Caravan Repair Centre

Caravan Hot Water Heater

Caravan Hot Water Heater

Having hot water in your caravan, motorhome or RV may sound like a dream to some, but it can easily be a reality. Why is it that not all vans have hot water heaters you may ask. For vans that don’t have an ensuite, when it comes to washing dishes, most people will simply boil the kettle. For anyone with an onboard shower, you’ve gone to the effort and expense of having the shower and water tanks installed you would be wanting to have a hot shower while you’re at it, especially if you are travelling with kids. Having a hot water heater though does come with some considerations.

When it comes to caravan water heaters there are two main options. The traditional caravan water heaters that have a holding tank that you need to switch on prior to wanting to use in order to give it time to heat up. The other option is the instantaneous hot water heater which is sometimes referred to as on demand hot water heaters. These water heaters allow you to access hot water at the turn of the tap, rather than having to remember to switch the unit on and wait up to an hour before being able to use.

If you are trying to keep your weights down (which honestly who isn’t) and you are planning on travelling to cooler destinations, there are combination units available which combine your hot water heater and air heater into one compact and efficient unit such as the Truma Combi.

Whether you are just wanting a hot water heater to replace an existing unit in your caravan, you are renovating an old van or you are wanting to modify your caravan to include a shower or toilet you will need to consider:

  • Weight of the unit
  • Weight of the water in the tanks
  • Water tanks & plumbing
  • Any gas units will require you to have a gas certificate upon installation for road worthy, registration.
  • Available space for installation
  • Weight of gas bottles
  • Correct storage and space available for gas bottles
  • Your budget as there is a number of models available and they vary greatly in price, but not all RV hot water heaters are created equal.

If you have a smaller caravan, camper trailer or pop top and don’t think you have the space for an internal shower, have you considered an external shower? If you want to know what your options are, our team are happy to discuss your needs and your setup to get you the best option. Please contact us

12v Hot Water System FAQ

Caravan instantaneous hot water heaters are still relatively new to the market as technology has advanced. Though they are termed instantaneous, you will generally have a short delay before you have hot water. The time you will wait varies upon models but can be between 15- 60 seconds. This compared with the more traditional hot water systems which can take 40 – 60 minutes to heat the water in the tank before you can use it. Instantaneous HWS generally don’t require their own water holding tank either, as it heats the water as it comes through the heat exchanger. The other major difference is price. The instantaneous though sounds a lot more convenient it is generally a lot more pricey.

You may also see this referred to as the fascia. The cowl is the external vent covering which is the part you will see on the outside of your van. This is usually available in white or black to match you’re the externals of your caravan and its accessories.

This varies across models so it is important to check your product manual.

Some units such as the Suburban, use a sacrificial anode rod which needs to be replaced every 6-12 months (regardless of use), while other units such as the Truma AquaGo will use decalcification tablets. If your RV hot water system uses a holding tank such as the Swift hot water system, you will need to clean out your tank from time to time and when your van is not in use, drain the water out use to prevent any nasties building up in the tank. Other common maintenance includes checking and or replacing the element.

Like any appliance, servicing and installation by a qualified technician is recommended to extend the life of the unit and to ensure you do not void the warranty by damaging the unit or hurt yourself.

Not all hot water systems use an anode rod, however if yours does, it does have a very important job. The water in the hot water system tank is slightly corrosive, depending on the hardness and minerals in the water. An anode rod is made of a softer metal than the tank to ensure that the corrosion is redirected to the anode rod. Therefore, the rod will corrode meaning you do need to regularly replace this. We recommend every 6-12 months.

If you aren’t sure which model hot water heater you have, if in doubt, you can always go the smaller size, but you will need to check it more frequently. Alternatively, measure the length of the tank choose the closest length anode.

You can check your serial number online via Coast To Coast website here:


If your model is affected, Coast to Coast will manage the recall process with you.