How to Turn on Propane Water Heater in Rv

One of the great conveniences of an RV is the ability to take hot showers on the road. Many RVs come equipped with propane water heaters, which make it easy to enjoy a hot shower even in remote locations.

If you’re not familiar with how to use your propane water heater, don’t worry – I will walk you through the process, safety precautions, and lots more step by step.

So whether you’re a first-time user or just need a refresher, keep reading for all the details have I shared…

Types Of Rv Water Heaters

There are two main types of RV water heaters: propane and electric.

Most RVs come equipped with a propane water heater. Propane water heaters are a great choice for RVers because they’re very efficient and can be used in remote locations where there is no electrical hookup.

If you have an electric water heater in your RV, you’ll need to be plugged into an electrical outlet to use it. Electric water heaters are less common in RVs, but they do have some advantages. They’re more energy-efficient than propane water heaters, and they’re less expensive to operate.

Does an RV Water Heater Run On Propane Only?

Yes, Most RVs have a propane water heater. This type of water heater uses a small amount of electricity to ignite the propane and heat the water.

How do I identify RV Water Heater Electric Or Propane?

If you’re not sure whether your water heater is electric or propane, the easiest way to tell is to look for a switch inside your RV near the water heater.

If there’s a switch, it’s probably an electric water heater. If there’s no switch, it’s probably a propane water heater. If you still can’t tell, consult your RV’s owner’s manual.

How to Turn On a Propane Water Heater in an RV?

If you already marked you have a propane water heater, then follow these steps to turn it on:

1. Open the access door to your RV’s propane water heater. You should see a control panel with several valves and switches.

2. Locate the switch or knob that says “Gas.” This controls the flow of gas to the water heater. Turn it to the “On” position.

3. Find the switch or knob labeled “Water.” This controls the flow of water to the water heater. Turn it to the “On” position.

4. Now locate the thermostat knob. This lets you control how hot the water will be. Turn it to your desired setting.

5. Finally, find the switch or knob labeled “Ignite.” This will ignite the propane and start the water heater.

Now that you know how to turn on your RV’s propane water heater, you can enjoy hot showers even when you’re far from home.

Just be sure to follow all safety precautions when using propane. If you have any questions, consult your RV’s owner’s manual or a qualified technician.

Reasons Behind RV Propane Water Heater Not Turn On

Some of the Possible Reasons Check if any of these might be the reason behind your RV propane water heater not turning on:

  • The pilot light is out. This is the most common reason why a propane water heater won’t turn on. If the pilot light is out, you’ll need to relight it. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions.
  • The thermostat is set too low. If the water in the tank isn’t hot enough, the propane won’t flow. Turn up the thermostat and wait a few minutes to see if that solves the problem.
  • The gas valve is turned off. This is a safety feature to prevent gas leaks. Make sure the gas valve is in the “On” position before igniting the pilot light.
  • There’s a problem with the electrical system. If your RV’s electrical system isn’t working properly, it could prevent the water heater from igniting. Consult a qualified technician for help.
  • The water heater is old and needs to be replaced. If your water heater is more than 10 years old, it might be time for a new one.
  • There’s a leak in the gas line. This is a serious problem that should be fixed by a qualified technician.
  • The exhaust vent is blocked. The exhaust vent allows dangerous gases to escape from the water heater. If it’s blocked, the propane can’t flow and the water heater won’t work.

If you can’t figure out why your propane water heater won’t turn on, consult a qualified technician for help. Never try to repair or replace parts yourself. Propane is a dangerous gas and it’s important to handle it.

How Long Will an RV Water Heater Run on Propane?

If you’re like most people, you probably take your hot water for granted. But if you’re RVing, you need to know how long your propane water heater will last on one tank.

Most RV water heaters will run for about 6-8 hours on a full 20-pound propane tank. Keep in mind that this is an estimate, and your mileage may vary depending on how hot you set the water heater and how much water you use.

If you’re planning to be in an area with no hookups for an extended period of time, you may want to invest in a larger propane tank or consider using a portable generator to power your RV water heater.

If your water heater has a different BTU rating, you can use the following formula to estimate how long it will run on a full propane tank:

BTU rating of water heater x 0.2931 = approximate gallons of propane used per hour

For example, if your water heater has a BTU rating of 4500, it will use about 1.3 gallons of propane per hour. This means that a 20-pound propane tank will last for about 15 hours.

Safety Precautions when Using Propane On Water Heater

As with any type of fuel, propane is flammable and should be handled with care. When using propane to power your RV water heater, take the following precautions:

– Make sure the area around your RV is well ventilated. Propane is heavier than air, so it will settle in low areas.

– Don’t smoke or have any open flames near the RV while the propane is turned on.

– Don’t leave the RV unattended while the propane is turned on.

– Make sure the water heater is turned off and the propane tank is shut off when you’re not using it.

– Never try to repair a propane leak yourself. Call a qualified technician to do it for you.

– If you smell propane, open all the windows and doors to ventilate the RV, then turn off the propane tank and water heater. Don’t try to light any appliances until the leak has been repaired.

With these safety precautions in mind, using a propane water heater in your RV is a great way to enjoy hot showers.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How much Propane does an RV Water Heater Consume?

There’s no definitive answer to this question because it depends on a number of factors, including the size of your RV, the efficiency of your water heater, and how often you use it.

However, a typical RV water heater will use about 2-3 gallons of propane per hour. So, if you use your water heater for one hour per day, you can expect to use about 60-90 gallons of propane per month.

Advantages of propane water heater

Propane water heaters have a number of advantages over other types of water heaters.

They’re typically more energy-efficient than electric water heaters, and they’re also less expensive to operate. Propane water heaters also tend to have a longer lifespan than electric water heaters.


Now that you know how to use your propane water heater and what safety precautions to take, you can enjoy hot showers on the road with peace of mind. Happy travels!

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