March '17

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76 • RV PRO • March 2017 rv-pro.com A F T E R M A R K E T The Demand for Comfort … Plus Speed Perhaps the biggest question with on-demand systems is whether they're providing hot water instantly. And, the answer is a strong "sometimes". Howlett, for example, calls his system a hybrid technology because it incorporates a small tank that's driven by the heat exchanger and stabilizes the water temperature in the tank at 120 degrees. "It acts as a small buffer, so you always have a low flow of hot water – even when you first turn on the tap," he says. And, Girard's Rennert notes that some companies offer a recirculating pump that keeps the hot water run- ning through the system so RVers truly have instant hot water at any faucet immediately. "The problem is then you're wasting energy because you've got a 12-volt motor pump running all the time to keep the tankless water heater going to keep the water at a certain temperature," he says. So, where does the market go from here? Rennert says his company's fig- ures show the demand for on-de- mand growing in both the OEM and aftermarket. " Will they take over the whole market?" he asks rhetorically. "I doubt that, but I do see them becoming more and more popular." ITR's Johnson certainly believes the hydronic systems will play their part in that expansion. He says his company is already able to serve the market with a variety of sizes. "We've got little tiny heaters that we put in boats," he says. "We've got great big ones that will provide enough water for three showers that are quite popular in big coaches. People are demanding more comfort and we want to be able to keep up with that." Meanwhile, Howlett says Truma is focusing on improving its existing on-demand products. One of the newest efforts: A decalcification system to bring existing equipment back to the original manufacturer's condition. "People buy a very expensive vehicle and they want the components to last," he says. "We aren't building something that will last for 12 or 24 months; we expect it to last for 10 years, and improve the comfort of the end consumer when he's camping." And, Howlett says his company also is zeroing in on the aftermarket with its AquaGo product, which can be retrofitted into fifth wheels and large towables where people want to have what he calls, "a little more hot water experience." Ultimately, Suburban's Klee believes that current technology has pushed pro- pane water heating systems about as far as it can go for efficiency. However, looking deeper into his crystal ball, he says every- thing from solar heating systems to fed- eral Department of Energy requirements to new lithium battery technology could turn the water heater market on its ear down the road. Regardless of what direction the market takes, there's one sure bet: "People want hot water," Klee concludes. Richmond, B.C., Canada-based International Thermal Research produces the Oasis NE and Oasis NE-S hydronic heating systems for the RV industry. ITR touts the Oasis NE-S as being an 85,000-BTU true output diesel burner that can maintain 120F portable water at 3 GPM, which the company says is enough for two showers at a time, continuously.

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