how long for rv water heater to heat up

How Long For RV Water Heater To Heat Up: 8 Factor [Covered]

Last Updated on December 24, 2023

Have you ever wondered how long RV water heaters heat up? The answer is not as simple as you might think. RV water heater heating time varies depending on several factors. The time it takes for your RV’s water heater to heat up largely depends on the tank size and whether it runs on propane or electricity.

For instance, a 10-gallon water tank can take 12-30 minutes to reach optimal heat levels with an electric water heater. Conversely, a propane water heater may take around 20 minutes to heat the same amount of water.

If your RV has a large water tank, it might take a while to heat up. Aside from that, the RV water heater heating time also depends on the outside temperature, altitude, and the condition of the heating element. We’re gonna talk about RV water heater heating time today. So continue reading.

How Long For RV Water Heater To Heat Up: What Factors Affect?

What Factors Affect the Water Heater Heat-Up Time

Several factors affect the heating up time of your RV water heater. These include:

Tank Size:

The size of the water heater tank is an essential factor influencing its heat-up time. Larger tanks take longer to heat up since they contain more water.

This means you must wait longer to get hot water from a larger tank. But, larger tanks can provide a more extended supply of hot water, which is useful for larger households.

In contrast, smaller tanks heat up faster and are more energy-efficient since they require less energy to heat up a smaller volume of water. So, when choosing a water heater, consider your household’s hot water needs and the tank size that best meets those needs.

Heating Element:

It generally takes longer to heat water using the electrical element than LP gas. But, combining the two can significantly reduce the heating time. Using gas and electric heating elements simultaneously can quickly provide hot water in a pinch.

The electric heating element takes longer to heat the water, but once it reaches its maximum temperature, the gas element kicks in to maintain the temperature. This way, you don’t have to wait for the water to heat up entirely using just one heating element.

Keep in mind that using both heating elements simultaneously will consume more energy. So, using this method only when you need hot water urgently is best.

Heating Element Power:

The power rating of the heating element(s) in a water heater is another crucial factor that affects its heat-up time.

Higher-wattage heating elements can heat water faster than lower-wattage ones. This means that water heaters with higher-wattage heating elements will have a shorter heat-up time, providing hot water faster.

The advantage of higher-wattage heating elements is that they can provide more hot water in a shorter period, making them ideal for larger households and high hot water demand applications.

But higher-wattage heating elements also consume more energy, leading to higher energy bills. So, when selecting a water heater, balance your hot water needs and energy efficiency.


The level of insulation in your RV water heater tank affects heat retention. Well-insulated tanks can keep water hot for longer, reducing heat-up time. Meanwhile, poorly insulated tanks may lose heat faster, requiring more frequent heating cycles.

To ensure optimal performance and efficiency, consider both the heating element’s power and how much insulation it has. Investing in a well-insulated RV water heater tank can greatly affect how long it takes to heat your water.

With better insulation, you can enjoy longer periods of hot water and reduce the need for frequent heating cycles.

Initial Water Temperature:

The starting temperature of the water in the tank greatly influences the time it takes to reach the desired temperature. If the water is already warm, it will take less energy to heat up to the desired temperature than cold water.

This means that the initial temperature of the water is a crucial factor in determining the time your RV water heater heats up.

To ensure a shorter heat-up time, you can start by filling the heater tank with warm water if possible. You can fill the tank with warm water from a campground’s shower or an external water heater.

Energy Source:

If you have an electric RV water heater, it’ll generally take around 30-60 minutes to heat the water, depending on the size of the tank and the initial water temperature. Conversely, a propane or natural gas RV water heater can heat the water much faster, typically within 15-20 minutes.

The energy source isn’t the only factor that affects the heat-up time. Other factors like altitude, ambient temperature, and even the quality of your RV’s insulation can also play a role. However, choosing the right energy source is a good starting point for ensuring you have hot water when needed.

Flow Rate:

If you want to hasten the warming process of your aquatic indulgence, you may want to consider adjusting your hot water output to a lower rate. A higher flow rate can slow down the heating process because the water heater must keep up with the demand for hot water.

By lowering the flow rate, the heater can heat the water more efficiently, resulting in a shorter wait time for hot water.

Environmental Conditions:

You can speed up the warming process by considering the ambient temperature surrounding your aquatic indulgence. Colder environments require your heater to work harder to compensate for heat loss, resulting in a slower heating process.

If you’re camping in colder areas, it’s a good idea to park in a sheltered spot or wrap your RV’s water heater with insulation to help it retain heat. You can also try to limit the amount of cold air entering the RV by sealing any drafts or openings, which can help decrease heat loss.

What are the types of heating elements for an RV water heater?

What are the types of heating elements for an RV water heater

Regarding heating elements for your RV water heater, there are a few options to consider.

You can use liquefied petroleum gas (LP Gas) to heat your water if you have a propane tank. Alternatively, you can use electricity to heat your water or combine gas and electricity for a faster heating time.

#1 Liquefied Petroleum Gas or LP Gas

LP gas is the fuel that powers the water heater in your recreational vehicle. This type of heating element is popular among RV owners because of its efficiency and low cost.

It’s a clean-burning fuel that produces a steady flame that heats the water in the tank. The LP gas water heater is also easy to operate, making it a convenient option for those who frequently go camping.

#2 Electricity

Electric water heaters in RVs typically run on 110-volt AC power and can heat water quickly, often within 30 minutes or less. But remember that electric water heaters can use a lot of power, so be mindful of your RV’s power consumption when using this option.

Ensure your electric water heater works efficiently and your RV is plugged into a reliable power source. Some RVs may have a switch that allows you to choose between gas and electric power for your water heater.

#3 Gas + Electricity

You might wonder how to efficiently combine gas and electricity to power your RV’s hot water source. The good news is that many RV water heaters have gas and electric options. This means you can choose which method to use depending on your energy source availability and personal preference.

You can flip a switch to turn on the electric heating element and turn on the gas burner to use gas and electricity. This will allow you to heat your water faster and more efficiently. But remember that using both methods simultaneously will consume more energy and potentially drain your RV’s battery.

#4 Tankless

If you’re looking for a more efficient and convenient way to get hot water in your RV, a tankless water heater might be the way to go. Unlike traditional water heaters, tankless models don’t store hot water in a tank. Instead, they heat water as it flows through the unit, providing a constant hot water supply on demand.

This means you don’t need to wait for a tank to heat up before showering or washing dishes. Tankless water heaters are also more energy-efficient than traditional models because they only heat water when needed. This means you’ll save money on energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Should I leave the hot RV water heater constantly on?

Should I leave the hot RV water heater constantly on

If you’re wondering whether you should leave your RV water heater on continuously, there are some things to consider:

#1 Tanks Cannot be Empty

Don’t let the tank run empty, or it could cause serious damage to your heating system. When the water heater is on, it requires a constant water supply to keep the heating elements from overheating and failing.

If there’s no water to draw from, the heating elements will continue to heat the empty tank, which can cause it to crack or even explode. This costly repair can easily be avoided by simply keeping your tank full at all times.

#2 Check the Water Heater Regularly

Regularly inspect your hot water tank to ensure it operates smoothly and lasts for many adventures to come. Here are three things to check regularly:

  • Anode Rod: The anode rod is crucial to your RV’s water heater. It attracts corrosive elements in the water and prevents them from damaging the tank. Check the rod every six months and replace it if it’s more than 50% corroded.
  • Pressure Relief Valve: The pressure relief valve maintains the right pressure in the hot water tank. If it malfunctions, the water heater could explode. Test the valve every six months to make sure it’s functioning correctly.
  • Sediment Build-Up: Sediment can accumulate at the bottom of the hot water tank, causing it to work harder and potentially leading to damage. Drain the tank every six months to remove any sediment.

What’s the best way to heat the RV water heater?

The most efficient way to warm up your RV’s water tank is by using electricity. Electric heating elements are specifically designed to heat up water quickly.

If your RV’s water heater has no electric heating option, you can still use electricity to heat the water. A portable electric water heater can directly heat up the water in your RV’s tank. These heaters are easy to use and connect directly to the RV’s water inlet and outlet.

Maximize Your RV Water Heater’s Efficiency for a More Enjoyable Camping Experience

Various factors, such as the heating element type and initial water temperature, influence the time your RV water heater will heat up. It may take 30 minutes to an hour to achieve the desired temperature. Nevertheless, if you own a gas-powered heater, it can heat the water instantly.

Remember that using your RV water heater efficiently is crucial to conserve resources and prolong the lifespan of your unit. Understanding how long it takes for your RV water heater to heat up and how to use it efficiently will make your camping experience much more enjoyable.

With the right knowledge and tools, you can always have hot water when needed without wasting energy or resources. So, enjoy your next camping trip with peace of mind, knowing that your RV water heater is working efficiently and effectively.

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