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
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.
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).
The Eccotemp L5 uses propane as fuel. Here is our propane system van setup (faroutride.com/propane-system):
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.
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!)
Before going any further, be aware that the manufacturer does not approve it for interior permanent installation. That’s why:
- We installed ours near the rear doors (so it’s fully vented and we don’t die from carbon monoxide poisoning…).
- We installed a valve for propane AND water (so we can shut it off after each use).
We drain it after each use (per manual)OK we don’t actually do that…
What we Like
- 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
Choose this if, like us, you have a pressurized system or if you plan on using it with your home garden hose:
Choose this if you don’t currently have a pressurized system:
What’s in the box:
There are 3 connections for the Eccotemp L5 (all of them are 1/2″ NPT male):
1. Cold Water Input
This is either connected to:
- the van/RV pressurized water system (faroutride.com/water-system);
- or the EccoFlo 12V water pump (if this is what you purchased);
- 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.
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:
- Hook it directly to a propane tank (BBQ style) by using the included hose+regulator assembly;
- Hook it to your actual van / RV propane system like we did (on the low pressure side): faroutride.com/propane-system
The shower head is held by a neat little suction cup bracket (Buy on Amazon):
When not in use, the shower head is stored using a Quick Fist Clamp mini (Buy on Amazon):
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.
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.
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.
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