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Old Yesterday, 03:49 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Colorado Mtns
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Question Hot Water options

I am looking at adding a hot water heater, which I could then plumb a shower outlet out the back of the van, possibly out the barn door.

I am a bit overwhelmed with all the different options. We mtn bike a lot, family of 4, and we tend to ride in the desert of Southern Utah and Western Colorado. We want to be able to rinse off after a couple days of riding.

My question to the groups, is what are people running? Whats the best plug and play option. I can tap into the propane, or run electric. If you were spending my money what would you tell me to buy?

Thanks in advance. I recently asked a similar questions about which headlight replacements to order. Such good responses that it made the decision making super easy, so thanks for that, and for entraining this question. Y'all have a wealth of knowledge. Who knew owning a camper van would be so involved. But thats half the fun isn't it?
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Old Yesterday, 06:43 PM   #2
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Got this 200watt DC screw-in water heater with thermostat from MWS Missouri Wind and Solar. 200w at 12v is 16 amps. I plan to most likely turn it on while I'm driving on a given day and then the water temp will be at whatever set point i use on the thermostat after a little experimentation. My basic use is showering after mountain biking as well. FYI, that is the skid plate that is part of the U_Joint Offroad floor locker/skid plate kit.
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DC heater.jpg   Deck Fill.jpg   heater.jpg   Tank.jpg  
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Old Yesterday, 09:13 PM   #3
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Has anyone played with an on demand water heater? Electric or propane?
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Old Today, 12:47 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THaley View Post
Has anyone played with an on demand water heater? Electric or propane?
Electric on demand is next to impossible unless huge battery bank or generator. Propane on demand has been used a lot - EcoTemp or Triton or Joolca are main go to.

Other systems are diesel or gas fired heat exchanger based such as Espar/ Webasto Hydronic.

These all work well for showering as this is a continuous type use stream of hot water and will provide as much hot water as you have capacity. Some even are setup to draw water from a stream/lake/bucket.

The downsides of these are they require setup, combustion requires them to be mounted so they are outdoors when in use, and if you only need a small amount of hot water to wash hands, a shave, or wash/rinse of a couple dishes you will not have hot water. Also, these systems are not going to be practical for sub freezing weather camping.

A tank of hot water is nice for small use needs but then is limited to the number of gallons in the tank. For a van, 3 to 4 gallons is about the right amount of hot water capacity in terms of dedicated interior space and if it is stored at a well insulated 160 deg and dispensed via a thermostatically controlled mixing valve you have around 6 gallons worth of hot water on demand if you preplanned and turned it on.

The electric 200w 12v DC heater element is sized about perfectly for a 350 plus watt solar panel system if using a controller w managed load diversion capability. It also takes fore thought to use since 3 to 4 gallons will require 3 to 4 hours to heat up from 60 deg ambient to 120 deg.
https://gettopics.com/en/calc/water-heating-time

A really great and cheap solar water heating system is the solar bag. 2 of the 2.5gal units works better than a single 5 gal. It is much easier to manage 20 pounds of water than 40. You also have more surface area for heating the water. I have measured Sun Shower bag water temps of 114F on a 50F sunny day.
https://www.amazon.com/Stearns-Sun-S.../dp/B000NVA1GO

Downsides are you have to use the hot water by 4 or 5 pm. The water temp drops quickly as the sun and air temps drop.

We use a combination of:
A. electric 750w 120vac and a custom 220w 12vdc element mounted in a Isotemp SPA15 Stainless water heater, and
B. two 2.5 gal Sun Shower bags

The AC is used while driving via the alternator/inverter or shore power if hooked up and takes about an hour and half to heat the water to 160 deg. About 45 mins to get to 120F.

DC is used if we know the drive is going to be 4 or 5 hours especially if traveling in the evening. The 12 vdc element can also be energized from the batteries and solar panel system. It takes a bit more than 60 amps of 12vdc current to heat water from 60F to 120F.

The Sun Showers lay flat atop the rear bumper box and are great rinse off sources.

Our only challenge is snowy winter or heavy overcast/shaded days for a couple or more days when we are not driving since we are then beholden to solar. I have been considering adding a diesel fired coolant heater and utilizing the SPA15 built in heat exchanger. This would give us the ability to heat water via the diesel heat exchanger and store the hot water in the tank for small use and late at night. We could run the diesel heater for 20 to 30 mins and have 4 gals of hot water stored.

Hot water is a wonderful luxury. Not easy to achieve elegantly or inexpensively. We have often resorted to the backpacking method of heating the water in a pot on a propane/butane stove since that works really well, lol!!
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Old Today, 08:05 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1der View Post
Electric is next to impossible unless huge battery bank or generator. Propane on demand has been used a lot - EcoTemp or Triton or Joolca are main go to.

Other systems are diesel or gas fired heat exchanger based such as Espar/ Webasto Hydronic.

These all work well for showering as this is a continuous type use stream of hot water and will provide as much hot water as you have capacity. Some even are setup to draw water from a stream/lake/bucket.

The downsides of these are they require setup, combustion requires them to be mounted so they are outdoors when in use, and if you only need a small amount of hot water to wash hands, a shave, or wash/rinse of a couple dishes you will not have hot water. Also, these systems are not going to be practical for sub freezing weather camping.

A tank of hot water is nice for small use needs but then is limited to the number of gallons in the tank. For a van, 3 to 4 gallons is about the right amount of hot water capacity in terms of dedicated interior space and if it is stored at a well insulated 160 deg and dispensed via a thermostatically controlled mixing valve you have around 6 gallons worth of hot water on demand if you preplanned snd turned it on.

The electric 200w 12v DC heater element is sized about perfectly for a 350 plus watt solar panel system if using a controller w managed load diversion capability. It also takes fore thought to use since 3 to 4 gallons will require 3 to 4 hours to heat up from 60 deg ambient to 120 deg.
https://gettopics.com/en/calc/water-heating-time

A really great and cheap solar water heating system is the solar bag. 2 of the 2.5gal units works better than a single 5 gal. It is much easier to manage 20 pounds of water than 40. You also have more surface area for heating the water. I have measured Sun Shower bag water temps of 114F on a 50F sunny day.
https://www.amazon.com/Stearns-Sun-S.../dp/B000NVA1GO

Downsides are you have to use the hot water by 4 or 5 pm. The water temp drops quickly as the sun and air temps drop.

We use a combination of:
A. electric 750w 120vac and a custom 220w 12vdc element mounted in a Isotemp SPA15 Stainless water heater, and
B. two 2.5 gal Sun Shower bags

The AC is used while driving via the alternator/inverter or shore power if hooked up and takes about an hour and half to heat the water to 160 deg. About 45 mins to get to 120F.

DC is used if we know the drive is going to be 4 or 5 hours especially if traveling in the evening. The 12 vdc element can also be energized from the batteries and solar panel system. It takes a bit more than 60 amps of 12vdc current to heat water from 60F to 120F.

The Sun Showers lay flat atop the rear bumper box anc are great rinse off sources.

Our only challenge is snowy winter or heavy overcast/shaded days for a couple or more days when we are not driving since we are then beholden to solar. I have been considering adding a diesel fired coolant heater and utilizing the SPA15 built in heat exchanger. This would give us the ability to heat water via the diesel heat exchanger and store the hot water in a tank field small use and late at night. We could run the diesel heater for an twenty to 30 mins and have 4 gals of hot water stored.

Hot water is a wonderful luxury. Not easy to achieve elegantly or inexpensively. We have often resorted to the backpacking method of heating the water in a pot on a propane/butane stove since that works really well, lol!!

This is exactly what I was looking for. You comprehensively laid out options and resources. Your knowledge on the topic is apparent and I am grateful that you were willing to share it with me and anyone else who reads this.

Many thanks 1der! Hot water awaits my family!
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Old Today, 10:11 AM   #6
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We use a tankless propane water heater for hot showers and it works pretty well. I just have it setup with quick connect fittings and I hang it off the rear bumper and connect to the cold water supply of the van to pump water through it. Pretty cheap and easy solution if you already have running cold water.
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Old Today, 10:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenJJ View Post
We use a tankless propane water heater for hot showers and it works pretty well. I just have it setup with quick connect fittings and I hang it off the rear bumper and connect to the cold water supply of the van to pump water through it. Pretty cheap and easy solution if you already have running cold water.
More info or photos? This sounds like what we are wanting to do.
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Old Today, 11:43 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THaley View Post
More info or photos? This sounds like what we are wanting to do.
Only photos I could track down. Basically we have a quick connect hose coming off the back already for our fresh water that is connected to a 12V pump. just run that hose (black one) to the inlet of the water heater and then have a separate hose (blue one) on the outlet with a shower head. I have a 20lb bbq propane tank mounted inside my aluminess box that I just run an extension from for the propane.
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Old Today, 08:45 PM   #9
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Join Date: May 2018
Location: Arizona
Posts: 29
This is not "plugged and play" by a mile but I hope to achieve a fairly "convenient" hot water capability through a combination of solar and engine coolant heat exchanger heating.

The figures do not show the heat exchanger (see attached figure for those details). There is a solar flow pump and mixer valve with a heat exchanger in series with the rear heater core. I'm also putting in a cable-controlled cutoff valve at the rear of the motor to stop this from flowing to the rear in warmer months.

https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/fo...ter-28425.html

With a solar shower and a planned swamp cooler, I have upped my 21-gallon tank to 33 gallons but it basically sits in the same footprint only a little taller. Most all of the plumbing will go behind the plastic interior covers or is mounted directly in a pull-out kitchen cabinet.

So this will provide the efficiency and convenience of solar heat, but if I want some after dark showering then oi can run the engine for 10-15 minutes till I get over 120 deg F and that will augment whatever residual heat is left on the roof.

The PVC pipe on the roof is 2.5 gallons so in total it is probably not over 35 lbs filled. Once it is all done it should be relatively flexible and convenient.

There is also a 70-watt electric hot water heater/pad set to kick on at 45 deg F and a servo-controlled solenoid valve to circulate the solar water if it drops to close to freezing. The heater and the servo should be automatic and work together once switched on.

3"x8" Brazed 30 Plate Heat Exchanger 1/2" FNPT 316L Stainless Steel W/Brackets
https://www.ebay.com/itm/184278882412

Facon 7-1/4" x 25" RV Water Tank Heater Pad with Automatic Thermostat 12V DC
https://www.ebay.com/itm/301724283064

Thermostatic Mixing Valve with 1/2 NPT Male Connections, Water Temperature Control Valve, Solid Brass
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1


DZS Elec Temperature Controller -50 to 110 Celsius (-58 to 230 F) DC 12V Programmable Heating / Cooling Thermostat Control NTC Module Waterproof Sensor Dual Color Sensor LED

Monitorhttps://www.amazon.com/-/es/gp/product/B07K68JJY1/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

bayite BYT-7A014 DC 12V solar hot water heater low noise circulation pump 3M discharge head 2.1GPM
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

USA Seller - Bopu 2W025-08 DC12V 1/4" Electro Pneumatic Solenoid Valve Hydraulic
https://www.ebay.com/itm/324514575217
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HeatExhanger.jpg  
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