Today, Thursday, October 15, we had lunch with our friends at Truma, the German company named after U.S. President Harry Truman that manufacturers components for RVs.
As most of you know, last year we were selected to test a new entrant to the "tankless" water heater market for RVs.
The product didn't even have a name yet when it was installed in our rig in June 2014.
In December 2014 we attended the annual RVIA industry show in December where it was introduced to the industry and the public. Our job was to talk about our experiences with what is now known as the Truma AquaGo.
You may also recall that December was the time when my Mom was in Hospice. I wrote a detailed article then about how we came to be involved with Truma and our impressions of the AquaGo - 2014 RVIA Show & Truma.
Since that article was written, a production model of the AquaGo Comfort has been installed in our RV. And though it isn't designed to have an interior on/off switch, they used the prior wiring for our old water heater and hooked it up to the old switch so we can turn the AquaGo on and off from inside.
The reason there is no interior on/off switch is the AquaGo, which works on propane only, is designed to be left on all the time. So the only time it would be necessary to turn it off is right before travel (for those of us that turn off the propane when we travel) and then it gets turned back on when you reach the next destination, while you are outside getting your utilities hooked up. But us Americans are used to having an interior switch for our RV water heaters, so we perceive that it's more important than it really is. :)
Soon, that will be moot as we will be able to turn our AquaGo on and off through the Truma app on our smart phones. This can be done already on devices in Europe where Truma owns the majority of the heating/air conditioning market.
Anyway, though we really didn't have a need for the AquaGo, we have become spoiled by it and it is really nice (when on full hook-ups) to take long, hot showers without running out of hot water. Though, in all honesty, we rarely ran out of hot water using our prior 10-gallon tank UNLESS we took back-to-back showers that were a little longer than normal.
Truma AquaGo - Our Opinion
Here's my take on the AquaGo having been a user for over a year now.
First, it depends on whether or not you are buying a new unit with the AquaGo Comfort Plus option. The Comfort Plus circulates water continuously through the plumbing system so you truly get instant hot water at the tap every time you turn on the hot water. For the additional cost over a traditional RV water heater, this would be a no-brainer for me, and I would absolutely go with the AquaGo Comfort Plus on a new rig.
Note: The exception to that last statement would be if I were buying a diesel motorhome that already came with the Aqua-Hot hydronic heating system where there is no separate water heater. However, if the both the Aqua-Hot system and the AquaGo (with separate furnace heat) were upgrade options, it would be a much tougher call to choose between the two. The Aqua-Hot is a more expensive system to purchase, maintain, and repair, but in addition to offering instant hot water, it also provides heat to the RV using diesel fuel (or propane in a smaller model designed for towables).
Now, for after-market installations, it would be hard to justify a $1,000 AquaGo as long as your current water heater is doing the job. However, if your water heater goes out, you RV with more than just two travelers, or you just really love long, hot showers, I would definitely recommend spending the extra money to upgrade to an AquaGo Comfort model. I would skip the slightly less expensive Basic model.
Remember, the Basic & Comfort models are after-market versions. The Basic will take longer for you to get hot water out of the faucet (there is no water pre-heated in the temperature stabilizer), but it will be continuous once it gets hot (however, it doesn't have the freeze protection of the Comfort model because there is no temperature stabilizer.).
The Comfort model also will have a slight delay in getting hot water to the faucet, but not as much as the Basic. If running on the "Eco" setting, it takes about 30 seconds for the cold water in the pipes to circulate out and hot water to come out. In the regular or "Comfort" setting, you get hot water faster, but the burner comes on more often to keep the temperature in the temperature stabilizer (a small reservoir or tank) at around 103 degrees (as opposed to 42 degrees in the Eco mode).
We tend to keep ours on "Eco" mode. For us, it's not so much a matter of propane use between the Comfort and Eco setting as the fact Linda doesn't like hearing the burner come on more frequently in the Comfort setting (even though it is much quieter than the burner in our old water heater).
The one big negative of the AquaGo for most RVers will be that it doesn't have the option of running on electric like traditional RV water heaters. So, from a cost standpoint, it will be a little more expensive for those that are used to heating their water with campground electricity. The good news is the AquaGo is very efficient, and it doesn't use nearly the amount of propane that traditional boiler-type water heaters use on the propane setting.The bottom line is it's much better than the prior "tankless" RV water heaters on the market. Where the others struggle with fluctuating temperatures, especially when flow is low or multiple faucets are turned on, the AquaGo solves that problem.
At one time, the owner of one RV manufacturer told me that he refuses to add the other "tankless" water heaters due to problems and complaints from customers.
Now, there are six manufacturers offering the AquaGo Comfort Plus as either their standard water heater or as an optional upgrade. We will be posting the list as soon as we get it.
Our friend, and the much more technically knowledgeable, Jack Mayer has been testing the AquaGo for New Horizons. Here is a link to his full report (including photos): Truma Continuous Hot Water Heater - Test Report.
In his conclusion he states:
"This is the best hot water system I have seen or used in an RV. With an OEM installation that provides continuous circulation of hot water to the primary fixtures this should be as close to “perfect” as is possible. Even the retrofit system is an improvement over a smaller “tank” system. The Truma system exhibits none of the issues that other tankless systems do."
Most RVers respect Jack's opinions more than they do mine, so those are some powerful words. :)
Okay, on to the Truma LevelCheck.
The LevelCheck was the first product Truma introduced in the U.S. back in 2013.
The LevelCheck uses ultrasound technology to measure how much liquid propane is in our grilling and RV propane cylinders.
We just press it against the side of the cylinder, and where there is propane we get a green light with a beep.
Where there is no propane, we get a red light with a different beep.
And it comes with an integrated LED light for those times you are checking propane levels in the middle of the night.
It beats pulling out our 40-pound cylinders and seeing how much they weigh. :)
The LevelCheck is a handy little device, especially for full-timers with propane cylinders. I'm not sure I'd recommend it for part-timers/vacationers as it's a little pricey at $70, but it might be worth it for those that do a lot of grilling at home.
You can purchase online at their website - LevelCheck.com - or pick one up at the dealers listed near the bottom of the page on their site.
I suspect we'll be hearing more and more about Truma over the coming years. And we're looking forward to learning more about their loyalty program coming out later this year. It's another win-win-win program of the type we like, and it will help AquaGo owners recover a little of their investment with each referral.
As I mentioned in the other post, we really like that Truma is willing to listen to us consumers in the RV world.