's water tank?

Doing so would save me a couple grand for sure!
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Old 10-19-2014, 12:41 AM   #6
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Need help with the pro's and cons of hot water setups

I have 15g in two tanks and just use the sink to fill it part way up then heat water from the sink to get it hot and add to shower and good. Its not as easy as flipping a switch but works
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Old 10-19-2014, 12:45 AM   #7
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Re: Need help with the pro's and cons of hot water setups

You could even fill the helio and solar heat it for the basics. I really like its size to usefulness ratio
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Old 10-19-2014, 09:29 AM   #8
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Re: Need help with the pro's and cons of hot water setups

My van had cold water only, so I recently added an Ecotemp L5 that I got for only $118 on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000TX ... UTF8&psc=1

I had to add it to my van sort of after the fact in terms of my interior build, but absolutely no complaints so far for having hot water, especially for the price. I'm using only a 1 lb. propane cylinder still, since it was all an experiment anyway and I didn't want to plumb in something that wouldn't work, and I'm still on my first cylinder 3 trips later! It exhausts a decent bit in to the van, so we keep a rear door open when doing anything more than a quick hand or face wash, but it is absolutely unbeatable to instantly have a hot pot of water. I will update after we've showered a bit more with it, but I only got mine for a very occasional shower anyway. We fill up our portable dish washing bins with steamy water and it makes meal clean up a breeze.
**Disclaimer!** I live at low altitude and only occasionally travel anywhere above about 3k elevation. Brent Haywood (Haywoodphotomaccom) has tested an L7 unit at altitude and said it didn't do very well, so YMMV. So far, ours works great for us.



I'm still looking for a better permanent location for mine where it can vent better. It gets the bottom of the cabinet hot, but this ONLY a temporary deal and I monitor it closely. I'm sure it doesn't look great from a safety point of view if you know how hot one of these can get on top. It needs more room to breathe. I have taken a couple of quick showers, though, and it was fine. I added more metal heat shield under there than you can see. This is NOT a setup for long "Calgon take me away" 20 minute showers.

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Old 10-19-2014, 09:51 AM   #9
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Re: Need help with the pro's and cons of hot water setups

We have the SMB propane option and love it. Nothing like a warm shower after a couple of days of camping. We have an outside shower connection and a pop-up tent for taking showers where others are around but don't bother with the tent when boon-docking. A few years ago, I converted our original two-facet system to a single-knob connection (which I think is now standard) and that works better.

We turn on the hot water heater just about every morning to wash up and in the evening if we might have dishes to wash.

I don't even think about the water "wasted" while waiting for the hot water to get to the sink. While the water heater is warming up, we turn on the hot water for any task needing water. If you need to wash your hands, turn on the hot water (which is still cold) rather than the cold water. No waste...

We have the standard 10 gallon inside water tank plus four 5-gallon jerry cans of water in a basket on the rear bumper. Hence, we don't worry too much about having enough water. We backpacked for decades and limited ourselves to a warm shower on the trail only about once every few days (due to the fuel needed to heat the water) so taking a warm shower every other day is considered a regular part of camping rather than a luxury.
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Old 10-19-2014, 04:47 PM   #10
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Re: Need help with the pro's and cons of hot water setups

I have an Espar & flat plate. 18 gallon tank isn't much but I only use it for bathing as a rule and haul bottled water for drinking. I've been able to get 7 or more sub type showers and still have water in the tank. A lot depends on washing hair. The flat plate is prone to freezing so you have to deal with that and if you're into snow camping it might be a deal breaker. I have a outside shower so about the only thing I wash outside in super cold temps is my hair and resort to inside submarine wipe down type bathing. About the coldest I've been in is 8* and lines froze. Provided I crank up the Espar from time to time I've had good luck keeping the flat plate from being damaged and the lines open. It does help to keep the heater inside the van running as well. Draining the system sucks and you're w/o any water. Some move all the lines and flat plate inside but I don't want a hot flat plate inside either. YMMV. You do lose water waiting for hot water to reach the tap at the sink and I added the outside wand connection close to the Flat plate so it's not as bad as when I used the rear wand (which is still there). A tempering valve is needed using a flat plate as the water is so hot and difficult to adjust. If I had a gas engine I'd think about a flat plate only if I stayed out of freezing temps below 10* just because hot water isn't that big of a deal to me and running the engine for a shower wouldn't be a problem in my view. To tell the truth I run the Espar to heat the engine block and the hot water at the tap is just a luxury but on long trips nothing feels better than a shower. I'm currently looking for a way to filter water and draft from a stream.
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