Portable Water Heaters for Camping

Submitted: Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 11:19
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Hi there,
has anyone got any suggestions for heating water for showering when camping. We have a off road camper trailer and have used a solar bladder to heat water. But this isn't much good this time of the year.
On the net Coleman seems to have a couple of models one working from a gas cylinder and one that that works off a gas bottle - the pump connects to your cigarette lighter in the car. Has anyone used these and can recommend ? Looking at the $ 200 - 400 range to spend.

Cheers
Mike
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Reply By: Member - Mike and Lyn R2 - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 11:31

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 11:31
Gooday, we use a stainless steel bucket over the camp fire, or if unable to have a fire, over the small gas stove, not very expensive works really well. I think from memory paid about $30 for the bucket some five years ago, still going strong.

Regards

Mike
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Follow Up By: Member - Mike and Lyn R2 - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 11:35

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 11:35
Gooday, just re read your post, we then put our hot water into a large plastic tub and use a bilge pump to pump the hot water through the shower head, 12 volt bilge pump runs off aux connection to vehicle. Hope this helps.

Mike
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Reply By: lizard - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 11:34

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 11:34
We have the Coleman "on demand" hws - we use for outback trips with slide on - works off gas bottle or cannisters .... has its own battery - is good
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Follow Up By: lizard - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 17:52

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 17:52
A lot of replies about heating a metal container on a wood/gas fire .... we find that there is usually some wind around that slows the heating of water somewhat - have to use more wood/gas etc . The Coleman is not affected by wind .
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Reply By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 11:35

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 11:35
Mike,
If you were happy with the simplicity of the solar bladder, then why not keep the non-solar solution cheap, simple, compact and light weight.

We just heat water in the billy (gas or camp fire), tip it into a bucket and add cold water to bring it to temperature and use one of those $25 submersible pump/shower products from any camping store. Outdoor Connection is a brand that springs to mind.

Cheers
FrankP

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 11:48

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 11:48
Yep, us too. One kettle of boiling water plus one kettle of cold water.
Gives a 2 minute shower running continuously with the $25 pump/shower.
The shower, pump and hose all packs neatly into the 4 litre plastic bucket.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: hanlonm2014@icloud.com - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 17:21

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 17:21
Thanks for the reply,
pretty much stick with what we have done in the past seems to be the advice. Yes pretty much stick with what we have being doing, and substitute solar for heating up a billy seems to be the go.
A pump maybe, but seems they are pretty dodgy ( from what I have read they seem to have a short life!) and you would need the car nearby to the shower tent to access dc from back of car power plug.

Cheers Mike
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 17:38

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 17:38
Mike,

For only a few bucks I made up a long 12V extension lead specifically for the shower pump. You can get the ciggy plugs, sockets and figure 8 or sheathed twin core cable from Jaycar, Supercheap or an auto sparkie. 10 metres, mate, not real heavy gauge, the electrical load is light. Really handy for other light loads - lights, USB acorns for tablets, phones, etc.

Cheers
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Reply By: Honky - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 12:49

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 12:49
I have owned most types of water heaters and IMO the best is the pump up ones.
The coleman duel fuel stove fits perfectly under it and with the inbuilt temperature gauge you can have a perfect shower. You can control the pressure by how may pumps.
Also perfect for washing up as you can use the pressure to rinse the dishes.

Honky
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Follow Up By: friar - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 18:44

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 18:44
I am with Honky on this subject having had a Colman & all the other systems mentioned, also love the dual fuel stove had it for about 10 years the pump up system is not a big user of water , also can leave home with it full of water , just heat on stove & use.Friar.
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Reply By: Member - Noldi (WA) - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 12:56

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 12:56
We have a coleman HWS, used it twice (over 6 years) found it 2 big and seemed to use more water. We now use the stainless bucket on the campfire, then drop in a 12v shower pump, works well. SWMBO is now trained to get wet, soap up then rince in around 6 lt of water (unles were near a larger supply)

Simple is sometimes the best
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 16:38

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 16:38
Hi Mike,
As others have said, a simple solution that makes use of gear that you are already carrying is usually best, and saves space and cost. Since you are using a camper trailer you must already have a gas bottle, most likely a gas stove and some means of heating water like a kettle. Using one of the cheap 12v showers works well and you can have a surprisingly good shower in just 2 or 3 litres of water, so you dont need to heat more than 1 or 2 litres and use cold water to adjust the temperature. Alternatively use a billy to heat water over a campfire.

We have always enjoyed camping for its simplicity, and also enjoy the challenge of thinking through how to do things without either spending a small fortune or using a heap of single-use stuff. A lot of the gear that we take on trips is able to be used for multiple purposes.

Cheers,

Val.
J and V
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Reply By: Honky - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 19:48

Reply By: Member - silkwood - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 20:00

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 20:00
We have a $12, 5 litre garden sprayer from Bunnings. Attached the shower head from our rubbish 12v pump shower. Add a pan of hot water, pan of cold, pump it a few times and you have a great shower you can move anywhere. Goes into a shower tent easily, no buckets which can spill, don't have to have support to hold it up. Lightweight and (moderately) compact when empty. I really like being able to place the shower away from any watercourse without needing to plug in.

Cheers,

Mark
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Reply By: wholehog - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 20:01

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 20:01
Many people have a GLIND or similar heat exchanger on their engine cooling system. The heat is free.

We use it a lot when car or camper trailer travelling.

I have the suction and shower head fitting on the bullbar, just place a bucket or 1--20 litre jerry there for the supply, and shower away.
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Follow Up By: Polaris - Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 21:03

Tuesday, Jul 08, 2014 at 21:03
PLUS 1 for the GLIND - great piece of gear mounted permanently on the vehicle. Provided a good quality hose is used , the Flojet pump will lift a surprising distance. Poor quality hose will collapse internally with the suction. With a Glind on your vehicle, all the neighbours will be lining up for a hot shower.
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Follow Up By: Member - sdr00y (Beecroft,NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 at 10:34

Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 at 10:34
But you have to have your engine running and the engine must be warmed up for you to get hot water don't you? That is fine at the end of the day of driving, but if you have been camped at a spot for a few days you have to run the car till warm and run the car while you shower?

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Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 at 19:08

Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 at 19:08
True, but whe you're waiting for the diesel to heat up, you could whinge about people's generators!

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Follow Up By: Polaris - Friday, Jul 11, 2014 at 09:59

Friday, Jul 11, 2014 at 09:59
Running the engine up to operating temperature also gives the alternator a chance to supplement what the solar has put into the batteries. If it has been a cloudy day then running the alternator is a good idea anyway. The GLIND is still a great way to have a hot shower.
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Follow Up By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Friday, Jul 11, 2014 at 11:15

Friday, Jul 11, 2014 at 11:15
Another tick for the Glind......if your camped up for a few days we simply keep the suction and the shower head open into the same bucket thus recycling the water until it reaches the desired temperature...........shut the motor off and (a matter of minutes) and have the desired temp of water without the hotspots that occurr when it sits in the heat exchanger between lather and rinse without running

the added short term running to the vehicle is also the bonus

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Reply By: Member - sdr00y (Beecroft,NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 at 10:53

Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 at 10:53
There are a few options. Primus make a 12 volt shower head/pump. You can heat up your own water somehow and use this as a water delivery option. You'll need some form of battery to power it.

primus shower only click here

Primus also make a gas hot water shower. This incorporates the 12 volt pump/shower head with a gas cylinder and heat exchanger to heat the water all contained in one box. There are two styles. The old version, in a metal box about 20cm high, 20 cm deep and 40cm wide. The new version looks to be a plastic box different dimensions. You will need a battery, gas cylinder and bucket for these versions.

New primus one: new primus type click here

There are no old ones on ebay at the moment so I can't post a link.

There are also colman versions. click here colman

I have had the old primus version for about 6 years and it works well for us. We get a 20 l bucket of water and run the shower on full heat recycling into the bucket for about 12 minutes. At that point the water in the bucket is warm enough to use. We turn off the heat and the 5 of us use the bucket of warm water to shower. We do it this way because we could never get the thermostat to work on a nice warm regular temp, it was always on-off-on-off and it would be too hot for the kids then too cool then too hot then too cool, thus we fill the bucket with water, heat the bucket up to a good temp to use, shut the heat down and use the warm water.

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Follow Up By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 at 16:06

Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 at 16:06
The key here is how much water do you carry.

As mentioned, around 5 litres is all that's needed for 2 people.

If near a creek, fine, use more but if its only what you are carrying, then 'frugal' is the catch cry.

I use the pump up sprayer too.

bill
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Reply By: kcandco - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 17:41

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 17:41
Hi Mike

About 2 years ago I went to the expense of buying a gas fuelled water heater for around $300. I ended up returning it as I didnt feel it was worth the money. I now use this system. It is simple and gives predictable results every time. I purchased a 10 litre boiler and then mounted a section of approximately 50mm pvc pipe and a digital thermometer into the pot. All I have to do is then add the amount of water required and heat to the desired temperate. I have found about 40 decrees c is popular on a mild night with up to 44 C on a cold night. During warm weather 30 is probably heaps, depending on the person showering. The thermometer takes all the guess work out of heating the water, and after a couple of showers people will say "I'll have mine at X degrees thanks". There is no more mixing hot and cold and guessing whether it is the right temp!. I then use a standard 12v pump that slides into the pvc tubing fitted in the pot.

Approximate costs are pot $15 (kmart), pump $25 (camping store), Thermometer $5 (ebay). Water can be heated on fireplace or gas. I usually heat on the gas stove in the van out of the wind. I have 20 litre plastic drums painted matt black to hold my shower water during the day. I leave these in the sun and on a sunny day 40 C is not uncommon. Come shower time I therefore usually dont have to heat the water much at all, so gas usage is acceptable.

Cheers Kevin
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