There are a few needs, requirements for life, food, water, shelter, once those basic requirements are met, after that come the things that make life pleasant. When we first moved to our off grid home, we lived in little more than a box (16X16) with few amenities. Most wouldn’t even consider living this way, but for me, for us it was paradise, living rough was just a small inconvenience, a small road bump on the road of our life.
One of the first things we wanted was running HOT and cold water, we got the cold water set up in very short order, the next thing to do was get the hot part going. In the very beginning, I heated water on the stove top, I even put bottles of water outside in the sunshine to heat up, at this altitude in this part of the country, that made hot water pretty quickly, albeit in small quantities.
A short time later, we purchased our first on demand, propane powered water heater, just a side note here, I never say “hot water heater”, that’s an oxymoron, if the water is HOT, why do you need to heat it? :)
Wanting to go inexpensive and hearing good reviews on these, I purchased an Eccotemp on demand water heater, this little unit has been a real lifesaver for us, we liked it so well that we purchased a second one, the idea was to have a backup in case one of them breaks, and with most on demand hot water source, it’s best to have your water heater close to where you need it. For us, that’s over the kitchen sink and the other one is in the shower.
They are very easy to hook up, we use those small BBQ size propane bottles for each water heater, they last a long time. They use 2 D cell batteries to create the spark to ignite the flame, they have 2 adjustment knobs on the front, the first is how hot the the water becomes and the second is how quickly the water passes through. Since you aren’t storing and heating large quantities of water, thus the name “on demand”, these adjustments are needed to get the water the temperature you wish. The initial temp of the water coming in determines how hot the water will get, the warmer it is, the warmer the water is, the lower you can set the temp, the colder it is, the colder the water is and you need to raise the temp. It doesn’t take long to become an expert on how to set the knobs in winter and summer.
For us, we set the temp on the unit to be as hot as we ever want it to be, we have a limited supply of water and don’t have the water to spare to fiddle with the hot and cold water tap to get the temp just right. I can turn on my hot water tap and ignore the cold side, the water comes out the perfect temp for what I want to do.
I remember once when my sister was washing her hair in the sink, the water was getting too hot, so she reached up and turned the tap down, with less water coming through but the same amount of fire heating said water, the water temp went UP, not down…. I had to tell her to turn the hot water tap on higher to cool off the water. That is counter-intuitive I know, that’s just one of the things you deal with.
One thing I discovered, those D cell batteries are EXPENSIVE and not something I usually have laying around, I found that there are adapters that turn a one or two AA batteries into a D size, I purchased 4 of them, 2 per water heater, it works great, I always have AA batteries around.
I highly recommend this method of heating water, the only other method of heating water I would be willing to use would be solar heat, that’s something that is on the to-do list, but it’s pretty far down the list, for now, these work great for us.
Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site
Leave a Reply