Houseboat Hot Water Heater - do tankless water heaters work well?

Hot Water on Houseboats - tankless water heaters?

Hot Water on Houseboats - tankless water heaters?

Hot Water on Houseboats - tankless water heaters?
Electric Houseboat Hot Water Heater Tank
Propane Houseboat Hot Water Tank Heater LPG
Marine Houseboat Hot Water Tank Heater

Looking at hot water heaters on houseboats, and wonder if the tankless water heater works well on a house boat? Can I install a tankless water heater on a 1971 43' Drifter houseboat?

Thanks for any help.

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Reply - Answer
Welcome to the houseboat forums, and thanks for asking a popular question about tankless water heaters.

When it comes to hot water on houseboats, you have a lot of different options for producing and supplying hot water.

1) You can install an electric marine hot water tank.

2) You can install a regular small home grade hot water tank (not explosion proof), and do not install it in the engine compartment. IMO, I don't recommend a household unit.

3) If your houseboat has propane appliances, you can install a propane hot water tank, vented to the outside exterior.

4) And another very popular installation is a on-demand, tankless hot water heater.

Now depending on the tankless heater model, they have different specifications when it comes to current draw. The amount of amperage that the unit will draw when it comes time to produce hot water.

On your houseboat, you would have to look at your electrical panel, and see what you have as an entrance, single or dual 30 amps, or a 50 amp entrance?

I would imagine that you have a single 30 amp power Dock Shore line entrance. You would have to look at the specs on the heater units, as there are models that draw 15 or 20 amps on 120 volts.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their hot water systems, and any tips or experiences with their houseboats. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN - from

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Comments for Houseboat Hot Water Heater - do tankless water heaters work well?

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Tankless propane water heater
by: HandyEd

I used a tankless on the RV that I built. The only problem I had was getting the low pressure to actuate the flame valve. After I got that set I had no problem. I lived in that RV for 10 years.

I mounted the unit on the outside at the rear so there was no problem with venting. Of course, when I was connected to mains water it also worked fine.

The propane tankless units work fantastic
by: Geoff

We run the propane tankless units in our cottage resort. There is never a problem with water flow being too fast to heat the water and guests can keep showering one after another without get the cold shoulder even when dishes are being done. Amelia did you get yours hooked up?

Houseboat Water Heater - propane and tankless
by: Harry

I am seriously considering one of the Eco Temp Tankless Water Heaters. If this heater is hooked to a sufficient 12 volt pump, giving good flow, this could be used anywhere.

Solar Water Heaters for Houseboats?
by: bOB p

How about a solar water heater. You could mount it on top of the boat.

Tankless Water Heater for Boats
by: Old Houseboater

"Tankless" water heaters are great in theory. The "average" electrical usage is usually less than a normal hot water tank.

HOWEVER: To get a satisfactory flow you need a unit that has high electrical requirements. The low draw units only provide very low flows, at a useful temperature increase, that are unsatisfactory for normal requirements. This means that you need a high capacity electrical system to handle the electrical load while the system is being used.

Most boat electrical systems are designed pretty "close to the bone" due to the limitations of the electrical capacity of the Marinas electrical Pedestal connections. Typically (2) 30 amp 120 volt or (1) 50 amp 208 volt connections. Adding a satisfactory Tankless to the average boats electrical system can require substantial and costly up grading.

LIKEWISE: Marina electrical systems have to be capable of handling the largest momentary draw that the system will experience. Considering that many Marinas have trouble maintaining voltage in a heavy usage week end, in the summer, it is unreasonable to expect that these systems could support the additional load of a number of "Tankless" units turning on at the same time at shower time in the morning.

It may be interesting to note that some electrical companies will actually pay the customer to remove the their "Tankless" unit and replace it with a conventional water heater. In my area (Gulf Shores Alabama) "Tankless" users pay a higher electrical rate.

Houseboat Hot Water - propane might be better?
by: Amelia

I've read a number of enthusiastic reports for propane-fueled on-demand water heaters. I know the one we used in our travel trailer 50 years ago worked splendidly.

Now that we don't even have to fiddle with pilot lights, they should be even better. We'll let you know as soon as we get ours hooked up.

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