Guide on How to Choose What is Right for You
The best ones are going to cost you a pretty penny, at least if you plan to live out of your mobile home. We’re looking at an average of $500 to $1000, though we’ll be looking at some reasonable stopgap measures and cheap-ish portable options today as well.
On the bright side, they’re all cheaper than what you’d buy for a full-sized house, some of which can run you close to $2500 without factoring in installation.
That reminds me; all prices listed are without professional installation. While it is possible to install them yourself, I do urge you to consider getting a professional install. In almost all of these cases you’re dealing with something that runs on propane gas, and improper installation can lead to catastrophe.
Gallons Per Minute
This number is used for two things: the maximum flow of the water, and as shorthand for how much of that can efficiently heat.
For reference, the average sink runs at 2.2 GPM, and the average shower at 2.1 GPM. If a unit has a 2.5 GPM rating, that means they can heat up to 2.5 GPM of fluid up to a particular temperature (usually 30-45 degrees above the groundwater temp at that flow).
Keep in mind that in a mobile home, your fluid flow is often going to be a lot lower than the standard home. The volume is 2 GPM or above, and sometimes may be as low as 1 GPM. It will be able to heat that much liquid a lot easier, so you’ll need to adjust the temperature down to compensate.
It stands for “British Thermal Unit” and is what these products will list their heating capacity at, or will list them in BTUh (BTU per hour). For a simplified explanation, 1 BTU is enough to raise 1 lb. of water 1 degree, and a gallon of water is 8.3 lbs, so every 8.3 BTUs can increase the temperature of a gallon of water by 1 degree.
It will help you calculate how much heat you’re going to need based on where you’re traveling since groundwater temperature varies by location. Most of these models have an issue heating very cold groundwater, so keep that in mind.
Most of the products are going to hover in the 30k to 50k BTUh range, which is much smaller than most home units (that average about 140k to 199k) due to the size and power constraints. In other words, don’t be disappointed if you can’t quite match the flow and heat you’ve come to expect from a shower at home; your goal is to get close, but sometimes it’s just not possible.
There are three kinds of units we need to worry about: Propane, electric, and battery operated. They all have advantages and disadvantages, though I feel propane and battery units have a slight edge, as they allow portable units, while electric ones need to be fully integrated every time.
Space is at a premium in a trailer or camper. You should think about whether or not you have space at all to install one in your specific mobile home. Since sizes vary so much, I won’t be able to tell you whether a particular unit will fit in your space, but I’ll make a note of dimensions and whether they’re smaller or larger than average so you can decide for yourself.
There are two main types of mobile home units; The type you install, and portable products that can be used on the go anywhere. I’m going to organize this list to talk about the two almost separately, as they serve different purposes for different kinds of units (in particular, the portable types help camper trailers much better, as those do not have showers).
Many of the portable units on this list come with their showerheads, though some do not; those are meant (usually) to be used at campgrounds which have showers but no hot water.
We’ll start with the portable units, and move onto the installs afterward.
In-depth Review of the Top Rated Brands on the Market
It is the unit for the more casual camper, who only needs a shower for a rinse or emergencies, or general handwashing on a trip.
While it’s not as powerful as anything else on this list, what it is is small, cheap, portable, and usable on its own. It only has a .8 GPM flow, but it comes with its pump as well as the heater, meaning you can take your shower anywhere: Perfect for camper trailers and small showerless units.
It runs off your car battery and a little propane. Hard to beat for little over $100.
Be prepared though, it’s a bit heavy (17 lbs), but that’s justified with everything (showerhead, hose, and all) included.