Truma AquaGo

Photographer: Bob Livingston


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.


The U.S. Rack Fifth-Wheel Heavy-Duty Truck Rack kit comes with all the components for assembly on a pickup truck. The 2010-4ADCD kit includes three deck panels, which are optional with other kits. The rack is designed for Ram, GM and Ford pickups with conventional fleet-side bed rails.


Before the assembly, all bolt threads are coated with the provided Teflon-fortified grease. This prevents seizing when disassembling.


Clamp rails in a mirrored pair are attached to the bed rails without the need to drill holes. These are the base for the rack, and they can be installed only one way.


Leg frames, also in a mirrored set, are bolted to the clamp rails on both sides. It’s best to have a helper hold the pieces when bolting them together.


The rear crossbar is positioned on the leg frames. If deck panels are used, the bolts are secured only finger-tight at first, because the rear crossbar will need to be removed to facilitate the installation.


Once the rear crossbar is in place, the side rails can be bolted to the leg frames. Precision fabrication makes it easy to assemble the pieces without having to elongate holes or bend the rails.


The bolts have Allen heads, and the company provides a wrench that can be used to tighten them. We preferred to use a ratchet wrench and an Allen socket, which made the job easier and faster.


After removing the rear crossbar, the three deck panels are put in position and are locked in place when the crossbar nuts and bolts are tightened. Torque specs are not provided, so the installer needs to use good judgment when tightening the bolts.


Retaining posts are put through the dual rear crossbar, which is aligned with the short vertical tubes on the front and rear crossbars.


Another option is to first align the short tubes of the front and rear crossbars and drop the posts into both.


The rack fits close to the rear of the cab but may create a problem when turning with a shortbed truck, in which case an automatic sliding hitch should be used.


With deck panels in place, the rack extends past the front of the cab and provides space for items without inhibiting the area behind the cab. A front crossbar with a spoiler is used here to accommodate the four-door cab.


Cushions are bolted to the side rails to protect the truck cab when the rack is heavily loaded. We found it easier to install these at the time the side rails were bolted in place.


Silicone, provided with the kit, is applied around the slip joints to seal gaps between the connected rack pieces. This prevents water intrusion, which can lead to rust and difficulty removing the pieces when desired.


A kayak mounts easily on the rack. In this case the front dual crossbar was removed, and the kayak’s flat bottom was placed on the deck panels and strapped down. Kits for carrying canoes and kayaks are available from U.S. Rack, and the front and rear dual crossbars are designed to accept cradles and straps from Yakima and Thule.

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 |




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