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Old 10-19-2010, 01:14 PM   #21
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I would be hesitant to use the circuit breaker as a switch. Switches are designed to be turned on and off. I don't think that circuit breakers are designed for this ( I could be wrong, just ask my wife). One of the design features of a switch would be it's ability to cycle back and forth between on and off for thousands if not tens of thousands of time. There are also features like contact cleaning. Some of that arcing that no one likes to see is actually a built in mechanism to clean the switch contacts for a better electrical connection. I would not think a circuit breaker would be designed to cycle on an off for thousands of cycles. I spent many years as a Reliability Engineer in the Automotive Industry and it did not take me too long to figure out when a part was used for something other than it's original design intent it will most likely fail and fail when you least want it to. You don't want the circuit breaker to fail to work when you need it to be protect your asset from a short circuit.
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Old 10-19-2010, 05:22 PM   #22
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rockwood06-I just picked up our new Signature Ultralite 8296SS this past weekend and during the walkthrough with the dealer, the tech mentioned that some people turn the heater off by using the breaker, as you do. However, he said this could weaken the breaker over time and it may start to trip on its own, unecessariily. I just thought I would share that.
This could be true but, it's cheaper to replace the breaker then it is the water heater. My camper is 4 years old and have been doing this since it was new.
Now here is a funny thing about breakers, I have a 60 amp breaker on my heat pump in my house for the condensing unit, in the beginning of the summer I had an a/c problem, after trouble shooting I found that the breaker was bad. Now in most cases if a breaker go's bad it will trip and you can not reset it but in this case I was fooled the breaker was in the "ON" position but no power to the disconnect on the out side wall, so for $16.00 I replaced the 60 amp breaker and the a/c has been fine all summer. Now you have been told that if you use the breaker as a switch it could damage the breaker well this 60 amp breaker in the house has never been used as an on and off switch. The breakers in my house are Cutler Hammer and the breakers in my camper are Square "D". Breaker do go bad once in a great while. If you had to replace the water heater and the dealer did the work it would cost around $600.00 buck, i know i had to have one replaced in my first camper back in the early 2002 because I did not know at the time that I had to drain the water heater for the winter I was new at camping, but I did get lucky the first year, it didn't split. I will take my chances and use the breaker as a switch before replacing the water heater.
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Old 10-21-2010, 09:56 AM   #23
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rockwood06, the recommendation given to Time2Tow, and also given to me (by the same dealer!) it is to use the rocker switch (which is well hidden and hard to reach, if I may add) in the WH itself for what it is designed to do: to turn off the electrical side of the WH. Yes you can use the breaker inside the camper but is it the most appropriate way? I don't know.

Regardless how each of us chooses to do this, the lesson is to make sure the WH is OFF (or at least full of water) before connecting to shore power. This we should ALL agree on.
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Old 10-21-2010, 12:51 PM   #24
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rockwood06, the recommendation given to Time2Tow, and also given to me (by the same dealer!) it is to use the rocker switch (which is well hidden and hard to reach, if I may add) in the WH itself for what it is designed to do: to turn off the electrical side of the WH. Yes you can use the breaker inside the camper but is it the most appropriate way? I don't know.

Regardless how each of us chooses to do this, the lesson is to make sure the WH is OFF (or at least full of water) before connecting to shore power. This we should ALL agree on.

Hear, hear!
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Old 11-09-2010, 06:59 PM   #25
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I am in the same situation, I plugged my unit in and wasn't sure if there was water in the tank. No hot water. I can't find a rocker switch or bypass valves. 6 gallon Sunbeam I believe 626 model. Any help? Thanks
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:11 PM   #26
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Every flight manual for every aircraft I ever flew had a Caution in it with wording that stated:

"Circuit breakers should never be used as a switch."

or words to that effect.

Can you get away with it? Sure. Just sayin...
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Old 11-09-2010, 08:59 PM   #27
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I am sorry if I gave the wrong impression, I use the breaker for long term shut down between camping trips not as a switch as if it was a light.
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