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Old 01-12-2014, 05:53 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Southern California
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2014 351DS water heater - gas vs electric

Hello, we have had ours for about 3 months and noticed I am burning through propane like crazy without using the furnace much. I have been turning on the water heater switch on the control panel when hooked up to shore power and now come to find out that is only to run on propane?? I pulled my water heater manual and I do have a gas AND electric Suburban model with the switch for turning on electric outside on the furnace?? This makes no sense, isn't it preferred to run the water heater on electric when plugged into shore power?? Why wouldn't the switch on the control panel allow you to toggle in between the 2? (This was the case on my previous trailer). The switch outside is even taped in the off position - i don't get it, what is everyone else doing?

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Old 01-12-2014, 06:19 PM   #2
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I agree. We have a 360 and the switch inside only turns the hot water on using propane. We have to go outside to turn on the hot water using electric. Really dumb. I have read in this forum where somebody installed a switch inside the RV for this purpose.

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Old 01-13-2014, 07:15 AM   #3
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Be careful not to leave the WH on electric all the time because if it runs out of water the heater elements will burn up.

I agree that it should be automatic. Our Dometic refer in our TT had an automatic option which was really nice. If it sensed shore power it would switch to electric and it that was absent then it would fire up on gas. Some people have added a switch indoors to make it easier. Something else that should be added is some sort of sensor that will turn off electric if there is no water in the tank.
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Old 01-13-2014, 07:50 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ttincali View Post
. The switch outside is even taped in the off position - i don't get it, what is everyone else doing?
The switch is outside because it's easier for the manufacturer to make
it that way AND
it's there so you will be reminded to make sure the water heater tank
is full of water before you turn on the electric heater.
It will burn out instantly if turned on when empty.

Some folks- me included- just use the circuit breaker switch to control
the electric element. Turn it on outside once and ofter that use the
circuit breaker to turn it off later.
You must always remember to shut it off if you are going to be winterizing
and draining the tank!

Some folks leave both LP and electric on at the same time.
This will usually only use electric when you use smaller amounts of
water. IF you take a shower both modes will "fire up" and you can
heat more water faster.
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Old 01-13-2014, 08:13 AM   #5
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KyDan, has placed some tutorials in the FAQ section detailing the operation of the Suburban water heater switches, as well as replacing the electrical heating element if you do accidently burn it up by turning the switch on (or leaving it on) with no water inside the heater.

Suburban's electric switch and much more

Suburban water heater electric element R&R

One more thing to be mindful of is the amps the electric heating element draws when it is heating. It averages around 12 amps. On a properly connected 50 amp RV (which is actually 50 amps X 2 or 100 amps total) this isn't really a concern.........but on a 30 amp RV, it's over a third of your available amps.

When using the electrical heating element on 30 amp service RV's , you will need to be mindful of what else you have turned on at the same time the heating element is heating, to keep from overloading and tripping the breakers.

Mark Polk has some good info for beginning campers, to help them understand amps for their RV
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:58 AM   #6
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Our last MH had a switch inside the RV which would allow us to turn the HW heater on using shore power thereby not using our propane. It was just part of our routine when breaking camp - turn it off. But in the few times we forgot, since there was no shore power to the RV, the HW heater was not running due to lack of "fuel".

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