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By now, you’ve probably seen the videos and posts from “The Fit RV’s European Vacation” where we went RVing around Europe. One of the things we haven’t shared yet is that we got to spend a couple days at the Truma Headquarters in Munich. (Well, technically, the HQ is in Putzbrunn, but who’s counting.) While we were there, I took full advantage of the opportunity to talk to engineers and gather information about some Truma products you may have seen over here in North America (and some that we can’t get here). This video is the result:
To say I had fun would be an understatement! The video is more or less divided into 5 segments.
- Inside the Truma Combi. Literally. Inside the Truma Combi… while it’s running… and on fire. If you don’t know what a Truma Combi is, it’s a comfort heater and water heater in one appliance that runs on propane, electricity, or both. Besides playing with fire, I learned about the operation of the multi-stage burner, and got confirmation that winterizing the Combi is much easier than people want to believe.
- A History of Truma. Though the company is best known for its RV products today, that’s not at all how they started out. The company really got its start in the aftermath of WWII, when the founder just wanted to teach English after dark.
- The Truma Aqua-Go. While some of Truma’s North American products are adaptations of European designs, this instant water heater was a fresh design created specially for the North American market. This is designed for the way we RV, and it’s got a temperature stabilization feature that puts it ahead of all the other instant water heaters. Also, I can’t resist touching where you’re not supposed to. 🙂
- The Truma LevelControl. This was just released into the European market while we were there over the summer. It’s a product that measures the amount of propane (or butane) left in your gas bottle with sonar. It’s incredibly accurate, and once it knows your bottle geometry and your usage habits, it can even predict when you’ll run out.
- The Truma Mover XT. This product is so cool, it made me want to get a travel trailer. I don’t actually need a travel trailer, I just want one so I can play with the Mover product. If you have a travel trailer, imagine parking it like a remote control toy car! I actually had about 40 minutes of footage of this thing because I didn’t want to stop playing with it because it was so cool. Eventually, Stef made me stop.
But beyond that, both Stef and I were impressed during our visit with the Trumanner (that’s what they call themselves!). Everyone we met had a genuine pride in the work they were doing and the company they worked for. The company seemed dedicated to reducing waste, minimizing their footprint, and looking out for the environment, which are values we can relate to. And the emphasis on quality in all phases of production was tangible (though difficult to show in a video).
There are other things we saw that we didn’t include in the video in the interest of time. But do know that they have a complete factory service center for their end customers; mobile vans to service customers on the road; and solar panels covering much of their roof area (you can see that on Google Maps). All in all, we had a great visit, and we left feeling good about using their products in our own RV.
That’s all for now!
The Combi is a great concept, but the Combi manual says something that sounds like a significant safety issue. The manual says that in “heating mode” the “water temperature will NOT be regulated” and that the water can reach “162 degrees F”.
Water at that temperature will produce serious skin injury in less than 1 second. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says that hot water should be 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
As a Combi owner, how do you manage this risk? In your discussions with Truma, has this issue come up?
I’m surprised that a water heater than can produce 162 degree conditions is even legal.
Interesting find. Clearly, you read the manuals more carefully than most.
We manage this risk by ignoring it. In 5 years with our Truma Combi, the water has never gotten that hot. Not even close. Even while camping at -13F and the heat running non-stop.
Even if the water did, somehow, get that impressively hot, we have a thermostatic valve in our shower, so the problem would take care of itself and we’d save a lot of hot water.
It’s never come up in discussions, but knowing Truma, I’d say that they deliberately created a malfunction condition you would never encounter in real life in their lab one time, and that’s how hot the water got. From that, their lawyers made them put the warning out there. Kind of like “Caution: Coffee is hot,” at McDonalds. Just a guess, but probably pretty close to the truth.
For a product at this price-point, I’m surprised that Truma does not simply include a thermostatic mixing valve inside the Combi itself, to guarantee that the temperature delivered to the consumer has a reasonable upper limit. Choosing a design with a clear hazard (“unregulated” temperature) and then dropping a disclaimer in the manual is the kind of behavior I would expect from the American brands, not the Germans.
Oh well, I’m glad to hear that overheated water is not a common experience with the Combi.
Thanks for your reply.
This is a very cool visit. Too bad you didn’t check out the Truma air conditioners while there, they have a Compact model that you install in a cabinet or under a bed and then duct the air out – that seems like a better idea than a roof-mounted loud unit. Especially as it should be possible to build more sound dampening around it. But I guess those are not yet on the US market, and they’re 230v units so… still, nice video.
Oh trust us. We’ve talked to Truma about their air conditioners…
I am not blessed with a Winnebago or a Truma, but you understand ALL things relevant for someone building a RV 🙂
1. I am following your advice on LI-ion/2nd alternator/Solar, so I will be strong on electric power (I just need to figure a starting point for all electric devices and plumbing to schedule and sequence lead-times.) I will also have the Li-ion monitoring system, Vitrifrigo 2-Drawer Refrigerator/Freezer, and Pen II roof ac.
2. To minimize plumbing, I am going to just have about a 30 gal (indoor) fresh water tank, and screens/filters on (1) sink/drain so I may not need anything but a dummy grey tank depending on circumstances (?)
**A. To make this happen, I would need a Tankless water heater. Since you have helped me select 100% of all my other essential equipment, what would you suggest?
**B. Are there any decent (and worth the trouble and effort) water purifiers for rv’s? Or is plastic gallons of Walmart distilled water as good as it gets?
Thank you for helping me build a van with no Lead-acid batteries and No LP gas (I don’t have the room for LA batteries OR LP tanks!). Again, thanks gratefully!
A: Honestly, I would go with the Truma Aqua-Go. It’s the only on-demand water heater I know of that will not do the freezing blast of water if you turn it off to soap up.
B: We don’t have a water purifier for the RV, though we know they are sold. We do have a filter on our cold water at the tap in the kitchen. We also filter the water we use to fill our tank, and if we are not too sure of the quality, we will buy jugs from a grocery store and use that to fill. We drink the water in our tank, so this is important to us.
We had a Truma AquaGo Comfort installed in our 2008 Airstream Classic 25fb. Works great for our showers and mid bath. The kitchen is the furthest away so the hot water has to travel further before you get any hot water. For washing dishes I wish the water was a little hotter but it’s adequate. Maybe if the Truma heated closer to 130f vs 120f it would be better on cold mornings for kitchen. In mild or warmer temperatures it’s fine. We recently had the remote kit installed and it’s nice to be able to turn to Eco mode when you know the evening temps are getting below freezing without going outside to flip the switch. This sures beats trying to heat 6 gal of water when dry camping. I notice when driving to high elevations the Truma will vent a little water due to pressure changes. I enjoy your videos.
Great Video! Loved the tour! It seems the Europeans have a leg up on us in design and manufacturing. So now that you have been to Europe, when is the Asian RV tour? I saw a video from Japan and they have really tiny RVs. Also what camera do you use for your videos? They are very sharp!
Thanks for noticing about the video. We didn’t change cameras, we just recently started shooting at 60FPS. It makes a big difference!
The cameras used in that video were both dedicated video cameras from Canon. A Vixia HF G30 is the main one, and we used a Vixia HF M41 for some of the B-roll.
Truma Combi in our 59K is superb. As well as the compressor refridge. Kudos to Russ Garfin for going the best furnace/hot water heater and refridge out there. He is so forward thinking like you James. The Truma products are top notch!
Nice. We could certainly use more Truma products in US market. There is a LP tank level monitor available in US – the Mopeka tank monitor (mopeka.com). This works the same way interfacing with phone to tablet with Bluetooth. Available on amazon
The cool thing about the Truma system is that it interfaces with the iNet system that monitors and controls all the other Truma functions. So when they get the iNet working over here, it will all be ready to go!
Wow, that trailer mover was so neat. I have a van and wouldn’t have a need for that, but we stayed at a camp ground for the first time this weekend and saw a couple trying to move their trailer and yelling back and forth for a solid 5 minutes.
I know, right?
Just think of the marriages Truma could save!!! lol
The devices were so cool that James didn’t get grumpy about how everyone made him look short.
At least Truma isn’t a Dutch company!
James, we already have a trailer mover in North America. Canadian manufacturer Alto Safari has this.
Check it out. Great video guys!
Yes, Safari Condo does install a competing system. But most of our readers would be challenged to see or buy one of their rigs.
But interestingly, Safari Condonwere actually there at Truma HQ on the same day we were! So maybe they’ll be installing the mover soon?
Hi, i see your video at the Truma factory,
abut the remote for the trailer, there is also a company in Quebec, Canada that made the same thing to move the trailer
the company is Safari Condo.
it’s very practical and easy to move the trailer, that was one of my first priority when I was looking to buy a trailer.
Hi! Yes Safari Condo does install a competing system on their trailers.
However, obtaining a Safari Condo is a significant challenge for most US based RVers. So their trailers aren’t readily available to most of our readers.