Water Heater for Mobile Home Guide: Everything You Need to Know

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Charlie Hardcastle

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Manufactured housing or mobile homes have strict regulations and standards for safety procedures. Every piece of your mobile home is closely monitored, and one incorrect installation might spell trouble. The same rule applies to the options of water heaters for mobile homes.

An ideal water heater for a mobile home is crucial, especially if you consider all of the safety standards and federal requirements involved. That brings one of the biggest questions people ask about water heaters, “can I install regular water heaters to our mobile home water system?”

The answer to the question is a solid “no,” and the follow-up should be, “you need to have a mobile home water heater.” But what exactly is that? How does it differ from a standard water heater? Here’s everything you need to know about mobile home water heaters.

Mobile Home Water Heaters

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While sharing the same functions as a standard water heater, a mobile home water heater is specifically designed for a manufactured or mobile home. The reason for that is more profound than what you might think.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD, created defining standards between the two. Not abiding with these specifications or not using a HUD-approved water heater for a mobile home might result in a conflict between your home’s insurance coverage and your mobile home’s warranty. In worst cases, you might even face the wrath of the law. Here are the following mandates HUD requires for mobile home water heaters:

  • T&P Valve and Non-Adjustable Temperature Setting
  • Fuel Source Options
  • Cold and Hot Water Connections
  • Strapping Kit

T&P Valve and Non-Adjustable Temperature Setting

water pressure meters

It doesn’t matter if you have fuel or running electric water heaters for your home. All water heaters have a standard temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve). However, unlike the typical heaters you see on the market, HUD-approved water heaters should have a non-adjustable temperature setup. That’s one of the glaring differences between a regular and a mobile water heater for mobile homes.

Fuel Source Options

There’s a considerable possibility that mobile homes won’t just sit in one location and are designed to be relocated from one place to another. Because of that feature, flexibility and utility are always one of the top priorities with the dwelling place’s design. The same rule applies to mobile water heaters.

Mobile home water heaters give users options on what fuel source to use to keep the water’s standby heat loss to a minimum. The place you want to settle in might only offer propane as its fuel source. Sometimes, it might only offer natural gas. With that in mind, mobile heaters came up with the idea that supports both sources with minimal effort. Because of this, a mobile home water heater might be a bit pricier than a standard home electric water heater. On the bright side, you’ll have the flexibility to use both natural gas and propane as your options without having to worry about any issues.

Cold and Hot Water Connections

You might notice that almost all residential water heater connections are situated at the top of the tank. On the other hand, typical mobile water heaters’ cold water inlet is located at the side. Just a quick note, there are models out there where both cold and hot water connectors are located at the top, but that’s not a common sight.

Strapping Kit

HUD requires all mobile water heaters to have a secure mount to ensure the safety of people using the system. Because of that, mobile water heaters come with a strapping kit that keeps the unit intact. Yes, residential water heaters should be secured in place, but the strapping kit is always not present for the residential kit.

Mobile Home Water Heater Tank Capacity

sink and water heater in the mirror

Your typical residential water heater tank system holds larger volumes of water. With plenty of space around the vicinity, homeowners have the flexibility to choose where they want to install the tank. However, mobile homeowners don’t have that sort of luxury when it comes to spaces. That’s why most water tanks for mobile homes are usually smaller compared to their fixed counterparts.

A residential unit’s water heater tanks usually house 40 to 60 gallons in storage capacity. In contrast to a mobile home’s version, it is usually just at around 30 gallons – in a smaller place, you might see 20, and the largest tank can accommodate up to 40 gallons. As an alternative, most people opt for tankless or even electric water heaters to fulfill hot water requirements.

Buying Guide

Now you know the difference between residential and mobile water heater systems, let’s discuss key details for buying one for your mobile home.

  • Right Size Matters
  • Tank or Go Tankless
  • Gas or Electric Options

Before buying a mobile water heater, thinking ahead of time is crucial to making your home as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. Purchasing a water heater tank that seems larger than what your household needs might lead to excess energy bills. The downside is that your household might not have enough hot water supply over time. On the other hand, a smaller tank might save you when it comes to your bills.

If there are many people living in your mobile home, getting the largest tank possible might be the best idea – 30 gallons of water storage might be enough, but you can go to 40 gallons if you don’t think it is adequate for the whole household. Just make sure your mobile home has enough space to accommodate it. If it is just you or a small number of people, then the smallest tank might be the best option. It saves you from extra bills, and it might just be enough to cover your hot water needs.

Water Heater Cost

Water heaters aren’t built the same, but there is a clear difference between the price of residential and mobile units. Mobile home water heater systems cost more compared to its counterpart, but manufacturers, features, and other factors might also play a huge role in its price difference. A mobile home electric water heater is another less expensive alternative if you are tight on budget.

To give you a better rundown of the cost involving water heater installation and selection, it might be best to contact a plumber in your local area. After all, you can’t beat someone with a professional touch.

Installations and Repairs

engineer

Water heaters for mobile homes are typically constructed to fit into tight spaces. That means installing and making repairs for the unit might be a little bit challenging and may require you to remove something inside your mobile home’s structure.

Standby heat loss is a typical problem for water heaters and leaks. That’s also the main reason why most water heater tanks for mobile homes go for smaller capacities or sometimes even opt for electric water heaters. With that in mind, the space constraint poses many issues, and you might need to think ahead before setting up your mobile home water heater system.

Home Insurance

Home insurance companies don’t include mobile water heaters as part of their policy. On the other hand, others cover mobile water heaters as long as it complies with HUD safety regulations and standards.

To make sure you have enough coverage for your home insurance, it might not be a bad idea to run through HUD standards once again before the purchase and installment of your new mobile home water heater system.

Mobile Water Heaters FAQ

Let’s look at some of the frequently asked questions about water heaters.

Can I install a residential water heater in a mobile home?

All mobile home water heater system needs safety approval from HUD, and anything other than those would mean breaking the rules and required standards.

How to prevent heat loss in mobile water heater setup?

Heat loss is a typical problem for older variations of mobile home water heater systems. Good thing, most modern water heater setups don’t face this issue anymore, thanks to the foam insulators that come with them. Most electric water heaters use this and utilize an environmentally friendly option to get more market appeal.

Where do you usually install mobile home water heaters?

Most manufactured homes have a space saved near the furnace as clearance for mobile home water heater systems. In some cases, water heaters can also be installed inside laundry and utility rooms. Nowadays, you might see units installed behind an access panel that usually blends as a typical wall. Mobile home units also deploy tankless and portable electric water heaters.

Conclusion

Mobile Home water heater systems provide an accessible and reliable source of hot water for household consumption. Its utility shines, especially during long and cold winter seasons. We can’t deny the usefulness of installing a reliable one in our home. Above all, you don’t need to buy the fanciest option for your mobile home. Just get the right one that fits your household needs, and that should do the trick.

Also, make sure that your mobile home water heater complies with all the guidelines and safety regulations set by HUD. This saves you from unwanted trouble and ensures you get full coverage when you need it the most.

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