Electric water heaters are safer and simpler to use and thus, many people want to install an electric water heater in their mobile homes. However, there are some requirements for mobile home electric water heaters. So, I decided to provide a full guide.
To start, electric water heaters are good for mobile homes. In fact, I support the use of electric water heaters in mobile homes because they are safer and more compact compared to gas water heaters.
Many mobile homes come with a built-in water heater, usually a gas-fired storage type. But, not many people like to use it, especially when they get to know about electric water heaters.
Without further ado, let’s get started on the things you need to know about buying, installing and maintaining an electric water heater in a mobile home.
Electric Water Heater Basics
Electric water heaters are relatively new to many people since they are used to gas water heaters. So, it is important to understand the basics of electric water heaters.
Electric Tankless Water Heater
The first type of electric water heater is the tankless type. It produces hot water just like a typical gas-fired tankless water heater. In other words, it provides endless hot water on-demand.
However, electric tankless water heaters use electricity instead of propane gas or natural gas, obviously. So, they are safer and simpler to install and use.
Essentially, electric tankless water heaters use an electric resistance heating coil to heat water as the water flows through them. You can think of them as electric space heaters. They basically work the same.
Standard electric tankless water heaters are able to maintain a constant hot water temperature regardless of the incoming cold water temperature and water flow rate if it is not undersized.
So, you don’t have to worry about the risk of scalding.
However, the problem with electric tankless water heaters is that if the incoming cold water temperature is very low (eg: 37°F or 42°F), it’ll need a lot of power to provide adequate hot water.
Furthermore, the water flow rate of electric tankless water heaters is relatively lower. Hence, if your family members decided to shower at the same time, an electric tankless water heater may not be able to keep up.
For more details about the working principle and safety measures of electric tankless water heaters, see my post How Electric Tankless Water Heaters Work?.
Electric Storage Water Heater
The second type of electric water heater is the storage type. It produces hot water just like a typical gas-fired storage water heater or boiler. In other words, it stores hot water for later use.
Similarly, electric storage water heaters use electricity instead of propane gas or natural gas. Hence, they don’t emit any exhaust or carbon monoxide. Therefore, they are safer.
The heating method of electric storage water heaters is basically the same as electric tankless water heaters. They use an electric resistance heating element to heat water. But, they keep the heating process and hot water inside their storage tank.
The good thing about electric storage water heaters is that they store hot water at a much higher temperature, usually at around 140°F (60°C). So, things like low incoming cold water temperature and water flow rate don’t affect the output hot water temperature.
However, unlike electric tankless water heaters, electric storage water heaters have a limited supply of hot water. Their heating power is not as strong as tankless water heaters and hence, you may run out of hot water.
Mobile homes have limited space. Hence, the storage water heater capacity used in mobile homes is often at about 30 gallons only. Based on 20 gallons of hot water usage per shower, you hardly can have two people taking a shower at the same time.
Nonetheless, you may choose to have a larger electric storage water heater and put it outside your mobile home but it may not be convenient for you.
For more details about the working principle and safety measures of electric storage water heaters, see my post How Electric Storage Water Heaters Work?.
Electric Water Heater HUD Approval for Mobile Homes
Not every water heater can be installed in a mobile home. In the United States, you need a HUD-approved water heater in order to secure your insurance and warranty.
Here are a few brands that offer HUD-approved electric water heaters:
- Stiebel Eltron
- A.O. Smith
There is only a handful of electric water heaters that are HUD-approved for mobile home applications. So, you’ll need to carefully find out if the electric water heater you intended to buy is really a HUD-approved one.
Usually, you can filter out electric water heaters that are compatible with mobile homes on e-commerce websites. Otherwise, look for a statement where it says HUD-approved or approved for mobile or manufactured homes.
Currently, it’s unclear whether all electric water heaters are approved for mobile homes. Most of the conditions set by the HUD are for the safety of gas water heaters. Nonetheless, it is better for us to just stick with HUD-approved electric water heaters.
How to Choose an Electric Water Heater for Mobile Homes?
Although electric water heaters work differently than gas water heaters, they are still water heaters. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an electric water heater for your mobile home.
Electric water heaters consume quite a lot of power, especially tankless ones. It is very likely that you’ll need to upgrade your electrical system if you plan to use an electric tankless water heater. On the other hand, electric storage water heaters for mobile homes typically use 4.5 kW of power.
Electric water heaters (tankless and storage) are available in either 120V or 240V. Of course, 240V electric water heaters have more power and thus, they will heat up water much faster.
Although electric tankless water heaters are more appealing, an electric storage water heater may be a more practical buy due to the electrical system upgrade cost.
Electric tankless water heaters are sized differently than electric storage water heaters. Most of the time, mobile homes use 30 gallons or 40 gallons of electric storage water heaters, at maximum, due to limited space.
For electric tankless water heaters, you probably need one that has a water flow rate of around 5 GPM. If the incoming cold water temperature in your home is low, you’ll need a bigger one.
Nonetheless, most electric tankless water heater manufacturers have a sizing guide. Check out the sizing guide by yourself or consult them.
Electric Water Heater: Tankless vs Storage
If you’re living in places where the incoming cold water temperature is very low, an electric tankless water heater is probably not suitable. Hence, you’ll be better off getting an electric storage water heater.
However, if you want to have more space in your mobile home and the incoming cold water temperature is not too low, an electric tankless water heater is an excellent choice. But, I have yet to see any practical electric tankless water heaters that have the HUD approval.
The total power consumption of electric tankless water heaters will be lower than electric storage water heaters because they don’t have a standby loss; stored hot water loses heat overnight.
Electric water heaters are good for mobile homes. In fact, they are safer and simpler to use than gas water heaters. However, you should only get an electric water heater with the HUD approval at this moment. Otherwise, your home insurance and water heater warranty may be voided.
As far as electric water heaters go, the tankless type gives you endless hot water but the temperature may fluctuate depending on the incoming cold water temperature. Whereas the storage type gives you adequate hot water even when the incoming cold water temperature is very low.
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