Zodi On-Demand Hot Water Shower – First Impressions

Continuing briefly on the theme of reviewing our latest purchases, here’s our thoughts on the Zodi Instant Hot Shower.

Now that the warmer weather is here again, we find ourselves breaking a sweat much more often than in winter. Luckily, I found and broke out the good old “solar shower”.

As I remembered, it was much like having a dog peeing on you. Only colder. I know my parents have used it to great effect, but I suppose they are better able to keep it in the sun. I was generally a little miserable fighting the bugs to spray myself down and then try to rush inside before I caught a chill. This year I had the sense to hang it indoors as the sun began to set, and then sit in an oversized Rubbermaid tub and let it pour down on me. Better, but still required a sunny day, and foreknowledge that I would want a shower.

Donna has missed a shower, so it was with some excitement that she ordered up the Zodi, a propane tank fueled device that would hopefully see us through the summer and into our sauna.

It arrived, and she was very crestfallen to read over the numerous safety suggestions. No indoor use, no use within 15′ of combustables. This pretty much makes it only useable in the middle of a large concrete slab or desert.

After just looking at the box for a week or two and debating whether we were going to send it back, or take the safety rules as suggestions, we finally decided that our yurts could be well ventilated (or already were!), and that with a fire extinguisher nearby, it should be worth trying. My argument is that many people in enclosed cabins don’t hesitate to use propane powered lanterns, which admittedly burn slightly less fuel.

At last we decided to give it a try. I assembled our fire extinguisher, opened up the dome and some windows, checked the batteries in the CO detector, and then set up the Zodi.

Everyone was excited to see how it worked. I volunteered to be the guinea pig.

After inserting 4 D cell batteries in the pump and filling up the reservoir with some ice cold water direct from our well, I hit the red button and success! We had running water!

Next, I turned on the propane and hit the piezo starter button. With a knuckle-singeing “whoomp!” a blue fireball puffed out and then the heater settled into the hissing everyone is familiar with.

Soon condensation began to build up on the bottom of the heater – as expected and clearly mentioned in the Zodi instructions.

I felt the output of the water – it was cold. This was marginally better than the ice cold that we had begun with, so that was at least in the right direction. As many previous reviewers had suggested, I placed the output back into the reservoir to recirculate, and after about ten minutes, things had warmed up enough to consider the water above room temperature.

I would have to say that it could not even be charitably called an “instant” hot shower. It works, but it takes time to heat water. I suspect that it could be nearly as easy to purchase only the pump and a bucket, and then heat water on your stove and mix to your own preference before showering, but this is kind of fun.

Kenny volunteered to be my personal shower stand – with the added benefit that I could just name a body part and get it sprayed.

While I believe we are going to keep the Zodi and try to mount it at our sauna and arrange it in a more comfortable situation, if I were simply looking for a car camping solution, my bucket and pump idea would likely be a much more attractive option.

If anything changes, I’ll try to update.


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