Can you put a home water heater in an RV?

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Ozarks Jon

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Hello everyone!

I just got an old Mayflower 42 ft. RV about a year ago and the water heater went out.  It?s pretty rusted, old and some off brand that no longer exists.  It seems like RV water heaters are expensive so I?ve just done without hot water.  Would a home water heater work in an RV?  Thanks!
 

Molaker

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Most home water heaters are 220/240v while your RV is 120v.  However, there are some 120v residential water heaters available.  Your current RV WH may or may not operate off 120v (most older WHs are LP only) and special wiring would be required to install a residential WH. The next hurdle is physical size.  The WH in your RV is probably 6 or 10 gal while about the smallest residential is 10 gal or more.  The physical size of a residential WH will most likely require substantial modification to make it fit.  Unless you are pretty handy and have access to tools for the modification, I suspect it would be almost as costly to install the residential WH (properly) as it would be to find and install a used RV WH.  I recommend you look for a used one at a RV salvage.  I think there are some salvagers listed in the library.
 

Frizlefrak

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Given enough time, money, and talent, anything can be done.  The salient question is does the amount of work involved justify the amount of time, money, and talent needed to do the conversion?  I suspect in this case it wouldn't. 

What exactly is missing that's preventing you from just buying a new RV water heater and installing that?  The brand of water heater is irrelevant.  Any RV water heater of the same size will (or can be made to) fit.  The rest is just wiring and plumbing. 
 

Wizard46

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They do make some smaller ones. I have a one gallon, 120 volt water heater in my shop. Good for hand washing only, would never get a shower from it. If interested, I could look up the brand. Its actually a little smaller than the typical RV water heater. 
 

jagnweiner

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A 6 gal gas only Atwood RV water heater is currently $250 at PPL Motorhomes. 6 gal gas/elec is $330.  10 Gal gas/elec is $420.  I agree with Tom.  It's not worth it to try to use a residential unit.
 

John From Detroit

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Can it be done ... Yes,, However.. The RV heater is likely six gallons, Home water heaters start at much larger.. That said there is an "Undersink" heater that is about the same size. You can change out the heat elements.. but then there is another issue.

The RV unit is either Propane, ro Propane/Electric (Mine is the latter)

What would I do?

If I wanted a propane only: Tankless
But if not: Atwood 10gallon in a six gallon hat might be good (not sure) but I'd go with a regular RV unit... Odds of it fitting in the same space are very very high.
 

Lou Schneider

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Home style water heaters are often glass lined - not something you'd want in an RV that's subjected to road bounces and jolts.  There are mobile home rated water heaters that do not have the fragile lining - one of these would be more appropriate if you want to go with a home style unit.
 

DearMissMermaid

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I think one reason the RV hot water tanks seem higher in cost, is they are made to bounce down the road and don't have a glass lining.

When I bought my 1994 RV, I couldn't get the hot water to work, but I could hear the whoosh of the flame. A mobile repairman found a stuck plumbing valve, he replaced that and it's been cooking hot water ever since.

I converted it to an optional electric with a kit, the instructions were so fantastic (using real English) and laymen terms, I was able to do it myself. It came with a long cord and regular plug, so for an idiot like me, I just needed to find an outlet for it.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024ECCJW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0024ECCJW&linkCode=as2&tag=recreationalvehicles-20

Now I can have propane or electric hot water. The electric hybrid is only 400 watts, so it hasn't taxed my electrical load at all.
 

Clay L

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The water heater in my house is not electric - it is natural gas and can be jetted for propane.
The glass lining is a thin layer fused to the metal and I would be surprised if bumps would damage it.

The problem is that the size of most water heaters - even smaller capacity ones - will be pretty large compared to RV units and won't fit the space available in most RVs.
 

Ernie n Tara

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I'd look at used units. Shoule be about $125 or less at a salvage yard, including all of the components. Installation is relatively simple and you could probably trust the average handyman to do it.

Ernie
 

The4Ds

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I'm kinda with the others. The amount of power available to run such an appliance to go along with everything you would have to do to custom fit a unit on any MH would not be ideal. Also I don't believe that anyone has made any mention of the difference in weight between RV type and traditional water heaters. For those that are concerned about water conservation, they do make small regeneration units that work well to "refresh" your hot water line. Though I am not sure about the needs of these units in reference to energy consumption.  For the cost of this I would try to get as "new" of a used unit as possible, retro fit it with a hybrid gas/electric kit and research regen units to bring it altogether. Just an idea though
 

John From Detroit

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If you put in a Propane home water heater yes, you could do that, however those suckers are BIG and I mean BIG, plus when full of water they are HEAVY, and you are going to need to vent it as well.. This is all major work.

Most RV water heaters are the same size and will fit in the same space,,  If you want to go all propane.. Consider a "Instant" or "Tankless" model, bit more expensive but,, Perhaps worth it, endless hot water (At least till you run out of either water or a place to put it).
 
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