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Old 02-28-2015, 11:56 AM   #1
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LP/Electric water heater but no electric switch on panel

During my PDI on my Vibe Extreme Lite 268RKS, we had looked at the water heater from outside and the guy told me it was a combo propane and electric heater. I was pleasantly surprised at this since I can save LP and use electric.

Inside, we were looking at the master control panel and there was only one switch for the water heater. When we flipped it, we could hear the burner kick in. I asked how to turn it on for electric use and he scratched his head. He finally opened up the breaker panel and saw that the breaker for the water heater was off and said that I would need to control it with the breaker. Seems odd to me.

There *is* a small switch in the outside access to the heater that he said was a safety switch.

All I've ever had was a pure propane water heater so I'm kind of confused by this one. Is it normal to control the heater via the circuit breaker? Should I leave the breaker on and use the switch in the outside access panel? That seems like a more logical way to do it - except that it's outside. Not a big deal really but it just seems like this would have been run inside to the mater panel.

Thanks
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:22 PM   #2
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The switch inside the outside door is the main electric switch for the HWH. Controlling it by the breaker is an option.
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:26 PM   #3
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Just make sure there's water in the hot water heater tank before turning on the electric side of the water heater otherwise you could burn out the electric heating element.
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:27 PM   #4
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You have a very common question and one that is often overlooked in a PDI. This FAQ may help:

Suburban's electric switch and much more

You may need to pay attention as to what electrical items you have on at one time (with the water heater electric element) if you have a 30 amp RV. It's also explained in the link above.

P.S. it doesn't sound like the person conducting this PDI was at all familiar with the operation of a Suburban water heater. He may need to read the link too.
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Old 02-28-2015, 01:40 PM   #5
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You can install a switch on the inside of your trailer near you circuit breaker panel. You must find a location where you can feed a wire from and route it to you breaker panel. Wire the switch in series (one wire to breaker on one wire to the disconnected original water heater wire) with the hot wire off the breaker that protects the electric side of the water heater. Hopefully the trailer manufacturer did not put something else on this circuit as FR did in mine. My trailer had the refrig and water heater on same circuit- terrible design.
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Old 02-28-2015, 01:40 PM   #6
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Forgot to mention with this setup you leave the outside switch on all the time
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
You have a very common question and one that is often overlooked in a PDI. This FAQ may help:

Suburban's electric switch and much more

You may need to pay attention as to what electrical items you have on at one time (with the water heater electric element) if you have a 30 amp RV. It's also explained in the link above.

P.S. it doesn't sound like the person conducting this PDI was at all familiar with the operation of a Suburban water heater. He may need to read the link too.
Thanks very much for this - clears things right up. Sorry I didn't find it in a search before asking.

I was aware of the danger of turning on the electric heater with no water in the tank but it begs this question; are people emptying their hot water tank between trips? I don't plan on carrying much, if any, fresh water in my fresh water tank but I *though* that once the HW tank was filled, it was going to pretty much stay full unless specifically drained via the anode port or other drain on the tank itself. Sure, I'll drain the HW tank for winterizing but I was assuming it was going to stay full of water until then and the risk of burning out the electric heater was pretty low.
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Old 02-28-2015, 05:07 PM   #8
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In the last Coachman C class rig that I had for over 12 years, I never drained the water one time out of the HWH here in sunny Florida with no ill effects. That was an Atwood model. As the one in the new 3100SS is a Surburban with the anode rod, I suspect I will be draining it every couple of years to check the condition of the rod.
To answer your question, water will stay in the HWH unless you manually drain it out.
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Old 02-28-2015, 08:59 PM   #9
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Has anyone tried to replace or extend the wires for the electric switch and move it inside like the Attwood water heaters? I have thought of doing this mod myself.
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Old 02-28-2015, 11:52 PM   #10
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Water heater switch

With most of them if you have a switch on water heater just run wires parallel to exsisting switch wires to your new switch then either switch will complete the circuit.
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