A portable propane water heater works on the same principle as any other gas water heater.

Basically, in this type of water heater, the burning fuel, which is propane, creates heat energy and this energy helps in heating the cold water coming into the system.

Propane is a clean-burning heating fuel and hence it doesn’t leave any chemical residue or gas residues.

It ensures that the surrounding environment remains clean and healthy.

Propane is available only in gaseous form and in order to use it in a water heater; it is compressed into a liquid form.

There are several grades of propane gas available in the market to choose from and most of the grades can be used in portable water heaters.

The most commonly used portable propane water heater is the one available with a built-in igniter. This is also known as a piezoelectric igniter and it is made from quartz crystals.

The use of crystals ensures that the igniter is activated with ease when pressure is applied. This is a mechanism that is housed within the portable water heater system.

Types of Portable Propane Water Heaters

Propane water heaters can be categorized under two types: the tank model and the tankless model. Let us look into each type of propane water heaters:

The Tank Model: This is also known as the standard model and was the most popular type of propane water heaters in the early 80’s and 90’s.

In the propane tank water heater, extensive plumbing connections are required. Apart from this, there are the pipe and external fittings, which have made the tank model installation quite a cumbersome process.

The tank model or standard model water heater is available with different capacity tanks. Some of the portable propane water heaters are available in this category with tank capacities varying between 10 gallons and 40 gallons.

The portable water heaters can serve several purposes including hot water for morning coffee, a quick bath, washing utensils etc.

The Tankless Model: The tankless model of portable propane water heaters is popular amongst hikers and trekkers. The increasing use of tankless models is due to its ability to offer higher efficiency as compared to other hot water heaters.

Some of the units also offer instantaneous hot water when turned on. This is also known as the hot water station and a portable propane water heater is capable of delivering 2.65 gallons of hot water per minute.

The tankless models of portable hot water heaters are used in several places like high altitude base camps, wilderness camps, military camps, and even on-board yachts.

Coleman portable propane water heater

Image credit: gadgetgrid.com

Salient Features

The portable propane water heater has several salient features like:

  • It has the ability to heat cold water in less than 5 seconds
  • Depending on the brand of water heater, a portable propane water heater can heat almost 40 gallons of water in a single use.
  • The portable propane water heaters are available with warranties varying from 2 years to 5 years.
  • These water heaters have rugged construction and will not require maintenance even after rough use.
  • The portable propane water heater offers high efficiency and thus helps users in saving approximately 60 percent on energy bills.


The Top 2 Models of Portable Propane Water Heaters

To shorten your research online we’ve narrowed down the choices for high quality portable propane water heaters to these two models:

Coleman Hot Water On Demand Portable Water Heater
Est. price: $247.74

This portable propane water heater is available with a 5 gallon jug and takes about 5 seconds to make hot water available.

The pumping of hot water is taken care of by a rechargeable battery. It is considered one of the most advanced, compact, and powerful portable water heaters for camping enthusiasts.


  • It is available with a Coleman® 16.4 oz propane cylinder
  • One propane cyclinder can deliver 40 gallons of hot water
  • Rechargeable battery of 6 volts
  • Easy to maintain and use
  • Heats water to 1000 F in 5 seconds
  • It is available with a warranty of 3 years

Decker’s Hot Water Station

Est. price: $695 – Senior Model / Junior Model – $495

This is a state of the art portable propane water heater, which can be carried to just about any terrain on the plant.

It is available in two models: the junior and senior model. This unit has a built in 12v pump, which can pump water from just about any water source including lakes and streams and heat the water and deliver at 1.5 gallons per minute.

Decker hot water station

Image credit: hotcampshowers.com

It is considered a perfect water heater for family camping trips, nigh outs at base camp, wilderness camping, hunting camps etc.


  • Output rating – 37,500 BT
  • Continuous hot water at 1.5 gallons of per minute
  • Water temperature is adjustable from 80-1500F
  • Can operate at 20-80psi of water pressure
  • Manufacturer’s Warranty: 1 year

There are several other brands of portable hot water heaters that offer state of the art propane heaters like Ecotemp and Camp Chef.

Each of these water heaters can deliver different quantity of hot water and hence it is important to identify your water requirement before purchasing one.

One Response to “Portable Propane Water Heater”

  1. Rose Rogers says:

    I would like more information about the colemen hot gas heater to put it in my van for camping .how it works and how big it is pls.

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