Difference Between Mobile Home Water Heater And Regular Water Heater

Difference Between Mobile Home Water Heater And Regular Water Heater

Difference Between Mobile Home Water Heater And Regular Water Heater

Is there a difference between a mobile home water heater and a regular water heater? Mobile home water heaters must have a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) safety approval 1. Furthermore, also Energy Star 5 indicates rules for water heaters 2, as they account for about 25% of the energy consumed in households 6, which include the requirement that they need to follow a specific size of pipes 3 when focusing on drainage, also obtain electrical and plumbing permits 4, comply with the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 7, and finally that manufacturers must protect outside hose bibs 9 with a non-removable backflow protector 10 11, this last requirement coming from frequent state regulations instead of federal rules 12.

The difference between a mobile water heater and a regular water heater is that while mobile home water heaters have the cold water inlet connection on the side and the hot water outlet connection on top, regular water heaters have all connections on the top of the vessel. Furthermore, federal regulations from HUD indicate stricter requirements for mobile home water heaters as these homes have usually their framing and structure composed of flammable materials.

A mobile home water heater differs from a conventional water heater. This is mainly because water heaters found in single-family homes typically have a lot more space to install, while the water heaters that are found in manufactured homes must be installed into a particular closet that is either situated inside or outside, of the home.

It is not a matter of which one is best for you, mobile or regular, or if there is a relevant difference between a mobile home water heater and a regular water heater. I will not say, better buy a mobile water heater or a regular one. There are regulations already stated by federal agency HUD that derive from technical specifications of the sources of energy for homes and flammability of the framing and structure of a mobile home.

Supply of EnergyIn a mobile water heater, there are two orifices or nozzles for propane gas and natural gas, and other sources too in some cases. However, in a regular water heater, there is usually one supply source for each device.
Tank CapacityMobile water heaters have usually less capacity than standard water heaters because they have to be installed sometimes in cramped small spaces.
Adjustable TemperatureAll mobile home water heaters need to have a temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve), like standard water heaters. However, mobile ones, have a non-adjustable temperature setting,
Location Of Water ConnectionsStandard water heaters embody all the connection orifices in the top of the water heater tank while mobile water heaters can have them in the sides frequently. However, the location of these orifices does not have any relation with the performance of the water heater.
Installation PricesIt is usually more expensive to install a mobile water heater because the technician has difficulty accessing the connection location. However, when comparing costs, the difference in price is negligible.
Cost Of The Water HeaterMobile home water heaters tend to be more expensive than regular water heaters for the same capacity.
Securing Strap KitMobile homes have their vessels secured to protect the tank while relocating. This strap should be bought separately.
HUD ApprovalsWhereas all water heaters require to be compliant with HUD energy and safety regulations, mobile water heaters have different and stricter requirements, which for the homeowner makes a difference in the final price of the mobile devices.
Insurance PremiumsInsurance premiums will be higher for mobile home water heater installations. Whereas traditional water heaters are included in standard underwriting protocols.
Plumbing Network Pipeline ConfigurationThere could be differences, not always, in the configuration of the plumbing pipeline, and that is why the location of the orifices is different in mobile home water heaters.

Since the space in the closet or storage area is often limited in a mobile home, it is imperative that the water heater is sized to accommodate these smaller dimensions.

A mobile home water heater is constructed differently than those found in single-family homes. The design of these heaters can be largely attributed to their use within modular or manufactured houses, which have specific requirements for installation space due to size limitations as well weather conditions outside that dictate where things need to go on site.

Mains powered models are also available so that you don’t need electricity at your site if there isn’t an access point nearby – perfect when camping but not always possible

It is common for conventional homes to have hot water tanks between the sizes of forty and sixty gallons, however, most mobile home water heater closets are only able to accommodate tanks up to forty gallons, typically 20 gallons. In a mobile home, this is one of the main reasons why you cannot just install a standard water heater.

Furthermore, it is not legal to install a conventional water heater in a mobile home according to HUD regulations.

Homebuilders that construct mobile homes, also known as manufactured houses, must adhere to the regulations established by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Mobile homes are outfitted for certain water heaters, and replacing one may be a time-consuming and difficult task.

Because of these regulations and the cramped spaces usually found in some manufactured homes, the cost of a mobile home water heater is much more than the average cost for all water heaters.

List Of Differences Between Mobile Home Water Heaters And Regular Water Heater Devices

There is an important difference between mobile home water heaters and regular water heater devices, whose main points we are studying now

Supply of Energy: Propane And Natural Gas Available In The Same Device

Water heaters for mobile homes are often equipped with an interchangeable gas and propane connection. They make it possible for homeowners to switch from utilizing natural gas to propane in their current unit. This is among the primary causes for the rise in price, combined with the difficulty in gaining access to the devices themselves.

Why do you need to have both options? The answer is that the manufacturer wanted the product to adapt to many prospective customers: A fixed house is built and outfitted for a single fixed location, where the fuel used is known beforehand by the buyer.

A mobile home can be located in a couple of different locations with different fuel sources, and at the time it is built, probably no idea which fuel will be available: NG at a park, or LPG from a remote property, who knows? So that distinction actually makes good sense.

Natural gas is not available in many rural locations so as with RVs, mobile water heater devices should be able to address all the possible energy supply requirements.

If you select a standard water heater, you have to select between different sources of power, namely natural gas or propane gas, and so on.

This dual supply power option (propane and natural gas) is accessible for mobile water heaters.

Due to the fact that the mobile water heater comes with alternative gas and propane nozzles or apertures, this is the case.

Because of this basic function, this kind of water heater is a little more costly than others. However, this is necessary so that you may utilize the heater regardless of whether your mobile home is powered by natural gas or propane.

These options provide consumers with a great deal of freedom, allowing them to choose whatever source of energy is most convenient for them. Because mobile homes are often relocated from one site to another, more flexibility is required since propane gas, or natural gas, may not be accessible in the location where you are now residing.

As a result of its changeable natural gas and propane nozzles, they can easily switch from one source of energy to another with the utmost efficiency. It’s important to note, however, that this feature is the major justification for mobile home water heaters being more costly than typical house water heaters in the first place.

Capacity Sizes According To Spaces In RVs And Mobile Homes.

Smaller 20-gallon water heaters are very convenient for mobile homes. I had the opportunity to analyze the pros and cons and review several 20-gallon water heaters in this article.

20-gallon is in my opinion the best dimension for a mobile home, in terms of price, space footprint, and duration for a shower.

Mobile homes have to use every available space, which means when it comes to a water heater, it may be behind a panel inside the wall, in a closet, under the sink, or be hanging on the wall. 

Non Adjustable Temperature Range Setting

Mobile water heaters have a water temperature setting that cannot be adjusted by the homeowner. Nevertheless, all types of water heaters are equipped with a T&P valve. And here is, therefore, a clear difference between a mobile home water heater and a regular water heater.

Despite the fact that T&P valves became the compliant norm on the water heater devices, regular home water heater vessels permit the users of the device the capability of adjusting the setting of the temperature of the water as required.

These modifications in the temperature are performed through the utilization of the thermostat as we have analyzed thoroughly in my complete guide about water heaters located here.

This is the temperature and pressure (T&P valve). It opens to release pressure and eliminate the possibility of the tank exploding.

Location Of The Connections

Whereas a mobile home water heater has the cold water nozzle intake sidewards and hot water orifice in the superior part of the vessel, standard water heaters embody all the connection orifices in the top of the water heater tank. The positioning of the connections in the water heaters does not influence the performance thereof.

The cold-water inlet connection in mobile home water heaters is placed on the side and the hot-water inlet is located at the top of the unit, in contrast with conventional water heaters where all connections are located at the top of the tank. A tank model may have two inlets positioned on either side, and this is one special tank model, or on the same side.

There is also one other important differential feature that includes the position of the hot and cold water inlet connections. The connections for hot and cold water, can all be found near the top of a regular water heater. On the contrary, a mobile home water heater has just one inlet connection that is located at the top, which is the hot water inlet. The cold water inlet is located on the side of the heater.

Mobile home water heaters are normally enclosed so that the air intake is choked off with a standard water heater. The mobile home water heater has its air intake on the bottom. The idea is to draw the air from a hole in the floor.

As I explained briefly above, just note that the position of the cold water inlet has no relation at all with the performance.

Mobile Water Heaters Cost More Than Standard Water Heaters

There is a difference in cost. Mobile water heaters cost more.

The price difference between a mobile home water heater and a traditional water heater can vary greatly depending on the model. In general, however, there will be a higher cost associated with purchasing a mobile home water heater as opposed to a regular water heater.

The price is influenced by how easy it is to install the mobile water heater. Some RVs do not have space enough, so it is not easy to access for the technician. Therefore, the costs can easily go over one thousand dollars if you want to install it in a class B or class C RV.

Characteristics Of The Floor

Standard water heaters may not have an installation performed in floors that are flammable, as found usually in mobile homes and RVs,

Space Availability For Installations And Repairs

Mobile water heaters are installed in tight spaces thus being difficult for installation, removal, disposals, and repairs. A door may need to be removed or some parts have to be modified. Some RVs require to modify their wet bath configuration too and this is an extra cost.

They have to be small because mobile homes normally do not have a foundation, so there is no basement to install them. You will rarely see a water heater examination in a foundation inspection checklist during an inspection.

Mobile homes might have a crawlspace but water heaters are not installed there and that is why never a water heater is a culprit when the crawlspace is flooded.

The mobile water heater has to be installed within the living quarters of the mobile home or RV. And there is a key difference between a mobile home water heater and a regular water heater because you could easily see water heater installations in basements.

In fact, I explain here that water heaters for mobile homes are installed in compartments with an access panel that is closed with perimetral hex or square drive screws and has an on/off switch located near the bathroom.

For these reasons, the space constraints, the mobile home heater tanks are smaller, 20 gallons even, but typically at most 30 gallons, instead of 40 gallons that you can typically find in standard tank water heater devices for regular homes.

Corrosion Resistance

A corrosion-resistant catch pan and drain to the exterior are necessary under the water heater.

Presence Of A Securing Strap Kit

One of the most important features is the water heater’s locking strap kit, or securing strap kit. This kit has been developed to make the installation procedure as simple and convenient as possible. Because of its designation, it is also used to hold the water heater in place, which is important because the mobile home is often moved from one location to another.

It is intended to aid in the installation process, but its primary purpose is to guarantee that it stays stationary throughout a relocation or travel.

An included strapping kit is usually supplied since one of the HUD criteria for mobile home water heaters is that they are firmly installed. Regular water heaters must be secured in place with straps, but a kit to do so is seldom supplied with the acquisition of the heater itself.

It is also possible to utilize a securing strap kit for standard water heaters to protect the vessel during seismic movements and this strapping works also to maintain the tank stationary in traditional homes.

HUD Approvals As A Key Difference Between A Mobile Home Water Heater And A Regular Water Heater

The standard tank water heaters have to be authorized by Energy Star and HUD as standardized energy-efficient devices. This approval is requested by the manufacturer of the product line.

To dodge the chance of carbon monoxide leakage into a mobile home when a gas water heater is installed, there must be a complete detachment of the combustion system from the interior air of the home.

This can be achieved by a direct venthole sealed combustion system, although not all direct vent hole or “direct vent” water heaters are HUD-approved, or by installing the water heater in a compartment that is sealed off from the living area of the home and only accessible from the outside.

When a gas water heater is installed, the combustion system must be completely isolated from the home’s interior air to dodge carbon monoxide leaks.

Water heaters that use a “direct vent” sealed combustion system, (albeit not all are HUD-certified) or are housed in a separate compartment from the rest of the house, only accessible from the outside, are two options for achieving this goal.

So, coming from the last paragraph, these standard water heaters have a combustion system separated from the air inside the living quarters or are directly installed in separate places of the house, as those people who install them in a basement or crawlspace where it could be easier to handle leaks.

Those arrangements described in the two paragraphs above are not always available in mobile homes.

Water heaters must meet the standards of the HUD in order to be installed in mobile homes (US Department of Housing and Urban Development, a federal agency) in accordance with Title 24 CFR Part 3280.

Insurance Premiums

Some insurance companies recharge insurance premiums for mobile homes or directly exclude the coverage for mobile water heaters. However other companies insure the latter devices without any problems. So there is an important difference between a mobile home water heater and a regular water heater in this aspect.

To become suitable for its utilization in mobile homes, water heaters for these dwellings must meet certain HUD compliance criteria. It is illegal to utilize a mobile home water heater that does not bear a HUD safety certification. Furthermore, keep in mind that the warranties issued by the manufacturer will be invalidated and claims from the policyholders will almost probably be rejected by the insurer, normally in a homeowners insurance policy.

Differences In Plumbing Pipeline Arrangements

Another difference between a mobile home water heater and a regular water heater is that the plumbing system of manufactured homes is different and not all service providers work on them. All the plumbing phases: Rough-in, Top Out and Finishing can differ.

Therefore the service is slightly more expensive and more difficult to contract.

Some plumbers could eventually perform a task for mobile homes, in the plumbing Finishing phase but many would refuse to intervene in other phases such as the “rough-in” or a plumbing “top out”. In my opinion, the Rough-in phase would be simpler in a mobile home.

In addition, there are fewer dealers of mobile home water heaters, and some big brands do not manufacture them, which means less supply of mobile water heaters in the marketplace.

difference between mobile home water heater and regular water heater
Indication in A Rheem Performance Standard 30 Gallon Gas Water Heater. This unit cannot be installed in a mobile home.

Can I Put A Regular Hot Water Heater In A Mobile Home?

To the question can I put a regular hot water heater in a mobile home, the answer is no. You cannot put a regular hot water heater in a mobile home.

Water heaters for mobile homes will be approved for safety by the HUD. The use of any other kind of structure for a mobile home is prohibited by law, and doing so would invalidate the manufacturer’s guarantee as well as your insurance coverage. Look for a new water heater that is designed particularly for use in mobile homes to avoid disappointment.

Since mobile home water heaters must be small and specialized, they are subject to certain federal regulations and criteria. As a consequence, prefabricated house water heaters are much more costly and hard to install. In addition, manufactured house water heaters are available with both propane and natural gas alternatives integrated into a single appliance.

In accordance with the Homeowners’ Center of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, all prefabricated houses must be equipped with water heaters that have a non-adjustable temperature and a pressure release valve. Installation of a water heater requires that it meet the local construction regulations of the state in which it is situated, as well as that it be owned by the homeowner since rental water heaters are not approved.

Regular water heaters are typically not HUD-certified due to the square intake vent at the base, which is not thoroughly sealed

So Which Water Heater To Use In A Mobile Home? Mobile Or Regular Water Heater?

Regular water heaters are not permitted to be used in mobile homes due to mandatory federal regulations such as the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. Therefore, homeowners must utilize only HUD-approved mobile water heaters in mobile homes.

According to the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, only water heater devices that fulfill the requirements of the HUD federal agency may be utilized in mobile homes.

Photo of author

BY M. Kogan

Hello, I am Marcio. I am an architect and designer, alma mater is Mackenzie. Retired in theory, but an architect never retires completely. Along with architectural projects, I am a filmmaker and have completed some short documentaries. Filmmaking and design are my passions. In HomeQN I write about home decoration and foundations. The goal is to teach homeowners to DYI as much as possible, and when this is not possible, enable them through knowledge, to evaluate service quotations and choose the best service technicians.

6 thoughts on “Difference Between Mobile Home Water Heater And Regular Water Heater”

  1. I live in a mobile home. I bought the used home from a trailer park in a small town. The water heater was for natural gas. I moved it on a farm, where I only have propane. So, I immediately could not use the heater. I found out the high cost and all the special hookups needed, and said the heck with it. I installed an electric heater, and just bought a standard home model. It was only 3 feet from the breaker box, so it was easy to install. I re-used the hole where the old heater vented outside, as a dryer vent after changing the vent head on it.

  2. You know, sometimes I think that the real real difference between mobile home water heater and regular water heater in all of reality is that the manufacturer makes more money by selling the mobile home heater. Gas heaters still pull intake from the bottom just as a mobile home heater. Cold inlet placing has absolutly nothing to do with performance, as the writer of the article says, and knowing what gas you have weather propane or natural there is no significant difference between the two. Except price. Manufacturers win. And I dont condone installing regular water heaters in place of mobile home units. But they would work absolutely the same.

  3. 30 years ago, installing std water heaters in mobile homes was common place. Even our local and state inspectors signed off on them. But it is not that way anymore, not here anyways. If you look at the bottom of a std WH, you will see a square intake vent, which is not on a MH approved unit. A smaller diameter, better insulation that base grade and water loading in from the side are not big differences, but they are different. Yeah, I know the stickers don’t seem like a big deal, but HUD feels differently about the mobile home safety stickers. So with safety and legal differences, I sure wouldn’t install a std water heater in a mobile home. Even if your local code does not go beyond HUD code, HUD is nationwide escept for Indian reservations and such.

  4. The HUD section has nothing to do with locating the Water heater out-side the home only inside the home. A proper slab and water heater enclosure with supply’s located on exterior of the home is not HUD regulated. I highly recommend moving them out of the mobile’s due to the damage they can do to the HVAC ducts and the cheap OSB flooring also the insulation skirt under the home being destroyed by water. HUD already has failed in allowing under gage metal duct, stab type electrical devices and stressed PEX water piping that splits. Protect your investments, HUD won’t.


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