Re: Thoughts on this water heater option? Installed one now
I've followed the tankless WH quest for many years, mostly in RV blogs. Here's a summary of the hundreds of posts out there. They don't work well for boondocking by themselves. The heater won't work w/o at least 20 lb pressure. This prevents being able to take Navy showers, which we must do if we're not on shore water. When the shower head valve is turned off, the pump quits. The heater shuts down, too; but it doesn't immediately give hot water just by reopening the shower valve.
Now, many people have gotten around this and use the Ecotemp fine. It takes some ingenuity, plumbing, and safety awareness. A continuous flow loop can be installed that cycles the water back to the main tank or into an accumulator tank when the Navy valve is closed. The 12V pump keeps running. Most cycle it back to the main tank for ease; but they complain this makes all their drinking water warm.
More than a few complain about the pilot blowing out in wind. The Ecotemp may be circuit boarded to prevent this; i donno. You guys are the first I've ever known with a pair big enough to put a toxic gas producing appliance in the cabin. But everyone has their own level of risk acceptance. Most hang the Ecotemp outside, even if they take their shower inside (usually a truck camper). They like it but the controls are out of reach, they have to go hang it in the cold and rain, an they have to hook up the propane, water line and electrical line each time. They say they get used to it.
Most who buy the smaller outdoor model regret it and rerun it for the larger one.
Some people use their Ecotemp just to make hot water to store in a tank or 3-gal water jug. Using the pump and some additional plumbing, they mix that water with some cold and take a Navy shower that way.
Of all our hot water choices, I think the Ecotemp is the cheapest, least problematical, and most versatile. It allows showering or other cleaning outside. If I end up deciding to use propane for water heating, I'll buy it with the understanding I'll have to plumb in the loop.
As of now, however, I'm going with an Isotemp 5-gal water heater tank heated off the engine or 120V. It heats up to 150* but has a built-in temperature control compensator and a hot and cold mixer. Supposedly, just a little bit of 150* water is needed to make warm water. They say this makes it last a long time. The tank stays hot as long as 20 hrs. Since it's a tank system, there's no problem using a shower head valve. My problem is finding room for a 5-gal "bucket".
1999.5 E-350 RB cargo 7.3