Precision German engineering makes it possible to have “powerful instant water heater” and “retrofit your RV” in the same sentence.
It’s another beautiful morning in your favorite campground. The sun’s rays are shining through the edges of the pull-down shades, birds are chirping, and the aroma from the first cup of coffee permeates the interior. Time to hop in the shower to get the day going. Water is spraying at a comfy temperature, air guitar humming away, and the lyrics of your favorite song fill the bathroom acoustics. And then the song is suddenly interrupted by an agonizing screech, “The water’s cold!”
Sound familiar? Most RVers have learned to deal with the limited quantity of hot water, especially those with 6-gallon water heaters, and no matter how judiciously the occupants practice conservation, there are times when there’s just not enough hot water. Case in point: When showering back to back with the lady of the house, er … RV, and she wants to wash her long, thick hair.
The solution, of course, would be an appliance that provides unlimited hot water on demand — and Truma, Europe’s leading provider of heating and water systems for RVs, has introduced one. The AquaGo is a new product designed and listed (certified) specifically for use in the United States and Canada.
What makes the AquaGo so unique is its ability to be retrofitted, without body modifications, into any RV with an existing 6-, 10- or 12-gallon water heater. Fit and finish are precise, and the water heater has gone through countless hours of engineering and manufacturing scrutiny by highly trained experts. It’s made in Germany, where precision is as much a pastime as it is a passion. And it shows. The AquaGo is a very sophisticated device that’s assembled with high-tech and finely crafted componentry. Each step of the manufacturing process is monitored carefully; the major components are bar-coded and logged into a computer program that tracks the individual unit via a unique serial number. At the end of the line, every water heater is tested and receives the final labeling only if it passes rigorous protocol.
Water is heated by an LP-gas-fired burner, which is activated via a volume-flow sensor that detects an open faucet. The electronics, gas valve and flue fan operate on 12-volt DC power, and temperature is regulated not to exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit, a level that is hot but won’t scald skin unless the body is exposed to the water for more than five minutes. Since the hot water is mixed with cold, there should never be an issue with skin scalding.
A specially designed exterior cover with a ventilation grid allows fresh air to flow into the burner and exhaust gas to exit the water heater. A number of safety devices have been built into the AquaGo, including flame monitoring, low-voltage shutdown, over-current protection, flue-fan monitoring and the aforementioned temperature stabilization. There’s even freeze protection built into some models.
Truma offers three AquaGo models. The Basic unit is just that; it has an on/off switch and provides water on demand. Hot water will likely flow behind some cold water, depending on the distance from the water heater to the open faucet. With a step up to the Comfort model, users have a choice of an Eco or Comfort mode. The Eco mode functions like the Basic model, but when the switch is in the Comfort position, water is automatically held at 102 F, which makes hot water available more rapidly. This model has freeze protection, so water is always held higher than 41 F, regardless of the mode.
A Comfort-Plus model will be offered only as an OEM product, since it requires specialized plumbing where the hot water is constantly circulated throughout the system. For this model, hot water at full operating temperature will be available instantaneously at all the faucets and showerhead.
When operating in the Comfort mode, boondockers need to be aware that the water heater will draw 2.5 amps to keep the water at a constant 102 F and will continue to use propane, although in small amounts.
Nevertheless, it’s best to keep the switch in the Eco position when 12-volt DC power is being conserved.
Serviceability really got our attention. To drain the water from the tank, a clever snout (Easy Drain Lever) is simply released and folded down, so the water, which will flow automatically, can be directed into a bucket. No muss, no fuss. And to make things even more practical, a reusable filter can be pulled out from the open Easy Drain Lever and cleaned when necessary.
Troubleshooting is done with the aid of a computer, and dealers will have a special device that connects to the water heater and reads out potential issues on the screen. Dealers who have been thoroughly trained by Truma and have mastered the installation and service procedures will be authorized to sell the AquaGo. The Basic model retails for $1,099 and the Comfort model sells for $1,199.
After attending training sessions at the Truma campus outside of Munich, Germany, and field testing the AquaGo in a motorhome at a popular campground near the Austrian border, we installed a Comfort model in a rig at home that was originally fitted with a 6-gallon water heater.
Having endless hot water (as long as the RV is hooked up to city water and sewer, of course) was heavenly. It was actually hard to break the habit of shutting off the water flow to the showerhead while soaping down because we’ve been indoctrinated to conserve hot water for so long. When hooked up, we leave the switch on Comfort to get hot water faster, but in reality, the wait time in the Eco mode is not a big deal.
While we were impressed with the German engineering and the high-quality components, we loved the fact that the AquaGo is very quiet when operating and the neighbors no longer have to endure the roar of the burner in our previous hot-water tank. And the swap took less than two hours.
Truma | www.truma-aquago.com