Retro-Fitting a Portable Hot Water System to your Caravan or Camper (Joolca HOTTAP)

Adding a portable Hot Water system to our Jayco Camper- instant hot water for showers!

The RV and camping industry can tell its own story on just how popular camping (and travelling) has become in Australia over recent years. Sure, camping has always been a favourite past time for Aussies but lately it really has boomed! There are more caravans and camper trailers registered on the roads today than ever before and camping stores are grinning from ear to ear thanks to the increased sales of all the equipment that goes along with any modern day camping trip.

Its interesting to take a look back at camping over the years and see how it has evolved. From primitive basic camping with little more than a swag and an esky to more elaborate tent designs, portable fridges, LED lighting and an assortment of fancy gadgets. Each to their own, but perhaps the innovation of modern camping gear is what makes a camping holiday more attractive these days? The creature comforts that many appreciate at home can now be extended to the family camping trip making the thought of ‘roughing it’ a little more appealing.

11. Great for showering the kids after a swim in the creekThe thought of answering the calls of nature in the bush or forgoing a hot shower for days at a time can often be the reason some people tend to shy away camping and opt for a more conventional holiday…… This brings me to the point of this article. Although many caravan manufacturers are now offering ensuites in their vans with own shower and toilet, they come at a price that not all campers can afford and even then, a camper trailer or tent may offer a more practical option for many individuals- camping is such a personal experience, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Its also important to note that not all caravans and camper trailers have the convenience a hot water system fitted at the factory and hence why there is quite a high demand for after market hot water system- especially for families who require a generous amount of hot water for daily showers (like us). For many, boiling large amounts of water on the camp fire is often not a practical solution.

So what’s the answer? Well…that all depends on the question. For us personally though, we have a Jayco Eagle Outback camper (one of the most popular campers on the market). Ours didn’t come with a hot water system installed. With 3 kids, we really had a need for some kind of instant hot water system, particularly for showers. We wanted an efficient system that could be mounted to our camper that gave us the ‘flick-of-a-switch’ style of convenience we need.

1. Unpacking the LPG Hot Water SystemRetro-Fitting a Portable Hot Water System to your Caravan or Camper:

We have seen all kinds of contraptions in our travels and heard many opinions on what works best- but we were personally quite impressed with the lpg-style instant hot water systems that we have seen advertised. After some research we decided on a HOTTAP system by Joolca to give us the convenience of instant hot water. This system is very similar to the instant LPG hot water systems that you may have seen mounted on the side of some demountable buildings, cabins or even in camp kitchens that provide hot water for washing dishes. The biggest difference with the Joolca system is they are designed with camping and travelling in mind and are a truly portable unit. The similar household versions that are on the market (we have seen people use) have been known to fall a part internally as they were simply never designed for such applications and definitely not designed to be portable- they are actually a safety risk ‘on the road’.

2. The main unit with all the accessoriesThe Joolca units are quite small and light-weight (370mm x 275mm x 165mm and 4.3kg) , we had just the perfect spot to mount one- the unused jerry can holder on the drawbar (with a very minor modification). The unit was able to fit perfectly inside the holder which provided a sturdy bracket in which to attach the unit with mounting bolts. This location allowed convenient access to the existing bayonet gas fitting under the camper (which we also use for our portable BBQ) and connects to the hot water unit using a quick fit connector. It is really a quick and simple process to connect it all together when we set up camp. It is then just a matter of connecting the water source to the inlet via a standard hose connector. The water can be either sourced from a mains water tap or via a 12v pump. Perfect for times where we are able to source water from a creek or river for our showers.

7. Enjoying a nice hot shower after a swin in the creekThe outlet of the HOTTAP hot water system is then fitted with the included shower head via a 5m hose which is a handy length to reach our shower tent/ensuite. The shower head has 3 settings (including a high pressure setting for washing saucepans or rinsing shampoo from your hair).

The gas flame ignites automatically once it detects a flow of water and extinguishes once water flow has stopped- either by turning the water source off or flicking the switch on the shower head, restricting flow. A very simple to install, connect and use system that ticks all the boxes for our hot water requirements.

6. The high quality padded case helps protect the unit from the weatherOur only concern was the units vulnerability to being hit by stones etc due to being located on the drawbar- but we were able to get a padded bag that securely fits over the unit to protect it and keep it from being exposed to the elements.

10. Dual-Control knobs and LCD displayThe temperature can be controlled via a large dual control knob that regulates gas and water flow simultaneously which allows us to lower the temperature when we shower the children and can see monitor the actual water temperature on the LCD display.

These systems are perfect for those with camper trailers, tent set ups or for caravan owners who have a need for a simple add-on system. They are also suited for those with boats, can be mounted in the back of utes/4×4’s. And when they aren’t being used on your camping adventures, you can use them around the home, shed or workplace.

8. Instant hot water for washing up the dishes

A search on the internet for “portable LPG hot water systems” should point you in the right direction. For more info on the Joolca systems check out

Phone 1300 669 500 or email


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