Smarttek Black vs Joolca Hottap V2
G’day guys and girls, today I will be doing a comparison post on two of the more popular camping hot water systems on the market today, the two I was interested in for my 4WD touring build.
I will be comparing the Smarttek Black vs Joolca Hottap V2 hot water systems, but there are some things to note before we get started.
Firstly, this comparison goes into numbers, I haven’t used both of these units so won’t be providing any anecdotal evidence, beyond the fact that both have generally good reviews online.
Secondly, I do own the Smarttek Black unit with the 6 litre per minute pump (eBay link), but I bought it with my own money and am not here to convince others to do the same. However I will explain why I bought this unit towards the bottom of the Smarttek Black vs Joolca Hottap V2 post, after the comparisons.
To read about how I set the shower up differently for summer and winter see here.
So I will be comparing the numbers, then briefly pointing out a few things that might be worth considering if you are looking to purchase one of these two units.
I know there are other units available, perhaps even better units, but these two seem to be up there in terms of numbers sold.
Before we get into the comparison, I will just briefly touch on these two companies.
So you like comparison posts? I have a few, here’s a handful but there are more:
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Founded in 2014 (according to LinkedIn) and with a head office in Coffs Harbour, Smarttek are the largest supplier of portable hot water systems in Australia.
They pride themselves on being a premium brand, with their goal being to provide safe, reliable hot water for people to be able to stay in the outdoors longer.
There two products at the moment are the Smarttek Black and the Smarttek Lite, with a bunch of accessories to go with them and make them more suited to your needs.
Smarttek products can be found in stores such as Tentworld, Snowy’s, Anaconda and lots of smaller outdoors retailers, which make them readily available in all population centres
Visit the Smarttek website here.
Founded in 2012 (according to LinkedIn) and with a head office in Coburg, Joolca appear to be a large company that ship both locally and overseas.
Joolca pride themselves on creating home comforts for outdoor use and aim to make things that work together more seamlessly so that it is easier to get into the outdoors.
They only sell the one product, the Joolca Hottap V2, but it is already lighter than the Smarttek Lite so there is no need for a different product. They also have a full range of accessories to complement the Hottap.
Joolca appear to run entirely online, I cannot seem to see any evidence of physical stock in retail stores. They used to be sold at Snowy’s but that is no longer the case.
Visit the Joolca website here.
Smarttek Black vs Joolca Hottap V2 Comparison
So we know briefly what each unit is, but let’s get into comparing the Smarttek Black vs Joolca Hottap V2!
All of the information we will look at will be based off of the numbers given by the manufacturer’s on their websites, then I will go through anything I know to be untrue or things that need clarification later on in the post.
Smarttek Black vs Joolca Hottap V2 Comparison Table
Let’s start with a comparison table, I have included a third column here for the Kickass product, but will not be discussing it in much detail. It was part of my original research though and have left it in for others who might find it interesting.
Note – The kickass product appears to be removed from their website, so may not be in production anymore.
For the sake of this Smarttek Black vs Joolca Hottap V2 comparison to be as even as possible we need to note a few things.
Firstly, the Joolca comes in a kit called the Outing Kit which contains things such as a 5 metre shower hose, shower head holder, water filter for river water, gas quick connects and a stand.
For the large majority of people this is what would be purchased, these items are more expensive if bought separately, so we use the Joolca Hottap V2 Outting kit as the benchmark for accessories.
This is why with the Smarttek Black we have a list of extra accessories in the table, so that it is as fully featured as the Joolca is for the comparison, with the same abilities.
It is also why we are using the Smarttek Black with the 6 litres/minute pump, the normal version comes with 4.3 litres/minute.
The Smarttek comes with less stuff, but you get to build it out from there. There are pros and cons to this which we will look at after the table.
I have also included the cost of a carry bag for both the Smarttek and the Joolca, because neither come with a bag.
All prices and even the products themselves are subject to change, comparison done in March 2023.
|SMARTTEK BLACK 6L/M
|JOOLCA – OUTTING KIT
|$248 ($49 for 6l/m pump)
|PUMP POWER LEAD
|PUMP POWER DRAW
|GAS HOSE LENGTH
|SHOWER SPRAY PATTERNS
|SHOWER HOSE LENGTH
|PUMP IN/OUT HOSE LENGTHS
|2 metres (x2)
|2 metres (x2)
|MAX TEMP RISE
|MIN WATER PRESSURE
|MAX WATER PRESSURE
|28 Mj/h (winter)
9 Mj/h (summer)
|3 years (manufacturing)
12 months (accessories)
|GAS QUICK CONNECT
|SHOWER QUICK CONNECT
|5M SHOWER HOSE
|$79.95 (tripod stand)
|SHOWER ROSE MOUNT
(carry bag, water filter, gas quick connect,
shower quick connect, shower holder, stand & 5m hose).
*This is the measured weight by me, Smarttek claim the unit is 5kg but it is not!
Comparing the results
So Joolca comes out as $75 cheaper and it weighs 1kg less? It’s an easy win right?
No, it is a lot different than that.
Let’s go through the results in more detail in order of where they appear in the table.
There are a few things that I won’t touch on here because they are basically exactly the same, or the difference is so small it is not worth writing about.
These things include: power draw, in/out hose lengths, gas consumption, spray patterns, injector size and gas hose lengths.
Also, dimensions, there’s not much that needs to be said there as the information is in the numbers.
The Smarttek Black is cheaper by $160?
Not when you include all the accessories, but also keep in mind that you will often see the Smarttek Black on special, I picked up the 6 litre per minute variant on special for only $349.90
The Smarttek can be had for cheaper and works out the better option if you don’t want all of the accessories that come with the Joolca Outting kit.
But I think you will want some of them, or a decent portion of them at least.
Easy win for the Joolca here.
Not only is the Smarttek Black already 0.7kg heavier as both are advertised, but I measured it at 5.35kg making it 1.05kg heavier!
This is however assuming the Joolca is as advertised.
Once you include batteries in the Smarttek it weighs is at 5.54kg, this really annoys me when manufacturers don’t advertise weight correctly, it’s not a guessing game, weigh the effing thing and then that number is what it is.
Stop cleaning up the numbers to make them look more favourable.
The Joolca wins this easily!
The Smarttek comes with only 2.5 metres of power cable and for some stupid reason it has alligator clips on the end of it. The Joolca has a 5 metre power cable with a much more useful cig socket plug that is a lot quicker to setup and looks neater as well.
Smarttek sell a separate accessory pack for wiring with cig sockets and anderson connectors, but don’t buy it, it is only about $10 to just chop the cable and make your own.
Shower hose length
This is another win for the Joolca and quite considerably.
The Smarttek comes with a paltry 2m shower hose, which I consider such a waste. If you’re like me and go straight for the 5m hose than we have a massive waste of product and material by providing a crap hose in the first place.
The big issue is that 2m won’t get you anywhere. You can’t move the shower head away from the gas bottles, you can’t run it out to do dishes, you’re basically stuck spraying water right at the feet of your shower setup.
Joolca with 5 metres win this hands down, I bought the 5 metre shower hose accessory (tentworld eBay) for my Smarttek.
Max temp rise
These are as advertised and not tested.
The Smarttek will raise the water temperature by a maximum of 42°C which is 7°C more than the Joolca unit at 35°C rated temperature rise.
These results will only be achieved on the lowest water flows with the highest gas usage.
This will not affect the majority of people, but could make a difference to those in very cold climates who need every bit of temperature elevation out of their hot water unit.
Maximum and minimum water pressures
The Smarttek wins on both counts, igniting at lower pressures and being able to withstand higher water pressures as well. This makes it good for unknown tap connections that you run through it when not using the electric pumps.
Australian tap pressures are normally between 500-750 kPa, so both outstrip this pressure rating.
Smarttek have an extra year of warranty at 3 years, whereas the Joolca is 2 years.
2 years is twice what the cheap brands will give you but is only 66% of what is on offer from Smarttek.
Comparing the accessories
The Joolca comes with a lot of accessories, at face value it appears that you have to buy a lot of accessories to make the Smarttek competitive, but the accessories are not all apples for apples comparisons.
In this section I will compare the Smarttek Black vs Joolca Hottap V2 accessories so that you get a clearer idea of where they differ and whether you need them or not.
I feel like you can’t go wrong here, they’re much of a muchness and would be the last thing I based my decision off, but the Smarttek bag is cheaper, however the Joolca bag has a better material in terms of denier rating.
The Smarttek bag has a separate compartment on the lid, but again I wouldn’t say one is better, you might like to keep things separate or you might like to access it all at once more easily.
Although the Smarttek shower hose is extra and the 2 metre one is a waste of material, I do consider the 5m hose from Smarttek to be better than that from Joolca.
It has a stainless steel outer protection that is more mechanically protected and less likely to kink, it also has the off switch in the shower head.
The Joolca hose is actually a 4 metre hose, with a switch, then a 1 metre hose. This means you can have the switch at the shower head, or you can connect the 1m hose to the head and move the switch to the middle of the 4m and 1m hoses.
Good flexibility but I find no use for it and would prefer the simple 5m hose with less parts involved. Again though, this is probably just personal preference as some might find a use for moving the switch off the shower head.
Shower rose mount
Included in the Joolca system is a magnetic shower head holder (pictured above) but for the same thing you’ll need to pay extra for the Smarttek version of this.
I do think that the Smarttek version, which is suction based, is the more useful of the two.
Being suction based it can stick to more surfaces, like an aluminium canopy for example. The magnetic variety will only be able to stick to certain types of metals.
The Joolca shower rose mount does have an eyelet though, so if you carry around a small hook you could hang it off different things.
Joolca include a set of stands in the outting kit, this is a nice inclusion because they’re a lightweight plastic foot that doesn’t take up much weight and is quick to setup.
The Smarttek option (eBay) is an added extra, it is stronger though, more stable and gets the hot water unit to a more manageable height for changing settings as you stand.
So for me, I would prefer the Joolca stands as I don’t mind crouching down, prefer to minimise weight and wouldn’t be too worried about the slightly reduced sturdiness for a quicker setup time.
However I can see the benefit of the tripod stand.
I was able to avoid purchasing this though as I simply hang my unit from an s-hook on the canopy, it is a better height, quicker to setup than even the Joolca would be and was about $2 from Bunnings.
Two different ideas for the same job. The Joolca filter is included, it has a sinker with a protective shroud, so when you throw it into a river the filter will not be sitting in the sediment and should get cleaner water.
Smarttek do the filter at the unit, so the filter is never in the dirt, but the water that you’re sucking in could be depending on the other end of the hose and where it is sitting in the river bed. I’d say the Joolca version wins there.
I feel like you could have dirty water in the hose using the Smarttek way of filtering, so you would want to flush the hose well if you ever decided to go back to an unfiltered setup. Although I think most people would just run the filter full time when it’s connected to the unit.
That shroud can be removed as well if you want to squeeze it into a jerry can.
We see there that a lot of what is on offer really comes down to personal preference.
Some people will like the flexibility of the Joolca shower head, or the magnetic feature over the suction design, others will prefer the simpler stronger design of Smarttek shower hoses.
The same applies to the stands and many of the other accessories.
I am not here to say that one is better than the other, but both serve a purpose for different people. If you need everything that is included in the Outting kit from Joolca, then it presents better value. When you don’t though, the Smarttek can be better value.
Using myself as an example, I bought the following items from Smarttek, click the links to eBay to see current pricing (affiliates):
- Smarttek Black 6l/m – $349.90
- Smarttek 5 metre shower hose – $49.90
- Smarttek gas quick connect – $34.90
- Smarttek shower hose quick connect – $29.90
- TOTAL = $464.60
The Joolca would have cost me $579 (I have never seen it on special) and I would have got a shower hose that I was less happy with, less max water temp rise, 1 year less warranty, higher minimum water pressure required to ignite and less maximum water pressure capabilities.
With this though I would have saved 1 kg in weight, received a filter, magnetic shower rose mount and a handy set of lightweight mounting feet.
So for me, with no need for the mounting feet or a water filter, I think the Smarttek worked out better, but I can see how the Joolca would work out better for others.
The other thing worth mentioning in regards to the Smarttek is the fact that it is easy to find these accessories in store, to look at them, return them, ask questions about them and purchase them the same day that you need them.
Smarttek Black vs Joolca Hottap V2 – Who wins?
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, there is no winner, just two different products that both serve a purpose and both will serve people well.
Hopefully this Smarttek Black vs Joolca Hottap V2 comparison has helped you see what the differences are though, which can drastically affect what you end up buying.
There are things that Joolca do better and there are things that Smarttek do better, for me Smarttek won out and a lot of that was to do with the fact that I could go get it in a store on the day I needed it.
One thing I love about the Joolca is their quick release plate, this would be a handy addition to add to the back of a canopy wall, meaning the Joolca would always be setup and ready to go, Smarttek don’t have any similar bracket.
Hopefully this Smarttek Black vs Joolca Hottap V2 has been helpful and the competition between the two can keep feeding innovation and improvements to the products over time.
The consumers will only benefit from such competition.
What did you buy? Did I miss anything? (I probably did).