Originally Posted by Play Harder
When I picked mine up - I was told if electric switch on outside was left on it would automatically switch between gas and electric depending if your plugged in out.. - seems true - I got hot water and not hooked to power switch on - guess I'll have to look to see if there is flame burning when I hook to power to confirm.
Get out and Play Harder��
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Never seen or heard there being anything automatic on the Suburban water heaters. You may want to research this, as the person telling you it, may not have known better.
You have two separate systems of heating...propane or the electric heating element. Each system has it's own switch.
The propane side has a switch to turn on/off the DSI (Direct Spark Ignitor) which makes the electric generated sparks to ignite the propane. The propane side can be used at any time, provided you have propane and 12 volt DC power.
The electric side has it's own separate switch to turn on/off the electric heating element inside the water heater. You can only use the electric side when plugged into some form of 120 volt AC shore power/generator.
You can have both sides turned on at the same time (remember nothing automatic, it's all manual with the flip of switches)..or use one or the other depending on your needs and availability of 120 volt power.
Problem is, if you leave that electric switch on, and drain the water out of the heater, then you will burn up the electric heating element the next time 120 volt power is connected........as it's not automatic.
This FAQ may help explain it further:
Suburban's electric switch and much more