Gas and Electric Water Heater Reviews for Tiny Houses

Looking for a way to heat water for your tiny house on a budget, while saving space? Check out these reviews!

Indoor space is at a premium in a tiny house. Who can afford to dedicate an entire closet to a water heater? That’s where on-demand, tankless water heaters come in. With this technology, you’ll only heat water when you need it, instead of storing it in a massive tank only to cool off until you use it. This could save you as much as twelve cubic feet of space in your tiny home. (Now you’ll have room for that comic book collection!)

In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the top five models on the market, including initial installation costs, energy performance and overall savings potential. (Though, if you really want to save money, consider building a tiny house without a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. How can that work? Most of the folks living at Dancing Rabbit Eco-village share cooking and bathing facilities. This means our individual tiny homes are cheaper to build, and by sharing resources we all work together to reduce our impact on the environment. Take some time to visit us if you want to learn more about how we are living the innovative tiny house lifestyles of our dreams.)

Top 5 Tankless Water Heater Models:

Let’s get down to business. Below you’ll find the Tiny House Blog’s Top 5 tankless water heaters.

5. Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24-Plus Electric Tankless Water Heater

Price: $750

– One of the strongest electric models on the market – expect high water pressure and a satisfying flow
– Offers advanced digital temperature control
– Three year warranty is only valid if professionally installed – a qualified technician may not be available in your area, and even if one is, they can be expensive to hire

4. Rinnai RL75iN Natural Gas Tankless Water Heater

Price: $865

– Can be converted to propane
– Boasts a wide temperature range: 98 – 140 degrees for residential use
– Can supply a larger number of appliances in separate bathroom, kitchen and laundry areas
– You’re limited to one specific design for your external vent
– If repairs become necessary, finding a qualified technician can be difficult and expensive
– Make sure your gas supply is up to snuff, or your unit will fluctuate between hot and cold temperatures

3. Eccotemp FVI-12-NG High Capacity Gas Tankless Water Heater

Price: $269

– Inexpensive, but still provides high quality results
– Flexible external vent design options
– Ideally sized for tiny homes
– Lower water pressure than some other models
– Sensitive to user temperature adjustments at point of use, which can cause sudden and drastic fluctuations in water flow temperature

2. Rheem RTE 13 Electric Tankless Water Heater

Price: $210

– Modulated temperature control means you can set your water temp just where you want it and the system will self-adjust energy input to avoid fluctuations
– This unit is super small at 9″ x 10″ x 5″
– Rheem has an excellent brand reputation
– Unit is limited to about 4 gallons per minute

1. EcoSmart ECO 11 Electric Tankless Water Heater

Price: $210

Save up to 60% on water heating costs – more than any other model I am familiar with
– User can precisely control water temperature in one-degree increments
– Advanced technology minimizes energy usage by precisely calculating when to heat water
– Comes with a lifetime warranty for residential use
– Ideal for tiny homes powered with renewable energy
– This model is known for fluctuating by a few degrees between slightly different water temperatures
– Professional installation is particularly vital for this model because errors are likely to cause system failure

You have a choice of fuels when it comes to tankless water heaters: gas or electric. Electric water heaters are the most ecological option, if you plan to power your home with renewable energy. (You could save anywhere between 15% and 60% on electric water heating costs with a tankless system.) Electric models don’t have to be vented externally, and they’re ideal for mobile tiny homeowners who want to plug in at their destination. Otherwise, gas models are typically cheaper to operate and some can even be converted to burn propane.

Be aware that all tankless water heaters are challenged by mineral buildup, unless you’re blessed with water that naturally has the perfect PH. Most likely, you’ll need to plan on installing filtration equipment. Otherwise, you’ll have to flush your system periodically with a special solution to dissolve the gunk. Ask your local plumber for advice tailored to the area where your house will be located.

I strongly recommend that you hire a professional to install your system. We’re talking about fairly advanced equipment here. If you don’t get everything just right during installation, you could wind up drastically shortening the lifespan of your system, or inhibit its proper function. Installation costs generally range from $350 on up.

For my money, I’d go with the EcoSmart ECO 11, because the potential to save 60% on energy costs is huge!

If you’re interested in learning more ways that you can work smarter instead of working harder to realize your tiny house dreams, consider visiting us at Dancing Rabbit Eco-village. You’ll get a chance to see more than a dozen tiny homes all in one place and pick the brains of their owners. We have several top-notch builders, who can show you the ropes and give you the pointers you need to make sure your tiny house design is perfect for you.

13 thoughts on “Gas and Electric Water Heater Reviews for Tiny Houses”

  1. Verry insightfull and knowledgable article. Me and my husband are pretty much leaning towards the ecotemp for financial reaseons. We like that it instantly heats, doesnt have to circulate like the zodie and has a great price point of $120.00. Thank you for the article!

    • Hi Walt, Did you end up buying that hot water heater? I am also looking for a small on-demand that works with no electricity.

  2. Great article on small water heaters. The thing that I would like to add to it is that you should also consider Eccotemp L5 that is a portable tankless water heater and it is small in size.

  3. Great read. I will suggest the Rinnai Brand. I am using it since last year, believe me, they will worth the every penny you pay for it. You can also consider the Eccotemp Brand if you have low budget for the tankless water heaters.

  4. Excellent write up guys! Creative and informative.

    I love how you guys started at #5 instead of #1, absolutely genius, keeps your readers attenion! Stiebel Eltron tops the list in my book, for the “best tankless water heater” then Rinnai would be second, they both are great for large families or heavy hot water usage households, these are more costly though.

    ECO Smart and Eccotemp are definitely good worthwhile options for people on a budget, smaller households or light hot water usage. So they are perfect for tinyhomes which is the main theme of this blog :). Eccotemps are also great for off the grid users, survivalists,camping and long distance hiking and other outdoor activities.

    The burning question…Will a tankless water heater help save on energy bills? Generally tankless water heaters does save on energy bills but it is not as much as people might hope for, less than 10%. The major benefit over storage water heaters however, is that you do not have to wait on the hot water to “happen”. No one enjoys taking a cold shower unless you are a polar bear or frosty the snow man, and even then you only do it on “special occasions”. People want to have hot water instantly, take a shower and go. That is what a tankless water heater offers!

    Thanks Guys!

  5. For grid tie folks and those off grid in warmer climates,yes,very good information.
    Family of 4,entirely off the grid,solar, water gravity fed from spring at only 10psi,in a 380spf home for 5+ years.
    for less money,space,and other savings here’s what our solution was.
    Excel tankless gas water heater (low pressure start up) 1.6gpm LPG VENTFREE (propane). Can buy new for around $175 from amazon. Easy install,requireso no external power. Easy hook up Cold in,hot comes out. LPG hooks up slick,and no vent required. And best of all,requires very minimal clearance space.

  6. A tankless water heater is a compact and efficient solution for heating water. It ensures a nonstop supply of hot water in winters that make it a convenient option for both small and large families.


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