How to Use Hot Water Systems in Caravans/Motorhomes – No Hot Water?


Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

Several times over the years when I’ve gone to great new guests on site I’ve found them struggling to get their hot water system working. Sometimes its new or even experienced caravanners or motorhome owners who have upgraded and they are not familiar with their new hot water system. Or, it can be a guest new to the leisure vehicle experience who has purchased an older second-hand caravan or used motorhome. With both caravans and motorhomes, the hot water system will either be manufactured by Truma or Alde. Some units are just dedicated hot water heaters, others are combination systems providing both space heating and hot water. Over the years new products and models have been introduced. At the same time, new control panels come along and I find many guests who struggle to get to grips with how their hot water system controls. With this post, I want to try and provide information on how to operate hot water systems (Truma and Alde) in newer and older caravans/motorhomes.

Hot Water Systems in Caravans and Motorhomes
Whether you have a Truma or Alde hot water system in your caravan or motorhome after reading this post you will hopefully know how to operate the controls: Original Image – truma.co.uk and alde.co.uk

However, this post is not only about how to use hot water control panels, though that’s a significant part of it. I’ll also discuss how you need to prepare and set up before trying to operate the hot water system in your caravan or motorhome. To start off this post I’m going to discuss the setup and operation of a hot water system most commonly found on ‘older’ caravans and motorhomes, the Truma Ultrastore.

How to Set Up and Use the Truma Hot Water Heater

The Truma Ultrastore hot water system is typically found on ‘older’ caravans and motorhomes. Its a 10-litre water boiler that can run on either a gas bottle (LPG) or from the mains hookup provided by your pitch (if available). Now, this system is still installed on new caravans and motorhomes today. Typically caravans and motorhomes in the mid to low budget category. Higher-end caravans or motorhomes today are typically fitted with either a Truma Combi boiler or an Alde wet heating/hot water system. Those systems today commonly use digital display control panels. First, we are going to look at hot water systems with analogue twist dials.

The video below is the official Truma Ultrastore setup and operational video. However, its possible that the analogue control dial for your Truma hot water heater does not actually look like that in the video below. Over the decades Truma has changed the look of the rotational selection dials several times. However, the general principle of operation is still the same. Its very important before you turn on the hot water boiler you have fresh water, the pump is running and the boiler is full.

This is the official Truma video on how to operate the Ultrastore hot water system.

Its very possible that the hot water controls for your Truma hot water boiler don’t actually look like those in the video above. If that’s the case I would encourage you to watch the video below which is a version of the Truma Trumatic hot water and heating controls.

How to Use the Truma Trumatic Dial Controls

Dave goes through how to use the hot water and heating controls on the Truma Trumastic C series which was also used on the first generation of Truma Combi boilers.

Mains 230V Electric, Gas or a Mixture?

As shown in the video, the first rotating dial is used to select low or high power from a 230V mains hook up or gas. However, you can also select mixed-use which will use both gas and electrical power to heat up the water as quickly as possible. As Dave shows, if its very cold and in the depths of winter you may choose the maxium power of gas and electric initially. Then you could step down to purely mains power once up to temperature.

Summer and Winter Hot Water Dial Settings

The second dial has both summer and winter settings. The upper summer settings mean the Truma system will only produce hot water at either 40 or 60 degrees Celcius. The lower settings on the dia are the winter settings. Hence, on the winter setting the Truma system is producing both hot water and living space heating. The lowest setting will prioritise a hot water temperature of 60 degrees Celcius over room heating. The actual room temperature when on the winter setting is controlled via the central rotating dial.

How Do You Know When the Water is Hot?

On the Truma Trumatic dials show in the video above there is a little orange light on the dial. If you can see the light it means the boiler is working to get the water up to temperature. Once the light goes out the hot water is ready and you can have your shower, do the washing up etc. However, all of these features and their placement is slightly different depending on the particular Truma dials. Hence, check the link below find a download for a Truma manual for your specific hot water system.

How to Use the Truma CP Control Panels

If you have a more modern caravan or motorhome you may have a Truma Combi boiler apposed to the Ultrastore hot water heater. Therefore, this change also brought about a new control panel. The first generation liquid crystal digital display was the CP-25, operational instructions below:

The Truma CP-25 control panel for space heating and hot water was the first such digital control panel offered by Truma.

The problem with the CP-25 was that the screen itself was actually pretty small. Hence, many people found it difficult to tell what settings were actually programmed in for the hot water and space heating. Therefore, Truma replaced the CP-25 with the CP Plus. If you have a CP Plus in your caravan or motorhome you can watch the video below for those operational instructions. As you can see the screen is much larger but importantly the backlighting and text/numbers are much easier to read. Hence, its much easier to actually tell what programs are running for hot water and space heating.

The Truma CP Plus is their most modern hot water and space heating control panel.

What is the Truma iNet System?

If your caravan or motorhome has a compatible CP Plus control panel you may already have iNet fitted or it can be retrofitted to your system. What is the Truma iNet system? Well, its simply a means to control the Truma hot water and space heating in your caravan or motorhome remotely (SMS) or via your phones Bluetooth. As you can see from the video below its quite a fancy bit of kit. You can remotely set the hot water temperature, source of power and use the timer feature. However, you can also control air conditioning systems and even check the level of gas in the bottle! With the required gas level monitor.

The Truma iNet system means you can change the hot water setting in your caravan or motorhome remotely.

Truma is now working with Alde?

In the leisure industry when it comes to hot water and space heating for caravans and motorhomes the Truma vs Alde debate has been going on for many years. However, with the Truma iNet system, it appears the two companies are working now together as some Alde Compact 3020 HE heaters will work with iNet. You can read more about it here.

Operating the Truma Hot Water Heater on Gas

If you are going to operate the Truma Ultrastore water heater on gas and not a 230V mains supply from your pitch you must remove the external cover. The exterior vent for the Truma boiler allows fresh air in for combustion and also vents out the exhaust gases. If you don’t remove the vent a couple of things may happen. First, the boiler may not actually startup as its not receiving sufficient oxygen. However, the cover isn’t airtight, hence the boiler might actually startup. The problem then is with the cover still attached the hot exhaust gases are forced against this plastic vent cover. Someone once told me they have seen a melted Truma vent cover. While I’ve not personally seen it happen, if the exhaust gases from the boiler are hot enough I could imagine that happening. Therefore, personally, even if you intend to run the boiler only off 230V just remove the external vent cover anyway. Say you accidentally turned the dial to gas, with the vent removed there wouldn’t be a problem.

Truma Vent Cover

You’ll find the Truma Ultrastore external vent cover somewhere on the outside of your caravan or motorhome. Sometimes people do lose them, but a replacement cover is easy to find: Image – Amazon

Operating the Truma Ultrastore on 230V Electric (Pitch Hookup)

Just to be clear, there is no option to run your hot water heater from the 12V supply running from the leisure battery. Its simply not viable to do so, it would drain a full leisure battery in a couple of minutes. You can, however, run a Truma hot water heater from the 230V mains supply to your pitch when available. Here at Horton Common, we provide the maxium 16A supply to each pitch, and that’s the most you will find on any site. You can comfortably run a Truma hot water heater from a 16A supply as well as space heating and many other facilities, even a caravan kettle.

What if Your Pitch has Less Than 16A?

Not every caravan site you visit, especially in Europe will provide 16A of power. Some provide 10A, some 6A and I’ve had one guest tell me after their European trip they used a site which only provided 3A. What does that mean? Well, in some cases you may not actually be able to run the hot water heater from a 230V pitch supply as they don’t provide enough power. Truma hot water boilers when running off mains power typically use either 850W (3.7A) or 1,300W (5.7A) depending on which setting you use.

On a 10A pitch, you would be able to use the hot water heater on the max setting. However, you will obviously have less power available compared to a 16A pitch to run other facilities such as a microwave. On a 6A or 3A pitch though its obviously a very different situation. On a 6A pitch, you could run at the higher power setting (just). But you would have virtually no power remaining to run other facilities in the caravan or motorhome. On a 3A pitch, you don’t have a choice. Running the hot water heater from your gas bottle is the only option.

Truma Hot Water Boiler Manual Downloads

If you have lost your Truma hot water system manual or you purchased a second-hand caravan or motorhome without one it would obviously be a handy thing to have. Now, you would probably just expect me to provide a link to the download page on the Truma website. Here it is, however as you will quickly see for some bizarre reason they are missing many of the manuals for their own products. Therefore, I recommend you visit this link to Manualslib.com. They have far more Truma hot water system manuals available on their website than Truma do.

Alde Hot Water Heating for Caravans and Motorhomes

So if none of the control panels above look remotely similar to the hot water control panel you have in your caravan or motorhome, its likely you have an Alde system. Alde has actually been producing hot water and wet heating systems for caravans and motorhomes since 1949. However, its only really within the last decade or so that their use in premium caravans and motorhomes in the UK has become more prevalent. Alde specialises in wet heating (hydronic) systems, with either radiators or even underfloor heating. Regarded by many as providing better heat distribution through a leisure vehicle particular in cold climates than blown air (Truma). Though obviously the Alde systems produce hot water as well.

How to Use Alde Control Panels (3010-213 and 3010-112)

As you would expect, there is not just one Alde control panel found in caravans and motorhomes. The two versions most commonly found in UK leisure vehicles are either the 3010-213 or 3010-112. Now, I would like to embed the two instructional videos on how to operate these control panels on this page. However, for some odd reason Alde have turned off YouTube embeds so I can’t. Therefore if you have the 3010-213 you can watch it through this link. And if you have the 3010-112 you can watch it through this link.

Alde 3010-213 Hot Water Control Panel
This is the Alde 3010-213 control panel for both hot water and space heating: Image – Alde.co.uk

Upgrading to the Alde Touch Screen Control Panel

Quite a few of our guests have Alde heating systems in their caravan or motorhome and the older 3010-213 panel seen above. Its generally seen as not a very user-friendly control panel. It can be difficult to see what settings are in place and how to change them for the hot water or space heating. Hence, a similar issue above with regards to the Truma CP-25 control panel. However, you can actually upgrade the older Alde control panel with the newer (much brighter) touch panel.

You can easily upgrade an older Alde control panel with this much brighter touch screen version: Image – Amazon

If you are finding it tricky to set your desired hot water temp on your old Aldo control panel you may want to consider this upgrade option. Its relatively straight forward as you can see from the video below. Dan from the YouTube channel Meet the Trudgians goes through the Alde upgrade process. It involves removing the old panel (gently) and installing the new touch screen control panel with an adapter plate.

Dan shows how with a light bit of DIY you can upgrade to the touchscreen Alde control panel.

Alde Hot Water Boiler Manual Downloads

If you need to source the manual for your Alde hot water and heating system you can do so through this link. The Alde website has a much more comprehensive range of manuals compared to the Truma website. They also have a separate page ‘what boiler model do I have?‘ This page is very useful if you’re not sure. As well as model numbers it also states the years that particular hot water boiler was in production.

Conclusions on Hot Water Systems for Caravans and Motorhomes

I hope at least some of the information above has provided the details you need to get the hot water system in your caravan or motorhome up and running. As there have been several control panel changes over the years for both Truma and Alde hot water systems it can be tricky to understand them sometimes. Besides understanding your hot water control panel you also obviously need to carefully think about your source of power. Do you have sufficient power from the mains hook up to run the hot water? Or do you need to run the hot water system off LPG? If you do use your caravan/motorhome regularly and do quite a bit of wild camping running your hot water off a refillable gas bottle may make a lot of sense. Finally, you may want to check out my post on Alde vs Truma.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope at some point in the future you also consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common to experience our fully serviced pitches and fantastic views. šŸ™‚

Chris - Site Manager

Hi, Iā€™m Chris, along with my father Robert we operate and maintain Horton Common Caravan Site. Located in the Staffordshire Moorlands Horton Common benefits from expansive views over the Peak District National Park. Horton Common features five hard standing fully serviced pitches for caravans and motorhomes.

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