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Old 09-23-2016, 10:29 AM   #1
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1973 23' Safari
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tankless water heater recommendation

Getting ready to purchase a water heater for my 1973 safari. I've read through many posts here and on other RV sites and I believe I have decided on tankless. I've seen a bit here and there about different brands - the precision temp seems to be the Cadillac and I am wondering if the higher price tag is worth it. It does have more BTUs than the others. I would love to hear members' experiences with these tankless water heaters. I am looking at the Girard (2nd generation), Atwood (50,000 BTU model), and precision temp.
Thank you!
Greg
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Old 09-24-2016, 10:58 AM   #2
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I put in the Atwood since it is sized to replace the 6 gallon atwood tank that was in the trailer. To my understanding, the atwood is licensed from precisiontemp, they just build it to the size that fits the 6 gallon space. Otherwise exactly the same from what I can see in pictures.

I'll give you some of our experience with it.

a) be sure that you purchase from a dealer you trust. I purchased from a dealer [who ultimately took back and gave full refund so good on them] who apparently had a gray market unit. It arrived broken, Atwood wouldn't cover repair.

b) the atwood requires a certain amount of water flow for the furnace to turn on. If your water pressure is low, it is possible you may not be able to get enough flow. I used to use one of those camco 50psi water regulators, and had to ditch it for a regulator that I could adjust and increase to 65psi.

c) turning on cold water while someone is in the shower is a bad idea (water is diverted away from water heater, causing it to shut off, shower ends up cold)

d) the winter/summer adjustment doesn't help. Setting to summer seems to make the unit require more water flow to turn on, we had to leave it on winter setting.

e) if you have mixed faucet valves (like we do) you're experience may not be great. [edit: I read in another forum that people have switched out the blended faucets to get separate hot/cold water valves, supposedly that works much better.]

Overall, I feel it's a pretty finicky system, if I had this experience before switching out I think I might choose to leave it as-is. It certainly is nice to take longer showers and not have to wait for 20min after the 1st person took a shower. It's noticeable how much less propane we use. Using hot water for dishes is a real pain (sometimes physical) since even a little bit off full-hot reduces flow enough to shut off the furnace.
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Old 10-03-2016, 11:00 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg1410 View Post
Getting ready to purchase a water heater for my 1973 safari. I've read through many posts here and on other RV sites and I believe I have decided on tankless. I've seen a bit here and there about different brands - the precision temp seems to be the Cadillac and I am wondering if the higher price tag is worth it. It does have more BTUs than the others. I would love to hear members' experiences with these tankless water heaters. I am looking at the Girard (2nd generation), Atwood (50,000 BTU model), and precision temp.
Thank you!
Greg
i took the plunge and went for the Precision Temp ... it was a direct replacement as far as size to fit into my '72 Sovereign .. pulled the old unit out, this fitted in perfectly with no cutting etc needed. It was works like a charm but still understanding how it really works, think as mentioned before, it requires good water pressure, the internal trailer pump should be fine. I couldn't get steaming hot water on my last trip with city hook up, just warm, i think this maybe have been due to water pressure valve limiting the flow. I gotta play around with it. My wife loves the unlimited shower time though, when hooked up of course ! We noticed that gas pressure to the stove top is very reduced when shower is on. I think these heaters like good LP pressure to work well too. Customer service was VERY responsive too, answering all email questions on installation = same day or soon next day. i love it, and think worth the price but haven't tried the cheaper models, they could be just fine too ..
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Old 10-03-2016, 11:15 AM   #4
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I have a friend that built a tiny house on wheels. He is using the Precision Temp. He seems very happy with its performance.
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Old 10-28-2016, 11:36 AM   #5
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It's really hard to believe that tankless is not just standard in RV's at this point. I've put 5 units in at my homes over the last few years and some family too. When we just got our new AS I was surprised to see that no-one seems to even offer it as an option; you have to go rip out your factory unit and upgrade yourself.

Tankless just makes sense for RV applications - it's smaller, instant and limitless heat, and much more efficient on propane.

Regarding the person who observed a drop in gas pressure to the stove while using the water heater - that's because the gas lines are undersized. On residential units you have to run much, much larger gas lines for tankless than for the normal units. I bet if you redid your gas lines from the tanks to the water heater and went up a size you would not see a drop anymore.
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Old 10-28-2016, 12:19 PM   #6
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I went ahead with the precision temp. Installed quite easily - I had to slightly enlarge the vertical height on my outerskin to fit it in. It is also slightly more narrow so I added some aluminum; the flanges on the water heater are quite large, so they will cover up what I added. Looks good. My trailer is still gutted, so will be awhile before I can try it.
Greg
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Old 10-29-2016, 11:37 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by joshjack View Post
It's really hard to believe that tankless is not just standard in RV's at this point. I've put 5 units in at my homes over the last few years and some family too. When we just got our new AS I was surprised to see that no-one seems to even offer it as an option; you have to go rip out your factory unit and upgrade yourself.

Tankless just makes sense for RV applications - it's smaller, instant and limitless heat, and much more efficient on propane.

Regarding the person who observed a drop in gas pressure to the stove while using the water heater - that's because the gas lines are undersized. On residential units you have to run much, much larger gas lines for tankless than for the normal units. I bet if you redid your gas lines from the tanks to the water heater and went up a size you would not see a drop anymore.
that's very interesting , great idea ... no clue if it's been put to the test in an RV, ! but worth trying ... my pipes are 40+ yrs old too ..
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Old 08-31-2017, 02:09 PM   #8
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We are about to purchase a 2018 FC and CAN you put or change out the water heater and put in a tankless one? Is it a simple thing to do? or a major tearing apart of a new AS?
Im a newbie and just learning....But like others Tankless makes all the best sense in the world.
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Old 08-31-2017, 03:39 PM   #9
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I installed a PrecisionTemp tankless in place of the standard Atwood 6-gallon. If you have anything else, like the Alde system, this won't help you...

The Tankless is about 3/8 of an inch taller, and the door is about 1/2 inch wider than the Atwood. It was relatively easy to install. I did trim the opening a bit taller, so it would just fit in. For my install, I added a support block to the bottom inside of the enclosure to brace it a bit better.

I found that taping up all the joints in the enclosure is a good idea--use aluminum metal ductwork tape, not the usual duct tape. this keeps cold air out of my AS closet where the heater lives. Had to relocate the gas line a little bit, but the original did fit with a little bending.

Wiring to the switch and operation is identical to the old Atwood. Butt splices, and away it went. Do be sure there are no shreds of the Styrofoam packing down the heater vent--you will get a faceful if there is anything in there when the blower goes on the first time.

If you go with PrecisionTemp, call the supplier and request an UNPAINTED door. It matched the AS side nicely, just needs a coat of clear to protect it.

A couple wierdnesses. It needs good strong water flow, which can be an issue if you use a cheap pressure regulator at the campground spigot. Use an adjustable regulator with a gauge, not the cheap one that looks like a small brass flashlight. They no worky. It works just fine on the pump.

Also be sure your propane regulator is set right, and you have plenty of propane. In cold weather, a mostly-empty tank will NOT provide enough gas flow to this heater. Learned that the hard way, when the water got cold real quick. Be sure your tanks have propane in them...

My wife loves her loooong hot showers, so this is the ideal situation...for us. YMMV
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Old 08-31-2017, 03:54 PM   #10
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It depends

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshjack View Post
It's really hard to believe that tankless is not just standard in RV's at this point. I've put 5 units in at my homes over the last few years and some family too. When we just got our new AS I was surprised to see that no-one seems to even offer it as an option; you have to go rip out your factory unit and upgrade yourself.

Tankless just makes sense for RV applications - it's smaller, instant and limitless heat, and much more efficient on propane.

Regarding the person who observed a drop in gas pressure to the stove while using the water heater - that's because the gas lines are undersized. On residential units you have to run much, much larger gas lines for tankless than for the normal units. I bet if you redid your gas lines from the tanks to the water heater and went up a size you would not see a drop anymore.
It is important to remember that not everyone uses their trailer the same way. Tankless seems ideal when hooked up to electric, water AND SEWER. For many, this is often not the case. I think a conventional heater makes more sense for boondocking, but of course YMMV.
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Old 08-31-2017, 04:12 PM   #11
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I do not really like tankless water heaters. I replaced my original 6 gal Atwood's with a newer one and like it fine. I just do not see the advantages that tankless heaters are supposed to offer. And yes, I have had one in the house. Put in the extra wiring. Put in the heater. It failed. Put in another heater. It failed. Went back to a srandard wh. That little tank is well insulated and makes a good buffer so that you do not have to apply power as fast. And it stays comfortably warm all day when we travel.
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:04 PM   #12
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It is important to remember that not everyone uses their trailer the same way. Tankless seems ideal when hooked up to electric, water AND SEWER. For many, this is often not the case. I think a conventional heater makes more sense for boondocking, but of course YMMV.


Not true at all; arguably a tankless would be even better for boon-docking.

I think you are assuming a tankless would be 100% electric. Mine are all gas powered and use very little electricity just for the electronic ignition.

An RV tankless could have a 12V ignition with very little maintenance draw.
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:19 PM   #13
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i read in the user manual that in the shower, you need to turn the valve all the way to hot, a lot of warm water will come out as the heater is running a high volume of water through it, now turn the control to add some cold and the temperature goes up. why? because the heater is flowing water at a lower rate, thus can heat it more,

to most people, this is not intuitive

keep turning and the temp will go down as the amount of cold water mixed with the very hot water will blend down.

this is a very funny temperature curve that many people will not get use to

i am now hesitant to change to a thankless system
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Old 08-31-2017, 06:42 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by waninae39 View Post
i read in the user manual that in the shower, you need to turn the valve all the way to hot, a lot of warm water will come out as the heater is running a high volume of water through it, now turn the control to add some cold and the temperature goes up. why? because the heater is flowing water at a lower rate, thus can heat it more,

to most people, this is not intuitive

keep turning and the temp will go down as the amount of cold water mixed with the very hot water will blend down.

this is a very funny temperature curve that many people will not get use to

i am now hesitant to change to a thankless system
Another data point for your consideration. Wife and daughter, completely unaware of this quirk, had absolutely no issue adjusting the water temperature with our tankless system...they just fiddle with it until they like the temperature. The best part was in close to freezing weather, the PrecisionTemp had no issues taking three showers in a row, followed by washing dishes, and, as expected, we never ran out of hot water.

They are happy I went to the tankless system...
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