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Old 03-31-2016, 10:13 PM   #21
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Is the breaker for the WH a 15 amp? Some in the linked threads say to use #12 wire but #14 should be fine for just 15 amps, correct?
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Old 03-31-2016, 10:43 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by boondocking View Post
A breaker is not switch, but it don't hurt them to be used like a switch.
Actually that's not correct. Check the NEC. Unless a breaker is marked "for switch duty" it should not be used as such. Can you do it? Sure. How long will a breaker last when used as a switch? It depends. For most campers, we can get away with it because we simply don't "switch" it that often. However, we all know how most rv's use really high quality parts right? My concern is the potential overuse of a cheap part not designed for that use. A breaker is not normally designed for switch service. And here's the question...what do most people do when it fails? Of course it depends on the nature of the failure, but most folks have to haul it to the rv shop for a $100 repair of a $2 part. Most breakers fail in an "open circuit" position, but not always.

Anyway, I try to not use my circuit breakers as switches, because when I really need it to be a circuit breaker, I want it to be a good circuit breaker....but that's me.
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Old 03-31-2016, 11:03 PM   #23
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Breakers are inexpensive and simple to swap.
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Old 03-31-2016, 11:31 PM   #24
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I was the maintenance manager at a recreation center for 12 years. There were 35 breakers (were not marked "for switch duty") that were used for the lighting. They were all turn off at night and on in the morning via the breaker 365 times a year. They were turned on and off 4380 times while I worked there and never ever had to replace even one of them. Didn't seem to hurt them.
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Old 04-01-2016, 12:38 AM   #25
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Per the National Electrical Code- NEC 240.83(D)....the acronym is "SWD" or also could be "HID" marked on the breakers, and can be used for switching Fluorescent lighting on/off on a regular basis. HID (Metal Halide, High Pressure Sodium, etc.) requires a breaker marked "HID" when using the breakers as the primary switches. Using these breakers for any other purpose is technically a violation of its installation instructions from the manufacturer and the 3rd party listing (UL, CSA, etc.).

The argument by some, and what was also was stated here in a previous post, is that the standard breakers in the RV work just fine for repeatedly switching on and off W/H's or anything else. This is essentially no different than saying that I used speaker wire to wire a switch to a light fixture and the fixture turns on and off when I want it to, and it works fine. Yea it works....but then everyone acts so surprised when a fire or other melting event occurs down the road.
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Old 04-01-2016, 03:50 AM   #26
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Be careful people, this is what happens when you switch a breaker on and off to many times.
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Old 04-01-2016, 06:29 AM   #27
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15 years ago our old Mallard had the switch for the water heater electric unit inside. Wish the WJ did too. I like the idea of the circuit and will check that out. We usually use propane but occasionally need the electric boast. When parked at home we use the electric to keep the tank warm on these colld spring nights. Darn Ohio weather. Wish it would get warm and stay there!
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Old 04-01-2016, 07:08 AM   #28
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In all 3 5vers I have had.....they all had Suburban water heaters....I installed a lighted switch inside the 5ver. I leave the little black one on under the panel door and turn it on or off inside. The little red light always reminds you it is on. I just found the romex that goes to the water heater and split the wire there. I never did use just the breaker to turn it on and off.....always figured the breaker is not a switch and was worried it would wear out quicker. The lighted switch was about 12 bucks and took about 30 minutes to install.
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Old 04-01-2016, 07:55 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boondocking View Post
I was the maintenance manager at a recreation center for 12 years. There were 35 breakers (were not marked "for switch duty") that were used for the lighting. They were all turn off at night and on in the morning via the breaker 365 times a year. They were turned on and off 4380 times while I worked there and never ever had to replace even one of them. Didn't seem to hurt them.
Yep, commercial duty equipment in commercial application. Personally, I would not use an rv breaker this way, as I think it's asking for trouble in time. It's just too easy to install a $6 lighted switch in a convenient location. But that's me.
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Old 04-01-2016, 08:23 AM   #30
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But that's me.
IMO, this might be the most important thought in this entire thread. All this depends on how one uses his/her water heater.

I never boondock; I always camp at sites with electricity and water; I almost never use propane to heat water; I use the electricity paid for by my site fee. My WH switch for the electric side is off all the time I am not at a site. When I arrive and hook up my city water, I'm standing next to my WH so I reach over and turn on the electrical system switch. I know where it is because it has been in the same place in all 4 of my trailers.
When I pack up to leave and I'm ready to disconnect city water, I'm standing next to the WH so I turn off the electrical switch. Even though I connect the trailer to 50a service when I get home, I don't need hot water there so I don't turn the switch back on until I hook up city water on my next trip. I winterize and de-winterize at home and always with the WH off so I have no prospect of burning out my electrical element by turning it on with no water in the tank. I have never had the need/want to turn on/off my WH's electric element from inside my trailer... but as Davidg says "that's just me."
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