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Old 06-04-2016, 12:09 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dgibbs1955 View Post
OK, here we go again.....
In my XLR Viper, on the Master Panel inside the 5er, is a switch for the Water Heater, along with a little indicator that says "DSI FLT" which I know what that means. No matter what position the switch on the actual water heater is in, I still have to turn ON the switch at the Master Panel.
My problem is at the switch on the water heater. With it in the "OFF" position (which means that propane will be used) and the bottles open, the water heater lights off just fine. When that switch is put to the "ON" position, and the bottles are open, the burner still fires up. Keep the switch in the "ON" position and close the bottles, and I hear the ignitor trying to light off. This is the position where the electric heating coil should be used, not the propane burner.
Thus my problem and the jest of the original question....has anybody had this switch go out on them and how hard was it to change??? Where did you get a new switch from? I am inclined to go to some place like Fry's or something like that.
OK, Let's try to put this simply.

The switch inside the RV ONLY goes to the propane side and is to the DSI to light the propane. It has to be ON for your propane to work. You turn it off, no propane/dsi. You turn the propane cylinders off, also no propane DSI. With no propane, then DSI cannot ignite the propane. You have to have your cylinders open, and the inside DSI switch on...to use propane.

The black switch outside on the face of the water heater ONLY controls the electric heating element. You turn it on, the silent electric heating element comes on. You turn it OFF, then you turn off the electric heating element. This outside switch has no effect whatsoever on the propane/dsi. They are two separate heating systems to the water heater.

There is nothing automatic either, it's all manual. If you have that inside dsi switch on, it will try to light using the dsi for three attempts till it goes into lockout mode. You can't just turn off the cylinders and expect the propane/dsi to switch over automatically to the electric heating element. If you don't want to use propane/dsi, you just turn it's switch off and keep it off.

The thermostats (and there are two, one for propane, and one for hte electric heating element) are on the face of the water heater under the rubber covers that say RESET. When the temp of the water gets to it's preset temp, then the thermostats turn off their respective sides....depending on which switches you have on. When the water temp falls, then the thermostats allow whichever sides switch is turned on, to energize and heat the water. It can be both the electric and propane at the same time, if you have both switches on to these, and this get's you the fastest heated water (aka recovery) That's the only thing that is automatic.

The link I put on post #2, explains this in much greater detail.
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Old 06-04-2016, 12:23 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by dgibbs1955 View Post
OK, here we go again.....

In my XLR Viper, on the Master Panel inside the 5er, is a switch for the Water Heater, along with a little indicator that says "DSI FLT" which I know what that means. No matter what position the switch on the actual water heater is in, I still have to turn ON the switch at the Master Panel.

My problem is at the switch on the water heater. With it in the "OFF" position (which means that propane will be used) and the bottles open, the water heater lights off just fine. When that switch is put to the "ON" position, and the bottles are open, the burner still fires up. Keep the switch in the "ON" position and close the bottles, and I hear the ignitor trying to light off. This is the position where the electric heating coil should be used, not the propane burner.

Thus my problem and the jest of the original question....has anybody had this switch go out on them and how hard was it to change??? Where did you get a new switch from? I am inclined to go to some place like Fry's or something like that.

I think you're still missing it.....

The 2 switches inside the trailer on the panel with the other controls are for electric and dsi/propane. They are independent of each other, meaning you can run a water heater off of electric, propane or both. Both switches on means you are heating water with electric and propane at the same time.

The switch on the unit itself is for electric. You turn that switch on to activate the electric just because you turn this switch on doesn't mean the electric will start right away, you still have to have the "other" switch on (the one by the dsi/propane switch).

To run the water heater on electric and propane at the same time all three switches have to be on.

To run just electric turn all switches on except dsi/propane

To run just dsi/propane turn off the electric switch by the dsi switch and turn dsi to on.

You can permanently leave the switch on the unit "on" all the time.
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Old 06-04-2016, 12:31 PM   #13
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I think you're still missing it.....

The 2 switches inside the trailer on the panel with the other controls are for electric and dsi/propane. They are independent of each other, meaning you can run a water heater off of electric, propane or both. Both switches on means you are heating water with electric and propane at the same time.

The switch on the unit itself is for electric. You turn that switch on to activate the electric just because you turn this switch on doesn't mean the electric will start right away, you still have to have the "other" switch on (the one by the dsi/propane switch).

To run the water heater on electric and propane at the same time all three switches have to be on.

To run just electric turn all switches on except dsi/propane

To run just dsi/propane turn off the electric switch by the dsi switch and turn dsi to on.

You can permanently leave the switch on the unit "on" all the time.
The OP has not stated he has two INSIDE switches and could very well just have one. There has been a lot of confusion as of late as to which model Suburban water heaters members have

If there is only one inside switch, it's a model SWDE

If there are two inside switches, then it's a model SWDEL

We need to always make sure which model Suburban we are discussing, so as to tailor the advice correct. It will just confuse members more if we offer advice for one, when it's the other one they actually have.

The link in post# 2 here tells these differences in models.
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Old 06-04-2016, 12:35 PM   #14
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Mr. Dan,
I agree with the first half of your statement, but not the rest. My 5er only has 1 switch to change from Propane to Electricity and it is on the Water Heater itself. To help in my troubleshooting of this problem, I heated my tank using propane. After 3 hours I went and checked to make sure that I had Hot water and I did...I then flipped the switch to the "ON"position for the rest of the night, thus requiring the system to use electricity only. I had also turned off the propane bottles.
The next morning I checked my Master Panel and had the "DSI FLT" indicator glowing, indicating that the Water Heater tried to lite off and couldn't because I had the bottles off, and the water was no longer HOT, thus the element did not try to keep the water hot and tried to use propane
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Old 06-04-2016, 12:40 PM   #15
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You do know that when the "DSI FLT" light is illuminated that just means there was NO flame detected at water heater. This is a fault light hence the FLT. It does not indicate that something is "on". I believe that is what is confusing you.
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Old 06-04-2016, 12:43 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by dgibbs1955 View Post
Mr. Dan,
I agree with the first half of your statement, but not the rest. My 5er only has 1 switch to change from Propane to Electricity and it is on the Water Heater itself. To help in my troubleshooting of this problem, I heated my tank using propane. After 3 hours I went and checked to make sure that I had Hot water and I did...I then flipped the switch to the "ON"position for the rest of the night, thus requiring the system to use electricity only. I had also turned off the propane bottles.

Turning the electric heating element switch on does NOT require the system to use electric only. It just adds electric to the heating capabilities. Your system will still use propane as long as the DSI switch is still manually turned on. When the water cooled off, the thermostat tried to get the DSI to come on and try to ignite the propane. Since you had the cylinders closed the DSI could not light the non existent propane, and thus your fault light.


The next morning I checked my Master Panel and had the "DSI FLT" indicator glowing, indicating that the Water Heater tried to lite off and couldn't because I had the bottles off, and the water was no longer HOT, thus the element did not try to keep the water hot and tried to use propane
You may have either a bad electric element switch, or most likely have burned up the element, which is also explained in the link in post #2. Your electric heating element side of your water heater is most likely not working. You will need to use propane until you fix the electric element side.

Many people never use the electric heating element anyway, and RV just fine their whole lives.
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Old 06-04-2016, 12:45 PM   #17
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Ok scratch last post. There is no switch to switch between gas and electric. One switch on/off for gas and outside switch on heater is on\off for electric. You can turn them both on for faster heating.
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Old 06-04-2016, 12:54 PM   #18
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Mr. Dan,
I agree with the first half of your statement, but not the rest. My 5er only has 1 switch to change from Propane to Electricity and it is on the Water Heater itself. ....
I believe you are wrong BUT if you are correct, you have a water heater system the likes of which I have never seen and I've seen plenty of RV water heaters. If you think I'm wrong, that's OK... but please read and understand what wmtire is telling you with pointers to posts that have been around for months with no amendments.

As far as I know, there is no "switch to change from Propane to Electricity" on any RV water heater.
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Old 06-04-2016, 01:02 PM   #19
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I believe you are wrong BUT if you are correct, you have a water heater system the likes of which I have never seen and I've seen plenty of RV water heaters. If you think I'm wrong, that's OK... but please read and understand what wmtire is telling you with pointers to posts that have been around for months with no amendments.

As far as I know, there is no "switch to change from Propane to Electricity" on any RV water heater.
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Old 06-04-2016, 01:41 PM   #20
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No Heating in the DSI mode

To all responders,

I appreciate all your inputs and don't mean to get any dandriff up.....
I do in fact have a SW12DE Suburban Water Heater in my 5er. In the 3 years that I lived in it full time while traveling for work, I have never used propane as my source of heating the tank. Why pay for propane when the electricity is free.

I just pulled the switch out of the Water Heater itself and checked the continuity and all is good. I put in a brand new heating element when I winterized this past year, so the chances of that being bad are slim. I made sure that the tank was full of water prior to turning ON the Master Panel switch and now you know where I stand Not much else remains in the system that I am aware of......I am trying again with the Water Heater switch in the "ON" position and the propane tanks closed. Will check the water in a couple of hours.
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