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Old 10-31-2009, 02:32 AM   #1
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Hot Water Heater

Hello fellow Berkshire owners.

I took my unit to the shop today because the hot water heater will not work on electric.
The Service Manager asked me if I had the switch (outside the coach) in the "on" position. I stated "no" because it was the only way to turn the electric on and off. He stated that the switch should always be in the "on" position and that the hot water heater can be turned on inside the coach. I told him the only way the hot water heater can be turned on inside the coach is by using the switch for it to fire off on LP gas. He stated that the switch I was refering to is used for both electric and LP. He explained that the hot water heater would 1st fire off on LP to heat the water up to temperature and then will switch over to electric as long as I am hooked up to shore power. This sounds incorrect to me.
I told him the way I did it was electric on from the outside switch and Lp on from the inside switch. He said it doesn't work that way even though it had been working that way for 6 months.
The 5th wheel I had before I bought the Berkshire had separate switches for LP and electric on the inside which enabled me to leave the outside switch on all the time and I could choose which source I wanted to use for hot water.
My question to all of you is, Does the Berkshire have two separate switches inside(if it does I have yet to find the electric), or electric outside and LP inside or is the Service Manager right?
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Old 10-31-2009, 06:20 AM   #2
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I don't know about Berkshire specifically but most dual heat water
heaters have the 2 heat systems totally independent of each other.
You can have gas or electric heat on or both. As long as the water
is cold enough for the thermostats to want heat they should heat.
You can leave the outside electric heat switch on and then use
the circuit breaker labeled water heater (found in your power panel) to shut if off when not
wanted.
At least that's how I handle mine.
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:19 AM   #3
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Quote:
Is the Service Manager right?
Depends on the BRAND (make)of water heater.


Suburban water heater.
Copied from their web page.

Question:
Can I operate my water heater's electric element and gas burner at the same time?
Answer:
Yes, when taking advantage of available campsite or generator-produced electricity you may operate on both gas and electric for a faster recovery rate.



Atwood water heater.
Copied from their web page.

GAS/ELECTRIC OPERATION. The unit can be run in both gas and electric
modes simultaneously for quick recovery. note: if the gas fails to
ignite, the gas mode will lockout, but the lockout lamp will not
illuminate since the electric mode is still operational. Should you notice
slow recovery, indicating the gas is not working, turn the electric
switch off. The lamp will then illuminate indicating a lockout has
occurred on the gas side. Correct the problem and turn the switches
back on.
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milzat View Post
Depends on the BRAND (make)of water heater.


Suburban water heater.
Copied from their web page.

Question:
Can I operate my water heater's electric element and gas burner at the same time?
Answer:
Yes, when taking advantage of available campsite or generator-produced electricity you may operate on both gas and electric for a faster recovery rate.
Atwood water heater.
Copied from their web page.

GAS/ELECTRIC OPERATION. The unit can be run in both gas and electric
modes simultaneously for quick recovery. note: if the gas fails to
ignite, the gas mode will lockout, but the lockout lamp will not
illuminate since the electric mode is still operational. Should you notice
slow recovery, indicating the gas is not working, turn the electric
switch off. The lamp will then illuminate indicating a lockout has
occurred on the gas side. Correct the problem and turn the switches
back on.
Not from the way I read this. Sounds like the service manager is still incorrect. I have never heard of the electric side being tied to the gas switch inside the coach, otherwise why have an electric switch on the tank itself? The other way to find out, turn off the gas switch and see if the water gets hot with the electric one turned on.

We leave our outside switch on all the time, no reason to turn it off, why on earth would you not want to heat on electric when it's available. We only turn on the gas side from inside the rig when dry camping or for faster recovery.

Nighttrain: Turn on the electric switch on the outside, turn off your gas and leave your rig plugged in for a day and see what happens. Also check to see that your breaker for the water heater in the AC panel is turned on. If no results you need to start tracing down the power with a volt/ohm meter.

I pulled the electric switch out of it's hole on our water heater in preparation for remoting it inside the rig, when I did one of the terminals happend to touch the metal frame and there was a really large spark, indicating that there was in fact 110V at that switch.

I don't trust these RV service guys any further than I could throw one. I have seen them be wrong soooo many times in the past it just isn't even funny.
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:34 PM   #5
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"We leave our outside switch on all the time, no reason to turn it off, why on earth would you not want to heat on electric when it's available. We only turn on the gas side from inside the rig when dry camping or for faster recovery."

The only reason i could think of to turn off the electric switch off is so you wouldnt burn up the heating element if the hot water tank was empty. I do turn mine off when leaving a campsite but when i'm there, i turn on the electric side to save propane. I've found that between the propane heat ( i now have 2 electric heaters in the camper and only use the propane heat for a short time to warm up the trailer) and the water heater you can go thru some propane pretty quick.

as far as service managers go, i know they probably know more then most, but sometimes you just have to take what they say with a grain of salt also.
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:22 PM   #6
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Nighttrain: Turn on the electric switch on the outside, turn off your gas and leave your rig plugged in for a day and see what happens. Also check to see that your breaker for the water heater in the AC panel is turned on.


The last time we camped I tried this. Five hours later water was still cold.

The information I'm looking for from fellow Berkshire owners is there a seperate switch for the electric inside the coach? I haven't found one.

Thanks to everyone for your help!
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:30 PM   #7
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The only reason i could think of to turn off the electric switch off is so you wouldnt burn up the heating element if the hot water tank was empty. I do turn mine off when leaving a campsite but when i'm there, i turn on the electric side to save propane.

This is why I turn the electric off and also I plug in to 110v at home for the fridge.

I'm sorry I can't quite get this Quote deal right when I post.

Once again, thanks to all who posted.
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 06nighttrain View Post
The only reason i could think of to turn off the electric switch off is so you wouldnt burn up the heating element if the hot water tank was empty. I do turn mine off when leaving a campsite but when i'm there, i turn on the electric side to save propane.
I'm sorry, I thought this would be common sense that you would turn off the electric element when you empty the tank. What I meant to say is that IF you have water in your tank AND you have electricity available then why would you ever turn it off.

Also sorry for answering on your post as I don't own a Berkshire but in my over 40 year experience with RVs I have found them to be mostly the same. I would guess that if there was a separate switch inside the rig for your AC heater then you would have found it by now as it probably would have been convieniently located near the other switches. I mistakenly read your first post as you were asking if the service manager was right... My mistake.

Hope you find the answer to your problem.
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Old 10-31-2009, 07:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWJeeper View Post
Not from the way I read this. Sounds like the service manager is still incorrect. I have never heard of the electric side being tied to the gas switch inside the coach, otherwise why have an electric switch on the tank itself? The other way to find out, turn off the gas switch and see if the water gets hot with the electric one turned on.

We leave our outside switch on all the time, no reason to turn it off, why on earth would you not want to heat on electric when it's available. We only turn on the gas side from inside the rig when dry camping or for faster recovery.

Nighttrain: Turn on the electric switch on the outside, turn off your gas and leave your rig plugged in for a day and see what happens. Also check to see that your breaker for the water heater in the AC panel is turned on. If no results you need to start tracing down the power with a volt/ohm meter.

I pulled the electric switch out of it's hole on our water heater in preparation for remoting it inside the rig, when I did one of the terminals happened to touch the metal frame and there was a really large spark, indicating that there was in fact 110V at that switch.

I don't trust these RV service guys any further than I could throw one. I have seen them be wrong soooo many times in the past it just isn't even funny.
I only copied what was on the manufacturers web pages.

I think the Service Mgr. is incorrect also.
I owned a RV with an Atwood water heater and was able to operate it on gas or electric, or both. The last trailer I had was a Forest River with a Suburban WH. As stated on their web page, it also can be operated on gas or electric, or both.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:06 PM   #10
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When I had a Prowler with an Atwood water heater, both gas and electric could be run at the same time. My current Forest River Flagstaff can be run with both. I do not see any reason why yours can't be. All of these are essentially the same, brand to brand.
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