I’ve seen this tip or variations of it on several RV forums and blogs over the years. You use a remote oven or BBQ thermometer to keep track of the water heater temperature. The temperature probe is placed against the water heaters metal tank.
Once the temperature reaches your preferred showering comfort zone, you turn off the water heater. Now you can shower using just the hot water faucet with no need to mix hot and cold.
This tip has several benefits:
- Saves LP Gas – Since the water is only heated to your lower preferred temp versus the water heater preset temperature less water heater burner time is needed.
- Saves Water – Water usually wasted trying to mix hot and cold to a preferred showing temp is saved.
- No More Cold Blast – The cold blast of water some RV boondockers experience when they turn off the water to lather up and turn back on to rinse is eliminated.
- Flow Control – Smooth control of water flow and volume using the one tap without temperature fluctuation.
Setting up the RV Water Heater Temp Monitor
For the task, I picked up an inexpensive digital BBQ/oven thermometer used for meats. Mine came with a stainless steel probe on a remote hookup wire and a wireless pager. I purchased it locally at Canadian Tire. You can find similar units selling on Amazon.
On my particular Keystone Cougar fifth wheel, a six-gallon Suburban SW6DE water heater is located behind a wood panel beside the stairs to the bedroom. I just unscrewed the panel and shoved the thermometer probe in between the styrofoam insulation and the water heater’s metal tank. Within a minute or so, accurate tank temp is displayed.
I’ve checked the temperature shown to what comes out of the tap using my IR thermometer gun. The temps closely matched.
To make hooking things up easier when we are out boondocking, I added a hinge and knob to the panel making it a little access door. The probe wire isn’t long enough to mount at eye level, so I place it on a stair out of the way.
However, I did buy a thermometer with a remote pager unit with its own LCD readout. I have that mounted on the wall near the bathroom for a conveniently located temperature check.
So, what I do is turn on the thermometer, then fire up the gas to the water heater. Once the tank is at my desired temp, the alarm sounds and I shut off the water heater gas switch. Then I navy shower using just the hot tap.
WH Temp Monitor – Boondocking Tip Video
Of course, long showers may be a problem since most RV water tanks are 6 or 10 gallons. For me, I can usually get a decent dry camping shower with just a gallon or two. The less water we use, the longer we can stay.