Manufactured Home Water Heaters Guide (The 4 Types And 8 Desirable Features)

There aren’t many experiences as dreadful as having to endure the winter in a manufactured home without a water heater.

Heating needs for a manufactured home can be unique – there isn’t as much space as you would find in a similar site-built home, so the size of the appliance matters.

Before we even look at the best types of manufactured home water heaters, let’s take a glance at the things you need to bear in mind when shopping for one:

  1. Energy efficiency: You don’t want to bloat your electricity bills
  2. The size of the water heater: You want to be economical with your space
  3. Source of power: do you have access to the right fuel (oil, natural gas, propane, electricity, geothermal, etc.?
  4. Capacity: What are the hot water needs of your household?
  5. Long term maintenance costs: You’ll need to remove corrosion and mineral scale every year.

The 4 Types Of Water Heaters Excellent For Manufactured Homes

1. Tankless Water Heater

“Tankless” water heaters are exactly what the name suggests: they don’t come with a reservoir tank.

Instead, they are equipped with extensive coils that get heated when pumped with water.

This type of heaters don’t occupy large spaces like their tank-based counterparts, so you stand to save significant space in your manufactured home.

They are impressively efficient as well, for water is heated almost instantly – you could save up to 60% in energy costs.

Better yet, you are assured of a continuous supply of hot water to use at any time you want.

Best Tankless Manufactured Home Water Heater Recommendations

If we consider space, almost all tankless water heaters are good for any manufactured homes because they are the smallest heaters you could ever get on the market.

Rinnai RUR98iN Ultra Series comes in the size of a small suitcase.

It also offers both PVC and concentric venting options so that you don’t get tied down by one venting option.

It is gas-powered and has an efficiency rating of 96 percent and a maximum flow rate of 9.5 GPM (gallons per minute).

If you would like an alternative with a smaller flow rate (6.0 Max GPM or less), you might want to check out Takagi T-Kjrz which also gas-powered but with the slightly low-efficiency rating – 83 percent.

2. Heat Pump Heaters

This type of water heaters is also referred to as hybrid electric heaters because of their ability to harness the heat in the air and use it to heat water.

They tend to be costlier upfront when compared to standard electric heaters.

That’s probably justified because they cut your energy consumption by about 60 percent – you will see a return to investment in the form of low energy bills.

Virtually all-electric heat pump heaters come with one design flaw: the heat pump which serves as the main heating point is located on top of the device.

Because of this design, hybrid electric heaters don’t work perfectly in very cold compartments.

To offset the effect of the heat pump’s location (being on top of the heater) you would need to create about a 7-feet clearance area between the ceiling and the floor.

Heat Pump Water Heater Recommendation

A.O. Smith HPTU-50 Voltex Hybrid 50 Gallon Electric Heat Pump (also marketed as The Volt The Voltex® Hybrid Electric Heat Pump)  cuts water heating costs by about 73 percent.

You can take three showers back-to-back, 8 minutes per shower.

It also comes with a vacation mode, 73 percent efficiency, three modes: hybrid, efficiency, and electric, and energy star certified.

3. Solar Water Heaters

This type of heaters consists of roof-installed solar panels that serve to absorb the heat from the sun and use it to heat water. The internal functioning of solar water heaters can be a bit intricate, but they typically contain an anti-freeze kind of fluid which it uses to transfer the captured solar heat to the water tank.

If you live in a sunny region, solar water heaters should be the priority heating option.

The best part is that you could qualify for federal and state federal tax credits as incentives for using green energy.

If your area of residence is sunny most parts of the year, you are assured of free energy supply most of the time.

How many types of solar water heaters are out there?

Solar heaters are divided into two: active and passive heaters.

Active heaters distribute hot water with the aid of a pump whereas passive heaters distribute water using the force of gravity.

Each of these two main groups is further split into two.

The two types of active solar water heaters are:

Direct circulation systems

The pump circulates the hot water with the aid of solar collectors. Not suitable for extremely cold regions, for the collectors could end up blocked with ice.

Indirect circulation systems

An antifreeze solution is circulated in heat exchangers and solar collectors. It’s perfect for extremely cold areas because the water won’t freeze.

The two types of passive solar water heaters are:

Integral collector storage system

Heated water from the heat collectors flows into the storage tank and then into the home’s plumbing system through gravity.


Water is heated in solar collectors from below. Because the water is superheated, it forcefully flows into the plumbing systems on its own.

What’s the maintenance routine?

Solar water heaters require routine maintenance by a solar specialist once every 3 or 4 years.

You can rest assured of service from a solar water heater for about 20 years.

The basic upkeep tasks, which you can complete yourself, include:

Best options for a manufactured home

Sunbank 40 Gallon Solar water heater is the perfect solar water heater for manufactured homes.

It is a passive (thermosyphon) variety with a capacity of 40 gallons of water and requires almost no maintenance.

If you would prefer an off-grid cabin to the traditional roof-mounted heater, you might want to check out Clean Republic Heat Streamer.

This alternative comes with a smaller capacity (5 gallons) but is passive (integral), cheap, and easier to use.

4. Condensing water heaters

What’s the best way of utilizing exhaust gases from the kitchen instead of expelling them into the atmosphere? Easy, install the condensing water heater.

This type of water heaters come with an extensive coil system at the base of the tank where refuse hot gases are channeled and used to heat the water.

The efficiency of these heaters is next level, especially if you use gas in your home and require over 55 gallons of water regularly.

Condensing Water Heater Recommendations

Condensing water heaters are similar to tankless water heaters in size.

Takagi T-H3-DV-N 10 gallon per minute heater is a good starter if you are trying this type of heater for the first time in your mobile home.

It comes with a bunch of computerized safety features and no pilot lights to worry about.

Rheem RTGH-84DVLP Indoor Direct Vent Liquid Propane Condensing Tankless Water Heater  is a better alternative.

It combines the features of a condensing heater and a tankless heater. Most impressive is its anti-freeze feature which keeps the heater operating at -30 Degree F.

5. Conventional storage water heaters

This is the most common type of water heater.

They often consist of an insulated water storage tank of a given capacity, often between 2 and 80 gallons. Most of them come with a simple copper coil at the bottom of the tank to heat the water with electrical power. Propane and oil-powered options do exist.

Based on the temperature measurements taken by a device in the tank, heating will only commence when the water temperature drops below a certain level.

The downside of this way of functioning is that it repeats itself indefinitely, even when you are asleep or on vacation unless you switch off the entire appliance.

So, in effect, you are paying for hot water that you didn’t use. The bright side, however, is that you will have hot water any time you need it.

Conventional Storage Water Heater Recommendations

The market is somewhat saturated with small conventional water heaters that can provide water heating solutions not only for manufactured homes but also for smaller RV homes.

Stiebel Eltron SN 5 SL GB Small Water Heater 5 Litre has a low standby power consumption and low economy setting of 60-degree C. You can select between 35 and 85-Degree C. A 15-gallon option is available.

Stiebel Eltron 221125 SN 5 SL GB Small Electric Water Heater can a better alternative if you are looking for a heater capable of supplying individual draw-off points, such as supplying a sink in the kitchen or utility room.

The 8 Desirable Manufactured Home Water Heater Features

1. Warranty

The warranty should appear first on the list because it’s the number one indicator of quality before you even use the heater.

A longer warranty tends to mean the product is of high quality.

The typical warranty of an average water heater falls between 3 and 12 years – as aforementioned, the longer the better.

Please note that you are more likely to pay more for a higher warranty than the lower one.

2. Anti-scale devices

One chief headache that comes with virtually all water heaters is the accumulation of mineral scale in the pipes and the bottom of the tank.

But that’s going to depend on the kind of water you use – hard water (water with a lot of mineral solution in it) tends to ruin your equipment with mineral scale than soft water (water with very little or no mineral solution).

You don’t need to invest in separate features that would get rid of the scale. Instead, consider choosing a heater with about 12 years warranty – you’re covered!

3. Plastic vs brass drain pipes

Some water heaters come with a pipe at the base which is used for the garden hose that drains water from the heater. It is prudent to select a heater with brass drain pipes and valves, which tend to last longer than their plastic counterparts.

4. Glass vs ceramic linings

Different manufacturers add their preferred insulating material on their water heaters to boost their efficiency and prevent corrosion.

The most commonly used materials are carbonized glass and ceramic.

While there are tons of materials out there good for this job, it is recommended that you choose heaters with ceramic or glass anti-corrosive linings.

5. Digital displays

Digital displays aren’t a reserve of smart water heaters. Many heaters today come with this important feature, even those that use oil as a source of power.

Digital displays are vital for keeping you informed about such details as the temperature of the water, pressure, and other pieces of information.

Some “smart” electric pump heaters will allow you to set a vacation mode which only uses the heat pump to boost the efficiency.

6. The cost

Before you even commit yourself to buy a water heater for your manufactured home, it is important to consider the initial cost and the long operating costs per month or year.

You should then compare those costs to other energy-efficient models. Consider visiting different pages of an array of heaters for more information on estimating costs.

7. Fuel type and availability

You may stumble across a seemingly efficient water heater, but whose fuel would be trouble to get in constant supply.

For instance, there is no point in buying an efficient solar-powered water heater if your region does not receive enough sun most parts of the year.

The type of fuel has an influence on the size of the heater, efficiency, and operation costs.

8. Energy efficiency

The cost of the heater is one thing and its efficiency is a whole another factor.

Even if the fuel is cheap, the overall running may turn out to be higher if the heater is not efficient.

For that reason, you need to be critical of a heater’s efficiency as well as the type of fuel when buying it.

A Few words on the fuel types, costs, and availability

The water heater is probably the only household appliance with a wide range of fuel options.

Unlike most appliances that run predominantly on electricity or gas, water heaters have 6 sources of power:

  • electricity
  • natural gas
  • geothermal energy
  • fuel oil
  • solar energy and
  • propane.

As such, you will need to look at these fuels from different aspects when buying a water heater for your manufactured home.


This is the most common fuel in the United States.

You can be 100% sure that you will find it in every mobile home park you’ll take your manufactured home or any neighborhood you’ll take assemble you’re the home.

Heat water pump, conventional storage, and tankless heaters are the three types of heaters that exclusively use electricity.

Some heaters combine both space and water heating systems, which may include indirect and tankless coil water heaters.

Natural gas

Many parts of the United States have access to piped natural gas.

This means you can own tankless and conventional storage water heaters almost anywhere. The cost of natural gas relative to electricity, however, may vary.

Fuel oil

Fuel oil isn’t as readily available in most parts of the United states as natural gas and electricity.

About 20% of households in the northeast region use oil as fuel for heating.

In such areas, the conventional storage water heater is the most convenient heating option.

Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy is widely used in the western parts of the United States (especially in California, Nevada, and Oregon).

Much of it, however, is used for powering industries rather than heating homes.

For those areas with plenty of geothermal energy, a geothermal heat pump would be the best water heating option.


The supply of propane in many parts of the United states is as abundant as natural gas. About 50 million households  in the United States use propane as a source of energy for heating.

Tankless heaters would be the best type of water heaters for your home if you have access to propane supply.

Solar energy

Sunlight is abundant all over the united states but it’s better suited for heating if you live in the southwest and southeast regions, and some parts of Arizona and Nevada.

Related: Can A Water Heater Sit Directly On A Concrete Floor?


The water heater is one of the essential appliances in any home.

During the chilly evenings and misty mornings of the winter, you need hot water in the shower and taps.

When choosing a perfect water heater for a manufactured home, you need to put into consideration the size, efficiency, and type of fuel.

There are plenty of heaters that meet the criterion.

They fall into four categories:

  1. conventional water heaters
  2. solar water heaters
  3. heat pump water heaters
  4. and tankless water heaters.

Water heaters use an array of energy sources including natural gas, oil, electricity, and geothermal.

Buy a water heater whose fuel can be easily found in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will a water heater work without power?

The issue of whether your water heater will work during a power outage will depend if it depends on mains electricity.

If it depends on electricity to function, it will not provide heat water without power.

Related: How Can You Survive Without a Hot Water Heater (And Hot Water)?

Q: Is it safe to use a leaking water heater? Can it be fixed?

No. Using a leaking water heater can increase your water bills and pose a threat to your life. If the tank has exploded and is leaking, you cannot fix the water. Therefore, you must replace it.

Q: Where can tankless water heaters be installed?

Provided the tankless water heater has enough combustion, it can be installed in the basement, garage, utility room, or placed outside if it can withstand harsh weather conditions.

Q: Should you drain a water heater when not in use?

Yes. It is vital to drain the water heater to prevent the tank’s sediments from blocking its spigot.

Q: Is it ok to buy a used water heater?


However, it would help if you inspected the water heater to determine its warranty and why it was replaced.

If it has a short warranty period, you should stay away from it since it can be difficult to replace it.

Q: Is it safe to have a water heater in a bedroom?

Yes. You can install a water heater in your bedroom provided that it is electric, and it has a sealed combustion chamber or direct vent unit.

Q: Is it safe to store things in a water heater closet?

No. It is advisable to store your items at a reasonable distance from your water heater to reduce the chances of making it a fire hazard.

Q: Is it safe to cover a water heater?

If you want to cover your water, you have to be extremely careful in covering certain parts.

For instance, you should be careful not to cover the thermostat or heating element control, drain or overflow tube, temperature pressure relief, and water heater drain valve.

If these parts are blocked, your water heater might explode.

Q: Do water heater blankets work?

Yes. If your water heater is cold when you touch it, you can benefit by adding blankets that increase insulation.

Q: Is it ok to remove the anode rod from the water heater?

No. If you remove the anode rod from the water heater, you will reduce its lifespan.

Q: Is it ok to unplug or turn off a water heater?

If the water is shut off for a long period and the water tank is emptied, you should turn off the water heater to avoid damage.

But if the water tank is full or nearly full, you should not turn it off.

Q: Can water heaters explode?

Yes. Poorly installed gas, heater controls, and heaters connections can cause explosions.

Q: Can a water heater cause a water hammer?


A water heater does not cause a water hammer.

However, if it happens, it will because the nipples on the top of the heater have plastic ball checks.

Other causes include loose pipes in the valve or if you have small pipes that experience excess pressure.

Q: Can a water heater result in the air in pipes?

Yes. If you have not purged your water heater for a while, sediment and air can build up.

Q: Can a water heater sit directly on the floor?

No. Water heaters cannot be installed directly on the floor since they can explode due to the pilot flame being close to the floor.

Q: Can a water heater electrocute you?

Yes. Since electricity is used to power the water heater, it can be an electrocution risk, especially when the electrical components are not separated from the water that flows in the pipes.

Q: Are water heaters supposed to make noise?

Water heaters have their distinct noises.

If your heater is clicking a noise, the flow switch is turning on and off to start or stop the water flow.

Therefore, it is normal.

However, if your water heater makes a lot of noise when turned on, it can be because calcium deposits are deposited behind due to hard water.

Q: Are water heaters recyclable?

Yes. A greater number of recycling centers dismantle water heaters and sell scrap metal to other vendors.

Most of the water heater tanks are made of steel and have copper and brass attachment, which can be recycled.

Q: What is the water heater back-drafting?

A defect happens when exhaust gases from an atmospherically vented water heater spill out into your room instead of safely exiting the house through a vent.

Q: Which states require water heaters to be strapped?

States such as Washington, Oregon, and California are located in seismic zones 3 or 4.

The California law requires all new and old water heater installations to have straps.

Q: Why would the water heater trip the circuit breaker?

If the water heater circuit draws too much current and gets too hot, it can cause the circuit breaker to trip.

Q: Can the water heater be next to the washer & dryer?

There is no problem locating a washer and dryer close to the water heater, provided enough ventilation.

However, appliance experts do not recommend such an idea to create excessive heat in the room when used together.

Q: Should a water heater be drained periodically?

Yes. It is vital to drain the water heater periodically to flush out the sediments accumulated at the tank’s bottom.

Q: Should the water heater be turned off when on vacation?

No. Although you might wish to turn off all the energy using appliances in your house, below are some of the reasons why you should leave it on:

  • It will keep water from freezing.
  • Other people might need to use hot water while you are on vacation.

You will need a lot of money to reheat water again.

Q: Do water heater thermostats go bad?

Yes. If you buy a water heater that does not match your needs, it can overwork, making its thermostat go bad.

Q: Does a solar water heater work during the rainy season? Winter? At night?

Solar water heaters work even during the rainy or winter season due to the available diffused radiation in the atmosphere. Sadly, a solar water heater won’t heat water at night, but it can still bring it to the atmospheric temperature.

Q: Can the water heater be stored in the garage? Basement?

A water heater cannot be stored in the garage or basement unless it is flammable vapor ignition resistant.

You should ensure that nearby surfaces are protected from water leaks or gas.

Therefore, you should not store the water heater in a location where water can easily access subfloors and foundations.