There is nothing as relaxing as a hot shower. When you're on the road or camping in your RV, this is a luxury that is difficult to come by. The Atwood water heater is a popular water heater for RVs, so travelers and campers can feel at home on the road with hot showers anywhere they go.

Atwood is the largest manufacturer of water heaters for RVs. Their water heaters are made to fit RVs from the outside so that customers can easily install it on to their RVs and have access to hot water for necessities such as showers and washing dishes. Of course, not all water heaters are created equal. Before purchasing, make sure you research different models of Atwood water heaters and compare them with other brands.

Comparison Table

In 2017, Atwood was re-branded as Dometic. Although Atwood water heaters are still sold as "Atwood water heaters" in home improvement stores and with online retailers like Amazon, if you purchase directly from the manufacturer website, you will purchase "Dometic water heaters." Atwood and Dometic water heaters are the same products, so don't let this name change confuse you during your purchase.

What to Look for When Choosing the Right Atwood Water Heater Model

There are many types of Atwood water heaters on the market. You can buy them at home improvement stores or online. You have to make sure you pick the model that is right for your needs. These are the features and specifications to keep in mind when shopping for an Atwood water heater.

Size

Atwood water heaters come in several different sizes that hold from 6 gallons to 10 gallons of water. Some of them are also tankless, which means they connect to a running source of water. The dimensions and weight of the water heater are not dependent on how many gallons of water it can hold, but it is something to keep in mind when shopping. The bigger and heavier the water heater, the more difficult it will be to install. The size of the Atwood water heater you pick will depend on your needs, family size, length of showers, and type of RV.

Power and Performance

It’s important to consider the power and performance of your Atwood water heater before purchase. That depends on how often you plan to use the heater and your family size. If you have a large family that is always on the road, you will need one with high power and performance to make sure it can keep up with the demand. If you have a small family that doesn’t travel as much, this might not be as important to you.

Gas, Electric, or Motor-Aid

Atwood water heaters use either gas, electricity, or the RV’s motor to heat the water. Which heating method you use depends on how much hot water you need. Gas is capable of heating more water than electric. The motor-aid method only works when the RV engine is on. You can also use a combination of gas and electric heating methods to heat an even larger quantity of water. Again, this depends on your family size and how long you plan on staying in the RV.

Tank or Tankless

Atwood water heaters either come with water tanks that store a limited amount of water or without tanks that connect to a continuous flow of water. Tankless models are more expensive but also more convenient because they provide a constant flow of water without the worry of running short.

Safety

Safety is extremely important when choosing which Atwood water heater to purchase because they can be a fire hazard. The heating systems in the water heater can overheat and cause a fire. Also, because the Atwood water heater uses propane, it has the potential to explode for any reason. That's why it is important to consider which type of water heater you are purchasing and to learn its maintenance and safety guidelines.

Budget

After you have considered all the other specifications and features of the Atwood water heater, your purchase will ultimately come down to your budget. Atwood water heaters cost anywhere from $300 to $600 based on their features and where you purchase them. If you are a frequent user of your RV, it might be worth it to spend more money on an Atwood water heater that has the best performance and can hold the most water. However, if you don’t travel in your RV regularly or only take short trips, it might be better to save money on the size and performance of the Atwood water heater.

List of Atwood Water Heaters

Here are three Atwood water heaters with different features that customers had good experiences with.

Atwood Mobile Products 94180 Pilot Ignition Water Heater - 10 Gallon
  • Capacity is 10 gallon liquid propane gas
  • Input is 10,000 British thermal units
  • Recovery rate is 8.5 gallons per hour

This Atwood water heater is a large 10-gallon water heater that utilizes both propane gas and electricity to heat water. Although it is a larger heater, it only weighs 18.2 pounds, which makes it manageable during installation and doesn’t add too much weight to the RV.

The water heater comes with a two-year warranty where they will repair or replace the product. However, the customer must take the water heater to an authorized Atwood Service Center to avail the warranty.

Many customers said that the water heater was easy to install and fit well into their RVs. However, some customers were unhappy because their water heater broke within the warranty period and they received bad customer service from Atwood. They said that Atwood makes it very difficult to use the warranty.

It has a very good rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. 

This Atwood water heater holds six gallons of water and utilizes both propane gas and electricity to heat the water. The combination of gas and electric give you the option of heating a larger amount of water if needed. It weighs 22 pounds, which makes it heavier than the previous 10-gallon water heater.

Many customers said that the water heater fit well into their RV and began working immediately. However, similar to the last product on our list, several customers complained about the customer service at Atwood when their water heater broke within its warranty period.

It has a decent rating of 3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. 

This six-gallon Atwood water heater uses both propane gas and electricity. This product is a newer design that comes with a door for easier access to the circuits and a cleaner look. It weighs 21 pounds which makes it heavier than the previous 10-gallon water heater.

Most customers said that the water heater fit well into their RV and has lasted them for over 10 years before the need to purchase a new one. There were very few negative reviews. However, a few customers did have issues with customer service if their piece didn’t work as expected upon installation.

Many customers said that the product is cheaper online than in stores. It has a very good review of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

How Atwood Water Heaters Compare

How does the Atwood water heater stack up to the competition? The following products range in features and price but are good alternatives to the Atwood water heater. Here's how the Atwood compares.

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Suburban 5117A Water Heaters 6 Gallon
  • Water Heaters Sw6P Suburban Water Heated 5054A Suburban Manufacturing
  • Pilot Ignition
  • LP heat source

Suburban water heaters are also a popular brand for RVs. This one is similar to the Atwood water heater in many ways. It comes in a six-gallon size and also turns on with a pilot ignition switch. It has a two-year warranty for repairs and replacements.

Unlike the Atwood water heaters, however, this one is substantially heavier at 34 pounds, which could make it more difficult to install. Unlike Atwood, this water heater doesn’t come with both propane gas and electric heating capabilities. It only heats using propane gas. That reduces the amount of water the Suburban can heat at once.

Most of the customers said that the heater was easy to install and worked well. There were very few unhappy customers. However, a few of them said that they had issues with leaks and the pilot switch not igniting properly. It has a very good rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

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Girard 2GWHAM On-Demand Tankless Water Heater
  • Regulates the burner to maintain the set hot water temperature.Freeze protection - designed for winter Use
  • 42,000 BTUs which provides the optimum performance for an RV's plumbing
  • No special LP gas lines or special plumbing required

The Girard water heater is similar to the Atwood water heaters in size and weight (21.2 pounds). However, it is very different in its function. Unlike Atwood, Girard is a tankless water heater, so it provides a constant flow of hot water when connected to a water source. It is also more powerful and quieter than the Atwood models. Because of all these features, this water heater is also in a slightly higher price range. It also has a two-year warranty for repairs and replacements.

Many customers were happy with their purchase and said that the product worked as it was supposed to and provided unlimited amounts of hot water. However, several customers said the product stopped working very quickly and had issues with the circuit and user control board. It has a decent review of 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Water Heater - Wall Vented
  • Designed specifically for RVs, trailers, tiny houses, cabins, mobile washing services, and more
  • Takes up 1/2 the space and weighs 1/3 as much as a 10-gallon tank
  • No pilot light and very high propane efficiency

The PrecisionTemp water heater has very few things in common with the Atwood water heaters. Other than both using propane to heat water, the Precision Temp model is quite unique in its size and its function. PrecisionTemp is another tankless water heater. It is much smaller in size, but heavier than Atwood at 32 pounds. It also does not require a pilot light to turn it on. Because of all these features, this water heater has a much higher price tag . It has a two-year warranty for repairs and replacements as well.

Many customers were happy with their purchase and said that the product worked very well and provided unlimited amounts of hot water. They also said that customer support was helpful if something didn’t work properly. However, there were a few customers that said the heater gave out either cold water or scalding hot water and that it took too long to heat the water. It has a good review of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Should You Get an Atwood Water Heater? Which One?

Atwood water heaters are one of the most popular water heaters for a reason. They provide the best value for their price. They are cheaper than most water heaters out there but have similar basic features such as propane gas and electric heating and the option to get a tank or a tankless heater. Although it seems from many customer reviews that Atwood doesn’t provide great customer service, the customers who had functioning pieces were happy with how they worked. Plus, they saved hundreds of dollars by purchasing an Atwood water heater instead of a Girard or PrecisionTemp. Also, it is possible that their customer service will improve because of the recent rebranding.

Based on the price and features, the 10 gallon Atwood 94180 Pilot Ignition Water Heater is the best deal. However, if customer service is extremely important to you, it might be worth spending a little bit more money on slightly more expensive brands like the six-gallon Suburban water heater. Overall, Atwood water heaters are sturdy products that come with many options and reasonable pricing. Do you own an Atwood water heater? Tell us about your experience with an Atwood water heater in the comments below.

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