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Old 12-09-2019, 12:05 AM   #1
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Newbee with water heating question

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.

Link:

https://www.westmarine.com/buy/whale...35?recordNum=1

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.
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:47 PM   #2
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I'm sure you will get more detailed replies, and there is an abundance of infor on this forum for the low cost of a search...

Anyhow, bottom line is an electric water heater is only viable if you are on shore power (or maybe a generator).

I'm sorta wondering how there could be room in a van for 4 people, a dog, fresh and grey water tanks, and a water heater. You may need to upsize the coach!!
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Old 12-09-2019, 07:56 PM   #3
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I really like the balance of cost, size and simplicity of that whale unit. 3 gallons is a pretty good size if you shower one at a time. In the RV's and vans we've had we've tried to split our showers to one person a day which cuts down on water, power, etc. This doesn't always work but for most trips it has. With this one that kind of thing could be easy.

I'd love for Scalf or someone to chime in on how serious a hit 30 amps for an hour would tax a small van size power bank and alternator with other things running. I would definitely think you would want to heat while driving or at least idling.
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Old 12-09-2019, 08:01 PM   #4
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Here's another option I just found on Amazon. It's 110v AC but only pulls 1440 watts, perhaps doable with an inverter.

https://www.amazon.com/Eccotemp-EM-4...omotive&sr=1-5
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Old 12-09-2019, 09:29 PM   #5
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You can look at my build thread, post 133, to see how I built my 2-1/2 gallon, 12 volt hot water system.


http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...-20698-14.html


So far, the system has worked pretty good. It provides plenty of hot water for cleaning up, washing dishes, etc. I have not used it for showering yet.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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Old 12-10-2019, 12:21 PM   #6
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There's room!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhally View Post
I'm sorta wondering how there could be room in a van for 4 people, a dog, fresh and grey water tanks, and a water heater. You may need to upsize the coach!!
Just a comment on this, we did this in our GTRV for years, minus the dog, and could've accommodated a pooch if we wanted.
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Old 12-10-2019, 12:22 PM   #7
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I have the similar modified 2 1/2 gallon to 300w/12volt hot water heater also. Works fantastic for us. At the risk of hijacking RVRRNNR's topic I just wanted to share a tip I did on mine. The jumper on mine is made of aluminum (arrow in the picture). This was probably fine with the 1440watt heating element at 13 amps/AC but after converting it to 300 watts/DC I am hustling 22-25 amps through it which made it get very,very hot. It is contained under the metal cover so not a fire hazard but it's a lot of wasted energy not heating the water. I made a new jumper out of copper bar with the similar dimensions as the aluminum one and it is barley warm after an hour of running.

Just wanted to pass this on as it seems this water heater conversion is popular.

-Eric


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Old 12-10-2019, 01:48 PM   #8
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Thanks for the input so far. I was considering getting a small Rheem water heater and doing the conversion that many others on the forum have discussed. Great tip on the aluminum jumper as well. I was mainly curious if anyone had used the small Whale 12v water heater. I like the small size and square shape as it will be easier to fit into my van and wouldn't require any modifications to work off of 12V.

Yes, our van does get cozy with 2 adults, 2 kids and a dog. The good news is, with that many bodies in such a small space, there isn't much need for added cabin heat!
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Old 12-15-2019, 11:48 AM   #9
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I have the SMB Propane system: house heater, hot water heater, fresh and gray water tanks and sink. Easy to fill propane tank....16 years with NO issues.
I would at least look at their diagram, layout of items...so simple, clean and efficient.
The original shower was inside, more trouble than it was worth...so today I attach a wand shower head, stand in a plastic tub and end up fresh as a daisy....lol
No way would I ever tap into the cooling system....bad idea.
Well checking AZ map for trip after the holidays ...southern AZ........
Enjoy your project...you will get lots of advice here...very good advice and ideas.
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