Girard Tankless Water Heater: Endless RV Hot Water Showers

Stop screaming profanities and start singing in the shower with this Girard tankless water heater.

Life in an RV can be an amazing experience. You get to travel as you please around the state – or even the country. Get away for a few weeks, or make it a lifestyle and travel for a year or more in your RV.

With the well-equipped RV, you’ve got everything to replicate the comforts of home – with the glaring exception of long, hot showers.

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Shower Bliss With The Girard Tankless Water Heater

It’s what most veteran RV enthusiasts miss the most when they’re traveling. It’s the ability for you and your family to enjoy hot showers – whenever you want.

That’s because most RV’s are built with small hot water tanks of maybe six to ten gallons maximum. That typically means a short 2-3 minute shower – with barely enough water to rinse off. Those old-style hot water tanks simply don’t have the capacity to provide an enjoyable and lengthy hot shower for one person. Let alone the whole family traveling with you.

Say Goodbye To Those Unsatisfying Showers

What’s the solution? You need a hot water system that is designed specifically for RVs, like the Girard tankless water heater.

Although a few earlier buyers have used the Girard RV water heater in other settings such as a houseboat or cabin, that’s not what it was designed for. In fact it is designed and engineered exclusively for recreational vehicles. It solves the biggest problem of the usual low quality shower experience that’s typical in an RV of any size.

Ask any RV owner who ventures out of town frequently and they’ll tell you that the downside of most RV trips is the two to three minute shower you’re limited to. But this water heater produces hot water in a matter of seconds and gives you a steady flow for as much as 20 minutes at a time.

The Girard 2GWHAM on-demand tankless water heater scores an impressive 4.2 out of a possible 5 stars from nearly 300 actual buyer reviews (as of this writing). It features a compact design that should fit in any opening used to access a tank-type water heater.

You can set the temperature via the wired remote and enjoy a lengthy shower in perfect comfort. It boasts 42,000 BTUs of heat – which is optimal for the plumbing infrastructure in most RVs.

How Big Is It?

The actual size of the Girard tankless water heater for RVs is 12.5 inches wide by 12.5 inches high by 15.5 inches deep. Ideally, the cut out dimensions should be 13″ x 13″. If yours is different, then adaptation may be called for. Overall, the Girard tankless weighs in at about 22 pounds.

Size-wise – it’s an ideal fit as a replacement water heater with minimal adjustments. That’s not to say it will fit every RV perfectly. But it should fit the majority of installations quite well and with minimal modifications.

Painless Replacement

There are no additional special plumbing requirements and no liquid propane gas lines to worry about either. You simply connect the Girard tankless RV water heater to your existing propane tank and enjoy the quiet operation of its brushless motor.

The electronics run off a 12 Volt electrical system that operates at less than three Amps. Plus, it provides freeze protection for winter use. This also means that it runs independently. So, you don’t have to connect it to the standard 120 Volt circuit in your RV.

No More Cold Showers With The Girard Tankless Water Heater

With a Girard tankless RV water heater properly installed, cold showers become a thing of the past.

You won’t have to wait endlessly for a hot water tank to reheat after someone else gets out of the shower either.

So you’ll be able to enjoy a long hot shower – maybe for the first time ever in your RV.

Woman in an endless RV shower. AllWaterProducts

3 Keys To a Great Experience With the Girard Tankless Water Heater

There are a few key details you need to know about the functionality of this water heater. Get this right and you’ll be a happy camper.

Number One: A minimum flow rate of 0.9 gallons per minute must be maintained. With as little pulse to the water flow as possible. If the flow level drops below the minimum, it will trip the circuit and the system will shut down. Consistent and adequate water flow is essential for the Girard 2GWHAM tankless water heater to function properly.

Number Two: Adjust the temperature from the remote – not at the tap. This is something that new users of tankless water systems need to get used to.

If you adjust the temperature at the tap location and the water flow is too high or too low, you’ll either get cold water or the system will shut down entirely.

It’s best to set the temperature correctly at the outset via the control panel. Then just turn on the hot water full blast. Yup, leave the cold water off and everything will be fine. Your low flow showerhead will prevent any water from being wasted.

Number Three: The Girard water heater system will shut down after 20 minutes of continuous use. You can reset it to run another 20 minute shower if you wish. But it does shut off automatically as a safety feature.

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Straightforward Installation (Your Mileage May Vary)

Installation requires a level of comfort and confidence with electrical wiring and plumbing. If you don’t feel up to speed as a do-it-yourselfer – don’t let that stop you. Simply hire a pro to install it for you. That’s never a bad approach and in this case, having it professionally installed for you is the only way to ensure warranty protection by the manufacturer.

Before you begin the installation, it’s important to flow test the fixtures in your RV. Remember, the Girard tankless water heater is going to need about 1 gallon per minute to operate correctly. It can take up to 10 to 15 seconds to get hot water through the tap. That’s depending on how long of a distance the water must travel from the heater to the faucet.

Many have found that installing the Girard GWHAM (previously known as the GSWH-2) is relatively straightforward. At least for those with some mechanical skill and average installation aptitude. Getting everything set up and running smoothly can take anywhere for from a couple of hours (for the most experienced). Or all day for those who need a little more time to tinker, in order to get things just right.

* Please Note: The Girard 2GWHAM water heater is the new model number used by the manufacturer. It takes over from, and is essentially the same as, the GSWH-2 as it used to be called.

Secondary Purchase Might Be Required

In addition to the water heater itself, you (usually – not always) also need to order a separate door to cover the opening. In fact, both the door and flange are sold separately.

Exactly what actual replacement door you need is typically based on the unit that you are replacing. Most people tend to replace an old Suburban 6 gallon water heater with the 2GWHAM from Girard. In these cases they would also need to pickup the 2GWHD door and flange assembly to close off the water heater area.

Consistent Water Flow Is The Secret

It’s important to keep in mind the 0.9 gallons per minute flow rate required by this water heater. This is essential for the unit to fire up and if the water is reduced at the tap below this level, the water heater kicks off.

Are you using a pressure regulator at your shore connection? It’s important to confirm with the campground that you can get at least 1 gallon per minute flowing through the shower head or kitchen tap. Since that’s what you need to activate the water heater.

Complaints Are Often The Result Of User Error  

Buyers in general overwhelmingly love what they get from their Girard tankless LP propane RV water heater. That doesn’t mean there aren’t numerous poor reviews as well. But when you actually dig into the details, you realize most of those complaints are from people who were not using the system correctly.

In our experience, there are two keys to a successful experience and endless hot water in your RV. It begins by having a proper installation so that the system can function the way it was designed. Secondly, you need to ensure proper water flow consistently – wherever you hook up. Those two fundamentals are the foundation to a wonderful experience using the Girard tankless water heater in your RV and enjoying those endless hot showers.

Hot Water As You Need It

Working as it should, the Girard 2GWHAM tankless water heater gives you a continuous supply of hot water – as you need it. There’s no large storage tank required. That’s the beauty of a tankless system. It simply heats the water efficiently as the demand for hot water is signaled (by turning on the tap). There’s no special plumbing or liquid propane gas lines required.

All you need to do is adjust the temperature to your preference. A little patience can go a long way as it may take some time to get it just right. But the time and effort will likely be worth it.

High-Tech Hot Water

It’s all electronically controlled. The onboard microprocessor monitors the temperature of the cold water, the flow rate, plus the temperature of the outgoing hot water. This is what enables the system to maintain a constant and steady flow of hot water to the shower or tap.

Another bonus about this tankless system is you won’t have to worry about corrosion. That’s because there’s no tank and no anode inside.

It’s also got built-in freeze protection for those colder winter months. But if you choose to store it for the winter, you can do that too. However, you will need to winterize it to prevent damage to the hot water system. The good news is… you won’t need a bypass valve when winterizing your unit, since there’s no tank to bypass.

Digital Controls

Girard ships this tankless water heater with a wall-mounted digital wired remote control. This is best located close to the water heater, but somewhere readily accessible so you can get to it easily. This enables you to set the temperature anywhere from 90° after 124° F – so you get water that’s just right for you.

Filtration Lends A Hand

It’s a good idea to have a water filtration system installed before the water reaches the heater. This will help maintain the equipment and give you satisfying results over a longer period of time by helping to keep the water clear from sediment and other particles.

Water flow in an RV is somewhat limited compared to the average house. It can take some experimentation to get comfortable with the water flow and finding the temperature that works best for you.

Adjust To Suit – Wherever You Roam

You may experience varying degrees of water pressure at different campgrounds. This shouldn’t be an issue with the Girard tankless water heater. As long as you adjust the temperature at the controller, and by using the hot water tap only.

As one reviewer pointed out, getting the right mix of water temperature and flow is somewhat of a balancing act. But once you have it – you can enjoy it indefinitely. And for regular RV enthusiasts, it’s worth the effort to have endless hot showers on demand.

High Elevations May Give You Different Results

The higher you climb above sea level, the lower the number of BTUs a propane appliance can supply. That’s just the way propane fired appliances work. With less heat, your water won’t be as hot.

Being made aware of that advance and adjusting your expectations accordingly, you can still have comfortable showers. However, just not as hot as perhaps you’d like. If you don’t plan on camping in the mountains, this probably won’t be an issue for you.

Pros

  • This water heater uses a 12 Volt electrical system (so you don’t need to be hooked up to your120 Volt main power supply)
  • Uses much less propane than a tank-type water heater does (up to 60% less propane required)
  • Relatively straightforward installation with solid instructions
  • It’s easy to set the temperature for different applications
  • If you set the temperature from the control panel you don’t have to mix cold water with hot
  • Able to enjoy long hot showers without running out of water
  • Works great when connected to a municipal water feed
  • Fits perfectly in the opening from an old 6 gallon Suburban water heater
  • Operates quietly and energy efficiently
  • There’s no special adaptation needed – it simply fits to your existing connections
  • For safety, the system shuts off after 20 minutes of continuous use (but if you want to continue your shower, you just shut it off for a few seconds and then turn it back on)
  • Near-perfect solution for full-time RV living
  • It’s economical since it only “sips” propane (one user reports getting more than four months use out of a twenty pound tank of propane – while enjoying hot, 10 minute showers every day)
  • It’s better than a tank system and less expensive than most
  • Control panel makes adjusting the water temperature quick and easy
  • Installation is much easier than a typical hot water tank installation
  • Easy to get used to
  • Loads of hot water (and it will keep flowing hot water until you either timeout, or run out of propane)
  • Works flawlessly
  • You don’t have to wait for a hot water tank to refill again
  • Responsive technical support

Cons

  • Low flow rate fixtures can cause a problem
  • You can waste water waiting for the hot water to flow through the tap
  • Shuts off if the water flow gets too low
  • There is a learning curve (if you’ve never used a tankless water heater before)
  • The system doesn’t like being shut down quickly (it gives you an error code on the screen)
  • Does require a water flow of about a gallon per minute for it to work effectively
  • It can take a while for the hot water to flow through the lines of a large RV
  • You cannot take a hot shower and get hot water at another location in the RV at the same time
  • Can be a little tricky to get it going just right (the pressure has to be high enough to turn on but not too high that it can’t keep up to the temperature you want)
  • Connecting to a low-pressure water feed can be problematic (although switching to a water pump and freshwater tank can remedy the situation)
  • Installation instructions are not the best
  • You are required to purchase the extra door which adds to the cost of your purchase

Our Verdict On The Girard Tankless Water Heater

If you own an RV and you’re tired of short showers or waiting for the hot water tank to refill – than this is for you.  The Girard tankless water heater solves the biggest problem when RVing – particularly on longer trips.

Sure, it can take a little bit of getting used to – as it can with any RV tankless water heater.

But take your time, follow the instructions and you should be good to go.

Adjust the water flow and the set the temperature to get it just right and then enjoy endless hot showers right in your RV.

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Check out the Atwood competition – read this.

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Girard Tankless Water Heater: Endless RV Hot Water Showers
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Girard Tankless Water Heater: Endless RV Hot Water Showers
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Stop screaming profanities and start singing in the shower with this Girard tankless water heater. Long showers makes RVing enjoyable again.
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All Water Products
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