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Old 11-28-2018, 12:00 PM   #1
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Water heater questions

Hi all,

I have a Suburban SW6DE water heater and have a few questions:

1. There is a switch on the lower left corner of the WH that turns the electric element on and off. When I am plugged-in at an RV park and donít need hot water, should I turn that switch off or should I just leave it on all the time?

2. Are the gas and electrical systems on the WH independent of each other? I.E. If I turn on the inside switch for the gas portion of the water heater, will it start up if the electrical element is also turned on via the switch on the water heater itself? Can you use both at the same time or do you have to have one system off to use the other? Iím asking because I turned on the hot water switch inside and the ignition did not light, yet I had hot water because the electrical element was turned on. Iím thinking that I should have turned off the electrical element if I wanted to use gas instead of electric?

Thanks
Rich
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Old 11-28-2018, 12:11 PM   #2
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1. I always left mine on.


2. You can run both electric and gas at the same time. It greatly speeds up the time required to get hot water.
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Old 11-28-2018, 12:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rjpetr65 View Post
Hi all,

I have a Suburban SW6DE water heater and have a few questions:

1. There is a switch on the lower left corner of the WH that turns the electric element on and off. When I am plugged-in at an RV park and donít need hot water, should I turn that switch off or should I just leave it on all the time?

2. Are the gas and electrical systems on the WH independent of each other? I.E. If I turn on the inside switch for the gas portion of the water heater, will it start up if the electrical element is also turned on via the switch on the water heater itself? Can you use both at the same time or do you have to have one system off to use the other? Iím asking because I turned on the hot water switch inside and the ignition did not light, yet I had hot water because the electrical element was turned on. Iím thinking that I should have turned off the electrical element if I wanted to use gas instead of electric?

Thanks
Rich
Yes you can use gas, electric, or both. Both will give you quicker recovery. I leave the outside switch off as I use gas. NEVER turn the electric on with no water in the tank.
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Old 11-28-2018, 12:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by cavie View Post
Yes you can use gas, electric, or both. Both will give you quicker recovery. I leave the outside switch off as I use gas. NEVER turn the electric on with no water in the tank.
^^This^^
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Old 11-28-2018, 12:16 PM   #5
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We have a really informative guide here on FRF:

Suburban's electric switch and much more
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Old 11-28-2018, 12:26 PM   #6
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Thanks.
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Old 11-28-2018, 12:31 PM   #7
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Are you saying that the water heater does not light on gas and the only way to get hot water is with electric?
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Old 11-28-2018, 12:39 PM   #8
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The amp draw for the WH is about 10 amps. Add in your air conditioner and converter and you’re approaching 30 amps. If you have a 30 amp RV you’re going to trip a main breaker when the microwave comes on.

Not a problem but something to consider.
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Old 11-28-2018, 12:43 PM   #9
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Very good question! I have the same water heater in my 2004 Forest River Georgetown 359t motorhome. You can use both the gas and electric at the same time if you need to heat water very rapidly. I always leave the switch in the off position unless I plan on using the electric heat. The reason you ask? If by chance you should happen to drain your water heater tank while winterizing or cleaning out the sediment doing routine maintenance while plugged in or using the generator, the element will instantly burn out since there is no water to limit the heat build up. I alternate using both gas and electric just to give both a workout and to ensure that both are working properly. I bought my motorhome used and the previous owner must have drained with the tank on as the element was burnt and melted. about $10 to replace plus another $7 for the socket to remove the element. An easy job to replace but a little care will prevent this. Hope this information helps. By the way I don't see much difference in the speed the water heats using gas or electric. I think its about the same. Propane is more expensive then electricity but if electricity is not available then you have no choice. Also note, some models have a lighted switch which makes it easy to see, mine does not so I have to be extra careful to see the switch position. Both units work independent of each other and should work using either or at the same time. The gas my not have fired because the electric had already heated the water and prevented the gas from firing. There is a temp control which will maintain the heat but not over heat. That's why at night you can hear the gas water heater cycling on and off all night.
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Old 11-28-2018, 12:52 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the info! Yes I did have a problem. Long story let me sum up:

1.Drained tank, replaced anode.
2. Found that the element wasn’t heating up with the switch on. No AC voltage at element. Element reads 10,5 ohms which is good. Replaced the switch in the water heater. Still no aC volts on element. It didn’t trip the overheat sensor as far as I could tell. Pushed reset button anyway. Still same thing. Breaker is fine. Gave up at this point instead of trying to track down a wire, loose crimp etc.
3. Tried the gas DSI system and it didn’t work. Walked outside, turned the switch in the water heater off, tried the DSI switch inside the rig again and voila, it started and heated the water using Propane.
That’s why I asked if they are dependent on each other or not.

The really weird thing is that the element started working by itself today when yesterday it didn’t have any voltage on it.

I’m perplexed how the heating element can just start working by itself today when it had no voltage yesterday. Then the DSI started working after turning the water heater element switch off. Which shouldn’t matter if independent.

Sorry for the length of the response but this is an interesting (albeit odd) set of circumstances.
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