Choosing A Hot Water Heater For Your Tiny House

“I love a nice, cold shower first thing in the morning,” said no one, ever!

Let’s all agree. Cold showers have their place and that place is not typically at 6:45am when you are trying to get the sleepies out of your eyes, figure out what you need to do during the course of the day, contemplate your reasoning for not buy a new box of cereal the day before, and deciding if that pumpkin spice creamer is worth the empty calories or not. It serves to reason then that one of the most un-talked about but most relied upon parts of a tiny house is the hot water heater. Whether it provides 7 gallons of 105º water or a seemingly endless supply of 120º, it is essential. Not only does it provide a good start to the day but it also helps wash and sterilize dishes to some degree and soothe your feet after a long day of work. So what hot water heater is best then?

The purchase of a hot water heater is determined by a few key factors. In no particular order, they are: Cost vs. Reliability

  • Propane vs. Electric
  • Tank vs. Tankless
  • Size vs. Capacity
  • Temperature Rise
  • GPM (Gallons Per Minute)
  • Venting (applicable to propane only)

The two prominent decision to be made though are a tank or tankless, and electric vs. propane.

Tankless water heaters are used almost exclusively now in tiny houses on wheels due to their size and efficiency. The water that passes through them is heated only when needed. The more familiar term is “on-demand”. There is a caution with tankless though. It lives in the rise and speed category. A heater of any sort works because the coils inside the unit heat up. How hot the water gets depends on how long the water is exposed to the very flames that heat up those coils. The longer the coil, the hotter the water. The shorter the coil, the lower the temperature at the outlet. So while tankless hot water heaters can be quite small you want to make sure they have sufficient rise and speed though so that you don’t have to wait for the water to turn warm in order for it to stay warm.

In the tank water heater world, you are dealing primarily with size and capacity. How large is the unit and how much water does it hold. However much water it holds is however much hot water you will get in the course of time it takes for it to fill with water. Most units are available in 6, 10, 12, and 16 gallons. Tank water heaters are also less efficient because they keep the water inside the tank hot at all times, which uses a lot more energy than on-demand. Thus the term “on-demand”.

While the concept of hot water heaters is relatively easy to understand there are several factors that need to be considered for you to maximize your hot water in the most efficient way.

What kind of hot water heater do you have? If you don’t have one yet, what kind of are you considering? Why? Why not? Let us know in the comment section below or visit us on Facebook to get more in-depth on the topic. 


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