Do RV Water Heaters Turn Off Automatically?

RVs have a gas water heater, electrical water heater, or a dual heating system that runs on gas and/or electricity. There are tank or tankless models as well. Each water heating system works somewhat differently, and you may wonder if your RVs water heater turns when off automatically.

RV water heaters will turn off automatically when they reach the desired temperature on both gas or electric modes. The temperature of the water is regulated by the thermostat to prevent pressure building as a safety measure and to produce the desired water temperature.

To better understand how an RV’s water heater turns off automatically, you must know how the different heating options work. There are three basic heating options; gas, electric, and a dual gas and electric system, and each work differently when it comes to shutting down automatically.

How Do RV Water Heaters Turn Off Automatically?

A water heater heats a set amount of water in a tank. There are different size water heater tanks for RVs, and each has either an element that runs on electricity or a gas water heater. Both gas and electricity have an automated shutdown function to regulate the temperature and function as a safety measure. Let’s look at the three water heating options and how they turn off automatically.

Gas-Powered Tankless RV Water Heater

A gas-powered RV water heater almost instantly produces hot water if there is a gas supply. Gas water heaters do not require an electric element to heat the water and continue producing hot water. Gas heaters rapidly heat the water as needed, negating the need for a water heater to heat all the water in the tank and keep it at a set temperature.

When you open a tap or shower, a circuit board relays 12 volts to the water heats ignitor, and it opens the gas and produces a spark that it the water on demand. Once you close the tap or shower, the gas flow is stopped, and the flame that heats the water dies and stops the water heating system.

When you close the tap or shower, the hot water stops, and the gas supply stops to prevent unburned gas from escaping from the propane tanks and potentially causing injury or a fire. The RVs gas water heater automatically stops because it does not have to produce hot water, and for safety.

Using this option, you can either leave the hot water switch on all of the time, or only switch it on when you need to use hot water.

RV Water Heater That Only Uses An Electric Element

When using an element-only RV water heater, all the water in the tank is heated to a set degree on the thermostat and kept warm until you require hot water.

The element does not operate continuously because the water heater turns off automatically when the water reaches the thermostat-controlled temperature. When the water gets heated, usually about 130 degrees, the element will turn off automatically. When the water drops below a certain degree, the element will turn on to bring the water back to the desired temperature.

An electrical element works with a thermostat that functions as a regulating switch. A thermostat has a temperature dial that you can adjust to what degree you want the hot water to be. Once all the water in the tank reaches the degree set on the thermostat, it switches the element off automatically to keep it at the desired temperature.

The thermostat also works as a safety switch to prevent damage. If the element is left to run continuously to heat the water, pressure will build in the water heater tank that could cause the tank to burst, which is dangerous and expensive to replace.

RV Water Heater That Uses Gas And Electric

Some RVs have a duel heater system with gas and an electric element. This dual heating system is popular because it produces hot water with no power, and if you run out of gas, it has an electrical option.

The water heater turns off automatically with a dual system, just like a gas-only and element-only heating system. The same automated features that turn off a gas-only and element-only heater system apply to a dual water heater.

An RVs water heater turns off automatically to save energy and produce the required temperature as a safety measure. If your RVs water heater does not turn off automatically, it is wise to check it to avoid unnecessary damage or injury.


If you have an electrical water heater that works with an element, it will heat the water until it has reached the temperature you set on the thermostat and shut down until it needs to heat up again. If your RV has a gas water heater, it automatically turns off the gas supply to prevent a fire or gas leak. In some way or another, all RV’s water heaters turn off automatically.

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