Nearly all tiny houses need a water heater to provide hot water for the kitchen and bathroom.
There are a few different options of tiny house water heater you can choose from: either tanked or tankless, electric or propane and indoor or outdoor.
We’ll give you an overview of each option and some examples of water heaters you can get for your tiny house.
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How to choose the right tiny house water heater
You can buy different types of water heaters for your tiny house. We’ll go over all the different available options.
Tank vs tankless heaters
Water tank heaters have a storage tank that can be heated periodically throughout the day, so a constant hot water supply is available to your tiny house.
This isn’t very economical or environmentally friendly and has little benefit to tiny house owners since modern tankless heaters can heat up water very quickly anyway.
Tankless heaters also take up far less space than tank heaters, which would have to be kept either in or next to the bathroom or kitchen.
Therefore, the vast majority of tiny houses utilize tankless water heaters.
Electric vs propane heaters
There are two main ways that tiny house water heaters are powered: electricity and propane.
Natural gas can be used for some instead of propane, and wood stoves can also be used to heat water, but these electric and propane heaters are the main two options.
Electric water heaters will cost more to run and are not very feasible if you live off-grid, where you will want to use your solar energy for other appliances. A water heater would be a big drain on your resources.
However, if you are on-grid, then they can definitely be a viable option.
They’re also a good choice if you don’t want to deal with gas lines in your tiny home. However, they may be useful to install anyway so that you have the option to go off-grid.
Propane water heaters, on the other hand, are cheaper to run because propane (at the time of writing) is relatively inexpensive to purchase.
Another benefit with propane is that it can be used for cooking too, so you may as well use it for both your water heater and kitchen at the same time.
Most people living off-grid in their tiny house with a solar system tend to opt for propane. It can be restocked every few weeks.
Indoor vs outdoor heaters
Tiny house water heaters can either be installed indoors or outdoors. Both come with pros and cons.
Indoor water heaters require ventilation to the outside, which means vent tubes must be pushed through the wall.
You also need to have some room for the heater that is easily accessible.
Outdoor water heaters, like the one pictured below, can be vented more easily outside.
In cold climates, you will want to have a heated coil and heated strip tape around parts of the water heater, to stop it from freezing.
Best electric water heaters
The Stiebel Eltron Tankless Heater comes in different variants, from 12 kW to 36 kW, each having a Trend or Plus model.
This water heater boasts that no venting is required.
Depending on the model, they activate at between 0.37 and 0.77 gallons per minute (water flow), which is fine as long as you are using a reasonable tiny house water pump.
Also, the amperage draw is from 50 amps to 150 amps depending on the model.
A tiny house won’t need a 36 kW heater, as mobile home owners have stated that the 29 kW heater is fine for their property.
The Bosch Tronic water heater is a cheaper option and works well with RVs and tiny houses.
It’s a smaller heater and requires only 12 amps / 120 volts to run. This model has a 7 gallon capacity, which is enough for your tiny house kitchen.
RV owners state that it provides enough hot water for a shower, quite quickly, and keeps the water hot.
There are smaller versions available, with 2.5 and 4 gallon tanks.
Best propane water heaters
The Camplux Pro water heater is an affordable propane water heater.
It provides 1.58 gallons per minute of water flow, 41000 BTUs.
Two ‘D’ batteries are required for it, as well as propane to run. This is great for off-grid tiny homes – no electricity needed whatsoever.
It’s best suited for outdoor use, but can be brought inside if a flue is installed for ventilation.
It has some neat features too, such as an oxygen depletion sensor, safety flame failure device, anti-freezing protection as well as over heating protection if the water temperature rises above 167 degrees.
Next, the Fogatti is the most expensive tiny house propane water heater on our list.
However, it’s more powerful than the others. It provides 2.9 gallons per minute (55000 BTUs) and is even remote controlled!
This heater warms up water quickly and the tank can provide hot water for 20 minutes.
It also has anti-freezing protection, however a 12 volt connection is required for this.
Lastly, the Gasland water heater is priced in the middle of the two previous options.
It has two variants, a 6 litre and a 10 litre. These equate to 1.3~ and 2.2~ gallons. These are slightly less than the Fogatti and the Camplux is 6 litres also.
Similarly, it comes with anti-freezing protection as well as over heating protection and a flame failure device.
It doesn’t require a lot of water pressure, 3.6 PSI, which most tiny house pumps will be able to accommodate and provides hot water without having to pre-heat the tank.
This and the Camplux can be great options for outdoor showers on your tiny house.