Truma Hot Water System Review; frustrating, but fixed

Our Reconn R2 Hybrid Camper came with a 14L Truma hot water system, and we’ve been using it for the last 4 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.

Truma Hot Water System Review
Our 14L Truma Hot Water System in our Reconn R2 Hybrid

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. 

Truma hot water unit
The external part of our Truma hot water unit, and the black cover is the shower hose storage

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.

Truma hot water system
Hot showers in the bush are amazing

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!

Tempering valve
The Tempering valve mixes hot and cold water together to a set (adjustable) temperature

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. 

Stainless steel camping bucket
A shower with a portable pump and bucket of hot water is far less convenient than the Truma!

We’ve had a lot of flame out issues

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.

Truma water heater
We reset this thing a lot when its not very still outside

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.

Initially, we 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.

Camper trailer wind
The slightest breath of wind and it goes out

We solved the flame out issue

After countless times resetting the Truma hot water unit, I cracked it and decided to pull it apart and investigate further. I removed the 4 screws that hold the white plastic in place, cut the silicon away and pulled it off. Looking inside I could see it had a fair bit of dust inside, and looked pretty average.

I blew like the big bad wolf a huge number of times, copping a faceful of dust each time, until I was happy, and then put it back together, with a smear of silicon on the top to stop any water ingress into the van.

Since then, as long as the shower rose hatch and the Quickpitch ensuite tent is away, its been a lot more reliable.

It’s not perfect, but it goes out a lot less often now. We still have issues if the shower tent is anywhere near the outlet, and if we are running low on gas, but its a lot more reliable since a thorough blow out.

Lots of hatches on our Reconn R2
We’ve finally resolved the flame out issue on the Truma hot water system, which is hugely appreciated

Truma Hot Water System Review

EDIT – We are now quite happy with this unit, now that the flame out issue has been resolved. It does what its supposed to, and asides from wanting to be able to run it on electric (which we can’t as its not the dual model), its great.

Until we’d made these changes though, I couldn’t say I was pleased with the Truma hot water system.

I knew if we could resolve the flame out issue it would get full marks, but we lived with it going out for a long time, and even now, there’s a heap of people online who have identical issues; its not just related to our setup, or maintenance, or anything like that. 

On another point, 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 I don’t really know.

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.

Self sufficient camping
We tend to have our showers before dark, and it gets cold!

Overall, we love the fact that we can have a hot water system, and if it weren’t for the flame out issue we lived with for many months, we’d have given this a really high rating from the get go.

Today, after 4 years of use, I am fairly happy with the unit, but you should be aware of the many flame out issues people are having.

What do you use for hot water? How does it perform?

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10 Comments

  1. Hey Jeff,

    I feel your pain mate. Have you blown the heck out of it with a blower or compressed air? It seemed to fix our issues

    All the best
    Aaron

  2. Hi All,

    After reading Craig Griffiths fix this might be my last option.
    I also found that by removing the outer cover the Truma BGA14 unit ran faultlessly. If I fitted the cover while it was running it would flameout.
    The other cause I have read is the unit can be installed without being hard up to the inside of the outer wall of the van causing an air gap which disrupts the air flow.
    Has run okay for 4 years until now.

  3. Hey Craig,

    Very interesting, and thanks for your information. I always suspected better flow would mean better reliability, and it seems you’ve proven it.

    Ours is still going fine, but if it starts playing up I’ll consider putting some holes in it!

    All the best
    Aaron

  4. Craig Griffiths says:

    After reading your comments I could certainly relate to frustrated owners of these Truma hot water systems. I have had constant problems with the flame going out and after reading these comments I decided to try a few things to see if I could improve its performance. First of all because it relies on a convection flow to allow fresh air /oxygen into the burner for combustion to take place, I assumed that any interference with that flow would cause the burner flame to go out, hence when the cover is on the burner will light! but then goes out. To cut a long story short I tried removing the vented grill as someone suggested and the burner stayed lit. In the end I decided that the hot air couldn’t escape fast enough, choking flame and so I drilled 3 x 22mm just above the truma logo on the vented cover and the burner has performed perfectly since. So thanks to everyone for there input. Don’t know how to add a pic so you’ll have to work it out yourself,

  5. Hey Glenn,

    Sorry to hear you had a bad run. I was ready to throw mine in the bin too. I think they are far too sensitive to air flow, and that causes them to be very unreliable, especially when not installed perfectly. I read the other day that the inlet needs to be as smooth as possible or it affects the air and makes them go out, which is pretty average.

    Ours is fine under most circumstances except when we have the shower tent out and it affects the air flow.

    Sounds like you’ve been forced to come up with a better option though!

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, and all the best
    Aaron

  6. I owned a Truma Ultra Rapid. Never ever again. Had flame out issues all the time for two years. Now it will often refuse to lite at all. Works okay on main power but totally unreliable on gas. We purchased a camp instantaneous water heater from ebay for $220 and hang it up on the outside of the van. It is plumbed in with nitto clip fittings. A bit of extra setup however it just works and keeps on working. I my opinion the Truma gas heater is a defective product.

  7. Hey Tim,

    Fair call mate. I often go back and make adjustments to posts as things change, and I was incredibly frustrated with this unit to start with. I will admit to not always reading the post in its entirety with updates, which I probably should do, to make it flow better.

    That said, I know a lot of other people are still having the same issues, so its not entirely unjustified.

    I’ll see what I can modify
    Cheers
    Aaron

  8. Tim Briglia says:

    Hey guys. I think you may have done an injustice to both Truma and your readers. Not identifying your edit review at the beginning,during, and end of the review had me very negative for a while, then positive, and then negative again by the places where the review “edit” is placed in the article. As a reader I don’t need to hear all the negativity created during the article. I would far prefer that you simply say at the beginning that there is an identified common problem experienced with well used heaters but you have provided the solution. Too much confusing text to get to the end of what could have been a much shorter read. Cheers

  9. Hey John,

    That’s pretty average mate. Ours has copped a flogging over the last 3 years and asides from the flame out issue its still going OK.

    How did you notice the leak? Did it do any other damage?

    Take care
    Aaron

  10. I would not buy another Truma. After a few weeks use the stainless tank split around the seam which appears to be a common problem