How I Installed a Tankless Water Heater for My Off Grid Cabin

Everything You've Wanted To Know About Off Grid Hot Water And More

Here’s A Step-by-Step Guide To Selecting & Installing An On Demand Tankless Propane Hot Water Heater For Unlimited Hot Water Off Grid!

The Off Grid Cabin Bathroom 1

If you are living off the grid, you know how important it is to have a reliable and efficient source of hot water. You also know how challenging it can be to find the right water heater that suits your needs and budget. That’s why I decided to share my experience of installing a tankless water heater for my off grid cabin. 

I live in a small cabin in the woods, far away from the grid. I love the simplicity and freedom of my lifestyle, but I also enjoy some modern comforts, like hot water. For a long time, I used a solar shower bag to heat water for washing dishes and bathing, but it was not very convenient or reliable. Sometimes, the sun was not strong enough to heat the water, or the bag would leak or burst. Other times, the water would be too hot or too cold, or run out before I finished.

on demand tankless hot water heater shower off grid

I decided to look for a better solution, and I came across tankless water heaters. These are devices that heat water on demand, without storing it in a tank. They use propane or natural gas as fuel, and they are very efficient and compact. They can provide endless hot water at a consistent temperature, and they can be installed indoors or outdoors.

Off-Grid-Hot-Water Vehicle

In this post, I will cover the following topics:

  • Why I chose a tankless water heater over a traditional tank
  • What type and model of tankless water heater I bought and why
  • How I installed the tankless water heater and what challenges I faced
  • What are the pros and cons of using a tankless water heater for off grid living

NOTE: This serves as a reference solely. Be sure to research and adhere to the rules, regulations and laws in your area. 

Our hot water supplies the kitchen sink, bathroom sink as well as the shower.

The Off Grid Cabin Kitchen 2

The Off Grid Cabin Bathroom 2

The Off Grid Cabin Kitchen 1

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Why I Chose a Tankless Water Heater

A tankless water heater, also known as an on-demand water heater, is a device that heats water only when you need it. It does not store hot water in a tank, but instead uses a gas burner or an electric element to heat the water as it flows through the unit. This means that you can have unlimited hot water without wasting energy or space. Some systems like the one below can service a large off grid home and include expansion tanks to prevent water knocking and allow for very precise flow control. 

double-rinnai-tankless-water-heaters

There are many benefits of using a tankless water heater for off grid living, such as:

  • Energy efficiency: A tankless water heater can save up to 50% of energy compared to a traditional tank water heater, according to The Trade Table1. This is because it only heats the water when you turn on the faucet, and does not waste energy by keeping the water hot in a tank. This also reduces your carbon footprint and your propane or electricity consumption.
  • Space saving: A tankless water heater is much smaller and compact than a tank water heater, which can take up a lot of space in your cabin. A tankless water heater can be mounted on a wall, under a sink, or in a closet, depending on the type and model. This frees up more space for other purposes and makes your cabin look more spacious and tidy.
  • Endless hot water: A tankless water heater can provide continuous hot water as long as you have enough fuel or power. You don’t have to worry about running out of hot water in the middle of a shower or washing dishes. You can also use multiple faucets at the same time without affecting the water pressure or temperature.
  • Lower maintenance costs: A tankless water heater has fewer parts and components than a tank water heater, which means less wear and tear and less risk of leaks or corrosion. A tankless water heater can last up to 20 years with proper care and maintenance, while a tank water heater may need to be replaced every 10 years or less.

What Type and Model of Tankless Water Heater I Bought

There are different types and models of water heaters available on the market, such as propane, natural gas, electric, tank or tankless. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your energy source, climate, and personal preference.

NC-High-Efficiency-Water-Heaters

I decided to buy a propane-powered tankless water heater for my off grid cabin, because:

  • Propane is more readily available and affordable than natural gas in my area
  • Propane is cleaner and more eco-friendly than natural gas, as it produces less greenhouse gas emissions
  • Propane is more reliable and consistent than electric, as it does not depend on solar panels or batteries
  • Propane is more powerful and faster than electric, as it can heat the water to higher temperatures in less time

How do these tankless water heaters work anyway? Here’s a very simple diagram to show the internals workings of a typical tankless water heater. 

how-tankless-hot water heater work

The model of tankless water heater I bought is the Eccotemp L10 3.0 GPM LP Tankless Water Heater. Its a very compact and simple water heater. 

L10 tankless water heater weight

L10 tankless water heater From Eccotemp