4 Best Outdoor Portable Tankless Water Heaters For Camping, RVs, etc.

A portable tankless water heater is the most elegant way of getting hot water outdoors. If you go camping or want to use hot water in your RV, mobile home, or camper, the outdoor portable tankless water heater is the way to go; especially if you hate cold showers.

Here is a quick summary of how a portable tankless water heater works:

  1. Portable tankless water heaters are basically the same as standard household units; they are, however, lighter (below 30 lbs), have a lower flow rate (up to about 3 GPM), and cheaper (even the best exterior tankless water heaters cost less than $500).
  2. They are powered by liquid propane. You usually have to get a 20 lbs propane tank and connect it to the unit (it’s just a plug-in thing), and you can get up to 80,000 BTU/hour heating output that, in turn, heats up the water incredibly fast.
how does a portable tankless water heater work outdoors
Example of how to set up a propane tankless water heater on a camping site.

Now, if you are going to choose a portable tankless water heater, you would probably want to choose the best one. There are quite a few of these outdoor hot water heaters; some of them are not the best, others are good, and brands like Eccotemp and Camplux make the best portable tankless water heaters on the market.

We are going to check a list of the best outdoor tankless water heaters on the market. Below, you will find the list, complete with spec-by-spec analysis and reviews. If you are in a hurry going camping or just want hot water in your RV quickly, you can skip to the list here:

Skip To List Of Best Outdoor Tankless Water Heaters

In most cases, we are buying one of these units for the first time. Therefore it is a very good idea to inform yourself about the specs you should check before you buy a tankless water heater for the outdoors.

We are going to explain what to check – anything from flow rate (GPMs and BTUs), fuel source,  temperature range, to the weight of these units – so that you have all the information you need to make an educated choice here:

5 Key Specs To Check Before You Buy A Portable Tankless Water Heater

As with any tankless water heater, you have to roughly figure out how much hot water you need (how many people are showering, etc.), how you will be able to carry it, and so on.

In summary, here are the 5 key specifications you should check and be aware of:

  1. Flow Rate Capacity and BTUs. You will usually see that portable tankless water heaters have 2L, 5L, or 10L capacity. What does that mean? This is how much hot water they can produce. Practically, we measure this in GPMs (Gallons Per Minute). As we will explain further on, GPMs depend primarily on heating capacity (BTUs) and inlet water temperature.
    portable tankless water heater panel board
    Simple Eccotemp panel with all inlets and outlets.
  2. Fuel Source and Fuel Tank. All outdoor tankless water heaters are powered by propane. Some people ask us about the best electric tankless water heater; well, there are no electric tankless water heaters that could be practically useful. With propane, you get a 20 lb tank that can hold up to about 3.89 gallons of propane, weighs about 29.5 lbs, and contains 356,000 BTU of heating energy. It’s almost impossible to get the same amount of heating energy from a battery that is not 100+ lbs.
    how much does running a portable tankless water heater cost
    Estimated yearly energy cost depends on the price of propane as well. In EnergyGuides, you will see costs if you use 82 gallons of hot water per year and at $2.41 price of propane per gallon.
  3. Temperature Range. Every portable tankless heater has a lower temperature range of about 50°F. What matter is what is the higher range; ie. how hot can the water from an outdoor tankless heater be. Some lower-quality tankless water heaters will only be able to heat the water up to 100°F. Better ones can heat it up to 120°F and the best ones are the ones with the highest upper temperature range of 140°F.
  4. Weight. Everything that needs to be portable should have as low a weight as possible. The weight of a portable tankless water heater depends primarily on its capacity (higher flow rate = higher rate) and secondarily on the materials used. Smaller 5L portable tankless water heaters for camping weigh from 10 to 20 lbs; that makes them very portable. Larger 10L portable tankless water heaters can weigh up to 30 lbs and are more appropriate for RVs, campers, or mobile homes. Note: Be also aware that you will have to carry an about 29.5 lbs heavy 20 lbs propane tank with you.
  5. Brand and Price. A lot of the time you will see people asking which is the best portable tankless water heater brand. Be vary; there are many questionable units being sold for suspiciously low prices, and you would do your best to avoid these. For a reasonable price, there are two brands that are considered to be the best for portable tankless hot water heaters: Eccotemp and Camplux. Eccotemp units usually have a bit of an edge over Camplux when it comes to heating output (BTUs) and upper temperature range.

With all these basic specifications covered, let’s look at which are the best outdoor tankless water heaters for camping, RVs, campers, mobile homes, and so on:

List Of Best Portable Tankless Water Heaters In 2022

Portable Tankless Heater: 1. Eccotemp 10L 2. Eccotemp 5L 3. Camplux 10L 4. Camplux 5L
Photo: best big hot water tankless heater for outdoors eccotemp 10l best small outdoor tankless water heater top exterior tankless hot water heater tankless water heater for camping with a propane tank
Flow Rate Capacity: 3 GPM (10 L) 1.5 (5L) 2.64 GPM (10 L) 1.32 GPM (5 L)
BTU Capacity: 75,000 BTU/hour 37,500 BTU/hour 68,000 BTU/hour 28,000 BTU/hour
Fuel Source: Liquid Propane (20 lb Tank) Liquid Propane (20 lb Tank) Liquid Propane (20 lb Tank) Liquid Propane (20 lb Tank)
Temperature Range:  Between 50°F And 140°F Between 50°F And 120°F Between 46.4°F And 114.8°F Between 46.4°F And 114.8°F
Est. Yearly Energy Cost: $229.57 Per Year $114.78 Per Year $202.02 Per Year $101.01 Per Year
Weight: 22.4 lbs 10.8 lbs 18 lbs 14.2 lbs
Dimensions: 25.5×14×7.75 Inches 18×11.5×5.25 Inches 21.7×12.8×6.1 Inches 14.8×11.4×4.3 Inches
Price: $$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$
Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars 4.8 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars 3.4 out of 5 stars
Availability: Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price

1. Best Big Portable Tankless Water Heater For RVs, Campers, Mobile Homes: Eccotemp 10L

Best Big Portable Tankless Water Heater: Eccotemp 10L
Flow Rate Capacity: 3 GPM (10 L)
BTU Capacity: 75,000 BTU/hour
Fuel Source: Liquid Propane (20 lb Tank)
Temperature Range: Between 50°F And 140°F
Est. Yearly Energy Cost: $229.57 Per Year
Weight: 22.4 lbs
Dimensions (H×W×D): 25.5×14×7.75 Inches
Price: $$$$
Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars

In general, we use 10L units for RVs, mobile homes, and campers (5L units are primarily for camping). Out of these big 10L units, the Eccotemp 10L is the most popular large outdoor tankless water heater and has the best specs.

First of all, it has a big specified rate flow of 3 GPM. One would think that all 10L units have the same GPMs; this is not correct. Specified GPMs – how much hot water can a portable tankless water heater generate – depends on heating output or BTUs. Eccotemp 10L is capable of generating 75,000 BTU/hour and can therefore generate up to 3 gallons of hot water per minute.

For comparison, the #3 Camplux 10L unit can generate 68,000 BTU/hour of heating output; therefore it has a specified rate flow of less than 3 GPM (2.64 GPM, to be exact). 5L units generate less than 40,000 BTU/hour and are thus considered better for showering while camping.

This portable tankless water heater also has the widest temperature range. It can heat water up to 140°F; that is something only the best portable tankless water heaters can do. For comparison, a standard upper water temperature limit for these units is about 110°F.

Based on the BTU input and propane price of $2.41 per gallon, the Eccotemp 10L will spend $229.57 worth of propane to heat 82 gallons of water. To power the unit, you will have to get and attach a 20 lb propane tank.

One thing that Eccotemp 10L does not excel at is low weight. With 22.4 lbs, it is not the most lightweight portable tankless water heater around. As such, it is less useful for camping (where low weight is quite an advantage) and is more useful for mobile homes, RVs, and campers (where you don’t have to carry it around a lot).

All in all, Eccotemp 10L is a go-to choice if you need a larger-than-average portable tankless heater. It can produce up to 3 GPM of hot water due to 75,000 BTU/hour heating output, and can produce hot water up to 140°F temperature. With a below $400 price tag, it is quite reasonably priced as well:

Eccotemp 10L Review

Pros
  • Highest heating output (75,000 BTU/hour) produces up to 6 GPM hot water flow
  • Has the widest temperature range (from 50°F to 140°F) due to that powerful heating
  • Most appropriate for RVs, campers, mobile homes
  • Made by Eccotemp; arguably the best brand for portable tankless water heaters
  • Quite reasonably prices
Cons
  • With 22.4 lbs, it is a bit on a heavier side for as 10L unit
  • Not as appropriate for camping as smaller 5L units

2. Best Small Portable Tankless Water Heater For Camping: Eccotemp 5L

Best Small Portable Tankless Water Heater For Camping: Eccotemp 5L
Flow Rate Capacity: 1.32 GPM (5L)
BTU Capacity: 37,500 BTU/hour
Fuel Source: Liquid Propane (20 lb Tank)
Temperature Range: Between 50°F And 120°F
Est. Yearly Energy Cost: $114.78 Per Year
Weight: 10.8 lbs
Dimensions (H×W×D): 18×11.5×5.25 Inches
Price: $$$$
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

Eccotemp 5L is a smaller version of Eccotemp 10L outdoor portable tankless water heater; with a handle. The reason why the handle is added to the top of the unit is to make it even more portable. Given the specs such as low weight for very high BTU heating output and up to 1.5 GPM hot water flow, the Eccotemp 5L is considered to be the best camping tankless water heater.

All the energy that goes into heating water is provided via a 20 lbs propane tank. The Eccotemp 5L can take this propane and use its internal heater to produce up to 37,500 BTU/hour heating output. Such an output can increase the temperature of the water we use for showering at a rate of 1.5 GPM. We usually use 1.0 or 1.5 GPM shower heads at home, so using the Eccotemp 5L is basically kind of like showering at home while on camping trips.

The temperature range, as you well know by now, is quite important. The Eccotemp 5L is capable of warming water up to 120°F; this is an above-average (over 110°F) upper temperature range for a portable tankless water heater.

One of the best qualities a camping portable tankless heater can have is low weight. With only 10.8 lbs, the Eccotemp 5L is the lightest outdoor 5L tankless hot water heater. With a 29.5 lbs full propane tank and a shower head, you are looking at 45 lbs or less for the whole camping shower setup. You can basically carry all the equipment needed to set up a shower near your tent in one go (strong hands are required, obviously).

Unfortunately, the Eccotemp 5L unit is not recommended to be used in RVs, mobile homes, or campers, especially if you have high hot water needs. For example, it is quite a strain for Eccotemp 5L to run a washing machine or do the dishes + shower at the same time. For that, you will require the 10L model.

All in all, the Eccotemp 5L is the most lightweight portable tankless water heater for camping around. It is made by Eccotemp, the best brand in the industry, and cost less than $200:

Eccotemp 5L Review

Pros
  • Higher-than-average 1.5 GPMs for a 5L unit
  • It’s heating element can produce up to 37,500 BTU/hour of heating output used to heat water quickly
  • Extremely lightweight (10.8 lbs)
  • Quite high 120-degree higher upper temperature range
  • Made by Eccotemp and quite affordable choice for camping
Cons
  • 5L is enough for showering but not if you want to use a washing machine
  • Just doesn’t have the capacity to cover all hot water needs of hot water intensive RVs, mobile homes, campers
  • Shower head is not included (you have to get that at extra cost)

3. Top Outdoor Tankless Water Heater: Camplux 10L

Top Outdoor Tankless Water Heater: Camplux 10L
Flow Rate Capacity: 2.64 GPM (10 L)
BTU Capacity: 68,000 BTU/hour
Fuel Source: Liquid Propane (20 lb Tank)
Temperature Range: Between 46.4°F And 114.8°F
Est. Yearly Energy Cost: $202.02 Per Year
Weight: 18 lbs
Dimensions (H×W×D): 21.7×12.8×6.1 Inches
Price: $$$$
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Camplux 10L is one of the best-selling outdoor tankless water heaters. It is primarily used for RVs and mobile homes due to its high GPMs but can also be used for showering if you plan to camp in nature.

With its 68,000 BTU/hour heating element, Camplux 10L can produce 2.64 gallons of hot water per minute. This is enough for 1 big shower, 2 small showers, or running a washing machine in mobile homes, for example.

It is powered by propane. You will need a 20 lbs propane tank; a single tank can run this outdoor tankless water heater for 4-5 hours at 100% output (producing 68,000 BTU/hour heating output).

The temperature range of Camplux 10L is between 46.4°F And 114.8°F. That’s not ideal; as we have seen, the Eccotemp 10L – a comparable capacity tankless water heater for outdoors – can heat water up to °F.

Camplux 10L does, however, have a lower weight. Compared to Eccotemp 10L, it is 6.4 lbs lighter. This reduction in weight, coupled with a bit lower GPMs, also makes it a sensible tankless heater for camping.

If you add the lower $270 price tag, the Camplux 10L is a good (and cheaper) alternative to #1 Eccotemp 10L:

Camplux 10L Review

Pros
  • Can produce up to 2.64 GPM hot water flow due to 68,000 BTU/hour heating element
  • Is very lightweight for a 10L unit; weighing only 18 lbs
  • With a 20 lb propane tank, it can run for up to 5 hours on 100% output
  • Is it one of the top-rated cheap outdoor tankless heaters with a 10L capacity and a price tag of about $270
Cons
  • It has a low upper temperature range (it can heat water up to 114.8°F)
  • Might not be big enough for bigger mobile homes (there you would need at least 3 GPM capacity)
  • It can be a bit of overkill for camping if you camp alone

4. Good Small Camping Tankless Water Heater: Camplux 5L

Best Small Portable Tankless Water Heater For Camping: Eccotemp 5L
Flow Rate Capacity: 1.32 GPM (5L)
BTU Capacity: 28,000 BTU/hour
Fuel Source: Liquid Propane (20 lb Tank)
Temperature Range: Between 46.4°F And 114.8°F
Est. Yearly Energy Cost: $101.01 Per Year
Weight: 14.2 lbs
Dimensions (H×W×D): 14.8×11.4×4.3 Inches
Price: $$$$
Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Camplux 5L is a smaller version of Camplux 10L, most appropriate for outdoor camping. If you want to have a hot shower while camping, this 5L unit will do its job well.

Given that it is a smaller unit, the Camplux has a heating element that can produce up to 28,000 BTU/hour of heating output. That means it has a rated flow rate of 1.32 GPM; something akin to a household shower GPM rating.

It can produce hot water with a maximum temperature of 114.8°F. That is usually enough for showering but other better outdoor tankless heaters can produce up to 140°F hot water.

The main advantage of Camplux 5L is how very compact it is. With 14.8×11.4×4.3 inches dimensions, it is one of the smallest 5L portable tankless water heaters. Despite its small dimensions, it has a higher weight than comparable capacity Eccotemp 5L (14.2 lbs, to be exact).

It also has a bit higher $200+ price tag which is deemed a higher-than-average price for a 5L camping tankless water heater:

Camplux 5L Review

Pros
  • Very compact tankless heater for camping (14.8×11.4×4.3 inches dimensions)
  • Has a handle and is thus easier to carry around the camp site
  • Made by Camplux; a very good brand for these tankless portable hot water heaters
Cons
  • It is a bit on the heavy side (14.2 lbs for a 5L unit)
  • The upper temperature range is 114.8°F; some portable units can easily surpass that temperature
  • A bit of overpriced (with about $220 price tag)

All in all, we have seen what you need to check before you buy a tankless water heater for outdoors. As you can see with some of the recommended units, these quick hot water heaters are quite useful when surrounded by nature, especially if you have showering with cold water.

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