Van Conversion

7 Ways to Get Hot Water in a Campervan

August 26, 2019

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Hot water is a great thing to have in a van – its nice to have and somthing we always wanted in our van. We did a great deal of research into the various methods of getting hot water and came up with 7 ways to get hot water in your campervan.

We ended up going with a calorifer tank, as its a great passive way to get water, you always have hot water after a journey and it stays hot for hours! You can read more about it below!

Comment if you have away to get hot water in your campervan we havent mentioned!

boiling water in a campervan

1. Boil Water

Grab a pan, fill it with water, stick it on the hob, boom hot water. Simple and every campervan has both a hob and pan dont they? We’ve done multiple trips using this method for cleaning dishes and cant falt it. It’s great when you need a cup of tea, or to clean dishes, but for anything else (washing, showering etc) it’s a bit of a pain to have to keep boiling multiple pans.

2. Water Heater

There are a number of water heaters on the market but they all work more or less the same way by heating a body of water in a holding tank. Most of these use Gas or Electric when connected to mains. These are great if you want shower facilities.

On average they take around 30 to 45 minutes to heat water, and it’s always a good idea to turn the heater on before you need it. Most water heaters however, cannot be used whilst driving as they require gas which you cannot use whilst driving the UK. This normally means you have to stop and then turn the heater on, wait 30 minutes before you have hot water.

campervan waterheater
campervan combi boiler water heater

3. Combi Boiler

These are very similar to the above water heaters, however I thought they deserver their own category as they also function as both a water heater and a room / space heater all in one unit, just like a house boiler system!

One unit to rule them all, well somthing like that. If you have the budget, they are pricey at the time of writing this, however you could save a bunch of space with a single unit and one installation, instead of potentially double space used by two seperate units (room heater & water heater).

4. Tankless Hot Water Boiler

Tankless and instant hot water? magic… no its not magic. There are boiler units out there which will heat water as its flowing hence the name instant! Gas instant hot water units are what you are looking for, as electric ones require such a high power draw you would need a larger amount of electric which wont be practical.

Ventilation, ventilation and more ventilation is really important! Most of these units are designed for either well ventilated / large rooms or outdoors use, not the back of a van. Always read the instructions and make sure you ventilate and build a suitable flu system.

gas tankless instant water heater
solar shower bag

5. Solar

You could always harness the solar engine coming from the big yellow blob in the sky we call the sun. Either via the means of a solar shower bag like this one or this one (affiliate links) (a big water carrier which is solid black) or even tubes on the van coloured black to absorb the solar heat.

This has the benefits of not needing any complicated gas installations and can be as simple or complicated as you make it, the simplest is the black water carrier chuck on top of your roof!

Lets face it in the UK you aren’t going to get crazy boiling water using this solution, but for a freshing shower in the summer this would work perfectly. These obviously work best for showers, but you could empty the water into a bucket for things like dishes, though they may not be much use in the winter or short days though!

6. Calorifier Tank

Make hot water whilst your driving? Say what? Yep, you heard me, its what we have in our campervan and love it. It’s hooked into our engines coolant system which means whilst we drive and the engines heats up, it also heats up a tank of water – basically the same concept as #2 but using your engine as the heat source.

All we did was locate the coolant pipes which run into the back of the heater matrix for the cabin blowers, cut one of the pipes and diverted the flow to the calorifier tank and back into the heater matrix.

Its great turning up to a site and knowing you have hot ready ready to go, and the tank we have is insulated and stays boiling for hours, even warm in the mornings! This option isn’t so great though if you’re plannning on staying in the same place for days on end, as you’d have to run your engine for 10-20 minutes each day to re-heat the water.

Calorifier Water Heating Tank in Campervan
log burner water heater

7. Log Burner

Cant say we are experts in this area. We know people love log burners in their vans, but its not for us. However I dont see why you couldn’t use this as a way to heat up water! Both via a pot sitting on top of the stove or a network of pipes running through or near the burner to heat water as it passes!

This is something I would love to try, but unfortunately we dont have a burner in our camper.

Got a method of heating water in your camper van we have missed?
Let us know in the comments!

  • Reply
    May 10, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    This has been SO helpful, THANK YOU!! We were planning on getting a Whale Electric & Gas water heater but trying to find space with all the legal requirements in a MWB feels impossible. Calorifier Tank seems the best to us as well. We can only find installation videos for boats. Have you got any tips for us?
    Thanks again 🙂

    • Reply
      May 10, 2020 at 8:59 pm

      Hi thanks for reading! I have been writing a blog post for weeks I need to finish regarding the Calorifier! The image above might look complicated, but it is not really. We got our unit from Surejust, here is a link to the various models they do, you will also find various information on how the tanks work / installation.


      Essentially you need to find the heater matrix coolant pipes inside your engine bay, they will be black rubber pipes leading into the firewall (back of the engine bay going into the cab area), they are used to heat the cab blowers, you just need to cut one of those pipes and feed the pipe to the calorifier and then return back to the original pipe, essentially fitting the calorifier inline. It was around 4 to 5m extra pipe we had to add to reach our calorifier and back, then it was simply top up the coolant levels for any lost fluids and the new lengths of pipes.

      Any further questions let us know! I will try and do a YouTube video this week of our setup, so you get a better idea!

  • Reply
    May 12, 2020 at 8:10 am

    That’s amazing Shane thank you!! I look forward to watching some of your videos.
    Stay safe 🙂

  • Reply
    May 15, 2020 at 12:54 am

    is a very interesting way to prepare hot water. can I watch your video about it?
    thank you

  • Reply
    June 8, 2020 at 6:33 am

    Hi Shane You’ve inspired me. I’ve just ordered a calorifier. Can you tell me which speedfit fitting you have used to connect your water pipe to the calorifier and accumulator

    • Reply
      June 8, 2020 at 10:34 am

      Hi Ian, glad your found the article helpful. We have 12mm pipe so used John Guest 12mm pushfit to 12mm barbed, we only used john guest fittings on the calorifer side, mainly due to the cost of each JG fitting and the calorifer already supported push fit connectors. Let us know how you get on!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2020 at 6:22 am

    Cheers, but I thought the calorifier had 15mm push fit connections

    • Reply
      June 9, 2020 at 4:25 pm

      Sorry you are correct! it was john guest 15mm to 12mm barbed connection!

  • Reply
    June 12, 2020 at 10:18 am

    One more question. Which water pump are you using and what pressure is it set for?

    • Reply
      June 12, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      No worries, its either the Shurflo Trail King 7 or Shurflo Trail King 10, I cannot remember, think it was the 10, I think the difference is the Ltr/Min. There both 30PSI.

  • Reply
    R Burrell
    September 7, 2020 at 3:20 pm

    Great guide.
    Settled me on the way I was looking at. The same way you have gone.
    Looking forward to reading your other articles.

    • Reply
      September 7, 2020 at 4:26 pm

      Glad it could be of use. If you are going for the Calorifer setup we also did a video on it, may have some more information for you.


      • Reply
        Eoghan ó Cathasaigh
        December 4, 2020 at 10:42 pm

        Hi Shane,
        Great explanation on the benefits and setup of your system. May I ask, how long a shower can be taken be taken with the 10 litre single coil calorifier? (3 minutes would be lovely!)



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