March '17

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74 • RV PRO • March 2017 rv-pro.com A F T E R M A R K E T ships – where fresh water is at a premium – of limiting showers to a 30-second wet- ting cycle, a waterless sudsing cycle, and a one-minute rinse. While that may be fine in mili- tary situations, it's not how average RV owners live at home and it's not a practice they want to adopt on the road, according to Jerry Rennert, gen- eral manager of the Elkhart, Ind., oper- ation of Girard Systems. "Rather than (being) out boon- docking, today many people are going to RV parks and they want to take a longer shower," he says. "They have long hair they need to shampoo, and they don't want to have to head down to the shower house at the RV park." On top of that, the weight of a tank water heater can be a real detriment. "A tank water heater is anywhere from 50 pounds to 100 pounds heavier than an on-demand water heater," Rennert says. "Plus, you're also carrying around up to 12 gallons of water – at 8 pounds per gallon – which is just dead weight." By comparison, an on-demand system can provide an unlimited supply of hot water by running it past a heat exchanger powered by a propane heating system. Art Klee, president of the Suburban Division of Airxcel in Dayton, Tenn., says that, at present, trying to incorporate an electric component into the heaters just isn't feasible. "There isn't enough power in a park to power an electric demand water heater," he says. "Those typically take 50 amps or more at 120 volts AC. You just don't have enough power to turn the lights on and shower at the same time. You'd use all the available capacity to heat the water." However, the on-demand water heaters do use 12-volt DC in their fans and microprocessors. Otherwise, they're remarkably similar to the on-demand or tankless systems RV owners have in their homes. "Probably the main thing is that it's less BTUs than a residential unit," Rennert says. "You don't need as many because you don't have that many bath- rooms or that long a run to the kitchen." Because of that, he adds that Girard has found its units can be used in after- market applications without modifying the gas, plumbing or electrical systems in customers' units. Just like their in-home cousins, they're also more energy efficient than the con- ventional tanked heaters. "If you have a tank heater, you're going to be using more propane because you're heating that 6 or 10 gallons of water and letting it sit," says Truma's Howlett. "Not only are you conserving your water with an on-demand heater, but you're saving propane." Still another advantage to the on-de- mand systems is that they're easier to maintain and winterize. Every water heater, in-home or on the road, contains a sacrificial anode that is a key part of the rust protection of a tank. Suburban's Suburban, a division of Airxcel, promoted its IW60 on-demand water heater to dealers during the recent NTP-STAG Expo show in Anaheim, Calif.

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