Simple Pleasures: Hot Water Systems for Your Caravan

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Life’s simple pleasures, having hot water for your caravan.

But how do you choose a caravan hot water system?

We may be off-road or travelling the countryside, but most of us still like some home comforts, particularly having hot water available for showers and washing up. So, how do you know what’s the best system for your caravan?

When choosing a hot water system, first look at how much and how often you will need to use it. Will you be spending time free camping, away from the usual power and water sources?

Gas and/or Electric hot water systems

Traditionally, caravan hot water systems run on gas, electricity or both. These systems are silent and heat water fairly quickly. The combination gives you the option of hooking up to 240V when it’s available, and using gas when free camping.

Gas water heaters tend to cause condensation, which is never a good thing in a caravan. They also require a steady flow of clean water, so you won’t be able to use water straight out of the river or creek. Any continuous gas hot water service must be externally vented, and both gas and electrical systems need to be installed and serviced by professionals.


Portable gas/electric hot water units can be used for washing, cooking, cleaning or showering, but only outside the caravan. They’re ideal if you plan on doing a lot of off-roading or don’t mind showering outside. Some have rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that can be charged on the move.


Caravan instant hot water systems that heat water as it passes through the tap – such as the Hey Presto – provide instant hot water, so they are both energy and water efficient. They generally require a 10-amp socket, but there’s no need for a heating tank or extra space, as the system fits into the sink top. It also means you’re not wasting water waiting for it to heat up.


A diesel hot water system is very efficient, but the generator tends to be noisy, so it’s a trade-off. A good one will have the capacity to draw water from on-board tanks or another source such as a stream.


Harnessing the heat of the sun seems like a good idea but may not be ideal, due to the weight of the unit on the caravan roof. There are some on the market that connect to an existing tank, but they aren’t cheap.

An alternative is to have solar shower bags that you place outside in the sun then bring inside when heated.

Some people like quick showers, while others like to linger. It’s the same with choosing a hot water system for your caravan – take your time and consider your personal needs and preferences before making a decision.

If you’re buying a second-hand caravan, make sure the hot water system is on your checklist.


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