Portable Water Heaters: What You Should Know Before Buying


Whether you're camping under the stars, living off-grid, or in an emergency situation without access to hot water, a portable water heater is a piece of gear that can significantly increase your comfort and preparedness. This blog will guide you through the crucial factors to consider before purchasing a portable water heater, ensuring you find a product that best suits your needs.

Understanding Portable Water Heaters

Portable water heaters are compact, transportable devices designed to provide hot water in locations where traditional water heating methods may not be available. These heaters can be beneficial for various situations, including outdoor adventures, temporary job sites, or as a backup for home emergencies. They're engineered to be lightweight and efficient, making them ideal for situations where no hot water is available.

Types of Portable Water Heaters

Portable water heaters come in forms, each with its own set of advantages and suitable use cases:

  1. Propane Water Heaters: These heaters use propane ignited flames to heat water. They are known for their efficiency and ability to provide hot water quickly. Propane heaters are particularly popular among campers and RV enthusiasts due to their portability and ease of use. However, there are safety concerns to be aware of when it comes to using these propane water heaters.
  2. Electric Water Heaters: Electric portable heaters are powered either from a battery pack, a standard electrical outlet, or a car's 12V adapter. These heaters are convenient and safe for indoor use, making them suitable for a variety of settings, including emergency home use or in an RV.
  3. Solar Water Heaters: Utilizing solar panels to heat water, these eco-friendly heaters are an excellent option for environmentally conscious users. Solar water heaters are ideal for sunny locations and can significantly reduce operational costs. However, their performance is heavily dependent on weather conditions.

Key Considerations Before Buying

  1. Heating Capacity: Depending on what your needs are, you should consider how much hot water you will need before making your purchase. Portable water heaters vary in their capacity to store and heat water, affecting their suitability for individual or group use.
  2. Temperature Control: Look for models that offer adjustable temperature settings to ensure you can get hot water at your preferred temperature, enhancing comfort and safety.
  3. Portability and Size: Consider the physical size and weight of the heater, especially if you plan to move it frequently. A compact, lightweight model is essential for camping and RVing.
  4. Energy Source: Decide which energy source is most convenient for you. Whether it's propane, electricity, or solar energy, each has its pros and cons related to availability, cost, and environmental impact.
  5. Safety Features: Essential safety features, such as automatic shutoff mechanisms and temperature controls, can prevent accidents and ensure safe operation.
  6. Price and Durability: Evaluate the cost in relation to the build quality and features offered. Investing in a durable, well-constructed heater can save money and hassle in the long run. Many heaters are cheaply made, so therefore, you should thoroughly research the brand you are purchasing from to ensure they put out quality products.

Why Propane Powered Portable Water Heaters are So Popular

In recent years, propane-powered portable water heaters have become the most popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts out of the choices we’ve mentioned above. Their popularity stems primarily from their ability to heat water quickly, providing hot water in under a minute once they are set up.

 Unlike electric heaters, some brands of propane heaters do not require a power source, making them an ideal solution for off-grid adventures or locations where electricity is not readily available. This feature is brand-specific, so make sure you know how your propane heater is powered when doing your research.

The convenience of using propane as a fuel source also allows users to easily replace or refill tanks. As long as users have stocked propane, they have access to endless heat.

For these reasons - the fast heat, the lack of a need of a power source, and the convenience of propane powered heat - the propane powered water heaters have become the premiere choice for outdoor enthusiasts looking to take a hot shower in the wild.

Safety Considerations of Propane Powered Portable Water Heaters

While propane powered portable water heaters are convenient and powerful, there are some safety considerations to keep in mind when making your purchase. After all, they use a flame to heat the water, so there is a potential for fire danger. In particular, open-bottom models of portable propane water heaters should be approached with the most caution. 

portable propane water heaters

Fire Danger of Open-Bottom Models

Open-bottom propane-powered portable water heaters present a unique fire risk. These models, designed for direct heat exchange with the air, can pose a significant fire hazard. The open bottom allows for more efficient heating but also means that any combustible material in close proximity to the heater is at risk of ignition from the flames or heat.

To mitigate this risk, it's imperative to:

  • Ensure a Clear Surrounding: Keep the area around the heater clear of any flammable materials, including dry leaves, paper, fabric, and gasoline.
  • Use on Non-Flammable Surfaces: Position the heater on a non-flammable surface to prevent the ground heat from igniting nearby materials.
  • Monitor Constantly: Never leave the heater unattended while in operation. Continuous monitoring can help prevent potential fire outbreaks.

 Case in Point: The Recent Camplux Recall

In light of a recent recall announcement, it's even more critical to understand the safety hazards involved with using propane-powered portable water heaters. The Home Appliances, based in North Charleston, S.C., has issued a recall for about 43,000 Camplux portable tankless water heaters due to a significant safety concern. These heaters can leak gas from the gas regulator connection, presenting a severe fire hazard.

This recall serves as a stark reminder of the potential risks associated with propane heaters and highlights the need for consumers to be vigilant about product recalls and safety warnings. The recalled models include Camplux brand portable tankless water heaters, specifically model numbers AY132, BD158, BW211, BW264, and BW422. Details about the sizes and manufacturing dates involved in the recall are available for concerned consumers.

The company has received 19 reports of fire incidents related to these water heaters, although, fortunately, no injuries have been reported. These incidents underline the fire dangers associated with propane water heaters, particularly the risk of gas leaks that can lead to fires if ignited.

Manufactured in China, the recalled water heaters were sold online at major retailers such as Amazon.com and Walmart.com between June 2018 and December 2021. Prices ranged from $160 to $400, making them accessible to a wide range of consumers looking for portable hot water solutions.

The recall of Camplux portable tankless water heaters serves as a reminder of the critical nature of safety features and the potential consequences of overlooking them.

Safety Features to Look for In Propane Powered Portable Water Heaters

Essential Safety Features

  1. Automatic Shutoff: A critical safety feature for any propane-powered heater is an automatic shutoff mechanism. This system ensures that the heater turns off automatically when the water reaches a certain temperature, preventing overheating and the risks associated. 
  2. Ventilation Requirements: Since propane heaters emit carbon monoxide, adequate ventilation is a non-negotiable safety requirement. Using these heaters in well-ventilated areas is essential to prevent the accumulation of carbon monoxide, which can be deadly if inhaled in large quantities​​.
  3. Compatibility with Specific Nozzles: To ensure optimal safety and performance, some propane heaters are only compatible with specific shower head nozzles. Using a non-compatible nozzle can damage the system's flow, potentially leading to safety hazards. Therefore, adhering to manufacturer guidelines on compatible accessories is vital​​.
  4. Outdoor Use: Propane heaters are generally recommended for outdoor use to mitigate the risks associated with propane gas. Indoor use without proper ventilation significantly increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning​​.

open bottom water heaters

The RinseKit HyperHeater: A Safe, Powerful Solution

The RinseKit HyperHeater, when paired with any of RinseKit's battery-powered models, exemplifies cutting-edge convenience and efficiency in heating water for outdoor use. Specifically designed to work seamlessly with the PRO, Cube or Rack Shower, the HyperHeater leverages propane to rapidly heat water up to 110°F in less than 30 seconds, ensuring users can enjoy a steaming hot shower almost instantly.

rinsekit hyperheater

HyperHeater Safety Features

The RinseKit HyperHeater is feature packed and built with safety in mind, making it a standout choice for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers alike. One of its most commendable features is the automatic shutoff mechanism, which ensures user safety by turning the heater off once the water reaches 110°F. This not only prevents overheating but also mitigates the risk associated with excessively high temperatures. Its closed-bottom design also mitigates the risk of fire danger that open-bottom designs like the Camplux do not.


In addition to these safety measures, the HyperHeater's compatibility with specific nozzles — particularly its exclusive max flow shower nozzle — guarantees optimal performance and safety. This precise compatibility ensures that the system flow remains unhampered, preventing any potential damage or safety risks that could arise from using non-compatible accessories. This attention to detail in design and functionality makes the HyperHeater not only a reliable source of hot water but also a testament to RinseKit's commitment to safety and performance. By incorporating these features, the HyperHeater meets the stringent requirements for a safe, efficient, and user-friendly propane-powered water heater, perfect for delivering a hot shower experience in the great outdoors​​​​.

In conclusion, portable water heaters represent a transformative solution for outdoor enthusiasts eager to enjoy the comfort of a hot shower in the wilderness. They offer the remarkable convenience of heating water quickly and efficiently, enabling adventurers to end a long day of exploration with the warmth and comfort of a hot shower, no matter how remote their location may be. The RinseKit HyperHeater stands as a prime example of a product that doesn't compromise on safety for functionality. With features such as automatic shutoff to prevent overheating, compatibility with specific nozzles to ensure optimal operation, and a design tailored for outdoor use to avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, it embodies what to look for in a portable water heater.