Now that winter is here I'm gearing up for some remodel work on my "new to me" SMB. Our van has no water system to speak of so I'm adding fresh water and gray water tanks in addition to a sink and outdoor shower to rinse off the kids and the dog. My wife has made it clear that a water heater is a must and she wouldn't bite on the idea of a portable propane water heater!
I've been going back and forth on water heater options and have read thru many of the threads on this topic. Our van is diesel and does NOT have a propane system. I've talked with Peter at SMB about the Rixen Espar D5 system for both hot water and cabin heat. After seeing the price quote and reading about some of the issues with SMB installs of this system, I'm now looking at other options.
I've read a few threads talking about a small 2-3 gal water heater that is both electric 115V and has a plate heat exchanger. Specifically I was looking at the Isotemp Slim Square. I like the idea of using the engine heat to warm the water heater as we drive and I really like the possibility of adding a few more gallons of water capacity to our system. There seems to be a lot of concern about linking the engine coolant to the water system as it puts the extended engine coolant lines at risk to trail damage. Has anyone actually had this happen? Trying to judge if the risk is worth the reward.
In my quest to find a suitable water heater, I also stumbled across a 12v, 3 gallon water heater made by Whale.
Has anyone tried using this water heater? It seems nice and compact and doesn't have to go thru the inverter to work. We don't currently have solar but plan on adding it at some point in the future. Until then I was thinking I'd run the water heater while driving and shut it off when we get to camp. The hot water should at least stay warm for several hours without using any battery power.