Atwood is one of the top manufacturers when it comes to water heaters used for marine and recreation vehicles. The brand has decades of experience building reliable, lightweight options for specific situations. While many Atwood water heaters have been showcased for RVs and boats, we wanted to dig a little deeper. Atwood offers marine water heaters along with those powered by gas and electric. In this article we’ll be delving into the various options and what they bring to the table. We’ll also investigate what makes a great water heater for a recreational vehicle.
The Things That Matter
While writing this review of the options for the Atwood water heater, we looked at numerous different things. We considered the cost of each water heater along with the value of any features included. We looked at what type of water heater it is and how large it is. We also considered BTUs, durability and longevity before searching for reviews and ratings from other experts and past buyers to get an idea of any advantages and disadvantages that weren’t already apparent.
Top 5 Atwood Water Heaters
While looking at the best Atwood water heaters, we’ll include models that are fully gas, fully electric and hybrid. We also worked to showcase many heaters of unique sizes, prices and power levels. We believe this gives an excellent idea of what Atwood offers while providing emphasis on the best options out there.
This is one of the more unique options from Atwood in that it uses both electricity and gas to operate. It’s lightweight at only 17.5 pounds and measures 22.8 by 18.1 by 17.5 inches. Like other Atwood machines, it has a through-tube combustion chamber which is used to improve the ability to retain heat when a power source is available. That means your RV gets heated water more quickly and efficiently than with alternatives.
With the hybrid heating system, a heat exchanger is used to ensure that you conserve as much energy as possible. Even the heat that comes from the engine isn’t wasted. Instead, it is transferred to the water heater where it can be utilized productively. The heater can provide 10,000 BTUs of heat with gas and 1,400 watts with electricity. It also includes the typical Atwood corrosion resistance. This adds wanted durability, especially for those who use their RVs on a regular basis.
Reviews often speak about the incredible construction of this water heater and how well thought out the engineering for the unit is. It’s also noted for being easy to install and requires little maintenance to keep going. You can expect this water heater to cost around $600 to $700 on retail internet websites. It includes a door and switch with purchase.
If you want to heat water fast and keep it that way, the EHM6/EHM6-SM will likely fit your needs. It has corrosion-resistant construction, a six-gallon tank and uses a typical 110-volt power outlet. Being from Atwood, it’s also known for being high quality and reliable. It uses a safe but powerful heat exchange that has been altered to work correctly with the tank size, making it one of the quickest options to heat up of all those listed here.
This Atwood water heater has a double-tube model which is intended to help prevent fresh water from encountering coolant from the engine. The unit itself is made of stainless steel which makes it durable and promises a long life. You’ll also find that the look of the device is appealing and attractive thanks to particular attention paid to the corners and edges of the heater.
This heater weighs right around 18 pounds and measures 23 by 17 by 14 inches. It seems to be a straightforward heater to install for most users, whether in a boat, RV or even a mobile home. The hookups for both plumbing and wiring are all in the front, making it convenient to get installed so you can head out on an adventure. The EHM6 unit typically goes for about $675 online, while the EHM6-SM is closer to $950.
Next up is the GE16-EXT, which comes as gas-powered, electric-powered or a hybrid option. When using electricity it can utilize an outlet or a generator. This is a large unit as far as Atwood goes, weighing nearly 50 pounds and measuring 21.8 by 15.5 by 16 inches. The tank is made of aluminum alloy for durability and includes protection from water corrosion. It can hold up to 10 gallons of water and features controls that are easily accessible for any service needs.
The heat exchanger used in this unit helps you cut down on utility bills by preventing waste of heat from engine coolant. It’s also a sleek, modern unit with a mostly white exterior to appeal to anyone. This water heater has a preconfigured bypass kit, along with a gas/electric ignition, prefitted tee fittings and a thermostatically controlled mixing valve. While it may be more significant than other options, it has plenty of advanced features that make up for that assuming it fits your RV or boat.
Depending on the energy option you choose, this water heater can cost anywhere from about $575 to $850. As far as expert and buyer reviews, many individuals note that it can be a little tricky to install without electrical experience. Others mention that it can keep the hot water running for long periods without a problem.
Moving into more budget territory is the 96110 which comes with a six- or 10-gallon tank. This lightweight Atwood water heater weighs a tad over 14 pounds and measures 20 by 17 by 14.3 inches. This is an economical option that has settings where up to 90 percent of the heat from the pilot light is used to help keep water hot and conserve energy. It can be flush mounted into an RV sidewall and includes an exterior access door for a more aesthetically appealing look.
You can find this unit for around $325 at online retailers, and that includes a two-year limited warranty from Atwood. It has an input of 8,800 BTUs and a recovery rate of over seven gallons an hour. Reviewers note that like most Atwood heaters it’s easy to install, and you can get it going right away. It can heat water up in under 30 minutes and is perfect for a mobile home or RV.
This is a gas-only unit unlike others but if you prefer electric, others on this list will likely suit your needs. For the price, this is an excellent tradeoff with features that compete with other options you may be considering to heat the water in your RV.
This water heater has direct-spark ignition, which is a plus as you only need to flip a switch to turn it on. It has a six-gallon capacity and is gas only. The input is 8,800 BTUs while the recovery is over 11 gallons an hour. It only weighs about 19 pounds when empty and can fit a 12-5/8- by 16 ¼-inch cutout to be flush mounted to the RV sidewall. It garners excellent reviews and is noted to be simple to install. It fits into the required space listed and can be used quickly after installation.
A quick flip of a switch turns the heater on or off which makes it both safe and convenient. It does come with a door for aesthetic purposes and can be used in an RV, mobile home or marine vehicle. It was also engineered for easy service as nearly all the parts can be repaired or replaced through the outside door. It’s a fantastic option for an RV or mobile home.
Some of the extra features of this model include pressure relief, high-temperature-limit switch and temperature control. This keeps you safe as well as your equipment. You can expect to spend less than $400 on this model and installation takes only minutes. It does come complete with a door to properly fit the space and be safe around children and pets.
If you’ve made the decision to buy a water heater for your RV, boat or mobile home, you can’t go wrong with Atwood. The company focuses on this type of water heater, offering some of the most quality options on the market. However, there are many things to consider before making this important purchase. The type of heater, fuel used in it and various specifications of the heater are all necessary to consider. We’ll look at that more now.
Type of Water Heater
The first thing to consider is whether you prefer a tank water heater or a tankless option. The tank type is less expensive than the tankless, and you can find them in gas, electric and hybrid options. The more-costly options tend to be tankless, but there is a good reason for that. These heaters create a continuous stream of hot water so there is no limit on the water you can use. These use heat exchangers and often a gas burner for extra on-demand heating needs.
Most water heaters for RVs with tanks will hold six or 10 gallons. In some cases you may find four-gallon tanks or larger tanks of up to 16 gallons. If you’re a family of four who is on the road together and showering one after another, you may find that a six-gallon tank simply isn’t large enough for your needs. That may mean it’s time to consider a 10-gallon option or switch to a tankless heater instead. If it’s just you on the road, six gallons may well be enough to sustain you.
Choice of Fuels
The first type of fuel used for many RV water heaters is propane. Some of these heaters offer a standard pilot light which must be re-lit when needed. Others provide a direct-spark or electric ignition. The latter is typically considered higher quality than the former option.
Your second option is electric. These require a power outlet connected to an electrical grid or a generator. These are traditionally equipped with a single heating element. This is often considered the most convenient but it cannot always be used.
Some water heaters, especially those for boats and RVs, use motor-aided water heating. This is an efficient option, but it has a significant disadvantage in that it can’t be used when the engine of your vehicle is turned off. The heat from the engine will be there anyway which is a perk, but after the engine is off for a while the water will become cooler over time.
Hybrid models take two or more of the fuel types above which run together to provide a higher rate of recovery for hot water. Most often these will consist of gas and electric where the electric is used for on-demand hot water when required.
BTU and Recovery Rate
When you look at the BTU number listed for a water heater, it defines how effective and robust the heater is. However, the higher the BTU number, the more expensive the Atwood water heater will be. While the BTU rating is essential, recovery rate can be just as essential. This number relates to how many gallons of hot water can be made in an hour. It’s an excellent idea to consider both of these things alongside your own needs to be sure the heater is capable of handling whatever you throw at it.
Atwood is one of the biggest names in water heaters for RVs and marine vehicles, and it shows. They offer innovative features and high-tech options that provide convenience and performance not seen in other brands. Whether you are looking for a natural gas-powered water heater, electric-powered heater or a hybrid, we believe you will find an option that fits your needs. We hope this article takes you further on your journey toward the best water heater for your boat or RV.