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Small Cabin Forum / General Forum / Water heater
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MikeC
Member
# Posted: 24 Apr 2019 14:33
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I've read all the bad reviews on the tankless water heaters and quite frankly it scares me a bit. Looks like they are all made by the same company or at the very least similar design. Does anyone use a small tank water heater and could give some recommendations? Do you drain it each time you leave or just in winter? How long before water is hot?

I have electric and the water heater would just be used for taking showers in an unheated shed. A 20lb propane tank is always an option as well.

I use my cabin on weekends and typically work on the land or hunt then want to shower before getting a bite to eat. Tankless would be perfect for this but like I said the reviews aren't so good.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Mike

beachman
Member
# Posted: 24 Apr 2019 16:00
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We have a Bosch propane tankless that works great for us. I am not sure about the electric ones. Get a good-sized one a little bigger than your perceived needs. The water pump should be adequate but not too strong as to force too much water through the heater but, you should be able to regulate the pressure.

kittysmitty
Member
# Posted: 24 Apr 2019 16:02
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I have an Eccotemp L5. May til November its fed from my outside rain barrels. Once December arrives and freezing temperatures, I drain down everything and run RV antifreeze through it. When I arrive during the cold winter, i melt snow and ice in a big stainless tank on the woodstove and pump it up to my inside tank. When I leave, I drain it down and run RV antifreeze once again. Works great so far.
Shower
Shower
Inside tank
Inside tank


ICC
Member
# Posted: 24 Apr 2019 18:01
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I have a propane Rinnai in the house. It is a great water heater. The deep backcountry line cabin has a propane RV water heater; not listed for home use by the residential code but it works great, as do all the same model that is used in RV's. Not as efficient as a modern residential unit like the Rinnai or the Bosch brands, but for the amount of use it is very cost effective.

Some on-demand heaters are not all that easy to drain. But they need to be drained in being left unheated over winter. I blow out the system with (lots of) compressed air; have a compressor built into the water system.

One thing I don't like about the cheap tankless heaters is that many do not have enough capacity. That is at a nice flow rate for even a low volume shower head, some cannot raise the 50 F incoming water enough for a comfortable shower. Read the detailed spec sheets on any you consider.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 24 Apr 2019 18:39
Reply 


I meant to add---- if you have electric service and if this is just a part-time use place, I would consider one of those 20 gallon (or so, I think) electric tank heaters. Cheap enough, easy to drain. Put in as large a heater element as it can use and your service panel supply. Wrap it well with a blanket and it can sit for long periods without needing the element to be on.

Mike 870
Member
# Posted: 24 Apr 2019 18:54
Reply 


I have a Takagi condensing unit in my house, I love it. Had it for only 3 years so I can't speak to longevity but it works flawlessly.

MikeC
Member
# Posted: 24 Apr 2019 19:22
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For those of you with the tank heater what size and how long does it take to heat up? When we shower at another hunting cabin we can get 3 showers out of a 5 gallon pail of water. So I was thinking a 7 or 10 gal unit. Smaller heats up faster?

ICC:. How long does that 20 gallon take to heat up?

Princelake
Member
# Posted: 24 Apr 2019 21:15
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I plan on putting in an rv hot water tank in my cabin. The current one in my trailer only takes 20 minutes or so on electric with a 1500watt generator hooked up to the trailer. 2 people can take a shower with ease. It can also run off of propane. It's nice to have both options in case theres an issue with the generator. Also they are meant to be drain and is quite simple.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 24 Apr 2019 21:22
Reply 


The one in the old bunkhouse was a 240 volt with a 3500 watt element, IIRC. It took maybe 45 minutes to heat to nice shower temperature. It has been a number of years since I used it myself, so my memory may be foggy. We just turned it on when we got there and by the time we wanted hot water a couple hours later it was hot.

darz5150
Member
# Posted: 24 Apr 2019 22:03
Reply 


We have a 10 gallon 110 volt mounted under the bathroom sink. I have it hooked through a heavy duty light switch. When I wake up in the morning I start the coffee pot, and flip on the water heater. Usually by the time I have finished a cup of coffee, the water is hot also.

sparky30_06
Member
# Posted: 25 Apr 2019 07:23
Reply 


Well the tankless water heater rabbit hole can be wild and confusing for sure.
So at my hunting shack I have running water from the cattle pens so I can't comment on gravity feed or 12 volt pump supplies but I do have the Eccotemp L10 running off a 30 pound grill tank. So far the tank has lasted over a dozen weekend trip, 2 of which were 4 day stays. That's showers and washing hands and dishes.
The L10 is a nice unit, I have it mounted outside. I take it in before I leave so mice and cattle done screw with it. Very easy to connect the water lines to it, take about 5 mins to set it up when I get to camp.
Now one thing I did learn about the heaters is some are a set flame and other are modulating. So when I built and plumed my shack I did it like you normally would. The first time I ran that shower I couldn't get the water temp right, had all kind of issues, too hot, totally cold, just couldn't figure it out. Well, the L10, and many others, are designed as point of use units and are not modulating. So you basically adjust the water temp with the generic knob on the outside of the unit to the desired temp and go, kinda hard to do when it's outside and your inside. I have mine set at a pretty good spot for in the winter but when summer comes and the water coming to the cabin is warmer i have to readjust it so I don't get burned out of the shower. Also when I was dishes I can't turn the hot water valve on all the way otherwise it come out warm not hot. Too much water is flowing and the flame is not high enough to make it hot, slow the water flow and it has longer in the coils to get hot.
SO with all my rambling, when this unit stops working I'm going to spend the extra money and get a modulating water heat next. This way you set the output temperature and it regulates the flame to maintain that water temp regardless of flow.
Hope this makes sense and good luck

MountainSurf
Member
# Posted: 25 Apr 2019 09:15
Reply 


I have a Rheem propane tankless. No problems. Hot shower is great when temp is 0 degrees F. It has freeze protection too just needs to stay plugged in.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 25 Apr 2019 12:44
Reply 


We use a propane iHeat. There about $135 on homedepot.com. they have a bottom drain valve and run the igniter off two D batterys. This iHeat has better temp rise than the 10L ecotemp. A 20lb tank will last a long long time.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 25 Apr 2019 12:45
Reply 


O and you will have to drain any water heater if its going to freeze.

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 28 Apr 2019 13:21 - Edited by: silverwaterlady
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We never use our tankless or rv pump in freezing temperatures.

We also don't blow out the water with air or put rv antifreeze in it. We disconnect it and put it in our heated cabin until it's time to go home. Than its in the cab of the truck to protect it from freezing and we store it in our heated basement.

I foresee many problems using a tankless in freezing weather in a unheated shed. The water you will be using will not heat up enough. There is a certain temperature rise. Really cold water will not be warm enough for a comfortable shower. Than there is the worry of ruining the unit and pump. About $280 American worth of great stuff.

If you are there for just weekends why take a chance.
Our method of keeping clean after freeze up is heating water on our propane stove and doing sponge baths in an antique wash basin.
This is for just a few days.

If we were there longer than we would have to bathe in a portable bath tub. I have my Grandmas old portable. It's from the coal camp in Helen, WV. My Grandpa bathed every evening in that tub. The camp did not have showers for the miners.
Grandma would have the heated water ready in the kitchen by the wood stove. She would hang a sheet to give him privacy.

MikeC
Member
# Posted: 28 Apr 2019 16:20
Reply 


I hear you with the freezing. In the other hunting cabin we take a lot of precautions when it gets cold. Blow it out after each use. It's another reason I'm considering the tank. Draining is easier and more effective than blowing the tankless heater out but the tankless is instant hot water. If the start water is too cold you can run it through one cycle to preheat. So both have their advantages. And we rarely use it when it gets really cold anyway. With the poor reviews on the tankless and the proven RV tank system I think it tips the scales towards using a tank.

cbgant5
Member
# Posted: 28 Apr 2019 20:38
Reply 


we use a tankless and 20 lbs propane tank, just drain it during the winter months and have not have any problems so far. had it for a little over a year so far.
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Brettny
Member
# Posted: 29 Apr 2019 07:06
Reply 


If your running water through your tankless and not getting hot enough water. You should try slowing the flow down. You could have just bought to small of a heater also. The 5L, 7L and 10L mean really nothing on these things. Its all about temp rise.

Ours has a summer/winter mode, low/high flame. Also has water flow and further temp adjustments. We also use a ball valve on the inlet to further adjust the flow/temp. A gate vale would be better for this.

sparky30_06
Member
# Posted: 29 Apr 2019 08:54
Reply 


Quoting: Brettny
We also use a ball valve on the inlet to further adjust the flow/temp. A gate vale would be better for this.

ball valves are HORRIBLE at controlling flow rate.
A needle valve is actually the best for this application.

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 29 Apr 2019 09:36
Reply 


In Oct right before freeze up we had our tankless turned on the winter setting and the flame almost all the way up.

The water temperture was perfect but the flow of water was 1/4 what it is in the summer. A very low pressure shower. I think if we had the flame turned up to the max there would not be enough water coming out to shower.
The water going in was 45F.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 29 Apr 2019 10:36 - Edited by: ICC
Reply 


Different valves are designed for different purposes. Ball and Gate should be used either full open or full off. Read this for reasons. FWIW, I believe ball valves are superior to gate valves. But I have also wanted a valve in a narrow space and there was not room to swing the handle, so I used a gate.

A Globe valve is what should be used for limiting or adjusting flow.

sparky30_06
Member
# Posted: 29 Apr 2019 13:26
Reply 


Globe valve is very similar to a needle valve, hard to find a needle valve in the plumbing store.

skootamattaschmidty
Member
# Posted: 29 Apr 2019 18:16
Reply 


We have the eccotemp L10 and we are going on our 9th year with it. We are very happy and suits our needs well. It has been very reliable. In the fall I do drain it and it has a drain plug to assist. We do not use it in freezing temperatures. We just came back from 9 days at the cabin and I did not hook up the shower system. I have a Coleman in demand hot water heater from our camping days. U used the pump from that and set it in a pail of warm water from our sauna and used that for our shower. It worked great and my wife enjoyed it too! At the end of the day we are very happy with our tankless propane heater
...

Daniel
Member
# Posted: 7 Jun 2019 00:38
Reply 


I have an electric heater and no problem. Made more solid wiring and even when the water in the tank becomes ice is no problem, my tank easily turns it into hot water

johnnparry55
Member
# Posted: 4 Dec 2020 05:45
Reply 


Quoting: MountainSurf
I have a Rheem propane tankless. No problems. Hot shower is great when temp is 0 degrees F. It has freeze protection too just needs to stay plugged in.


I have the same. Pretty convenient thing.
For any issues: rheem customer service

toofewweekends
Member
# Posted: 4 Dec 2020 21:49
Reply 


Our off-grid solution came cheap. Propane Coleman 2-burner stove, a large pasta pot (maybe 4 gallons) and a bilge pump hooked to a 12v old car battery (with a switch). Heat water to desired temp, turn on the bilge pump, shower water comes out a small hose with sprayer. We blow out the pump (mouth on sprayer) when we're done, so ice is not an issue. Been running basically the same set-up for five years, winter & summer visits.

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