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Christensen 05-12-2008 07:30 PM

Can I instal a water heater? What Kind is best?
So I am wondering how dificult it would be to instal a water heater and an external shower? The rig did not come with one and I would really like one. I have read a bit on here about the heaters but if you could give me thoughts on if this is possible and if so what type of heater do I want? I can handle most mod jobs but If any of you could give some pointers on where to start that would be very helpful.


jlrray 05-12-2008 11:00 PM

I'm interested in it too..
I've checked into the exterior shower head / valve sets. They run about $35 to about a $100 that i've seen online. I imagine you'll have to run some sort of PEX line to your freshwater pump or to the heater. I'd be interested in seeing a schematic or plan of it completed. I think it be great for surfing or washing off in general.


jage 05-13-2008 01:15 AM

A coleman propane portable wate heater would solve both problems and you could leave it out when hot was not needed...

Portable Hot Water

Ok I guess for showers you'd have to bring a solar shower and fill it from the coleman.

scatter 05-13-2008 10:21 AM

We use the portable Coleman Jage linked too and there is an option for a shower wand to hook to the Coleman for a great shower. Use it all the time. Can even drop the pickup in a creek or lake and have unlimited hot water - as long as the propane doesn't run out....

Greggd 05-14-2008 01:09 AM

Hot Shower
Check out the Zodi line of Hot Showers , Cabelas , Sport Chalet ,Bass Pro all carry fhem . They have served our family very well for the last ten years and they are more compact and reliable for showers than the Coleman unit . They are like a dream before and after winter surf sessions from Rincon to Mavericks .

John Kalmbach 05-14-2008 01:45 AM

water heater
A couple options on the water heater (I'm sure there are more);

Under the van on the driver side, directly below the city water connection, you should find a small brass drain valve. This valve has pressure against it whenever the water pump is "on". You can add a "quick connect" fitting to this valve (using hose clamp and adapters to make it work if you don't have the special crimp tool for the PEX tubing). Install the mating quick connect fitting to the hose on the Coleman water heater that Jage has recommended. You now can use your on-board water and heat it with the Coleman. It has been done at least a couple times with another small propane "instant" water heater and worked great.

If you don't want to mess with setting anything up, the FlatPlate heat exchanger works really good and is easy to install. You would need to operate your engine when you wanted hot water, but you'd be charging your batteries at the same time. If you go this route, make sure you order the new style exterior shower connector from SMB, it is a very nice unit. . If you go this route, you might want to make sure you also have SMB supply a mixing valve to prevent hot water scalding. They should now be using this as standard equipment with any FlatPlate installed.

Good Luck!
John K.

jlrray 05-14-2008 02:11 AM

Have you done either of these? The flat plate exchanger looks interesting. how long does it take to heat water?

Christensen 05-16-2008 03:44 PM

Can you tell me more?
I have heard a bit about the flat plate heater. Can you tell me more about it? Where can I find the info?


John Kalmbach 05-16-2008 10:42 PM

water heater
The FlatPlate heat exchanger transfers heat from your engine coolant through a series of stainless steel plates to your potable water system. The original FlatPlates used in SMB's were only single wall construction and have/are being replaced by double wall constructed units to ensure safe use.

The advantages of the FlatPlate water heater over a conventional six gallon lp gas unit is how small and compact it is (can install under/outside of van), plus it's ability to quickly provide just the amount of hot water you need (on demand). It was originally chosen for use on a diesel SMB, and to be used in conjunction with the Espar Hydronic heater. It has been installed many times in gas SMB's, especially with an additional water circulation pump to minimize engine run time.

You can get additional information at

John K.

Christensen 05-18-2008 09:48 AM

can I do it?
John K
I would like to put one of these in. Is the best way to go about it to talk to SMB. Can you buy kits for it or do you have to have somone to it for you?


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