It's fun to spend time hiking or camping outdoors until it's time for a shower and you need hot water. You could wait several hours for the sun to heat a black container on your vehicle roof, but who has time for that? That's where portable water heaters come in.
Portable water heaters provide endless hot water on demand, anytime and anywhere. They bring the comfort of the home to the outdoors. This equipment makes it easier to go camping and makes showering in the woods a pleasurable experience.
Tankless portable water heaters, in particular, are becoming more popular in homes because they can save up to 34% more energy than a conventional storage-tank water heater (1).
Let's take a deep dive into the world of portable water heaters. We'll provide you with the best of the bunch, considering the weight, temperature range, and water pressure, among many other factors.
Top Portable Water Heaters in 2023
- Delivers up to 2.7 to 6.5 gallons per minute
- Energy efficient
- Ideal for home usage
- Delivers 1.5 gallons hot water per minute
- Easy-to-adjust temperature
- CSA certified
- Provides hottest water at 167 F
- Simply easy to install
- Delivers 1.58 gallons of hot water per minute
- Hot water at 2.64 gallons per minute
- Lightweight and easy to carry around
- Energy efficient and eco-friendly (15%)
- Designed for dishing, bath and preparing hot beverages
- LED display
- Comes with Five-gallon water tank
- Overheat safety protection
- Requires no electricity
- Energy efficient
- Provides 6 liters of hot water per minute
- Designed for outdoor cleaning, pet washing and camping activities
- Built to last
- Easy to install
1. EcoSmart ECO 27 – Best for Constant Hot Water
The EcoSmart ECO 27 ensures a constant supply of hot water. Its tightly controlled flow rate ensures efficiency while maintaining the desired temperature.
The EcoSmart ECO 27 will maintain a consistent water temperature within one degree of your preferred temperature. It's 90% smaller than traditional tank water heaters, making it ideal for use in small bathrooms with dimensions of 17x17x3.75 inches.
This EcoSmart ECO 27 tankless water heater is also highly energy efficient, with a thermal efficiency of 99%. It heats water on demand, rather than constantly maintaining a high temperature, which can save you up to 50% on water heating costs. It has a flow rate of 2.7 to 6.5 gallons per minute, depending on the inlet water temperature.
However, the EcoSmart ECO 27 has a relatively high power consumption, ranging from 18kw to 27kw while the hot water is running. It consumes no power when not in use, balancing out the overall energy consumption. If you'ha've a large home, you may need multiple units, each of which requires a separate 240 circuit (40 amps). The EcoSmart ECO 27 also has the option for a remote thermostat to be installed near your sink or shower.
2. Eccotemp L5 1.5 GPM Portable Outdoor – Best for Outdoor Use
The Eccotemp L5 is the only portable water heater that has been CSA certified, according to the manufacturer. This portable water heater can be used for a variety of purposes, including pool heating, washing horses and pets, cleaning vehicles, and providing hot water in tiny homes, RVs, and greenhouses.
The Eccotemp L5 is a portable water heater that is ideal for any situation where dependable hot water is needed. It heats up quickly thanks to the included 20lb propane tank and electronic ignition, which is powered by two “D” cell batteries. The Eccotemp L5 delivers hot water at a rate of 1.5 gallons per minute with a water pressure of 20 PSI. The water temperature can be adjusted from 50°F to 140°F using the simple water and gas knobs.
To increase efficiency, the Eccotemp L5 can be paired with the Eccoflo 12v water pump, allowing you to have hot water even in remote locations. Overall, the Eccotemp L5 is a reliable choice for on-demand hot water.
3. GASLAND Outdoors BE158 – Best for Instant Hot Water
The GASLAND Outdoors BE158 is a water heater that meets American and Canadian standards. It's CSA-certified and includes flame failure measures and overheat protection for the safety of your family.
The GASLAND Outdoors BE158 has an antifreeze draining plug that helps remove residual water that could cause pipes to freeze in cold conditions. It's capable of producing the hottest water at 167°F and has an automatic shut-off feature in case of unexpected flame out.
This portable water heater is small and lightweight, making it easy to take with you wherever you go. It can be used for hot water on demand at the beach, outdoors, or on a yacht, and can even be used to bathe pets or connect to an RV.
The GASLAND Outdoors BE158 is simple to install and provides hot water on demand with a maximum output of 41,000BTU/HR. It doesn't require preheating and delivers 1.58 gallons of water per minute at your preferred temperature. It's efficient even with low water pressure, requiring just 2.5 PSI to function properly. The gas and water flow are fully adjustable to control the water heat level.
The GASLAND Outdoors BE158 has advanced combustion technology that saves up to 11.5% in energy costs by reducing gas waste and burning noise with the main burner and heat exchanger. However, it's important not to over-tighten the connectors and pipes as excess force can cause them to burst or break. It's also important to keep flammable materials, such as gasoline vapors, away from the top and exhaust as they can ignite easily. To prevent leaks, it's advisable to use a leak protection device. It's also crucial to drain the water when the temperature falls below 32°F to prevent damage to the heat exchanger and other internal components.
4. GASLAND BS264 – Best for Gallon Per Minute
The GASLAND BS264 provides a high flow rate of hot water at 2.64 gallons per minute. It's a top performer in its category. The GASLAND tankless water heater is both portable and equipped with multiple safety features, such as a flame failure device and overheating protection.
The GASLAND BS264 portable water heater comes with an antifreeze drain plug to remove stagnant water during cold conditions or when the product is in storage. It works even with low water pressure, providing hot water at a range of 2.5 to 110 PSI. The GASLAND BS264 also has high water temperature protection and will shut off the gas supply in case of an unexpected flame out for safety.
This compact and lightweight water heater is easy to carry and can be attached to a garden hose or hung using the in-built mounting bracket. It takes only five minutes to set up and is capable of providing constant hot water at 68,000 Btu/hour. The GASLAND BS264 also saves energy costs by providing hot water immediately upon turning on the shower or tap and using energy-saving technology that reduces gas output and burn noise. It also saves 11.5% on energy consumption.
5. Coleman Hot Water on Demand Heater – Best Portable Heater with Container
Unlike other portable water heaters on this list, the Coleman Water Heater comes with a five-gallon capacity. It uses similar technology to tankless water heaters, providing hot water in less than a minute.
The Coleman On Demand Heater is easy to use. Simply set the water temperature, connect the hose, and you'll have access to heated water that ranges from slightly warm to scalding hot. This temperature range makes it practical for a variety of purposes, such as washing dishes, taking a bath, or making hot drinks while enjoying the outdoors.
The Coleman On Demand Heater is also versatile. You can adjust the showerhead to use as a sink stopper, and the unit is detachable, allowing you to replace it with a non-kink hose for pet washing or a handheld sprayer for washing your vehicle.
In addition, the equipment has an in-built lithium-ion battery that you can charge using your car. This battery powers the LED display and electric pump. When it's time to hit the road, the entire kit is easy to disconnect and pack up.
6. Eccotemp L10 Portable Water Heater – Best for Limited Electricity Supply
The Eccotemp L10 tankless water heater stands out from other models made by the same manufacturer. Its detachable steel rain cover protects the unit from weather damage. This feature sets it apart and serves a practical purpose for outdoor use.
The Eccotemp L10 comes with a CSA-approved regulator and a durable hose for pet washing and other outdoor activities. It runs on liquid propane and has a two “D-cell” battery igniter that works when you don't have an electrical power source. This helps to prevent fire hazards and reduce energy costs.
The Eccotemp L10 also has an automatic timer that will shut off the unit in 20 minutes to prevent overheating, or can be angled at 45 degrees in both directions. It is rugged and tested to provide on-demand hot water and is suitable for use at high altitudes up to 5500 feet.
It's useful for equestrian use, vehicle washing, poolside, yacht, RV, greenhouse, and any other situation requiring a constant flow of hot water.
7. VEVOR 6L Portable Propane Water Heater – Best for Safety
The VEVOR 6L Portable Propane Water Heater is excellent for pet washing, outdoor cleaning, and camping activities. It's powered by liquid propane gas and is easy to install in your minivan. The water heater also has an anti-rust steel case for outdoor use.
The copper wire in the VEVOR 6L Portable Propane Water Heater functions well in high temperatures, ensuring the tank is durable for long-term use. The control knob on the heater allows you to regulate the water supply and adjust the gas output, making it easy to control the water temperature.
In addition, the VEVOR 6L Portable Propane Water Heater has a summer/winter mode for energy cost savings. It is lightweight and easy to install, requiring only a simple toolkit. No need to call a plumber or electrician.
The VEVOR 6L Portable Propane Water Heater has multiple safety features to protect against shock and fire hazards. It has an incomplete combustion safety device and an “over water temperature protection” device to prevent scalding. It also has a flame-failure device and an in-built 20-minute timer.
This portable water heater is designed for indoor and outdoor use, providing consistent hot water in frigid conditions. It is ideal for use in small bathrooms and can be used in trailers, RVs, or yachts.
A bonus feature of the VEVOR 6L Portable Propane Water Heater is its fast heating ability, with a flow rate of six liters of water per minute. This allows for quick showers and more time to enjoy the great outdoors.
What is a Portable Water Heater?
A portable water heater is an independent unit that provides a constant flow of hot water in the home or outdoors. Tankless models, which can be electric or gas-powered, don't require a storage tank and only heat water as it flows through the pipes. When you turn on the tap, cold water passes through a heating element which quickly increases the water temperature before it reaches the faucet or showerhead.
Types of Portable Water Heaters
Following are the system styles of a portable water heaters:
Whole house portable water heaters are designed to provide hot water for the entire home. These units produce between 6.0 GPM and 10 GPM and can serve multiple appliances without interrupting the hot water flow.
Point-of-use (POU) portable water heaters are designed for outdoor use, often for single appliance use such as showers while camping or on a yacht. They can also be used in the home and are easy to install, taking up less space and providing hot water faster than a traditional under sink water heater.
Portable Water Heater Fuel Type
Portable water heaters can run on a variety of fuels, but tankless models typically use natural gas or liquid propane. Electric models are also available, but may be more expensive to run in the long term.
Indoor or Outdoor Portable Water Heaters
When considering a portable water heater, it's important to think about where you'll need hot water. Do you need it inside your home or outdoors? Indoor models are typically installed inside the house, while outdoor models are designed to stay outside.
Indoor Portable Water Heaters
Indoor portable water heaters have the advantage of being protected from the elements, but they are prone to condensation. To prevent damage to the internal parts, it's important to install a drain to remove the condensed water and ventilation piping to control the airflow around the heater.
Outdoor Portable Water Heaters
Outdoor portable water heaters are rugged and durable, able to withstand extreme weather conditions. However, they do require regular maintenance and should be drained in cold weather to prevent water from freezing and damaging the internal parts.
Portable Water Heater Advantages
There are several benefits to owning a portable water heater. These include:
- Lower energy cost: Portable water heaters are smaller and often use less energy to produce hot water than traditional water heaters.
- Long-lasting: Portable water heaters are durable and typically have a longer service life than regular tank-style water heaters.
- Multipurpose: Some portable water heaters work well both indoors and outdoors.
- Space Savings: Due to their compact size, portable water heaters take up less space and are easy to install almost anywhere.
- Clean, fresh hot water: Tank-style water heaters can rust and scale, contaminating your shower's hot water. Portable water heaters, especially tankless models, provide fresh hot water on demand. Even models with tanks are easy to clean.
Key Factors to Consider When Buying Portable Water Heaters
There are many portable water heaters available, but it's important to choose the right one for your needs. Consider the following factors when purchasing a portable water heater:
Portable water heaters are typically smaller than traditional ones, allowing you to install them in smaller spaces. They also tend to have a lifespan of three to ten years.
These water heater types ensure quick warm showers without the dread of standing on the cold hard tiles waiting for your water to heat up. You not only save time, but you save space too.
The flow rate, or gallons-per-minute, is the amount of hot water the heater can produce at once. The flow rate may be lower if you have multiple appliances that need hot water.
The temperature rise is the difference between the groundwater temperature and the desired hot water temperature. For example, if the groundwater temperature is 50°F and you want hot water at 120°F, you'll need a temperature rise of 70°F. Keep in mind that the time of year can affect the groundwater temperature, with the temperature rise being lower in the summer than in the winter.
Tankless water heaters have a thermal efficiency of 99%, making them some of the most efficient heaters in the world. They are even more efficient than Formula One cars, as they capture heat from the exhaust and use it to produce more hot water.
Some tankless water heaters have a recirculation system that sends cold water back to the unit. This allows you to get hot water on demand instead of waiting for the cold water to heat up.
Frequency of Use
Consider how often you'll be using the water heater. If you only need it for occasional use, a point-of-use unit may be sufficient. However, if you need hot water on a daily basis, a whole-house heater may be a better option. The number of occupants in your home can also impact your usage frequency; a household with three or more people may require a whole-house heater, while a single occupant may be fine with a point-of-use heater.
You cannot deny portable water heaters hold an aesthetic appeal that their traditional cousins cannot hope to match. These little geniuses are eco-friendly, take less space and last longer than storage water heaters. (2)
Portable water heaters are here to stay mainly because of the growing number of people living off-grid. These devices provide hot water on-demand, save costs and are easy to install.
The portable water heaters above are the best in their category, and you can't go wrong with any of the models.