Our Experience with Camping Gas Hot Water Systems
Campers that we had previously tested for reviews on the site has instant gas style hot water systems. While gas is very efficient from an energy perspective, we found that these systems used far too much water. Water runs while the system ignites and while it gets up to temperature. The two different brands we used also used a large volume of water while showering, even on the lowest setting.
If you have a water source and a pump, of course, this water consumption isn’t an issue, but if you’re pulling only from your water tank, which we usually are, then you’ll burn through your supply fast! One of these systems we tried on WA’s Dirk Hartog Island, and after two quick showers, we’d blown a quarter of the water tank. It was a one shower trip, but luckily there was plenty of pristine ocean for swims. Now, this isn’t to say there aren’t gas systems that have solved these water usage issues; we are just yet to find one.
Why We Chose an Electric Camp Shower
So this leads to our camp shower choice. As you might have guessed from the above section on gas systems, our main reason for choosing an electric storage system was the massively reduced water consumption.
We chose the Duoetto MKII, which is an electric system that runs on both 12V and 240V. It stores 10L of hot water that heats to a range from 30 to 70 degrees celsius.
In our camper, we installed this in one of the rear compartments. It’s nice and compact, which allowed us to fit the water pump, shower head and a shelf for clean clothes and towels all in the space.
Operating Our Shower
One of the best features of the Duoetto MKII camp shower is that it requires little setup. Gas systems usually require ventilation, gas and water connection. With the Duoetto MKII, it’s a simple case of connecting the showerhead.
In the essence of easy setup and pack up, we installed a custom bracket on the campers swing-out spare wheel to hold a freestanding style ensuite. We chose a sturdy model made by Quick Pitch, which drops down and packs away quickly, all without touching the dirt.
We also bought a timber bath mat which has proven excellent for showering in the dust and dirt.
Kitchen Hot Water
As well as the hot camp shower, our system supplies hot water to the kitchen basin for dishes. The kitchen basin has a mixer tap similar to the shower mixer.
The Downside of Electric
The downside of electric systems is simply power consumption. On 12V, we found the Duoetto MKII used ~30A. It would take ~40 minutes to heat up to shower temp, so that’s a drop from your battery bank of 20A.
If you’re on a driving day, it’s easy to switch the system on an hour before camp, and you’ll likely end the day with both an entire battery bank and hot water. For us, this this switch is controlled via our REDARC Redvision system which we mounted in the kitchen for easy access.
When you’re enjoying one place off-grid for several days without driving, you may need to be mindful of this power usage. We have a REDARC 300Ah lithium battery system and plenty of solar, but there are still times when we need to be careful. We chose gas cooking over induction to take the pressure of our battery bank, and it also means we can use gas for boiling water for dishes or a wipe down if our power gets low.
The Duoetto MKII can also run on 240V. You’ll need at least a 1,000W inverter to do this; ours is a REDARC 2,000W unit. On 240V, the heat up time is quicker, so it’s a handy option if you forget to switch the system on earlier.
This Duoetto MKII camp shower caters for two people, but it’s likely capable of showering a family; you may just need a break between showers for it to re-heat.
While we’ve found this system uses much less water, you still need to be a water-wise camper if you don’t want to empty your water tank. So we’ve fitted a low flow shower head with a trigger. Showers involve a quick wet down, then a soap up with the shower turned off and finally a rinse.
While we have a 150L water tank in our camper and another 80L in our Cruiser, we usually like to stay off-grid for a while, so being careful with water is critical.
The Joy of a Hot Shower
While wet wipes or a hot towel can undoubtedly make you feel comfortable, but there’s nothing like a hot shower to make you feel incredible while you’re out exploring.
One of our first camp showers with this new system was after a three-day hike in the Bungle Bungles National Park. We were sweaty and grimy; luckily, the solar panels had kept the fridges running, and we had enough spare power to fire up the hot water system. It felt amazing to freshen up entirely ready for the next leg of our trip!