Eccotemp L5 Tankless Water Heater – Review

Eccotemp-L5-Tankless-Hot-Shower-Review

Eccotemp L5 Tankless Water Heater – Review

The Eccotemp L5 Portable Tankless Water Heater is the perfect addition to our campervan Water System. Reality check: it only takes a gentle summer breeze to make a cold shower feels really cold… With the Eccotemp L5, we can crank the heat up and enjoy! We think it often draws the line between taking a shower, or not taking a shower. We’ve been using our Eccotemp L5 full-time since June 2018, so we have a few things to review about it!

 

Eccotemp L5 Overview

Eccotemp L5 Tankless Water Heater On Demand, overview

 

How it works

The Eccotemp L5 is a tankless water heater, meaning there is no hot water tank; the water is heated instantly, on-demand. It means you could shower all day and never run out of hot water! (well, that’s until you run out of propane or water) This type of heater is not common in north-american homes (but we start seeing them more and more), but they’re quite common in Europe as it is more efficient than a “traditional” water heater with tank. Indeed, maintaining a tank of water at high-temperature all day is not efficient; moreover, the tank is often located far away from the appliance and there is considerable amount of energy lost through the pipes and water wasted waiting for the water to get hot.

 

Water Source

The heater is hooked to our pressurized water system (faroutride.com/water-system). Our system is similar to any RV: we have a 25 gallons fresh water tank and the Shurflo water pump create the pressure required to feed the appliances (sink, bike-wash & hot shower).

 

Energy Source

The Eccotemp L5 uses propane as fuel. Here is our propane system van setup (faroutride.com/propane-system):

 

Settings

The gas and water (flow) can be adjusted to suits your preference. The temperature of the shower depends on the combination of the gas / water setting (and varies with temperature of water in the tank too!)… For example, more water (max) results in lower shower temperature as there is more water flowing through the heat exchanger at a given time.

Eccotemp L5 Tankless Water Heater On Demand, Rotary Knobs
Gas and Water Settings.

 

Taking a shower

Here’s the easy part: just… take a shower! The Eccotemp L5 detects water flow and ignite (and shutoff) automatically, neat!

To save water, we turn the water off during soaping/shampooing (a.k.a. “Military Shower”. According to Wikipedia it uses about 3 gallons of water -we confirm that!-, as opposed to 60 gallons for a normal 10 minutes shower!)

 

Disclosure

Before going any further, be aware that the manufacturer does not approve it for interior permanent installation. That’s why:

  1. We installed ours near the rear doors (so it’s fully vented and we don’t die from carbon monoxide poisoning…).
  2. We installed a valve for propane AND water (so we can shut it off after each use).
  3. We drain it after each use (per manual) OK we don’t actually do that…

 

 

What we Like

  • Inexpensive.
  • Can be integrated to our actual pressurized water system.
  • Can be adjusted from warm to HOT (it’s quite powerful at max setting).
  • Can be used without heating (cold showers)
  • Easy to operate (no need to hook the water and propane each time).

 

What we Don’t Like

  • We wish the water knob could be adjusted to a lower setting to save water (but we can “override” this by using the valve that we installed).
  • We wish the gas knob could be adjusted to a lower setting; when we “override” the water flow (with our own valve), the water gets a little too hot to our tastes (on hot summer days).
  • If it’s really windy, the flame will extinguish. It happened on 2 or 3 occasions during the summer. We just turn off / turn on the water and the flame ignite again.

 

Models & Where to Buy

 

Eccotemp L5 without Pump:

Choose this if, like us, you have a pressurized system or if you plan on using it with your home garden hose:

Eccotemp L5
Eccotemp L5 without 12V pump. Buy on Amazon.
Eccotemp L5 with EccoFlo 12V Pump:

Choose this if you don’t currently have a pressurized system:

Eccotemp L5 with EccoFlo Pump
Eccotemp L5 with EccoFlo 12V Pump. Buy on Amazon.

 

Installation

What’s in the box:

Eccotemp L5 In The Box

 

There are 3 connections for the Eccotemp L5 (all of them are 1/2″ NPT male):

Eccotemp L5 Tankless Water Heater On Demand, connections
Two “D” batteries are located in the grey compartment (left). The batteries are only used to create the spark to ignite the flame, not to pump water; so they last a long time.

1. Cold Water Input

This is either connected to:

  1. the van/RV pressurized water system (faroutride.com/water-system);
  2. or the EccoFlo 12V water pump (if this is what you purchased);
  3. or the garden hose (by using the included adapter).

Note (on the picture below) that we installed a water valve (see on eBay) right before the cold water input. This allows us to shut the system off AND to control the water flow. Yes, a water valve is mandatory! Without a valve, water is free to flow; don’t just count on the ON/OFF switch of the shower head as it works but it’s not really reliable…

Note that we didn’t use sealant or Teflon tape here, as there is a rubber washer in the fitting.

We used PEX tubing all over our water system and it’s alllll detailed here: faroutride.com/water-system

 

2. Hot Water Output

Just connect the included shower head to this!

No sealant or Teflon tape is necessary, as there is a rubber washer in the fitting.

 

3. Propane Input

The Eccotemp comes with a “1/2″ NPT to 3/8″ Male Flare” adapter, but we discarded it to minimize the number of connections (less connections = less leak potential). We used this gas ball valve (Buy on Amazon) with yellow gas Teflon tape (Buy on Amazon).

Note: Do NOT use white Teflon tape! It’s meant for water connection and it will leak gas. Make sure to use the thicker yellow tape approved for gas.

 

Eccotemp-L5-Tankless-Water-Heater-On-Demand,-All-Connections

 

The Eccotemp L5 is a low pressure gas appliance (pressure: 11 W.C.), it means there must be a regulator between the propane tank and the water heater. You can either:

  1. Hook it directly to a propane tank (BBQ style) by using the included hose+regulator assembly;
  2. Hook it to your actual van / RV propane system like we did (on the low pressure side): faroutride.com/propane-system

 

Shower Head

The shower head is held by a neat little suction cup bracket (Buy on Amazon):Showerhead Bracket Holder with Suction Cup

 

When not in use, the shower head is stored using a Quick Fist Clamp mini (Buy on Amazon):

Eccotemp L5 Camper Van Conversion Hot Shower

 

Winter

Like any water appliance, don’t EVER let the Eccotemp freeze. Freezing water expands and internal components (fittings, pipes, etc) will crack and damage the unit permanently. Prior freezing season, drain water from the Eccotemp using the drain valve.

 

Reliability

We’ve been using the Eccotemp L5 since June 2018 without issue. We’ll let you know if something happens! Subscribe to our Mailing List to be notified.

 

Runner-Up

Before using the Eccotemp L5, we used the Mr Heater BOSS. We had absolutely no issue with it, but it’s more bulky and we didn’t need the portability of the Mr Heater:

 

A popular alternative to the Eccotemp L5 is the Camplux 5L. It looks pretty much the same as the Eccotemp, but the main reason we went for the Eccotemp is that there is an actual company to back up their products (www.eccotemp.com) (quality control, warranties, customer service, etc)… the Camplux seems to be a product on Amazon, that’s all.

Camplux 5L
Camplux 5L. Buy on Amazon.

 

Resources

 

 

 

You Might Be Interested In:

 

 


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25 thoughts on “Eccotemp L5 Tankless Water Heater – Review”

  1. Did you consider a heat exchanger with your vehicle’s engine coolant system? ( i think this could be added to your superb articles, and this usually lost source of energy could be considered for other means. )

    Vechicles use a common heat exchanger which is run in-line with the engine’s coolant lines to provide air heating. Now, you can use tie into this hot coolant line with an additional heat exchanger to provide hot water, at the cost of fittings, hoses, and a cheap heat exchanger plate.
    Obviously, for morning showers this requires heating up the engine.

    This company used to sell a kit (as an example) But it’s just a small heat exchanger.
    https://www.hotcampshowers.com/vehicle_mounted_shower

  2. How much propane does the eccotemp use? I was going to get the mr buddy heated shower and then we changed our water storage to a 25 gallon fixed tank system that would be a pain to get the mr buddy into every time. I was wondering if it is possible to set the eccotemp up with a 1 pound propane tank with an adapter. We have a camp stove that uses the same and want to try and keep things easier. No space for doing a big LP gas box. Space is a premium with a family of 6! Thanks for your reply on this and the time you spent writing all this up!

  3. Awesome! First of all – I LOVE all your write-ups. I plan on using your Propane and Water designs (and will use your Amazon links). Thank you so much! These are incredible. Would you consider splitting off the hot water with a line back to a sink? (knowing you would need to leave the rear door open to use it) What are the pros/cons you would see doing this?
    Cheers!

    • CONS: lot’s of wasted water (because of the pipe length); hard to get the right temperature for small amount of hot water.
      For the sink, I think we would go for a small water heater with tank (but haven’t really research that, sorry…).

      Have a good one!

  4. Bonjour, Toujours intéressant de vous lire. Je prévois acheter aussi le EccoTemp L5 ou L10 et je sais que l’utilisation à l’intérieur n’est pas recommandé ., mais si on ferme le propane et l’eau, est ce que ça élimine la possibilité de combustion de gaz. Et évidemment en installant une sortie extérieur pour le gaz??
    Merci
    Paul

    • L’utilisation à l’intérieur est proscrit par le manufacturier, mais plusieurs personnes le font. C’est donc à votre risque. En plus des valves que vous avez mentionné, il faut bien ventiler l’intérieur PENDANT l’utilisation pour faire sortir le CO2 (la combustion produit du CO2).

      Au plaisir,
      antoine

  5. Yes, the shower head can be changed out; I have done that. The supplied one is a typical RV unit with a useless cutoff valve and cheap plastic hose connection parts. They are very fragile and split easily (mine did almost immediately).
    As mentioned, the water supply valve doesn’t go low enough and mine eventually quit working altogether. I agree that at low water flows the gas adjustment is too high and the water uncomfortably hot.
    The drain doesn’t fully drain the unit. I drained the unit with the drain valve and put it away in the barn for the winter. It froze and split the heat exchange coils in 3 places. I had to take the shower apart and solder the splits shut but now it works fine again. Store it inside if there is a chance for a hard freeze wherever it is.

  6. Salut, j’adore votre site. Je regarde pour le Eccotemp L5 Portable Tankless moi aussi, mais j’aimerais savoir si il peut fonctionner avec les petites bonbonne de 1 lbs(les bonbonne de propane verte)
    Merci

  7. So, I’m really leaning toward getting this unit but I’m concerned that it might not work well at altitude. I’m in CO, around ~5000 ft most of the time, but I do go up to higher elevations frequently. Have you noticed any problems with your unit working above 5000′ elevation? I’m also curious how much heat comes off the top. How much head room do you need to not light anything on fire?

    • Hi Mike,
      – We honestly haven’t use the unit at high altitude yet; here is what I found on Eccotemp support page (https://support.eccotemp.com/hc/en-us/articles/115011219127-TS-My-water-doesn-t-get-hot-enough): “While it has been field tested up to 5,500 feet, we only recommend using it below elevations of 4,000-5,500 feet.”. It will be interesting to see how it performs at high altitudes…

      – There is moderate heat coming off the top; I would say that 8-12in clearance should be OK (and the unit should be installed in a vented area, not into an enclosed space).

      Have a good one!

    • @Mike Minson, I know it has been a while, but did you ever end up using this unit in CO? I am also in colorado and curious if this is the unit I should go for.

      Thanks!

      Thanks for the review!

      • We use this same unit on our tear drop (thinking of a van build) and I can assure you — the ecotemp works great here (We’re in CO) — even at 11,000 feet it still burns solid.

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