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Old 03-31-2015, 12:09 AM   #1
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Propane or Electric for Water Heater

When in a location with shore power which is best to power the water heater, propane or electric?
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:40 AM   #2
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if you're not paying extra for the electricity, why waste propane that you had to pay for?
not sure what you mean by best.
propane will heat the water faster.
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:43 AM   #3
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When connected to shore power I keep the electric on and turn on the propane as well when someone showers, you are paying for shore power so you may as well use it and save on the cost of propane.
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:34 AM   #4
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My thoughts are aimed at saving the anode rod. But using their shore power sounds like a good thing.

By "best", I mean more economical, or the preferred method..
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:53 AM   #5
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The anode rod is a sacrificial thing. It is purposefully made to deteriorate instead of the steel tank. This happens irregardless of gas or electric. It has to do as much with the mineral contents in the water as much as anything.

http://www.rvcomfort.com/suburban/se..._questions.php

Only Suburban water heaters feature an anode rod. The anode equalizes aggressive water action, providing cathodic protection for the tank. It is a very important factor in tank life and should only be removed for inspection, draining or replacement. It is removeable using a 1-1/16" thin wall socket.

All Suburban water heaters are protected by a magnesium or aluminum anode to prolong the life of the tank. Under normal use, the anode rod will deteriorate. Because of this, we recommend it be replaced annually or when consumption or weight loss of the rod is greater than 75%. Note: Water with high levels of iron and/or sulfate will increase the rate of deterioration. To extend anode life, drain water from tank whenever the RV is not being used. Avoid any extended time of non-use with water in the tank.

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Another consideration is if you have or are hooked up to 30 amp power supplies.

I took this from the FAQ section. It is about the Suburban but is also applicable to the Atwood water heater if equipped.

Suburban's electric switch and much more

Around the 2002 model year and later, the Suburban water heater came stock with a 1440 watt electric heating element. What this means is it will take 12 amps to power it with 120 volts, when the element is on and heating the water. You may need to keep this in mind when hooked up to 30 amp power supplies, as it may cause breaker(s) to trip if you exceed the maximum amount of amps on a circuit. You may need to turn the electric heating element off... if using other high amp 120 volt appliances at the same time, like microwave, air-conditioning, coffee pots, hair-dryer, etc.....as you would only have 18 amps available to power these other things. (30 amps total minus 12 amps for the heating element = 18 amps available)

In other words 40% of your available power is going to the electric heating element when using 30 amp RV's/power supplies...... but only when the heating element is actually energized and heating the water.

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I think best and preferred methods are highly subjective. What works best for your particular situation should be the preferred method. If I camp in the hotter weather down here in the deep south, my air conditioner runs a lot. I have a daughter who will not use a bath house, and is going to run the hair dryer (another 12 amps +). So if she takes a shower, then turns on the hair dryer upon exit...there is no way 30 amps can power all of that, and the electric heating element which will be on now heating the new water, since she just took a shower.

That's when I just use propane, as we need an A/C more than an electric heating element. Same thing goes if we are trying to use the microwave, and air conditioner...and someone in our group is showering. My RV can heat up quickly without an air conditioner.

Now when we're camping in cooler temps and no need for an air conditioner, I run my water heater off of the electric heating element, with absolutely no problem.
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Old 03-31-2015, 04:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sd75mac View Post
My thoughts are aimed at saving the anode rod. But using their shore power sounds like a good thing.

By "best", I mean more economical, or the preferred method..
as wmtire said, doesn't matter which heating source you use, regarding affecting the anode rod. it depends on the type of water you have, not how you heat it.
our anode rod lasted for 7 years, but we have good water out West.

if you looking for economy, then if you have shore power, that would be cheaper than the propane.
if you want efficiency, then propane is more efficient.

unless you dry camp or boondock, there's really no reason to use the propane side, unless you want quicker recovery.
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Old 03-31-2015, 06:28 AM   #7
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I never had the electric side until this trailer but it uses very little propane. Either will work........ But if your trailer is 30A you may be better off using propane. If when using AC / Microwave / Coffee Pots / & more power draining appliances & you have breaker tripping issues then propane may be better.


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Old 03-31-2015, 07:07 AM   #8
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I don't bother with the electric side of the water heater, we use propane the whole season. It doesn't use much propane at all and saving electrical capacity is more important to us.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:52 AM   #9
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Thank you to those who contributed to an answer, this into was most helpful. It has provided insight into using propane to power the water heater. I need to be careful of my shore power consumption.

Thanks
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gizmo0706 View Post
I don't bother with the electric side of the water heater, we use propane the whole season. It doesn't use much propane at all and saving electrical capacity is more important to us.
We too only use propane for water heat.

Something to be aware of is that in many older campgrounds that have "30 amp only" site loops, the campground aluminum wiring voltage will drop to unsafe levels if everyone is maxing out their 30 amps. This is much worse in the dead of winter when folks are using electric heat to supplement (or replace!) their propane furnace and the heat of summer when everyone is running their air conditioner.

This is because the aluminum overhead wires used in most campgrounds increase resistance as the air temperature and amperage through them rises (which increases wire temperature above air temp making it worse).

Copper-Versus-Aluminum Conductors

Aluminum wire has 60% less current carrying capacity (at the same temperature) but is 100% lighter than copper wire and way cheaper than wire of the same diameter.

Therefor it can span longer distances for 1/2 the price when wiring a campground. The downside is under heavy load, the increased resistance will cause a drop in voltage for folks along the run if everyone is using "all the amps they paid for". In the last sites, there may not be enough voltage to run their air conditioners without damage or efficiently heat their water.
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