Skip to content

How do I Know if my RV Water Heater is Gas or Electric

When it comes to RV water heaters, one common question that arises is whether the unit operates on gas or electric power.

Understanding the type of water heater you have in your RV is crucial for proper maintenance, troubleshooting, and usage.

In this article, we will explore different ways to determine if your RV water heater is gas or electric, providing you with the necessary knowledge to effectively manage your RV’s water heating system.

Why Knowing the Type of RV Water Heater Matters

Understanding the type of RV water heater you have is essential for several reasons.

It enables you to perform proper maintenance, troubleshoot issues effectively, and optimize your water heating experience.

Whether you have a gas-powered or electric water heater, knowing the fundamentals and specific characteristics of each system will ensure efficient usage and avoid potential problems.

Understanding Gas-Powered RV Water Heaters

Gas Water Heater Basics

Gas-powered RV water heaters utilize propane as the fuel source to heat the water.

They typically include a gas burner assembly and a pilot light, which ignites the propane to generate heat.

The heated water is stored in a tank until needed, ensuring a constant supply of hot water during your travels.

Identifying Gas-Powered RV Water Heaters

To determine if your RV water heater operates on gas, consider the following indicators:

  1. Look for a gas line connection near the water heater unit.
  2. Check for a gas valve or control knob on the water heater itself.
  3. Verify the presence of a propane tank or access to a propane supply for your RV.

Maintenance Tips for Gas Water Heaters

To keep your gas-powered RV water heater in optimal condition, consider the following maintenance tips:

  1. Regularly inspect and clean the burner assembly, ensuring it is free from debris or obstructions.
  2. Check for any leaks in the gas line connections using a soapy water solution.
  3. Keep the pilot light area clean and free of dust or dirt.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for flushing the water heater tank to prevent sediment buildup.

Exploring Electric RV Water Heaters

Electric Water Heater Basics

Electric RV water heaters utilize electricity as the primary power source to heat the water.

These units feature heating elements submerged in the water, which are activated when the electric power is supplied.

Electric water heaters offer the advantage of continuous hot water as long as the RV is connected to a power source.

Recognizing Electric RV Water Heaters

To determine if your RV water heater is electric, consider the following indicators:

  1. Look for a power cord connection near the water heater unit.
  2. Check for an electrical control panel or switch on the water heater.
  3. Ensure your RV is connected to a power source, such as shore power or a generator.

Maintenance Tips for Electric Water Heaters

To ensure the proper functioning of your electric RV water heater, follow these maintenance tips:

  1. Periodically inspect the heating elements for signs of corrosion or damage.
  2. Test the electrical connections and wires for any loose or frayed components.
  3. Drain and flush the water heater tank to prevent sediment accumulation.
  4. Consider using a voltage meter to verify the electrical supply to the water heater.

Identifying the Type of Your RV Water Heater

Reviewing Manufacturer’s Documentation

Start by reviewing the RV manufacturer’s documentation or owner’s manual.

These resources often contain detailed information about the RV’s appliances, including the water heater.

Look for specific mentions of whether the water heater is gas or electric.

Inspecting the Control Panel

If your RV has a control panel dedicated to the water heater, inspect it closely.

The panel may include labels or indicators specifying the type of water heater.

Look for symbols, words, or buttons indicating gas or electric operation.

Checking for Gas Lines or Power Cords

Physically examine the area near the water heater.

If you notice a gas line connection, it is likely a gas-powered water heater.

Conversely, if you find a power cord connection, it suggests an electric water heater.

Verifying the Fuel Source

If you have access to the RV’s propane storage area, check if there is a propane tank or an available connection for a propane supply.

The presence of these elements strongly suggests a gas-powered water heater.

Consulting an RV Professional

If you are still unsure about the type of your RV water heater, seek assistance from a certified RV professional.

They can inspect your RV and provide accurate information regarding the water heater’s operation and fuel source.


Can I convert a gas RV water heater to electric or vice versa?

Converting a gas RV water heater to electric, or vice versa, is generally not recommended. The conversion process can be complex and may require modifications that could void warranties or create safety hazards. It’s best to consult an RV professional for guidance.

How long does an RV water heater typically last?

The lifespan of an RV water heater can vary depending on various factors, such as maintenance, usage, and water quality. On average, a well-maintained water heater can last anywhere from 8 to 15 years.

What should I do if my RV water heater is not producing hot water?

If your RV water heater is not producing hot water, check the pilot light (if gas) or the electrical connections (if electric) to ensure they are functioning properly. Additionally, check for any water leaks, valve malfunctions, or thermostat issues. If troubleshooting doesn’t resolve the problem, consult an RV professional.

Can I run my RV water heater on both gas and electric simultaneously?

Some RV water heaters offer the option to operate on both gas and electric simultaneously. This feature allows for quicker heating recovery times and reduces the reliance on a single fuel source. Refer to your RV water heater’s manual to determine if it supports dual operation.

Can I use an electric water heater in my RV when not connected to shore power?

Electric water heaters require a constant power supply to function. If your RV is not connected to shore power, an electric water heater will not work. However, you can still use a gas-powered water heater if you have propane available.

Can I install a tankless water heater in my RV?

Installing a tankless water heater in an RV is possible, but it requires careful consideration and potentially modifying the RV’s plumbing system. Tankless water heaters offer benefits such as energy efficiency and unlimited hot water, but consult an RV professional to ensure compatibility and proper installation.


Knowing whether your RV water heater is gas or electric is crucial for maintaining, troubleshooting, and optimizing its performance.

By reviewing manufacturer’s documentation, inspecting the control panel, checking for gas lines or power cords, verifying the fuel source, and consulting professionals when needed, you can confidently determine the type of your RV water heater.

Proper understanding and care will ensure you enjoy a steady supply of hot water during your RV adventures.