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If you’ve been camping long enough, you’d know that we’ve come a long way from the uncomfortable and primitive days of roughing it. Thanks to high-tech gear and accessories, campers can sleep in the great outdoors while enjoying some luxuries from home.
This also means you don’t have to forego a nice, warm shower just because you’re outdoors. That is if you have an electric water heater for camping.
In this article, we’ve rounded up great electric-powered water heaters for camping showers. We also answered your most pressing questions about this amazing technology in the FAQ section, so stick around.
How does an electric water heater for camping work?
They work in the same way: cold water passes through the shower unit, almost instantly heating it by the time it reaches the showerhead or faucet. The difference lies in the power source.
While tankless propane water heaters rely on, well, propane and either D cell batteries or electricity to ignite, an electric water heater for camping typically needs a 120-volt shore power (or 240 volts in rare cases), or a camping generator.
Electric water heaters use a fairly substantial amount of electricity (about 12 amps or 1,400 watts). That’s why most campers still prefer the more economical propane water heaters. However, if you’re traveling on an RV or camper van, electric water heaters make a lot of sense.
The list below includes mostly electric water heaters for RV but we’ve also included one best-selling immersion heater as an alternative.
Best electric water heaters for camping
The Bosch Tronic 3000 T electric mini-tanks are available in three compact sizes: 2.7, 4, and 7 gallons. All three are highly rated on Amazon but we chose the seven-gallon variant because it can give longer hot showers compared to the smaller units.
This electric water heater for RV has a recovery rate of 6.8 GPH at 90°F, reducing the amount of time you have to wait for hot water to start running. Temperature ranges from 65°F to 145°F and you can choose between low, medium, and high heat settings.
The compact seven-gallon tank allows for hot water in the sink and shower, but most users do advise turning it off while soaping up. The water stays pretty warm in between and you can conserve water.
- 7-gallon tank volume
- Requires 12A / 120V
- Fits under the sink or cabinet space
- Thick CFC-free foam insulation for maximum energy efficiency
This tankless electric hot water system from EcoSmart is a great addition to your RV but only if you have 240 volts and a 60-amp double pole breaker. Most RVs have 120 volts and 30 amps so this is the first thing you should check if you’re considering this heater.
If you do meet this requirement, you’ll be rewarded with a modern piece of tech. The ECO 11 has a stylish build, with a display that lets you select temperature by 1-degree increments. And because it’s tankless, it only heats water when needed.
This electric water heater for camping can provide anywhere from 1.3 to 3.1 gallons per minute depending on the inlet water temperature and showerhead flow rate.
As long as the incoming water temperature is above 55°F, and the showerhead flow rate is 1.5 GPM or less, the output temperature will be at least 105°F, just enough for a comfortable hot shower.
- Requires a 60-amp breaker and 240 volts
- Digital temperature control with 1-degree increments
- Provides 1.3 to 3.1 GPM
- 99% thermal energy efficient
- Lifetime warranty
Camplux has a series of propane water heaters, all of which are tankless. Its electric-powered variant is a mini-tank, however, and provides six gallons of hot water. You simply need to plug it into a 120-volt socket and voila, instant hot water.
This space-efficient electric water heater for RV can supply up to two sinks at once. With a fast recovery rate of 6.8 GPH, you don’t need to wait for the water to heat up. You can also use it for a hot shower but it has to be a quick one.
For energy-efficient heating, you can use its adjustable thermostat. When not using the water heater for an extended time in the winter, either unplug or drain the water heater. Or you can turn the thermostat knob to the anti-freeze mode.
- 6-gallon tank volume
- 50-140°F temperature range
- 6.8 GPH and 150 PSI
- Overheat and anti-freeze protection
- Plug-in style
With its compact design, Ariston’s electric water heater for camping is perfect for small spaces like RVs or camper vans, especially since it only needs the standard 110/120-volt outlet. And if you have a bigger space and a tank, it can even be installed as a booster unit.
This mini-tank electric water heater can provide hot water almost instantaneously, with temperatures ranging from 65°F to 161°F. The whole process is also energy-efficient since it has CFC-free foam insulation.
While this unit can provide steady hot water for sinks, it has you’d have to be a little more mindful with your consumption when showering. Like with other mini-tanks listed here, it’s recommended to turn it off while lathering up and then turn it on again to rinse.
- Requires 110/120-volt corded plug
- 65-161°F temperature range
- Titanium glass-lined tank for durability
- Polyurethane foam insulation for increased energy efficiency
- 6-year limited warranty on tank, 2-year warranty on parts
WaiWela (pronounced Vi Vela) means hot water in Hawaiian, and this is exactly what you get from this straightforward, space-saving electric water heater for camping.
The WaiWela WM-6.0 can be used to supply hot water to any point of use including a shower. It gets sufficiently hot fast, too. The six-gallon limitation does mean you’d have to watch your consumption.
This electric water heater for RV is glass-lined for additional durability. It also comes with a 6-year limited warranty on its tank so you can be assured of its quality.
- Adjustable thermostat with overheat protection
- Glass-lined tank
- Requires 110/120 volts
- 6-year limited warranty on tank, 2-year warranty on parts
Let’s say you already have a tent shower, a showerhead, a bucket, and a pump. If you also have a generator or access to a power outlet, GESAIL’s immersion heater will complete your hot water shower system.
You don’t need complicated installations for this portable electric water heater for camping. Simply immerse the high-quality stainless steel heater (but not the black handle and cord) into the water, plug it in, check the power indicator, and wait for a few minutes. It’s that easy!
This heater tube takes only a few minutes to heat the water to 180°F, at which point it will automatically shut off. It can also automatically cycle on and off to maintain water temperature.
And unlike other similar products, this UL-listed heater allows you to put your hands into the water even while the heater is plugged in. There’s no risk of electric shock, provided that you immersed it at the proper level.
- Requires 120 volts and 12.5A
- Can heat five gallons of water over 180°F in a few minutes
- Auto shut-off upon reaching 180-194°F
- 5.9ft. long cord
- UL-listed for safety
How do you choose the best electric water heater for camping?
Aside from pricing, the first thing to consider when choosing an electric water heater for RV is the size of the unit relevant to the space you have in your RV.
Depending on how much space you can spare, you should also decide whether to get a tank model or a tankless one. Mini tanks won’t take a lot of space but their small capacity will also mean your usage will be limited. If you plan to take showers with it, don’t go lower than a 6-gallon tank volume.
If you wish to linger in the shower, choose tankless electric water heaters like EcoSmart ECO 11. It requires less space and needs water as needed.
Other considerations include energy efficiency, flow rate (but this is also dependent on your showerhead), temperature range, quality of the materials, and built-in safety features. Having overheat and anti-freeze protection is always a plus.
Which is better for camping: propane or electric water heaters?
If you’re after portability, propane water heaters are more ideal since they don’t have to be plugged in. But if you’ll be staying in a place where there is shore power, electric water heaters will make sense.
As for fuel costs and energy, propane water heaters are also more efficient. A propane tank can last you a long time, while electric water heaters consume a substantial amount of power. To offset this, you can use an alternator charger to heat the water while the RV or camper van is running.
How else can I heat my shower while camping?
Besides traditional water heater units powered by either propane or electricity, you can also consider immersion heaters like GESAIL. These portable items are great if you already have the necessary accessories for shower systems: the showerhead, pump, bucket for your water, and your tent shower.
Can I leave my water heater on?
Unlike propane water heaters, it’s safe to leave your electric water heaters running. But it’s much better to turn it off between uses to save energy. If you’re running it on battery, you don’t want it to drain your power.
In addition, you have to make sure to not leave the heater on while the tank runs empty (if you’re using a tank system). When the unit heats in the absence of water, you risk burning the unit and your RV.
Are electric water heaters for camping safe?
Electric water heaters are generally safe. They produce no carbon monoxide and pose no threat of combustion or explosion. But, if not installed or maintained properly, they can also be dangerous.
If an electric water heater’s thermostat fails, the water can become too hot and severely burn you. It can also cause a fire hazard. Additionally, since it involves electricity, damaged units can also pose a risk of electrocution.
To avoid dangers like these, check the instructions from the manufacturer and ensure proper maintenance of the unit.
Yes, you don’t have to dread cold morning showers at camp. For nice warm showers on your next camping trip, consider any of these electric water heaters. Stay warm, camper!
Looking for more water heater options? These might help you: