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 mobile home water heater and regular water heater?

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 room to be installed in, while mobile home water heaters must fit into a designated closet that’s either inside or outside of the manufactured home. Because space is often limited in this closet or storage space, the water heater needs to be sized to fit those dimensions. It’s common to find anywhere from 40 to 60-gallon hot water tanks in conventional homes, but most mobile home water heater closets are only able to accommodate sizes of up to 30-gallon tanks. This is a key reason why you can’t just install a standard water heater in a mobile home. Another important reason for doing so is that it’s against the law. Mobile home water heaters must have a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) safety approval.

Mobile homes, also known as manufactured homes, are required to comply with the rules laid down by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mobile homes are plumbed for specific water heaters and they can be quite complicated to replace. Consequently the cost of a mobile home water heater is significantly more.

Mobile home water heaters are different than regular water heaters in three main ways:

Supply of Energy

Mobile home water heaters have interchangeable gas and propane orifices so that the water heater can be converted from natural gas to propane gas operation. This is the main reason for the increased cost, along with the difficulties to access the devices.

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 should be able to address all the possible energy requirements

For a regular water heater, you would have to choose between two types of power supplies—propane or gas before buying it.

When it comes with a mobile home water heater, these two supply power options are available in one equipment. It is because the mobile water heater has interchangeable gas and propane orifices. This simple feature makes this type of water heater a bit more expensive. However, this is important so you can use the heater whether the mobile home runs on natural gas or propane.

These option gives the buyers plenty of flexibility to use whichever fuel source is available. Since mobile homes are often moved from one location to another, more flexibility is necessary because propane (or natural gas) may not be available where you’re at.

They’re able to do this because they have interchangeable natural gas and propane orifices which allows them to be converted from one fuel source to another with minimal effort. However, it’s worth noting that this feature is the primary reason mobile home water heaters are more expensive than traditional home water heaters.

Non Adjustable Temperature Range Setting

All mobile home water heaters need to have a temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve), but they also need to have a non-adjustable temperature setting. And here is the difference between mobile home water heater and regular water heater

Although, T&P valves are standard on all water heaters, traditional home water heaters allow homeowners the ability to adjust their water temperature settings. through the utilization of the thermostat as we have analyzed thoroughly in my complete guide about water heaters located here.

Location Of The Connections

Unlike conventional water heaters where all connections are located at the top of the tank, the cold inlet connection is positioned on the side and the hot water inlet at the top of a mobile home water heater. On some tank models, both inlets may be positioned on the side.

Another point of difference is the position of the hot and cold water inlet connection. With a regular water heater, all of these connections, both hot and cold, are found at the top. On the other hand, only the hot water inlet connection is found at the top of a mobile home water heater. Its cold water inlet connection is located on its side.

Therefore, we conclude for this point that mobile home water heaters have the cold water inlet connection on the side and the hot water outlet connection on top. Residential water heaters have all connections on the top of the tank.

A clear sign of it being for manufactured home comes from the cold water connection being on the water heater’s side.

Hot water connections will always remain on the top

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.

Just note that the position of the cold water inlet has no relation at all with the performance.

Mobile Water Heaters Cost More

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

It depends heavily on how complicated it is to install your water heater. Some trailer houses do not have ease-of-access in mind. As a result, that cost can be $1000 or more.

Characteristics Of The Floor

Regular water heaters are not built to be installed on combustible flooring

Space Availability For Installations And Repairs

Water heaters in manufactured homes are typically in very tight spaces and can be difficult to remove and install, many require the removal of doors, door jams and can sometimes need custom cut access to fit the newer models.

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 check 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 the culprit when the crawlspace is flooded. The mobile water heater has to be installed within the living quarters of the mobile home or RV.

For these reasons, the space constraints, the mobile home heater tanks are smaller, typically at most 30 gal, or much less, instead of 40 gal that you can typically find in standard tank water heater devices.

Corrosion Resistance

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

Presence Of A Securing Strap Kit

Only the mobile home water heater comes with a securing strap kit. This kit is designed for easy and more convenient installation process. From its name, it is also used to secure the water heater in place which is essential since the mobile home is often used to travel from one place to the other.

It is meant to help with installation but is mainly there to ensure that it remains stationary during a move.

Since one of the HUD requirements for mobile home water heaters is for them to be securely mounted, a strapping kit is always included. Even though regular water heaters should be strapped in place, a kit is rarely included with the purchase of the heater.

HUD approvals

The standard tank water heaters have to be approved by a major national rating agency as compliant with HUD standards for energy efficiency. To avoid the possibility of carbon monoxide leakage into a mobile home when a gas water heater is installed, there must be a complete separation of the combustion system from the interior air of the home. This can be achieved by a “direct vent” sealed combustion system, although not all 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 outside.

Those arrangements are not always available in mobile homes.

 Only water heaters that meet the published standards of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under Title 24 CFR Part 3280, “Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards,” are allowed by HUD to be installed in new mobile homes. 

In 1974, The Manufactured Housing Construction And Safety Standards Act was released, setting the minimum safety standards one would have to follow while producing mobile homes. The act was amended in 2010 by the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee to address emerging changes.

This act is important because it addresses limitations on water heaters. The Safety Standards Act tells us of the following rules on manufactured home water heaters:

  • Manufacturers must protect outside spigots (hose bibbs) with a nonremovable backflow protector. (excluding washing machines with built-in protection)
  • They have to comply with the provisions of the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987
  • They need to follow specific sizes of pipes, mainly when focusing on drainage.
  • Water heaters need to be approved by HUD.

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 mobile home water heater and regular water heater.

Mobile home water heaters have different code requirements and must be H.U.D. compliant to ensure they are safe for use in mobile homes. If a mobile home water heater does not have the H.U.D. safety approval, it’s actually against the law to use it in a mobile home. It’s also important to consider that the manufacturer’s warranty will be voided and any insurance claims will almost certainly be denied.

Differences In Plumbing Pipeline Arrangements

Another difference between mobile home water heater and regular water heater is that the plumbing system of manufactured homes is different and not all service providers work on them. Therefore the service is slightly more expensive and more difficult to contract.

In addition, there are less dealers of mobile home water heaters, and some big brands do not manufacture them.

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. Mobile home water heaters will have a H.U.D. safety approval. Anything else used for a mobile home is against the law, will void the manufacturer’s warranty, and will nullify your insurance coverage. Look for a replacement water heater that is made specifically for mobile homes.

Mobile home water heaters are subject to federal requirements given how compact and specialized they have to be. As a result, manufactured home water heaters are far more expensive and complicated. Manufactured home water heaters also have both propane and gas options built into a single unit.

According to HUD’s Homeowners’ Center all manufactured homes must have water heaters with a non-adjustable temperature and a pressure-relief valve, The water heater installed must comply with the local building codes of the state in which it is located and must be owned by the homeowner, as rental water heaters are not accepted. Standard water heaters are generally not HUD-approved because of the square intake vent at the base, which is not completely sealed

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

Regular water heaters are not permitted to be utilized in mobile homes. Therefore, you have to use only HUD approved mobile water heaters in mobile homes.

As per the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, only water heaters that meet the standards of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development can be used for mobile homes.

Also called as a manufactured home, this type of home features a compact size and is specially developed to accommodate the unique needs of a person who is always on the move. Before, these mobile homes are just mere trailers but that all changed when the US Department of Housing and Urban Development created and established the National Manufacturing Housing Construction and Safety Act of 1974. As per this act, only water heaters that are approved by the HUD can be used for mobile homes. This means that conventional water heaters are not permitted to be employed in mobile homes.

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There are some interesting articles here, in this Framing category. I refer to sistering floor joists, as a methodology to reinforce existing floor joists with some emphasis on sistering 2x6 floor joists or sistering with 2x8 instead, and about the building code for sistering joists.

Water Heaters

About water heaters, we have a complete guide about water heater types and I also explain in detail the difference between a mobile home water heater and the standard water heater of a normal house. I also describe in detail how to remove the heating element without an element wrench using just a socket.

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5 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.


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