Our Reconn R2 Hybrid Camper came with a 14L Truma hot water system, and we’ve been using it for the last 3 years. It’s now time to do a thorough, unbiased review.
Like all of our reviews, this is our honest experience, and nothing more. We paid for our Reconn R2 second hand, and the Truma hot water system came with it. This is not a paid, or sponsored review, and we like to make that very clear at the start of every review.
Having hot water available when you are camping is hugely appreciated, and whilst we don’t have it running to the kitchen its amazing to have a hot shower in the bush!
How does a Truma hot water system work?
Truma make a couple of different model hot water units. You can get the gas only (like we have), which uses gas to heat the 14L of water up, or you can get a combination unit that is slightly more expensive and will run off gas or 240V electricity.
Most people would only ever use the electric side when in a caravan park, and given we have an outdoor ensuite and would rather walk to the amenities its probably not very useful in that regard.
However, we’ve since upgraded to lithium batteries and are fitting more solar panels, and there’s a good chance we’d use the electric side of it off grid, and I’m still considering replacing our unit with a combination one. This would be to use free energy from the sun, but also to overcome the most common Truma Hot Water Problems, which you’ll read about below.
What do we use the hot water system for?
Our Truma Hot Water System is purely used for showers. Occasionally we’ll take a bit of hot water for baths for the kids, but its not plumbed up to the kitchen, and to be honest would be mostly pointless for us.
We would love hot water on tap at the kitchen (and could do it), but heating up 14L of water just for one kettles worth to do the dishes isn’t efficient, and we’ve never bothered going down that path. This is especially the case now that we have a super fast induction cooktop and can boil a pot of water in a couple of minutes at the longest.
How long does it take the Truma to heat up?
Our hot water unit generally takes about 30-40 minutes to heat up the 14L of water. However, this depends on whether the flame goes out, which we go into below.
Fitting a tempering valve
When we purchased our Reconn R2, the previous owners had a lot of trouble getting the temperature of the shower right, and decided to fit an adjustable tempering valve, which controls the mixture of hot water to cold water. Our shower then, only has one tap, and the water always comes out at a relatively nice temperature regardless of what you do.
You can adjust the temperature, but it means removing the seat cover inside and winding it up or down; its not a 5 second job.
The tempering valve means you save a lot of water in not having to adjust taps multiple times until the water coming out is suitable, and it seems to work pretty well. When you are camping off grid you don’t have the luxury of long, relaxing showers anyway, and this seems to do a good job.
As a family of 4, if we want to conserve water we can get away with 14L total, which goes a long way when you carry 320L of water on board!
What do we like about it?
Having a permanently mounted hot water system is greatly appreciated. There’s lots of portable units around, but having to pull them out, set them up, plug them in and so on is a pain. Our Truma takes about 30 seconds to get going, and when it works, it makes hot water fairly quickly and does a good job.
The flame keeps going out
I have to say, our Truma Hot Water System is possibly one of the most frustrating pieces of equipment I’ve ever owned, and I still have to try and find a fix. To turn it on, you simply flick a switch to 60 or 70 degrees (and make sure the hot water unit cover is off at the back) and walk away.
In any sort of wind though, we find that the flame blows out and then the unit errors. You are supposed to wait 10 minutes before resetting it, which would mean it’d take hours to heat your water up if it faults a few times.
Occasionally the flame out is legitimate, particularly when you change a gas bottle and the lines need filling back up again, but most of the time its an issue with the unit itself. Running your stove at the same time seems to purge the lines, but even when the gas bottles are untouched it faults out all the time with even the slightest breath of wind.
So far, we have resorted to putting a chair up against the hot water unit vent (not quite touching it) as this stops the air moving and it blowing out, but it really, really sucks.
Looking online this is a hugely common issue, and for us another reason why the electric version would be amazing, running through a big inverter to a nice set of lithium batteries. Yes, it will draw a lot of power, but its not for long and a good solar system will replenish it in no time.
When there is no wind, we have zero issues. You literally flick it on, and 30 minutes later you have hot water, and that’s how it should be.
Truma Hot Water System Review
Overall, I can’t say I’m that pleased with the Truma hot water system. If we could resolve the flame out issue it would get full marks, but we haven’t been able to do that just yet. There’s a heap of people online who have identical issues, and its not just related to our setup, or maintenance, or anything like that.
I saw a video a while back that showed when you remove the plastic shroud the flame never goes out, which would suggest that it might be less of a wind issue and more of an air flow problem, but who knows.
Now, to be fair to Truma, it could be the installation, but given I have seen these in a variety of different vans and many of them suffer flame outs, I’m inclined to think its a design flaw in now allowing the air to circulate properly through the vent, or when its windy. I also haven’t spent a huge amount of time resolving this, but it will get a good look soon and I’ll post a resolution if there is one!
All I can say is that we leave plenty of time for a hot shower, as it requires resetting a lot and is incredibly frustrating.
We’ll usually have a shower before it gets dark if its cold as its not much fun showering outdoors when its chilly, and that means we’ll flick the hot water on around 3PM, and shower sometime between 3:30 and 4:30PM, just before dinner.
Overall, we love the fact that we can have hot water, and if we could resolve the flame out issue the Truma Hot Water System would get a much better review.
What do you use for hot water? How does it perform?