How Many Watts Does a RV Water Heater Use?

RV water heater tanks are normally between six and ten gallons. If the tank is a small six-gallon tank, it will use a smaller element to heat it, and if it is a 10-gallon tank, it may use a larger element that draws more watts. The watts an element requires to function at full capacity is the rate at which you measure the power it consumes.

Most RV water heaters use 1,440 watts when running on electric whether they have 6 or 10 gallon tanks. Some smaller 4 gallon tanks use as low as 400 watt elements and some tanks use as much as 2,000 watts. Stronger elements with higher watts are needed for larger tanks.

Getting an accurate reading of how many watts your RV water heater uses to heat up is easy and a little complicated at the same time. Understanding how the watts are measured will give you a better understanding and help you accurately measure it. 

How To Measure The Watts Of An RVs Water Heater

The size of an element is measured in watts, and the larger the element is, the more watts it needs to function at capacity. When you purchase an element, it is important to consider how much water you want to heat and how long you want the element to do so.

To accurately measure how many watts an RV water heater uses, you must consider the element’s size and the tank’s size. A small six-gallon tank will need a small element that draws fewer watts than a ten-gallon tank. The first step to know how many watts your RVs water heater uses is to establish how big the element iss.

You get different size elements, and they have different watt ratings. An RV’s standard six-gallon water heater can range from 400 to 1400 watts. A larger ten-gallon water heater element may start at 1400 watts and go up to 2300 watts. RVs have small four or ten-gallon tanks; some RV owners refit them with a sixteen-gallon tank.

The smaller the tank, the smaller the element needed, and the opposite for a bigger tank. Some RV owners swap out their tanks for big tanks and use two elements to heat the water. That brings me back to the fact that it is a little complicated to give a standard watt usage for an RV water heater because it all depends on what size element it has.

How to Find How Many Watts Your RVs Water Heater Element is

The watts on a water heater element are measured through the number of watts the element consumes per hour. To establish the watts that your RVs water heater element use, you need to go to the RVs water heater and look at the back of the element.

Your element is located in the RVs water heater tank, and you must open the protective cover to get access to the element. Once you have access to the water heater, you will find the element and the thermostat together. Written or engraved on the back of the element is its watt rating. To see it may be difficult if the thermostat covers where the watts rating is written, and you may have to remove it.

Another way to measure the watts of your RVs element is to use a multimeter. Here are steps to measure the element’s watts with a multimeter:

  • Get access to the element.
  • The element has a negative and a positive wire connected to it.
  • Set the multimeter to the voltage setting with the black lead in the COM port and the red lead in the Volts port.
  • Place the red lead on the positive wire and the black lead on the negative wire.
  • The volts of the element will display on the multimeter.
  • Write down the voltage measured.
  • Set your multimeter to the amp setting with the black lead in the COM port and the red lead in the Amp port.
  • Use the positive and negative leads again and place them on the same wires.
  • The amp measurement will display on the multimeter.
  • Write down the amps measured.
  • Take the volt measurement and multiply it with the amp measurement to give you the watts of the element.

Remember to use the highest voltage setting on the multimeter to prevent your multimeter from overloading. Electricity is dangerous, and it is best to get the assistance of an electrician or RV technician to assist you.


Establishing how many watts your RVs water heater uses depends on the size of the element it has. Small six-gallon tank elements start at 400 watts and go up to 1500 watts, with ten-gallon tanks having elements as big as 2300 watts and higher. Some RVs have two elements, so you must double the watts. Most elements display the watts on the back, but they can be measured with a multimeter.

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